RSSCategory: Bigotry

Losing their country to “them”

April 2, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
Losing their country to “them”

Frank Rich believes that he has isolated the source of the anxiety and anger displayed by many Tea Party demonstrators: They see themselves as “white” and they feel the shifting demographics of the United States. Many of them are hurling invectives at civil rights hero John Lewis, a gay representative, Barney Frank and Emanuel Cleaver, an African American representative from Missouri.

The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white.

I’m sure that the Tea Party members would not appreciate my partial solution: Stop thinking in terms of “race,” and start thinking of yourself as African, no matter who you are (here’s good evidence of your African heritage). Truly, we should really embrace our common African heritage, and focus instead on the shocking same-ness of human beings. Then we’ll have one fewer idiotic reason for hating each other. With regard to the gay “problem,” Tea Party members need to get serious about biology. Same sex relations are ubiquitous among many other species of animals, not just human animals. Almost everything about us is something we share with most other humans. It is critical that we start thinking in those terms. Though he has done some highly questionable things in his life, I do believe that Bill Clinton got it exactly right during this 2007 speech.

Share

Read More

Ada Lovelace Has A Day

March 25, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
Ada Lovelace Has A Day

I just discovered that there is a day for this brilliant woman.

Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron, a scholar, and wrote what is arguably the very first computer program in an essay about Charles Babbage. Of course, since she was a woman at a time when women were considered not to have either brains or rights, she would have been seen as an anomaly at best, a monster at worst. Since she had some position, however, she has not been forgotten or dismissed.

Warning: personal opinion follows.

Women who denigrate the idea of Feminism and fail to understand how tenuous their position is vis-a-vis history cause me heartburn. If they think about it at all, they seem to believe Woman As Property happens in the Third World and nothing like that can happen here (wherever the particular Here happens to be).

But then you run into something like this. One paragraph from this report says it all:

Females do not have voting privileges, but are generally allowed to speak at meetings, according to Klaetsch. Sunday’s meeting was the first time in recent history that St. John’s Council President Don Finseth exercised his authority to prevent females from speaking, church members say.

This is in Wisconsin. Recently. I grant you, this is not a state practice, but in these times when so many people seem to feel that religion trumps civic law, it’s a disturbing thing to behold. The question in my mind is, why don’t all the women there pick up their marbles and leave?

Because they either buy into the second class status accorded them or they like something about the condition they inhabit. Western women have it easy in such matters—no one will stone them if they get a little uppity. For them, this is a “lifestyle” choice, at least functionally. In parts of the Middle East and Africa it’s life or death.

Back when I was in high school, in the supposedly enlightened United States of America, in 1971, I took an architectural drawing class. The room was filled with boys. All boys.

One girl was taking the class. Where was she? The teacher put her in a separate room, the supply room at the back, with her own drafting table and tools. Why? Because the morons inhabiting the rest of the class wouldn’t leave her alone, wouldn’t let her do her work, teased her, ridiculed her, abused her, told her she was weird, unnatural, a lesbian, that she wanted to be a man, that all she needed was a good screwing and she’d get this crazy notion of being an architect right out her system. I heard this, witnessed some of it. It made me profoundly uncomfortable at the time, but I didn’t understand it other than as the same run-of-the-mill bullying that I myself had been subjected to all through grade school.

But it went beyond that, I now see, because what she did ran counter to some idea of what the relative roles of men and women are “supposed” to be. Did the boys indulging the abuse understand that? No, of course not. They were parroting what they’d grown up seeing at home and elsewhere, with no more reflection or self-awareness than the hardwired belief that Real Americans all love baseball that Communism was automatically evil and John Wayne was just shy of the second coming. Analysis would be the natural enemy to a traditional view that maintained an absurd status quo and should therefore be resisted, hence anyone among their peers that preferred reading to sports was also an enemy.

So celebrate Ada Lovelace Day. No one, male or female, should accept restrictions imposed by cant and tradition and national dogma. But until it is entirely recognized that we are all of us People first, male and female next, and that equal rights accrue to people, not types, none of us are safe in our predilections and ambitions.

Share

Read More

What Republicans believe

March 23, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
What Republicans believe

A new Harris poll reports what our non-evidence-based-Republican-brethren tend to believe. At The Daily Beast, John Avlon reports:

57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president” 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did” Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”

Avlon refers to these poll results as evidence of “‘Obama Derangement Syndrome’—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism.”

Share

Read More

The Onion presents the formula for bullshit stories

March 13, 2010 | By | Reply More
The Onion presents the formula for bullshit stories

A few weeks ago, I posted on a terrific video on a tried-and-true formula, “A Standard News Report,” used by television “news” stations to package non-stories in order to present them to the public as “news.”

Now, The Onion has presented its own version of packaging used by television “news” stations for presenting non-stories as “news” stories. Quite funny, yet serious and well-concocted. The Onion’s video looks like a news story about non-news stories, yet it presents a topic that is certainly newsworthy.


Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere

Speaking of The Onion, check out a new written Onion story on bigotry. Here’s an excerpt:

A coalition of the nation’s most fervent bigots convened in Washington Monday to address growing concerns that the production of hateful new racial slurs has failed to keep pace with the rise in mixed-race births.

Share

Read More

Welcome to Prom Night

March 12, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
Welcome to Prom Night

Constance McMillen wanted to go to her high school prom. Like most students in the United States, she doubtless saw the event as the capstone of four years of effort, a gala event for students that represents a reward for getting to the end of their senior year and, presumably, graduating not only from high school but into adulthood. One night of glamor and revelry, dressed at a level of style and affluence many might never indulge again, to celebrate the matriculation into the next level of independence. A party where students can show themselves—to their peers and to themselves—as adults.

It has become something more, probably, than it was ever intended to be. Patterned after high society “debuts” at which young ladies of good breeding (and potential wealth) are introduced to Society (with a capital “S”) in a manner that, when stripped of its finery and fashionable gloss, is really a very expensive dating service, with the idea of creating future matches between “suitable” couples, the high school prom is a showcase, a public demonstration of, presumably, the virtues of a graduating class. Over the last few decades, even the less well-off schools strive to shine in what a prom achieves. Instead of a local band in the high school gym, with bunting and streamers and colored lights to “hide” the fact that normally gym class and basketball are performed in this room, the prom has become elevated to a decent hotel with a ball room, a better-priced band (or a DJ), and all the attributes of a night on the town in Hollywood. Tuxedos and gowns are de rigueur and students’ families spare no expense to deck their children out in clothes they really often can’t afford. Limousines transport the budding fashionistas and their knights errant to the evening’s festivities and you know this cost a fortune.

Students may be forgiven for believing that it’s for them.

In its crudest terms, the prom is for the community, a self-congratulatory demonstration of how well the community believes it has done by its youth. It is a statement about what that community would like to see itself as.

Share

Read More

Another anti-gay reaction formation – a growing list.

March 4, 2010 | By | 19 Replies More
Another anti-gay reaction formation – a growing list.

Here’s the report from Huffpo (with video):

Early Wednesday morning, State Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Calif.) was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Sources report that Ashburn — a fierce opponent of gay rights — was driving drunk after leaving a gay nightclub; when the officer stopped the state-issued vehicle, there was an unidentified man in the passenger seat of the car.

Based on the constant stream of incidents like this, we ought to just assume that men who disparage gays are gay. Freud calls this type of situation a reaction formation.

Share

Read More

Can you tolerate NAMBLA?

January 25, 2010 | By | 12 Replies More
Can you tolerate NAMBLA?

image courtesty of the Federal Art Project, via Wikimedia Commons

You think you’re open-minded? What if the North American Man-Boy Love Association wanted to distribute a newsletter in your town? What if they wanted to hold a local parade celebrating pederasty?

I am currently studying social psychology in graduate school, and I’m particularly interested in political psychology. One of my present research interests is political tolerance. “Political tolerance” refers to individuals’ willingness to extend equal civil liberties to unpopular groups.

When political scientists and psychologists measure political tolerance, they often probe individuals for their ability to withstand the most offensive, outlandish groups and speech possible. For example, a liberal-minded person may be asked whether they would be willing to allow a rally for the Klu Klux Klan or some extremist, militaristic group. Paradoxically, a truly tolerant person must be willing to allow racially intolerant speech.

Political tolerance plays a cornerstone role in functioning democracies (at least, we think so). If voters can strip away the civil liberties of disliked political groups, those liberties lay on precarious ground indeed. If we cannot tolerate the words of anarchists or members of the Westboro Baptist Church, then we do not really believe in the boundlessness of speech at all.

Academics say as much. In reality, voters are not so tolerant.

Share

Read More

Use behavior-profiling, not racial profiling

January 6, 2010 | By | Reply More
Use behavior-profiling, not racial profiling

Many in the political right wing are advocating for more racial profiling, or at least cultural profiling. Think Progress explains why these approaches don’t work and why we should instead use behavior profiling.

Share

Read More

Right wing response re Yemen

January 1, 2010 | By | Reply More
Right wing response re Yemen

Glenn Greenwald dissects a “solution” to the attempted bombing of a Northwest airliner coming from the Right Wing of the political spectrum. How barbaric right wingers are to suggest that we “kill them all,” even people from Yemen who are innocent. And how ignorant to fail to understand why many people from Yemen are angry with the United States. Greenwald correctly points out the absurdity of the claim that they hate us for our “freedom.”

Share

Read More