I blame reality TV because the flood of singing, dancing, housewifing and endurancing series that became ubiquitous during the early 2000s were the catalyst for too many narcissists to believe that their big fish in a small local pond anonymity was only an audition and a bunch of ‘likes and shares’ away from stardom. And that belief, that, in the past, would have been knocked out of them by cruel reality, has gone right to our collective heads.
I blame social media because it gave us a forum, a place where we could not only display our new found talents, but that also laid down a platform from which some of the worst ‘thinkers’ and ‘philosophers’ imaginable could find the like minded, and share their convoluted and wrong headed ‘theories.’
Having seen people who seem ‘just like us!’ achieve a little traction, if not actual fame, on the television, and on social media, many seized on the idea that this gives everyone not just the right, but the obligation, to get our own talents and ideas out there.
We really want to have our say on things. We insist, in fact, on others hearing our every opinion, on every subject, regardless of our relative knowledge or ignorance of a given subject. And we not only want you to hear what we think – we insist you agree. And we’ll hound you to the ends of the earth, if that’s what it takes, to pound our truth into your skull. (Just LIKE them .. maybe then they’ll go away.)
The belief that, despite lacking education, training, or experience, any of us is capable of being anyone from a Kardashian sibling to a POTUS – couldn’t have come at a more chaotic moment in time.
We are living in an exceptional period, when external pressures – a global pandemic, that brought about an economic freefall, that then coincided with an onslaught of videotaped police overstepping and brutality, which has drawn worldwide attention to systemic racism – has rocked the planet. It’s a powder keg.
There are some huge issues being discussed. The status quo, economic and social inequality, and the sense that injustice and poor governance were simply the way things are and would never change, has been challenged.
And that’s hard to get our head’s around, on some days, because in the bigger picture, life might feel off kilter, and like we’re living in BizarroWorld, but we don’t see all that much difference in our day to day circumstances. I adjust. You adjust. We all adjust, and the changes slowly become the new normal.
On my street, there’s little difference between this June and last. It’s not like every second house has someone who is ill or has died. Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen anyone walking up the street that wasn’t white. Most of the vehicles on my street are of current vintage, and the guy that comes around to root through the recycling bins for empties always finds a treasure trove, because people in this neighbourhood can afford to be generous with what they discard.
No one that we’ve spoken to, in this area, has lost anyone to COVID. They might know someone who had a winter flu/cold that just wouldn’t go away, but few know of anyone affected personally.
Contrast that with the people who work in the health care industry, who have had to face the ugly reality of illness and death by this virus. Those who are living in the belly of the beast reach out to us, on the television, on the radio, on social media, warning us of the horrors possible during our 2020 plague.
And since those two realities – one in which one is unaffected, and the other in which one is soaking in misery – are so very different, many just don’t know what to believe. How does the reality of millions infected, and that hundreds of thousands are dead, equate with the lack of concern we see in our every day lives?
This is a time when, instead of ‘sorry’ being the hardest word, actually saying ‘I don’t know’ has become anathema. And yet, it’s also a time when literally NO BODY, despite not knowing what is going to happen next, can stop talking about what they think might happen. We know that we would like our lives to go back to pre-COVID normalcy, we know that there are going to be some hard economic times ahead, and we really wish that police in Canada would stop mistreating and killing indigenous people, and that police in the US would stop torturing and murdering people of colour.
But not a single one of us – and that includes all of those people who have spent their lives studying disease, economics, politics and racial issues – knows for certain what tomorrow is going to look like.
Which still doesn’t stop many of us from weighing in on what we believe is happening, what we would personally like to happen, rather than admitting that we just don’t know what is happening.
There’s a meme going around on social media that suggests that everyone should just do whatever they want to do, and leave everyone else alone to do what ever those other people want to do. Which is the kind of thing that kids say before they’ve spent much time out in society and learned that there are rules and laws in every civilization that are put into place to protect us from well-meaning idiots.
Despite all of that, social and mass media are afloat in the uninformed spouting their theories on how best to tackle COVID, the economic crisis, racism, and what should be done in the event that we fall into either a second wave of COVID or another global Depression.
As America confronts it’s racial injustice and systemic racism, under a president that seems to revel in his own racism and bigotry, Canada has to look to its own self to see what can be done within our own country to root out the sins and crimes that allowed our nation to grow and thrive, often at the expense of our original people.
There’s never been a time when we’ve been more in need of generous, empathic, and wise leaders. Sadly, leaders of such calibre are rare.
But there sure are a lot of ‘experts’ on social media that think that they alone have all the answers. Say – isn’t that how trump got the POTUS gig? How’s that working out for you so far, kiddies?
Comedian Dave Chappelle released this short, heartbreaking commentary on American racism on Friday night. By Saturday afternoon it had been viewed over 13 million times. I may watch it 13 million more times.
Kids really know how to push their parent’s buttons. As a smart-ass teenager in the sixties, I pushed quite a few myself. At one family dinner, while I silently pondered the lyrics to Janis Ian’s song, Society’s Child, I suddenly announced to the table, “I’d marry a black man, if I was in love with him.”
It was 1965. Only a few years had passed since the United States had begun desegregating schools, and we were still three years away from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Although talk of civil rights was rife, it was far off and far away. Still, you’d think I’d have known that bringing up interracial integration wasn’t really going to enhance our dinner conversation, especially when one of the people at the table was a redneck from Alberta. But it was the sixties, and everything was changing. Or at least, we believed that was the case.
To be fair, it must be noted that my exposure to people of colour had been minimal to that point. There’d been a little girl about my age whom I’d met one summer, and there were one or two girls at Academie Assomption, but since I’d moved to Montreal, the only non-whites I’d met were the Raeburn family from Grenada, who were active in the church my family attended. In truth, I’d never lived anywhere where there were many non-whites. In Alberta, the prejudices were thick on the ground, but mostly directed at immigrants who didn’t conform to established conservative ways.
And of course, the real prejudice of the West was against indigenous people, but we didn’t talk about that, because it was just the way it was. That’s Canada’s shame, just as slavery is America’s shame. And those were the days when kids played Cowboys and Indians, wearing their Davy Crockett coonskin caps, and shouting “Hi Ho SILVER!”
None of which excuses how we treated people who were unlike our own white selves. The term ‘privilege’ was about five decades away from being coined, but it certainly described the smug, complacent attitude of many Albertan first families, as it did the people still clinging to the idea of a glorious Confederacy.
With perspective, I can look back to the middle of the twentieth century and see how even the most progressive nations and leaders were struggling with their own prejudices and biases, while attempting to bring their countries and citizens forward into the twenty first century. If we could send a man to the moon, the thought went, surely, we could accept a person of colour sitting beside us at the lunch counter.
But in truth, many of those leaders, despite good intentions, struggled to get past their own innate beliefs that minorities simply weren’t equal to those that controlled the political, financial, and religious foundations of society.
And so, a lot of promises were made, that really amounted to telling people of colour that their time would come… and white people would be the judge of when that time would be.
People are funny; we tend to be accepting of most of what comes to us, until someone gives us a plausible reason why we should not. I was raised without prejudices, I would have argued, taught to feel empathy and kindness to everyone. When I looked at other kids, I measured them against my own sliding scale of kids that were bigger or smaller, smarter or more talented, and either nice or mean in temperament. Nothing else really mattered, and why should it?
When I ignited my dad’s rage by suggesting that I might be amenable to a racial intermarriage, I was too young and new to the world to understand that my dad had deep seated prejudices, based on his own life experiences. I thought that racism was just something that the American South had to worry about.
In truth, the roots of prejudice are deep in the hearts and souls of all countries, including our own.
Over the last few years, I have come to many conclusions about life. Fr’instance, until two years ago, I’d never realized that the “r” in Tellier was silent. It just didn’t occur to me. In the same way, it never occurred to me that I have often had to defend my defense of the victims of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and a host of other very ugly ideas, by claiming an alliance of some kind. Kind of like when you realize that the misogyny that propelled action and the #MeToo movement really did impact a lot of your generation. Sometimes it takes a while for truth to percolate.
I had intuited that my belief in the equality and humanity of someone who was not white (or male) had to have a twist in the tail, some kinship that I could claim, in order to be deemed viable. On some level, I understood that my good intentions alone were not enough of an acceptable criterion to those whose personal identity required that there be someone else whom we all agreed was ‘less than’ themselves.
But subconsciously, I knew. There was a subtle bullying in the schools, in the work place, and in many parts of the entertainment world. You were welcome to hold your belief of equality, but only if you realized that bucking the trend would cost, in some way. It might be that the people you worked with would close ranks against you, or, if the prejudicial treatment came down from upper management, you could find your career grossly sidelined, without the slightest recourse.
Some of us chose to be silent when we heard cruel comments aimed against women or minorities, as a way to ‘go along to get along.’ If you’re desperate to keep your job, you can be easily persuaded that towing the party line is the best way forward. Even if a part of your conscience considers those remarks insulting to not just the despised but to all of humanity, bucking the tide can have consequences.
I’d speak out, but I’d tie my words to words that were feminine enough to stump the bullies. I defended women because I was a woman. Because I have family and friends who were indigenous or people of colour, I could stand by them without recourse.
I was finding workarounds to avoid the bullies. I was making excuses for why I honestly cared about others being mistreated. And it took me nearly a lifetime to finally see that the real villains were those who shamed those of us who just simply cared about the well-being of others. I should never have felt that I had to claim kinship to justify my alliance, but I was always aware that there were far too many people in power who – subtly, or outrightly – will shoot first and ask questions later. We are bullied into silence, while the racism goes on all around us.
I spoke my truth, but I spoke softly, afraid to bring down the same mistreatment upon myself for seeking that we all be treated fairly, as equals.
People don’t generally divide neatly into good or evil categories, but there are many who have wonderfully good intentions who never get around to being the helpers of the world. Some can’t bring themselves to speak up, when others traffic in racism, bigotry, and misogyny. Some stay in power by denying true equality to others, in order to keep other racists and bigots happy.
Chris Rock Bad Apple Metaphor
That’s why this battle for equality has gone on for far too long. People tell me that things are going to be different after this protest, that there’ll be real change. They tell me that the little ones growing up now are different, and that those kids will insist on everyone being treated as equals. And I hope they are right. I hope those kids grow up to become the adults who do good things, and that there is hope for an inclusive future for all.
But a part of me is still that kid that thought we were on the right track way back in ’65. And in the 70s, and in the 90s, after the Rodney King riots. I’ve lived through all of the horrible mass shootings, including Sandy Hook, and I remember how we said things were gonna change. I remember a president weeping over those tiny bodies. And when I look around, I see that there have been 2,482 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. In 2015 alone, American police killed more than 100 unarmed black people.
So many dead. So many people of colour beaten, or raped, or murdered. It’s almost like all of those ‘thoughts and prayers’ didn’t matter at all.
I want to believe we can change. But to do so, we need leaders who insist on stoking our better angels, and who will accept nothing but our best. We deserved better. And our children deserve better.
We Cannot Stay Silent About George Floyd | Patriot Act
At the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King Jr famously paraphrased the words of Theodore Parker, American transcendentalist and pastor, when he stated,
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
There are many days when only that aspiration keeps me going. Some days, I’ll find myself wondering if that’s a light up ahead, or just the headlights of an oncoming train …. but after this week, for a number of reasons, I’m liking the odds that it is truly a light.
Three things happened this week to make me think that there might be some hope, and that, maybe – just maybe! we ARE gonna be okay. Maybe that arc really is moving in the right direction.
The first event was long in coming, but something I’d been rooting for; the investigation into Trump’s misdeeds has morphed into an inquiry. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of a shockingly corrupt and criminal abuse of power by America’s POTUS.
The way an impeachment works is regulated at the federal level, under the American Constitution. First the Congress investigates, and then, based on their findings, the House of Representatives must pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment. Those articles will be the formal allegation or allegations of what are considered to be ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’
According to the Harvard Law Review“The majority
view is that a president can legally be impeached for ‘intentional, evil deeds’
that ‘drastically subvert the Constitution and involve an unforgivable abuse of
the presidency’ — even if those deeds didn’t violate any criminal laws.”
So we’re in phase two now, prior to, hopefully, phase three, wherein the Senate will be called upon to try the accused. Many have said that the Senate will likely fail to actually impeach Trump, but there is some hope that these investigations, and the live television transmittal of the honourable men and women testifying to Trump’s misdeeds/crimes, at home and abroad, will sway the American voters, and by extension, the Republican Senators who are in danger of losing re-election in 2020 if they continue to align with trump.
One big hope is that the Dems get their way, and voting is done by anonymous, secret ballot. If that were to happen, it’s guesstimated that at least 30 Republicans would vote with the Dems, thus ensuring impeachment.
Meanwhile, the POTUS is flailing as the truth emerges about his endeavour to tempt the new President of Ukraine,Volodymyr Zelensky, into corruption. He dangled Congressionally approved military aid for the Ukraine, that would shore up the embattled nation in their war with Russia .. if Zelensky would just grant trump ‘one favour’ …
“When Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine was almost ready to purchase American
Javelin anti-tank missiles so it could better repel armored assaults by
Russian-supported fighters, Mr. Trump pounced.
would like you to do us a favor though,” Mr. Trump responded, beginning a
series of pointed requests. The president pressed Mr. Zelensky to use the help
of Attorney General William P. Barr in opening an investigation of a company
involved in the beginnings of the F.B.I. inquiry of Russia’s 2016 election interference. He also
wanted a corruption investigation connected to former Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr., a Democratic rival.
Both held the potential to benefit Mr.
Trump politically. And in case Mr. Zelensky needed reminding, Mr. Trump was
quick to point out that “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”
Mr. Trump’s suggestion that American
law enforcement be directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government
marks the first evidence that the president personally sought to harness the
power of the United States government to further a political
investigation.” (from the New York Times, Sept 25/2019)
Actually, trump wanted THREE favours …
from Vice’s coverage of the memo,
1. He asked Zelensky to “look into” Joe Biden
2. He asked Zelensky to speak to Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr , while insinuating that Giuliani had the real information on corruption in the Ukraine, and smearing the American Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, saying, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
3. He oddly asked Zelensky to investigate Crowdstrike
“I would like you to find
out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you
have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that
went on, the whole situation,” Trump continued.
In a nutshell, trump sought to impel Zelensky, a new president, swept in on an anti-corruption platform, to agree to commit corruption in order to receive monies that had already been pledged to Ukraine, by the American Congress. Trump had NO right to a say in the over $400 million due to Ukraine, yet he behaved as though it were his personal money, bribe money to be used to get what he wanted … a public, foreign investigation into the son of his main opponent in the 2020 election..
“Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump
is a businessman,” Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told House
investigators. “When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who
owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before
signing the check.”
Except that this was not a business transaction, it was a diplomatic, Congressionally approved, transaction, Zelensky owed trump nothing, and it wasn’t trump’s own money. But since trump couldn’t take a cut of the millions, he took the opportunity to attempt to blackmail Zelensky, a move that would seem to be straight out of the Putin Playbook for “how to use kompromat to tie another country’s president to you in perpetuity.” (with at least one chapter on how to best preserve sheets used for golden showers by wannabe presidents.)
There can be NO logical explanation or excuse that makes what trump asked of Zelensky anything other than an attempt at bribery, potential blackmail, an attempt to elevate a conspiracy theory that excuses Russia’s role in election meddling by placing Ukraine in that role, and a gross abuse of power, despite how many frantic and hysterical tweets he vomits up on Twitter.
Hopefully the Republicans will soon see that their desperate attempts to
smear those who have the courage to testify is backfiring upon them. Or maybe
they’re still too terrified of the ‘wrath of trump’ to realize that everyone
around trump eventually winds up under the bus, no matter how good they are at
The second event – la deuxième étoile ! – that heralded a sea change to our society happened, not when Don Cherry said,
“You people love, that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,”
No, it happened when Rogers/Sportsnet
caved to the flood of callers who demanded that Cherry be summarily dismissed. That’s
the Free Market that so many extol; in this case, it worked against
those who have pedestaled their hero and that notion. The market/shareholders
spoke, and Don Cherry, still refusing to apologize, fell.
Don ‘Sour ‘Grapes’ Cherry is
85, worth $14 million, makes $800K a year, and is still a miserable cuss. He plays to the mob, and relishes any chance
to punch down at his targets.
Political correctness aside, Cherry was spewing hate and spreading misinformation on Hockey Night in Canada. That’s not free speech, it’s hate speech. As a public figure, and on a platform that reaches millions, his commentary targeted people already vulnerable, because Don Cherry and his fans feel free to look down upon people of colour, and of those who aren’t ‘pur laine’, Canadians.
And whether he liked it or not, he had a signed contract that prohibits
certain forms of speech.
This kind of xenophobia and bigotry is unCanadian, even when it comes
from a man who was once honoured by being ranked at number 7 in the 2004 CBC
miniseries, The Greatest Canadian.
Cherry should have cleared the ice before it all turned into a gongshow.
Event three – and one that, I’m gonna guess, huge portions of this column’s readers missed entirely, happened on Wednesday night, on a double episode of Survivor – Island of the Idols. Survivor got #MeToo-ed.
From the very first episode
of Survivor:Borneo, in the summer of 2000, the reality series has
spoken to a huge swath of Middle American viewers. In that first season, crusty
Rudy Boesch, a 72 year old retired Navy Seal, and still the
oldest contestant to ever play the game, kept a stiff upper lip as Richard
Hatch, openly gay, and flagrantly arrogant, spent many hours parading
around naked in an attempt to rattle the other players. Rudy and Richard became
good friends over the course of the game, and when Rudy died recently, Hatch
was one of the many mourners to pay him tribute. The Rudy/Richard friendship
influenced how many viewers felt about people who, on the surface, appeared
completely unlike themselves. The viewers learned that appearances and even
long held opinions, could be deceiving.
During these 39 seasons, viewers have learned a great deal about opinions, prejudices, and why it’s foolhardy to have preconceived ideas about any other person. Viewers have seen the game, with it’s motto of “Outwit. Outplay. Outlast,” change with the times, even as the definition of what constitutes normalcy, equality, and ‘fair play’ changes as American society itself changes.
In 2003, contestant Jon
Dalton told what host/producer Jeff Probst would call “the
greatest lie in Survivor history” when he concocted a scheme to
manipulate his fellow players by saying that his grandmother had died. She had
not. Although ‘Johnny FairPlay’ entered Survivor history, he didn’t win
the series, and his name became synonymous with UNfair play in the game.
In 2013, bread baking Mormon mama Dawn Meehan had not the slightest qualms about voting off her best buddy Brenda Lowe, despite Brenda having salvaged Dawn’s dignity by finding the missing false teeth Dawn had lost in a pond. It’s a game, and anything that gets you further in the game is by definition ‘within the rules.’ How you live with yourself afterwards is your problem.; if you win, you’ll have a lot of fans, and a million dollars to keep your warm.
In 2019, we are once again revisiting the idea of what exactly constitutes ‘fair play’ in the contest.
As the two tribes merged,
contestant Kellee Kim, a 29 year-old Harvard grad and MBA student,
realized that she’d once again have to deal with contestant Dan Spito, a
48 year-old LA talent manager who had a little ‘issue’ with his physicality
when female players were near. Kellee had briefly dealt with him at the
beginning of the game, and told him in no uncertain terms that she did not like
or want him to touch her. Dan seemed to accept that, and fate sent the two
players off in different directions for the first half of the season.
But since the two teams had
merged and converged in one small area of the island, Dan’s hands were at it
again, tiptoeing through the ladies. And Kellee was not at all happy with his
presumption that her body and hair, as
well as that of other female contestants, were fair game.
the merge feast last night…. I feel someone wiggling my toes, and I’m like, I
wonder who it could be? And it’s him.” said contestant Missy
“It’s inappropriate touching. I’m not an object.”
In one of the segments,
Kellee tearfully told team mate Janet that she found Dan’s attentions
upsetting. Janet hadn’t really noticed that Kellee and several of the other
young women were being targeted. But she
was ready to help, if she could.
But as Kellee told the camera, “It’s super upsetting, because you can’t do anything about it. There are always consequences for standing up. It happens in real life, in work settings, in school … and you can’t say anything because it will affect your upward trajectory, it’s gonna affect how people look at you.”
The show’s producer, in an
unprecedented move, broke the fourth wall, saying, “You know, if there are issues to the point where
things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops. ‘Cause
that’s…I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable.”
A title card then appeared on screen, which read,“The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually. They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times. Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
If that had been the end of the situation, as usually happens in our society, it would have been just another day in misogyny. But what happened next was a REAL lesson for Middle America; two of the other female players, Elizabeth and Molly, decided to use this moment to hatch a plan that would smear Dan while saving themselves, by making Dan and Kellee targets for elimination. Worse still, they abused the trust and faith of Janet to do so, knowing that Janet would see it as her place, as an older, mother figure, to do whatever it might take to help the girls.
In truth, neither Elizabeth nor Molly actually felt unsafe or uncomfortable around Dan. If anything, they thought he and his wandering hands were a non-issue, easily ignored.
Inevitably, #MeToo came up squarely against game strategy, and it was Kellee who was voted ‘off the island’ while Janet was left to understand that the other girls had willfully played upon her better nature to further their own game, at Kellee (and Janet’s) expense.
At a later tribal council, the women tried to defend their actions by calling it ‘game play,’ while a male player, Aaron, refused to believe that it had happened, because, “if it had, I would have known.”
Jamal tried to explain why Aaron was wrong, saying,
“This whole idea that you would have known about it – that’s exactly
what happens in the real world, guys. When a woman brings up a charge, and
people want to negate whether or not it’s legitimate, they say, well if it was
such a big issue, then she would have brought it up last year, two years ago,
three years ago. We are not entitled to ‘know’ things just because we’re men,
or just because we’re in power. “
As Kellee had said, “There are always consequences for standing up. ” For his pains, and his insight, Jamal was the next to leave the game.
As Jeff Probst later said, “Survivor is a
microcosm for our real world. Situations just like this one are playing out in
offices and bars and colleges across the country and the world. “
And that is, of course, sadly true.
However, it was the enormous backlash against the two female players, for their
deceit, and their ugly manipulation of Janet’s protective nature, that raged
mightily across social media on Thursday
morning that really gave me hope. Is it possible – can it really be – that
sometimes the right people will actually be punished for making the lives of
others miserable, just because they can?
This is the week that #MeToo came to reality TV, big time, and Middle America got to see how it works, from all sides and angles. Anyone that watched the double episode play out is now in possession of all the information they need to make life better for 51% of society (that’s women, by the way.)
The question is, will they? Can they be bothered? Or is life a whole lot easier when we just toss off the island those people who are only asking to be treated like people instead of objects?
I will continue to hope that the light at the end of the tunnel really is dawn breaking somewhere.
It was the worst terrorist attack against Hispanics in US history and the eighth-deadliest in modern US history.
Picture in your mind’s eye, a little 2-year-old, recovering from broken bones, who survived the mass shooting at an El Paso Wal-Mart after his 25-year-old mother used her body to shield him and save his life. His mother was fatally shot.
As that little boy lay in the hospital, in horrible pain, the Governor of Texas was leading off a press conference on the mass shooting in which twenty people were killed and 26 injured on Saturday. He called for people around the country who want to help – to pray.
“Lives were taken who should still be with us today,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. He then went on to blame a ‘mental health‘ issue for the tragedy.
If it’s a ‘mental health issue’, then that shooter is right out of luck. Texas is the lead state currently trying to overturn the ACA, thus stripping any kind of health care away from Americans without other forms of insurance.
It’s time to stop belittling those with actual ‘mental health issues’ and call this madness what it really is…a hate crime, committed by a home grown terrorist, born of easy access to guns, and a ramping up of racism, as preached by POTUS Trump.
White supremacy is an ideology, not a mental illness. It’s a creed encouraged by the President and his acolytes, and those Republicans who fear him have no choice but to obey his commands.
Abbott’s words are more than a little hard to swallow, considering that it was just a few months ago that Texas’ legislators and governor not only turned down measures that would impose rational controls on gun owners, but loosened existing laws.
“When you get 10 pro-2nd Amendment bills to the governor and he signs them all, I would rank it up there with one of the most successful sessions we’ve had since I’ve been doing this,” the Texas NRA lobbyist, Tara Mica told the Dallas Morning News.
On June 29th, the NRA’s Texas lobbyist announced that every single bill backed by the NRA and passed by the Legislature received the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott.
Amongst the many with blood on their hands, Governor Abbott takes his place beside Trump, McConnell, and every other Republican who refuses to put into place proper gun reform laws.
And I think we can now safely lay to bed the old trope that a good guy with a gun can always stop a bad guy with a gun; Texas is an open carry state, and many of the Wal-Mart shoppers were heavily armed.
Didn’t save a one of them, though. Guess most people just don’t go to Wal-Mart expecting to be invited to a gunfight.
When Texas loosens their gun laws, Texas residents are not the only ones affected; neighbouring states are also impacted. While in this case, the shooter was a Texan who drove over 650 miles to do his deadly duty, the semiautomatic rifle that murdered four people and injured 12 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last week, was illegal to own in California – but was perfectly legal for the assailant to buy in Nevada, the next state over.
This is why America needs comprehensive, nation-wide, gun reform. 250 mass shootings in 216 days…
America – it is time to admit that you have a problem.
The Gilroy murders were just a week ago. Since then, there have been eleven more mass shootings. Lost in today’s new about Dayton, was a shooting at Douglas Park playground in Chicago, Illinois. Seven people were wounded.
On August 2, a man in Pomfret, Maryland shot and killed his in-laws, and wounded an 11-year-old boy sitting in a relative’s car before committing suicide. In Suffolk, Virginia, two men were killed and two women and a two year old were wounded in multiple crime scenes.
On July 31st, police responded to ‘shots fired’ at a senior living complex and found a wounded woman, along with two males and a woman murdered. In another Wal-Mart store, in Southhaven, Mississippi, a man killed two people and wounded a police officer ion July 30th.
On that same July 30th, four people were wounded during an attempted home invasion in Haskell, Oklahoma, while in Rosenberg, Texas a man shot and killed his ex-girlfriends parents, and wounded her, before committing suicide in a murder-suicide. And in Columbus, Ohio, five poeple were shot at a home they’d rented through Airbnb.
And if you haven’t already forgotten and moved on – as one does, when multiple slayings are an everyday occurrence, another five people were murdered in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on July 28th, when a gunman shot six people, four fatally, before killing himself.
All of this killing isn’t about ‘mental health issues.’ It’s roots lie in incompetence and political greed, coupled with fear that the NRA, who grades politicians on their friendliness to the NRA, and punishes those that won’t tow the line, will primary those who refuse NRA’s blood money bribes, and who dare to speak to the thousands of Americans murdered every year, thanks to the laxity of America’s gun laws.
Last night, many people went to bed shaken with the viciousness of this home grown terrorism, whipped up by their president, who was actually named in the shooter’s manifesto as being the inspiration for the attack. As they tried to rest, and hoped to unsee the ugly deaths and injuries of their fellow citizens, they instead awoke this morning to the news of another deadly attack – this time in Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman killed 9 people and injured 26 outside a bar after a person was denied entry.
Today, the ‘good Christians’ of America will fill their churches to mourn the dead of Dayton and El Paso. They will beat their breasts, as they murmur how their thoughts and prayers are with the dead and injured…
and then hours later they will be on Facebook, showing off their selfies with their masses of weapons, or bullying people of colour on Twitter, or maybe they’ll even attend a white supremacist or Trump rally, (same thing, really) puffed full of white pride, chanting ‘build that wall!,” “send them back!” and invoking the same racist filth their president delights in using to incite his followers to violence.
Praise the Lord … and pass the ammunition. What kind of a God favours guns, bigotry, xenophobia, murder, and racist scum like Trump? Not one I recognize.
Some of the dead and injured from the El Paso attack in a Wal-Mart were probably there getting school supplies for their children. Maybe they were fingering a nearly $200 bulletproof backback for their little one when the shots rang out.
Five of the top ten deadliest shootings in U.S. history have happened since 2016, and that’s no coincidence. Trump’s open racism has inflamed his base of angry, hate-filled, white males ready to commit murder for their leader.
“An audience member at a Donald Trump rally in Florida yelled ‘shoot them’ in reference to migrants at the border. Trump had asked the crowd: ‘How do you stop these people?’ After laughing at the response, he added: ‘Only in the panhandle can you get away with that statement'” The Guardian, May 2019
Since Trump first blew his racist dog whistle in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017, there’s been a persistent increase in incidents of racial violence. His enthusiastic support has led white supremacists to believe that they have permission from their leader in the White House to instigate racial violence, and a directive, if not a licence, to kill, without repercussion, based on his rhetoric.
The murders won’t end in El Paso; his minions took his ‘very fine people’ as a compliment. They are free to carry out his xenophobic mandate with his approval…
“Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.
It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners.
The manifesto that may be linked to Mr. Crusius described an imminent attack and railed against immigrants, saying, “if we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.” (The New York Times)
These are Trump’s words, Trump’s mandate, Trump’s orders to which they are marching.
” According to Facebook’s ad archive, Trump has run around 2,200 FB ads since May 2018 mentioning the word “invasion.” Scrolling through, all of them seem to be about immigration.” Twitter user Holly Lee.
As families in El Paso gathered at a school to regroup and count their dead and/or injured, ICE agents rolled up to check citizenship papers.
In Trump’s America, the mandate is clear. Even as he tweets for god to bless the victims of El Paso and Dayton, he fires back at those who dare to blame him for egging these killers on, saying that those who blame him or other conservatives should be ashamed of themselves.
“Hate crimes increased 226% in places Trump held a campaign rally in 2016, a University of North Texas study claims.”
As another twitter user, Raging Canadian Granny, noted, ” Obama would go on TV and address the nation. He would hug the families and give eulogies. He tried to make gun changes but the grim reaper stopped him.”
From Trump? Two sentences, squeezed out between golf rounds.
“God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”
and then a whine about how unfair everyone is for noting that it was he himself that got these murderers to do his bidding.
Nothing but weak sauce, as ineffective as thoughts and prayers.
America deserves better. I hope she survives long enough to finally learn that truth
A reaction to America’s president telling four Congresswoman of colour to “go back to where they came from?”
No, these are the words Woody Guthrie wrote in 1954, about the discriminatory rental policies of the POTUS’s dad, Fred. Fred did not want to rent to black people, and made sure that his rental agents were diligent in keeping people of colour from the cluster of sixteen residential buildings he owned in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
Guthrie had moved into an apartment at Beach Haven, near Coney Island, in 1950. It would be nearly twenty years later, in the 1970s, before Trump Elder was accused and charged with creating a “substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity” at Beach Haven, under the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. (The case was eventually settled.)
Several handwritten drafts of the lyrics—sometimes titled “Beach Haven Race Hate,” “Beach Haven Ain’t My Home,” and “Old Man Trump”—are presently on display at the Woody Guthrie Center, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 2016, Beach Haven Apartments Associates, now owned by Fred’s son Donald, was hit with the largest fine that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has ever levied against an apartment building for the mishandling of human waste, in this case, two hundred thousand gallons of untreated sewage being dumped into Coney Island Creek each day.
Later that year, Trump would become President of the United States of America. There’s a symmetry there.
So it would seem that Trump comes by his racism and bigotry honestly… he learned it at his father’s knee. I wonder if that drives a lot of his cruelty; is he sad that his father cannot see how successful the son has been in turning the hands of the clock back to the days before the rights of women, and people of colour in America, were legally protected? Is that anger at the Environmental Conservation Department one of the reasons he is hell-bent on tearing away all protections from America’s lands and waters?
Lately I’ve heard idle talk about the lack of protest songs for this frightening era of government supported violence, xenophobia and racism. There ARE songs out there, but it’s not like the sixties, where the transistors and family radios kept songs like Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth, or Barry McGuire‘s Eve of Destruction front and center thru the long hot summer days and nights.
Where are the songs that not only skewer the wrong doings of the government, but become the ear worm of a time? Where’s the Ohio, that warned that the tin soldiers and Nixon were coming to kill your college kids? Where’s the Black Day in July, written by Gordon Lightfoot, that cautioned that race wars like those in Detroit could take down cities and governments?
Maybe the closest we’ve come to a real response to Trump’s overt racism occurred way back, in April 2016, when YG and Nipsey Hussle released ‘FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)’ a song so angry that YG says the Secret Service contacted Def Jam records to see what was in the rest of his album.
YG and Nipsey shout out to Trump’s “racist ass”, includes calling him a “cancer”, declaring “I like white people but I don’t like you”, and admitting, “He got me appreciating Obama way more.”
But these are interesting times, my friend. In the beginning of Trump’s campaign, and the early months of his presidency, most artists chose to mock his hands, or his words captured on the infamous Access Hollywood clip.
will.i.am ft Apl.de.ap and Liane V –GRAB’m by the PU$$Y
“When I’m president I won’t be like be Obama If anyone talks sh** about me, I’ll bomb em I’m grabbin’ that (hey) like there’s no tomorrow And if we have problems with Russia I’ll bomb em”
Franz Ferdinand – Demagogue
“It feels so good to be dumb,” From the Wall/Straight to La Cuenta, those pussy-grabbing fingers won’t let go of me now.”
Rocky Mountain Mike‘s Hey Mr Tangerine Man is more silly than salient. But that’s okay. In a democracy, you’re allowed to make fun of the most powerful man in the world. Well – it used to be okay. We may be moving closer to a time when it’s punishable by death.
“Hey, Mr. Tangerine man, build a wall for me I’m not that bright and don’t know that you’re not going to Hey, Mr. Tangerine man, keep Muslims away from me With my jingoistic world view, I’ll come following you
Fake me out with this, I’ll be your newest apprentice My sister thinks you’re a trip All my friends say “Get a grip” And my skull’s too numb to think Waiting only for the bullshit you’ve been pedaling”
Gorillaz featuring Benjamin Clementine – Hallelujah Money
Band member Murdoc wrote on his Facebook page ‘In these dark times, we all need someone to look up to. Me, that’s why I’m giving you this new Gorillaz song, a lightning bolt of truth in the black night’. Gorillaz leader, Damon Albarn, is known for not backing away from a political fight, and this track, with it’s references to walls and the political narrative of politics in 2016/2017 takes aim squarely at Donald Trump.
Politically inclined musicians have always channeled their outrage into song. Once the Trump reign of errors had fully come into play, many stars, past and present, began to serve up a piece of their mind.
Billy Bragg completely nailed the racism arc to come in his rewrite of Bob Dylan‘s protest classic, “The Times They Are A-Changing.” In The Times They Are A-Changing Back, Bragg skewers Trump’s policies, and warns vulnerable Americans not to get too comfortable.
“Come Mexicans, Muslims, LGBT, and Jews Keep your eyes wide open for what’s on the news. For President Trump is expressing his views, And I fear the mob he’s inciting Will soon break your windows and burn down your schools Cuz the times, they are a changin’… back.”
Not all of the protest songs come from conventional musicians. This clip, from Late Night with Seth Meyers, features Amber Ruffin and the Go Back to Your Country Girls, performing their song about people telling them to go back to their country.
So, where we at now? In June, Madonna dropped this political bomb on gun control, with the song, God Control, and an entreaty that we take her pleas seriously. “This is your wake up call. Gun violence disproportionately affects children, teenagers and the marginalized in our communities. Honor the victims and demand GUN CONTROL. NOW. Volunteer, stand up, donate, reach out. Wake up and insist on common-sense gun safety legislation. Innocent lives depend on it.”
For my money, the reluctance of the Democrats currently holding the House to move for Trump’s impeachment is a huge mistake. That’s something with which most of the protest songwriters out there would seem to agree to be the case.
Parody Project – Impeachment?
The Parody Project, founded in August, 2017, has a slew of political song parodies online. It’s originator, film-maker/composer Don Caron, creates these parodies as a means of “surviving the current political and social mire by laughing and helping others to do the same.”
I always get a kick out of his videos. Took me ages before I realized that no matter how many ‘performers’ he had on a song, it was always just Don in a different Hawaiian shirt and a bad wig. Mr Caron is a one of a kind politically savvy, musical caricaturist for our times.
Randy Rainbow – Just Impeach Him
Randy Rainbow is the most commercial of the parodists and satirists out there, with a huge fan following both on Youtube, and on tour – I’m still bummed I missed his show last March at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I’m waiting with baited breath for his next release, but it seems he’s on an endless tour of the United States these days. Lucky you if he’s coming to a theatre near you!
Meanwhile, Randy and I are on the same page about POTUS …. Just Impeach Him.
What I realized as I searched for new protest songs is that, in truth, there are songs out there. They are just not rising to the top of the social media consciousness.
I also think that many with a yen for current events are beginning to feel that nothing that can be said or sung can stop Trump’s rush to an abolishment of democracy, and a rush to convert America to White Sovereignty. It really does seem like Trump is able to grab every flaming arrow aimed at his corrupt government and turn it back on the person that sent it.
Despite daily revelations of his corruption, lack of morals or ethics, and even as he lights the fuse of a race war, no one can lay a finger on him.
No matter how we try, we never do get him. He wriggles away, aided and abetted by equally corrupt courtiers. He doubles and triples down on disgustingly un-American rhetoric, and despite credible accusations that would have had any other president impeached and imprisoned a dozen times over, he stands proudly on the White House lawn, spewing yet more lies and bile.
Elizabeth Warren, who Trump taunted with the name ‘Pocahontas’ for years, may be the poster child for Trump’s puzzling ability.. When she finally released the findings of a DNA test proving her native ancestry, her rebuttal was turned back on her and used as evidence that she is a flakey, insecure female, and likely unfit for public office. Still – she persisted, and is now a plausible candidate to replace the Moron in Chief.
How did that happen? It’s a kind of black magic that anyone who’s gone up against Trump has felt – the president feels no need to show empathy, openness to the opinions of others, or any sense of a presidential demeanour. He just wants to hit back harder and more viciously at those defending their own existence in his world. His appetite for revenge is voracious, and he never forgets a slur.
He is a bully with awesome presidential powers, and a taste for the abuse of those powers.
Only look to the cowed and cowardly Ted Cruz or Lindsey Graham, who rush to carry the president’s water, despite being the targets for some of his cruelest and crudest slurs.
Trump’s a world class bully, in a world where he holds all the instruments necessary for the carrying out of his own perverted justice.
As we edge toward the next election, and the possibility that it may only be the beginnings of a long reign comprising multiple terms in office, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that we will ever be able to vote the narcissist in chief out of office – or that we’ll even be able to oust him from the White House, should he not be re-elected next November – no matter how well-written or relevant our protest songs may be.
I started writing this column days ago, and then it suddenly made a “left or a right turn into the United States, with a cargo of duct taped women tied up in the back of the car ” …
oh no, hang on – sorry! .. that was Trump’s porno fantasy from Friday when he finally set the government workers free from their 35 day enslavement.
But I digress ….
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019
Apparently we have learned very little, in these 74 years since the end of a war that showed us exactly what happens to humanity when racism becomes the approved government policy. (Spoiler alert: those in charge abandon their own humanity and blame it on sadism being a work requirement.)
Apparently we can’t see the similarities between the vilification of millions of human beings that occurred in Germany under Hitler, and the vilification of millions of human beings that is occurring right now, in America under Trump.
Too harsh? Consider what went down during the shutdown, as the Dems and Republicans wrangled over what ‘sop’ Herr Trump would have to receive before rescinding what was essentially a temporary enslavement (forced work without pay) of 800,000 government workers.
While he continued to demand the arbitrary hostage payment of $5.7 Billion for his magic wall, he also wanted to make it clear that there would be no amnesty on the table, no path to citizenship, for either the DACA kids, or the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have become valuable taxpaying residents of America since receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
In fact, in his rebuttals to the FOX network talking heads who thought his offerings of a temporary respite meant that he was going soft, he made it quite clear that, whatever security he might extend to either the DACA kids or the TPS refugees, it would only be short-term – three years tops – and that he would pull back that protection whenever it suited his whim.
Say – after the next election, should he remain in power.
That whimsy also extended to about eleven million people who live in America illegally – your neighbours and friends, who will likely eventually wind up as passengers on a bus, sent back to who knows where, on your tax dollar. He’s got plans to round them all up and deport them at some point. You are gonna miss them – they’ve been members of your community. Maybe you miss them already.
The truth is, illegal immigrants actually pay a lot of money in taxes; the $11.2 billion in taxes paid by illegal immigrants in 2010 included $8.4 billion in sales taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes and $1.2 billion in state personal income taxes.
Rich people pay next to nothing in taxes. Between tax shelters, trump’s new tax laws that only benefit the wealthy, and accountants that have never found a taxable dollar they couldn’t dress up as an expense, the wealthy pay a great deal less than pretty much anybody. Oh … and when the IRS or the Canadian equivalent go after tax dodgers, they’re far more likely to go after people with a middle class income than a millionaire’s income. (What they lose in quantity, they make up for in volume .. there’s just so many of us to shake down!)
Rich white people are not used to being held accountable; justice wears a different face for them.
And, despite the argument that immigrants bring crime, the truth is that immigrants are, in fact, less likely to commit crimes, if only to bring less attention to themselves and their families.
The rudimentary camps and tent cities that have been erected at the southern border are not concentration camps, at least, not yet. But there are just too many similarities in tone and in the mistreatment of human beings for the camps not to be considered fraternal if not identical twins.
Racism is like mother’s milk to many Americans – they imbibe it from birth, and it’s very hard to go cold turkey as you age, even when common sense, facts and science keep telling you that the milk has gone sour.
Thinking back to some of the ugliest of quasi Jim Crow laws still plaguing America in the twenty first century … Stand Your Ground, anyone? … there’s an irony in a George Zimmerman, ecstatic to have fulfilled his cop fantasy by killing a 17 year old boy whose only crime was wearing a hoodie and of bringing home some snacks to eat while he did his homework, quite possibly being someone whose looks get him ‘accidentally’ rounded up and deported for looking like someone they’d grab in an ICE sting..
President Obama once said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” and a whole lot of ‘not me! I’m no racist!’ types lost their minds. Because American audiences have been conditioned to see young black guys as bad guys – no matter what situation those kids might be in. They’ve been taught that black people are, as a group or individually, and of any age, creatures of whom you could honestly claim to see as being dangerous under even the most innocuous situations or in the most innocuous of places. Which then makes it logical that you might ‘fear for your life‘ of such a creature, even if it’s just a little twelve year old boy, playing with a toy gun, all by himself in a snowy park. That’s enough for someone to call 911, and suddenly, there’s a police car driving by, and a police gun that has a bullet with your name on it. And the cop doesn’t even have to get out of his car to kill you.
‘Teenagers are teenagers, and they do stupid stuff’ only applies to white kids, apparently. Try to imagine if all of those 15, 16,and 17 year old ‘nice young men’ who terrorized their schools with AR-15s had been black.
Which reminds me … how old is Smirkboy, er .. I mean Nick Sandmann? Smirkboy, whose up close and personal encounter with a Native elder has kept him in the news for yet another week, is sixteen. He looked a little older when he was up in the elder’s face, but oh my how he’d changed in appearance by the time a good PR firm had taken him in hand.
This is what 16 looks like when you are being racist
And this is what 16 looks like when you’ve been coached in how to make excuses for being racist. I can almost smell the peach fuzz.
It reminded me of nothing so much as how politicians present themselves before and after elections.
Yes, he was pretty young, just sweet sixteen, and yet, his Catholic school sent him off with his all boy school group to protest abortions at a Right to Life event. These kids were sent to be political actors. Rumour has it, the school actually provided them with the MAGA hats, which, if true, would be a pretty good reason to pull the school’s religious tax exemption.
The MAGA hats also show a genuine lack of logical thinking on the part of all who thought it appropriate gear when declaring the right to decide who has a ‘right to life’ … the hat supports a president who denigrates immigrants and refugees, and celebrates taking children from their parents and separating families.
Can you show me where the ‘right to life’ hurt you, on this doll? I mean .. MAGA hat?
The racism seems pretty much baked into the American cake, overall, despite Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court declaring the end of racism in America in 2013, largely based on one half black man becoming president of the United States.
Well, it’s just over six years later, and the orange man is spending all of his time overturning everything the black man accomplished in his two terms.
So I’m gonna say Justice Roberts kinda jumped the gun there.
The orange man really can’t stand people of colour. Perhaps he is unaware that orange is a colour as well.
And with any luck, and based on his many crimes against a different colour of humanity, time will prove that orange IS the new black …
while I think of it.. it’s that time of year again! The 2019 Overgrow Canada campaign has begun, and it’s time to sign up for your 100 free cannabis seeds! These are a low-THC, high-CBD strain called Freedom Dream
” The goal of this campaign is to get these plants growing in public places. Sprout them at home and get them started, then put the seedlings in traffic circles, community parks, city hall gardens, and anywhere else where they can be seen and enjoyed by everyone.
Many people have been growing these plants at home, to produce a source of CBD. That’s fine too!”
Some people think of me as a happy person, who laughs long and hard, and knows how to have a good time. And that’s a large part of who I am.
But I get really, really angry at injustice .. to anyone. Especially injustice to the vulnerable, those who suffer, but are expected to keep a stiff upper lip and their mouths shut before their ‘betters.’ And that includes not only racial minorities, it includes ALL injustice .. to anyone …
I get really, really angry … and I’m allowed to express that anger. Oh sure, I’ll get a few people who tell me to lighten up, or who’ll ignore me, or who’ll snicker about my ‘rants’ … but I’m ALLOWED to get angry. I’m allowed to yell and stamp my feet, and some will agree and some will not .. but I’m allowed to show my anger.
And it doesn’t get me beaten. Or killed. Or arrested for ‘typing while black/native/female/old/young/handicapped/imprisoned/Lefty Liberal.’
My heart breaks every time I see injustice. But I feel the most pain when I see those to whom injustice is a daily reality and a life sentence, being told and shown that they not only have to take it, they have to take it with a smile.
That’s the kind of unthinking injustice that our world tolerates. And I’ll keep getting angry and ranting about it as long as I have breath in my body.
A quote from the article below: “There is a time and a space in which to be angry. There is a time and a space to be happy and joyful. Black people are fully human and we deserve the opportunity to exist in all of our emotions and feelings all the time. NO ONE gets to regulate our humanity —— not even “childhood friends.””
I already had a column drafted and ready for editing this morning, but my muse took a hard left turn and demanded a re-write.
I wanted to talk about how important it is to be true to yourself; in your own life, in the way you present to your loved ones, and the realities of pursuing the path by which you pay your bills. But all of that sounds rather pretentious, in the face of current events.
What I came to realize is that the only reason that old, white women like me can spend any time at all dreaming of improving themselves and their surroundings – never mind assuming that anyone else would be interested in reading those thoughts – is that we have ‘privilege.’
I know that’s a dirty word to many. “If I’m so privileged, why can’t I get a decent job? Why do I struggle just to make ends meet? Tell ME about privilege, when I grew up poor, with an abusive family, and no chance at a decent education!?”
And all of that is valid. You probably DID and ARE getting a raw deal on some aspects of your life. We live in troubled times of massive fiscal inequality. That you were able to fight your way through the obstacles, and are currently reading this on your cellphone/laptop/desktop/magic mirror, shows that you drew on all of your resources, and triumphed.
But what you didn’t do, if you were born white, was wake up every day, look into the mirror, and see visible proof that you were a minority, with all of the attendant prejudices that an accident of birth conferred upon you.
Just by being born white, in Canada or the U.S., you won a lottery you never knew you’d entered. If you were also born male, able-bodied, straight, and into a family that was financially stable, you lucked into a super bonus. Something you had no say in, no choice, granted certain privileges on you from the day you entered this world.
Not all privilege is exactly the same. Where we are in terms of ‘class,’ as an economic indicator, also affects what we can expect to access in higher education, and with whom we can expect to interact. One kind of privilege doesn’t add or subtract from another – being discriminated against for having non-white skin doesn’t negate being discriminated against for being female, or non-straight, old, or disabled … all of these factors have bearing, and cannot be minimalized.
But if you woke up this morning, and a white face looked back at you from the mirror, you faced one less challenge than those who saw a face of another colour in their reflection. As rich and famous as Oprah Winfrey is, she still encounters those who think her unworthy of holding corporate power, and is not immune from discrimination in a luxury Zurich handbag store.
And you can just get off your high horse of pretending that systemic racism is only a problem in the U.S. Yes, their problem is more visible, and more violent, and yes, the spectacle of an openly racist presidential candidate whipping up the basest of armed citizens, potentially leading to Civil War II, is horrific.
But Canada’s treatment of First Nations people is despicable. Denying that it isn’t our own flavour of racism doesn’t address the very real injustices perpetrated against the people who were here before us.
Consider this commonplace incident that occurred yesterday, in Calgary. RCMP, making an arrest, entered a home on the Siksika First Nation around 6 a.m. The RCMP are alleged to have battered an Alberta First Nation man, hauling him naked from his home and bringing him to a detachment before realizing he needed an ambulance.
“Christian Duck Chief, 23, is recovering from a broken eye socket, fractured cheek bone, fracture to the back of his head and a broken nose.
Duck Chief and his wife say they were sleeping in their home on the Siksika First Nation southeast of Calgary Friday when RCMP from the Gleichen detachment entered their home around 6 a.m. to arrest him.
They acknowledge Duck Chief struggled at first, saying he was on his stomach when woken and didn’t know it was police. But they allege an RCMP officer hit him at least 20 times after he stopped struggling and shouted that he wasn’t resisting, even as he lay handcuffed on the floor.
Duck Chief — who has been charged in connection with the incident — and his lawyer said the force used by the officer was excessive.
(The couple) suspect the arrest occurred either because a friend had visited them the night before in a stolen vehicle or that RCMP wrongly believed Duck Chief was still under a bail condition that he not be in the home with his wife.
Duck Chief said he struggled at first because he thought someone had broken into their home and was attacking them, and initially bit the officer’s finger. He has been charged in connection to the incident.” (cbc.ca)
That scenario is almost as Kafkaesque as the spectacle of Philando Castile’s girlfriend talking calmly and calling the officer ‘Sir’, as he forced her out of the car and onto her knees after he shot her boyfriend dead in front of her and her four-year-old daughter during a routine traffic stop.
Do either of those scenarios, of the First Nations man in Alberta, or the man in Minnesota who died from a broken taillight, strike you as something that would happen to a white citizen? That this would be the subject of a discussion heavily loaded with justifications to decide if the victims deserved what happened to them? No. Privilege.
The people of colour in the U.S., and the First Nations people in Canada, are both being told that their very real fear of the police and authorities must be addressed in calm, respectful, and reverent tones. While those who beat and kill them are not held to anywhere near the same standards.
The us-against-them-against-who now? arguments that broke out last week over the actions of BLM-TO (Black Lives Matter – Toronto) at the Pride parade exemplifies how divided even minorities have become, and how quick we are to pick a side. As emotions subside, speakers from both the BLM community and the LGBTQ community have moved to a middle ground of understanding. There have been talks, apologies, and re-commitments to values.
Except for white people. White people are still using real and imagined information about the actions of two beleaguered minorities, adding in the public attitudes on policing, finally declaring one side or the other a villain. It’s not even their battle! But that’s how privilege works … you still expect to not only have a right to an opinion on something you have not personally experienced, you believe your opinion should be heard and agreed upon.
Earlier this week, the executives in charge of Toronto’s CNE events made a disastrous faux pas, and announced that disabled patrons would no longer receive complimentary entry, citing a need for ‘equality.’
The CNE has posted the policy change on its website, saying it strives to respect “the dignity and independence of all of our guests, including those with disabilities.” Caregivers can still get in free.
Am I reading that right? The disabled will pay, but their (presumably non-disabled) caretakers will get in free? What an odd definition of equality!
Their publicity department insisted, self-righteously, that their decision was solely based on allowing all fair-goers equal entry, despite the reality of the thousands of free passes that are given to city councillors, employees of other attractions, anyone famous enough to be recognized at the Gates, and, ultimately, their own friends.
While the City weaseled out of the fight by fobbing off critique while they ‘discussed’ the situation, it fell to disability advocate and former Lieutenant Governor David Onley to lead a charge of harsh criticism, which forced the CNE to reverse their decision. They caved, as bullies will, when their petty actions are shown to be discriminatory, and potentially illegal. Public opinion, bolstered by social media, brought too much negative attention to the parsimony.
“The CNE had argued it simply wanted to treat people with disabilities the same as everyone else. But Onley said the decision was purely economic and if the CNE was truly concerned with equality, it should look at the number of people with disabilities it employs — a figure general manager Virginia Ludy didn’t know when asked on Wednesday.
Onley also said some 1.8 million Ontarians have some kind of disability and, of those, more than 400,000 live on Ontario Disability Support Program payments. That amounts to about $14,000 a year plus medical benefits, “meaning that you live in a state of virtual poverty … it’s not a good state,” Onley said.“
Privilege puts money above compassion and empathy. It bandies the word ‘equality’ about, while ignoring the reality of those who are physically or economically challenged.
Nothing is too low for those who use blunt force to achieve their ends. Look to the actions of Canada Post CEO, Deepak Chopra, who has forced his will upon postal workers by refusing to continue talks. He’ll lock out the workers, and impose a stoppage of mail, eventually forcing the workers to take whatever he’ll decide to give them.
Some of the issues? Equal pay. In 2016, the same 2016 that Trudeau used as a banner and a reason to have a gender-even counsel, we’re dithering on whether men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. But for Canada Post, apparently equal pay is just not ‘this year’ enough.
“”Our rural and suburban mail carrier unit, which is predominately made up of women, get paid 28 per cent less than their predominantly male counterparts in the urban operations unit for doing the exact same work.””
Pensions are also on the table. “a two-tier pension system might become the reality for postal workers. Canada Post wants the union to accept a defined contribution plan for new employees. “The proposed change would alter the plan such that the contributions made by each worker would be set, but there would be no guarantee of the benefits they would receive in retirement,” wrote rabble labour reporter Teuila Fautai”
No guarantees in retirement. Well … isn’t that comforting. Tell me how this can be justified by CEOs and government officials whose handsome pensions are locked down and guaranteed, ensuring they’ll live out their golden years in comfort.
It’s all around you, and tied up in bows that dissolve in your hands, leaving those of visible and invisible minorities with nothing but slime to show for the strident claims of equality and justice for all. Those with privilege point to laws and regulations designed to create a level playing field, and dismiss the cries of those who note that those fields are often studded with landmines, and protected from access by the high cost of pursuing justice in the courts.
No one is saying that it’s a crime to be straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied or male. There’s no need to don hair shirts or self-flagellate for the circumstances of your birth, no need to feel guilty for enjoying those privileges. In fact … please DO enjoy them! They are your birthright!
What those who have been denied access to the same privileges simply ask for is an acknowledgment of those differences. They ask that we be aware of how much more difficult it can be to compete in a world where others will never comprehend what it’s like to have to work twice as hard, just to be considered almost equal to a peer who has never known the same adversities or discriminations.
Until then, it seems we’ll live in a world where ‘tolerance’ is defined as not immediately killing those who don’t look like you.
(first published July 10/16 … bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/roxanne-tellier-privilege-is-such-a-lonely-word/)
In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal (for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.)” His answer to the “Irish’ problem was to advise the poor to sell their children as ‘food for rich gentlemen and ladies’, and came complete with techniques for slaughter and mouth-watering recipes.
His satirical essay was meant to mock society’s lack of empathy towards the unfortunate, and in particular, to make clear the contemptuous attitude the British aristocracy held of the Irish people.
As outrageous as Swift’s essay may seem, his point must be taken; when people are overwhelmingly seen as commodities – be they the poor, the disabled, the elderly, migrants or refugees – it’s only a small step to conceiving of humans as being little more than meat, which then, logically, becomes only worth what the market will bear, per pound.
While the idea of cannibalizing the poor may seem shocking, in truth, we’re little different now, three centuries later. Our media is filled with assaults, deaths, and murders being committed every day, all around the globe, most of which rarely elicit more than a few seconds of our disapproval, before our thoughts move on to something less disturbing.
Hence, my proposal, which I hope will interest those questioning how society should deal with the physical assault or murder of its citizens.
In the last several years we’ve seen Justice using a sliding scale for the punishment of apparent and actual wrongdoers. A young black child alone in a snowy playground, for instance, apparently poses an enormous threat to armed officers in police cars, and is therefore executed before their fears can be realized. On the other hand, a young, armed white man who opens fire in an Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in South Carolina during a prayer meeting, can kill nine people, and still be arrested in an orderly fashion, and indeed, be treated to a Burger King meal by police officers as they chauffeur him from the church to the jail.
Or we can look to the case of the young, white male Stanford student, who, despite being caught in the act of assaulting an unconscious fellow student, received a six month sentence (now somehow dropped to three months) to be served in prison – not jail – rather than the six years the prosecutors had requested, and despite the twelve pages of the victim’s statement, which outlined in searingly heartbreaking detail what she has gone through, during and since the rape.
Contrast that with the case histories of hundreds of young, black males serving much longer prison sentences for the same or similar offences, as in the case of Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey.
Murder and sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender, sexuality, or other factors. Inserting prejudice and bias into the process of sentencing renders the law farcical.
Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, which gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, on the grounds that racism is no longer an issue, I am very aware that racism, sexism, and bigotry are enormous problems, and that pretending they do not exist is as foolish as denying gravity. This is our reality, and wishing it away demonstrates the naiveté of a child.
(And according to polls, the majority of Republicans in America believe that ‘reverse racism’ is a worse problem than racism.)
Therefore, I tender my proposal. People are citizens of their countries. Although they cannot be enslaved, they are nevertheless in many ways the ‘property’ of their country, in that they are expected, by birth or through acquired citizenship, to obey the laws, while receiving the rights and protection available. They are simultaneously a country’s asset AND liability.
So I propose that citizens of all countries be defined as what they really are – property of their governments.
There is a provision in most countries’ military agreements that outlines what constitutes abuse of government property. In the United States, that provision is Article 108 – Destruction of Government Property – which describes as criminal, “Any person subject to this chapter who, without proper authority (1) sells or otherwise disposes of; (2) wilfully or through neglect damages, destroys, or loses; or (3) willfully or through neglect suffers to be lost, damaged, destroyed, sold, or wrongfully disposed of, any military property of the United States, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
And some overzealous NCOs have been known to threaten the rank and file for wilful personal damage, even going as far as issuing a letter of reprimand for the sin of getting a sunburn that prevents a soldier from going on a mission.
In Canada, Department of National Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces members are “Crown servants.” They too are, in a sense, property of their country. Strictly speaking, any assault of a member of the armed forces is an assault of government property.
But if citizens of all countries are defined as the property of their governments, then assault, rape, and murder can be immediately reclassified as physical damage or destruction of a country’s property. Rescind the gray areas subject to bias, and assign a punishment that fits the crime.
Strongly held beliefs of a physical or moral superiority of one race or sex over another cannot be eradicated in a generation. Indeed, the popularity of those who consider Donald Trump merely ‘an honest guy that says what the rest of us are thinking ’ proves that there are millions in the United States alone that see themselves as superior beings , and that they see those that are not like themselves as inferior.
Rather than argue with stubborn mindsets, it seems far more sensible to deem citizens as property of their country. With this as a guideline, it then becomes a simple matter of assigning value. What is a life worth? Should men, women, and children have separate values, or can we agree that the assault or murder of any person is grievous? Since racism is supposedly a non-issue, do we then assign the same value to people of all colours? In a court of law, can we agree to an equality of all members of society, independent of their circumstances of birth?
Rather than the lip service of equality granted by charters and constitutions, lay out the terms of the perceived worth of citizens. What is the lifetime value of your citizen, after taking into account both the costs and benefits? If that is pro-rated over an estimated lifetime, should the potential of a child’s life, nipped in the bud, be a factor in higher penalties? Where then does that leave legalized abortion?
If a mother can be forced to give birth, is she not then entitled to ongoing support for the child? And if we now hold that all citizens are of equal value, can we then withhold the necessities of life to those who are caught in cycles of poverty or addiction? Can we, in good conscience, subscribe to cuts to benefits to the hungry, the homeless, disabled or elderly? Property must be maintained!
What of the wounded veterans, who served their country in good faith, but have returned from combat, damaged physically or mentally? Should their rehabilitation – the cost of repairing damaged property – not be considered a vital part of the calculation of the cost of continuing conflicts or new acts of aggression?
In order to purge real or perceived prejudices in the courts, each and every citizen must be first and foremost recognized as a unique and valuable entity in his or her own right. If the law, lawyers, and judges are unable to see people as such, perhaps the only solution is to tack a label upon the people, signifying ownership, with the attendant penalties enforced upon those who damage governmental property.
My immodest proposal only seeks to level the judicial playing field, and avoid judgments that strain our belief and fervent hope that “Justice is Blind. “