Conservatives and their Bigotry

The latest few items to cross my social media threshold have gotten me a bit riled up … enough so to post. My “inner Grinch” has been tickled.

Racism may be one of the real problems with conservatives, and it continues to show, at least in the US.

Consider the recent Wall Street Journal piece (behind a pay wall, so see, for instance, this commentary). It basically bemoans how the country is in trouble because the WASPs aren’t in charge any more.

Or, consider the comments by Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) that included some racially insensitive comments, as well as the homophobic ones that have garnered so much press, including:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

Ah, the good old days when Jim Crow ruled the land! Clearly our problems started when we gave “them” the right to vote.

A&E, the producers of the Duck Dynasty show, suspended Mr. Robertson. The conservatives —including Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh everyone on Fox News, and others — have jumped to Mr. Robertson’s defense while being careful not to mention the racist comments.

(As an aside, it strikes me as both illustrative and tragic that so many of these people — current and former lawmakers, many of whom are lawyers — label A&E’s suspension of Mr. Robertson as a violation of the 1st amendment. What a load! The 1st amendment says that the government will not do anything to infringe the free exercise of expression or religion — it says nothing about employers, media, or other private entities reacting to offensive comments. It is the same reason those blowhards can talk about a “war on Christmas” freely, even though it is utter nonsense. I would be outraged too, if the state or Federal government arrested or detained Mr. Robertson, but I applaud A&E’s decision to suspend him.)

Notably, Mr. Robertson’s defenders are the same people who are doing everything to make our first non-white President “fail” and who kept fixated on the idea that he couldn’t be an American (i.e., born in Kenya); who conjure up images of unemployed inner city “welfare queens” (i.e., black mothers) living off food stamps and unemployment insurance (which is incorrect in several dimensions); and are working at the state level to restrict voting to only the “right kind” couched as preventing (non-existent) voter fraud: basically a return to Jim Crow laws. Of course, Fox News reports it all with their unique spin… including stating that Jesus and Santa were white.

I am sure there are other examples, but those are so current and obvious.

This behavior needs to be called out for what it is. It is not a matter of religion or philosophy, unless you agree that the religion and philosophy espoused are based on racist ideals (e.g., the “Jesus was white” view).

Of course, racism isn’t the only contempt for “others” — conservatives are also really uncomfortable with any sexual identity other than straight male, and with poverty or bad luck of any kind. Basically, any existence other than their own desired state of being.

The sexism isn’t difficult to see, either: fear of women asserting themselves, making their own choices, having control of their sexuality. I’m not even bothering to include links — the examples are everywhere. The ultimate conservative nightmare is probably a wealthy black lesbian with a Spanish accent. I suspect the extreme conservatives are not that far from embracing the concept of public stoning of women who commit adultery or seek to have an education!

Meanwhile, these same conservatives rally around Christmas and religion, claiming they are good Christians (Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jainists, and atheists are all the heathen underclass, of course), while also expressing outrage that the new Pope is a Marxist for saying that the greed of the rich is a problem. Yet, their own Scripture (which they quote from so very selectively) states in Matthew 19:24 “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” And as they try to defund healthcare, food stamps, unemployment insurance and more, perhaps they should keep in mind their Matthew 25:40-45 (New International version; follow the link for other versions):

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Note that this does not mention the color of skin, or sex, or gender orientation. I guess Matthew was the first Marxist, eh?

I have separated from a few former friends who, among other things, refused to acknowledge any of the bigotry and ignorance present in the conservative movement (one, in particular, became a fan and apologist of Sarah Palin). I have several other acquaintances who claim to hate President Obama in every way, but deny any racist feelings. Pressed on this, they can’t point out why they have such a visceral dislike for the President, but invariably they come back with “I have several black friends” or “because he’s a socialist [sic].” They also can’t come up with good reasons why they are opposed to homosexuals other than it is an “icky choice” — showing ignorance in at least two dimensions. (1. There is increasing evidence it is not a choice, but an orientation from birth; and 2. all sex is icky if you don’t like it…viewpoint matters. Which reminds me of a favorite line by Woody Allen: “Is sex dirty? Only if it’s done right.”) A few of those people have tried to excuse notable individuals (e.g., the Koch brothers) by saying “You don’t know what they are doing individually” (as to charity or acceptance of others). No, but I can see what laws and candidates and causes they support. If they are not bigots then they are hypocrites of the worst kind.

I’m all for tolerance, but I can’t abide glorifying stupidity and bigotry. That may seem contradictory, but I never claimed I was perfect! I will not support government suppression of speech or religion (except in extreme cases — human sacrifice as a religious act is not something I support, unless it is Rush Limbaugh or Rick Santorum :-), but neither will I excuse it when it demonstrates continued acceptance of repression of others.

It’s Christmas. It is a time to celebrate family, peace, and joy. (Oh, and unbridled consumerism, too — spend all ye joyful. :-). Or, it is Saturnalia or Festivus, or Kwanzaa, or pick some other holiday. Whatever it may be, it is generally held to be a time to reflect on our own blessings and think of others.

Want to celebrate the true meaning of this holiday season? Find at least one family with limited income and buy them a holiday meal and toys for the children. Find some homeless people and treat them to a hot meal. (I advise against giving cash — too many homeless have addiction problems and they’ll spend it on their habits rather than their well-being, and some are actually scam artists.) Reluctant to engage with these people or don’t know where to find the needy ones? Then find a local food bank or other charity and make a substantial donation. (I now avoid the Salvation Army after my daughter pointed out their anti-LGBT stance; similar reasoning with most religious-based charities.)

And if you really want to carry the meaning of the holidays through the year, stop supporting bigots — whether they are on TV or running for office or preaching their brand of religion to you. Lend your voice — and your votes and support — to people who are not seeking to penalize or repress others simply because they aren’t white, or straight, or male, or healthy, or lucky. Odds are you or someone you love is, was, or will be one of those, so it is more than simply the right thing to do, it is the practical thing.

Happy Holidays.

All you need to know for this Presidential election

All you need to know to vote for President: Every US voter — Republican, Democrat, and independent — can now make an informed decision by listening, with open minds, to only two speeches and really caring about the results of the election. Because now it really comes down to a contest between the two major candidates, each with some good points, and each with some flaws. The system doesn’t have a viable 3rd candidate. This is what we have — a system of compromises and choices.

You can stop reading this if you fall into one of several (hopefully, small) groups:

  • If you’re dead-set on voting based on one or two single issues, then you don’t have an open mind, and this won’t make a difference — you might as well stop now and move to a country where that single issue is supported (or not, as your biases dictate).  So, if everything you decide is based on whether the government can tell women what to do with their bodies or you hate homosexuals, you could (for instance) move to Iran where they also ban women’s choices and execute gay people, and voila!  Against government funded health care?  Move to Somalia  where even private healthcare is hard to find. Want strict border control?  Move to North Korea, where approaching the border from either side is a nearly certain death. Problems solved and you have a home for your one-issue biases!
  • If you always vote for the same political party no matter how incoherent or venal the candidates (e.g., you think Herman Cain  or Anthony Weiner are appropriate leadership material) then you really don’t care what happens to the country, so don’t bother reading further. Maybe move to China or Cuba, where there is only one party and everyone votes for it.  You’d be happier not being faced with a decision you don’t choose to consider.
  • If you’ve already decided you’re going to “Vote against the Mormon” or “Vote against the black Muslim,” then you’re an uninformed bigot. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re open minded or fair, you’re quite simply a bigot. Do the country a favor and get therapy; especially don’t pass it along to any children you might have.
  • If you are pathetically uninformed — you think New Mexico is not in the US, you ask questions like this in public, you believe that there is something called “legitimate rape,” you think evolution is false and shouldn’t be taught in schools, you think you can see Russia from your front porch, or anything else pathetically ignorant, then you are a danger to yourself and others.  You probably gave up reading this far, but please take advantage of any remedial education opportunities available to you.  And don’t vote — you are likely to hurt others, if not yourself.
  • If you are convinced it doesn’t matter because the world is secretly run by the Illuminati or extraterrestrials, or that a UN one-world government will soon send in the black helicopters to put us in FEMA-run death camps, then you might want to talk to a health professional about your convictions.  There are medications that will help you feel less isolated and threatened, and can actually make those nasty threats go away.  And please, please, we beg you, stop voting for Michele Bachmann!

But if you read this far (especially if you understood words like “pathetically” and “venal”), and you really care about the future of the USA, then this may help. (If you don’t like either candidate for various reasons, you are not alone.  We don’t have a “none of the above” in our elections.  But don’t stay away from voting because of this: not voting is the same as giving a partial endorsement to the eventual winner…who you may think is more odious than the other candidate.)

First of all, be sure you are registered to vote on November 6. Call or visit your elections board — especially if you are a member of a minority group or a naturalized citizen (in some states, there has been a concerted effort to disenfranchise your vote in the guise of preventing “election fraud”).  If you have any concerns or questions at all, contact the non-partisan League of Women’s Voters.  DO IT TODAY!  Some states have deadlines to register or protest not being on the voter rolls — don’t be left out!  Find out what ID (if any) your state requires to vote, and get it.  Again, call the League for assistance and details.  Get your friends and family to do the same.

Now to the part about helping you decide.

Think for a moment — who can provide deep insight about the office of President?  Who can talk to the challenges, the stresses, the tradeoffs, the incredible demands made in that office?  Who can provide the perspective of handling domestic and foreign pressures?  Well, if you want to know what it is like to be a pilot, you ask a pilot.  If you want to know what is involved in fixing a car, you ask someone who is (or was) a mechanic.  If you want to understand organic chemistry, you ask a chemist.

And if you want to know the minutiae about what it takes to be President, ask a former President.

Luckily, we have two former 2-term Presidents on hand.  Each served 8 years in office, with great approval and support of their respective political parties.  Each gained a lot of insight about what is needed to be an effective President.

So, listen, with an open mind, to Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC last night (9/5), about President Obama. The press described it in quite positive terms (e.g., the NY Times article).  What I’ve seen so far from Politifact and other fact-checking sites give Bill Clinton’s statements a mostly thumbs-up (unlike the large number of less-than-candid statements in Paul Ryan’s RNC speech, for instance, which even Fox News labeled as deceiving). If you don’t want to listen to the speech (which is really quite good) then at least read the transcript.  It’s full of good information and facts — definitely food for thought.

For comparison, we should contrast President Clinton’s remarks against those of his successor, President George W. Bush.

Unfortunately, I was occupied last week and didn’t get to watch the Republican National Convention.  However, Im sure that with George W. Bush a two-term former President (same as Clinton), who the GOP enthusiastically supported, he must have had a prominent place front-and-center at the Convention. I expect he must have given a spirited defense of the Romney platform — which would reinstate his own administration’s polices on taxes, regulation, trickle down economics, cutting support for public programs, and overseas military intervention. With those policies, President Bush helped turn a budget surplus into a $1 trillion deficit, got us into two wars with hundreds of thousands of casualties, and presided over a major economic downturn that led to millions losing their jobs. I’m sure he has compelling insights to share in support of why the country should bring those policies back, and he shared those with the rest of the GOP and nation.  And of course the proud GOP leadership would want to remind the world about the accomplishments of their party’s last President.  Right?

However, I didn’t watch all of the televised RNC, and I can’t seem to find anything archived of when President Bush spoke there to defend his policies and show his enthusiasm for Mr Romney. I’m sure it’s an oversight — the GOP couldn’t possibly be ashamed of their record and hiding one of their stars.   Maybe they had a rousing endorsement speech by Dick Cheney at the convention, too?  If so, I can’t seem to find that, either.

Hmm, maybe you’re better than I am at this Internet thing.  So, once you find President Bush’s speech about Romney at the convention — about how bringing back his policies will help the nation — please send us the URL.  I’m sure when we compare the two speeches, the conclusion about how to vote will be crystal clear.

(PS. It’s worth noting that the majority of Congressional candidates fall into line, generally, behind one candidate or the other, so this comparison can also help inform your decisions on them, but you should get more info about your specific candidates rather than vote a party line. But be informed — for instance,  about the Senate Republicans’ principal goal so important to them  in helping the nation during times of trouble should build strong opinions.)

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