Monthly Archives: March 2016
First, they take the grime out of Manhattan, then they make a garnish trendy. Slow pour coffee on every fucking corner and goddamn MacBook Airs with 128GB of flash memory. Fucking hipsters have to ruin everything.
Edited 10/20/16 For Clarity and Grammar
Edited 3/28/16 – 11:45 Tags
I have a love/hate relationship with firearms.
On the one hand as a guy who played war and cowboys and Indians as a kid, an adult who has done archery and played countless shoot em ups, I’m fascinated by the skill it takes to hit a target at range. As a slightly paranoid father and household head, I am just as terrified of someone breaking into my home and assailing my family as I am paranoid that they will find, or wrestle a firearm from my hands as I attempt to defend myself.
As an African-American and a reader of history, I understand the complicated relationship we as a people have with firearms and how that relationship has been manipulated. As an American I see both sides of the debate, I see how an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment can be the determining factor in where you stand and how your race and background can figure equally into both your understanding of others feelings and your personal feelings about gun ownership. I also see how that is changing.
What I especially don’t care for is the manipulation of past restrictions on gun ownership by Black Americans by the NRA and other regressive organizations to make political points that work against us. Using the Black Codes as a means to flip the script and somehow paint gun owners as civil rights pioneers is deceitful, hateful and disrespectful as primarily white gun owner associations have never been either enslaved or restricted by the federal government to behave as full citizens, with equal rights under the law.
As a Progressive, I’m seeing both where we have far too many guns in the hands of untrained citizens as it is, and far too few in the hands of those who share my political philosophy. As a practicalist, I see how we are becoming more violent, more volatile as people. As a realist, I also see that part of the reason is that we have a massive proliferation of firearms.
With tensions in the country simmering to the point of boiling over, Trump firing up angry crowds and inciting violence, and most of these folks committed to defending what they feel is rightfully theirs regardless of a lack of logic behind any of it; I’m feeling more like Huey Newton and less like Mahatma Gandhi.
But the fact remains, firearm possession is legal in the United States, so the question becomes should Liberals and Progressives seek gun ownership?
I’m leaning towards yes.
It is ever so slightly paranoid to believe that some race war or civil war on any large scale, is coming. However, if the rise of Trump and his throng of angry and armed supporters decide to wreck havoc, is it not best to be prepared?
It is very easy to assail a person, to threaten them with a gun, a knife or some other sort of physical brutality on a whim if you feel you outgun them, this is an essential tendency of our species, the strong, for better or worse, feel empowered to prey on the weak. Indeed, if they already feel under siege, certainly if they feel emboldened and right. It is alw3ays easier to prey on someone weaker than you than it is to attack someone equal to or stronger than you.
Dominance over smaller women by larger men common in sports, most especially in MMA, is one example of this. Police using deadly force against suspects, primarily but not limited to men of color is another. Is not an equal playing field a guarantee of some semblance of safety?
I find myself now drifting into the realm of the Gun rights camp but not fully, not without the balance of statistics and not without significant reservations.
First reservation: Police.
There aren’t many police confrontations with open carry permit holders of color to compare to the ones posted on youtube with Caucasian men. This one recently occurred in Bridgeport CT, and pretty much goes the way most of the others do. But I do not trust already trigger happy police to handle every confrontation this way. They have proven time and time again that they are willing to break the law and assassinate people as a matter of course. Would people of color applying en masse to get permits change that script? Would Blacks, Browns, Liberals and Progressives open carrying make the same impact?
Second Reservation: Itchy Trigger Finger Syndrome.
The consensus found by recent studies is that having a gun in the home increases the chances of violence, either toward someone else or by self-harm. It is also has been the conclusion of a few studies that firearm possession increases not only the likelihood of their use in a confrontation but the escalation and threat of a confrontation itself in armed motorists. Concluding that people who are armed, and already angry feel extra empowered to use or brandish a firearm. Conservative white men who have grievances based on fear of the other have been involved in the majority of cases of road rage gun use, but would adding carrying Liberals, Blacks, Browns and Progressives who also have legitimate grievances to the mix not only increase the likelihood of violence? Are people indeed people across color lines and politics? My guess is yes.
Third Reservation: Critical Mass.
We’ve seen it time and time again, in many ways, we have this conversation in the first place because of critical mass. When the number, demographically, of “others” begins to eclipse the number of “whites” as it is starting to do now, the assumed balance is upset. The power structure is upended, and those who associated power with race (everyone) starts trying their best to adjust to the new reality. In the case of the United States, it isn’t going well at the moment. Many in the US, who self-identify as “white,” have enjoyed a long stretch of prosperity mostly inherited. The proof of this is all around us, said in explicit terms and implied in coded language that has become part of the vernacular. Many of these very people feel honestly that the election of Barak Obama was the death knell for the old America, which it was, but somehow despite the culture being a mix of the best and worst of all of us, this is only seen by them as a bad thing.
Others have had much more powerful things to say about this, and I suggest seeking them out. The fact remains that if the critical mass in legal gun ownership by Liberals, Progressives, Blacks and Browns is reached, judging by the knee-jerk reactions to the duly elected President, it will be ugly, probably very ugly.
Regardless of what we fear will happen, it is apparent that many folks are paranoid and armed.
Would balancing the paranoid and armed on the right with sober gun owners on the left be a good thing if the path we are on seems bound for confrontation? Or would the number of bullies be less likely to be dissuaded from starting aggressive movements if they knew those they oppose were armed as well?
I know this, an armed society is not immediately a polite one, a polite society is polite despite being armed or disarmed.
I’m still weighing my role in all this.
I wish no ill will on anyone, want nothing more than to live and let live and even find some common ground along the way. I also do not want to be the one with a target on my back. Despite what they may think the changing cultural demographics can benefit everyone, I just don’t want to be a victim of someone who has other ideas.
Could it be that the drug war began as a way to demonize the poor and brown? NO WAY!
I can’t conceive of the feeling of being so angry that you feel the need, not only to take your own life, but the lives of random strangers. No one’s political cause was ever helped by this, or have they?
They want us to hate them, specifically the degenerate fuck-nozzles who killed 34 and injured over 200. By them I mean they want us to hate ALL MUSLIMS. They want us to hate anyone, all 1.6 Billion believers in Islam, which encompass a wide swath of the racial. Political and social spectrum. They feel emboldened when they are hated and feared; they get power from it. Our unmeasured and even our measured responses ate recruiting tools for them, and they love when we hate them.
I’m not here to argue the nature of Islam, not here to defend religion in general, that with a few exceptions can both justify hate and create compassion. I’m not here to say that Islam is peaceful by nature, because no religion aside from Sikhism is at its core, peaceful. What I have to say is practical.
The few radical people, in any religion, who would use the vast majority of their followers (Christians, I’m looking at you too) as pawns, shields and scapegoats, deserve to die.
The loss of life in Brussels is terrible, sad and horrifying, and not only has it brought out the compassion and the unity of Europeans, but it has also brought out their fear and hatred. Against whom, you might ask? More of the innocents, the same innocents who perished in the bombings, were injured or killed by hate, will be slowly killed by more hate.
If the rise in nationalism, neo-nazism and ISIS recruitment is any indication, these few crazed believers are winning.
And I don’t even have to mention the 500lb orangutan in the room.
If you can stomach it, take a look at the latest apologia from the NYT’s resident cool-headed Republican David Brooks.
If he read this, I’d point him to THIS, and ask him? Why did you wait until they came for you?
Edited 9:47 EDT on 3/17/16 because I hit the “publish” button way too soon.
I don’t do Facebook much. Every time I’m lured back by some innocuous post, I get sucked back into the insanity for a bit, I pull a little further away. On several occasions, I’ve been worked into such a frenzy that I feel like my heart just might quit. Frankly, aside from a few friends and relatives, it isn’t worth using anymore, but I probably still will.
The ridiculousness of this election cycle has me closer than ever to hitting “delete.”
When you hear friends you thought were reasonable, say entirely foolish things or friends you knew were unreasonable already, say things so outrageous you can’t believe they felt emboldened to say them “in public” it feels like time to pull away.
This whole planet has me depressed at the moment. Where the US is heading is very well a dangerous and potentially violent place. Some of us believed that having access, making information and opinion more democratic; would create a learned republic. One akin to the one the founding fathers envisioned, except more varied economically (with women and Black folks included), effectively democratizing learning and making us all better voters and better citizens. HA!
It seems there is that little missing piece of every utopian fantasy gone awry that we all appear to have forgotten about, human nature.
The culture has become even more intellectually lazy, shiftless, boorish and crude. Not the good crude that ties us together with our individual baseness. Not potty humor crude, more like making a doody and smearing it in someone’s face crude. In this great experiment, we are in a very tenuous place.
I don’t consider myself intellectually lazy, nor do I feel that I am lazy in any other way, but I do feel very drained. To persist in a world that doesn’t read, doesn’t process information with a mix of emotion and logic, doesn’t care if they hurt others for what they feel they need, that fears, that hates, takes energy that on some days I feel I’m lacking.
Is this what it feels like to give in? Is settling for a country or a life that is 1/10th of 1% of what it could be, worth it? Is getting up every morning as the sun comes up just to face another day of shit worth the effort?
If I feel that way, I can only imagine what others who have much less than I do, or much less processing power than I do, or much less of a future than I do, feel.
I’m not only talking about the grim realities of living in a country so rich that a small number of people can own enough land, have enough capital to house, feed and clothe everyone else, and still have plenty left for themselves. For the most part, I’m talking about good hardworking people with no education or not enough ability, or who are too old to be part of the agile workforce. I feel on the edge of that last one myself.
The poor kid in South Philly and the old rancher in New Mexico both share these feelings of ennui. They share them for very different reasons, but the sense of helplessness and fear are the same. They have different things, at different levels, to lose, but they both feel a strong fear that they will lose it all.
At this very moment, it isn’t my task to try and separate the feelings or the reasons, the manipulators and those manipulated. I’m not setting out to, right now, tell the rancher that his fear is unfounded. Or to tell the kid that he should “work harder.” Right now I just want to accept that we are all on some level afraid.
And just let that sink in.
Edited on 3/14/17, For clerical errors. 😉
I feel on some days that I’m watching the country I love descend into madness.
Anyone who has watched a loved one slip into a bout of dementia and then ascend to relative normalcy and experienced the false hope that the person you knew and loved would continue to be recognizable to you as the disease progresses knows this feeling. The surfacing of someone over months or years, instead of the death throes of a once vital personality, become the delusion of “getting better.”
I fear that this country may be in those throes.
We seem to surface just long enough to elect a Black president and then dip below the surface in calling for his “papers.” We take a deep breath, rising above the waves in securing a free market solution to “health care for all,” but then go down a second time when the very people who came up with the idea denounce it based on fears that never materialize, or “death panels” that never existed. We barely turn our faces to the sky, open our mouths and aspirate when we finally recognize the dangerous influence of money and its exertion of power over everyone else, we have OWS and yet the Tea Party.
We seem constantly clinging to a raft and letting go, to be drowned willingly in madness.
Alexandre Dumas, the author of “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” places an extraordinary value on memory as both a plot device and a philosophical concept. In “Monte Cristo” the Count is left to rot, he and his crime are lost to the ages, his captors have moved on with their lives and forgotten him and the wrong they did him, this concept resonates today.
Our memory of our history and its revisionism is spelled out for us in this storyline. Dumas, whose father was the product of a relationship between a French nobleman and a Black slave, and who himself was subjected to racist taunts at the height of his artist prowess, stresses remembrance by showing us the product of our forgetfulness. In making an allegory of the Count, his unfair imprisonment, and subsequent release, he has not only set the stage for one of the greatest and most influential literary and filmic devices, the revenge story but makes a serious case for the determents and merits of remembering and forgetting.
We have forgotten much in our America.
Textbooks in the South insist that Slavery was a benign institution, one benefitting Africans by giving them religion and culture and by keeping them safe and warm, clothed and fed. I was watching Netflix the other day and came across “Chelsea on…” a series where comedian Chelsea Handler takes on particular topics, one of which was Race. One of the segments stuck out to me with this very idea at its core. Forgetting and remembering, conveniently forgetting the historical guilt and committing the greater sin of willfully changing the past to cover it up.
Many white southerners (and a growing number of others), especially those who self-describe as conservative, have an interesting blind spot for the culpability of the peculiar institution and its role in causing a rift between North and South. Even as I type this I am extra cautious in choosing my words, somehow feeling the need to protect the delicate ego of a place that has more bones in its racial closet than almost anywhere else on the planet. I feel the need to protect the very same people who enslaved my ancestors from their uncomfortable truths. Forgetting and remembering at odds inside me too.
As I watched apologist after apologist claim their feelings were being hurt by Ms. Handler’s lines of questioning I contrasted the very real image of the heavy slave shackles in a later segment, shackles very similar to those in the possession of my aunt, a collector of what she calls “memorabilia.” I wrestled with my seething anger and knew what Dumas’ concentration on memory and reemergence was all about. All of this bring home the notion that remembrance is probabaly our weakest human trait, as human-Americans it is even weaker.
As I watched Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord rewrite history in the worst, most bizarre way, I got that same feeling. He essentially argued that the KKK was a left-wing organization and that the left was solely responsible for the divisions in this country (see the exchange between he and Van Jones here, courtesy of the Washington Post) pulling out every rhetorical stop to nullify Jones’ argument about Trump and race. How this and much else on subject to debate can even qualify as “debateable” boggles my mind.
Unfortunately, this is more common than not. When someone screams “know your history” most often it is they who do not. Dumas, in the 18th century, understood this concept all too well.
The manipulation of memory is easier when those memories are accusatory; painful in the way they puncture the empowered’s sense of privilege. They are harder to change when the person bearing them has been ground under the boot heel of the memories themselves. They are mutable, through tons of pressure, pressure from those reacting to the wrongs they feel have been fostered upon them by the weak and powerless. All of what precedes, what is occurring now is why literature is so important, why philosophy matters and why curiosity counts.
Though there is no guarantee that knowing will lead to a saner life. In the case of the drowning man, another breath of air prolongs the struggle enough to fight on some more, but only for a limited amount of time. If no one is willing to see the water surrounding him, if no one is willing to understand that the same is surrounding them as well, eventually everyone will drown.
Criticism of Trump for not denouncing White Nationalists carries with it a certain irony in the GOP who, until recently, hadn’t started exposing Trump’s bullshit.
As troubling as it is that Trump carries the support he does it is even more so that the Republican party won’t take the blame for him in the first place. After years and years of race-baiting, 2nd Amendment remedies and fellow creep Ted Nugent, like an abusive boyfriend, they still claim they were innocent.
Especially ironic is the fact that Romney himself was pulled greatly to the right by the Republican base during the 2012 contest, not to mention that gaffe.
So supposedly there is this tape floating around the New York Times that confirms what anyone with half a brain already knows, “the Donald” is full of shit.
Earlier this week he started rumbling about suing the media when they print mean things about him (damn that pesky 1st amendment, you know that one that wouldn’t exist without the one following it) and now in a conveniently not at all retaliatory fashion the NYT’s Gail Collins strongly hinted that the tape was a game changer for Trump, although given the fervor of his legion of zombies, I highly doubt that.
Right now, nothing short of Trump revealing himself as Barak Obama’s Kenyan uncle could derail this campaign. Part of the appeal of any sort of fascistic movement is its complete divorce from reality, its utter anti-intellectualism and cultural understanding outside its own angry demographic.
Does anyone really think this guy who famously wrote about his style of “winning” which consisted of saying whatever people wanted to hear to get them in the door and then, once they are trapped inside, completely changing the rules? Has anyone actually read “The Art of the Deal?” Seen the Apprentice?
Trump’s juggernaut is about one thing anger, no rage. Rage at the fact that what was guaranteed by status was not fulfilled, and that average Joe White is losing ground, ground overlooking average Joe Minority but slowly eroding. Ground lost because Average Joe White allowed his natural advantage to distance himself from the plight of Average Joe and Jane everyone else. The ground lost because instead of looking at opportunity in equal measure with effort, he championed effort without equal opportunity all the while ignoring his own privilege. And yeah, I said it, privilege. So instead of recognizing the fact that the opportunities that they had all along, that others never had, should be expanded to include everyone, their skin takes precedence over their situation.
The ethnic lines that once divided them (Irish, German, Swiss, English, Dutch etc…) are now uniting them and ironically, they are turning on themselves as much as they are anyone else. I’ve already written about the sad fact that middle aged white men are dying off in large numbers due to a combination of lifestyle diseases and suicide.
WTF??? ANY group that has that high a death rate should be assisted, treated and taken care of, but again irony intercedes. Because of the very myths of independence they still cling to, myths that time and time again are disproved, they are not seeking help, and therefore, literally dying off.
This cancerous anger, resentment and fear is killing off people and that is something to bemoan regardless of whether you agree with them politically or not. People are people and they deserve the same life, liberty and happiness that everyone does.
They just may have to give up a little status to get it.
Something many, sadly, just cannot do.
From the files of #areyoufuckingkiddingme
So a book I have never read, which is on my shortlist of pleasure reading that just barely got touched, is being adapted. Do I care, yeah kinda.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is being made into a film.
So why am I writing about it?
Because of comments like this from AICN.
So when a movie about fucking Egyptians has not a single non-pale actor in a lead role, when #oscarsowhite is trending, when not a single Black, Latino or Asian actor was up for a lead role NOT in a film geared to that particular audience…
Take a breath…
I guess it boils down to this uncomfortable but also outrageous and unrealistic fear – “When they make a heated hockey rink, we’ll take that shit too.” courtesy of Oscar host Chris Rock.
People just need shit to bitch about, seriously.