Friday, January 27, 2017

A Case Against the Trump/Hitler Comparison

This Holocaust Remembrance Day, let’s STOP COMPARING DONALD TRUMP TO HITLER!
We keep doing this. Every politician that we don’t like is inevitably equated with Hitler. This reductio ad Hitlerum kind of minimizes the horribleness of what Hitler was, and I know Trump is pretty terrible, but he’s not Hitler.
I mean, sure, he galvanized his base by fomenting fear of a minority group wresting jobs from erstwhile hard working Americans, just like Hitler did in demonizing Jews, but still, Trump isn’t like Hitler.
And yes, he made it seem like Muslim immigrants were a threat to national security, even though Muslim immigrants were refugees of war themselves, which is something Hitler did to Eastern European immigrants just looking for work, but come on!
Yeah, he speaks of “religious freedom” as a cover to justify people discriminating against LGBTQ+ people, and Hitler DID use Christianity as a cudgel, even having “Gott mit uns” (“God with Us) emblazoned on Nazi uniform belts, but it’s not quite the same, right?
All right, He also signed an executive order to publish crimes committed by immigrants on a weekly basis, which is a policy that Nazi Germany did to make Jews look more prone to crime before floating the whole concentration camp thing, but that’s just coincidence!
Ok, ok, Trump keeps hammering at journalism, and keeps depicting media that says things he doesn’t like as purveyors of false propaganda, all while pushing his own false propaganda. And journalists who covered dissent during the inauguration were jailed and are facing felony charges. Hitler was a pro at false propaganda and silencing journalists he didn’t like, but that’s where the comparison ends!
Sure, you can point to all the times Trump outright lied to the media, or claimed something to be true even though evidence to the contrary is easily accessible and in before everyone’s eyes, or retweeted grotesquely racist charts to demonize others, and when he was questioned on it, he’d plead ignorance or or gloss over it or just not acknowledge said evidence. It is kind of like when Berlin hosted the Olympics, and Owens dominated, blowing away Hitler’s talk of white people being superior in every way, but come on! Trump hasn’t resided while there was an Olympic event yet!
Except…Trump’s administration DID put a gag order on the government’s scientists and government workers, ordering them to not tweet, publish reports, or talk to the public in any way without his administration’s review and approval, especially if their research goes against an idea that he has. As a practice, Nazi Germany silenced its scientists and thinkers quite brutally for the same reason. But, I mean, that can be seen in a LOT of countries!
So hate crimes spiked the day after the election, and throughout the year, hate crimes have gone up since his announcement that he was running. He has said that he would “restore law and order” by reinstating Stop and Frisk and using federal agents to take over a city. Yes, that is exactly like the type of rhetoric that Hitler used to justify over-policing Jewish neighborhoods and arresting non-whites and immigrants. But…but…
Shit…This isn’t looking good…
OK, maybe there ARE a lot of comparisons to Hitler that can be made, BUT…
What about all the times the American government demonized indigenous people, or Mexican immigrants, or WWI and WWII refugees, or Japanese people?
The Chinese were the first immigrants that were LEGALLY banned from entering the country, writ into law. In fact, add-ons were later put to bar Chinese people who LEFT the US temporarily to return. So families were split apart based on government xenophobia. China was not a military or terrorist threat in any way. The Chinese who came here just wanted to work and get attain a better life! Sound familiar?
Our economy was built on the backs of people who we constitutionally deemed inferior and prone to lechery and crime! Black people were treated like animals and forced to work and mate like workhorses, and thanks to them, we became a superpower. The side effect is that we’re stereotyped as lecherous war-beasts, regularly compared to gorillas, chimpanzees, and other dark colored animals who can kill humans. And if you were to believe Birth of a Nation (the rapey one, not the rapey one), you’d think that black people are going to corrupt every precious white woman and child and then take over the entire nation! Yes, Jewish people were depicted as controlling everything, because they usually administered banks, but that is because back in the day, Catholics were doctrinally prohibited from taking advantage of people from loans, and working at a bank was dangerously close to that! Remember Circle 7 of Dante’s Inferno, where the usurers were? So the Jews were demonized for doing work that others just would not do and then getting shit for it, something the US had been doing since even before we were the US.
Yes, Hitler was a master of propaganda that spewed lies throughout Germany and beyond, but we went into the Spanish-American War based on actual fake news! That was in the 1898. In fact, we made caricatures of nearly every single person who wasn’t white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. The “lazy Mexican” schtick was us. We also used fake news, propaganda, fake science, and twisted religion to excuse taking over Guam, the Philipines, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, yet still not afford them all the rights of American citizens, and we used doublespeak so that we can get away with not calling them what they are: colonies. But if we’re talking just war propaganda...
We used anti-Japanese propaganda to justify putting Japanese citizens in camps, and we used all sorts of pseudoscience justify forcing hard work on black slaves and Mexican workers, all while curtailing their freedom because they were “dangerous”. It helped to depict them as less-than human so that we could experiment on them without their permission.
We used twisted interpretations of religion to justify killing and/or forcibly relocating entire Native American nations, invading and burning down villages. We haven’t yet had a Kristalnacht moment under Trump, but we have plenty of times when invading Native homes and shipping them somewhere so that we could take over their land. “Ledernacht” predates Kristalnacht. Given that officials are bulldozing and burning tents and tipis at Standing Rock, we’re still doing it. The Germans stopped.
See? Trump isn’t like Hitler and Nazi Germany! Trump is just being American AF. America has just had more times that we were like Hitler and Nazi Germany than we care to admit! He’s making America “great” again by reliving the darkest stains in our history of treating people like the entire history of the US. So let’s stop pretending we were always angels!

…Let’s also use our energy to fight against this fucktrumpetry so that we can be even less like Nazi Germany or Old America than ever before.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let's Talk About Ellis Island Privilege

The problem with privilege is that you don’t realize you have it. This makes it difficult to point it out. If you’re an Eloi, then you are likely completely oblivious of the Morlocks who have made your life so easy, who are not on the same level as you. It took years for me to recognize that I have male privilege. And acknowledging that you HAVE privilege is not the same thing as taking responsibility for how your privilege came about, nor is it an attempt to make you feel guilty for being who you are. No one expects you to bear the burdens of other people’s past crimes. That knee-jerk defensiveness just shows how fragile and precious social statuses are. With all that said, we need to discuss something.
Some white people need to deal with their Ellis Island privilege.
One of my FAVORITE things to hear, besides white dudes telling me what Martin Luther King would have done, is when white people say something to the effect of, “My grandparents came here in the 1940’s! They were poor! We CAN’T have privilege!” OK, I get it. You come from a group of people whose ancestors were NOT architects/beneficiaries of the 398-year old construct of American racism that still affects people of color today. Your parents got some shit for having bad accents. They were poor. They had to work hard to get what they could so that you can read and live in denial now. You forget, though, that once those accents melt away, they could easily assimilate into society without the burden of a color adjective, no matter what their economic level is. So you may not have been a part of the system created in the United States, you just moved into it. However, the fact that you COULD move into was your family’s first exercise of American white privilege.
Throughout history, many groups immigrated to the US. The Irish, the Germans, and the Italians all came to the US in droves and caught shit for being here. There was a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment in the discrimination of Italians and Irish. However, no law was passed to legally bar them from coming. If we want to REALLY get technical, the fact that they could VOLUNTARILY migrate while African people were involuntarily migrated would be the first instance of migration privilege. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was one of the first pieces of federal legislation that targeted a specific group of people. It’s funny, because was enacted AFTER the US used Chinese immigrants for super-cheap labor to build railroads that they decided to bar them, and 11 years AFTER LA Chinatown was subject to a race riot because white residents felt threatened by the Chinese residents’ prosperity.
Except for the hundreds of Jewish refugees on the MS St. Louis that was turned away for fear that they were Nazi spies; white immigrants have enjoyed a pretty easy flow into the US compared to other immigrants, even despite the quotas and language laws. While some were arriving to Ellis Island right after WWII, Japanese descendants were being JUST let out of American concentration camps, as their internment was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. There were ALWAYS “mysterious” limits to how many people from “brown” countries could immigrate. The government will cite security concerns or something, which in some cases may be true. But how threatening is a Haitian or Jamaican immigrant who wants to reunite with their siblings as opposed to a Russian who may have married a US defense contractor within 6 months of meeting him? That is Ellis Island privilege.
I witnessed it firsthand. In my globetrotting years, when I married my Ukrainian wife and applied for a visa for her before we headed back to the US, I was told that it would be at LEAST a year before she could set foot on American soil. I was told this by an acquaintance that had waited 18 months for his Jamaican wife’s visa paperwork to process. My wife got her visa in less than 6 months. She got her green card in less than 3. My friend was still waiting while my marriage started to fall apart. Ellis Island privilege.

So if you are still claiming that you CAN’T have privilege because you’re only first or second generation, please stop. We’re laughing at you, but no one is attacking you. You have privilege. You’re still the same person, just a little bit more knowledgeable.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Against the Death Penalty...But Dyllan Roof Tho...

Dyllan Roof was sentenced to death in South Carolina this week. He murdered 9 people in a black church, and he explicitly stated that he was trying to incite a race war. The original prosecution witness list for the sentencing hearing was 49. That is 49 people whose lives are permanently altered through Roof’s actions. Roof showed absolutely no remorse throughout the trial. If ever there was someone who I would say deserves the death penalty, it is DYllan Roof.
And yet…
I’ve been against the death penalty since I heard that the death penalty was a thing. When I was a child, my reasoning was simply “don’t kill people, because that’s mean”. I guess all those forced Sunday School classes DID have something going for them despite all the misogyny and homophobia. As I grew older, my disdain for the practice stayed, though I have seen plenty of examples of why the practice should be intact. Regardless, I am still staunchly against the death penalty, and it is not for the reasons most people think.
Some think that I am against it because there is a grotesque racial disparity in the seeking of the death penalty in capital crimes. Black defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants. Not only that, the death penalty is more likely to be applied if the victim is white than if the victim is black. People of color are more likely to be given the death penalty if the victim is white, but white killers of people of color are not as likely to be given the death penalty. This is also one of the only times where a white woman victim would receive the maximum amount of justice, so long as the defendant is black. So there you go, white women: despite all those cases like Brock Turner’s, you CAN get justice!...You just have to die. At the hands of a black guy.
If racial disparity were the primary reason for my dislike of the death penalty, I would have to dislike the entire justice system, because since 1865, EVERYTHING was slanted racially. Legislators took ALL advantage of the loophole in the 13th Amendment. At first it was forced labor for minor infractions as little as not stepping off the path when a white person is walking to completely peerless “jury of peers” in ALL court cases to drug laws that criminalized both Latinos and blacks from the beginning to the end of the 20th Century...Ok, so I DO have a lot of disdain for the way the justice system has been working. When John RK Howard, after using a coat hanger to sodomize his disabled black co-player who he called “nigger” and “watermelon” and “chicken-eater”, is walking free with no sex or hate crime charge after a long trial, yet it only took 4 days to capture and charge the four black teens with hate crimes for kidnapping and torturing a disabled white teen, you are blind or ignorant if you don’t see the problem. Keep in mind, there were more people involved in Howard’s case. He was the only one charged, though. It makes me wish gamma rays really DID give you superpowers instead of terminal cancer. I would be permanently Hulked out. Still, This is only my secondary reason against the death penalty.
I’m against the death penalty because the justice system is run by humans, and humans are forever fallible, and often wrong. Even if the racial aspect of the system were completely eradicated, there is no guarantee that the people we find guilty actually are. Thanks to DNA evidence, we now know that the system gets it wrong a lot. What if New York State executed the Central Park Five? 30 years later, after finding out they never committed the crime of which they were accused, we wouldn’t be able to resurrect them. Would you go to the families and say, “Turns out your kids didn’t do anything. Oops, our bad! KTHXBAI! ^_^”. That is not good enough. Even if the family could sue, throwing money at the situation STILL doesn’t get their children back. I’d prefer that a mistake is made, and the system has a chance to apologize to the wronged person face-to-face as opposed to posthumously exonerating them.
Dyllan Roof, though, we KNOW that he did it. He documented his plans. He did not break from his testimony. He has no remorse, and he is proud of what he did, and he said as much. Roof is in a death penalty state, and he got the death penalty. I admit it; I smiled. He did his deed in a death penalty state. He cut off 9 people, including a state legislator, from living to their fullest potentials. He upturned an entire community, all to incite a race war. Now he is going to die for it. I don’t feel sorry for him in the least. However, this one case where the justice system worked precisely as we keep saying it does, doesn’t mean it’s “fixed”. It just means that we now know the justice system CAN work for everyone the way it should. This one case doesn’t negate all the times it has failed its citizens. Walter Scott’s killer is still on the loose, after all.
So Roof will die. I don’t feel sorry for him, but I still don’t like the capital punishment. Since it is happening anyway, perhaps there is a way to make him realize that he failed horribly. Because of what he did, the American Swastika is no longer flying on state grounds. Entire stores have refused to sell it. The city of Charleston has come together even more. The family of the victims didn’t seek vengeance on white people. They instead embraced their neighbors, and their neighbors returned the affection. Nothing he attempted to start came to fruition. A good punishment would be to sequester him in a cell with people of his ilk and stream nothing but all of the good news that has been happening. Feed nothing but all of the news of unity in Charleston. Give news of the first Somali-American Muslim US representative. Give only books about all of the black CEOs who are running large corporations. TV/Movie time should be Hidden Figures and Fences and Black-ish (They would likely masturbate to 12 Years a Slave and Roots). Show how terrible his life choices were and how much of a pathetic, insignificant waste of chromosomes he is until that needle breaks his skin and releases him from the knowledge. He’ll die knowing that he has done nothing.

But that would be “cruel and unusual”. Oh well.

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