Tag: discrimination

I Shouldn’t Have to Explain This

In case you’re confused, here’s a hint: When Nazis applaud you, it means you’ve probably said something racist.

Yes, our favorite demented, immoral leader slurred entire nations last week when he said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Now, there’s been a lot of defensiveness over comments that are, prima facie, indefensible. Yes, some Republicans have criticized the president, including those who took personal offense. Of course, this is just further proof that many conservatives only care about an issue if it affects them personally, and seem to be incapable of basic empathy for others, but I digress.

However, most members of the GOP have embraced the same spineless cowering that has exemplified their party’s meek surrender to the mad emperor.

 

And a few have even tried to cover for him with excuses that range from the pathetic to the improbable.

In any case, all the outrage over one word — shithole — is understandable. But it’s not the main point. Because the thing that should really concern us is not the vulgarity or the specific linguistics, but the clear mindset and sentiment behind these words.

To show you what I mean, let’s look at some of the statements Trump could have made that would be merely reprehensible, unpresidential, and vile — but perhaps, maybe not full-blown racist, irredeemable, and grotesque. He could have said any of the following:

“Those countries are shitholes. I can see why people want to come to America.”

“Those countries are shitholes. I feel sorry for people stuck there.”

“Those countries are shitholes. We should try to improve those places.”

And so on.

But he didn’t say that. Again, he said the following:

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

In other words, those countries are shitholes and (more importantly) everyone who lives there, comes from there, or has ancestors from there are, by extension, useless pieces of shit themselves.

And of course, adding that you’re fine with immigrants from the whitest nations on Earth just reinforces the bigotry.

In essence, the president’s argument is indistinguishable from the rambling of some old racist drunk. Go ahead, make it a party game. See if you can identify the differences between Trump and your average bigot on a barstool. You cannot.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, my family is from El Salvador — or as it’s known in Trump’s world, Central Shitholeia. I’ve been very upfront about how troubled that country is.

But every nation, every group of people, has inherent dignity.

The ranting of a sad, old man who lucked into a position of power cannot change that.

 


Not Exactly a Plot Twist

If you’re like me, you spent the first week of 2018 striving to achieve your goals and keep your resolutions. In my case, that means trying to gain weight, start smoking, and focus on the big things in life (yes, I’m a contrarian).

But one thing I did not do is spend any time — I mean, zero minutes — perusing articles on what the Trump Administration “might” do with regards to the temporary protected status of the 200,000 immigrants who have fled my family’s homeland of El Salvador. These individuals were given protection after a series of earthquakes hit the country in 2001.

A couple of headlines proclaimed that Trump faced a big decision, or that the administration was weighing the pros and cons, or that the Salvadorans still had a shot at gaining citizenship, blah blah blah.

Come on, people. No one could seriously believe, for even the briefest scintilla of a moment, that this administration would say, “Sure, all you Latino immigrants. Please stick around.”

The only shocker is that Trump minions are not going door to door, rounding up Salvadorans and cattle-prodding them onto trucks.

To extend protections, or to offer a pathway to citizenship, would require the White House to analyze the political situation, embrace empathy as a virtue, and end its ceaseless hatred of Hispanics. None of those things is going to happen any time soon, let alone all of them at once. There is just no chance.So the Salvadorans have until September 2019 to seek permanent residency in the United States or risk deportation. As immigration experts have pointed out, “these are people who have been living by the rules … getting background checks every 18 months, getting their fingerprints for 20 years.” But America is so over that whole “give me your tired and meek” pabulum. Now, it’s more about “Serve your masters or get out now.”

In any case, “the Trump administration did not consider the gang-perpetrated violence in El Salvador when deciding to end the protected status.” If it had, perhaps it would have realized that terminating the program “will not make America safer and will undermine U.S. efforts in the Western Hemisphere to better protect America from drug trafficking and gang violence.”

In addition, “by sending back 200,000 workers who have been in America for 17 years, the Trump Administration will actually increase the flow of migrants from El Salvador.” The move will have a negative impact on remittances and “displace already economically precarious workers in El Salvador, who will migrate to the United States out of desperation.”

Yes, leave it to the Trump Administration to placate its hardline nativist base with a decision that is “not in line with American values” and that may actually increase illegal immigration.

It’s something that only a really stable genius would do.

 


Delusion Everywhere

It’s been just over a year since 62,979,636 Americans said, “Hey, you know that smug, narcissistic, mentally unstable billionaire who hates women and minorities? Yeah, that guy. Let’s all vote for him.”

And it’s been nothing but easy living ever since.

To be fair, plenty of Americans are indeed happy with Trump’s first year in office, even if by any objective or reasonable standard, it has been a complete failure, daily embarrassment, and horrific nightmare.

No matter, because as I wrote in my last post, many hardcore Trump supporters have abandoned all pretense of rational thought or even strained justification for their misbegotten votes. Instead, the working-class folks profiled in Politico insist that the human cringe factor masquerading as a president is a great guy, and that things couldn’t be better.

Well, I didn’t mention that the Politico article ends with a Trump supporter casually dropping the N-word, which might as well be a snapshot of what the 2016 election was really all about.

You see, study after study has shown that bigotry is a prime characteristic of many Trump voters. In fact, some experts insist that racism motivated Trump voters more than any other factor.

But as I’ve written before, Americans tend to dismiss the very idea that racism was even a minor variable in Trump’s election. We are determined to say that prejudice died in the 1960s, and millions of our fellow citizens cannot possibly be bigots.

Well, as the Atlantic recently pointed out, this kind of delusion has been going on for decades.

And it is not just Trump’s supporters “who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who … searched desperately for any alternative explanation — outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety — to the one staring them in the face.”

The explanation staring all of us in the face is blatant racism, xenophobia, hate-filled rage — whatever you would like to call it.

What happened in 2016 was that “Americans, who would never think of themselves as possessing racial animus, voted for a candidate whose ideal vision of America excludes millions of fellow citizens because of their race or religion.”

It really is that clear.

Now, of course, it is inaccurate and offensive to label all of Trump’s supporters as racists.

But the vast majority who are not neo-Nazis and white supremacists were still willing to look the other way as they voted for a guy beloved by, well, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

The Atlantic article has gone viral for a very good reason: It is an astute and well-written attack on our national delusion. At the risk of checking out for the remainder of this article, I’ll just list some of the most striking passages here.

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency.… This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened.”

 

“Supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.”

 

“The argument for the innocence of Trump’s backers finds purchase across ideological lines: white Democrats looking for votes from working-class whites, white Republicans who want to tar Democrats as elitists, white leftists who fear that identity politics stifles working-class solidarity, and white Trumpists seeking to weaponize white grievances.”

 

“A peculiarly white American cognitive dissonance is that most worry far more about being seen as racist than about the consequences of racism for their fellow citizens. That dissonance spans the ideological spectrum, resulting in blanket explanations for Trump that ignore the plainly obvious.”

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.”

 

It’s a lot to take in. But a combination of data-driven research, psychological study, anecdotal evidence, and our own common sense all verify that this is indeed the case. Americans remain in deep denial about the crushing moral failure that occurred last year.

To justify their votes, Trump’s biggest fans combined “an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.”

The only thing more delusional than thinking that Trump is not a bigot is to believe that his die-hard supporters will ever become open-minded and tolerant. In essence, “these supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.”

So let’s stop kidding ourselves.

 


Fluke of All Flukes

You so rarely hear about the benefits of racism — you now, the positive stuff.

That’s understandable, of course, seeing how bigotry and hatred have caused more death, destruction, and misery than any other single factor in the history of humankind. And that’s without even getting into how the soul-crushing, dehumanizing force of prejudice has held back our advancement as a species, and plagued every society that has somehow crawled out the muck, cobbled itself together, and declared itself “civilized” in spite of ample evidence that we are no more sophisticated than our monkey ancestors, who by the way, at least didn’t kill each other over the color of their fur. I mean, damn it, people. The monkeys don’t do this shit to each other — the damn monkeys!

But I digress…

In any case, Newsweek recently reported that the opioid epidemic that is savaging America has largely bypassed Latinos and African Americans. And the reason may be because “racial stereotyping is having a protective effect on non-white populations.”

Yes, racism has (arguably) protected Hispanics and blacks from getting hooked on the feel-good pills.

How can this be?

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Pick a Side

Good news — there is a 35 percent chance that the country will descend into open civil war within the next decade.

Now, you may ask, why is that good news?

Well, personally, I thought the odds of a second Battle of Antietam erupting within the year were around 50/50. So a risk of just 35 percent is positively optimistic.

Hey, nearly four out of five Americans “believe the nation is divided on the most important values.” And some experts claim that the nation is really a mash-up of almost a dozen different cultures where people “increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.” And, of yeah, in recent years, residents of both Texas and California have sincerely endeavored to secede from the union.

Naturally, we’re all wondering about the root causes of this internecine madness. Well, as is usual when nations start rotting from the inside, the main problem is the age-old malady of bigotry.

Yes, many social scientists have concluded that America is “vulnerable to racism, tribalism, and conflicting visions of the way forward for our nation.” And it certainly doesn’t help that our deranged president “modeled violence as a way to advance politically,” which feeds right into the narrative of the hardcore right wing and fuels talk of armed conflict.

Indeed, ever since the protests at Charlottesville, it should be perfectly clear to even the most idealistic person that “white fear of demographic change is a powerful force” and that “there are several lines of evidence converging on the idea that America is becoming a more hostile place for immigrants and outsiders.”

If you need further proof, “research does find that in the age of Trump — the age that started with an assertion that Mexicans were sending rapists to the US — it’s becoming more acceptable to be outwardly prejudiced.”

It’s all very depressing, of course, and we are correct to wonder how America has so quickly devolved into a nation where racists feel pretty good about themselves, and hatred toward Muslims is shrugged off a conservative value.

Hell, there was a time (not so very long ago) when “psychologists feared that ‘social desirability bias’ — people unwilling to admit they’re prejudiced, for fear of being shamed — would prevent people from answering questions about prejudice truthfully.” But in this terrible new America, “people will readily admit to believing all sorts of vile things. And researchers don’t need to use implicit or subliminal measures to suss it all out.”

This willingness to be horrible only verifies what progressives and ethnic minorities have been saying for years about a large subsection of America.

And yet, many media outlets still indulge in delusional thinking about Trump and his supporters. Despite mountains of anecdotal evidence — and in some cases, actual data-driven research — many commentators still dance around the issues of racism and xenophobia that characterizes Trump’s most ardent fans.

I mean, how many more studies do we need that show fictional “discrimination against whites was a core concern of Trump’s base”? No, it wasn’t a weak correlation or a side issue. It was a “core concern” of Trump’s support.

How often do we have to hear that “changing racial demographics of America contributed to Trump’s success as a presidential candidate among white Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity”?

The truth is that there are millions of Americans who dream of an all-white country, one that is presumably 100 percent straight and Christian as well.

These are people who have never faced governmental or cultural oppression, and “who sat through the unit on the Second World War in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.”

And they are all for Trump — to the point that he can no wrong and will never lose their support.

Now, in contrast to the bizarre enthusiasm that Trump supporters have of their man’s performance so far, more than half of all Americans and more than two-thirds of Latinos disapprove of the guy.

These are fundamental differences. One might even say that they are irreconcilable.

And since we’re using that kind of language, let’s admit a basic fact — one that may help us avoid open warfare.

We’re 240 years into this marriage, and maybe it’s time to admit that we’re no longer happy in the relationship. We have clearly grown apart. In fact, it’s worth asking if we ever really got along, because after all, there have been more than a few rocky times and bumps in the road over the decades.

Perhaps everyone would be happier if we called it quits and promised to stay in touch — you know, to negotiate intercontinental trade deals and stuff like that. But this whole idea that we are a unified nation and a cohesive culture… well, come on.

Who are we kidding?

 


A Subtle Hint

Clearly, our flaming oil spill of a president can’t go a week without lashing out at Latinos. That’s no exaggeration.

We are still struggling to process the pardoning of Arpaio, and how it illustrates nothing less than pure contempt for Hispanics.

But now Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — which puts “an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as DREAMers, who entered the country illegally as children.”

Of course, Trump’s defenders insist that he hasn’t killed DACA, because there is a six-month phasing out of the program, and Congress still has the option of addressing the issue, and blah blah blah.

Let’s stop the foolishness.

This was a cruel, wrong, and inhumane action that has no discernible benefit to America (unless you count “a potential $60 billion loss in tax revenue to the federal government and $280 billion hit to economic growth” as a good thing). Hell, even many Republicans support DACA.

Obviously, killing the program cheers up Trump’s base of racists and hard-right supporters. But more than anything, it is a petulant foot stomping by a bigot who just doesn’t like Hispanics terribly much. It is the shrieking of a black-hearted man who sincerely believes that “most people aren’t worthy of respect” and who suffers from a “profound fear of his fellow human beings — at least ones who don’t resemble him.”

And through all this, I have to wonder about those Latinos who still support Trump.

What additional evidence do they need to realize that this guy is not their buddy? What are they seeing in Trump that the rest of us are somehow missing?

Does Jeff Sessions have to show up at their front door, demanding that they pack up and get the hell out of the country, before they will acknowledge how much this administration loathes Hispanics?

Hey, don’t rule anything out.


Shame Shame Go Away

The great state of Texas is underwater, and our president thinks that desperate, devastated Americans who have lost everything — maybe even a loved one — are coming out to cheer for him.

Unfortunately, this is not a surprise, coming from the sociopath in chief.

The previous non-shocker, of course, was Trump’s pardon of the infamous Joe Arpaio.

Now, there’s not much analysis I can add to the sorry spectacle of Trump’s shady, rushed act clemency that undermines the judicial system, upends presidential tradition, and shows contempt for both the Constitution and the very concept of law and order (which is supposedly a GOP value).

Because while Republicans play their usual song and dance about being outraged but doing nothing, the rest of us wonder if this a is a test run to undermine the Russia investigation.

At the very least, we all know that this is another example of Trump’s authoritarian tactics.

It might even be an impeachable offense (a phrase that has been ascribed to Trump’s behavior so often that I have lost track of his potentially criminal actions).

Furthermore, we know that Trump’s pardon sends a clear message to bigoted cops and prejudiced government officials everywhere that there are no — as in zero — consequences for even the most xenophobic and oppressive behavior.

We also know that Arpaio isn’t just a middling bigot, but is in fact “viciously racist” on a level we haven’t seen in public officials since the Civil Rights Era.

And finally, we know that Arpaio — in addition to being a hate-filled racist and scourge to Latinos everywhere — is also an incompetent cop and flat-out evil man.

So what do I have to add to the discussion?

Nothing, really. I just want to make sure that everybody is aware of all of the above.

And if you still support Trump, think about the company you keep.

 


Where Do We Even Begin? 

Nazis are bad.

There, was that so damn difficult to say?

Well, yes, if one is a black-hearted egotist whose only concern is keeping a clammy, slippery grasp on power. In that case, it can be quite difficult.

As we all know, our straight-talkin’, tell-it-like-it-is president was unusually quiet last weekend, when fascists, racists, and violent thugs descended upon Charlottesville. The man who tweets every umbrage or perceived slight had nothing to say when the KKK started throwing punches, and white supremacists chanted Hitler-era slogans.

He then came out with a baffling, condescending condemnation of “both sides” of the violence. I suppose he was trying to be fair to both homicidal bigots driving their cars into people, and the demonstrators who should be blamed for… well, I don’t know what — perhaps for violently putting dents in the car or cracking its windshield when the vehicle plowed into them. Yeah, both sides are clearly to blame.

Of course, Trump did eventually come out against white supremacy, which proves that he will indeed take a moral position — provided that both sides of the political spectrum, millions of Americans, and every half-respectable media outlet scream at him for days to denounce fucking Nazis, which let’s face it, is the absolute minimum qualification for being considered a decent human being. But hey, he did it, right?

No, because he changed his mind the next day and went back to equating sign-carrying liberals with deranged Nazis who murder people, setting off a shitstorm of outrage and disbelief. So there was that.

Now, there are only three possible motivations for Trump’s false-equivalency nonsense:

  1. He is an impulsive man-child who lashes out at others even if it is detrimental to his own cause.
  2. Some dark part of his soul — perhaps a bigger part than his followers would like to admit — agrees with the white supremacists.
  3. He is a chickenshit politician who is scared of offending his base, which is ironic when one considers that he is supposedly the anti-politician who is not afraid to speak his mind.

All three of these options are terrifying. In all three scenarios, the guy who is the face of America, and its political and even moral leader, has abdicated his responsibility (and possibly his humanity) so that hate-filled men shouting anti-Semitic slurs can feel good about themselves.

Of course, it’s perfectly obvious to me that someone should have told the president that the fascists in Virginia had mocked his tiny hands, or pointed out his dismal approval ratings, or brought up his disastrous leadership skills. If that had happened, he would have lacerated those bastards in a furious speech before they could finish saying, “Seig Heil.” But that didn’t happen, and now we have to wonder about the following:

Is this a turning point?

I don’t mean that in the political sense. We all know the gutless GOP will not turn on Trump unless and until he has outlived his usefulness to them. Otherwise, they will just keep apologizing for his maniacal outbursts and ugly tirades, or looking the other way, or somehow coming up with a twisted rationale for it (like, “liberals made this happen”). Hey, I guess it helps them sleep at night.

No, I’m talking about a cultural turning point.

After all, there can no longer be any doubt — if there ever was — about the kind of man Trump is (i.e., the kind who coddles Nazis). There could not be a clearer contrast between his delayed scripted words of false comfort and his spontaneous, appalling endorsement of racism.

Similarly, those who have excused his abhorrent behavior to this point have finally run into a non-negotiable, unambiguous, swastika-shaped look into his loathsome mind. Any defense of his stance goes beyond the usual pathetic, infuriating, illogical, baffling excuses that Trump supporters have offered for other transgressions (and there have been a lot of them).

This is so sickening, so reprehensible, so concrete in its evil that it threatens to permanently brand anyone who defends it as either a spineless coward or a sociopathic villain.

Witness that prominent conservatives, corporate CEOs, and military leaders are all blasting Trump. These are hardly liberal snowflakes getting riled up by fake news.

So it’s fair to ask if this is Trump’s Katrina moment. Could this be the final outrage that pushes his casual supporters over the edge and solidifies his calamitous reputation?

Already, a majority of Americans — not just progressives, but most of the country — is aghast at their president’s unhinged craziness. A full 40 percent want his impeachment.

Those numbers will only increase. The sense of disgust will only snowball. And because Trump burned up so much good will mere months into his presidency, it is difficult to imagine the trend ever reversing.

For Trump supporters, after this point, there is no turning back. Which of them wants to be the last deplorable standing, waving his Make America Great Again hat around as the rest of the nation looks away in shame and horror?

 


Full Count

We’re at the All-Star break, and my team is currently in first place. This is a major deal to me.

Yes, like a lot of Gen X Latinos, I’m a huge baseball fan. In fact, I recently achieved a fatherhood milestone when I took my 4-year-old son to see his first big-league game (he enjoyed it, even if he kept yelling, “safe!” and “out!” — usually at random).

I’m also a fan of science, which is one reason I’m not a Republican. Ha, just having fun there, my GOP friends… anyway…

Among my favorite science writers was the late Stephen Jay Gould. He wrote an intriguing essay titled, Why No One Hits .400 Anymore, in which he argued that while .400 hitters were fairly common in the early days of baseball, it’s become nearly impossible to reach that milestone today.

 

 

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Karma, Baby, Karma

So as I have mentioned before, my mom is my personal hero.

This is not just because she’s my mom, or even because she’s triumphed over serious adversity multiple times. While those are major factors, there are many other reasons why I admire her.

Among them it is this: The woman doesn’t take anybody’s shit.

You see, in the city where I grew up, my mom is (as the kids say) kind of a big deal. Until her recent retirement, she helped run the town.

During her closing days of wrestling with municipal politics, she interviewed candidates for key city positions. And she was commuting to City Hall one morning when she encountered that most American of moments: road rage.

 

A young white man took offense at her driving and — as young white men often do — decided he had every right to let everybody know exactly what he thought. So the guy pulled up next to my mom’s car and made several obscene gestures, punctuated with the shouted comment, “You fucking Mexican!” Then he drove off at an unsafe speed.

By the way, my mom is from El Salvador, not Mexico. But I digress.

In any case, my mom brushed off the guy’s idiocy (she’s very Zen about such things), and drove on to work. Later that morning, she joined the rest of her team in a conference room for a group interview with a finalist for a job.

You probably saw this coming, but yes, the person being interviewed was the asshole who cut her off in traffic and yelled racial slurs at her.

Now, he didn’t recognize her. Guys like him never notice any details about the people they harangue. They just move on to the next person to castigate.

But of course, my mom recognized him. She was perfectly polite during the interview. She’s a professional, after all. However, when it was time for final questions, she asked the following of the young man:

“Would you say you are respectful of other people’s cultures?”

The man smiled at such an HR softball of a question. He gave a practiced, interview-safe answer that just about anyone in a corporate setting would offer. It was all very, “Yes, I have the utmost respect for every creed, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, vegetarian or carnivore, smoking or non-smoking, tall, short, fat, and skinny example of god’s creatures, blah blah blah.”

That was all fine and good. But my mom had a follow-up question:

“If that’s true, then why did you call me a fucking Mexican this morning?”

I think we can all agree, this is not your standard interview question.

The man blanched and gasped. My mom’s co-workers were intrigued. But my mom just waited for his answer.

The guy denied it was him, said it was mistaken identity, then doubled back and gave conflicting, incriminating statements that proved it was indeed him after all. Then he tried to justify his road-rage outburst, backpedal on his previous comments, and wound up floundering so hard it’s amazing the mayor himself didn’t walk into the room to just shoot the guy and put him out of his misery.

But of course, it was all useless. Because let’s face it, there is no good answer to the question, “Why did you call me a fucking Mexican?”

The interview was over.

The guy didn’t get the job.

And my mom got back to work.

 


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