I have a love-hate relationship with election years. This year, in Texas, where I live…where I’m born and raised, it’s mostly hate. I have been so disappointed in the campaign commercials have been particularly hateful, right from the start. I realize that this is a red state, and the president isn’t popular here. But the vitriol of the comments being made, and the fact that very few of the candidates are saying anything at all about what they would do is troubling. They all seem to start with, “I hate Obama, and if you hate him too, vote for me.” I guess Texans is a state of hate, and proud of it. But some of us here, who may be a minority, don’t feel that way, and wish there could be something of substance to run on instead of just a platform of hate.
And speaking of the election year in Texas, there are yard signs and placards all over my route to work. Only one or two democrats seem to be brave enough to bother to run at all, but the ones that bother me are the judges. “So and so, Republican for Judge.” “What’s his name, Conservative for Judge.” Shouldn’t judges be impartial? Am I alone here, or is it okay with other people that the ones judging us will use party bias to make their decisions and not an understanding and respect for the law? I’m not sure how I think judges should get the job. If they are appointed there could be lots of room for corruption and being appointed for favors, but this campaigning for the judiciary just seems off to me.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts some things in which I’ve been a little slow on the uptake. I got made vicious fun of many years ago when it finally dawned on me what Aretha was spelling in the song “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” But I did get it. And I’ve recently had a few of those moments, when, if I were smart I could have seen sooner. One is the conservative desire to control women’s reproductive rights, but not men’s rights to have as much sex as they like with as many women as they like. I even sent a Facebook message to Governor Mike Huckabee (to which he did not respond) suggesting that if the right is going to work so hard to take away insurance coverage for female contraception or abortion, they should also see that insurance companies do not cover so called “boner pills” for men. I mean, fair’s fair, right? But here’s the big truth; they want women to be pregnant. That’s the bottom line. This isn’t about traditional family values at all!!! If it were, they wouldn’t cover Viagra for men in nursing homes, now would they? They would suggest that men shouldn’t be having sex outside of marriage. But they don’t even bother addressing that one…because it is about control. They want women, as the old saying goes, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. This (again) longing for the “good ole days” is also why pay equity and job discrimination, and sexual harassment are looked the other way at. They don’t want women in the work force, they want us staying home and having babies. I’m not sure where else I can post that a movement needs to be started to stop insurance companies from covering Viagra and Cialis and other drugs of that sort until they understand that women are people too, and deserve equal protection under the law. Ladies, lets let them know we will not be controlled.
But I had another “AH-HA!” moment the other day when I was listening to a capitalist (not a pejorative, necessarily) talking on some talk show…The Daily Show, maybe. And I came to the realization that a true capitalist HATES!!!!!!!! the free market. Oh, they sometimes talk a good game, like when they claim that the Affordable Care Act is anathema to the free market, which it is definitely not. It is a boon to the insurance industry. But the root of “capitalism” is “capital,” or money. That’s what it is…almost a fanatical religion of. It is the worship of money. And if one worships money, one wants all the money for oneself. This is why capitalists hate it when regulators file anti-trust suits against them. They want to corner the market and leave the other guys dying in the dirt. That means they get all the capital. I can’t count the times I’ve heard some banker or One Percenter say, “Let the free market decide.” When what they actually mean is, let my CEO decide, and screw the rest of you. What they want is to reap the profits, and then let the government clean up the pollution they left at the job site, or just let the people nearby die of new cancers and diseases…they got their capital and they are happy. And no, we won’t share any of it, and we don’t want the government to take any of it to cover the costs of democracy. In his book, Crimes Against Nature, Robert Kennedy, Jr. talked about free markets deciding what companies live and die. If the free market truly ruled, coal companies would have to clean up their own messes, but it does not, so the government cleans up after them, and charges them a pittance in fines (sometimes.) Privatized greed and socialized fixing. And all because capitalism is about money, and hatred of a true free market. Hmmmmm. Hoodathunk?
I haven’t posted in a few weeks, not because I don’t have anything bothering me, or any questions to ask, but because I have so many that I haven’t been sure where to start. So I decided yesterday to roar about something that has bothered me for a very long time, and that I simply don’t understand, and that is the “longing for the days before political correctness.” I hear people say this sometimes, and I truly don’t get it, though I completely understand it. That may seem contradictory, so let me explain, but with disclaimers first.
There are times that some people go too far, and generate valid criticisms of “political correctness,” (a term which I hate, because it makes the notion of NOT disrespecting certain groups seem like a bad, or political thing.) For example: Billy Crystal was criticized the first year he hosted the Oscars for “making Jewish jokes.” Really? Billy Crystal is an observant Jew. For him to make jokes with traditional Jewish stereotypes is a good way for the sting to be taken away from the people who hate Jews and use those stereotypes to dehumanize them, just like when blacks use the “N” word. He gets a pass. In fact, comedians get a pass, period. Their job is to make fun of stuff, and to be provocative. Black comedians, and comedians who joke about politics often make me feel uncomfortable with certain subject matter, and that’s okay. Sometimes the provocative stuff isn’t funny-I can’t listen to Jamie Foxx stand up-he just goes way to far for me. But I would never suggest he should stop-he’s doing his job.
Another time I believe that “political correctness went to far was in a story I heard about fifteen years ago from a college in Canada that was planning a Valentine’s dance. The group sponsoring the dance put up posters showing a man and woman dancing, and immediately were told to change the posters because they might be offensive to LGBT couples. So the group changed the posters to show two hands in a romantic grasp. They were told that poster might make people who have no hands feel bad. I don’t know if that story is even true, but it seemed really extreme to me, and invited the eye roll that I’m sure anyone reading this probably just did.
But on the whole, the people I hear longing for the days before political correctness was expected in public discourse are privileged white people who have never been members of an oppressed minority, who want permission to make fun of other people for traits that they have no control over. These are the same people who say things like, “I’ve never owned a slave,” as if slavery were the last racist thing white people ever did. They are the ones who think it is silly to talk about changing the names of “The Washington Redskins” or the “Fighting Illini” out of respect for the native Americans toward whom the term “redskin” has never, ever been used as anything but derision. And I ask these people to consider this; do we really want a return to the days when people were called dehumanizing names, and physical traits invited scorn and ridicule? Think hard about this before you answer!
There are some people I know who have made similar remarks about political correctness stifling our discourse who had physical traits that brought ridicule upon them when they were young. I guess this could be equated with bullying, it is the same thing, and used for the same purpose, to exercise power over the target. I’ve heard stories about the drop-dead beautiful actress, Kim Basinger, growing up in the south, being made fun of for her full lips…a trait she didn’t ask for, and one that added to her attractiveness as an adult. People with physical disabilities were made fun of, people in wheel chairs, people of minority races (of course) and anyone we ever went to war with. There are still people who refer to the people of Japan as “Japs,” I know some people who simply refer to all Asians as “Yellow Man.”
What this longing hearkens back to is a time when white people were undeniably in control, there was no civil rights movement or laws, and any black or Hispanic who questioned that rule could have his life ruined or even taken. But within the last fifteen years, there have been nooses hung on trees outside the homes of blacks in the South. Let’s not even talk about the attacks on President Obama…almost as if the civil rights movement never happened, and he hadn’t been elected by an unquestionable majority of the American people. Twice. These attacks have harkened back to the days just after the Civil War, when attacks on blacks were vicious and sanctioned by white lawmakers. While many of the people who hate the president with an irrational hatred deny that it is based on race, the images and language they use demonstrate just the opposite. Personally, I don’t care who likes the president or whatever opponent he may have, but if it is only his politics and policies that you dislike, then don’t use such language in your protests…use honest rhetoric and specific policies. If this is not possible, then don’t deny a racial basis for your attacks.
I don’t think I need to say that the people who are carrying on this way are a tiny minority of white people, and I know that change is hard. It has only been fifty years since the civil rights laws went into effect…just a little over one generation. But what many people are demonstrating is just trying not to give up the power over the oppressed that they have been accustomed to exercising. But being allowed to speak of other races, who are completely American, by pejorative names is not really where we want to return as a thoughtful and civilized people, is it?
Personally, I don’t want to use nigger, greaser, mick, kike, Charlie, chink, pepper belly, Uncle Tom, beaner, cracker, honky, paddy, crip, four eyes, faggot, fudge packer, homo, queer,redskin, squaw, etc, etc, etc. Do you? Really? Because remember, when we dehumanize any one of our fellow men, we demonstrate our own lack of true humanity.