Monday, November 30, 2015

Immoral Morality, Hyper Hypocrisy, and America's Denial of Domestic Terrorism

Australian philosopher and Princeton professor Peter Singer developed a thought experiment in which he asked people if they would jump into a swimming pool to save a drowning child if it meant ruining a thousand dollar suit. Every person asked, without hesitation, answered yes they would jump in to save a drowning child. Then he asked the participants to send the thousand dollars they saved by not jumping in a pool to a charity that helps children dying overseas. This was a much tougher proposition. It’s hard to make sacrifices for people half a world away, harder when they pray to a “different God”, and even harder when they don’t look like you.
When I watch television, read the comments section on websites, or read letters published in newspapers there’s one reason consistently given for not helping Syrian refugees: fear. I don’t care how articulate or inarticulate the arguments are presented; fear is almost always the central thesis. Fear is a reasonable response to trauma. We live in a dangerous world, but are we to driven by fear? Is it immoral to deny help to someone because of fear? Is it reasonable to be more afraid of terror half a world away than the terror in our backyard?
I want to, in my own fallible way, demonstrate how we (Americans) focus more on terror threats abroad than the attacks we face at home. Paris made the world pay attention, yet with our eyes focused on the middle east and Europe we missed several terrorist provocations and attacks in our own country. The viciousness of the Planned Parenthood attack made us address a painful truth many in our country reflexively avoid: domestic terrorists are more likely to hurt or kill us than Isis.
Since 911 cowardly American terrorists have murdered and shot almost twice as many innocent Americans than their middle eastern counterparts, yet we don’t obsess over this. We’ve become very skilled at explaining away the actions of our fellow citizens. We dismiss their cunning as mental illness, we say they’re loners- even when they act in unison, we systematically disconnect the string of politically and racially motivated shootings and murders over the last few years because not doing so would force us to admit we’re under siege by someone other than dangerous people from Mexico, Chicago, or the middle east.
When Muslim Americans in Irving, Texas were greeted in front of their Mosque by a dozen well armed “Patriots” the terror they felt wasn’t plastered all over television. The young man in Fairfax, Virginia who planted fake bombs at a Mosque in Falls Church isn’t a household name. When five Black Lives Matter members were shot in Minneapolis last Monday night I had to look for information about the investigation because it wasn’t deemed worthy of media coverage. I’m convinced that a nationwide 90 day black out from politically driven, racially divisive cable news outlets and Yellow journalism websites would actually make some of our fellow citizens more informed than they are now.
I understand how rational people feel compelled to intervene in traumatic situations facing them, but I can’t understand how the same people can use the same side of their brain to deny the carnage around them. The nine Christians murdered in a terrorist attack in South Carolina weren’t murdered by Muslims, The almost monthly ritual of school shootings aren’t being committed by illegal aliens, and it wasn’t thugs from Chicago pointing guns at federal law enforcement officers at the Bundy compound last year.
Our cowardice and inability to talk, in an open and honest way, about these issues is telling. One undeniable proof of privilege is being able to avoid conversations that are uncomfortable or call into question your worldview. Every few weeks we see a breaking news story about children getting shot down like dogs in their classrooms, and all we get from our political class is an admission of impotence. They tell us there’s nothing we can do to stop gun violence in a free society, yet we’ve seen fast moving bipartisan legislation to slow down the refugee process for our Syrian brothers and sisters- who, by the way, are created in the image of our God. This kind of moral inconsistency doesn’t go unnoticed. As a nation I wish we were more John Brown than Jefferson Davis when it comes to affirming the humanity of a person, but I’m old enough for my wishes not to hurt me.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ferguson, The University of Missouri, and Dr. King

The government uses counterintelligence agents to disrupt peaceful protesters while the media uses Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to dissuade future uprisings.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hate Radio As A 2nd Language: What Conservatives Said About The Univ. of Missouri

Growing up in a small southern town has blessed me with the gift of translating Conservative hate radio. I live in a town where a lot of people never learned that it's not acceptable to call a black man boy, and the Confederate flag is not a racist relic. For decades, people of color comprised less than 10% of the total population in my town; very few of them, no matter how educated or qualified, worked (or work) in any field other than hospitality or service. When combined, these factors create the perfect atmosphere for people to talk unfiltered. I speak English, I've taken Spanish in school, but my true second language is dog whistle. When people don't see you as an equal you get distorted communication: they say what they want, and expect you to say what they want to hear. I've studied the listeners of hate radio in their natural habitat. I'll use this skill to decipher some of the comments made about the student protesters and football players at the University of Missouri.

Rush Limbaugh: You find the major problem is that there are too many white people at this place. And they apparently are not nice enough or considerate enough to the 10 percent of the people there who are black. And so there has to be some changes.

Translation: You people don't know how lucky you are to be here. You guys are the lucky ones. We give you track suits, tennis shoes, and there's basketball courts everywhere. What else do you want?

Jazz Shaw: The Inmates Are Running The Asylum At Mizzou. Parents sending tuition money there deserve what they get.

Translation: I don't care how high your S.A.T. scores are you're still thugs and hoodrats.

MICHAEL BERRY: So now the president of the university has resigned. Now, think of the message this sends. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. The football players at the University of Missouri. The football players decide who the president will be? An institution of higher learning. You're doing research on molecular biology that may lead to a cure for cancer. You're doing aeronautical research, you're doing chemical research, molecular biology research. You're educating how many thousand people? And you're letting a few thugs decide who you're president will be?

Translation: This happend because you can't control your boys. You need to run a tighter ship. This is what happens when they start feeling themselves.

MICHAEL BERRY: Good, you do have a problem. But it's far bigger than the creative shaping of poop by somebody on your campus. You got a major problem with your priorities. If you can't reign in a few football players to shut their mouth and play football, else they lose their scholarship? You've got a real problem on your hands. You've got a problem of culture. You've got a problem of priorities, and you've got a problem of pandering.

Translation: No matter how much education you have, no matter how legitimate your claims are: you need to get over it and accept the way things are.

When Blacks riot we're told to follow the model of peaceful assembly. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is used as a cudgel to thwart young radicals. When educated young men and women use their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and boycott they're still called thugs. This is a good thing: we need bigots to say out loud what their true feelings are. I love that the language has become so coded. The reason so many on the right hate politically correct language is because it's forced them to find new ways to say the same tired things. This is radical and I love it. Advantage allows one to avoid a lot of uncomfortable moments and conversations. Viral examples of blatant racism has forced some of our fellow citizens to pull their head out of the sand. All of this talk about racial animosity destroys the myth of a post-racial America. Confronting these problems in an honest way is part of the cure for them. We need to create an atmosphere where bigotry, no matter how subtle, is publicly called out and shamed.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Omission: Officer Gliniewicz And Conservative Media

Omission is one of the most powerful tools the media has at its disposal. The media can’t control what we think, but they can control what some of us think about. The deafening silence in light of the facts about corrupt Officer Gliniewicz on conservative talk radio and Fox news is telling. I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit watching Fox and listening to talk radio. I forced myself to watch The Five, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity. Sheppard Smith was the only person who addressed the way the networks on air personalities tacitly linked the “murder” of Officer Gliniewicz to the Black Lives Matter Movement. It doesn’t make me want to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize, but after watching several hours of their programing over a two day period: I felt somewhat vindicated that a day after the story broke someone made my time worthwhile.
I have to admit I was impressed by the systematic the way they negated this story; the Fox “news” team covered the Russian plane story wall to wall, while the opinion team absolutely hammered Quentin Tarantino. CNN wasn’t any better they covered the Russian plane story with the same vigor that they covered the Malaysian flight from last year with. Chris Hayes gets an A+ for covering the story on Wednesday. This concerted omission is an important lesson for anyone new to media propaganda. The lack of media coverage for the 10\10\15 Justice or Else march combined with the cowardly and dishonest way this story has been covered is something those of us who identify with and support Black Lives Matter have always known and dealt with. I vividly remember the media coverage of the Ferguson and Baltimore riots, and the Fox Lake manhunt. The airwaves were filled with images of destruction and conservative experts chronicling the problems of the black community, yet when nearly a million people of color peacefully assemble in our nation’s capital or a hero cop is proven to be a “thug” we get crickets.
I’m not so naive that I believe news organizations don’t have bottom lines and profit motives to consider, nor do I equate or hold conservative pundits to the same standard I hold hard journalists to, but the lines between the two have been blurry for quite a while. The moment news outlets are more concerned with crafting narratives than uncovering truths they cease to be useful. There’s nothing wrong with infotainment, but too many in our society confuse it with journalism. If a task force had uncovered a link that implicated high ranking leaders at ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ of Officer‪ #‎Gliniewicz‬’s killing trust me: there wouldn’t be a concerted effort to avoid covering this story. In fact I would be watching the news now in an effort to hear the newest round of Ad Hominem attacks against those of us concerned with social injustices.
I’ll accept any criticism that comes from this post, but I won’t apologize for pointing out what’s right in front of me.
If it don’t apply let it fly!

The Suicide of Officer Gliniewicz and #BLM

This was uploaded from a Periscope session.