Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Ivanka Trump has Stockholm Syndrome

I heard Ivanka Trump the other day defending her dad against accusations of sexism and racism by citing the number of blacks and women he has hired over his career. This is a typical white-privilege response to a much more complex set of issues.

White slave owners allowed their slaves to raise their children, attend to their wives, and cook their food. They allowed their black slaves to see the most intimate and vulnerable sides of their lives. But there is no question of their profound racism. Why is that?

Men who beat their wives or treat them like second-class citizens allow their wives to cook, clean, raise their children, handle money and know their innermost thoughts and weaknesses. But there is no question that wife-beating men are profoundly sexist. Why is that?

Donald Trump has likely hired hundreds if not thousands of woman and blacks over the course of his career. He has likely allowed them to handle money and potentially make decisions that could have a negative impact on the profitability of his companies. But the comments he has made about women and the fact that he “has a black person right over there” suggests that he is a profound racist and sexist. Why is that?

The simple answer to all these questions is that racism and sexism do not negate usefulness. Just because I think you’re less human than I, just because I think you’re of lower value than I, just because I believe you should have fewer freedoms and rights than I, does not mean I don’t want you to clean my toilet, or mow my lawn, or raise my children, or use whatever talents you have to put money in my pocket.

My willingness to exploit you does not trump (for want of a better word) my disdain for you.

Ivanka Trump may be what we consider an intelligent woman (at least from outward appearances) in that she’s somewhat successful at trading on her father’s name, well-educated and articulate. But who in the world could possibly have been more indoctrinated into the Trump bullshit train than she? Her doting, adoring father has used her looks to his advantage her entire life, and she, of course, believes whatever daddy says.

Stockholm Syndrome is defined by Encyclopedia Brittanica as: A psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. I report, you decide.

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Yeah, but we’re way too smart for that now…

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?

Why We Fight

There are those of us who feel the need to comment when we see inaccuracies, injustices, inequities and incoherence. We feel it our obligation to engage in the chaotic wonderment that is modern political, social and cultural disquisition, with its vulgarity, ad hominem rejoinders and sometimes grade-school level rhetoric. I call it the “I don’t care if you’re right. Your mother’s a whore” syndrome.

We feel the need to address those securely swaddled in the cushy bedding of mediocrity and minimal information decision-making in an effort to reveal their philistinism, if not to themselves, but rather to those who cast an errant eye on the proceedings, curious, but not yet willing engage for fear of tripping over their own words. We know you’re there, and we want you to stick a toe in the pool because sometimes it feels as if it is we alone who are fighting this fight.

In investing, when the stock market drops, there is often a movement of money away from equities to commodities like gold, silver, and other more stable investments like real estate, etc. It is typically referred to as a “flight to quality”. It is an acknowledgement that one’s investment strategy is wrong, or that the market has changed and one must alter one’s method of investing as well.

We rarely see this in the political arena. We rarely hear anyone admit that their particular candidate has not measured up to one’s strategies for investment in the future and, therefore, must engage in a flight to quality, by embracing a new candidate. We stick with our guy because he or she “speaks the truth” or some other such dime-store pedestrian twaddle, no better scrutinized than the modern-day version of a bumper sticker, the Facebook meme.

If foolish ideas go unchallenged, even for a short time, they become platitudes and start to appear as truisms (the Second Amendment was written to help citizens combat tyranny) that people forget were never true, just repeated more than the arguments that counter them. For every single public comment that is untrue, there must be multiple countermanding comments to prove its falseness.

To those who say that we should “give it a rest” and “not be so angry all the time”, I will respond that I’m glad your argument didn’t prevail when we were fighting slavery, women’s suffrage or the anti-war movement and civil rights legislation of the 1960s. And I’m grateful that those who protested kept yelling at the top of their lungs until justice was served.

I am proud to include myself within their ranks…

The Conservative View of the Future of the United States

I’m pretty convinced that Conservatives see the future as follows:

They have no problem with the fact that their racism might be playing into the hands of ISIS and other terrorists. It’s of no concern to them since they see the future US as an isolationist, Judeo/Christian “caliphate” (for want of a better word). This new nation would have border walls and troops at every entry point.

In it, blacks, Mexicans, gays and existing Muslims would be marginalized in some manner, either by expulsion or by forced separation from the general population.

Ideologies such as Communism, Socialism or anything other than Capitalism (which is not a political ideology but an economic one) would be institutionally marginalized as well, and what we like to call Democracy (ours is not a pure Democracy but a representative one) would prevail.

We would continue to allow the illusion of safety emanating from gun ownership to prevail, with the requisite deaths of children and family members considered to be a necessary cost of that illusion of safety.

Those who claimed to embrace one religious dogma or the other would be the standard bearers of society, and those aspiring to leadership positions would be required to prove their devotion to one divine entity or another, but Christianity would be the prevailing belief system.

History would be cleansed, with the Confederate flag reinstated as a proud historical artifact. In schools, children would be taught that Reagan single-handedly destroyed the Soviet Union and that the US defeated Germany in WWII. George Bush would be forgiven for starting two wars because he “kept us safe”.

Military service would be the highest aspiration of those without the wherewithal to achieve financial wealth, and soldiers would be revered in all walks of life. Once they left military service, however, the most they could expect is a patronizing, obsequious, “thank you for your service”, and would be marginalized as having been used up and of no further value to society.

The best citizens would not complain about governmental monitoring of their movements since they would have “nothing to hide”.

Presidential aspirants would be judged on how much money they’d made in the private sector, or on their military successes, and actual intelligence and education would be discounted as untrustworthy and elitist. Their ability to engage in “plain talk” and their success at being “just like us” would be one of the primary tests of worthiness for public office.

This, my friends, is what will happen if we continue down this trajectory. We’ve got a Conservative Congress and Supreme Court. We must try very hard to reverse that and to maintain the White House.

I don’t care if it’s Bernie or Hillary, but we must not waste our votes.

Broad Sympathy

W.E.B DuBois used an expression when discussing what he referred to as “The Talented Tenth”, a term which he used when discussing the premise that one out of ten black men should become leaders of their race in the world, as that would be the way for the black man to rise out of slavery and oppression. He discussed these concepts in the 1890s.

In one speech he explained this much better:
“Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools — intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it — this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life. On this foundation, we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the object of life.”

The operative phrase here, as far as this writer is concerned, is “broad sympathy”. It struck me when I first read it since, being such a simple phrase, it surprised me that I had never heard it or read ever before in my lifetime, especially given my extensive reading and research for my education and writing.
Upon reflection, I believe that the understanding of this phrase is critical to open-mindedness and the ability to understand someone whose opinions might vary greatly from yours. It does not describe sympathy in its most common usage, including feelings of sorrow for someone who has suffered a loss or pity for those less fortunate than one’s self.
I think that his use of the term speaks to what is required for intelligent thought and communication. An example of the use of broad sympathy is when communicating, with verbally or in writing, and understanding that what you’re thinking is not necessarily what the other person is thinking. This can manifest itself when someone speaks in pronouns rather than common or proper nouns. The excessive use of he, him, her, she, it etc., as if the listener knows who these people are without being reminded, can be very frustrating. The speaker assumes that you can see the people s/he is picturing in their head while speaking to you. They are not displaying broad sympathy since they are concentrating on their own thoughts and ignoring yours.
It can also mean knowing where a person with an opposing viewpoint is getting his logic from, and respecting it, even when disagreeing. This is the essence of any negotiation. Understanding the other person’s point of view is critical if you want to change their mind. And I don’t mean this in the platitudinous sense as we hear in so many Facebook memes about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and the like. It means understanding your opponent’s motivation and the rationale for his position even though you are trying to dissuade him of it.
Broad sympathy is what makes a good attorney a great attorney. Understanding the assumptions of the opposing attorney and the jury and dissuading them of their position, not by force or ridicule, but by using the logic of their own positions to sway them to yours.

An example of this is let’s say, two people arguing about the use of animals for medical testing. Your opponent says that the particular animal in question cannot feel pain from the testing done to him, and so this testing is justified since it causes no harm. If one has broad sympathy, one has determined that this is the basis for the opposing argument-lack of pain. This is what is apparently important to your opponent. So now, rather than argue a different point, if you can show a study that claims that this particular animal might feel pain, you are addressing the specific argument made by your opponent. Since he has already tacitly suggested that a lack of pain is justification for these animal experiments, it follows, by extension, and the presence of pain is the opposite and is cause to cease these tests. You have used your opponent’s argument against him, due to your ability to recognize what part of his argument is the most critical. At this point, he may move on to a different argument justifying the testing, but he has exposed himself to you since most people will lead off with their best argument and be forced to use less convincing one’s subsequently. My favorite way of expressing this is what I call the “your mother’s a whore”, tactic. When someone is not well prepared to make an argument or all of their arguments have been dispelled by logic, they revert to an ad hominem argument and say, “Well, I don’t care what you say anyway. And your mother’s a whore”. This tends to be the tactic used by Donald Trump quite often. When he runs out of defense of his position, he attacks his opponent personally, and smugly. It reveals more about him than his opponent. Donald Trump displays an utter lack of broad sympathy toward anyone who would oppose him.

This is true in other aspects of life as well. Although there are times when we simply can’t imagine where another person got their ideas, it is often a lack of broad sympathy on our part, not necessarily their ignorance of the subject. It helps to distinguish between those who have opinions with little or no substance, and those who have thoughtful, reasoned, defensible attitudes and are comfortable expressing them without personal attacks.

Schools, Teachers and the Anarchy of Google

I heard someone talking, rather loudly, in a restaurant the other day about his belief that schools need to teach real skills to their children, like balancing a checkbook and getting a car loan. He expounded at some length, to the point that it made me start thinking about his logic, or lack of same.

I’ve heard this premise before-someone lamenting about the basic skills that they believe are lacking in children. But after listening to this guy I realized that the premise was based on the projection of his personal failings upon others. Maybe he couldn’t balance a checkbook, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to be a high school course, does it? Balancing a checkbook? Do we really need a teacher to teach that?

So, I did an experiment. I took my 15-year-old and made her sit down with me to learn how a checkbook works. About 1/2 hour later she could balance a checkbook. I have no teaching experience, by the way. Next, I explained the fundamentals of applying for a loan, what a bank looks for, how to maintain good credit, etc. Took about 20 minutes.

Now my kid knows how to apply for a loan and balance a checkbook. No teacher required.

It then struck me that I want a teacher to teach my kid the hard stuff, not the easy stuff that I can teach her. I want the teacher to teach my kid Biology, so that when she goes to the doctor and he prescribes a medicine or a treatment, she’ll understand why and won’t rely on articles in Self magazine for her medical advice.

I want the teacher to teach her Chemistry so that if she finds out that her cholesterol is too high, she won’t get suckered into buying garlic tablets and other useless cholesterol lowering snake-oil because that was the first ad that popped up when she searched for it on-line, and she won’t believe the anti-vaccination Nazis who are all over the web.

I want the teacher to teach her about History, so when she hears the controversy about rebel flags, racism or politics she can make an informed decision without having to revert to Facebook memes.

I want my kid to be taught the hard, boring stuff, so that as an adult she’ll make educated choices and know where to find accurate information, instead of relying on that mile-wide, inch-deep, shallow dive of the intellect called Google. She’ll understand how to vet the sourcing of information, rather than just look for something that she happens to agree with.

If you think that you need the school system to teach your kid the most fundamental requirements of living in modern society, maybe the problem isn’t the school system, maybe it’s you.

The Myth of the Self-Loathing White Man

My various writings in defense of those of other cultures, races and points of view which sometimes vary greatly from that which my pale-faced, conservative brethren tend to hold, can at times cause some of those who have recently discovered Dictionary.com to fire missives my way with a recurring theme of “self loathing”, as if to help explain the defects in my own apparently miss-spent life.

This piece is directed toward those who have done so.

Since you asked, I decided that it was time to respond that it is not me whom I loathe, my slogan-of-the-week repeating friends, it is you.

You see, I am quite satisfied with my lot in life, which allows me the moral heft to challenge those of you who hide behind that with which you were born, simultaneously wearing it on your shirtsleeve as if it were a coat-of-arms, proving some high rank or accomplishment when you, often, have none which would give you license to hold yourselves to such lofty societal hights. You brag about what you were handed at birth because you’ve done little since and, therefore, have little else to be proud of, other than some “heritage” or serendipitously occurring skin color. It is reminiscent of Al Bundy’s recurring braggadocio about winning one football game at Polk High, by simple virtue of the fact that he can’t think of another thing about which to brag.

To start with, I have raised two now-grown children into fine adults, with their own stable, nuclear families and good careers, with no issues of divorce, drugs or infidelities. No one in my family has ever been arrested. I also have a teenager with straight A’s in a gifted school who is on a path to an ivy-league college.

I started out a working man, washing cars at a car dealership and learning to repair and sell cars. Recently, I sold a company I started from scratch in 2008 for an amount approaching seven figures. I have owned a waterfront home on the Gulf-of-Mexico and my own private airplane and sailboat. I single-handedly piloted a 45 ft yacht around the Caribbean for 9 days with my family and flew a single-engined airplane from Minnesota to Florida, solo. I later flew that same airplane, solo, from Florida to New Jersey as hurricane Francis approached from my tail.

I have started, bought, sold and managed internet companies, aircraft leasing companies, construction companies, automobile companies, landscaping companies and real-estate investment companies. I have sometimes failed in my endeavors but more often than not, succeeded quite nicely, thank-you.

I have acted in community theater to acclaim, having had no formal training or acting lessons. I was given the lead role in two out of the three plays I’ve been in and had my share of standing ovations.

I have written two well-received books about management and am working on a third about racism in my lifetime. I write prolifically on all manner of subjects.

I started college at 50 years old and am now an MBA with less than two years remaining in my post-graduate education before completing my dissertation and receiving a Ph.D.in Managment.

Sorry folks, I have nothing to loathe about myself. I am quite confident that I have not squandered my time here on earth. And it is that confidence which allows me to look back at myself and see the privileges which have been afforded me in sharp contrast to the lack of privilege that others with far greater talent, courage and skill have suffered.

I spend no time whatsoever patting myself on the back or holding myself above others due to the simple expedient of certain molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid which happened to align in a particular way to make me a white male. To put it another way…I didn’t build that. It was built for me. And whatever privileges with which you were born were also handed to you.

I don’t defend others due to anything remotely approaching self-loathing. I do it out of self-love.

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