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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Racist Racists Committing Racism ... Really?

Greetings and salutations, my friends. Yes, I know it has been a while since I posted, and for that I apologize. Life has taken some distracting turns for me, including, happily, my work in getting my Master’s degree (finally!!!) and finding myself becoming more of an activist in social justice issues, which is in part the topic of today’s posting.

Earlier this week, Tim Wise (www.timwise.org) posted an article on his website entitled “The Crime of Innocence: White Denial, Black Rebellion and the Cost of American Obliviousness” (May 5th, 2015), subsequently posting the same article to AlterNet re-titled “White America’s Greatest Delusion: ‘They Do Not Know It and They Do Not Want to Know It’”. The article was the equivalent of a 10-page thesis on the topic of why even those who do not believe they are racist (or who actually fight against racism) are still racist and that there is apparently nothing they can do to change that fact.

Really? If there is nothing we can do to change that fact, why do we bother working so hard on the issue or continue to discuss the problem? The answer is simple … we continue to work on it and discuss it because we as a society can change, despite the claims to the contrary, and it has nothing to do with mythical “white privilege”. The claim of white privilege is itself a racist stereotype that implies everyone who is born with white skin is automatically responsible for the sins of their fathers racist mistreatment of minorities, creating a state of collective guilt that can, in Wise’ opinion, never be forgotten.

Perhaps that is part of the problem. It is neither forgotten nor forgiven, perpetually driving a wedge of hatred between the communities and fueling the very racism you are claiming to be against. The black community and apparently self-hating white men like Mr. Wise don’t think it’s enough that we have thrown down the slave whips of the past. Their attitude seems to be that we should pick it up and us it against each other in the white community in a perpetual act of self-chastisement for crimes that we, ourselves, may never have been a part. In rebuttal to the article, I shall confront its points one at a time and explain my perspectives on each.

Wise pointed out that, factually, whites also riot. This is admittedly true. However, the examples he gave pale in comparison to what we have seen in Los Angeles, Ferguson and Baltimore. How does one compare impromptu bonfires of trash, construction debris and portable bathrooms to the burning of gas stations, store fronts and office buildings? How does the throwing of rocks, beer bottles and concrete chunks on a college campus or after a sporting event compare to the throwing of Molotov cocktails and a barrage of bullets in Ferguson or Baltimore?

It is not the act of rioting at issue; it is the level to which protesters took the event that is at issue. And, with all due respect, there is a very large difference between the damage or destruction of a community during a time of war and one committed against your own community during a riot. Moreover, you compare black communities to concentration camps and then accuse white people of rioting when a black man moves into their neighborhood? Really? Let’s see … when WAS the last time that happened? Hell, I was attacked once for daring to move into a BLACK neighborhood in Denver’s “Five Points” neighborhood and a couple years before that in north Aurora for the same reason. How about when I was ganged up on by two black teenagers on my way home eight years before that in Denver’s “Valley Park” neighborhood where I had lived for almost five years and told to “go back to your own neighborhood” after they had assaulted me and stomped on my glasses before walking away?

Claiming that blacks are justified in such behavior is beyond laughable. Claiming foul over jobs moving overseas is equally laughable. How many white people have also lost their jobs over such corporate moves? I lost a call center job because the company “offshored” their call center to somewhere in India twenty years ago. Furthermore, I have been passed over numerous times for jobs because the staff at a given restaurant or business was primarily or even exclusively black or Hispanic and “wouldn’t fit in” with the rest of the crew.

To accuse all white people of being oblivious to the problems of racism ignores contributions by people such as Abraham Lincoln, who believed in more than just the abolition of slavery. If all people are oblivious, how do you account for the contributions of Juliette Hampton Morgan, Reverend James Reeb, Jonathan Myrick Daniels and Viola Gregg Liuzzo during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s? How do you account for your own contributions, Mr. Wise? As misguided as I believe you to be, I recognize you, as a human being, for your efforts in combating racism; I just don’t agree with your blanket claim and attitude on your claim.

Should I bemoan “women’s privilege” over the fact that women get hired more for secretarial positions or as restaurant servers than men like me do or “black privilege” because black people have nightclubs that only they are welcome in or scholarship programs that only they qualify for? Should I tolerate accusations of having “chocolate fantasies” should I have a black woman as my girlfriend, lover or wife while a black man with a white woman screams racism if he is accused of “mixing crème” or having “Oreo” babies?

All of this is offensive, I admit… just as your accusations are offensive to those of us to whom they ill fit. The truth is most of your accusations become self-fulfilling prophecies because minorities tend to believe them to be inevitable and act as if they are true, even when “white” America is standing beside them, trying desperately to help change things. Instead of pointing fingers, Sir … try actually working with people to change the world. As Morgan Freeman said, “How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!”

Instead, Sir, do as I do … try treating people as human beings, regardless of their skin color, gender or sexual orientation. This includes NOT accusing all white people of being ignorant of racism.  And by the way, I do condemn anyone who destroys the property of others, even if the Rockies were to win the World Series this year.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Orwellian World is Upon Us!

I am beginning to think George Orwell was closer to being right than anyone wants to acknowledge, even those trying to wake us up to the development of "Big Brother" government. George Orwell predicted three critical areas of development that, out of context, might seem like good ideas.

The first was digital media. Digital media has opened up a tremendous potential for sharing information rapidly and broadly in our society. It also allows the quick, responsive editing of content, permitting us to alter the information as new information and knowledge is obtained. This is also a major drawback. The digital media can be altered in response not to changing knowledge, but changing politics. Entire documents can vanish from the Internet over night, simply at the say of some political boss or corporate executive. With the changes, our viewpoint on various issues is altered, even if the changes make no sense what so ever.

The second was increasing polarization of our society. This was presented in the real-time changes of who the "enemy" of the society was, even to the point of changing in the middle of a political rally with people altering their signs and chants without missing a beat. Today, we see this in the form of our political party shifts. We see the Republicans in charge, advocating deregulation of big business and creating a single-payer health care program. Democrats scream about the economy crashing and socialist government developing from the nationalization of the health care system. Leadership changes, with Democrats taking the reigns, and we see advocacy of deregulating big business and creating a single-payer health care program. Now it is the Republicans screaming about the economy crashing and our society becoming socialist with the nationalization of the health care system. This keeps us off balance, not really knowing who to trust.

The third was increasing surveillance technology and its misuse. We have gone from a society where wiretapping and spying on citizens was considered Constitutional violations to a state where having cameras on every street corner, surveillance of our telephone and Internet usage, and even the monitoring of what books we buy or borrow from the public library are seen (at least by our leaders) to be fair game. This has put us in a state of mind where we are reluctant (if not fearful) of exercising our Constitutional rights.

Orwell predicted this state many decades ago, he just didn't get the date right.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Enemy Combatants?

I see a fundamental issue with labeling people "enemy combatants". The phrase implies a state of declared, definable war where we know who is or is not our enemy. The problem with our current situation is our "enemies" have only one thing in common ... they are Muslim. Islam is a religion, not a country. There is no definitive territory from which Muslim's come, no military bases flying a recognized Muslim flag, nothing upon which to declare an absolute target of action.

Labeling those who commit crimes like the attacks on New York and Boston as "enemy combatants" clouds the issue, leading us to argue over how they should be handled. Do we treat them as common criminals, in which case they have rights under our civilian legal system, or do we treat them as prisoners of war, in which case they have rights under the Geneva Convention?

A third possibility does exist: accept them as prisoners of war who, due to their deliberate targeting of non-combatant, civilian populations and targets, are war criminals, subject to military tribunal and trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This does, of course, require us to hold our soldiers and leadership to the same standard, hence my opposition to the continued use of "drone strikes" in countries against whom we have no declaration of war, yet continually commit military strikes within their territories, often killing nothing but non-combatant, civilian "targets".

Start thinking people, we already have established rules of law to handle people like this. Let's start using them the way they were designed and honoring them ourselves, otherwise we have no right to call ourselves a "civilized" nation.