When listening people deny that they are racist, or sexist, or ageist, or any of the myriad variations on the “ist” suffix, I’ve often wondered how one defends oneself when they, truly and honestly, believe that they are being falsely accused of belonging to one of those groups.
Some try the “some of my best friends are…” or “I’ve hired hundreds of…” excuse, which causes the eyes to immediately and involuntarily roll. The problem with this argument is that many avowed racists throughout history have always found one “good one”, to whom they patronizingly refer when accused of their particular “ism”. I usually respond to that excuse by saying that that argument is no different from a man defending himself against accusations of misogyny by using the fact that he’s married to a woman as proof that he respects them. That argument suggests that even men who brutally beat their wives don’t disrespect women by virtue of the fact that they married one!
The fact is that there is no defense against accusations of, for example, racism, since we are all racist to one degree or another. We are all sexist to one degree or another. We are all ageist to one degree or another. It’s simply a matter of degree. And the more we try to prove our lack of any of those “isms”, the more it appears that we do in fact embrace them.
Intellectually, we can all tell ourselves and others that we see all people as equals, and this might be true on that level. But on a more visceral level, how true is that, really? As a 60-year-old white male, I can truly say that, given no more information, if I had the choice to be in a room filled with other 60-year-old white men or a room filled with 18-year-old black females, I would likely default to the first. Who among us would not?
Yes, that, in and of itself, proves that I am racist, sexist and ageist. The reason for this is simply because we tend to want to flock with those most like us, those with similar attributes, language and interests to us. And those who are different from us often have customs, likes and desires that are dissimilar from ours, and so somewhat uncomfortable to us.
To me, however, the test of racism, sexism or ageism is not one of whether you like or respect those who are different from you, but whether you see them primarily through the lens of their race, sex or age (this can also include religious affiliations). If you say that some of your best friends are black, then you are, by definition, a racist, since you define these friends by the color of their skin. It is your default position when accused of racism. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like or respect them. It means that you use their skin color as a way of defining them. That is the most fundamental form of racism.
On the other hand, if a white person were to purposely surround herself with nothing but black people, she too is as much of a racist as one who avoids black people at all cost, since she uses the race of her acquaintances to determine their value.
The point is that if someone were to ever define me as racist, sexist, ageist or anything of the sort, irrespective of whether I agreed with their depiction of me, the only honest response is to say, “Yes, I am. And I fight it every day of the week”.
The purpose of this post is not to excuse racism in any way, but merely to point out that, although we are all afflicted with it to one degree or another, it is always wrong. The way that I deal with my own racism, sexism and ageism is to acknowledge it, try to figure out where it came from, and try to identify the reasons for it. I then try to teach myself to not let it happen again. I am successful only to varying degrees.
In the late 1960s, WBAI, at the time a true underground NYC radio station had a very popular talk-show host named Alex Bennett. He was an anti-war, lefty, Nixon-hating borderline communist, and had a huge following among young adults and teens.
Once, an obvious right-wing racist called in and “accused” Bennett of being married to a black woman, as if this were some kind of crime. Rather than engage this imbecile or dignify his question with a truthful response, Bennett famously said, “I’ll have to ask her next time I see her. I’ve never looked at her that closely”. Although I certainly grasped the irony and sarcasm in that statement, the only person who can honestly deny that he or she is a racist is one who can say that, and mean it.
The more I hear Trump speak, the happier I am that we nominated Hillary. To the politically naive, ideology trumps logic. To the politically savvy, pragmatism and compromise rule the day.
Those of us who have seen more than one campaign understand the concept of “moving to the center”. It’s what candidates do once they’ve won the nomination. The reason they do that is because most Americans don’t like radicalism. They prefer a reasoned, calming voice. Trump is a radical, as is Sanders.
Those in the middle who lean one way or the other will prefer, if they must vote for a radical, to vote for one whose ideology more closely comports with theirs. Given the choice, however, they are likely to vote for someone closer to the middle, as they are.
Virtually no one who is leaning toward Trump’s radicalism would ever imagine shifting so far left as to vote for Bernie-but it’s a much shorter distance from Trump to Hillary since Hillary started in the middle.
For those who truly feel that Trump is an embarrassment to thinking people everywhere, Bernie was never even remotely an option. Staying home is.
Elections aren’t won by “revolutionaries”, whether real or imaginary. They are won by those who display the ability to lead, and a thorough understanding of the subject matter which requires that leadership.
To those who dismissively talk about how no one should die, how all killings are wrong, how we should all just get along, etc., I hate to be so cynical, but the reality of the race problems in this country is the fact that those problems were started by just one of those races. It was not a mutual disagreement, not a civil war, not two countries disputing a border. It was one race which subjugated, and in many cases continues to subjugate, the other.
Its hard to me to reconcile any of these killings. But one type of the killings that have occurred over the last week is generally in retaliation for the other. And you know which is which.
Maybe part of the problem is the fundamental method that police use to stop motorists. Typically, the police want you to stay in your car, after which they approach with some degree of trepidation, and hope that you don’t pull a gun on them.
Why not announce on the PA system in the patrol car, “Please step out of your car with your licence and registration and move to the curb”?
Wouldn’t that serve to eliminate the problem of cops who think they see furtive movements inside the car, causing them to react with force?
Wouldn’t it be better to ask the driver to get out of the car, and if he refuses, to call for backup, before shooting out of fear?
For all the Hillary bashers to continue to promulgate all these unsubstantiated claims about her being bought and paid for, corrupt, a liar, owned by the banks and Monsanto…here are some indisputable facts:
1. She has served very closely with two of the most successful presidents in recent memory. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She has been instrumental in the success of both of those presidencies.
2. She has vast experience in foreign and domestic policy.
3. She was an extremely popular Senator in NY, having been elected to two terms.
4. As first lady, she was instrumental in advancing the idea of Universal Health Care, which the Repub congress shot down. It was this model that Obama used to get the ACA passed.
5. Anyone who has ever interviewed her says that she is supremely brilliant and knowledgeable about the issues facing the country and the world.
6. And this might be the most important thing: She’s not a left-wing ideologue. Her opinions are more toward the center than many Liberals, like myself, prefer. But it is that tendency toward that middle that makes her electable, especially in this time when so many Repubs will be looking for an alternative to Trump.
7. Finally, she is the most vetted, most scrutinized politician, probably in history. We know virtually everything there is to know about her. Those who have tried to trip her up have failed time and again.
Say all you like about Benghazi, emails, Monsanto and speeches. Those are simply words, all devoid of substance. They are Repub talking points and nothing more. Not a single one has been validated.
Hillary will be good for our country. No president is ever perfect. We can only chose from those who run. Bernie was a good influence on the process, and hopefully many of his ideas will come to fruition, but Hillary is the one with the contacts and experience to get it done.
The question of whether the “media” is, in fact, left-wing leaning is an easy one to answer. That answer is yes. The question as to why is the complex one, but not too complex to understand if one takes a logical approach to it.
First, one must ask if the media is liberally biased because those who work in that industry started out that way, and just coincidentally decided to work in media. Obversely, one might ask if those who work in media started out as either conservatives or so-called independents, and were then persuaded to become liberals as a result of their experiences.
It seems to me that the news media, with such close access to those in government and politics, can only become liberal in their views because they see that to be the most righteous path. They see the back room goings on and sausage-making of governing, and can see, first hand, who is being duplicitous and who it being forthright and honest. They become Liberals because they see truths that we will never see, partly because they are not allowed to disclose all they see, for political reasons.
Now, one might ask, “what about Fox ‘News’”. To those people, I would reply, “what about it?” If you’re using Fox as a counterweight to my argument, then you are disproving the right’s contention that the media is biased to the left, by simple virtue of the fact that Fox exists. My argument is somewhat different, in that I do not elevate Fox to the level of news media. Roger Ailes, Chairman, and CEO of Fox “News” and former consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Rudy Giuliani, once said of his management style at Fox that he watches it with the sound off. This might be indicative of why Fox is rife with hot blondes in short skirts. The fact that anything which purports to be a news organization is managed and judged more for its appearance than its content is all one needs to know about its veracity and allegiance to a particular political view.
Fox is not and never has been about news. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply not paying attention.
The real media, the men and women who pound the pavement to find out how government really works and whether or not it’s working on our behalf, from Edward R Murrow to Robert Trout, to Walter Cronkite, to Dan Rather, to Chris Matthews to W. Kamau Bell, are Liberals. And we should be proud and gratified that they are.
In the 16th century, many in Europe thought that the earth was flat. Columbus and others proved differently. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?
In the 17th century, we didn’t know that gravity existed. Newton proved differently. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?
In the 18th century, we believed that we could subjugate the natives who lived here and justifiably kill them by the millions We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?
In the 19th century, we thought that black people should serve white people, by force if need be, via slavery. After a while, we capitulated to some degree, “allowing” blacks to become 3/5 of a citizen. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?
In the early 20th century, we believed that women should be subservient to men, that they weren’t smart enough to vote, go to college, or own property. Later in the century we still treated blacks like third-class citizens, hanging one for whistling at a white woman, keeping them from voting, and referring to them as “niggers”. We beat and discriminated against gay people, just for being gay. We’ve grown since then, and learned the truth, haven’t we?
In the 21st century, we still have people who believe in a book that was ostensibly written nearly 2000 years ago, before any of the above enlightenment occurred, when we still didn’t know where the Sun went at night. When we stoned infidels. When you would kill your wife for infidelity. When eating shellfish or pork was tantamount to murder. When prostitutes were stoned to death. Where stealing or taking the lord’s name in vain was a sin, but raping a woman wasn’t.
We really haven’t learned a fucking thing, have we?