Archive for the ‘racism’ Category

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Demise of Officer Clancy, and…

June 1, 2018

… Equality as the new opiate ….

I wonder what it must have been like to live at a time when, despite public claims of having crossed the fearful ocean to seek “religious freedom”, people had very strictly prescribed limits within which they were required to go about their day to day activities, all under the watchful eyes of the Puritan church leaders. The consequences for straying could be severe, and in some cases fatal. There are stories about Quakers being tethered behind horse drawn wagons and towed from town to town in the dead of winter, half naked, as punishment for their noncompliance with Puritan mandates and as a warning to others to mind their ways.

One can travel back through history and find similar periods when populations were held to very exacting standards when it came to what they believed, what they did, and how they spoke, by virtue only of the fact that their oppressors had the power and the willingness to abuse it. Every culture has a system of ethical and moral values, and “mores” that express who and what the people wish to be, and members of the group are expected to live within the generally accepted parameters. Times of extreme restriction by a minority faction of the “people” and enforcement of their parameters seem to be almost cyclical.

With that thought in mind, I would suggest that the United States is presently going through such a time, driven by two primary influences. First, when Middle Eastern “terrorists” hijacked three airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers in NY City and the Pentagon in Washington, with the third being retaken by passengers and crashing into a Pennsylvania field, the military posture and the civilian approach to security and law enforcement changed radically. Laws were passed which permitted the government to violate traditional and expected standards of privacy, to set up checkpoints that restricted a person’s right to travel freely, and more. Anyone and everyone became quietly subject to extreme measures of surveillance without due process. The Department of Homeland Security has often been compared to the authorities of Nazi Germany, and not without good reason.

Our military forces became aggressively involved in actions in the Middle East, overthrowing the ruler of Iraq, who somehow became the targeted scapegoat of American rage over the September 11, 2001 attacks on America by terrorists led by Osama bin Laden who was holed up on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Middle East has been in turmoil for the past eighteen years and we have since been engaged in accelerated conflicts with most of the region.

The self anointed defenders of Freedom and Human Rights, and Exemplars of Democracy have not exactly been cherubs throughout this process, with examples of prisoner abuse, torture, and killings of civilians. The streets run knee deep with dopamine, adrenalin and testosterone during warfare.

Meanwhile, domestic law enforcement in the United States has taken on a new military atmosphere with a flood of surplus equipment. The days of Officer Clancy walking his beat are long gone and almost sound like a myth now. “Shoot first and ask questions later” makes no sense today when the slightest tic may earn a suspect the full compliment of a 15 round Glock 22 magazine, multiplied by the number of officers jumping into the fray, whether innocent or not. A civilian would likely get the death penalty for such an action; the uniformed shooters get time off with pay and a few privately whispered “attaboys”.

Those with the power, whether that is bestowed through election, assumed, or otherwise acquired without public oversight, apparently have the willingness to wield that power, enforced by whatever means they deem necessary, for their own gain or benefit.

The second issue that I see as driving our current retreat into an aggressively restricted and directed society would be the sudden explosion of power within the Politically Correct or “PC” movement, directly related to the Civil Rights movement and a number of other “rights” oriented campaigns, and driven by a neo-Liberal would-be dictatorship.

This is similar to other times when our society and many others back through history have ironically, and perhaps inadvertently, converted a positive into a negative. Several factions have taken the very moral and positive concept of equal rights for all, regardless of race, belief systems, and associations, a principle quite central to the very existence of the United States, and created a culture that restricts those rights by separating people into groups receiving special attention and groups receiving blame.

A new category of law appeared from the shadows establishing forbidden patterns of speech, belief systems, and identifying certain crimes and other behaviors as “Hate” based. This last is particularly scary because it would seem to violate at least two of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights. The use of certain words is deemed “Hate” based and is therefore subject to special consequences, such as perhaps the stepping up of some crime or misdemeanor to a more serious level and thus meriting more severe punishments. When crimes are committed by a “white” person against a person belonging to one of the designated “special interest” segments of the population, the offense may be automatically presumed to have been “Hate” based and therefore subject to additional charges by the Federal government. This smacks of the Puritan culture of the seventeenth century and obviously upholds the principle of Guilty Until Proven Innocent. There has been a huge growth in references to “Racism”, meaning the discrimination of one person or group against another based upon things like ethnicity and physical characteristics like pigmentation, which usually translates into the presumption of “Hate”.

Interestingly, the concept of “race” has long been challenged by anthropologists as it has no meaning in the science of taxonomy, or the classification of living things. I have written elsewhere about this issue.

All things considered, it would seem we are living in one of those highly restrictive periods of irony, with “equality” appearing to be expressed as some are more equal than others. This is the opposite of the original reason for the sudden increased interest in ensuring all are seen as equal under the law. Freedoms of speech and association have been reduced to the proscribed and the “approved”. Any expression of negativity by one against another is subject to a rather strict filter to see if it might be “Hate” based. Certain groups are called “Hate” groups because of their beliefs and are discriminated against because they do not pass “PC” muster.

There are many reasons for an observer to suggest that the United States has strayed from its historic values and its purpose, and those who might be most likely to, and capable of putting the nation back on course are also the most likely to be demonized and socially isolated, prosecuted under unconstitutional “thought control” statutes, and otherwise eliminated somehow if possible.

I, of course, oppose any and all tyrannical movements, whether they are popularly based like the “PC” epidemic, or government based like the invention of the “hate” crime designations and a decided shift to more authoritarian, prescriptive and proscriptive methods. I believe in the Constitution as written, and urge extreme caution during the quite necessary process of periodically adapting it to the changing times. Reinterpreting terminology to justify one perspective in a nation that boasts of itself as a world haven for Freedom of Speech, Religion, Association, et cetera is nothing short of an obscenity. These freedoms were officially acknowledged specifically to protect the liberty of those who disagreed with the self-anointed dispensers of morality and wisdom.

Some people seem to have forgotten that “equality” means having the same rights as everyone else; it does not mean suddenly meriting a parade, banner headlines, documentaries, or special certificates to tape to the family refrigerator just for doing the same things everyone else does as a matter of course in the day to day conduct of their lives.

Perhaps it is normal behavior for young people turning 21 to celebrate their “emancipation” by kicking up their heels a bit, making the rounds of the local bars, and so on. But the life of a society or nation is not subject to adolescent mile markers when breaking the rules or stretching the boundaries a tad may be somewhat forgivable. Those rules were painstakingly put to parchment precisely because the act of stretching boundaries for a selected group within a society restricts them for all others.

I’m pleased that certain populations are finally being given the fundamental human respect they deserve, but I am reminded of something the Admiral said at my Commissioning: We were told that respect must be earned, it cannot be commanded. All who continue to demand special laws, special treatment, and special status because of their newly protected rights need to be reminded that no law can or ever will earn them respect. Wielding power over people who may resemble those who once unfairly wielded underserved power over you or people who resembled you is not “Equality”…it is simply changing deck chairs on the Titanic.

My suggestion to those whose lives have finally been given the constitutional and judicial recognition they have long sought would be for them to tone down the parades, the temptation to seek special recognition over and above actual equality under the law. Live, enjoy your newly expanded access to your guaranteed liberty, and pursue happiness. Pay no attention to those on the sidelines demanding more and more on your behalf; truth be told, they serve their own needs, not yours.

My suggestion to the “PC” Police and all of those chanting and demanding and “occupying” on behalf of different groups and causes: Support those in need and those who are oppressed, to be sure, but know that if you attempt to take from me to give to another, you do so at your own peril. Being an advocate does not mean one spontaneously acquires any special status or authority to collect and redistribute anything on behalf of anybody.

My suggestion to legislators who have supported the redistribution of wealth and power in the name of various glibly and overly glorified causes or for your own benefit in the often vicious battlefield of politics: Retire. Apologize and go away. You have apparently become what you once despised when you first ran for public office. The Scarlet Letter for those who have betrayed the sacred trust given them to legislate honorably and protect the Constitution is almost universally the act of being the man or woman who first walks into his or her office with a dollar and walks out a multimillionaire with lifetime benefits only enjoyed by a few of the most successful of civilians.

 

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On doing the right thing…

August 15, 2017

.…in the wrong way

Perhaps it is not just that they were wrong, but that those who oppose them go about being right in the wrong way.

The “public” despises and holds in contempt the hatred in all of its forms, except their own.

It is important to point out that the “public”, if we are to defend the constitution, includes even those who are being despised and held in contempt for their creed and their words.  Not since the McCarthy era has our society been approving of trying to defeat hate with hatred, so adamant about promoting right in the wrong ways.

Are those who protest against bigotry and hate and intolerance somehow given license to practice same because their goals and ideals claim the high moral ground?  The moral high ground is a dangerous place, as history has shown so clearly on so many occasions.  In our own history, the earliest example of this was provided by the people who fled England to escape the turmoil and peril of religious intolerance in order to be free to practice their faith as they chose in a new land.  We proudly celebrate the deeds of those who colonized northeastern North America four hundred years ago, but we fail to teach how they immediately went about the task of setting up their own repressive, abusive, and sometimes violent hive of religious intolerance.

The same human failing has emerged at other times as well.  A more recent example would be the McCarthy era and its excesses spawned by the paranoia over the threats of Communism.

We are living in another time of extreme division and dissent, and the Satan of today is hatred, intolerance, and bigotry, an extension of the ongoing movement to more closely follow the spirit of our founding principles and the Constitution that was created to guide us, precisely at times like this.

Whether viewpoints are popular or considered reprehensible by the society at any given time, that Constitution, those founding principles, were established to remind us that if we do not protect the worst among us, the best among us cannot be safe either.  This is hard to do, but we must.

There is a dangerous and toxic atmosphere permeating our idealized haven of freedom and Democracy today, fed in part by efforts to mandate perfect yet selective adherence to those ideals.  The thing is, the forces demanding no less than absolute lock-step obedience to their ideological mandates of creed, word, and where and when and how those characteristics are expressed do not represent 100% of the “public”.  It wouldn’t matter if they did, not under our Representative Democracy.  Pure, 100% Democracy may be functional in a weekly Fraternity brothers’ meeting, but in a nation of 325 million people it would mean nothing less than mob rule and civil war.

What we witnessed the other day in Charlottesville, VA, and continue to witness as the nation plays Hide and Seek with the moral high ground again, is the never ending struggle to support, defend, and live by the principles of our Constitution without violating them.

Recent years have seen a trend towards more Liberal, Progressive ideals and practices, which is not necessarily bad unless one is aligned with Conservative leaning viewpoints and living in a particularly polarized, divided, angry time.  Such times of philosophical rigidity and absolutism are not exactly dripping with rationalism, and can be the birthplace of tyranny and dictatorship from either camp.  Under such circumstances, in a Republic such as ours, if one side wins, both sides lose, and this means that the people lose whether they chose to play or not.

In Charlottesville, VA a group consisting of various individuals and organizations opposed to the removal of an historic statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee arranged to hold a protest or vigil.  They were giving a permit and plan was put in place.  Meanwhile, a group consisting of various individuals and organizations opposed to the former and everything they believe in, gathered to protest the protest.  Nobody knows who broke ranks first, but fingers point in both directions, both factions came prepared for trouble, and whether that meant being prepared to defend against or to instigate trouble is pure speculation.

President Trump is a controversial and largely unpopular holder of that office, and that is a whole other issue, but his responses to the unrest cannot be separated from it.  In my opinion, his original response, during which he condemned the violence and lawlessness “on both sides”, was probably one of his more “Presidential” comments during his first few months in office.  Nevertheless, the sharply polarized atmosphere of the times demands finger pointing, and he was condemned for not condemning the original protesters by name, which would have, presumably, endorsed the counter-protesters as innocent and sole proprietors of the moral high ground.

For whatever reason, President Trump capitulated the next day and named names, condemning the KKK and other white supremacists.  He was criticized for doing so too late.  Subsequently, apparently having rethought the matter, he came back to defend his original condemnation of the violence and hatred generically.

Okay, although I dislike “labels”, calling them “lazythink” because they are often misconstrued shortcuts to complex matters, it is realistically impossible to avoid them when making public commentary.  That said, I am neither Republican nor Democrat, have followed Libertarian views for some decades, and tend to be somewhat of a Constitutionalist now.  Polarized thought would therefore cram me kicking and screaming into a Conservative uniform, not out of some desire for accuracy but out of a desire for convenience.

Whatever.

I don’t hold White Supremacist views.  I find such beliefs to be extreme, offensive, and to be based in personality disordered, ignorant thinking. Nevertheless, the Constitution guarantees their right to believe as they will.  We have other bodies of law that speak to disallowed behaviors, and they are subject to them just as we all are.

I don’t agree with the tenets of neo-liberal philosophies, either.  I find such a politic to be extreme, restrictive, prescriptive, and counter to the principles enumerated in the Constitution.  In some ways, I see the actions of the “Left” to be an example of trying to do the right thing but doing it in the wrong way.  Nevertheless, the Constitution guarantees their right to believe as they will.  We have other bodies of law that speak to disallowed behaviors, and they are subject to them just as we all are.

I don’t know who threw the first punch or swung the first bat, but I suspect it was the counter-protesters after the protesters were declared to have varied from the route plan agreed upon.  It doesn’t matter.  People were hurt.  People died.  Blame is infinite, multidirectional, and absolutely pointless.

The disease is right there in front of us, under spotlights, and all we seem willing to do is blame the wrong drug for not fixing it, or for making it worse, or for whatever reason we can think up.

Hate is hate.

Decide to stop.

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When opinions become plagues…

October 26, 2016

the real problem is diagnostics…

Sometimes I shake my head so hard and roll my eyes so vigorously when reading the morning “news” that it takes awhile for things to achieve enough equilibrium for me to scratch out some kind of response. This being the onset of the crescendo stage of an historically nasty election year, among other things, the fodder can be overwhelming at times.

Issues concerning intercultural conflicts within our society, particularly those involving persons of African heritage, have been nearly as prolific as those of a more purely political nature, though the two are certainly enmeshed. An article earlier this month about official reactions to remarks posted on a social media site by a University of Virginia adjunct professor is s case in point.

The most stunning aspect of the statement by University of Virginia adjunct professor Douglas Muir that the Black Lives Matter movement is racist like the Klu Klux Klan (sic) was not that he said it. What should be of concern is the official response to the statement. The college powers-that-be were quick to pull a “Professor WHO?” maneuver, while local politicians didn’t waste any time letting the PC Police know where they stood, or more accurately, where they knelt.

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy was quoted as puffing that the professor’s comments were “…not only incredibly misguided, but goes to show the lack of cultural awareness that still plagues many professors at our Universities across the country .”

What? A college professor disagreeing with the mainstream is indicative of a “lack of cultural awareness ,” and this condition is now a plague ? And whose approval is now required before those who are tasked with providing our future leaders with critical thinking skills and the courage to think outside of the box can practice those skills themselves? Or is thinking outside of the officially endorsed box now considered a crime? If so, by whom, and by what authority? More importantly, perhaps, would be the ultimate level of force planned to keep this idiotic idea on track, and what potential consequences are being considered for those who have the courage and personal integrity to laugh in its face.

I won’t enter the back and forth about “Black Lives Matter” or any of the other current assembly line issues and their prescribed emoticons. There is already a surplus of Pig Beauticians and their polar opposites in that arena, dressing things up and dressing things down. My interest is in the herd behavior so evident in our society today. This obsession with hyper-unity is reminiscent of other times in human history when the tides of liberty have retreated to extraordinary levels in preparation for an ensuing tsunami of oppression. The scary part is that such a tsunami is coming. The scarier part is that the tide went out, way out, a long time ago.

Cartoon character Pogo famously observed decades ago that “ we have met the enemy and he is us .” Perhaps the current manifestation of this poignant folk wisdom would be “ we have predicted the future, and it is now .”

Bellamy, of course, is entitled to his opinion, but those in positions of political authority and power are not entitled to suppress the opinions of others, though it would seem he might believe otherwise.

It would be appropriate, on the other hand, for him to disagree while at the same time defending the professor’s constitutional right to opine as he sees fit.

Similarly, the college should be defending the right….or better yet, the duty… to disagree. After all, if it wasn’t for the right to disagree under protection of the First Amendment, “Black Lives Matter” would not exist in the first place.

Tom Katsouleas, University of Virginia executive VP and Provost remarked, officially, that “ The University of Virginia stands firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind….Statements such as Mr. Muir’s do not foster intellectual exploration, nor do they encourage the voices of others.”

And just what, sir, does your condemnation of free speech foster?

“Racism” is the Hackneyed Term of the Day , and for Katsouleas to censure Muir’s disharmonic observation in defense of “intellectual exploration” would be hilariously ridiculous if it hadn’t been issued authoritatively and with a straight face.

The concept of racism is one of a behavioral nature. It makes no anthropological distinction as to who is qualified to be a perpetrator and who might be considered a victim. Yet somehow, in order to be “politically correct”, or in other words, to be deemed morally acceptable , one must apply such arbitrary standards as though they were indisputable. The irony of such hypocrisy is both endemic to the self-anointed Priests of Political Correctness , and completely lost upon them.

Another aspect of the incident that is characteristic of the New Social Ethic is the fact that Professor Muir made his comment on a Social Media posting and not in his capacity as an instructor on University time. That no longer matters, apparently. Employers routinely haunt the social media, right along with the NSA, et al, to make their lists of who is naughty and who is nice. If they had pawed through your trash, tapped your phone, and read your mail in pre-internet times just to see who you hung out with, your tastes in literature, underwear size, and so forth they’d be in jail, or at least on “that” undesirable list.

It troubles me to read about the constriction of academia. I remember the University as a place where bizarre and even rebellious ideas were usually tolerated. When people disagreed or sang out of tune beyond certain limits, the government sent soldiers and tanks, but the institutions of higher learning stayed out of it as long as general school policies weren’t violated. Tanks and soldiers were certainly inappropriate, even “un-American” in many views, but for the traditional guardians of creativity, out of the box thinking, and intellectual liberty to mechanically attempt to spew shame on those who decline to think and speak according to PC guidelines is just as objectionable.

Some of my most effective instructors were those who weren’t afraid to offer their own views on things and to encourage the same from their students. They were about teaching, and doing it in their own unique ways.

I was fortunate to have been taught and invited to think by some pretty engaging academicians who weren’t distracted by transient social issues unless they were material to the subject being taught. They were about knowledge and creativity , and were more likely to study discord and unrest than to judge them.

Teaching by rote and according to narrow, prescribed viewpoints may facilitate the amassing of large amounts of data, perhaps, but “wisdom” cannot be taught. Students must be exposed to situations where they can acquire it. Disallowing thought and expression outside of the parameters of the “Politically Correct” lines disallows the acquisition of wisdom.

As is not infrequently the case, the rebels of yesterday seem to have become the cultural tyrants of today. I hope the young adults who will soon be the decision makers and leaders demonstrate more wisdom than some are so vigorously working to deny them.

 

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