I can’t say much more about what’s happening in our country right now. It’s like speaking into a void, particularly with those still supporting this POTUS.
I realize that might be you, but I can no longer quietly accept your support, for whatever reason, of the man currently occupying our White House. If this offends you, then I accept your right to unsubscribe from my blog, though I’ll be sad to see you go.
I do want to share thoughts that I emailed to someone today, who suggested that the problem with all this gun violence stems from our nation’s loss of civility, separation from traditional values, rejection of God, and treatment of everything as “political.” In effect, this individual placed the blame for these shootings at the foot of the liberal media, pro-choice supporters, and non-Christians, and then suggested it is everyone else who makes these massacres political. This, I cannot abide.
So, here’s where I stand:
“Treat each other civilly” is a wonderful idea. I try to practice it every day. I’ve turned to meditation to help me respond with patience and kindness in a time of total madness, because I agree with the idea that we should be civil. We should be good to each other. But quite frankly, that statement is also an empty token coming from someone who supports this POTUS. Of course we should all be nice to each other. Now, reconcile that, please, with your support for this man. He’s so kind and compassionate? He never calls for violence, never vilifies the other? He is a role model for decorum? His Twitter account and his rallies are joyful manifestations of Jesus’s teachings?
With these platitudes, you speak out of both sides of your mouth. Be a good person, or don’t. People who genuinely want civility and kindness and to live like CHRIST, in truth not just in name, cannot support this president. They cannot. He is not that person. So, maybe it makes you feel better to say you, personally, are a good person and treat others well. In general, I agree with that. I learned a lot about charity and family and friendship from my parents, and that’s where you’re right about part of this–that it matters who we surround ourselves with. But is being good, personally, enough when the world around us is burning because the man you still support is lighting the torches? Civility is an action. Kindness is an action. To sit back and let unkindness happen, is a choice. It’s time to choose better.
I hope you will consider the cognitive dissonance you’ve accepted in your own ideology when you tell me that “people are trying to make it political” while making this argument: “Traditional marriage, traditional family values, and pro-life are what we need. God is what we need.” (P.S. whose values? Whose god? Just yours? P.P.S. How many atheists have you heard of committing mass murder? Hindus? Scientologists, for that matter?). And “anyone who doesn’t believe in these is what’s wrong with our country and is responsible for the condition we’re in.”
In other words, when you don’t agree with someone else’s perspective or way of being in the world, they are being political. But the way you think and feel is, “simply natural” and “getting back to normal.” Why is your normal the normal? Why do you get to define the right way for all of us to live, the right beliefs for all of us to adopt? Do you know how these shooters were raised? Do you know anything about their parents? Do we honestly know anything other than they are white, male, and got their hands on weapons that shouldn’t even exist (excuse me – who needs to own a weapon capable of killing 40 people in under a minute? What kind of sport is that? I think not.) How can you, in other words, suggest that they weren’t raised the right way?
Terrorists are radicalized over time, and they are taught to accept messages that make them feel comfortable, needed, marginalized, and activated. They are taught to hate, and not just by their parents, but by the systems in place that applaud it or refuse to condemn it. Avowed supporter (like the Florida bomber) or not (like the El Paso shooter who seems to have been a white supremacist anyway, at least according to his “manifesto”), the fact is that a cooperative leadership, however subtle, sends the message to these people that it’s okay to go ahead and “take the country back.” That’s the message they’re getting from this president and that’s why the majority of them are white males. They cannot accept that other people have the right to live here, too.
This is the problem with straight white male Christian privilege. (You’re going to think that’s an attack on you. It’s not. But do the math. To solve a problem, we have to understand it. The people committing these atrocities are almost always white males who almost always identify as Christian or who came from a western-Christian background; the KKK? Founded as a Christian organization. In my own understanding of Christianity, these people are obviously not Christians, but something radical IS happening with right-wing Christian extremism and it’s beyond negligent to ignore it.) There’s systemic, institutional racism and sexism running rampant through our civic and governmental systems, there always has been. People are being taught that it is “the other” who is the problem. But this gets progressively worse when black people and immigrants are referred to as vermin, criminals, and animals by the most powerful person in the world. Honestly, what do you think that does to people teetering on the edge? Do you really think this president doesn’t know what he’s doing when he Tweets out that language? When he inspires violence against his adversaries at his rallies? We’ve read the history books — how can we ignore it when it’s happening in our own front yard? You think the press supporting him doesn’t know what they’re doing when they publish the names and addresses of abortion doctors? When the NRA puts images of four minority congresswomen on their advertisement with targets on their heads? There is absolutely a call to violence happening in this country, but you’re ignoring where it really comes from. Why?
This is why a white male shooter who walks into a black church and kills a bunch of people performing a bible study is taken into custody, given a bullet proof vest for his protection, and fed Burger King, while a black man named Philando Castile who is pulled over and complies with the police, tells them outright that he has a license to conceal and there is a concealed weapon in his car, is murdered in front of his wife and child.
This is why a white male who posts anti-Mexican immigrant racist rants online can get his hands on an automatic rifle, kill 20+ people, and be taken alive into custody, but a black man named Eric Garner is choked to death on the sidewalk for selling cigarettes.
These things are happening all the time. It’s easy to look at one case in the news and say, “darn, that’s terrible.” But there is instance after instance after instance of this happening, with no recourse. No one held accountable. Black and brown people are simply not valued the way white men are in this country, and their mis-treatment, even murder, is not taken nearly as seriously as the feelings of white people. I’m a white person who can acknowledge this. It’s not an attack on myself or my life, because I do try to live a good life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see what’s happening at the macro-level. We have to be able to see this and acknowledge it, and we white people have to be involved in fixing it.
What did you think of Captain Marvel? Black Panther? I hear a lot of people think they were “too political” because they dared to cast a woman and a black man as heroes. Did you walk away from Bohemian Rhapsody when truths about Freddie Mercury were presented on the screen? Do these stories not have a right to exist, too? Why does their presence become “political”? Why isn’t it political that almost every superhero or rock star is assumed to be and always has been presented as straight and white? Are all these “other” people who are getting stories of their own the ones who are being political, really? Or is it the person who is made so uncomfortable by other people finally getting a chance to have a story, that they refuse to listen or watch? (The sky is falling! The sky is falling!)
You think white men are being minimized just because other people get to have a voice. That’s making it political. Life is political. Fighting for one’s life is absolutely political. I encourage you to dig into others’ lives and see what it has been like for them, trying to have what you’ve taken for granted most of yours. The peace of being present and visible in society without fear of molestation or murder. The right to simply participate in public life without being threatened by an angry fragile straight white person who is offended by their existence. It’s been called a “political” act to hold hands with my partner in public. It’s also a death wish. What does my presence in public do to deserve that? How is someone’s fear and hatred stoked that greatly by two people simply being in the world, that they’d kill over it? How many trans people have been killed this year? How many gay couples attacked? How many people who “look” foreign have been stopped, lately, and held without cause and without access to a lawyer? Where is this violence really coming from? I hope you’ll think about it.
I believe this president is a white supremacist and always has been, from the time he got involved in housing to his reaction to the Central Park 5 scandal, to his comments on his “superior genes.” And it’s worse than that. His supporters are enabling him. I hope more than anything right now that you will start to do some genuine research into institutional racism, straight white privilege (that doesn’t mean white people get it easy, that’s another mischaracterization designed to keep people attacking each other rather than the systems in place that hold everyone back), for-profit prisons and the right-wing extremist takeover, including Christian evangelical sharia (yes, that’s what it is) of local governments, school boards, and public media. There’s no liberal bias in the media. That’s some brilliant spin. Research this. Look up the Mercers and the Kochs and the Murdochs, the people who actually own the vast majority of television, newspaper, and news radio outlets. It’s not liberal Hollywood.
If a guy kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem deserves the president’s rage, but an unarmed boy murdered for wearing a hoodie while black somehow deserved what he got, then there’s something happening that you’re not acknowledging.
I believe he is a white supremacist. White supremacist groups support him gleefully. But he’s not the problem. He’s a symptom of the deeper issues I’ve started to outline above. There’s no excuse for being comfortable in this company.