Thursday, December 19, 2013

F*** Edward Snowden

I know I’m going to get it from some of my friends for saying this, but...seriously. F*** Edward Snowden. 

He’s not brave. He’s no hero to privacy rights. He’s a damn coward who had a security clearance and misused it. That is all. Don’t get me wrong: he’s also not a traitor who deserves to get shot or hanged, as a lot of right wingers are saying. Still he is not the champion of the 4th Amendment and YOUR rights either.

I brought this up before, but Snowden keeps popping up like a bad case of the hives, so I feel the need to say it again, this time with blurred out curse words. He keeps coming up in the news. Most recently, someone at the NSA hinted that perhaps he could get amnesty if he turned himself in and divulged exactly what other documents he stole. The White House promptly said, “NOPE!”, and rightly so. He broke the law. I am not defending the actions of the US government against its own people. This violation of our privacy that has been happening since 2001-2002 is reprehensible. But you know what else is reprehensible?


Real men speak up, and then stand.
What’s the difference between today and yesteryear? The violation is ecumenical. Back in the day, it was just civil rights leaders. You know: brown people. People in MLK’s camp used to joke on the phone about how the FBI was tapping their lines. The thing is that they weren’t joking. The FBI was really tapping their lines. They were tapping Malcolm X’s lines as well. Pretty much anyone who spoke out for change in the unfair system was a target. Any time a brother brought this up, he’d be pegged as paranoid. “Silly negro. Stop saying gibberish! The government would NEVER do that to her citizens...can you speak more clearly into this innocuous flower that just appeared after your shopping trip?”

Even after the Patriot act was passed, though there were rumblings about privacy issues, domestic monitoring was green lit, mostly because US Americans thought that the NSA/CIA/FBI would only be spying on “suspected terrorists”...Muslims. So more brown people. Again, people who raised the alarm were shunned. “Well, Ahmed, if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t be upset!”

Now Snowden came along and revealed that EVERYONE was the subject of monitoring, and NOW people are up in arms. NOW it’s a big deal. One person interviewed on NPR actually called the leaks "...the worst violation of Americans' constitutional our history". Really? Over slavery? Over women's property and suffrage rights? Over Japanese internment? Over the Jim Crow era? Give me a break.

It took a skinny white dude to make people pay attention. This is the National Security version of the pretty white girl syndrome news media from all spectrums get when a white woman or child goes missing. If they really cared about missing children, it wouldn’t be called Amber Alert; it would be called Lakeisha Lookout, and it would have been implemented about 20 years prior. But I digress.

Cowards run.
We have a long way to go when it comes to perceptions of people, and this is the proof. Let’s stop pretending that Edward Snowden is a hero or traitor. If he wanted to be a hero, he would have released all that information and then turned himself in to show how unfair things are. how many people during the Civil Rights Movement willingly broke unfair laws and then ran? They WERE subjects of government surveillance, and they WENT to jail. MLK didn’t run to Hong Kong or seek asylum in Brazil. Rosa Parks didn’t get off the bus and move to Canada. Bayard Rustin didn’t speak out for black and gay equality and then flee to France. All of them stood their ground, took the unfair punishment meted out for their actions, and then kept fighting until they dropped. If Snowden really cares about anything except fame/infamy and perhaps a book deal, then he should grow a pair and come back to the States and prove it.  F*** Edward Snowden.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Newtown, Old Laws

14th December marks the one-year anniversary of the Newtown tragedy, when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a  Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, killed 26 people (including 20 children), and then turned the gun on himself. It also turned out that he killed his mother before his rampage in the school. The nation seemed to stop for a day. A tragedy like this was unfathomable. I’ve lost friends to gun violence, but 5, 6, and  year old children? No one with a heart was unmoved by this.

So a few days later, a bunch of people with no hearts chimed in. While the rest of the country rallied and called for tighter restrictions on gun ownership, including the assault rifles that had been used in Newtown and other mass shootings, the NRA stayed with their usual line of saying that had the teachers carried weapons, the tragedy would not have happened. Months later, Congress attempted to pass a sweeping gun control measure that would have made it substantially harder for people to get their hands on assault rifles. Congress did its usual thing thing though: choked on its own d***. No measure was passed. Every governor who was able to passed gun control measures in his state watch his poll numbers sink like a pebble in a pond. Some legislators were ousted in recall elections. One year later, in the wake of this tragedy, gun laws nationwide are actually more relaxed. Because f*** kids. Daddy needs his murder machine.

In general, I have a low opinion of guns for private ownership. I actually don’t care if someone wants to own one. However, laws should be in place to regulate them. There is nothing wrong with that. The idea that tightening gun law loopholes is a revoking of the Second Amendment is laughable. We don’t use that train of thought for many other things. I want to drive a car, but i still need to pass a test and get a licence to do so. At that, I cannot just jump into any automobile and drive it. I can drive cars and SUVs, but I cannot jump behind the wheel of a Freightliner or a tank. No big deal.

The do-nothing train of thought that many pro-gun lawmakers use annoys as well; basically, it says that criminals are going to break the law anyway, so why bother making the law? BECAUSE IT’S YOUR F***ING JOB, that’s why. You are a lawmaker. MAKE SOME DAMN LAWS. Let’s go down this rabbit hole for a bit: so crooks will break the law anyway. That is true. So let’s get rid of punishments for robbery. Burglars are just going to steal anyway. Also, why have speed limits on roads? People are going to speed no matter what. And murder? F*** it. people have been killing each other since the dawn of human existence. What’s the point in punishing them for it?

There is really nothing anyone can say that would convince me that an AR-15 style assault rifle should be allowed to be sold to a civilian population. There is too much gun violence in this country.  Hell, I’d say let’s go back to carrying around swords. At least you’d have to have REALLY good skills to wield them. Also, you have to watch what you are doing to someone. You’d likely think twice before starting something. There is something just a little bit lazy about shooting someone. The bullet leaves the chamber, and then it’s not your problem anymore. An armed society is not a polite society; it is a more dangerous society. That has been proven over the last few years. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or delusional. This is true especially in the US. The more something is available, the more it gets consumed. Why do you think half of us are so fat? We don’t all have gland problems!

So on this anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and the day after yet another shooting, I hope that some sense comes to our lawmakers, and the ones who are in the pockets of the NRA get ousted soon. I’m asking a lot, but a man can dream, can’t he? Unfortunately, he can also get a high-capacity rifle pretty easily as well.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Favourite Nelson

Today, South Africa is held the official memorial for Nelson Mandela, who passed away last week on 5th December at the age of 95. As everyone would expect, there have been a slew of homages, essays, op eds and tributes to Mandela in the last week, and I doubt they’ll end any time soon. Also as expected, plenty of known bigots and racists have appropriated the general spirit of Mandela’s legacy to push their agenda of denigrating Barack Obama, because what kind of person would they be if they DIDN’T shit on an erstwhile somber and reflective event to stoke flames of hate? Oh right...they’d be human, which they are not.

I also expected that there would be a few trolls that would have disparaging words for Madiba, because some people don’t like black people. Can you believe it??? Who knew? What I did NOT expect, though, was a statement like this: “Nelson Mandela was a communist guerilla. He allied with the Soviets.” When I first saw that in a comment under an NPR article, I shrugged it off as yet another troll, but then NPR actually talked about his ties to the Soviet Union. It was true! The African National Congress, when they had a militant wing, actually had ties to the Soviet Bloc! How could they do such a thing! Everyone knows how harshly the Soviet Union treated other minorities like European Jews and gays!

Then I thought about it...why wouldn’t they? If you put yourself in the shoes of a young Nelson Mandela, your native land is officially not yours thanks to 300 years of oppression, and the governing system, though “racially” a minority, gets support from the biggest superpowers of the time, namely the US and the UK, all in their pointless war against communism. If the capitalist government is oppressing me, and I can’t get any support, then why not go to the Soviets for help? Given a choice between rolling over and taking abuse and fighting, I doubt that the detractors would have done something different. The fight for equality is a war, and people do a lot of things they may not do in peacetime. Even the United States, the supposed bastion of freedom and equality, had a president who vetoed sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. I don’t think Reagan was a racist for doing so. I do, however, think he was only thinking about money and power. F*** humans. Fortunately, this was back in the day when Congress worked together, and they overrode the veto. So there you have it: the ANC DID ally with the USSR, back when NO ONE would help them, all in the name of power. The US and the UK, and the rest of the world, should be ashamed of themselves for doing so little so late in the Apartheid fight.

What is amazing, though, is what happened when Mandela went free. He didn’t start a civil war, as some thought would happen. He served one term as president and did everything he could to plant seeds of unity. I know that I would not have been so big of a man to forgive. A lifetime of fighting for freedom in every way possible against a 300-year old racist system, 27 years in a work prison, watching my friends and family die around me...I don’t know anyone who would not have harboured hot, acidic hate for the representatives of the oppressors. I would have been Nat Turner with gamma radiation augmentation. Mandela swallowed that hate, and rebuilt his society to foster equality.

Nelson Mandela was the most amazing man of the 20th and 21st Century. He was man enough to fight for what he knew was right when he could have just kept his head down and suffered the status quo. He took up arms when he needed, and stood in court to say his piece, even though he knew that it may have meant his head in a noose. Finally, when he was free, he knew when to put down the weapon and pick up the pen. I highly doubt anyone will equal that level of maturity and wisdom. South Africa is definitely not out of the woods, but it is eons away from what it was. Furthermore, I can’t think of any freedom fighter who has lived the the age of 95, and was able to see his vision progress. Rest well, Madiba.

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