Race and terrorism

Confederate flag on grounds of the South Carolina Capitol

The massacre of 9 people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina has incited debate and frustration, but already it feels as if the entire episode will not resolve anything really at all. There have been calls for increase gun control laws, but I think that to see it through the lens of merely gun violence is to not even begin to approach what the tragedy is a manifestation of. Don’t get me wrong, I am in support of increased gun control laws. But you don’t need a mass murder to call for instituting increased gun control laws. There are 297 reasons every day to call for gun control laws, at least according to the Brady Campaign study between 2009 and 2013. But yet, it’s not discussed in the news or by politicians everyday. Why not? Probably because it’s become too common an occurrence. Probably because the majority, 54%, of the victims of gun violence are black, a rate that far outpaces the actual percentage of the population. While it’s not broken out by class, the majority are probably in poorer neighborhoods – ones that have been forgotten by the establishment.

What happened in Charleston was more than an episode of gun violence, it was an act of racism, and beyond even that, it was an act of terrorism. It has been pointed out already by Jelani Cobb in his piece for The New Yorker, or John Stewart on The Daily Show, but so few people in the political establishment have said anything of the sort. And why would they? It’s easy to look at what happened as just an episode of random violence. But, it wasn’t. There was political motive behind it. Other acts of terrorism have been condemned, and anyone associated with the group that commits it is accused of being complicit if they do not immediately speak out and condemn it. Moderate muslims are constantly associated with acts of radical islam groups. How many times have we heard that they need to speak out against it or they are just as responsible. That they need to take the responsibility upon themselves to stand up and fight against their most radical elements. Well, here is an act of terrorism and I have yet to hear any politician really speak out against white people, white extremists, denouncing themselves. On the PBS News Hour on June 19th, Republican presidential nominee and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham simply called him a crazy person, and that that “there is no way to explain what would explain a person to do this”.

(also on PBS NewsHour site) Already, those in power are starting to immediate distance themselves from what had happened. No one would talk like this if this was an Islamist radical. And that is is what you call privilege. Being the race in power affords you the ability and the power to control the narrative of any story. History is written by those in power, and this is yet another example of it. There are no calls for moderate whites to take responsibility, for any fundamental reexamination of why the social fabric is the way it is. I’m still waiting for calls to drone strike white extremists in South Carolina starting at the State Capital. That’s been the standard procedure against muslims.

The fact that anyone would even say that there is no way to explain this boggles the mind. The racism is to established that the Confederate flag still flies on the state capital grounds. In fact, while the state and national flags fly at half mast to mourn those killed, the Confederate flag flies at full mast. The symbolism of that speaks volumes. I understand that people are calling for the Confederate flag to be removed. But what is that, it’s some visible token to give the impression that something is being done. The flag will be removed, politicians will call it a victory against hate, everyone will pat each other on the back and call it a day. Why would we need to address any sort of institutionalized racism – we’re removed the flag from the grounds of the state capital, what else is there to do. Fix one superficial thing and deflect anything that needs to be done on a more fundamental level beyond that. Again privilege, narrative, and everything else that comes with power.

Ellen Pao Trial

Just heard that the Ellen Pao jury reached a verdict and will be announced soon. For people not familiar, Ellen Pao has brought a sexual discrimination lawsuit against fabled Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins (don’t even get started on Tom Perkins). Out of everything, it’s depressing to read that “Now, venture capital firms will be even less likely to hire women.” There’s plenty of sexism in the valley, perhaps people will really start to talk about it and face up to it.

Hey! What’s the color of this dress?

I couldn’t have been more excited this past weekend than about the debate over the color of the dress. It’s the perfect distraction from all of the other debates to remind one that no matter how certain you are of something, some one else can see it differently and they can be just as certain as you that they are right. Regardless of the science or objectively knowing that it’s actually blue and black, none of it changes the fact that I see it one way and differently than someone else. And I’m sure of it. My other half disagrees (yet again correct) and can’t see it like I do. A great reminder, that we all perceive the world our own way, and sometimes, it’s not because someone else is stupid or have some ulterior motive if they come to some other conclusion then me.

Paul Ryan and the Presidential Race

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
Image via The New York Times

I’m very excited about Mitt Romney adding Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket for the 2012 presidential election. The reason is that with all of the debate going on in the country Paul Ryan has put forward a budget with specifics that is a concrete manifestation of their view of government. It gives us something to talk about other than a string of abstract platitudes regarding what government should be. We can argue whether government should be big or small, but each vision has consequences. The Ryan budget lays it out. Now, I would love it if Barak Obama would also put forth a similar budget. Something specific. Something that we can compare side-by-side. The fact that the Democrats haven’t even passed a budget in the past 3 years is a travesty in its own right.

We can have a real debate about what we would like this country to be like. I’m excited about this because with the Ryan budget we can really battle it out, over specifics about what it means. Hopefully, we can all decide what we want in this election, and have our debate, and then who ever wins – wins. Perhaps then, instead of muddling around, we can move forward on some path.

Mitt Romney and his taxes

http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/tue-january-24-2012-elizabeth-warren

“Poor people have shitty lobbyists.”

I don’t usually watch too much of the Daily Show, but occasionally they have fantastic commentary pieces. Now, I really love this one. John Stewart does a good job here boiling it down to the fact that those with influence can easily bend the law to their own advantage. Once done, you can easily just explain everything by the fact that what you are doing is perfectly legal. Of course, there is never any more explanation than that. Or, the fact that you yourself are even the ones that pushes the law because you’re just pursuing your own interests.