Just Don’t Understand

My Facebook feed filled up pretty quick with white people lamenting the Ferguson situation.  Except, it was not the kind of lamenting you would hope.  It was white people expressing how they cannot understand how black people cannot get it through their heads how destroying their own community solves nothing.

Think about that.  Let it sink in.

A few facts…the vandals and looters were not all black.  White people have been involved in the Ferguson violence.  Ferguson officials confirmed that there were outside groups that came in.  Anarchists and the Klan showed up in Ferguson.  The Klan even marched the streets in their hoods and robes in the last couple of days.

And yet, if a black person suggests institutional racism, they are accused of being a “Race Baiter”.

I am sorry (oh, no I am not)….but the biggest race baiters are the people who complain about Black people not understanding they should not destroy their own neighborhoods.

The protesters were not violent.  The looters and vandals were multi-racial and taking advantage of an opportunity for mayhem.  And yet, anytime there is looting and vandalism?  The entire black community is called to account for the actions of a few.  White people rioted when Joe Paterno was fired.  Give that a little time.  White people rioted over the removal of a guy who covered up for a child rapist.

Yet, never did I hear a single white person post a “thoughtful” status on Facebook about “why don’t white people understand _______? I just cannot understand it!”  White people were not called to task as an entire group for any riot that white people participated it.  It was not seen as a white thing.

And yet, White people are perfectly comfortable casually calling out all black people for the actions of a few.  As if rioting, looting and vandalism were uniquely “black things”.

Instead of taking a moment to listen, we jumped right in to tell people how to act who were not guilty of acting that way.  Stay classy my fellow white people.

The Shift

With riots, there are many tragic issues at hand.  Looting is not an expression of rage against an injustice.  And if I came to find my store burned to the ground?  I would be devastated.  And this to, is not raging against an unjust system.  Of course, looters and vandals are people who are taking advantage of legit grief and anger in a situation.  There were many peaceful protests last night.

But in the end, the greatest problem of a riot is this:

It allows the white community (of which I am a member) to avoid focusing on the real issues.  Instead of having to face and address the injustice in front of us, we have a diversionary tactic that allows us to shift focus and blame.

The issue is police brutality, and more specifically, how it applies to the black community.  If you look at this situation and your focus is looters and vandals, rather than how an officer with very minor injuries can shoot an unarmed young man in a hale of bullets?  You have a unique privilege.  This is a reality for non-white America.  If a cop kills them?  People will leap up with great fervor to prove the victim really had it coming.

Mike Brown was not the “Perfect Victim”…well, outside of young children?  Victims are seldom without blemish.  Yet, neither is Wilson.  He is far from the shining example.

Brown looked like a Demon to Wilson.  That is Wilson’s description.  And one that might be understandable to an average person with no crisis training.  But for a cop?  The standard is higher.

And yet, now, the main focus will be on “Why is there looting?”

A few days ago, an elected Republican suggested that people would possibly take to the streets violently in negative reaction to President Obama’s Executive Order.  It, of course, did not happen.  Not because white people do not riot.  But because the stakes were so different.  President Obama did not make a statement that the lives of certain Americans do not matter with his executive order.  What happened in Ferguson is part of an ongoing problem that is happening across the country.  and we were told the police do not have to fear threat of a trial if they take the life of an unarmed person.

Stacking the Shipdeck

A couple days ago the Daily Currant ran a news story about Sarah Palin and her plan for immigration, which involved cruise ships and shipping people who were in the country illegally across the ocean back to Mexico.

It is, of course satirical.  The most common responses were, “Oh, that is obviously a satire site” and “No way…even for her that would be hard to believe.”

But Michelle Malkin went off to find all the dumb liberals who fell for it.  Her examples are kind of dubious…only one person qualifies as a famous liberal, and that tweet asks “Can this be for real?!”  In other words, that Hollywood person (Marg Helgenberger) Malkin uses found the story suspect.

I do not fault people for not knowing a site is a satire site.  There are a million of them, I do not expect anyone to be familiar with them all.  But Malkin’s attempt at a Ha Ha is pretty much one that falls flat.  It is, after all, not hard to find Conservatives who eat up any news that feeds their view of liberals-even when it turns out to be a well known site like the Onion.  But Malkin fails to prove Liberals were overwhelmingly duped by this one.

Yup.  Some people fell for it and missed the satire.  But from what I have seen, the major response was to recognize that it was a fake story from the outset.  That is if people even saw the story.

Bigotedly Correct

Oh, Gary Oldman. I love you. I really do. I see you are in a movie and I get excited to see that performance. You were one of the reasons I did not totally refuse to see the RoboCop reboot.

But really…if you want to be critical of the restrictions of Politically Correct culture…you might want to pick better examples. Mel Gibson made racist comments and Alec Baldwin has used gay slurs.

Being a bigot is not the same thing as being politically incorrect. And for some reason, a lot of folks conflate the two. Suddenly, being a bigot is seen as the edgy person who does not care what society thinks. Bigots become treated as rebels and victim heroes.

Really, can we find some better example when lamenting political correctness than bigoted people?

The Sound of Silence

So, part one of my thoughts on the situation surrounding the Rosa Parks of our generation. You might have heard about this. For reasons unknown to me, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson felt the need to expound on who would be accepted into heaven. He was quoting the Bible and then covered his ass with the “but it is not for me to judge.” So, A&E suspended him. Of course, he had some rather “poor thoughts” on race.

First, A&E has every right to suspend or cancel a show. It is their network. It is funny how the same people who feel a cake maker should be allowed to discriminate are outraged that A&E should suspend Robertson. But here is my concern about the situation. I am a bit uncomfortable with the attempts to silence people who say things we do not like.

Life is incredibly complex. There is a Tumblr called Your Fave is Problematic. Read through it. Sometimes it is informative. Sometimes it is more an excuse to rant hatefully about people someone doesn’t like. The truth is, everyone I follow in Twitter, Tumblr, etc are problematic. Sometimes? Social justice minded people are the worst. They go so over the top, they become the very same person as the people they are ranting against.

When someone says something we find offensive, we rightfully express our displeasure. But so often, we see major pushes to get celebrities fired. Let us be honest, in real life, nobody campaigns to get the bigots in day to day fired from the local grocery. Celebrities are in a unique place. Every public word they express can work for or against them. And hey, you have to accept you might lose your job.

The problem with the campaigns are…well, they really do not do anything. Phil Robertson is in a long line of teevee and radio stars who said something unkind that were met with demands to get rid of them. When they are fired, everyone declares success. They always seem to land on their feet and and the attitudes are still there. And no actual life changing discussions. And sometimes, the attempt to Silence works in reverse…how many attempts have there been to dump Daniel Tosh? Tosh is still around. And rumors are that Phil will, in fact, appear in January Duck Dynasty .

Silencing tends not to be about true justice or changing minds and attitudes. It is about convincing ourselves we won. Except, we don’t actually win. No, it is worse. Those folks we work to silence? They go on Fox News, the Church Circuit or wherever…they preach their message harder, they play the role of martyr and the people who believed them support them more aggressively than before. Their message is pressed on.

What the world does not need? More “martyrs” and “patriots” of the Phil Robertson and Sarah Palin vein.

The other thing? Silencing can very much be used against progressive voices. And that tide could turn unexpectedly. In the pat, progressive voices were silenced. Even recently, gays have been forced by family to go to rehabilitation to be “straight”. We should not pretend reversing against those that we disagree with is somehow good. Reeducation camps are not a neutral concept. Silencing is not a good thing in a free world. The message offered by progressives is better. The message offered by progressives is stronger, and silencing rarely has the desired effect.

Silencing allows the alternative messages to grow. They retreat for only a limited time, because silencing only addresses a single event…not an attitude. Standing up, speaking our piece is going to do more to make a better world than getting a redneck off TV could ever do.

Everybody’s Free

free en·ter·prise
noun: free enterprise
an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

There was a news story on Fox recently which declared Free Enterprise dead. It was ridiculous, of course, for multiple reasons.

Primarily, it was because a Judge sided with a gay couple over a “Christian” maker of wedding cakes. I will be honest, if your Christian faith and view of marriage is so sacred that you will declare you would rather close shop if you cannot discriminate against gays? You are pretty much a lame Christian.

For one? The guy made a wedding cake for dogs. That is not someone treating marriage as a special and unique institution. Problem one.

More importantly, if your “Christian View of Marriage” is so important to you…why do I suspect this guy made cakes for non-Christians, people who were living together, people who were having pre-marital sex…why is he okay endorsing those unions? Problem two.

I have seen pastors refuse to marry people…a pastor and Church have every right to deny anyone access to their services. A guy making cakes is not a pastor or church. He is a businessman serving a larger public. And to be so inconsistent to deny one couple on grounds of faith while allowing others who ignore your Christian values to access your services is pathetic.

Look at the definition of free enterprise again.

an economic system in which private business operates in competition and largely free of state control.

Nothing there states you are free to descriminate. Free enterprise means you can have a business, not have a business and run it like a tyrant if you choose. There is a clear allowance of state regulations. The only person actually threatening this cake business is the guy who owns it. The state has not said his business has to close. That is all on him. The state simply says he cannot be so discriminatory.

Free enterprise still lives, this case is proof of that.

Lack of Understanding Is Not Rightness

It seems fairly common for people that when they cannot understand how a person feels, they see the problem as being with the other person.

I am not speaking about differences of opinions on politics. I am talking about life choices. Big ones. For many of us, the decisions and feelings of a trans person are unrelateable. We do not get it. So some folks demonize the trans community as deviants.

I am being honest here. I do not understand what a trans person is going through. There is a simple reason. I have never been in question about my gender versus my body. These two aspects of my being are not in conflict. I can never truly grasp the struggle if they were to come to terms. How frustrating it must be to feel something is not… Exact…but not understand what as I am growing up.

The same is true of being gay. I have never been in question of the fact that I am drawn to women. I wonder at times how I would deal if society told me at every turn that being attracted to women was deviant and immoral.

Angelina Jolie took heat from “heartbroken” men about a double mastectomy. They could not fathom why she would removed a great pair of breasts. Sure, I suspect some men thought they were being funny…but it isn’t really funny.

Granted, I could probably identify with Jolie’s situation a bit more than the other two examples.

But the thing is, the real problem is not the situations above. The real problem is with the people who decide that their lack of understanding makes them right. That because they cannot understand or relate, there is something deviant or dangerous about the people they don’t understand.

I may not understand what a trans person is fully going through. But I am not “normal” because of it. I am simply a person. As are they. I am not helping a person in their struggles by telling them they are deviant simply for their realization that their identity and birth gender are in conflict. Making them the but of jokes, or embarrassing secrets is cruel. How is being cruel “normal”? How is being ruled by our inability to relate “wise”?

Instead, we see numerous people separating these groups out as if they are an evil attack group out to destroy “good, decent and moral” society. When compassion is treated as a weakness, one forfeits the ability to say they are on the side of good, decent or moral societies.