Thursday, April 29, 2010

When will they come for you?

Mericans into Nazis I join many of my friends in roundly condemning Arizona's recently passed law that will allow the police to stop anyone they think might be an illegal alien.

I don't think I can begin to adequately express my disgust about this, but I'm going to try.

Do we have an immigration problem? Absolutely. Do we need to address it? Of course. But this draconian law is not the way to go about it. I am appalled that any of my fellow citizens would think that this is in any way acceptable in a civilized society. Giving the right to the police to stop anyone for anything, merely because they think they fit the profile of an illegal alien, is completely unconstitutional and is shortsighted, ignorant, and intolerant. This is yet another instance of white, religious conservatives feeling threatened by someone "other" than them. Feeling that "their" country is being taken away from them. Beginning to feel that their dominance is coming to an end, as more and more people around them don't speak English as a first language, as they see more brown faces than white in their stores and neighborhoods.

They're probably feeling a little like the Native Americans felt when their country was taken away from them by the whites who came here, claimed it as their own, and systematically eliminated all Native American claims to the land. Good. Just simmer in that for a while, why don't you?

I don't have an easy answer. I don't necessarily believe that complete amnesty is the way to go. Our President (and like it or not, he is YOUR President, too) has proposed that we secure our borders, that any illegals will be held accountable for back taxes, need to learn English, and will be penalized by having to wait in line for citizenship behind those who are here legally. That makes sense to me; I want these folks to become law-abiding citizens who pay taxes, but if they have come here illegally, there need to be some consequences to that.

Stopping anyone who looks a little more brown than others is not the way to go about this. I cannot even believe that this is happening, and as someone who has studied quite a bit about Nazi Germany, I can tell you that this smacks of the Geheime Staatspolizei a lot more than I'm comfortable with. I hate to Godwin myself, but since the teabaggers have been bleating for a while now about how Obama is a Nazi, I feel perfectly justified in comparing them to the Nazis. As others have stated, it's way too reminiscent of those black and white post-WWII movies in which a coal-helmeted soldier angrily and coldly demands to "see your papers."

What is next? Are you going to applaud if a Hispanic person is stopped, runs from the police, and is gunned down like a dog in the street? Would that make you happy? Would you applaud our fine police officers for upholding the law?

Some of those who disagree with what I'm saying may think that I don't know what I'm talking about because I don't have to deal with immigrants. Not to the extent that border states do, no. But for at least a couple of decades now, there has been a large influx in my area because of good manufacturing jobs, and in Michigan because of jobs associated with fruit crops. There are the usual problems when those from another country try to assimilate, but it hasn't been anything horrible. The vast majority are hardworking people who just want to have a better life than they did in their home country. The extreme violence in border states needs to be dealt with, and I hope that our federal government starts working on this problem soon, so that other states don't fuck it up royally like Arizona did.

Honestly, people...this is America. We are a nation of immigrants. Each and every one of us, unless you're full-blooded Native American. Have we all forgotten that? Anyone who thinks this is a capital idea needs to think about how their ancestors felt when they came over from Ireland or Germany or Italy or Eastern Europe and were looked down upon as poor white trash by the ruling class at the time...who in turn had immigrated here several decades before.

Well, I can take some consolation in that the Department of Justice is going to look into the constitutionality of Arizona's law. From everything I've read, the law will not stand. Something about that search and seizure thing...something about the Fourth Amendment...something about that pesky Constitution. Again, for all the teabaggers' clamoring about how the Constitution is being perverted, I'd say that this law pretty much bends the Constitution over and fucks it right up the ass. If I sound pissed off, believe me...I AM.

What is wrong with people? I am astounded that anyone would think this is a good idea. Astounded and appalled. If you're in apoplectic joy about this, if you're grinning like a happy asshole, I think you'd best stop and think about what it is about YOU that might be the next target. Your ethnicity? Your heritage? Your religion? Your political affiliation? Your hair or eye color? Speaking of happy assholes, Glenn Beck seems to get off on talking about the concentration camps that President Obama is secretly building. You have the nerve to believe that and bitch about that and then support this bill that allows the police to stop anyone who looks a certain way, without provocation, and demand their papers?! Do you not see the lunacy of that, the complete disconnect from reality?

Gaaaahhhhh! This is insanity! Canada is looking better all the time, but I can assure you that I will keep my American citizenship so that I can continue to VOTE.

This would be an appropriate time for Martin Niemöller's quote, as translated from the original German. Hard to believe that it is pertinent to the United States of America in 2010, but it sure as hell is.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Throwing down the gauntlet

Racist eggs2 A few Facebook friends posted a Newsweek story today, and I followed suit, because I thought it raised some excellent points and some pointed questions: "Are Tea Partiers Racist?"

Before you flip out, no, I'm not calling all teabaggers racists, and neither did the article. I know of people who shared some of the same concerns (albeit inchoate concerns) who I would swear in a court of law are not racists. But I will say this: I think the majority of them are.

For every person who is legitimately concerned about our government spending, and not-so-legitimately concerned (in my opinion) about the size and scope of our government programs, you'll find four like Tom Fitzhugh of Tampa (reminds me of Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, Washington), who was quoted in the article:

"It really makes me mad. They [the media] have tried to portray us as a bunch of radical extremists." He considers Obama an abomination—possibly "the most radical-voting senator that ever was" and someone likely to "take us down the path of destruction." He believes the administration is intent on taking away his guns, trampling on states' rights, and opening the borders with Canada and Mexico. He has serious doubts that Obama was born in the U.S. and suspects that the president is a closet Muslim. (There's no evidence to support any of these accusations.) But his anger has nothing to do with race, he says. The real issue is that Obama is "taking down the Constitution and the way it's governed us for [hundreds of] years."

Mr. Fitzhugh can deny charges of racism and radical extremism all he wants. The fact is that his concerns are completely unwarranted. The least of is them is probably that Obama was the "most radical-voting Senator that ever was." That is simply not true; Obama is one of the more moderate Democrats you'll find. Mr. Fitzhugh parrots news he gets from ClusterFox and GOP talking points about "taking down the Constitution." Bullshit. For all their braying about how we have to adhere to the Constitution, I sure as hell wish they'd pay attention to the First Amendment. You know, that one about our government not establishing a religion? They seem to keep forgetting that part.

My point is that Mr. Fitzhugh and others of his ilk seem angry about things that have been established to be completely false. The continued belief that Obama wasn't born in the U.S., or that he's a Muslim, or that he wants to take away our guns. When I think about why someone like him would continue to use these lame excuses and outright lies as reasons why they don't like our President, it leads me to only one conclusion: it is because they feel he is "different." He is a different color, he has a different heritage, with a Kenyan father and an atheist mother, he is a black man with a Harvard education, he doesn't talk or act like the black people Mr. Fitzhugh knows.

Racism Star Trek He can continue to claim that he is not a racist, but I know people like Mr. Fitzhugh, and yes, sir, you are a racist. When it was shown that John McCain was born in Panama, where was your hue and cry about how he wasn't qualified to be President? Those of us on the opposite side didn't worry about that, because we found out quickly that since he was born on a U.S. military base, he was indeed a U.S. citizen. Why are you unable to accept that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen and was born in Hawaii, despite the release of his birth certificate, the certification by Hawaiian officials, the birth notices in Hawaiian papers, and the assertion by Hawaii's Republican governor that Obama is, indeed, a U.S. citizen? The only logical conclusion I can draw is that you do not like his color or his background. You see him as a threat to your way of life. Thus the constant assertions from teabaggers that they want their country back. Their country? It belongs to all of us, Mr. Fitzhugh, not just white, Christian, Republican males like you. Your era of dominance is past. We are not going back to days when blacks and women knew their places, when no one challenged your supreme authority, and no woman and no fag and certainly no nigger would ever beat you out of a job because they were smarter than your cracker ass.

One more thing. The teabaggers’ mantra is that the Obama administration is spending us into record debts and expanding the government at an unacceptable rate. I've got a question for all you good little teabaggers out there. Where was your little "movement" when George W. Bush was squandering a budget surplus by getting us into two wars and cutting taxes on the richest among us? Where were the marches on Washington asking why the Bush administration was usurping our personal freedoms with wiretaps on average citizens, or allowing the holding of prisoners without charging them of any crime, or ignoring the Geneva Convention treaty and authorizing torture? Why weren't you angry then, why weren't you mobilized, why weren't you calling for his impeachment? If you tell me that you were writing letters and marching on Washington and pissed off about Bush's activities, I'll accept your continued anger at President Obama, and the addition to our national debt (although I believe that was necessary to begin to mop up after Bush left our country looking like a frat house on a Sunday morning).

If you weren't this angry during the Bush years, if your righteous indignation didn't begin until Barack HUSSEIN Obama took office...well, I know what you are, then. We all know what you are.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Corduroy skirts I stay up late, as most of you know, and after "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," I switch it over to CNN. I usually catch the repeat of "The Larry King Show." I'm not really a fan of Larry (his sycophantic interviews are usually the opposite of "hardball," and Larry, please stop trying to sing...please), but have it on for the background noise. The other night, though, I was very interested when I tuned in.

Larry was interviewing a Christian singer by the name of Jennifer Knapp. This may come as a surprise to you all, but I'm not a fan of Christian rock. If you're wondering why, watch this.

[Sidebar: "Christian Rock" is an oxymoron to me. Part of what is fun about rock and roll is that it's all about sex, rebellion, and sometimes some booze and drugs thrown in the mix. Hell, even the phrase "rock and roll" is a euphemism for sex. Take that out of the music, along with the bad boy and bad girl imagery, and you've lost the edge and are left with just ho-hum noise. Just my opinion, of course.]

What was interesting about this show was that Knapp recently came out as a lesbian, angering many of her Christian fans and prompting them to condemn her "choice." One of those people, Pastor Bob Botsford of San Diego, was also on the show, and I found it...enlightening, although it was nothing new to me. (This entry is a little heavy on the videos, and I’ll apologize now.)

I'll hand it to Larry on this one. He quizzed the guy pretty good, pressed him on condemning Ms. Knapp, tried to get him to admit to the inconsistency of him saying that he chose heterosexuality while she chose a "sinful lifestyle."

I don't think that it's wise for any of us to base our decisions on feelings. I wanna base decisions on facts. And for me, the fact has become the truth of God's word. God creates this wonderful gift of marriage...he didn't make Adam and Steve, and he didn't make Eve and Ellen.

Whew, that's rich. Love IS a feeling, you's an emotion. Decisions concerning finances, science, history, et al, are based on facts; emotions are a result of feelings, not facts. The truth of God's word? That is your truth, not all people's truth. Many other faiths recognize marriage, you can get married without having any sort of religion involved, and God didn't "create" marriage, no matter what you want to believe. Pastor Bob speaks of making a conscious choice to choose heterosexuality rather than a "sinful lifestyle," but somehow cannot grasp the concept that there are people who make a conscious choice (based on fact rather than feelings, by the way) to not believe that the Bible is God's word, who do not accept Pastor Bob’s or others’ notions of divine condemnation.

And yes, he trotted out that hoary old nugget about Adam and Steve.

[Sidebar #2: Does anyone know a gay couple named Adam and Steve? There have to be several out there. That would be awesome, and if I were them, I would totally use that in a debate. "Yeah, we're Adam and Steve. Are you saying that God didn't make us? Are you saying that you don't believe God is omnipotent, that he didn't make everything? If he made us and we're gay, doesn't that mean that he screwed something up, at least according to your thinking?"]

When Larry asks him about the verse in the Old Testament that says that eating shellfish is an abomination, ol' Pastor Bob says, "God changed his mind on shellfish." Really, Bob? You want us to believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, except for those parts where God "changed his mind?" Ohhhh, I get it...God is a woman, since it's our prerogative to change our minds!

In an odd segue, Pastor Bob says that one Bible verse mandates "a curse on anyone who would take away from what the Bible has to say." First of all...a curse? It's the 21st century, and you still want us to believe in curses? And if God changed his mind about shellfish, that would mean he took away from what he originally said, which would mean he...cursed himself...? I'm just sayin'. Then there is the matter of how things were added centuries after the alleged occurrences…but that’s a topic for another day.

Through all of it, Pastor Bob keeps up a litany of scripture-quoting and Bible-thumping. This was like a bad flashback for me, because I recall many a time that I got into discussions with someone in my life who could not speak without quoting scripture. It didn't matter if the subject was religion or not, it all came back to scripture, scripture, and for a little variety, scripture. I recall asking him once, "Can you please talk about something and not quote scripture at me?" I don't recall the exact response, but I'm pretty sure he quoted scripture at me.

In contrast to Pastor Bob's passive-aggressive behavior and words (he won't look at Ms. Knapp directly, he tells her he's there because he loves her, but then tells her she cannot call herself a Christian while "choosing" to be a lesbian), listen to what she has to say in response.

Her words are measured, rational, and non-confrontational, other than saying that he has no right to speak to her like that on national TV, and that she has a spiritual guide in her life and it is not him.

I thought it was quite a fascinating hour of television, and I found it rather amusing to hear the same old arguments from Pastor Bob that I've been hearing for years. It's the same tired non-logic. "The Bible is the inerrant word of God." "Why do you believe that?" "I just do. It just is."

Not good enough, at least not for me. What people like Pastor Bob don't seem to understand is that such arguments hold no water with someone like me. They can quote scripture to me until they're blue in the face, but it means nothing to me as far as laws or morals go. There is some nice prose in there, and there are some universal truths, but nothing they can say will convince me that it is the word of God, and no amount of scripture tossed my way will ever convince me that homosexuality is a sin or a "choice." Another of my favorites is "love the sinner, hate the sin." Bullshit. If you hate what you call a sin (Feel free to tell me that no, the Bible says it's a sin, and the Bible is the word of God...see my remarks at the beginning of this paragraph.), you are being judge and jury in condemning that person to the Fiery Pits of Hell™. YOU are making that judgment, not God. I'm not sure how you think that is in any way "loving the sinner."

"I love you. Burn in hell." Whatever.

[Sidebar #3: Another guest on the program was none other than Ted Haggard. Remember him? The pastor who had gay sex with a male prostitute and smoked some meth while he was at it? In for a penny, in for a pound, right? I'm not going to condemn the guy for what he did, especially since he didn't kill the ho and bury him in his garden, because that's above my pay grade...however, I do condemn him for his self-righteous preaching in which he condemned others to the aforementioned Fiery Pits of Hell™, all the while pretending to be on on a fast track to the pearly gates. Anyway, he was a surprising voice of reason here. I don't recall all of what he said, but he was far from judgmental like Pastor Bob, and I got the impression that he sympathized—if not empathized—with her quite a bit. It was surprisingly refreshing.]

I applaud Larry King for playing a little bit of hardball for once and behaving as a journalist rather than doing another lame "Entertainment Tonight" sort of interview. But mostly I applaud Jennifer Knapp for having the courage to come out and be who she is and completely unapologetic for who she loves, and for handling her attacker with grace, wit, and intelligence.

For some thumping of a different (and more fun) kind, how about some Chumbawamba?