The Civility Con

Saying that what’s going on with Sarah Huckabee Sanders contributes to the divisiveness in this country is equating “Republican officials have a right to eat a meal in peace” with “parents have a right to not be forcefully separated from their children” or “women have a right to make decisions about their bodies without government interference.” The implication is not that Republicans caused divisiveness with their actions, opinions, and policies, but that we cause divisiveness by showing our disagreement. The logic behind this doesn’t hold up, and it’s a scam that allows evil people to do whatever they want, then turns around and shames the victims for not going along with it.

We put civility on this false pedestal, acting like it makes us better than them, when all it means is standing idly while atrocities are committed and people suffer. Civility is saying you’re more concerned with how you’re perceived than how others are treated. Justified anger warrants a scolding, but calmly-delivered hatred results in shrugs and “what can you do?” responses. The victim is held to a higher standard than the perpetrator; its akin to getting slugged in the face and having your friends lecture you for striking back.

The worst part of the civility con isn’t that [insert group] uses it, but that so many people who claim to be on the “good” side continue to fall for it. I’m probably the 305,872nd person to reference MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, but this section has been and will continue to be relevant (emphasis mine):

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Those on the “good” side who continue to expend far more energy criticizing the responses to hatred than they would ever commit to criticizing the perpetrators of said hatred are not allies; they are obstacles. When presented with the truth, rather than listen to what is being said and reconsidering their approach, they become defensive and re-center the situation on themselves, complaining that they are rewarded with hostility for all of their well-intentioned actions.


people that throw civility around know exactly what they’re doing, and know exactly how to manipulate the dialogue surrounding their actions:

Bad person + bad thing = bad person

Good person + bad thing = bad person

The problem is that the first bad thing is “separates families at the border and puts children in detention centers” and the second bad thing is “loudly criticizes and judges person responsible for separation and detainment,” and when you write it out like that it’s hard to convince anyone that both things are equal… Yet here we are, trying to explain why 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 17.

It’s another example of how much stock we put into the appearance of respectability. We’ve been conditioned to believe that a well-groomed man dressed professionally is more trustworthy and respectable than someone in a hoodie with a five o’clock shadow, when in actuality you could have both parties switch clothing and there would be no real change to their respective personalities. Similarly, we stress the tone of what someone says at the expense of the meaning behind their words, and wind up at a conclusion that tells us that soft-spoken hatred is entitled to respect and an open mind, while justified anger must be scolded and shunned. Elders must be respected. A title/position is a symbol of character, regardless of the person to which it is applied. The common thread in all of these examples is that it encourages us to look past what a person truly is at their core, and to instead base our opinions and judgement on superficial, self-applied labels and character accessories.

The worst perpetrators of the civility con are not the people that apply this logic, but the ones that buy into it. Not only are you making it easier for evil people to continue doing evil things without fear of consequence, but you make it harder for the necessary progress and counter-actions to occur. Respect is not a right, it is not given, it is not automatic. You have nothing to gain by “going high when they go low” other than your own inflated sense of self (which, if we’re being honest, is based on your ability to resist reacting to atrocious behavior, so congratulations?).

It’s time to let go of the moral victories and realize that they don’t matter. Moral victories don’t lead to change; you think you’ve earned some sort of noble win, but all you’re doing is taking the discarded scraps of respect that were used to bait you and convincing yourself that you earned them. Stop being civil and start getting angry.

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Speak Up

Every person with a voice is responsible for using it. The size of the voice is irrelevant; if there’s at least one person you could be speaking to and you don’t, you’ve failed. If you have older relatives or children or nieces and nephews that depend on Medicaid and you’re unconcerned with what’s going on regarding health care, you’ve failed them. If you have friends or parents or grandparents that have told you about racial discrimination they’ve experienced and you stay silent while the same things keep happening, you’ve failed them. If you know people that have been sexually abused or harassed (and the odds say that you do, even if you’re not aware of it) and you stay silent around friends or bosses that joke about it or perpetuate the beliefs that will only lead to more incidents and victims, you’ve failed those people in your life.

You don’t have to be famous to use your voice. You don’t need money, a TV show, a press release, or any of that. All you need to do is speak. Call out those around you; educate people in your circle that are unfamiliar with or uninformed about the experiences of others. Use your voice where others cannot. If you’ve never experienced racism, how can you use your voice? Share the stories and the knowledge with others, be the voice in the places where others have no opportunity to speak. Be a conduit to speak for those who can’t and keep the conversation going. Yes, these will often be awkward, but nothing worth fighting for is easy. It’s better than having the awkward conversation with your children when you explain why you were passive and apathetic in the face of injustice, describing how you were alive during these times and did absolutely nothing but focus on yourself. How can you expect to teach others right and wrong when your own actions and experiences contradict the lessons you try to instill?

There’s no more “stick to sports” or “stick to Hollywood.” If you genuinely believed that sports was meant to be your escape, your vacation from politics and the realities of life, then I’m (not) sorry to report that you’ve been sadly mistaken. Politics is interwoven into every aspect of your life; everything you say and do and eat and watch, your job, your possessions, your well-being, all of it. Wanting to keep them separate is saying “I want the ability to ignore these problems; I don’t want to be reminded about this because it doesn’t affect me, it’s someone else’s problem.” At best it’s privilege; at worst it’s a lack of empathy. Asking athletes or any other public figure to remain silent is projecting that same willful ignorance onto them, and asking them to put what’s important to them aside for what’s important to you (knowing their place, not saying or doing anything that you haven’t approved of).

Every athlete/celebrity/public figure/etc. that doesn’t speak up has failed. Every citizen that claims to love freedom and love America and love the troops that doesn’t exercise the rights they died for has failed. And I don’t mean they have to agree with me, let them speak up in support of the hate if that’s how they truly feel. But to have that platform and opportunity and not use it is asinine, irresponsible, and reeks of cowardice. If your beliefs aren’t strong enough for you to stand behind them, are they even legitimate? If they’re withheld because you fear criticism, because you know they rest on a crumbling foundation of contradictions and half-truths, then you should be pitied for your lack of conviction…unless you try to speak against those with genuine beliefs, in which case you deserve whatever mockery and scorn comes your way. If you can’t speak for your beliefs as strongly as you speak against the beliefs of another, you’ve revoked your right to be respected.

The only thing that’s clear is that silence is no longer an option. Speak up or lose your right to complain about whatever comes to pass (and learn to live with the shame of your inaction).

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Can you teach empathy? Is it an innate sense we’re all born with, or is it something you learn? Why is it that some people are unable to sympathize with a situation they haven’t personally experienced? Even worse, why are some people unable to sympathize with a situation they have experienced, but not when it’s affecting someone else? Somewhere along the way, society decided that empathy was optional, and people just…shrugged and went along with it (in the future I’m gonna have a lot to say about the “shrug and go along with it” crowd).

When you think about empathy, you’re probably thinking about huge, tragic events…being able to feel sorry for a person that’s gone through an impactful situation like losing a job, a death in the family, or something of similar magnitude, but that’s all at the extreme end. Empathy starts with the countless autopilot interactions we have with each other:

  • Say you just got out of work and you make your way to the bus stop; there’s about 30 people waiting, lined up/clustered by the pickup point. As the bus appears in the distance, a person seemingly appears out of nowhere and makes his or her way to the front of the crowd to get on the bus first. This situation isn’t unique in any way, and it’s something you see on a regular basis if you use public transportation. Yet what’s that person’s mindset? “I see this crowd that’s been waiting longer than I have…should I line up behind them? No, I’m going to go to the front so I can get on first.” The questions this person isn’t considering are “Why am I more important? Why is it imperative that I get on the bus before everyone else that was waiting here?” In a vacuum, there’s no real impact outside of everyone else having to wait an additional five seconds or so to get on the bus. And yet, it’s an example of a person not considering how his or her decision affects others (or maybe worse, considering and not caring).
  • You’re driving down the highway, moderate traffic, and an exit is coming up. All of a sudden, another car cuts you off while swerving across three lanes to make the exit. In the driver’s mind is “Oh no, that’s my exit! I have to make it across!” Not in the driver’s mind: “How does this decision affect others? Could it cause an accident? Could someone slam on the brakes and get rear-ended? Could I mis-time this and cause an accident myself?” If you drive, you see this happen constantly. Yet we just say the usual “There goes another crazy [your city] driver.” We’ve gotten so used to certain apathetic decisions people make that we don’t even register the wrongness of it all. In fact, we expect it to happen, just take it as a fact of life. This is why driver safety is so important; driving itself is easy, it’s the unpredictability of other drivers that’s the danger.
  • If you’ve worked in retail, customer service, or a similar “smile-through-gritted-teeth” industry, you’ve likely dealt with irate customers complaining about…something. I worked in a health insurance call center, and you would often get callers that were upset (an understatement) because their coverage closed and demanded an immediate resolution. When I explained that the coverage closed because they didn’t return a form they were sent 90 days ago, they didn’t care, didn’t accept responsibility, just kept yelling and demanding to have the insurance reactivated. To be fair, there’s a difference between being upset at a situation, and then taking that out on another person. The things that were said to us, the names we were called, the threats, all without ever hearing the caller take responsibility for his or her own mistakes that caused the situation…I never understood. Your solution to a self-created problem is to berate the grossly underpaid front-line employee (with no loyalty to the company; it’s not like we’re taking a side) that couldn’t resolve your situation even if they wanted to, and insist that “it doesn’t matter why it closed, I want it open now!”

You don’t usually think of these situations as opportunities for empathy, but that’s exactly what they are. And on a regular basis, most of us would fail these tests. If you start analyzing the encounters and experiences in your lives, studying the body language and behaviors of the people you meet in life, you’ll find even more examples.

All of this is to say that empathy is way more important and necessary than we think, and relevant in more situations than we’d previously thought. With everything happening in the world right now, the scarcity of empathy has become obvious. How can you empathize with the person losing health insurance if you don’t care about cutting in line? How can you empathize with refugees fleeing a war if you can’t give up your seat on the train to a person on crutches? How can you consider how climate change would impact future generations if you bump into people while walking and don’t bother acknowledging them or apologizing? How can you think of making the world better for your children or grandchildren if you’re actively destroying it right now for your own selfish reasons? How will we as humans ever deal with the tragedies of the world if we can’t stop thinking “wait, how does this benefit ME” first?

Think of any response to a police shooting (what did the victim do to deserve it?). Think of the words used to defend sexual assault (what was she wearing? was she drunk? did her body language say yes?). Think of the hypocrisy in following the statement “#AllLivesMatter” with justification for violence or hate or discrimination. Think about Philando Castile, a guy who did everything “right” and still received five bullets in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter. Think of the mental gymnastics it takes for the officer who shot him to justify like so:

There’s no remorse in there. There’s no acknowledgement of “I made a mistake and took a life.” There’s nothing but looking for any excuse to justify it, no matter how absurd. Death is tragic until they find a way to smear you. Apathy is okay if you can discredit the target first. And honestly, I’m not sure what’s the worse…the lack of empathy in such a statement/sentiment, or the lack of empathy in the people that will rise up to defend a killer over his victim.

Empathy is the key. Right now, we are collectively lacking the empathy we need to truly change the world for the better…not just for ourselves, but for those that are yet to come, for those that will be born years from now. So back to the first question I asked: Can you teach empathy? Can those without empathy learn it? If not, then I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that as a society, we are completely and utterly doomed.

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Jordan Edwards 

I just wanna say a few things about this case and how it’s progressed. In a vacuum, some people are going to see how quickly the officer was fired and charged with murder and think it’s a good thing. It is, but not nearly as good as you’d like to believe. The obvious reason is that we’ve seen enough of these to know better until there’s an actual conviction. But the bigger reason is that not enough people are asking themselves why this happened in the first place. Why does a police officer feel like he can 1) pull out his rifle when it’s not needed 2) say that the car was coming at him and he felt threatened 3) KNOW that the bodycam footage will contradict his story, but still lie without hesitation? What’s the thought process of a man that knows he’s in no danger, but decides that he’s going to lie in order to justify firing his weapon for no reason other than he wanted to do it? What’s the thought process of the cop that shot a fleeing Walter Scott in the back and dropped a taser next to his body to set up the false narrative of “I feared for my life”?
It’s easy, they don’t think that black lives matter. And whenever the phrase comes up, cause lord knows there are the people that hate hearing it, there are always those Monday morning quarterbacking a person’s death and deciding what the victim should or shouldn’t have done, but never applying the same scrutiny to the one that pulls the trigger (or applies the chokehold). When you cut corners and lie about it to justify killing someone (and I mean, you can’t state that enough; their brains have decided to shoot first and come up with a reason later), you do it because you see no value in the lives you’re taking.
Now, if you want to believe that somehow, a variety of people in the same profession have had the same thoughts and followed the same steps of half-assedly lying about their justifications for murder, without it possibly representing something greater about police culture, then that’s on you and go right ahead.
But while everyone argues about the cop and why it’s ok or not ok, there’s still a 15 year old kid that was shot to death and his brothers that were in the car when it happened and will have to deal with this for the rest of their lives.
Black lives matter does not succeed when cops are charged with murder quickly instead of two years after the fact (see: Laquan Mcdonald case). Black lives matter does not succeed when killer cops are finally convicted after avoiding persecution for so long. Black lives matter succeeds when the mentality is changed, and people no longer want to kill and lie about it. When the black life has value, these split second decisions will go another way and kids won’t have to worry about being a hashtag when they grow up. The cure is not treatment, it’s prevention. And that’s why you will continue to see the slogan #BlackLivesMatter everywhere, because until everyone understands that, we just gotta keep reminding them.

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Understanding the Mindset of Trump Voters

Ever since I read Darryl Davis’ book Klan-Destine Relationships (about a black man that began seeking out members of the KKK to understand why they hate), I’ve been convinced that the key to eliminating hate is open conversation. People on all sides need to break out of their protective bubbles and actually engage with someone that has had a vastly different experience in life instead of being completely dismissive. I would love to speak to a Trump supporter, but living in this bubble in the Northeast I can’t say that I know of any (or at least any that are open about supporting him). Luckily, someone did the work for me.

Yesterday the Times published Conversations on Race With White Trump Voters and it’s eye-opening, to say the least. The purpose of the article was as follows:

Here at Race/Related, though, we decided to narrow the focus – to reach out to white Trump supporters around the country to ask them to respond to the worries voiced by people of color as they look toward Inauguration Day.

The big lesson that the media and others have taken away from the election’s depressingly surprising results is that we (we being democrats, liberals, city folk, etc) underestimated how much Trump’s message actually resonated in rural areas. I can’t argue with that as it’s something I’m guilty of myself. On the flip side however, I’ll say that Trump supporters (referring to those that aren’t openly racist and sexist) have severely underestimated the impact that his election will have on people of color. I want to highlight a few direct quotes from Trump supporters and compare their understanding of our problems with Trump to what’s actually happening (all emphasis in quotes mine).


Charles Walker:

I believe some of it needs to be investigated. It may be that some people are infiltrating the Black Lives Matter group. Not all of them are bad people. There are people who calmly and peacefully have their protests, people who do good for people and do good for America. As long as you’re not the kind doing the wrong thing, I think everything will be ok.

The first red flag I see there is in the last line…who determines what is the right vs. the wrong thing? You can believe you’re fully in the right, you can do everything peacefully, but if someone in power disagrees with your method or message or any other aspect, then there’s no guarantee that “everything will be ok.”

I’ve heard about stop and frisk and if it helps lower crime and stops people shooting in the streets, what’s a few hurt feelings? That’s my opinion. It’s better than seeing people die.

12 years of data from New York City suggest stop-and-frisk wasn’t that effective

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics.


Michael Tepedino

I work with people of all races and all colors. I would just say that there’s no need to fear the presidency of Donald Trump.


Black people who say they’re afraid of a Trump presidency, I think their fears are unfounded. I don’t have any reason to think Donald Trump is going to treat anyone differently because they’re black.

There have been reports that Trump is considering David Clarke to lead the Department of Homeland Security. If you aren’t familiar with Clarke, here are some key notes. He is overwhelmingly opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the point of absurdity:

Remember above where I talked about how “the right thing” is subjective? It starts with things like referring to a protest as a riot (while using a picture from a protest against police shootings in 2011 and trying to pass it off as election-related?)…

…and then once you’ve established that these protests are riots, handling them accordingly:

Not to mention the fact that earlier this year an inmate died of thirst in Clarke’s jail:

According to inmates at the jail, they heard Thomas begging for water in the days leading up to his death. The water in Thomas’s cell had been cut off for six days. Guards told the inmates it was because of Thomas’s “erratic behavior”—he had been flooding a previous cell that he occupied.

Regardless of how you feel about the BLM movement, the Justice Department has found that discrimination exists in police departments in Baltimore and Ferguson. So despite any arguments you may see and hear stating otherwise, there is evidence that people of color are disproportionately targeted by the police. And i’m not even going to get into Trump’s own history of discrimination. But back to Michael.

It’s the campaign people, the fearmongers who are trying to instill fear in those people, saying if you vote for the Republicans, he’s going to give tax breaks to the white rich man.

But I think Trump is smarter than that. If he’s alienating half of the country, that is going to make life hard for him. He doesn’t want that. It will be advantageous to him to have a United States of America, not a divided states of America.

How Trump’s tax plan may impact your returns

If Trump were to get everything he has proposed from a Republican-controlled Congress, a taxpayer who makes between $48,000 to $83,000 a year would save about $1,000 under his plan, said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

People in the top 0.01%, making $3.7 million or more in a year, would receive $1 million in annual tax savings.

“He is proposing tax cuts for the very people he ran against in his campaign,” Gleckman said.


Julia McGath:

I’m concerned about all the entitlements. That’s the big deal for me. I’ve worked all my life, and with God’s help I’ve not taken any handouts. But there are so many people who live off that their whole life.

I would say (people of color are fearful now) because they’re not going to get their entitlements. They’re probably afraid they’re going to lose their green card, or whatever they have going to get a free load with.


(source for all charts)

If people are living right and not breaking the law and doing what they should be doing, there shouldn’t be any reason to worry. Honestly, if they just prayed more, they wouldn’t have to be worried.

I never heard about stop and frisk. I can’t imagine them stopping and frisking people for no reason at all. The cops have plenty to do without doing that. That sounds like harassment to me.

There’s that vague reference to living right and doing what you should be doing. Also, Julia should have a chat with Charles about stop and frisk.

Andrew Jones

He wants to be the president for everybody. We’re all Americans. We need to stop isolating ourselves and voting in blocks based on ethnicity. We need to become Americans and live the American dream. We all have the opportunity; we just need to take it.

But if they’re Muslim and they’re coming from Syria, we don’t want them here. If they’re Muslim and coming from Paris and they don’t have a clean record, we don’t want them here.

That speaks for itself.

I think it’s completely appropriate to have a registry for people who are here on visas. I don’t think he was talking about a registry for Muslim citizens. That would be against the Constitution.

From 2015:

NEWTON, Iowa — Donald Trump “would certainly implement” a database system tracking Muslims in the United States, the Republican front-runner told NBC News on Thursday night.

“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” Trump said in Newton, Iowa, in between campaign town halls.

“There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he added. “We should have a lot of systems.”

When asked whether Muslims would be legally obligated to sign into the database, Trump responded, “They have to be — they have to be.”

I mean…

He says outrageous things sometimes. But if you take out the bombast and look at the substance of what he’s saying, he’s never wrong. He’s always right.

(A fact checker looked into 158 things Donald Trump said. 78 percent were false.)

It would be totally appropriate for the attorney general to look into Black Lives Matter. It’s against the law to incite riot and if you listen to their rhetoric, that’s what they’re doing. And if it is deemed constitutional, I would support stop and frisk. The police need that tool.

Lastly, I wanna end this with Charles’ closing.

I personally think they’re overthinking the things he was saying. I think, you know, things will work out for the best. Everybody will eventually come together and make things work.

It’s America. We’re all here for each other.

At least we’re supposed to be, right?

I admire the tepid optimism. Like I mentioned in my last post, here’s where the disconnect happen. The worst-case scenario is far worse for a person of color (among others obviously) than for a white Trump supporter. And while I sympathize with the genuine concerns of Trump supporters (jobs, poverty, etc), stating that the government underestimated the things you go through doesn’t hold as much weight when your reasons for electing this man underestimate and/or disregard the things that others go through. At best it’s hypocritical and lacking in empathy. At worst?

What accounts for the widespread support for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential race? This experiment demonstrates that the changing racial demographics of America contribute to Trump’s success as a presidential candidate among White Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity. Reminding White Americans high in ethnic identification that non-White racial groups will outnumber Whites in the United States by 2042 caused them to become more concerned about the declining status and influence of White Americans as a group (i.e., experience group status threat), and caused them to report increased support for Trump and anti-immigrant policies, as well as greater opposition to political correctness. Increased group status threat mediated the effects of the racial shift condition on candidate support, anti-immigrant policy support, and opposition to political correctness. Among Whites low in ethnic identification, in contrast, the racial shift condition had no effect on group status threat or support for anti-immigrant policies, but did cause decreased positivity toward Trump and decreased opposition to political correctness. Group status threat did not mediate these effects. Reminders of the changing racial demographics had comparable effects for Democrats and Republicans. Results illustrate the importance of changing racial demographics and White ethnic identification in voter preferences and how social psychological theory can illuminate voter preferences.


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If You Voted for Donald Trump…

Everyone else has one, so here’s my open letter to anyone that voted for Donald Trump in the election. I’m going to address two key demographics.

First, to those that are racist/sexist/etc and voted for him for that reason: great. There isn’t much to say to you because unlike others, you’re very upfront about why he has your support. Please form a single-file line to the left and proceed to fuck yourselves for all eternity.

There are many supporters that do not consider themselves to be racist/sexist/etc, and supported Trump for one of the reasons listed below, or something similar:

  • Want to see the ACA repealed, think that insurance is too expensive
  • Are in a higher tax bracket and believe that having a Republican in office is a better financial decision
  • Are convinced that a democratic administration is incapable of dealing with ISIL
  • Want to ensure that a Republican chooses the next Supreme Court Justice
  • Are dissatisfied with the government and think that an outsider can fix it
  • Are dissatisfied with the government and want Trump to fail and blow it all up
  • Don’t like Hillary Clinton because emails
  • Don’t like Hillary Clinton because Benghazi
  • Don’t like Hillary Clinton because she would abolish the second amendment

First things first: I don’t believe that you’re all racist (a significant portion, yes…but not all). That may be naive of me, but that’s what I’m going with. However, you have still tethered yourself to this man. You are supporting a vile, terrible, awful human being. The sad truth of it is that you don’t get to pick and choose…if you stand with Trump, then you’re taking the good (I use the term very, very loosely) with the bad. If/when he institutes policies that target minorities, women, Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, and others that he and his party have clearly marked with their hateful crosshairs, that’s on you. If he repeals ACA and those 23 million people lose their health insurance and some of them die, that’s on you. If his supporters, emboldened by the fact that America as a whole seems to endorse hate, commit acts of violence against any of the groups mentioned above, or anyone else, that blood is on your hands (do you think it’s unfair to be held responsible for the actions of a select few on the fringes? Have a seat at the table; minorities and Muslims have been here for some time).

You (and everyone else) heard his words, heard his ideals, knew his history, and spoke with your vote; you said “yes.” Your vote told him that you agree with what he says. You did not condemn him for his views, you did not punish him. One thing you’ve all made a point of saying throughout this campaign is that Donald Trump speaks his mind and doesn’t beat around the bush, so there’s no way you can say that he has left anything open to interpretation. You have to live with that. There can be no feigning surprise in a year or two, no statement of “Well yea I voted for him, but I didn’t want this to happen!” He’s made his plans very clear and your vote was an endorsement, an agreement, a clear-cut “I hear what you’re saying and I want you to be President and have the power to carry out these actions.”

You voted selfishly…which I realize is not something that’s limited to one party or one person. Most people tend to vote selfishly; you vote for the candidate or platform that will benefit you the most. In the past, the consequences of this have been minimal (at least in comparison to our current situation), but this was obviously no ordinary election or campaign.

You chose lower taxes at the expense of every Muslim that will be attacked or persecuted or deported.

You chose to repeal the ACA and save yourself some money at the expense of 23 million people that were previously unable to get health insurance because it’s an industry that puts profit at the top of their list and helping people somewhere around 47th.

You chose to allow him to choose a Supreme Court Justice with the hope that Roe v. Wade would be overturned at the expense of a woman’s right to make one of the most difficult decisions she can make for her own health and well-being.

You chose to allow him to deal with ISIL in whatever manner he chooses at the expense of the refugees trying to escape the very terror that you want exterminated.

Voting for the man but then claiming that you don’t agree with his views is akin to saying you’re not a murderer while supplying the killer with ammunition. This is the very definition of privilege. If you are white, especially a white male, the worst case scenario for you (which spoiler alert: is extremely likely) is that he ignores every promise and pledge he made during the campaign, and your lives remain the same, if not somewhat worse (reduced or eliminated Social Security and Medicare, no more accessible health insurance for those in need). To paraphrase the parasitic worm himself, you thought “What do I have to lose?” and filled in that bubble next to his name. You have little to lose. Others have so much more. But you put yourself first. If it takes spilled blood and rampant racism and violence and discrimination and islamophobia and sexism for you to gain your wish, so be it, right (and if you’re not a white male, or not even white, don’t get me started)?

So while you might sit there and list of the litany of reasons why you aren’t racist or sexist, you clearly decided that your comparatively miniscule needs outweigh the rights of other people that are not the same as you. Your problems are more important than the lives of those…others. Your vote stated, in no uncertain terms, that all of the groups mentioned above (and likely many more) do not matter to you.

“My taxes are more important than that Muslim that was attacked.”

“My desire to annihilate terrorists is more important than refugees trying to escape said terrorists.”

“My hatred for ACA is more important than allowing a woman the option of getting an abortion, even when medically necessary.”

You claim you aren’t racist, yet you voted that the problems of these others do not matter as much as yours. You voted against equality. You voted with the mindset that certain groups of people are inferior and unworthy of the same assistance and attention and respect. You want to make America great, but not for everyone.

So keep insisting you aren’t racist, that you don’t discriminate. But if it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck…


Posted in Life, politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Metal, hate, and hypocrisy

So back in April of last year, Metal Injection posted an article about Inquisition (which was inspired by this post by Jonsan van Johnson) implying that the band members are Nazis, based upon a story told by Daniel Gallant, a driver during one of their early tours. You can click on either link to view it, but I’ll post it here for the sake of simplicity:

“I was a white supremacist for many years. I have been out for twelve years. I drove the bus for an Inquisition tour. When I suspected they were white power, because I was driving for my friends band Gyibaaw, a First Nations band, I decided to prove it.

I pulled off my t shirt and there it was…my giant swastika for them all to see…they clapped and cheered…Inquisition (both Tom and Jason) were thrilled.

They boasted about their admiration for Hitler, how they loved the white power movement, and had many friends from South America and Everett, Washington…turns out we had mutual acquaintances. Tom used to hang out with the World Church of the Creator and still boasts his admiration for the church. Jason boldly stated he loves imagining living in the Nazi era and wished that would happen in America. They ranted until I shut them down.

The band Gyibaaw were grossly offended to the point of backing away from the black metal scene because of it.”

Now, I understand that this is one story from one man with no verification, and while I have my own opinions on the incident, I’m not here to talk about Inquisition specifically (although for those interested, Decibel conducted follow-up  interviews with Dagon of Inquisition and Daniel Gallant), but rather the all-too-common response given by some of those in the metal community.

Metal has always been something that’s existed on the fringes of public acceptance; from Black Sabbath to Judas Priest to Slayer, there’s always been a negative stigma attached to the genre in the mainstream. And to be fair, it’s certainly a reputation that metal bands and their fans have openly courted at times. Over the decades, artists have continued to push moral boundaries, adhering to the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Any external criticism is met with scorn; the idea being that metal was not created for the masses and does not seek nor require their approval. The more extreme and outlandish, the better.

But there is a line (albeit a blurry one) between singing about “dark” topics such as suicide and satanism, and openly espousing bigoted beliefs. Racism in metal is nothing new, and while there are bands that will openly share such outdated views, most (I hope) don’t subscribe to those ideals. But every once in a while someone will “accidentally” make a controversial statement that gets picked up by the blogosphere, leading to responses that mostly fit into one of two categories. See if you can guess which group I’m taking issue with:

  1. Really? That’s disgusting, to hell with this band
  2. Metal’s supposed to be about hatred, if you don’t like it don’t listen!!!

…Yea. This response, essentially saying “too bad if this offends you, I’m not offended so you’re wrong and I’m right,” is an internet epidemic and can be found anywhere, regardless of topic. And yes, you are completely entitled to your (ignorant) opinion, but it doesn’t make you any less of a mouth-breathing caveman. Especially in metal, where you’ll find some of the most thin-skinned people you’ll ever have the misfortune of coming across. A band changes its sound to something slightly more accessible? False metal! A metalhead admits to liking popular, non-metal music? Poser! But if someone points out that Malevolent Creation (over 248,000 fans on Facebook!) guitarist Phil Fasciana drops a stupid amount of n-bombs in an old interview, including this gem:

“You know I hate niggers. You know that’s the way the band is.  But you know, we got a lot of nigger fans… Even when we do make some racist slurs, we keep them pretty hidden…  I don’t dislike black people.  I’ve got a lot of black friends, but they’re not niggers.  There’s niggers, and then there’s black people.”

(The interview is conveniently explained by whoever edited the band’s Wikipedia page: “However, the context of the interview does leave little doubt that many of the comments in it weren’t meant to be taken seriously.” Oh, ok. In that case, carry on), or that the band end’s the track “They Breed” off of 1995’s Eternal with:

Always wanting, always taking
What was never yours
Someday you will feel the hate
You fucking niggers

then you’ll be told to mellow out, it was just a joke, metal’s all about pushing boundaries, quit being such a pussy, etc. Varg Vikernes, a convicted murderer and blatant white nationalist is revered within the black metal scene, despite using hate speech too blunt for even Donald Trump. Disma will complain about the fact that “Non metal PC bands got a “Death Metal” band kicked off a “Death Metal” fest, while ignoring that this happened because of an interview with their vocalist about his old band Sturmfuhrer (he claims that he no longer has those views, but was still autographing copies of the album as recently as a few years ago). “Metalheads will complain about the fact that society views them as outsiders, but will then turn around and exclude anyone that doesn’t disagree with them. (I shouldn’t have to clarify this, but this is the internet, with no shortage of those that struggle with reading comprehension: I’m not referring to all metalheads. Hell I’m not even referring to a majority; most of the people I’ve met at shows have been awesome, and I’ve never had a negative interaction with a band member). These people are more upset at Celtic Frost for putting out Cold Lake than they are at some brainless moron spouting off views that have no place in the current century.

But hey, maybe it’s easy for you to “chill out” and ignore the hate because it doesn’t affect you. To them, racism is simply traffic in the oncoming lane; something viewed in passing, paired with a brief thought of “sucks for them, glad I’m not dealing with that.” But some of us don’t have the good fortune to be able to just ignore it. You’ve never walked by guys at a local show with Totenkopf and SS badges on their vests. You’ve never seen the guy handing out flyers imploring people to save the white race. You’ve never seen the line of skinheads proudly Sieg Heiling at a Slayer show during “War Ensemble” and thought to yourself “Hmm, maybe I should move?” You’ve never heard the guy standing about a foot behind you dropping n-bombs as he tells his friends jokes, while they all laugh along with him. You’ve never known the feeling of always being on guard at a show, because this might be the one where someone does something more than just giving you a dirty look. Unfortunately, that’s a luxury that those of us born with the “wrong” skin color simply don’t have. It’s unfortunate that so many can’t wrap their heads around the simple concept of “just because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t mean it’s offensive.”

I say all of this as someone that loves metal. I’ve spent over half of my life as a fan of the genre, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to take a real hard look at things. Early on I wanted to be a part of this movement so much and feel included, but that feeling has dissipated over the years, due to my own evolving tastes in music, as well as seeing more of the ugliness that’s woven within the fanbase. For all the talk of unity and brotherhood, there’s this overwhelming feeling of exclusivity. Newcomers aren’t always welcomed; at best they’re shunned for whatever entry-level taste in music they have (as if anyone just jumps into the deep end). I wish the genre was more welcoming, because I’m certain that many others have come across the things I’ve written about and just abandoned it completely, which is a shame. If you see the hate within and the casual indifference in response to it, why would you want to be a part of this community?

I’ve struggled in the past with the question of art vs. artist, and I still don’t have a great answer. But there has to be a line somewhere, and everyone that feels otherwise is causing more harm than good to an art form that they claim to love. When it comes to hate, silence is approval and indifference is acceptance. Don’t tolerate it, don’t try to justify it, don’t minimize the impact. Speak the fuck up and hold these people accountable.

And to bring it back to the band that inspired this post, why does it matter if Inquisition is racist or not? What’s the big deal if band x is NS but keeps it out of their music? I don’t want to support that. Making good music doesn’t make up for being a horrible person, and it’s foolish to think otherwise. If you’re gonna go ahead and maintain these views, please, just own it. Don’t try to say that your words were misinterpreted, or that you were just joking (because we all know that you’re doing it for PR, not out of any genuine remorse), just be the asshole that you are. Make it that much easier for me to ignore you.

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