Disclaimer and warning: This post contains many instances of “fuck.”
I have been avoiding writing this post because I think I’m going to lose friends by publishing it.
From my Facebook feed it seems that everyone needs to declare their membership in Team Michael Brown or Team Darren Wilson. Well, you know what? If these are my choices I am choosing Team Absolutely Fucking No One.
Or, rather. I choose Team Equality. Team Respect. Team Empathy. Team Honesty. But not fake “honesty” like, “I don’t see color! I just see people!” or “Sure, sometimes there are bad cops…” I mean “Team Brutal Fucking Honesty.” And that team requires us to join Team Empathy. You know empathy: the ability and willingness to feel and understand another person’s pain without ever having experienced it yourself. The willingness to believe that such pain exists even though you have never experienced it yourself. The willingness to let go of your sense that “Such things have never happened to me so therefore I do not believe they happen.” The willingness to recognize that the pain exists even if the person expressing it is an imperfect messenger.
Racism exists in America. If you do not believe it because you have not seen it, then congratulations. You live a charmed and fortunate life. Even as a white woman, I have lived in areas of this country where racism is not only alive but kicking. Kicking to the extent that I was permitted to see it, so shameless was the practice. A bunch of us driving in a nice car, our friend, who is Black, at the steering wheel. Pulled over for…um, why is this cop stopping us? We are under the speed limit, the car is in good repair, there’s no one else on the road? Note the demeanor of the officer change when he looks in and sees not just a black guy driving a Lexus but a car full of preppy white kids with him listening to some Matchbox 20. Oh, okay. “You kids need to keep your eyes on the road, y’hear?” Yes, Officer. On our way in 90 seconds. There is NO credible reading of this scenario that does not involve prejudice. NONE. You can try to come up with something, but I will just think less of you for avoiding the truth. The ugly truth of that particular officer and of that particular interaction. He pulled us over because he saw a young black kid driving a Lexus in Georgia. Does. Not. Compute.
I will spare you the story of what happened once we reached our rural restaurant destination, but suffice to say, it was the first time I felt the distinct vibration of suppressed tension and possible violence from fellow restaurant patrons. Tension that did not erupt only due to the extremely deft intercession by the Southern proprietress of the establishment. She made it clear without saying a word out of turn that Nothing Will Happen Here. And everyone got it. But it was so palpable that I ended up not being able to eat. My stomach was in knots. Meanwhile our friend was chowing down, and I’m like, How can you eat? They want to kick the shit out of you in the parking lot! And he’s like, “You’re new here, aren’t you? If I didn’t eat every time someone hated me, I’d be damn hungry.” This casual and not-so-casual racism was just another part of this guy’s day. Jesus Christ. As Jon Stewart so famously said, “You’re so tired of hearing about racism?! Imaging living with it every day!” But don’t just imagine it. Believe it. Even if every single fiber of your being, based on YOUR life experience, tells you it does not exist. Believe it. It exists. It exists. It exists.
Now, for the cops AND cop-haters. Here’s the deal, from someone who is related to a deputy sheriff, so I don’t speak cavalierly. There absolutely are racist cops. Just as there are racist accountants and racist supermarket baggers. To somehow say that law enforcement is the one area of our entire society bereft of the ills that face every other facet of society is insane and entirely not credible. So let’s get that out of the way. Racist police officers exist. And racist police officers likely do not even believe they are racist.
That said, just as in every other area of society, those individuals are in the minority. Which does not mean they do a minimum of damage, as is entirely evident in this current imbroglio. But let’s use our empathy and ascribe the same humanity we want for ourselves to those people in law enforcement who take on more risks in a day that we do in an lifetime. I have heard people say that Darren Wilson had no right to be afraid for his life. Leaving aside the particulars of Wilson in this particular case, I want to immediately call BULLSHIT on that entire notion. Do you really think that someone becomes a police officer and loses the ability to feel fear? Do you WANT someone as a police officer who doesn’t feel fear? Holy mother of god. Can you imagine going to a job where you meet 6 new clients a day and any one of them might have an interest in harming or killing you? You’d fucking quit after an hour. I know I would. Straight no chaser. I’d be fucking outta there. And so would you. But that’s the gig for those people who are called to it. You do a routine traffic stop, maybe the guy wants to shoot you. You go to break up a domestic violence situation only to find yourself on the receiving end of the violence. I say this as the sister of an officer who was indeed shot in the line of duty. Goes to work in the morning, thank god makes it home alive that night, but a couple of bullet holes the richer. So anyone who wants to disrespect law enforcement as an entirely racist and assholeish culture can sign off now because we are not playing that. Every guy I know who surrounded my brother was, like you, a decent individual just trying to do some good and just trying to make it home to their families.
But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Seeing the humanity in each other when we are primed through experience or interaction or unconscious belief systems to deny it. When everything *I KNOW* to be true is contradicted by everything *YOU KNOW* to be true. I don’t have an answer for the Ferguson situation. But I do know the answer is not to either demonize Michael Brown nor to lionize Darren Wilson. Because in the end, we are not really talking about either of these men, are we? We are instead fighting over what each represents.
For folks on one side, Brown represents a breakdown in the rule of law, in respect for our system of laws and behaviors that keep society functioning. If someone feels freer than a bird to break that thin blue line, then we as a society are fucked. Which is entirely true. If some teenager feels like he can attack a police officer for talking to him, then we are in a world of trouble.
For the folks on the other side, Wilson represents institutionalized and inherent racism. When you read his testimony, he uses the term “demon” to describe Brown coming toward him, referencing his size. Wilson himself is 6’4″ and 210 lbs! He could likely take out most people! But as a white person he is given full permission to be “afraid for his life” and therefore free to use deadly force to stop the Crazed (unarmed) Giant Black Man coming at him. And then he is supported unwaveringly by his LEO colleagues who start wearing bracelets to show that support. Forgetting that the job of LEOs is to DE-escalate a situation, not inflame it. Meanwhile, back on the other side, “supporters” are flipping over police cruisers and setting businesses on fire because….racism? Nuh-uh. Nuh-fucking-uh.
I don’t have the answers. But I do know the answers can be reached and found and put into practice if we all are willing to do the work. The hard work of believing that which we have not experienced and that which we do not see. The hard work of ascribing humanity to those we do not understand or even like.
The hard work of laying down our armor and letting the arrows of truth from the other side pierce our hearts.
Well Well Well.
The Republican-led House Select Committee (the SIXTH such entity to investigate) just released its findings exculpating everyone involved in the Benghazi embassy tragedy. Completely demolishing all of the truly disgusting accusations leveled against the Obama administration, from unforgivable incompetence to outright treason. It is a stain on the Republican Party that such baseless accusations were ever given credence. That it took SIX separate investigations to conclude what any unbiased investigator could have told us (and did) two years and $14 million of taxpayer dollars ago. Beyond the character assassination of Susan Rice, the vilification of the President and Secretary of State, the pain the uncertainty caused the families of the diplomats, this entire mishigas points to the lamentable state of political affairs in our country: the absolute lack of goodwill and human decency toward the President and towards those with whom we disagree politically.
Notwithstanding the fact that 11 embassies were attacked, 53 people were killed and 90 injured under the leadership of President GW Bush with nary a peep from the GOP, the instant four people were tragically lost in the line of duty under President Obama the immediate assumption was that deceit and obfuscation and ill will had to be involved (I’m looking at you, John McCain. The most disappointing senator and perhaps human in the history of the United States politics.) Any suggestion that this was a tragedy where no one in our government acted dishonorably was met with Republican derision. Which is disgusting. At a time of national crisis and mourning, the instant impulse of the GOP was to attack. And attack. And attack. Without a shred of evidence. Except for an abiding hatred for the man in the White House, this would never have taken SIX investigations, thousands of hours of FOX News time and millions of web hits on those Right Wing Nut web sites. With the ongoing corrosive effect of eroding trust in our public institutions.
I have worked in politics. Believe it or not, the majority of people enter politics because they care about our country and its people. Even the ones I heartily disagree with on the issues; I still have no doubt that they care. Politics, like any profession, has its share of assholes and douchebags. Every job you have ever had, you can point to That Guy or That Woman who are just awful. Politics has those people too. But by and large, the ones doing the work are decent people just like you. Even the ones you don’t agree with politically. At the height of the Benghazi drama, I remember asking someone who was parroting all the insane conspiracy theories, “Do you REALLY believe that the President of the United States, his Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of State willfully and intentionally put lives at risk? Do you REALLY believe, as human beings, that these individuals conspired to not aid their diplomats in time of distress? That they lied just for the joy of lying? Really?” Because if you do, there is little hope for our democracy. Because if we cannot see the humanity in each other, even those with whom we disagree profoundly, we are lost and this democratic experiment has failed.
I have no doubt that these findings will be ignored by those who just need to hate President Obama in order to get up in the morning. They will find some way to create a conspiracy about the investigation of the conspiracy. Because, when you feel the balance of power shifting under your (usually white, male, middle aged) feet, its curiously more comforting to believe that entire swaths of our sociopolitical structure are colluding to ruin the country and your livelihood, than it is to simply accept that the world is changing, change can be scary, and that the changes keep coming whether you are ready for them or not.
UPDATE: I’ve been reminded that I am not a constitutional scholar. So, let me offer you a link to a letter penned by 10 of our country’s leaders in just that. All of them, conservatives included, concluding that the president’s actions are indeed constitutional. This letter is in addition to the 33-page report developed by the Justice Department concluding the same. :)
Let’s discuss immigration. Let’s discuss the President’s executive order.
Let’s discuss the lunacy of those who want to make this about something other than our country’s totally broken immigration system.
This is an unconstitutional power grab. No it isn’t. And you know it isn’t. There is not a single credible legal reading of this executive order that deems it as anything but a legal act of the executive branch. The President is not changing the law. He is changing the administration’s priorities in enforcing it. It is reversible by the next president. Anyone saying it is unconstitutional is speaking to people who either don’t know any better or don’t care to know any better as long as what they are hearing fits their current world view. ie, the willfully stupid.
This an unprecedented power grab. Well, if so, we’d better go back and impeach Reagan and HW Bush then, right? Presidents make executive orders all the time. This why they are called Executive Orders. They exist. They are things that happen. Obama’s are no more unprecedented than Lyndon B. Johnson’s. You can hate what this particular EO does, but you cannot make shit up about its rarity or constitutionality.
This grants amnesty to Illegals! If by “Illegals” you mean human people who are here without papers. Then sure. But not all of them. Only those who have been here more than 5 years, who have children who are American citizens or green card holders. Who have no criminal record. Many children of these people the Republicans like to call “illegals” currently serve in our armed forces. Currently pay taxes. Currently act as upstanding citizens in our society. My point is that these “illegals” are PEOPLE. Human people. This EO seeks to ensure that families who are already established here and are law-abiding are not separated. I just cannot see anything wrong with that.
This proves Obama is a tyrant! Yes. Living under the tyrannical Obama regime. Where your family is disappeared when you speak out against him. Where your business is ruined, your daughter’s honor stolen, your sons tortured. Your home burned to the ground for daring to speak out against Der Fuhrer. Yes, the hell you endure here in the United States of America for disagreeing with the President. GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK. Last time I checked he had not come for your guns either, breaking all predictions to the contrary since 2007. And the Black Panthers have also not yet convened a Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored Death Panel for your sick grandma. So if Obama is going to really be the tyrant folks were hoping for, he’d better get on it ASAP before his term runs out.
This is a political move to embarrass Republicans! Listen. Being embarrassed requires you to have a sense of shame. So, no. I don’t believe the GOP can be “embarrassed” by the President. I mean, just look at their leading lights. You have Senator Coburn–a sitting US Senator!–predicting (I would say encouraging) violence against the President of the United States in advance of this EO. You have Ted Cruz talking about impeachment and unconstitutionality when even HE knows it’s foolery. We like to talk about Cruz as if he is stupid. But he is not. He is a Harvard-educated shrewd politician. He does not believe for a minute that Obama’s order is impeachable. But he likes that YOU believe it. His upcoming run for the presidency likes that YOU believe it. He is 100% okay with feeding into whatever part of YOU needs to believe it, because then you know who to vote for. There is nothing more important to Ted Cruz than Ted Cruz. Trust me. And, not for nothing, but Barack Obama did not spring Immigration Reform on an unsuspecting Congress or public. He RAN ON IT in 2007. He talked about it several times a year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. He issued a similar order in 2012 that–whaaa??!!–did not rend the fabric of our society or bring down our economy. It probably affected your life so minutely that you don’t know or remember the executive order I’m even talking about. In 2013, the Democratic-led Senate got 14 Republicans to sign on to a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that PASSED! It was sent to the House where it languished and died. Why? Because John Boehner knew that any immigration bill would Unleash The Crazies of his party before a national election, and would lay bare once and for all that he has no control over them. If the Republicans in the House so disagreed with Obama’s approach to immigration reform they should have passed a bill to create their own. Boehner even told Obama that the House would not pass comprehensive reform, but would rather do it piecemeal. To Boehner’s surprise and I’m sure dismay, the President said, Fine. Still no bill. So to say after the fact that the President of the United States is using political chicanery to “spring” something on Congress is laughable on its face. Immigration Reform was one of candidate Obama’s signature campaign pledges. So once again, you can disagree on the substance of that reform, but you cannot make up or disregard actual facts to fit your narrative now. The House could have passed immigration reform last year on the heels of the Senate’s passage. But it didn’t. And so the President acted.
If people want to debate what our immigration policy should look like, that’s a valid debate. If people want to have a Come To Jesus navel gaze about our country’s philosophy and belief system as it relates to immigration, that’s a valid gaze. But if people want to pretend that something legal is illegal, that’s invalid. If people want to demonize entire groups of individuals about whom they know nothing, that’s invalid. And if people want to pretend they live in a country on the brink of lawlessness, that’s not only invalid, it’s absolutely breathtakingly ungratefully stupid.
I know I’m supposed to be totally stoked about Lammily, the new “average” Barbie doll for girls. And I am. Ish. I like that her proportions are normal and that she still looks awesome. I like that her skin is not fluorescent white. I like that she has no impossible thigh gap.I like the concept, I like the intention behind it. I like it. But can I draw the line at her acne and stretch marks? Please?
What is the value in adding zits and stretch marks to a doll for kids? I mean, why not add some unshaved pubic hair and morning breath? Perhaps it can come with a tampon/pad accessory kit just to make it all as “real” and “normal” as possible. And lets have her boyfriend Kennily fart five times an hour and not shave on weekends. Maybe he’ll have athlete’s foot too! Oh man, the make believe scenarios my daughters can concoct with these “real, normal” dolls!
“Kennily, does this ballgown make me look fat?” “No, Lammily. It’s not the ballgown that makes you look fat; it’s the fat that makes you look fat!”
“Kennily, let’s dance and share love’s true kiss until the clock strikes midnight!” “Okay, Lammily. But first I gotta take a dump.”
“I can’t wait to play beach volleyball with my best friend Skipperly! Oh, crap. My eldest just woke up with a fever. Raincheck, Skipperly.”
Come on, people! Yes, let’s not skew our daughters’ perceptions of beauty. But let’s also let them dream. Let them have aspirations. Let them maintain some magic. Let them see a “normal” doll and think nothing of it. But “normal” doesn’t have to mean “warts and all.” It doesn’t have to introduce cystic acne vulgaris or post-pregnancy striae in order to be normal. In fact, I guarantee that if I give my girls this doll those will be the ONLY things they see. not because they are conditioned to want perfection in a doll but because they will be distracted by these unnecessary features they do not understand.
So let’s agree that girls shouldn’t be pondering the meaning of size F breasts with an 18 inch waist. But neither should they be pondering random adult skin conditions. Sometimes there is such a thing as too real.
Preach it, Aunt Esther. So many stupid people in the news recently.
First, the GOP. Of course. They are going to impeach Obama if he signs an executive order on immigration. Oh, you mean, if he does precisely what Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush did during their terms? Ah yes, I recall the similar efforts to impeach them back then…No. Wait. I forgot the golden rule of the GOP: It’s Okay If You’re A Republican. These clowns ought to go ahead and start impeachment proceedings. Do it. Please. Because it will prove once and for all that a)you have absolutely no understanding of, nor respect for, our Constitution and b)that you are the unable-to-positively-govern asshats I predicted you’d be just one week ago.
Next up: Chris Christie telling us that Barack Obama was re-elected because he’s a light skinned black without the “Negro dialect.” Okaaaaay. And you are what, Governor? The obese guy without the jolliness? The thin-skinned idiot without the anger management classes? On what planet is it okay to say that about someone? And on what planet does some guy WIN in the United States BECAUSE he’s black?! Oh yes, all the advantages of being a black man in America! As evidenced by the enormous number of white men who just CANNOT WAIT to be mistaken for Black men! How can I, white male, find a way to be perceived as a Black male? Cause that’s when the RESPECT and EASE just come rolling along! I’ll get every job I apply for! If I’m of large stature, the police will not assume I’m a criminal! ! will easily win elections without even campaigning, what with my enviable status as a black man–without the Negro dialect, of course. Idiot.
Next on the sh*t list is Mama June of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo fame. You know the show. LIttle Honey Boo Boo, Red Neck pageant queen. I can barely bring myself to recount the details of this story, so awful are they. In short, Mama June just separated from Honey Boo Boo’s Dad, Sugar Bear, to hook up with an old flame who just happens to be a convicted child molester. Horrible, right? His conviction was for a separate instance of abuse, but he was arrested several years ago for molesting Mama June’s elder daughter, Honey Boo Boo’s big sister. You read that right. She is dating the man who sexually molested her teenage daughter. She says she’s not real convinced that the molestation occurred. Which is to say that she did not and does not believe her own child’s accusation. It gets worse. Her younger daughter was present in the room while the abuse was taking place, and so potentially witnessed her sister being sexually abused by the man her mother is now dating. So many awful, horrible, sickening feelings about this ongoing family catastrophe. Not the least of which is that this man is now in the company of Sugar Bear’s daughter Honey Boo Boo. If i were him, I’d be mounting a posse to go get my daughter out of harm’s way. Like, yesterday. In all of this, the pervasive sense of moral bankruptcy is evident. What kind of parent disbelieves a child who says she has been sexually assaulted by a man? What kind of parent continues to date that man? Ugh. Moral bankruptcy.
Next is Nancy Pelosi. (Hey, I’m into equal opportunity rage blogging). This week the Democratic leadership denied Representative Tammy Duckworth a proxy vote. She is 8 months pregnant and has been advised not to travel. Which means she cannot get to DC. Not for nothing, but she is also a former Iraq War veteran who is an amputee after sustaining injuries in the conflict. So one would think that she is no malingerer. Both Pelosi (Dumbass-CA) and Rosa DeLauro (Moron-CT) said that it would be a slippery slope if they allowed this proxy vote. IDIOTS. It’s only a slippery slope if you already know you don’t have the balls to say no next time. Right? So if Jim Bob Hoohaa, esteemed Member from Crackcorn, Indiana wants a proxy vote because it’s his Aunt Flossie’s birthday and he can’t make it to DC, you can just tell Jim Bob to go pound sand, right? It’s only a slippery slope if you lack courage and fear conflict. Which, as I’ve said in other forums, describes the Democratic Party to a T. Give the woman her proxy vote. For the love of God–and 8 month pregnant women! Geez.
And finally, but no less rage-ily, we have to talk about people on FB and The Comments Section who just echo right wing talking points verbatim. Which they think makes them look smart, but just makes me sad for the level of stupid we currently tolerate in America. One person just did a whole post about how Obama is “doing nothing” about ISIS. That he’s working on his golf game! ha ha ha! LOLz! That he is kowtowing to Muslims and letting them slaughter Americans without retaliating. So if by “nothing” you mean being the President Who Has Taken Out More Terrorists Than Any Other, then yeah, I guess that’s nothing. If you mean that he is the We’ll Fuck You Up The A** With Our Drones-iest President, then yeah I guess that’s nothing. The President with the largest Kill List in history, including the leader of the Somali al-Shabab group? Then yeah, I guess that’s nothing. Just because he is not rhetorically dick-swinging like John McCain or (ha!) Mitt Romney, doesn’t mean he isn’t doing the work. Just because he is not immediately sending troops to nail ISIS today (you don’t seem to get that this is precisely what ISIS wants, do you?), doesn’t mean it isn’t on the table. But to boldly post that the President of the United States is “doing nothing” is not only incorrect, it’s stupid and moronic and demonstrative of your basic lack of understanding of our country, its political process and its foreign policy. But Sean Hannity said it, so it must be true. And let me add this about the ISIS hostages. You want to know why they are killing Americans and Brits? Because those other countries who had hostages PAID ISIS RANSOMS to retrieve their citizens whereas the US and the UK said Fuck That. And that European money is what funded these evil executions. So if you really want to talk about who is enabling ISIS terrorism, give our friends in places like France and Belgium a call. If you can locate them on a map.