Ben Carson says we are drowning in a sea of “political correctness.” Which seems to mean nothing more than that being POLITE and RESPECTFUL interferes with his ability to appeal to the racist, nativist needs of his constituency.
No doubt, some will see my appeal to stop using the terms “illegal” or “illegal aliens” as an attempt to “pretty up” a bad situation by alluding to people’s sense of decency.
Well I am in some ways doing just that. I’m trying to appeal to your sense of decency, if such a thing is still to be found in the body politic of twenty-first century America.
I come by this opinion honestly, meaning that it is not something that I have suddenly acquired, but rather it is the product of a lifelong interest and pursuit of what it means to be an immigrant in America. It starts out in one of those silly situations of life that appear meaningless–being a teen.
We hung out with a bunch of boys from another high school, one more racially diverse than our own, which boasted no African-Americans and as far as I can remember, no notable members of any other ethnic group either. We were all pretty much white folk of one variety or another. Anyway, with my other friends, I was from time to time exposed to “others”. One of them was a kid named Valentine Rodriguez. I can’t remember a thing about him, nor what he looked like, (other than CUTE), but his name I never forgot. I found him as exotic as his name.
Being a resident of Michigan it was not unusual at certain times of the year to see trucks full of brown-skins moving from farm to farm, picking crops. As a lawyer, I also came in contact with migrant workers from time to time as they fell victim as do we all, to various driving infractions that required a court appearance.
When I was in serious examination as to whether I should continue with my entry into the Dominican Order, I contemplated and talked with people from various organizations in D.C. and locally about possible ministries I might engage in once I had reached that point in the convent. I wrote on the topic of Hispanic issues and thrilled to one of the more enticing of theologies–liberation theology, which had developed in the Medellin Conference in the 50’s led by such notable theologians as Gutierrez, Sobrino, and Boff. I devoured their books.
Ultimately I ended up retiring with my husband to Las Cruces, New Mexico, I small city on the southern border of New Mexico, one where the population is fairly evenly split between Anglos and Hispanics.
From all such experiences I have learned a great deal, and my passion, respect, and enjoyment of Hispanic culture in all its multiplicities continues to delight me. My neighbors are so diverse that it truly is a place of no majorities. My life, as you might expect is so thoroughly entwined in the native cultures I live in, that there is a true blending and it would be hard to separate one cultural experience from another, as we adopt bits and pieces from each other and construct a new paradigm that is “New Mexican” in nature.
The need for immigration reform is apparent to all yet the manner of that reform divides white American into deep chasmic chaos. For growling in the depths of the American scene is a harshness and anger that recurs as the continuing call, by a small segment, for the draconian answer to it all being deportation.
While most everyone but the hateful few, know this is both immoral and impractical, it doesn’t stop the arguments. And it doesn’t stop the hurt that is inflicted both upon the undocumented worker him/herself, but also those of us who know them intimately and feel their pain.
It HURTS to hear this sort of talk.
These people first of all, possessed this land long before we did. We here in New Mexico, as well as parts of Texas and Arizona and California, were once Mexico’s lands, and were peopled by them and other natives in the region. That changed when Anglos discovered value in these lands (New Mexico was something of an exception. The land is not so valuable, and so it developed with less of the usual American swagger and power. Today we are a constitutionally bilingual state, and we guard our cultural richness carefully.)
Beyond that historical fact, we must turn to the horrific record of American involvement in South America per se. We have continuously through multiple administrations supported vicious dictatorships who willingly allowed American business interests to rape the country financially (as long as they shared in the stealing) while their populations suffered in poverty. (Thus the rise of Liberation theology to offset the Church’s real past assistance to the dictators in maintaining order.)
So in some real ways the situations in many Latin countries today is one created by Americans, who now it seems are upset that these populations often flee their native lands in search of some hope of a future for their families. They cross the border because we in part are responsible for the fact that their native countries are a wasteland of poverty and crime.
Look, people from South America are no different from you. If they come here destitute, unskilled, and with nowhere to turn, it is no fault of their own. If they send their children across hundreds of miles of lands to reach America, they do it because it is far safer for them this way than to remain in their countries. They love their kids, and want the best life possible for them. They are no different from you.
And when they come here, the vast majority find friends or relatives who have come before. They seek employment. They work hard jobs that you probably don’t want, at wages you would not tolerate.
Yet, there is an ugliness that surrounds the issue as people like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and others demand that more severe alternatives be considered other than what most see as humane and fair–a process that will lead to citizenship for people who have lived here for decades.
And it results in awful statements by folks with little actual data suggesting that they are taking stuff that belongs to “us”. The facts are otherwise.
Much is made about the supposed “fact” that undocumented people “get government freebies”. This is not true. They don’t. They are not eligible for welfare, food stamps or Medicaid. They pay into the SS through their taxes and do not become eligible to receive any of the benefits. They do this to the tune of $100 billion in the last decade alone.
They do not take American jobs. As pointed out, most Americans won’t do the jobs they will. Any number of studies show this to be true. Ask Alabama what happened when it became illegal to hire anyone who was undocumented. Their crops rotted in the field as white workers found the work “too hard” or “boring” and walked off the job after a few hours.
Current estimates are that they pay in between 10-11 BILLION more taxes than they receive through any source. They thus add a positive to the economy that is numbered at about 10 billion annually. The is above and beyond what they send back to their home countries to help remaining relatives.
They are told to get to the “end of the line.” The “line” is now 4.4 million people long, and there is no real hope that any of them could enter legally for years. In 2013, nearly 73,000 parents were deported from their so-called anchor babies. They will not be allowed to return until their child is 21 and can petition for their return.
Worse yet, in a climate that claims that they are a strong criminal element in the country, the studies and numbers show otherwise. In the ten-year period between 96-06, statistics show that crime was lower in the states with the highest illegal immigration rates.
Those are facts.
Just for fun ask yourself this: Do you think the Canadians referred to Americans who fled to their country to avoid the draft as “illegal aliens”? The answer is no. They were referred to as “immigrants” and processed accordingly.
What must be admitted or realized is that all the scary stuff is designed to make you afraid. And fear motivates people to vote. And they want you to vote for them, not because their words are true, but simply because fear of ANYTHING works for them.
We, down here in the borderlands (yes, that’s the term we actually use), find your hysteria silly and amusing and sad and disgusting all at once.
It needs to stop. These are real people, just like you and I. And it’s time we give them the help and compassion they deserve. They pull their weight and then some. It’s time to recognize your misdirection and seek the real source of your misery–the sleight-of-hand-artists who depend on your acquiescence in their desire for power and money.
It’s fairly easy to pick out uber conservatives (aka nut jobs) today. They are the bald ones, having pulled out every last hair upon their holy heads at the vile in-your-face rebuke offered them by “those five unelected lawyers” who have seemingly taken to poking a stick at family values and the American way all in one fell swoop.
I arrived home yesterday to find my Better Half (aka the Contrarian) all dressed up and meeting me at the door. After the usual, “how was the pool?” dialogue, I was unable to contain my query any longer. “Why are you all dressed up in your big-boy clothes at 9:30 in the morning?” i asked.
“Guess you didn’t hear the news,” he grinned. “Gay marriage is now the law of the land, and according to WorldnetDaily, the next step is mandatory marriage. I don’t even have a boyfriend yet, but I’m ready if anyone shows up at the door as my designated gay-marriage mate.”
“I won’t make the cake you know,” I reminded him, “since it’s my constitutional right based on religious freedom not to be forced to sanction your unholy alliance. Besides, since I’m gonna wear white, I don’t wanna take a chance on getting ganache all over me.”
I have no doubt that similar scenarios were played out all over America.
It’s now a day later, and well, we are being patient. I do hope the Committee to Assign picks a suitable dude for my dude. We are still negotiating whether I’ll get my own room or just get a King-size bed.
Oh, in case you have any “in” with that committee, we just want to say, we are open to most anything but we both dislike back hair if you don’t mind not sending that type. Otherwise we’re pretty open-minded.
On the other side of the ducat you will find your pass to health care still intact. Much as the uber right was praying to see millions of weeping ex-insurance holders collapsing in cancerous piles, all to the tune from The Life of Brian–bring out your dead!
Justice Roberts is being hung in effigy throughout the south and other hidey-hole enclaves throughout the lower forty-eight. “Traitor” is being bandied about and serious inquiry is afoot to determine whether the Chief has middle initials of B.A. and no I ain’t talkin’ about Bachelor of Arts.
It’s been a thoroughly bad week for the side that hides its hatred and bigotry behind phrases like “religious freedom” and “work ethic”. As usual they betray themselves in ‘splainin’ that all they want to do is punish the sin and give charity as they see fit without being taxed. Cuz we are so wilfully caring of our fellow-man and woman ya know.
Meanwhile, another very right-wing piece of refuse, killed a bunch of surely very nice folks at a Black church in Charleston S.C. The Foxy Fools immediately decried this “attack on Christianity” furiously trying to pretend it had nothing to do with race hatred, since we live in a post-racial loving America.
Inevitably, somebody mentioned that once again, mass murder by guns in the hands of a loon. And just as surely, the Foxy Fools recalling their Murdock learnin’ responded, “the libs are trying to politicize this tragedy once again! Shame on them!” This while, Wayne La PeePee, stuttered in a whisper, “tell ’em to buy all the guns they can, cuz that Nazi-Arab-lovin’ usurper in the GOD-DAMN IT, CAN’T YOU SEE IT’S A WHITE HOUSE, is surely gonna take them away from you, declare martial law and declare himself Emperor for life.” Wayne’s phone went off, to the tune of cha-ching.
Meanwhile, I engage in yet another fruitless discussion with idiots. “If the crime rate has gone down in the last 25 years, as you say, well it must be because our gun laws are perfectly strict now,” said the lady who is too lazy to even determine whether crime is down as “I say”, let alone offer a rational explanation. Actually, the drop in crime is so significant that it has spawned several major studies done by illustrious public institutions like the U of Chicago, and the Brennan Center for Justice.
Guess what? It has to do with abortion (meaning unwanted children are not raised in poverty and do not fall victim to crime as a means to get out), and the passing of clean air/water act which cleaned up the lead in our old housing units and the neurological damage is does. Or better policing. Open carry and conceal carry? Zero impact on falling crime rates. Strict gun laws? Huh?
Now that’s gotta twist some knickers don’t it? Things the GOP and the so-conservative-it-hurts group have opposed. Abortion and regulation are ugly words to a Rightie.
So how about that Confederate flag thing? Yep, as soon as the GOP gave up any hope that the Foxy Fools could work their magic and turn the issue of a mass shooting to serve their own purpose, well the GOP turned on a dime and became “outraged” and all agreed that Nickki Haley was “courageous” in doing the “right thing”. Course the Nickster saw the flag as no problem just a few months earlier when running for her re-election.
“Why the CEO’s I’ve talked to haven’t ever mentioned that Confederate flag,” she assured us, so what’s the problem? Black folk, you see, did not figure into her determination. Why should they care?
Meanwhile, Governor Abbott in Texas proves what was deemed unbelievable only a few months ago. Somebody can do a worse job than Rickie “glasses” Perry. Abbott, appointed some woman to head up the state’s Board of Education. Which is of course not remarkable, except the woman appointed home schools her kids.
Did you read that? She home schools her kids because she doesn’t believe in the public school system. How rich is that? Seriously?
I’m keeping a close tab on all points of egress from the US. There are scores of drooling half-wits who claim that if either Obamacare or gay marriage came to fruition they would be movin’ elsewhere. I want to be sure to be there to wave them goodbye. And then burn the damn ramp to the boat once they are aboard. Good riddance!
Oh and California is facing a water shortage. Actually they are facing NO FUCKING WATER. This lead one lady to blame it on gays. God surely hates the wrong people screwing each other she bellowed and will punish US. And the rest of the thirsty bunch is suing to make sure they get their fair share of dry sand.
I gotta say, it’s been a good week for sanity. If you sort out the bullshit.
Watching the events play out in Baltimore is an education to some, to others, it’s a why question. Why didn’t this happen sooner? The fact is whether you like it or not, life in the inner city is purely shit for the average African-American citizen.
Every deck is stacked against the individual trying to survive. Poor schools, no jobs are just the beginning. We see nothing less than a systematic attempt to herd “unwelcomes” into small enclaves and then devote all our money and energies to “other interests.”
We not only condone racism in this country but we grow it.
We demean people even when we give them the pittances we do, by making them take drug tests, and defining what food stamps can be used for, and attaching so many rules and regulation to any sort of assistance that you end up in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario.
And when people rise up out of anger and frustration and disgust at the injustices they endure, we blame it all back on them and their “fatherless” homes, where unfortunate black youths learn no morals or sense of obedience to authority. Above all that, they have no respect for their betters.
One young man fairly told Geraldo Rivera to take his white ass and get out of town. They recognize Fox for what it is, purveyors of hate upon their heads. Geraldo, the youth said, you are only interested in filming what you call “thugs” rioting. You and Fox haven’t been interested in coming here to report on the daily injustice that we face.
To those of us who have engaged in the criminal justice system in this country in large metropolitan cities, we know all too well of what the young man speaks. As Alan Dershowitz explained in his Rules of the Justice Game, “almost all police officers lie about whether they violated the constitution in order to convict guilty defendants”, (rule IV) and all prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys are aware of rule IV. Worse, they look the other way. Like it or not, it’s true.
The recent public exposure of these cases of police overreach, abuse and lying comes as no surprise to us. I recall a dear friend of mine, a street cop from Detroit, whom I had argued with good-naturedly about whether police could do their job and still tell the truth. He was called to testify on an arrest and to make his point to me, told the truth. The case was dismissed for lack of “probable cause”. He grinned at me, as he walked from the courtroom. “See what you get when you tell the truth?”
We understood it, and we accepted it as a the way life was. We knew that in most cases the officers were at least sure they had the right guy.
But there is a segment of police officers within each department who do not care. They figure one black body is as good as any other, and they have ambitions, and a host of emotionally based reasons for throwing their authority around and not caring who gets caught up in their game.
Therein lies the problem.
And a solution comes from an unlikely source:
The gangs of Baltimore.
The major gangs have declared a truce, and apparently are devoting their time and efforts to helping their community respond in a politically helpful way to the recurrent injustice visited upon them in general and in the Freddie Gray case in particular.
It boggles the mind. Young men hell-bent on killing each other, and unfortunately any innocents that get in the way, have come together and agreed that for now at least, they will stop the violence against each other, and help organize their community to stop police violence against them all.
This is no small thing. Thinking, educated, above middle-class men and women only a few miles away, encased in a glorious white facade of sandstone and marble, are unable to agree upon even the most basic of things because screwing the black guy in the White House seems paramount.
Yet these young men have agreed to set aside their differences and work together for the common good of their community.
And the gang has a good deal to offer should it choose to actually follow through. Long the center of loyalty, and business acumen (albeit illegal) it mirrors many good traits that the young can well adopt. Strong Black men, helping their community? What’s not to like here. They teach loyalty, respect, and how purpose can bring about change. Somehow in their matriarchal upbringing, they have managed to become quite savvy at things they aren’t supposed to understand at all.
They in a real sense complement their environment, reflecting an honest if not legal response to the tremendous burdens and disadvantages heaped upon them since birth. They have the ability to encourage the younger kids coming up at least in the character requirements of making their way in a racist world while still standing firm for dignity.
No one argues that gangs are stellar examples to our youth. They have not been since the days of the Irish gangs, the Puerto Rican ones or any of the others. But all ethnic groups plagued with the criminal element within have always managed to take those good attributes and bettered themselves and their communities. And the Black community is no different. It too learns the right lessons along with the less savory.
Larry Wilmore, on his show The Nightly Show, did a most important thing on Thursday. He sat down with gang bangers in a diner and just talked. And they were articulate, and politically aware, and sincere. And that matters and should matter, and should make us hang our heads in shame when we cannot expect better from our paid politicians, and we cannot seem to expect more of ourselves in insisting on our own justice from the tyranny of big money and big K Street influence.
Perhaps it will be the gangs of Baltimore that will lead the way in helping us to see that we are not without recourse in our own struggles to retake command of our government. We need merely to stop focusing on our differences and agree that we are not being heard. None of us, for anything. And it’s time to change that. And if it takes a gang to explain that to us, well, more power to them.
And that’s a compliment in case you didn’t realize it.
We participate in SoCS.
If you happened to catch Jon Stewart last week he did what has become classic for him–pointing out the heaping hypocrisy that the uber Right always seems to manage to live with. Entering the head of a right-wing expert is sorta like entering the minotaur’s labyrinth. A normal person gets lost in all the dead ends.
Anyway, Jon was talking about Kansas. Kansas just passed a law and gol’ darn it, Sammy “spittin’ Brownback signed it, removing all restrictions to concealed weapon carrying, including even having a permit. That’s cuz Kansans are so dang trustworthy and kin do the right thing. Kansas is also real big on the notion that poor people are not like regular Kansans. They are akin to kidlets and must be told what to eat and what to buy. If you get assistance from Kansas, you get a list of what you can use it for, cuz you aren’t grown. Jon pointed out that the inconsistency here is that Kansas receives $1.29 from the Federales, for every $1.00 it pays in. Which makes them welfare moochers ya know. So, um, if we wanna be consistent, I guess we ought to be tellin’ the Kansans what they spend their free monies on huh?
Kansas is not alone in this sort of thinking. Republican-led legislatures in many states seek and do impose lots of restrictions on the poor of all sorts, treating them like they are not fully grown, nor citizens. One wonders why Re-huh-ligans think this way. I mean plenty drug test anyone seeking assistance, even though the results of all those tests suggests it costs way way more to give them then it ever saves in “drug users don’t git no help” fails.
It’s all illogical, demeaning, and downright awful and one wonders why, as I said.
See, iffin’ you go back far enough, we were a very tribal species. Sorta like lion prides. New folks from other lands were not invited into the tribe, much as alpha males drove off traveling loners who sought to join the pride. (This all drives fundies quite mad, since they don’t believe we humans go back far enough for that, but fundies seldom can force themselves to take the giant step to actually read out of their comfort zone, so no matter.)
Anyway, we tend to be tribal still, some of us more so than others. The tribe is generally quite artificial these days, but it often relates to religion, or ethnic origin, gender, and stuff like that.
We live with a lot of folklore here as they do everywhere. We were raised on the Protestant Work ethic which should tell you a whole lot just by the name. It had to do with religion and salvation, but has become twisted into some sort of “this is how grownups behave” notion that hard work brings success economically.
Our start as a nation also caused people from time to time to strike out on their own, urged on by such things as primogeniture, to make a life in the wilderness. This became “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps”, in other words, making it on your own.
These things, when done successfully give one a sense of accomplishment and capability. Such people like to look a bit down at others who for a whole list of reasons can’t succeed as they did.
Of course, this whole thing gets extended and twisted until it doesn’t really resemble what it started out as. We aren’t any longer a new country with a vast Western virgin expanse where one can strike off and create a new life. You can only invent the hula hoop once. It gets harder and harder to make it on your own, and hard work can end up bringing little more than basic survival.
But as long as one is surviving, albeit at the lowest level, one can still, and one is encouraged, to look down askance at those who have failed to even reach basic survival.
When we have priced education out of the range of most working class kids, it’s time to put down the idea that elite educations matter. All that matters is common sense after all.
The political hacks who do the work of big corporate interests have gotten very good at all this. They keep the barely differentiated in reality yapping at each other for all sorts of nonsensical things so that we fail to see what is really wrong in our country. We break into union/non-union, religious/not-religious, right-kind-of-religious/not-right-kind-of-religious, gay/straight, unregulated guns/regulated guns, and the divisions are infinitely divisible at this point. Somehow it all becomes liberty-loving patriots/commie-socialist-atheists. It all becomes prideful, and the alpha males snarl and gnash their teeth around the perimeter while the king of beasts patrols, defending.
The poor, become child-like, and lazy, because the working poor who are scraping by, must see themselves as successful. The liberals become elites who want to take what little the working poor have and trade it for votes among the child-like and lazy. The conservatives want to encourage entrepreneurship in theory to “grow jobs” by reducing taxes and regulation, and the workers are encouraged to believe that they could be entrepreneurs if only they didn’t have to pay for the child-like and lazy.
It all is quite silly and wrong and indefensible by the actual facts, but that does not matter since the working poor and barely holding on middle-class wants to believe they are doing all they can, and it’s somebody’s fault. They are actually right. They are doing all they can, and it is somebody’s fault. Just not the folks they think. For the machine works tirelessly to make sure that their anger is directed away from them.
We have gone in this country for feeling pity for the poor to actually hating them. For they are us and deep down we know that. And we are desperate to keep that fact buried deep in our subconsciousness, so that we can go on feeling successful and proud of ourselves.
Not just hate, which we camouflage in “tough love” rhetoric, but bitterness as well. They remind us of not just of ourselves, but of the opportunities we have missed, abused, and let go by while we took the easier course of listening to our “betters” and their constant propaganda. “You could be just like us,” they whisper, “if it were not for them.” And we have listened and we have nodded in agreement, and we have gone back to our Archie Bunkers and laughed uproariously and told ourselves that we are not Archie, all the while we have been Archie and continue to be that caricature in all his bigotry and blaming.
And we feel self-righteous in our demands that you don’t get to buy steak or get your nails done if you are getting my tax dollars. And we claim we are just helping “them” act like us, which is what we have been told is the “right way to be”. And what we do is ugly and mean, and makes people feel bad about themselves and they hate right back.
And the corporate masters cheer and clink their glasses and laugh and discuss the latest results of the polo match and whose going to the Mediterranean this year, and who will be at the Met this season.
And the wars go on. And nothing changes. And we teach these stupid lies to our kids and life goes merrily along for the rich and powerful and we keep dancing.
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is
Life is sure simpler if you avoid conflict. I know how easy it would be to just shrug and say, “well, that’s me, complicated” and just return to my purchased serenity. But the price is the incessant nagging that won’t leave me alone. Conflict must be resolved. It seems, well unseemly to do anything else.
Let me dispel any notion that I was someone of importance in the feminist movement. I was a cipher to put it quite bluntly. I came along at a time when the movement to date meant that I didn’t have to struggle with some things and too late to matter regarding others.
For instance, I showed up right on time when it came to law school, with all universities working hard to bring their women’s numbers up. I benefited no doubt and probably got in when say ten years earlier or maybe even five, I might not have. I was probably too early yet to be an air force pilot, and other occupations like police officer or firefighter were still male bastions. I consider myself lucky that those jobs were not within reach for me at the time.
I recall no march that I participated in, since those were few and far between. I was one of those “fellow travelers” who made their point largely by commenting on doors opened, “I can open my own door thank you,” and ladies first, “I’m fine being in the place in line I arrived at.”
But my heart was surely there. And as with most women of my time (and those who became politically aware) I read the required texts of feminism, listened to the words of feminist spokeswomen, and re-evaluated most of the “advice” I’d been offered by mother and other female family members. I mostly began to rethink the notions of what women want, and what they need to do to get it.
We rejected the casting couch. We demanded a say at the table of decision making on serious issues, not just those pertaining to “women’s issues.”
But old habits die hard.
I know there are women my age who married their childhood sweethearts. And bless them, if that turned out well for them. But most of us did not, and the 60’s and onward provided us opportunities to test out our sexual freedom as well. And with that came the perils. I would bet that not one woman who was sexually experimenting (meaning separating sex from love as men always do) was not subjected to some form of rape. Date rape is what I refer to. It need not have been violent, but it was insistent to the point that we succumbed rather than continue objecting. We told ourselves or were led to believe by an insisting man, that we had encouraged it, or brought it on, and we can hardly blame him now for wanting to “finish.”
So we understand about emotional and physical abuse, whether overt or “benign”.
Over the years the struggle has had its ups and downs and re-orientations. It has focused on poor women, and women in the boardroom. On wage equality, job opportunities, and image. Lately it has focused on abuse.
Many have recognized that until women and especially young girls have better images of themselves regarding power and influence, real progress won’t be made. This is because too many female children are still being raised in traditions that value being quiet and “polite,” and above all knowing “one’s place.” Until we teach our young boys and girls that gender is fairly insignificant to their dreams and responsibilities in life, we cannot effectively marshal the numbers necessary to push old white men off their pedestals of entitlement and take our rightful place alongside.
We must however, not merely preach the message, but we must live it, and therein lies my conflict of the day.
We are a culture that deifies to a great extent anyone in the public eye. Whether they be movie “stars” or singers, or sports professionals, we look upon them as objects to be admired. We seek to act like them, in however that translates to the average life. We dress, eat, drink as they do. We attempt to live in our modest means with trinkets that resemble their splendor.
To a degree we do this with politicians as well. Who doesn’t admire those who have managed to become known to large segments of the world simply by wielding power?
We fantasize these people into very inhuman beings, almost in some cases, as incapable of being anything but the perfection we infuse them with. They are bereft of the failings that we suffer. We tell ourselves that this is not the case, but truly we do so.
And yet, many if not all of them are flawed, as deeply flawed as we.
And of course there is a tabloid press out there ready and willing to make a buck trading on their failures. This is good in one sense of course for it reminds us of their feet of clay. But, to those we worship from afar, we tend to find ways of avoiding what we don’t want to believe.
I and my husband have determined that we cannot bear the ugly underbelly of hate that a Mel Gibson exhibits to the world when he is sufficiently drunk or angry to let his true beliefs come forth. Gibson is nothing but a hateful racist of the worst kind. Yet we recognize his talents in acting and are saddened that we miss the opportunities to enjoy it.
There are others. Many others.
Woody Allen is my nemesis. Such a huge talent, such amazing movie-making, yet an ugly man in his abuse of girls. One can only claim so long that the charges, which he denies, are false. The fact that he married his adopted daughter speaks volumes. Mariel Hemingway was 17 years old when Mr. Allen tried to convince her to come to Europe with him. I cannot ignore the obvious any longer, even though Diane Keaton seems to manage.
We cannot continue with “artists must be allowed their quirks” no matter how inappropriate.
Bill Cosby was easier. The sheer number of accusers is all the evidence needed. This man abused women in a ruthless “because I’m Bill Cosby” sort of ugliness that offends on every level.
Charlie Chaplin abused girls. So did Roman Polanski.
It is said that John Lennon beat his first wife and so did Eric Clapton. Ike Turner beat Tina.
We make allowances because of who they are.
We cannot continue to do so. Lennon, I’m told, publicly confessed his sins. Ike certainly didn’t.
There will be no more Woody Allen movies in my future, much as it pains me to do so. He is a genius of sorts, but a sick bastard as well.
I cannot and will not pick and choose based on how much I admire the work they do. I cannot, because I have a responsibility to girls growing up in this very difficult world. I cannot send mixed signals.
WE cannot send mixed signals. We must stand up for all women everywhere who are subjected to emotional and physical abuse, who are beaten down into believing that they are entitled to no more than they get. We must stand up, or collapse into our suburban retreats being nice grannies while organizing family get-togethers in some refusal to be a part of the reality that confronts our youngsters every day.
That is what it means to be a grown-up. We must leave the world a better, safer place. Damn us if we don’t.
I have a friend who often wonders why people care about the personal lives of other people. Why does anyone care whether somebody chooses to be single or married, have children or not, wants to sleep with this one or that one? Yet, it is undeniable that some people do care. Perhaps it is nothing more than powerless people attempting to force their lives on others in some vain attempt to feel superior, because their choices are “right” and that makes them feel better about themselves.
Some small few no doubt have deeply seeded religious notions (however wrong I may adjudge them) that urges them to compel others to live as they do, while paying lip service to a “religious freedom” that they conveniently reserve only for themselves. A great many more use religion as a shield to their own perhaps unconscious fears that they have certain stirrings which occur when the subject comes up, stirrings contrary to their definition of fitting into their particular group.
As polling suggests, the country continues to move more and more strongly in the direction of marriage equality. And the small, but adamant religious right, continues to voice its disapproval. But if it were this alone, we could all be content to “let the hater’s hate” with their pretense of “hating the sin, while loving the sinner.” Life always contains such out of the mainstream extremes so it seems.
But it is of course not “this alone.” This vocal and increasingly violent speaking segment continues to come up with innovative ways of making their animus known and felt. In reddish states across the nation (some six at the present with another half-dozen who have recently turned down such legislation), Republicans attempt to legislate bigotry in the face of a growing certainty that marriage equality will soon be the law of the land.
Republicans in general and those who appear to be running for President, reel like drunken sailors attempting to negotiate a rational path that both satisfies the “law or the one anticipated” and their growingly hostile base which insists on purity on this issue as on others. Of course there ends up being nothing rational at all in their stance.
Bush, Rubio, and Cruz are more than vocal in their support of the new mantra, that somehow there must be laws to protect the “religious” rights of people not to engage with gay people in their businesses if they don’t want to. There is no doubt that Huck, and Christie and Paul, and certainly Carson and Jindal agree as well. The fact that the argument is farcical is of no import. It “sounds” good, and that is always enough for the Right to pursue against a populace usually too busy with daily life to seriously disassemble the argument.
It’s all about religious freedom and not discriminating against Christians they intone. But is it?
As Jon Stewart pointed out, the florist who can’t bring themselves to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding, doesn’t even ask the trice about-to-be married man or woman, whom arguably Jesus would call adulterers. It doesn’t inquire into the criminal background of the pedophile, or the swindler before selling them a bouquet for their home. It doesn’t inquire of the drug dealer, murderer, before selling them the “wedding special.” All these instances are surely as egregious to God as the couple who has the temerity to love without benefit of the “right” plumbing arrangements.
These pieces of legislation are simply ruses to make you and I abide by somebody else’s personal preferences or to guard against their personal fears. Naming it “God’s will” doesn’t change a thing.
People talk about “deeply held religious beliefs” on the part of the florist or photographer. How is one to make that determination? By asking? By church attendance? By tithing amounts?
People talk about “next church’s will be forced to perform marriages against their tenets.” Really? Who has ever asked for that? There is no law in this country that attempts to interfere directly in church operations. Is anyone stopping the Westboro Baptist church from preaching hate every Sunday? Has anyone suggested that we should?
People talk about forcing people to serve others against their religious views. Well, yes, they are being told that. They are serviced, those businesses, by fire and police, they pay taxes, they receive water and electricity, the meet building codes, and sanitation requirements. They are in a fact engaged in a public endeavor, using city and state services. They are in a phrase, engaged in commerce, a public event. As such, this is simply one more general requirement of engaging in a public business–NOT DISCRIMINATING AGAINST PEOPLE BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THEM YOU DON’T PERSONALLY LIKE. Live with it, or get out of public sector business.
People like Rubio and Bush and Cruz attempt to draw some lines, such as “well we don’t mean they can’t be served in a restaurant.” Why not? How is that different from a florist? Which businesses are magically exempt? Will Hobby Lobby and it’s fakery about being offended by contraceptive care when it buys most of its inventory from abortion friendly China get the exemption?
People say that being gay is a choice. The question always becomes, so when did you “decide” to be straight? But putting aside the “gotcha”, why do religionists insist upon this “choice” thing? The weight of the evidence is that there is a genetic component which probably is in some way triggered by one’s environment. Or perhaps it is all genetic. Whatever it is it is not a choice, for even in today’s liberalizing environment, who would choose gayness with all its inherent problems? Surely more gays today are happy with their gayness, but at the point of decision would they have chosen this fight? Precious few of us desire to be martyrs.
The reason the religionists need gayness to be a choice is that is simply solves a lot of theological problems for them, and thinking makes religionists heads hurt. If it’s not a choice, then God made gays that way and it must be good if you read Genesis literally. So explain why God makes gay people and then demands of them to ignore the most basic of human needs and desires–sex? They can’t of course, so therefore, it must be a choice. It keeps the theology tidy.
And of course, if Gay is not a choice, there goes the argument that “gays are out recruiting your children” argument. It makes as much sense as saying that people who love surfing go out recruiting your children to be surfers.
This is just painful to write. Because as I type away, laying out the arguments, I try to imagine what it must feel like to be the subject of such an essay. People talk about gays and blacks and browns and women, and all minorities fighting for equality as if they were subjects on a chessboard. I say “the gays” or “women believe” as if they were some homogeneous pat of butter to be added or subtracted to the mix of human stew.
This sort of thing needs to stop being discussed because we need to stop putting people in these awful categories of “people like me” and “people not like me.” It’s all artificial, all just a disguise for our own hates and fears, and confusion.
People are people. Love is love. Let people work out for themselves whom they love. Let them live as they choose with whom they love. Let them arrange their love in whatever form works for them, and mind your own freakin’ business. Nobody wants to watch you groping and rolling in your bed with your love.
Don’t get me started on “then somebody will want to marry a horse,” crap. Just don’t.
As my husband says, the doorbell has still not wrung with my government-issued gay husband that I have to marry. Isn’t that enough for you bigots?