Race And Racism Influence Our Reaction To Gun Violence

So I was thinking about the recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and the reaction from the media thus far, and I gotta say – it’s time for some race-baiting.

A country can reveal it’s racism and racial bias in many ways.  Not just in the obvious ways, such as the existence or prevalence of neo-Nazis or Klansmen, etc.  But also in the collective reaction of its media and the talking points that are generated after a violent incident, depending on the race of the shooter.

I have noticed a stark contrast in the conversation which happens, depending on whether the shooter is white or black, Latino or Muslim.  In general, if the perpetrator of a violent crime is a minority, the perceived threat that they and their actions pose become something external, to be kept at bay or controlled with more policing or security measures.  If he’s a Muslim, it’s terrorism – and it brings up the issue of immigrant vetting, not to mention discussion (criticism) of Islam.  If he’s a black person, the issue which makes the media rounds, in particular on state media like Fox News, becomes about “broken homes” and “thugs.”  A Mexican guy would bring up a similar conversation about immigrants and gangs.

Which brings me to the Scalise shooter, a white man named James Hodgkinson.  The discussion thus far, and the issue of what to blame for the violence, has been concerning “political rhetoric,” as well as possible mental illness.  Conservative outlets like Fox have even had the nerve to try to blame “the political Left,” but other mainstream media sources have also raised the question – is our lack of civil discourse to blame?  Is the issue one of the mentally ill having access to firearms?  Are prescription medications making us crazy?  The problem becomes one that reflects an internal societal dysfunction, rather than an externalized threat.  The blame shifts from the shooter himself to a more generalized “have we become too hostile” or “is something making us violent” scenario.

It brings to mind the differences in approach between drug epidemics, depending on the communities that are affected.  The recent problems with opiate addiction and overdose deaths from prescription painkillers are viewed and talked about in terms of a health “crisis.”  Which is not to say that it isn’t.  But look at the difference between that and the way the crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s and other drug problems that plague inner cities (black people) are talked about and handled.  In the case of opiates, the issue is seen as one of public health, whereas with the latter, it is a dangerous scourge, and for years has been dealt with by harsh criminal penalties.

One of the problems with talking about race and racism is that far too often, the very idea of it becomes a sort of taboo that is linked with overt and obvious perpetrators.  Nobody wants to be considered racist, and what frequently comes to mind when racism is mentioned are extreme examples, such as the aforementioned Neo-Nazis or white supremacists.  What we often forget is that racism and racial bias can be more subtle and nuanced, and reflected in not only the beliefs and words of racist people themselves, but also in our general, more indirect characterizations of people’s words and actions and how they fit into our view of the way society should function.  Any honest discussion or race should include the latter.  We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this issue, and we need to be aware of how media can and often does shape our thinking and perceptions.

Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/IIIBlackhartIII

Why Are Republicans Still Silent On Trump?

I think one of the most distressing aspects of Trump’s disastrous time in the White House has been the deafening silence on the part of the Republican party. By and large, up to this point there have been very few vocal opponents of Trump and the seemingly daily shit storm that he has unleashed upon America.  The recent bombshell that he revealed highly classified information to Russia in the White House will probably be the next news story that Republicans find a way to dismiss or overlook, despite the fact that it is just one of many disasters to come out of this administration since November 8.
 
Sure, we’ve heard some criticisms from individuals like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, but on the whole, their words have been pretty weak and they have never been followed up with any concrete action. Their favorite words lately seem to be “troubling” or “concerning,” when we really should be hearing things like “impeachment” (and should have been long ago.)
 
The question that I and many others keep wondering is – when are Republicans going to put country before party and begin the process of impeachment or at least increasing pressure on Trump? The best way I have read it expressed is along the lines of – they will take action when they know it will cost them chances for re-election. Which brings me to something I have been thinking for a while – that they either don’t believe the polls that reflect plummeting approval ratings for Trump and the strong reactions we have seen at town halls across the country regarding issues like the AHCA and the Trump/Russia investigation, or they simply think they will be able to win in 2018 regardless. We have seen how the proposed Republican health care bill to replace Obamacare has enraged millions of Americans, including conservative voters at town halls. In addition, according to a recent poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans want a special prosecutor/commission to investigate Trump/Russia. Why do Republicans seem content to just conduct business-as-usual in the face of these things?
 
I know there have been a lot of observations lately about how this whole Trump/Russia scandal has many on the left becoming conspiracy theorists, but I think a lot of it is actually justified. When I look at last year’s election of Trump and couple it with the smugness and lack of concern I have seen from GOP’ers in Washington thus far, things just don’t add up.
 
What we have been told up to this point about Russia’s meddling in our election is that they hacked voter registration information, put out disinformation to hurt Clinton and used bots on social media to help shape public opinion in favor of Trump. But we are told that they didn’t actually hack or manipulate vote numbers.
 
Which I find somewhat hard to believe. We have seen and heard from our intelligence officials about how extensive and well-funded Russia’s operation was, and as it has been noted, it obviously was a success and they are continuing to interfere with our democracy. Is it really that hard to believe that they could have directly affected voting outcomes in the states that Trump surprisingly won? Were basically all of the polls really so massively wrong, or was there possibly something else at play? When I look at the big picture, I would lean towards the latter. Obviously, I don’t have proof or solid information to make that claim, but it’s just something that I have a gut feeling about. There have been some red flags raised about voting irregularities in swing states by internet sleuths on Twitter, but by and large they have been ignored by mainstream media. But, applying Occam’s Razor to the overall situation, when I think of which scenario is more likely – that almost all of the polls and pundits got it horribly wrong, and that Russia took all of these interference actions but for some reason stopped short of affecting votes cast, and that a minority of American voters really did grant an election win to a pussy-grabbing, disabled-mocking, POW-disrespecting billionaire – OR – that Russia did tamper with votes, and that Republicans in Washington know it, and have felt emboldened by it, along with the GOP’s other well-known voter suppression tactics that we know had an effect on some swing states?
 
Of course, this is all speculation on my part. And even if there was any vote tampering, we may never know. However, continued silence on Trump from Republicans, in the face of everything we have seen and continue to see daily, is a “tell” in my opinion. It has been documented that the GOP base is slowly eroding, and they have had to resort to election tactics such as gerrymandering and voter suppression in order to win elections. In my view, it isn’t that far of a stretch to imagine that our recent presidential election might have been directly tampered with by Russia, and that the Republican party is either complicit or willing to accept the favorable outcome and now expects similar results in 2018.
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/PeteLinforth

Mike Huckabee’s Flippantly Racist Cinco De Mayo Tweet

Um, okay…

So, our favorite moron and two-time failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tweeted this out today, May 5, which also happens to be Cinco De Mayo if you speak Mexican.  As of 10:37 a.m. pacific standard time, the tweet is still up, and is from his verified account.

I guess it’s another one of Huckabee’s lame attempts at humor, or a way to boldly proclaim “hey I’m a racist fucking asshole!” without using expletives.

Either way, it just goes to show how emboldened the racist fucks in the GOP have become under Trump’s reign.  They are apparently giddy at not having to disguise their bigotry in the slightest, because, well look at what a racist asshole the president is.

By the way, if you want to see Megyn Kelly almost call this fucknozzle “Mike Fuckabee” on live television, go here.

Oh, and go fuck yourself, Huckabee.

Ben Carson Doesn’t Know The Difference Between Slavery And Immigration

So…Dr. Ben Carson, our new HUD Secretary, was making a speech recently, when he brought up the notion of the American Dream.  While doing so, he further exemplified the fact that you should never confuse education with intelligence.

Carson’s statement caused such a stir, that he even got a response from Gene Wilder on the subject.  Okay, maybe I am just making this part up.

#RESIST

When You Fully Realize How Complicit The GOP Is With Trump And His Fascism

Admittedly, I have probably watched way too many movies over the course of my life, especially my earlier years.  Many of them, over and over to the point where I had scenes, shots and lines memorized verbatim.

Whenever I have a moment of realization, the scene in Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis’ character (Butch Coolidge) meets John Travolta (as Vincent Vega) in a bar always comes to mind.  His expression is perfect, and it’s a great panning shot that really emphasizes a sense of realization for the character.

So I always think of this shot when it occurs to me how deeply complicit the Republican party is with Trump, his fascism, and the many possible connections he has with Russia, and all that they may entail.  Whether or not Trump bears any consequences for colluding with Russia depends more on how many people help him, how many do nothing, and how many let him slide, than on whether he actually is guilty of something or not, in my opinion.  There is way too much smoke there, for the situation to be free of wrongdoing.

The most recent example that points to a GOP cover up is the vote on Tuesday of the House Judiciary Committee to keep information on Trump’s possible ties to Russia, as well as potential ethics violations, a secret.  Every chance they get, Republicans continue to place party before country, even when the implications of the Trump presidency involving Russia are massive.

Donald Trump Seems To Think All Black People Might Be Friends With Each Other

Donald Trump’s casual racism was revealed recently at a press conference in which he asked reporter April Ryan if members of the Congressional Black Caucus are her friends.

Remember, this is coming from a man who says he is the “least racist person you have ever encountered.”  Yes, he actually said that.

The exchange also revealed further Trump’s status as one of planet’s biggest douchebags.  Apparently, he thinks it’s suitable to ask a professional journalist to set up meetings for him.  What else do you need Trump?  Should Ryan sweep and mop the floors, too?

A George Carlin Breakdown Of The Modern-Day Republican Party

I was watching this classic bit from the late, great George Carlin the other day and it dawned on me that he’s basically describing the modern-day Republican party.

I have long maintained that if you’re not a very wealthy person and still vote GOP, you are a fool.  But the party and its supporters, under the Trump administration, are also taking blatant hypocrisy to a whole new level.  For example, whining about “unprecedented obstruction” after they did the same thing for 8 years under Obama.  They break the full-of-shit meter constantly.

Add to that the religious fanatics and supposed “Christians” who are just fine and dandy with a man like Trump in the White House, and you have the modern-day GOP.

Fighting The Rise Of Fascism In America

For a long time, I was hesitant to use Hitler comparisons when debating about Trump. In short, because it has become such a cliché and it serves to negate one’s argument (Godwin’s Law.) But also because no matter how horrible or despicable Trump is, until he has taken actions such as Hitler, the comparison becomes flawed. Someone like Hitler evokes such an emotional and visceral response due to the atrocious events of the Holocaust, that comparing someone in our current society to him still sounds like a stretch.

BUT, with that said, I have no doubt that Donald Trump is a fascist, and would become Hitler-esque if he could. The following short video provides a summary of all of the ways Trump embodies fascism and how the current political climate is conducive to it.  While it was made before Trump won election, the ideas still apply:

The thing that scares me these days is the realization that someone like Hitler could happen again, as much as we would like to think it won’t. In fact, thinking that it can’t happen is a big part of why it could. The battle against the growth of fascism in our country becomes spread across several fronts, and it can be exhausting. There is the need to pressure representatives in Washington to oppose and fight Trump’s policies. There are protests that must happen, as well as boycotts and other forms of civil disobedience on the part of citizens. Remaining vocal in opposing Trump and everything he is bringing to America is of utmost importance and is one of the easiest things we can do – do NOT stop expressing outrage and disgust at what Trump is doing and what his supporters represent – even if it means losing friends or family connections. We simply can’t afford to remain silent right now.

The more abstract and difficult layer to fighting the rise of fascism here in the United States involves the current state of news and information, as well as the level of ignorance of so many citizens. Trump has his followers believing that anything that comes out of “mainstream media” is a lie or “fake news.” Which opens the door to basically limitless manipulation potential for Trump and his administration. They are able to put out bald-faced lies, and if they do it often enough, it actually becomes truth for Trump supporters. Conversely, those same people can easily be convinced that information to the contrary of what Trump’s administration says is untrue and invalid. We have seen this happen already. A recent poll suggested that over 40% of Trump supporters believe his baseless claim that there were 3 million illegal votes cast (in an election that he won.) That is simply a lie that Trump made up, and since he has such sway over his supporters, they believe it without any evidence or supporting information. Scary stuff.

I think the situation is basically hopeless for most of Trump’s ardent followers, in terms of trying to convince them of the many ways Trump’s actions and policies are problematic. When you have people supporting an administration that says facts are debatable and that they are simply presenting “alternative facts,” those people are obviously too far gone to bother reasoning or debating with. The key, then, simply becomes having more people who are opposed to Trump show up at the polls on election day than Trump supporters, as well as ensuring that the younger generation has the tools and information necessary to see the myriad ways Trump is unacceptable as POTUS. We must not let the lies and misinformation become the accepted norm. Whenever Trump lies, we need to call him on it and not let words become redefined or euphemisms (such as “alternative facts”) become commonplace. State and local level elections become crucial. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are two enemies of democracy that must be fought vigorously. Our elected representatives in Congress need to know that we are watching them, and that we expect them to vigorously oppose Trump’s agenda. If they don’t, we need to throw our support towards someone to replace them. We need to stay engaged as progressives, united against the common enemy of Trump and the GOP. We absolutely cannot afford to become cynical or apathetic, lest we allow this great nation to be completely taken over by fascist anti-patriots.

We just need to stay engaged, alert and active. There are times when it might seem insurmountable or hopeless, but we can’t allow despair to fill our hearts and minds. We need to remember that Trump does NOT have a mandate, and that a majority of Americans agree with liberal positions on most, if not all, major issues. There are more of us than them. He is a minority-elected president that was able to get through due to questionable circumstances and the antiquated electoral college system. Let’s never stop treating him as such.

#RESIST

 

Trump photo:  Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons