Toad is very rich and a bit of a fop, with a penchant for Harris tweed suits. He owns his own horse, and is able to indulge his impulsive desires, such as punting, house boating and hot air ballooning. Toad is intelligent, creative and resourceful; however, he is also narcissistic, self-centred almost to the point of sociopathy, and completely lacking in even the most basic common sense.
Why… Why would someone choose to hang a Confederate flag across the rear window of their truck (safety concerns aside)? Aside from total obliviousness or outright racism, do you think there is any sort of justification for displaying one’s pride in the ideals of the South that could possibly outweigh the blatant discomfort caused in others by their (justified?) associations with that display?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…
It’s been a week and a half since police in Ferguson, MO shot and killed Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager. A week and a half later, and the system has devolved into a nightmare. Police responded to what were originally nonviolent protests with riot gear and military equipment and tactics. They’re using tear gas and firing rubber bullets. A curfew has been instilled. The Ferguson police seem to care little for the Constitution; peaceful protesters have reportedly been forced to stay on the move if they want to protest, violating their right to assemble, and police have arrested journalists and interfered with their work. It’s so bad that Amnesty International has, for the first time in its 53-year history, deployed a team of observers inside the United States–in this case, to collect information on what’s going on.
There’s so much that’s wrong with this. First and foremost is the blatant racism at work–Mike Brown’s murder was only the latest in a string of shootings committed by white Americans against young black Americans. Once again, America has proven that it views the lives of black teenagers as disposable, that they don’t deserve justice or fair trials, that they could be executed on the street by any white cop who thinks they look suspicious. It’s fucked.
Then there’s the terrifying amount of police power on display. This, like nothing else in the last few years, has illustrated how damn militarized our police forces have become–and what happens when you blur the lines between police and military. Seeing the police ganging up, turning on civilians, trampling on civil rights, and treating an American city like a warzone and American citizens like enemy combatants… it chills me to the bone. This is not how democracy works. This is not an acceptable use of state power. But this is what we’ve allowed to be built in this country.
All of this is weighing on me, and I feel an obligation to write a blog post about it; to write all of my remaining blog posts about it, but I don’t think that’s feasible. In lieu of that, here are a number of important links about the situation in Ferguson that you should read.
This summer, my landlord was arrested for possession of child pornography. My reaction was mixed. Revulsion, yes. Disappointment. Pity. That deep melancholy that accompanies a reminder of the world’s dark corners. I felt a lot of emotions, none of them happy.
But even on the day I found out, when I saw his pathetic mugshot and imagined how fundamentally unsettled the parents in our building must have been to hear the news, even when my blood was hottest, if you had asked me to grant the government wide-reaching powers to capture other people like my landlord… I would have said no.
Sexual predators. Pedophiles. Terrorists. These are the bogeymen they warn us of. “Beware,” they hiss, and they gesture at the dark, foreboding closet as their grip on our shoulder grows painfully tight.
I am not afraid of the bogeymen. What I fear is something else entirely.
In case you somehow missed the news, the U.S. government has entered shutdown mode. Congressional Republicans held up negotiations over the federal budget because Democrats wouldn’t delay part of the Affordable Care Act. At 12:01 Eastern time, since a budget had not been passed, the government shut down.
I’ve decided that this summer, it’s time to stop being ignorant. I’ve had the privilege, as a white, straight, middle-class American male, to live a life fairly unburdened by worries of social inequality or injustice, but it’s time that I stepped outside that privilege and learned something.
I’ve hardly even begun thinking about making a reading list for the summer, and already, it feels like my head is on fire with all of it. Racism. Sexism. Capitalism.
It feels right now like the world is fucked up in so many ways. I recognize that might be a bit of an overreaction, but I also can predict I’ll be going further into a slump of that hopelessness the more I research and learn, until I can accept it and start figuring out what the hell to do about it.
Learning about this isn’t going to be easy. It’ll be tempting to just back out and retreat to my privileged position, where I don’t have to deal with the painful reality of what’s going on.
It’ll be my challenge to stick with it and make a worthwhile change in my life.
It’s going to be an interesting summer, that’s for damn sure.
In my senior year of high school, faced with an otherwise empty slot in my schedule, I, on a whim, registered for an elective course entitled, simply, “Diversity.” Most of the other students I talked to about it–usually white males–scoffed at the subject matter. To a typical jaded high school senior, “diversity” is a word saddled with images of saccharine kids’ TV shows and painfully-contrived story problems in math textbooks that go out of their way to establish the non-white identity of their characters. After all, by high school, especially in a blue state like Oregon, nobody’s really racist anymore. Or sexist.1This, by the by, is total sarcasm. Maybe there are some homophobes, but really, is it worth taking a class about?
Under Bobby Cowles’ instruction, that simple elective opened my eyes to a world of injustice. Without being labeled as such, it was the first sociology class I ever took, exposing how ideas such as”race” are arbitrarily defined social constructs–still very real in their consequences, but entirely construed by society. It showed me the first-hand accounts of members of social minority groups in a way that I likely wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere during high school. But most importantly, it taught me about the concept of privilege.
A month or so ago, as part of a joint field trip with my Lenses of Culture and Waste and Pollution classes, we went to Osaka to visit the Osaka Human Rights Museum. Organizing thirty American students and getting to Osaka, about an hour away on the train, was an interesting (read: hair-tuggingly frustrating) experience, but when we actually got there, the museum was quite the sight.
It’s almost midnight here, but I’ve been watching what’s going on in America this week, and I really need to write about it.
I’ve been following Occupy Wall Street for most of its existence. I presented a short speech about it in Japanese class a week or two after it began, and I’ve been keeping my eyes on the news about it through the social media site Reddit since then. I’ve watched as it’s grown from a small protest in New York to a national, then global movement. And while I would almost certainly be following and thinking similar things while in America, from Japan, I feel like I can see things particularly clearly.
The long and short of it is that America is fucked up.
I could say “messed up”, or maybe “in trouble”, but that’s not really the feeling I want. This isn’t about being politically correct and not offending. America is fucked up.
This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.
This isn’t really a post about my life, it’s (another) political post, so if you’re looking for something else, look elsewhere. This has been hanging over my head lately, and I need to get it out.
I’ve never before been as terrified by the state of American politics as I am now.
A lot of the time, when I’ve written about politics, it’s been about single issues. One of my earliest blog posts ever was about the proposed amendment to ban the burning of the American flag. Recently, I blogged about Net Neutrality (in response to an issue in Canadian politics, but relevant in the US nonetheless). I’ve been frustrated over individual cases here and there, but never in my life have I been so honestly outraged and frightened by the state of politics.
Maybe I’m just getting older and realizing how messed up things are, but I think there’s more. I think things have taken a nasty turn recently. I can’t pin a finger on it– I don’t know when it happened or what caused it– but its many symptoms are starting to make me wonder just how diseased the entire system really is. It’s at the point that I’m eager to leave next year, and I’m sincerely considering the possibility of moving away after college. If these trends continue, I don’t want to be anywhere near the US.
Put simply, I’m scared shitless by the amount of power the government is accruing, in whose interests it’s being used, and how little oversight or regulation there seems to be.
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Nothing on this website is to be taken as professional counseling or psychological advice.