Tag: prejudice

No, We Don’t All Need to Get Along

Good intentions abound. That’s the only reason people still embrace misguided ideas like “colorblind society,” despite the powerfully negative connotations that such phrases conjure up.

The latest nicey-nicey concept I’ve encountered (and no doubt you have as well) is the absurd notion that, for America to succeed, we need to put aside our differences. In essence, we all need to get along.

Where in the hell did this strange idea come from?

For the overwhelming majority of American history, we have not all gotten along.

For example, Hamilton and Jefferson didn’t say, “let’s be pals” when they were hashing out what kind of government we should have. They had more important things to do.

Even during the so-called Era of Good Feelings, America’s many slaves weren’t feeling the love and joining in group hugs.

Speaking of slavery, America didn’t even reach its centennial before we started shooting at each other over that touchy topic. And it was another century of violence and antagonism before the government said, “Maybe we should be nicer to ethnic minorities.” At no point in that process did we all get along.

Yes, one could argue that the country was united during World War II, but even in that case, all it took to bind us together was a global conflagration where millions of people died and the very survival of democracy was in question. In other words… good times.

More recently, we’ve come to blows over Vietnam and Iraq, over abortion and affirmative action, over gay rights and healthcare.

So when was this mythical time when Americans were of one mind? And why does anyone think this is a necessary condition in order for the country to thrive? Obviously, we’ve found a way to work around our internecine loathing.

The truth is that a nation as vast as ours — with its myriad subcultures, each enjoying a large degree of freedom — is never going to be truly united. To believe otherwise is to embrace the thinking of a child.

However, this Kumbaya concept is more than a pathetic pipe dream. It features an insidious aspect snaking below the surface.

We see this in the earnest pleas, even demands, for liberals to shut up and support Trump. Of course, conservatives would like nothing better than for progressives to give Trump a chance (which many liberals, inexplicably, are quite willing to do).

But why would leftists agree to a right-wing agenda that goes against every principle we have, and that could lead America into chaos? Apparently, we should do so out of blind patriotism and for the sake of the vague, abstract concept of “unity.”

According to this idea, striving to be friends supersedes the threat of decimating the country.

“Yes, thousands of people are dead now because Obamacare was repealed, but at least we’re all getting along, and that’s the most important thing. Yup.”

This is clearly insane.

And aside from the specifics of the current era — where a wannabe fascist seeks to make the nation great again for white supremacists — the fact remains that striving for unity at all costs is spectacularly naïve, even destructive.

The US Constitution is the result of Founding Fathers threatening to duel each other to the death. Slavery was abolished through warfare. Civil rights came only after decades of people refusing to back down, and not settling for getting along.

One of the virtues/flaws of American culture is our hyper-competitiveness. As such, one idea or principle usually emerges triumphant. Sometimes it’s a good idea… and sometimes it’s not. Still, as we know, the moral arc is long but bends toward justice (at least we hope it does).

However, progress is delayed even more when we smile and act polite in the face of idiocy or fanaticism or demagoguery. And there is no need to do so.

Because we have never all gotten along.

And we never will.

 

 


Bubbles

Hey, remember when I said that too many liberals were genuflecting to Trump and insisting that he was all presidential and shit now, just because he successfully gave a mediocre speech? And remember when I said that was nonsense, and that Trump hadn’t changed and never would?

Yeah, that was last week. And I was right.

So now that we’ve further established that liberals are acting like a bunch of abused spouses, how do we focus on creating a new mindset — one that doesn’t play into conservatives’ hands?

There are, of course, a number of strategies. But I would rather focus on what not to do.

For starters, let’s drop the ludicrous suggestion that progressives need to “get outside their bubbles.”

“But wait,” my fellow progressives wail. “We lost the white working class, and it’s because we’re just a bunch of spoiled, condescending, pampered elitists. We need to kiss their boots and tell them how great they are, in the desperate hope that they’ll vote for a democrat.”

Sorry, but when it comes to reasoning with a hardcore Trump supporter, there is very little return on investment.

First, the truth is that most Americans live in bubbles — defined as clusters of like-minded individuals who tend to line up on politics, culture, religion, etc. In fact, there are apparently up to 11 different Americas, which makes sense when one considers how vast this country is. Furthermore, Americans have always lived in bubbles. It’s just more obvious now with the rise of social media and academic studies.

And yet, it is only now that we’re hearing “get out of your bubbles.” And it is only liberals who are being told to do this (despite the fact that the Democratic candidate actually got millions more votes).

I rarely hear the reverse. That is, how come nobody ever says that people in the Midwest and the Deep South live in their own bubbles, and that perhaps they should try to understand the viewpoints of the dreaded coastal elites?

In fact, one could make the case that “rural and exurban people need to see more of America. People do not understand the depths of how little rural America travels and sees other people and cultures.”

And if I haven’t mentioned this in the last nine minutes, I’m from Wisconsin, and I’ve probably spent more time in rural America than the vast majority of liberals. So I can tell you, the rural conservative bubble is much stronger and more impenetrable than the urban progressive bubble.

Yet it is liberals who are told to “stop ranting and seek out” Trump voters for their opinions. However, when a progressive actually attempts this, it’s all shouting and insults, and nobody ever changes his/her mind. Or Trump supporters don’t bother to show up to the conversation — because they don’t have to.

In fact, I have yet to see one of those “opposing sides come together” kind of stories where the instigator was a Republican. And the reason is obvious.

Conservatives have the default setting of being “the real Americans,” and asking them to do anything to upset their world is political suicide and culturally shameful. Meanwhile, liberals would rather be punched in the face than get accused of being elitist, so we had better bend over backward.

In essence, conservatives who refuse to compromise are principled and strong. But liberals who do the same are smug.

It’s all enough to make you want to stay inside your own little bubble.

 

 


You Made Me Do This

Recently, I badmouthed those liberal celebrities who blame themselves for the rise of Donald Trump. Of course, our titans of the entertainment industry have bigger problems to face, like opening the correct envelope, so I’ll leave them alone.

Instead, I’m going to focus on progressives in general — be they famous, infamous or completely unknown — by pointing out a disturbing trend that has emerged since November. This is the tendency of leftists to absolve conservatives of all responsibility for Trump’s election. Even weirder, my fellow progressives are saying it is our entire fault that America has a cackling xenophobe in the White House.

Indeed, many good leftists are bowing their heads and admitting that it is the most malignant of monsters — political correctness — that explains, “more than anything, how the left created Trump.”

Progressives are shouting that the left abandoned the white working class, and that liberal elitism pushed rural voters away, and that liberals became bullies and gave conservatives no choice (no choice at all!) but to embrace Trump.

All this strikes some other liberals as whiny and self-indulgent. But I disagree.

I believe that it is the political equivalent of spousal abuse.

 

It’s clear that some liberals have been punched, degraded, and insulted by conservatives for so long that many progressives now accept the horrible image that right-wingers have created for them.

Just like in cases of spousal abuse, liberals are justifying the repulsive behavior of many conservatives, releasing them from blame, admitting the ill treatment is deserved, and then lining up for more.

Let me be clear. I am not making light of the issue of domestic violence. Some of my friends and family have suffered through this agony, so I don’t employ this metaphor lightly.

But it is eerie how so many progressives, no matter how much they are slurred and ridiculed, turn around and say that we had Trump coming, just be virtue of being liberal.

Remember, right-wingers never blamed themselves for Obama. Hell, they shrieked that liberals were idiots who had destroyed America by voting for a Kenyan socialist who was going to take away all their guns. Obama’s election only increased conservatives’ disdain for progressives, and it lead to zero self-loathing or reflection on the part of conservatives.

So why are liberals prone to accepting blame for the actions of conservatives, even clamoring for it at times?

Well, there are many reasons for this.

First, liberals tend to be nicey-nicey and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings (that conservative chestnut has a grain of truth to it). And in this case, progressives don’t want to get all mean and point out that many Trump supporters are straight-up misogynists and racists.

So progressives imply that Trump supporters are merely misunderstood, and that if we just charm red-state America enough, these people will forget all about their hatred of gay marriage and fear of Latinos.

It’s just that easy. Yup.

Of course, we would have to ignore statistics like this one: “A whopping 39 percent of Trump voters believe that women who get abortions should face legal punishment, an opinion that is otherwise so unpopular that even the anti-choice movement disavows it.”

But of course, they can’t be criticized for that loathsome viewpoint. It’s all the liberals’ fault.

Far too many leftists are saying we must reach out and plead with Trump supporters, who in turn don’t have to change at all. It is the progressives who must alter their worldview. This is despite the fact that Trump lost the popular vote (overwhelmingly) and has one of the worst approval ratings for a president this early in his administration. No, let us — the progressives — drop all our principles and try to understand the fury of a small group of conservatives, even as they deride us as dim-witted, latte-sipping wimps.

This brings up another point, which is that liberals are insulted routinely, and yet, we have not used this as a pathetic excuse to “blow up the system” or whatever euphemism the right wing is using to endanger democracy.

“But wait,” the bruised and battered liberal says. “We made them hate us, because Hollywood skewers them mercilessly in popular culture.”

Hey, here’s an interesting statistic for you. Latinos are the most underrepresented group in popular culture, and when we are shown, it is usually in stereotypical or highly negative ways.

No, the white working class has no idea what it’s like to be mocked.

But let’s accept the argument that the entertainment industry — and by bizarre extension, all of liberal culture — has been vicious to conservatives. Well, liberals don’t say, “suck it up, snowflake,” because that would be, you know, not nice.

Instead, the self-loathing liberal says that this is perfectly reasonable grounds for embracing demagoguery.

Think about that.

We’re basically saying it’s ok to get annoyed that, for example, many black people prefer the term “African American.” And not just peeved, as when one rolls his eyes, dismisses something as silly, and then goes about his business.

No, we agree that the logical reaction is to fly into an eye-popping rage and vote for a narcissistic nutjob. How in the world does A follow B? Why is becoming furious at the idea of women getting equal pay somehow acceptable, and even more so, a solid rationale for voting for an unqualified man-child who is cozy with dictators?

But progressives ignore these reddest of red flags, and they simply say, “Hey, right-wingers, we apologize for asking you not to slur Asians and refrain from throwing shit at mosques. We don’t know what we were thinking.”

Again, this is the political equivalent of saying, “I’m sorry I made you so angry that you punched me in the face. I’ll go get your beer now.”

As a final example of this twisted tendency, look at how many liberals are falling over themselves to proclaim Trump “presidential” now that he has successfully delivered one insult-free, semi-coherent speech. This most meager of accomplishments has convinced many progressives that Trump is a changed man, and will do the right thing, and will be the president for all of us.

And he bought me flowers and didn’t hit me on my birthday and he’s a changed man it’s different now don’t you see he really loves me and it will be better now and…

And…

And…

 

 


All an Act

Yes, it’s a unique issue for ethnic minorities. Questions about authenticity hound, pester, poke, and prod us.

You see, many of us constantly face accusations of whether we are Latino enough, or black enough, or truly Asian, or a real Native American. I’m pretty sure nobody ever asks if someone is white enough… unless of course, there is an Aryan Nations initiation rite going on.

For nerdy ethnic minorities, the problem can be even more pressing. After all, we know full well that African American students who academically excel are ostracized for “acting white” — right?

Well, it turns out that we don’t know that.

A recent study has debunked this myth, showing “there’s no research that explicitly supports a relationship between race, beliefs about ‘acting white,’ social stigma, and academic outcomes.”

In fact, “studies suggest that the highest-achieving black students are actually more popular than the lowest-achieving ones” and that “black students have more positive attitudes about education than white students.”

Well, that’s a plot twist.

Now, the study didn’t examine whether Latino students are mocked for “acting white” if they get good grades. However, from my personal experience, I can answer this question.

And the answer is…

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So Far, So Horrific

We are now approximately 1% of the way through the Trump presidency. That means, mathematically, it will only get 100 times worse.

To be fair, things are actually going great… for white nationalists and people who think immigrants are plotting to kill them in their sleep.

For the rest of us, not so much.

You see, the start of the Trump era is, by many accounts, “the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.”

 

The rate of Trump’s grotesque actions outpaces our ability to react to them. Are we really supposed to call our congressional representatives and organize protest marches and boycott companies and sign petitions every single day?

Hell, we barely have time to unboggle our eyes and force our slackened jaws shut before another monstrous executive order comes washing over the American landscape. The best we can manage most days is to force down our vomit.

But here’s one thought that will keep us focused. One inescapable truism that we should keep in mind at all times.

And it is simply this: Trump means everything he says.

All the talk about whether we should take him literally but not seriously, or vice versa, was overcomplicated nonsense from the start. It should have been apparent long ago that when a wannabe dictator says he’s going to do something, he fully intends to do it.

Trump is not capable of metaphor. I doubt the man even knows that word means. I’m serious — the guy boasts about never reading books.

You see, our tiny-fingered, small-minded president does not engage in subtlety, and the only time that he backs off on some of his more egregious pronouncements is when he no longer has any interest in them and/or because they no longer serve a purpose (e.g., prosecuting Hillary Clinton).

Otherwise, he is remarkably consistent.

This does not mean that he will succeed in his endeavors. For example, that fabled wall with Mexico is never going to be built. But this is only because reality will intrude. This barrier might take the form of logistical issues or— it’s possible — political resistance.

But he will not stop of his own free will. He will not moderate his views. He will not listen to reason or decency.

I have never understood why any sane person would think otherwise.

For example, some conservative Latinos voted for Trump under the bizarre assumption that he would be more respectful to Hispanics or even compromise on immigration. That idea doesn’t look so bright now.

Of course, that’s not as bizarre as Middle Eastern immigrants who just assumed his talk of banning them was, I don’t know, some oddball banter from a kooky billionaire.

Heed their regret. And please remember this for the next four years. He means everything that he says.

That makes it even scarier, doesn’t it?

 


Mic Check

Let’s face it. I long ago conquered the internet.

So as phase 2 of my unending quest to expand my media empire, I’m now appearing on the radio.

 

 

Specifically, I was on a panel discussion this week on NPR’s Colin McEnroe Show. We talked about race, privilege, and the whole idea that white people are disenfranchised (yes, that last part lent itself to high comedy).

If you missed the live show, you can catch the podcast version here.

So stay tuned, because it won’t be long before you once again hear my smooth baritone emanating from your speakers as I wax rhapsodically about ethnic rights and Orwellian threats and political oppression and other nightmarish concepts.

Of course, at that point, I’ll be pulled off the airwaves by the Trump Secret Police (Media Division) and hauled down to the Ministry of Information’s top-secret liar… and you won’t want to miss that.


Are You Being Nice Enough to Racists?

So mere days away from Armageddon — I mean, Trump’s inauguration, excuse me — we’re all wondering how Democrats are going to rebound in 2020.

Will they seek to rebrand themselves with the white working class by appealing to its concerns? Or will they double down on their base, and nominate a truly progressive candidate?

Ha, we’re just kidding.

We all know Democrats will run like hell from the “liberal” label. They will strain to convince Pennsylvania factory workers and Wisconsin farmers that the Democratic Party has learned its lesson and is abandoning “identity politics.” And then Democrats will ask white rural voters to grab a beer with them and talk about the Packers before heading out to the deer stand.

There are, of course, numerous issues with this approach. Let’s skip the obvious one for now, which is that Democrats will once again take the Latino vote for granted while dismissing progressives as silly elitists.

 

Instead, let’s analyze a very real problem, which is that many people who voted for Trump weren’t just being loyal Republicans, or looking to drain the swamp, or getting bamboozled by a con man.

No, many of them are damn racists who knew exactly what they were voting for. In fact, the link between racism and Trump mania is disturbingly clear.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that it’s morally ok to court such voters. So how does one persuade them to abandon the Republican Party and its blatant xenophobia? How can we convince a person feeling white resentment or white anxiety (or whatever term euphemizes prejudice) that his attitude is not cool?

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A Grim Start

Well, here we are in 2017, and a new era of hope and peace and love and…

What’s that?

The cycle of hatred that crescendo in 2016 continues to careen onward, claiming new victims in ghastly ways?

Yes, scratch that opening line.

We are not even a week into the new year, and we have a fresh horrific example of humankind’s malevolence, courtesy of Chicago.

That’s where some Trump-hating teenagers assaulted a man, live on Facebook, while yelling slurs about white people.

I’m not going to show the video because, frankly, there’s too much violence porn out there already.

But I will point out that conservatives have responded with a certain sort of glee, thrilled to finally have some evidence that ethnic minorities are beating up on white people. And liberals have responded with outrage tinged with defensiveness.

I’m not going to get into all that, primarily because it should be perfectly clear that everyone — regardless of political affiliation or ethnicity — is repulsed by these acts. So there is no need to state the obvious about how grotesque these morons are. It’s like denouncing the Ebola virus.

Instead, I just want to point out that hatred feeds upon itself, and it is a base universality of human nature that many people will use the fact that they are being oppressed as perverse justification for their sick abuse of others.

It is Orwell’s vision of the future: Imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

Happy New Year…


Crystal Ball

I admit that my powers of prediction are so-so.

After all, I didn’t think the racist misogynist would win. However, in my defense, I was the only progressive in the country who was merely surprised — as opposed to shocked, flabbergasted, and devastated — when Trump clinched the White House. I had always acknowledged it as an unpleasant possibility.

But now I’m going full-on psychic when I say that Trump will not turn America into a dictatorship, or provoke a nuclear war, or imprison every intellectual, or fulfill any of the other alarmist predictions you’ve seen from my fellow liberals.

For example, Trump’s wall on the Mexican border will turn out to be a couple hundred miles of extra fencing, if that.

There will be no deportation force that kicks 12 million people out of the country.

The First Amendment will remain intact.

And we can move on and on through the numerous other apocalyptic visions of what will happen in the next few years — they will not come to pass.

To be clear, this isn’t because Trump doesn’t want to do these things. Indeed, one of the more insane comments we heard during this most insane of presidential campaigns was that Trump didn’t really mean what he was saying, and was just riling up the base. Bullshit — he meant every word.

Also, let’s drop the delusion that Trump will somehow settle down once he takes the oath of office. The man has no intention of backing off on his reactionary agenda. He really does want to revoke the citizenship of people who burn the American flag.

But he won’t — mostly because he can’t. The first reason is checks and balances.

And I don’t mean that the Republican-dominated Congress is finally going to stand up for principles and standards and decency and other quaint concepts that the GOP sloughed off when it embraced Trump. It’s very cute to think so.

The only reason the Republican Congress will block Trump’s more egregious proposals is because it’s not worth the political headache. They will be too busy passing tax cuts for the rich and killing Obamacare and gutting Social Security — you know, standard GOP stuff. And they will send bills to Trump and say, “Sign here,” and he will do it, because he has no political viewpoint other than self-aggrandizement, and in any case, he will be too busy composing attack tweets.

So clearly, it’s going to be bad — just not “Here comes Hitler” bad.

upsidedownflag

 

And that leads to the chief reason why Trump will not shut down the New York Times, or make college professors sign loyalty oaths, or change the nation’s motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “Bros before Ho’s.”

Oh, all that would be very Trumpian — and way too obvious.

You see, I know you were all ready to sign up for that Muslim registry (whether you are Muslim or not), just to stick it to the man and mess with the banality of evil and be all defiant. But there will be no Muslim registry. So then we’ll all relax and just shrug when surveillance on mosques is increased and hostility toward Muslims gets even worse. We’ll say, “Well, that’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

And when the new Supreme Court chips away at abortion rights, we’ll say, “Whew, I though they were going to completely overturn Roe v. Wade. So I’ll take it.”

And when voting laws continue to suppress blacks and Latinos, we’ll say, “Hey, I thought he was going to trample civil rights all at once. Close call.”

You get the picture. All this shrieking that Trump is going to be an American Mussolini does us a disservice. It primes us to be relieved when climate change is ignored, or when gun control becomes even less of an issue, or when healthcare is merely as terrible as it was ten years ago.

We are setting ourselves up to embrace the miserable, simply because it is not the horrific.

The most egregious, outrageous, and overt violations of our Constitution and societal norms will not be so easy for you to spot. They rarely are. So it will require work to fight cultural deterioration. Caving in to hysteria doesn’t help.

Of course, I could be tragically wrong on this, and four years from now our nation might be a fascistic nightmare and/or in the midst of societal collapse.

What happens then?

Well, then you can turn to me, as they march us into the thunderdome, and smirk when you say, “Told you so.”

 


Snowflakes

For the moment, let’s avoid dwelling on all the hate crimes that have erupted across the nation since our small-fingered president-elect nabbed his 270th electoral vote.

But let’s just acknowledge that there have been a lot of racist attacks, many of which have been spectacular in their brutality and lunacy.

However, as horrific as these public displays of xenophobia are, I’m more interested in our reaction to these fascistic assaults.

You see, many people are writing off those losers painting swastikas or some thug grabbing a woman’s hijab as stray nutjobs, a tiny percentage of freaks that’s inevitable in a nation of 300 million people. Yes, it stretches the boundaries of plausibility to say the surge in hatred has absolutely nothing to do with Trump, but let’s go with that scenario for now.

What is far more problematic, far more onerous, is the response of social conservatives whenever an ethnic minority has the chutzpah to point out such acts of bigotry.

We get that laziest of insults, which is that we are pampered snowflakes.

snowflakes

The message is that shit happens and we need to toughen up and we have to stop whining and so on and so on.

Of course, the real reason for this dismissal is that acknowledging racism is psychologically distressing for many people — particularly white conservatives who really want to sidestep the obvious truth that a significant chunk of their peers are bigots, and in some cases, actual damn Nazis.

So snapping that a liberal is just a snowflake is a way to jettison the discomfort. It denies that the problem is widespread or even that odious. It says that, basically, it’s just a few jerks, so get over your hypersensitive self.

One recent example of the snowflake phenomena caught my eye. Perhaps you heard about the school in Michigan where white students formed a human wall to block minority students from getting to their destinations. A 12-year-old Latina “was stopped from going to her locker by a group of boys who told her to go back to her country and that they were going to ‘make America great again.’”

I read a few accounts of the story, and (against my better judgment) many reader comments. It was easy to spot the opinion pattern that “boys were just being boys” and outraged adults were simply a bunch of —you guessed it — snowflakes.

But I’m just wondering, at what point did a 12-year-old facing a gauntlet of racists become so much political correctness? When did we collectively decide to dismiss these incidents and treat them as a normal part of growing up? When did we latch onto the term “snowflake” as mindless shorthand and mocking derision?

To be honest, right now in America, the only snowflakes I see are middle-aged guys who are pissed off that life didn’t work out perfectly for them. I see horribly insecure men lashing out at children who are having threats literally shouted into their faces. I see hypocritical conservatives who most likely have never endured a moment of mob hatred, never been the object of abuse, who now sit smugly back and tell kids that they’re just being wimps.

This is beyond blaming the victim. It is even beyond simple prejudice and petty hatred.

It is a sociopathic disdain for humanity.

I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings. I guess you’ll just have to fucking get over it.

 


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