Monday, February 23, 2009

Week of 02/23/2009

Cowardice? Or Bully’s Veto?
– by David Matthews 2

Imagine walking into a room with a baseball bat and telling the first person that you see… an obvious Red Sox fan… that the Red Sox suck. That they’re a miserable failure of a team. The Red Sox fan obviously disagrees, but the minute he starts to speak, you beat him to within an inch of his life with your baseball bat. Then you walk up to the next person, still with the bloody bat in your hand, and you ask that person if he had any objections to your conversation skills. If he says yes, then you also beat him to within an inch of his life and move on to the next person.

Now… would you call that exchange a “good and healthy debate”? Would you say that you’re “changing minds” with your conversation skills? Or is it more along the lines of giving them brain damage if they disagree with you?

Now imagine that while you’re having this “rousing debate” with people, another bystander starts tagging behind you, proclaiming that those that agree with you really are gutless cowards that refuse to deal with the “hard issues”. And of course they can’t really speak up to disagree, because if they do, you might also beat them to within an inch of their lives with your baseball bat.

Sounds a tad extreme, doesn’t it?

And yet that pretty much explains recent events when it comes to race.

We have Eric Holder, the nation’s first African-American Attorney General, serving under the first African-American President of the United States, making the comment that Americans, for the most part, are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to matters of race.

This is what Mister Holder said this week at a Department of Justice meeting celebrating African-American History Month:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation's history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us."

Almost on cue, though, we were given a perfect example of this. For as the new AG was whining about America being “a nation of cowards”, we were presented with a very stupid political cartoon, and one activist’s self-appointed crusade to go after everyone connected to it.

On the same day as Mr. Holder was making his comments, the New York Post published a political cartoon depicting two police officers shooting a monkey on a sidewalk. The officer without the gun then says “They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Now if you have ever encountered something called the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”, you’d know that the cartoon could have easily been a play on the idea that given an infinite time period, a monkey with a typewriter will eventually come up with a work of Shakespeare.

Or it could be a slam on the intelligence of the stimulus package. Sort of like Geico’s ad about their deals being “so simple even a caveman can understand”.

But in the age of the Obama Administration, and in the mind of people like the Reverend Al Sharpton, dead monkey plus stimulus bill can only equal one thing: RACISM!

And to hammer in that statement, the reverend has picked up his rhetorical baseball bat and hit both the media circuit and the pavement in protest over the Post’s publishing of this otherwise stupid cartoon.

It’s a rhetorical bat that the reverend has a lot of experience wielding. His biggest victim was talk show host Don Imus, after Imus’ producer called the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team a certain derogatory word. Sharpton didn’t stop until Imus was fired from both CBS and NBC. Apologies didn’t matter either. Sharpton wanted blood, he wanted lives ruined, and he got it.

And Shapton isn’t the only one wielding that rhetorical bat. There are plenty of other people that are so hypersentive on the discussion that there is only ONE view being expressed... their own. And you are not allowed to disagree with that view without being tarred and feathered with the tag of RACISM.

You’ll note that I did not use the name of a certain color when I discuss race. I used a geographic heritage. That’s because for someone like me, someone who is NOT of that geographic heritage, even using the name of a color is automatically condemned as being RACIST.

So did it ever occur to Mister Holder that perhaps one of the reasons WHY the rest of the nation is skittish on race relations is BECAUSE of people like Reverend Sharpton and his acolytes?

You may have heard about a “heckler’s veto”. That’s a legal concept whereby speech is silenced on the fear that someone might object to hearing it.

Well let’s get brutally honest here… what we are dealing with today is not a “heckler’s veto” in regards to race relations, but a BULLY’S Veto. Because for some people, like Reverend Sharpton, you can’t have a contrary view when it comes to race. You can’t respectfully disagree or offer up any kind of opposing thought without being condemned as being a racist. The only “acceptable” retort with a Bully’s Veto is one of complicity.

So the end result is precisely what our new Attorney General is complaining about. Would you really want to engage in a “frank conversation” with someone wielding a bloody baseball bat? Someone with a history of ruining jobs and ruining careers if he doesn’t like what he hears? Is it really worth losing your job over? Or would you rather just let that person ramble away and hope that they just move on and find someone else to bother?

Our new Attorney General certainly should have spoken with Mr. Imus first before making claims about American being “a nation of cowards”.

Most people don’t want to change the world. They just want to find their little corner of it where they can be themselves and be with people that they are comfortable with. Having people like Reverend Sharpton wielding that rhetorical baseball bat at anything and everything they declare “objectionable” and declaring racism to be anything that they disagree with only ensures that the problem doesn’t get resolved. It ensures that the circle of people that one can be comfortable with stays small and homogenous.

Now that idea may work to people like Reverend Sharpton, because it means job security in his role as a social activist, but that also means that you can never HAVE that “frank conversation” that is so badly needed on the subject. You cannot have a conversation with someone wielding a rhetorical baseball bat, because they’re not interested in having a conversation. They want compliance.

The truth of the matter is that the Post Cartoon was STUPID. Not racist, not a specific attack on Obama, but just plain STUPID. It took a shocking news story of the time – the police having to shoot an attacking primate – and tried to make a political statement out of it. It was STUPID. And had the reverend not used it to fuel his endless “Bonfire of the Vanities”, that’s exactly how it would have been forgotten as. Just another STUPID editorial cartoon that wasn’t even funny to begin with.

Tolerance is not one-way. You can’t expect people to tolerate you if you’re not willing to do the same. You have to accept that there are people that are bigoted, biased, and ignorant. They’re not going to change their minds when you’re threatening their jobs over the things that YOU find “offensive”. And if you want a “frank discussion” on the subject, then you have to make sure that BOTH sides first put down the rhetorical bat.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

This OT, but thanks for the mention in your previous radio show. Saddly I can't watch the shows live because I have a D&D game I host at that time (to help get new customers to the store.) BTW, I remembered this interesting article when you mentioned about the elites being out of touch: http://www.newwest.net/index.php/city/article/oregon_governor_will_live_off_food_stamps/C509/L509/ It's about this Oregon govenor who agreed to try living on food stamps for a while and how it later on lead to changes in the program as a result.