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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

3 Trending Topics Everyone Has An Opinion On While Totally Missing the Point

Oh Internet, how you tickle me, hiding all the important stuff behind click-bait and hate-mongering.

If the Internet had a slogan, it would be, "Look, there's a bandwagon that maybe possibly loosely fits my personal opinion if I squint my eyes, plug my ears, and tilt my head 20 degrees to the left.  Hold my beer, I'ma jump on it!"

  ...along with all that baggage.

Dear readers, my brain hurts right now.  Like, my eyes are crossing and I can literally feel my IQ ticking downward.  If you're like me, Facebook and Twitter has become a painful reminder that the world is a scary, scary place.  One with a billion slobbering, snarling opinions and soapboxes and very little logic or willingness to budge or consider an alternate view.  Does nobody do any research anymore?  Does nobody question anything anymore?  


So, dear readers, comes my insomnia-induced rant:  

3.  Kim Davis.

Omgosh.  My Facebook feed has been blowing up with support for this woman, who - in case you've been living under a rock the last couple of weeks - is a Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to follow a US Federal Court Order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Where people are missing the point:  Kim Davis' personal history and religious beliefs aside, she works for a government office.  She knew, upon accepting that job, what the requirements would be for keeping that job.  Granted, she may not have foreseen the eventuality of gay marriage becoming legal, but she could have simply refused to issue licenses or have anything to do with processing those licenses personally.  If she was that appalled, she could have found employment elsewhere.  Instead, she instructed her entire office staff to refuse to issue marriage licenses for gay couples.  

Now, for all of you that are still scratching your head and arguing that she was only following her Christian conscience, let me ask you this:  what if she had refused, and instructed her entire staff to refuse, to issues licenses to mixed-race couples, citing religious belief?  What if she were anything other than a White Christian, like a Muslim, an Orthodox Jew, or a Jehovah's Witness?  Would you be so quick to grant her the ability to force her beliefs onto others using her position of authority in a government-sanctioned office?

...and where does that leave Separation of Church and State?  Because believe it or not, removing the line between Church and State brings a whole slew of problems none of us want to contend with - the biggest being the government being able to tell us what we can and cannot do within our own churches.

Nope, totally can't see where that could possibly go wrong.

2.  The Confederate Flag.

I'm a little behind, I know.  The idea behind this one is that several people want the Confederate Flag and every use of or reference to it banned, because they say it promotes racism.

Where people are missing the point:  First of all, can we just acknowledge that part of this argument is to ban the Dukes of Hazard?  Does that not seem silly to anyone?  Can anyone remember an episode where the Duke brothers hopped into General Lee and in any way participated in any kind of racist shenanigans?  

Because General Lee and his paint job were totally the reason people watched this show.

Here's a quick history lesson:  the Confederate Flag began as one of three in a contest of sorts to create a flag separate from the official American Flag in battles in the Civil War.  It was flown as troops marched into battle against the Union, representing the 13 states that no longer wanted to be a part of it.

Many Blacks (both free and slaves) fought in the Civil War - with the Confederacy - because they loved their homes and also felt threatened by the Union's proposed changes.  Lincoln's stance on slaves and slavery was not the pure, compassionate idea that we were all fed in our history books; he was, in fact, a racist himself and wanted to "free" African-Americans so that they would leave the country and go back from whence they came, because he felt that they had no place among White people:

"I will say, then, that I am not, nor have ever been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races ... I am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

Does "Southern Pride" equal racist?  I guess that depends on who you ask.  But, one person, or group of people, using something to symbolize hate does not suddenly turn that symbol into a universal representation of hate.   Just because some of the people who flew this flag originally "owned" slaves, doesn't mean that the flag was flown for the sole purpose of keeping those slaves, or even for that purpose at all.

Fun tip:  The official flag of the Ku Klux Klan - which you might recognize as probably the most widely-known white supremacy group - is the American Flag.  You know, the one that hangs at every school and government building in the country?   The Aryan Nation also uses the American Flag - as well as the Christian Flag.  That should throw some dents in a few soapboxes.

1.  The #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Look, I know the media has a penchant for race-baiting and has made a point of only showing us the people who are using Black Lives Matter as reverse prejudice rather than giving us the full picture of what it's really about.  Race-baiting generates clicks.  It brings in viewers and stirs outrage and that, my friends, is a pretty effective way to undermine the real mission behind any movement.

Where people are missing the point:  Once again, yes, some people are using this movement as a platform for reverse racism, racial violence, hate-mongering, and race-baiting.  These aren't the people I'm talking about here.  I'm talking about the people using the Black Lives Matter movement as a method of voicing their pain and frustration and bringing attention to all the things the rest of us tend to overlook in our day to day lives because we have never been faced with them.

It's a rally cry for acknowledgement - and change.

Here's the biggest problem:  They say Black Lives Matter, and you respond with a snarky, All Lives Matter. And you know what?  You're right.  All lives DO matter - and that's kind of their point.

But by circumventing their statement with one that generalizes, you're minimizing the struggles that Black people still face to this day.  We can argue all day long that we have a Black President and that there is no longer segregation, etc., etc., but unless you are a Black person living in America, you're missing the bigger picture.  Tell that young man to his face that racism is no longer an issue in America, right after he's been pulled over and his car searched for drugs just because he's Black.  For the 15th time.  Tell it to the young mother who just had to ignore dirty looks and hateful comments at the grocery store because someone assumed her debit card was a Food Stamp card and she bought something other than rice or beans.

Tell it to the person who's been asked, for the billionth time, if they know who their daddy is, despite the fact that their parents have been happily married their entire lives and provide a better life for them than many people could wish for. Tell it to the unarmed person who had a gun pulled on them only because they were walking home alone in the dark in a predominantly White neighborhood. Tell it to the family that just had to bury their child, because some crazy person busted into a church and opened fire on an entire congregation just because they were Black.

Tell it to any Black person you know - I dare you - and then sit back and listen, really listen, as they tell you some of the awful, shitty things people have said and done to them in their lives - just because they're Black.

There's no "race card" being pulled in so many - too many - of these situations;  it's pretty clear when someone is being targeted based on their race, and it's bullshit.  Racism isn't "as bad" as it was 50 years ago, but it's still there, and it's still a big deal.   It's not something you can measure, it either is, or it isn't.  And right now, in the world we live in, it still very much is.

So when you reply with, "all lives matter," what you're saying is, "Sit down.  You don't have it that bad."  Of course they're pissed; you just denied their status as a human being.  So the next time someone on your Facebook or Twitter feed proclaims, #BlackLivesMatter!, don't take it as, "Black lives matter more than others," consider that it might be the assertion that Black lives matter just as much as anyone else's.

And they're right.

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