Category Archives: equality

Sound and Fury

hail-trump
I’m sure he doesn’t know anything about these guys.

As many of you probably know, I am not a fan of our Dear Leader-to-be, Donald J. Trump. The reasons for my antipathy are many and varied, from his choice of the most anti-LGBTQ governor in America as his vice-president to his relationship with the alt-right, a group of racist trolls whose taint was mostly contained to the internet until the Tangerine Nightmare drew them out from under their bridges. And, of course, there are the temper tantrums he regularly throws on Twitter; all of which would embarrass the brattiest of three year olds.

One of more troubling actions of President-elect Trump’s (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I say that) is his refusal to reject the hateful ideology of the alt-right. Not only has he been silent on the matter, he has appointed their top propagandist, Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, as his chief adviser. And, yes, I realize referring to this as “troubling” is a lot like World War I “a little dust up”.

But, there is a break in these awful black clouds of doom, beloved. Last week, everyone’s favorite “short-fingered vulgarian” finally spoke to the country on this issue. In what only be described as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” Trump “disavowed” the alt-right.

Last Tuesday, during an interview with New York Times staffers, the  PEOTUS was asked about the group and he said “I disavow and condemn them”. Sounds good, right? Well, I wouldn’t get too excited because he also said “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.” It appears our president-elect is the only person in the country who is unaware of how his candidacy and election has breathed new life into what we all hoped was a dying movement. Great, just frickin’ great.

What’s that? You think I shouldn’t criticize Mr. Trump’s remarks out of hand like that? Oh, don’t worry, Sparky, I have given careful consideration to what President-elect BabyHands said. But, the fact that you feel that way makes me think you haven’t. So, let’s take a look at how his statement last week lines up with with what he’s done so far:

  • During his campaign, David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of Ku Klux Klan, was very vocal about his support of Trump. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if he would repudiate the support of an avowed racist, the future leader of the free world said, “I don’t know anything about David Duke. Okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” (He was lying) But wait, there’s more!
  • After going through campaign operatives like a pothead goes through a bag of tacos, Trump hired Steve Bannon. Yes,beloved, the same Steve Bannon who bragged that Breitbart.com, the website of which he was CEO, was “the platform for the alt-right”. After he won the election and began putting together his cabinet, Trump’s first act was to appoint Bannon as his chief adviser.
  • His pick for Attorney-General, the cabinet official charged with enforcing civil and voting rights is Sen, Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama. This is significant because in 1986, a Republican Senate committee denied Sessions a federal judgeship after former colleagues testified that he “used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were ‘okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.’”

So, on one hand we have Trump’s statement that he is not allied with the racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, Neo-Nazi internet trolls who, after his election to the highest office in the land, are now slithering out from under the digital rocks to which they had been relegated. On the other, we have specific actions on his part which indicate that he may have actively courted the support of the alt-right; at the very least, he had no problem with them.Sure, Donald, you “disavow and condemn them” in the same way I “disavow and condemn” my mother’s chocolate cake while shoveling another bite into my mouth.

 

Christians For Tru…, Aw, F**k It

Christians for Trump
Should probably add “misogynistic predator” to the list

This is the first Monday I’ve sat down to write (here on the blog, at least) since school started back in August. I have this opportunity because it’s Fall break this week and I’m on vacation. As we normally do this time of year, Diana and I are spending a week in the semi-tropical paradise of Baillie’s Bluff on the Gulf Coast of Florida. But, getting here wasn’t exactly easy this time.

 If you live in the southeastern United States, you probably have an inkling why things were so tough. If not, I can sum it up in two words: Hurricane Matthew. Between worrying whether we would even be able to get here (we usually come down I-95), to almost getting trapped by flood waters in at Diana’s house Saturday (roads all around us flooding), to a 14 hour trip with traffic that varied from a virtual standstill to almost clear sailing, it has been an interesting four days. But, we’re here and I’m writing this from one of favorite spots on the planet: the fabulous screen porch at D’s family house in Holiday.
What, you might be thinking, could pressing enough to drag me to a computer when I could be soaking up the last bit of sun and fun for the year? First of all, time on my hands. When we’re vacationing, Diana likes to sleep in, while I couldn’t sleep past 8 o’clock unless I was coming off a 3 day coke bender. When I have time on my hands, I think about things. And, this morning, what I’m thinking about is Donald Trump and the repulsive shit that spewed from his face hole in 2005.
 As awful as those words are, there is something worse: people who call themselves Christians making excuses for them or, in some cases, saying they just don’t care. What the fuck? How can you say that shit? Do you really want a man like this running the country where the women you claim to care about live? Because, if you do, I’m not so sure you care about them all that much.
The first time I heard that shit, my response was, “I’m not sure what to say to that.” It’s taken a few days, but I think I’ve finally come up with an appropriate response.
To pastors and Christian “leaders” who make excuses (it happened before he had “spiritual influences” in his life) or dismissing it altogether (Christians don’t really care about this), you should turn in any credentials you might hold and stop calling yourself a pastor, because you aren’t. The one constant in Jesus’ teachings (remember him? The guy you claim to follow?) is love. Love your neighbor, love one another, love your enemy. I’m just spitballing here, but I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t consider treating women as conquests to be gloated over “love”.
To those of you who say you don’t care, I say “Are you fucking kidding me?” Do me a favor, if your mother is still with us, go look her the eye and say “Mama, Donald Trump’s comments don’t bother me in the least. In fact, I firmly believe that a man who brags about assaulting women is the best person available to lead our country.” Then, come back and tell me how it went.
Let me make this perfectly clear: if you overlook, gloss over, ignore or do anything but condemn Donald Trump’s treatment of women, you should either fall to your knees and ask the Almighty for forgiveness or abandon any pretense of being a Christian. It’s just that fucking simple.

Republicans: “HB 2? It’s Not Our Fault”

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From Kevin Siers and the Charlotte Observer

Many of the arguments in favor of North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (aka HB 2) sound juvenile at best, paranoid and delusional at worst. We’ve been treated to some really.., let’s say, interesting defenses for what some North Carolinians are calling Hate Bill 2, including mythical bathroom predators and what amounts to grade school whining. To say all this doesn’t us make look good is like calling World War I a minor kerfuffle; i.e. a massive understatement.

I keep telling myself, “It can’t get any worse than this.” And, every I do, you know what happens? It gets worse. Just this week, a candidate for attorney general spoke about the need to “keep our state straight“. Really, y’all, he said that. Out loud. And, in public. Where people could hear him. Now, it’s one thing when a relatively obscure state senator says something so absurd; it’s another when it comes from the man holding the highest elected office in the state.

Recently, our “distinguished” governor Pat McCrory upped the ante on the bat crap crazy dialogue that marks the Republican response to any criticism of HB 2. And, let me just say it rivals any remark he’s made the entire four years he’s been in office. If you follow NC politics at all, you know that’s saying something .

Just a few days ago, the following statement appeared in a New York Times article: “On Thursday, he (McCrory) said he suspected that the entire matter had been orchestrated by Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, to give Democrats an advantage in a tight governor’s race.” Oh, great, the chief executive of our state is in one of the world’s most widely read newspapers sounding like a deranged nutbag.

There are a multitude of problems with the governor’s accusation, not least of which is the fact that he has absolutely nothing with which to back it up; mostly because the whole thing is bullshit. But, he’s also crediting the Democrats with waay more intelligence (not to mention cunning and guile) than they actually have. The only reason we haven’t had 50 years of consecutive Republican rule is that the GOP is even more screwed up. The Democrats may be incompetent, but the Republicans have lost their damn minds.

If you think all this sounds a little crazy, you’re right. That because it doesn’t have anything to do with real reason HB 2 was passed: the thing was actually a ploy to back McCrory’s opponent in the upcoming election, Attorney General Roy Cooper, into a corner where he’d lose important votes no matter which way he went (read the full story here). Unfortunately for the guv and his pals in Raleigh, it’s done just the opposite; the latest polls show Cooper leading the governor by as much as 6%. I don’t know about you, but I find that hilarious.

With any luck, come November, we may get rid of the worst governor we’ve seen in God know how long. If we’re really lucky, we’ll also lose a few of the legislators who have done so much tear down what was once the most progressive state in the South. And that, my friends is one of the few bright spots in this whole sordid mess. Granted, it’s not much of one, but I’m pretty sure it’s about as good as we’re going to get.

Stop Bullying NC!

Bet you can't guess which one of these guys is a bully.
Bet you can’t guess which one of these guys is a bully.

In the days since North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” (aka, House Bill 2), its backers have used no small amount of time, energy and effort to assure us it will not hurt our state’s economy. As HB 2 has been law for almost 3 weeks, I thought I’d take a look at how that notion is holding up.

First, a little background. Two days after he signed HB 2 into law, Governor McCrory’s office issued a press release that said the law would have no effect on NC’s ability to create or recruit new jobs. That same day, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told the Hollywood Reporter that “Businesses will continue to move here, and the businesses that are complaining right now will continue to do business in this great state.” And, on April 8th, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters at the ribbon cutting of a new VA center in Charlotte that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. Well, okay then.

So, how do things stand now? Well, a few days after Gov. McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, Lionsgate and A & E, both filming productions here, declared that once those projects are finished, they won’t be back until the law is repealed. Then, on April 5th, PayPal announced that they were backing out of major expansion plans in the Charlotte area, costing that city at least 400 new jobs. And, on April 8th, Bruce Springsteen canceled his show  at the Greensboro Auditorium, resulting in a loss of $100,000 in revenue.

Now, I want to point out something to you. Notice the date of Burr’s comment I mentioned in an earlier paragraph. Now, look at the dates of the companies in the previous one. Do you see it? Our senior senator said that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. after multiple businesses had already stated their intent to leave NC. Or, not come here in the first place. Holy shit, y’all.

Now, lesser politicians would be deterred by this avalanche of bad news and scramble to amend the offending statute, hopefully keeping our state from going completely off the rails economically. But, not our Governor and his partners in crime colleagues. No, these stalwart defenders of women and children stood firm against this onslaught of LGBT oppression, decrying it as…, bullying.

You read that right, beloved; white, Christian cisgender people are complaining that they’re being “bullied”. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that he considered Springsteen’s cancellation “a bully tactic” and compared The Boss to a kid who takes his ball and goes home when he doesn’t get his way. Walker also said that Justin Bieber was scheduled to perform in Greensboro and that he might attend. Wait, we’ve sent a Belieber to Congress? Shit.

Walker isn’t the only Republican who feels bullied by LGBT activists; Michelle Nix, vice chair of the NC GOP, denounced PayPal’s action as “corporate hypocrisy and bullying” because the company has done business in countries with less than stellar human rights records, especially concerning LGBT issues. Yes, Michelle, pointing out PayPal’s ethical shortcomings is the perfect way to convince them to stay in North Carolina.

What might persuade PayPal and all the other companies who said they’ll pass us by for less backward (and discriminatory) pastures? I’m thinking that if the Republicans who passed HB 2 would stop whining about our state suffering the consequences of their stupidity and repeal this abomination of a law, it might just do the trick. Of course, that would be the smart thing to do, so I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

A Response To The National Review and Jane Clark Scharl

Why is this so terrifying?
Why is this so terrifying?

On Wednesday, the National Review published an article by Jane Clark Scharl, titled “The True ‘Trauma Trigger’ That the North Carolina Bathroom Bill Is Designed to Prevent” in which Ms. Scharl gave us the “real” scoop on the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, (aka NC House Bill 2): it’s not about discrimination, it’s about protecting our women and children from evil bathroom predators.

Like pretty much everything else coming from conservatives about HB 2, Scharl’s article was filled with half-truths, obfuscation and outright bullshit. But, that’s pretty much the National Review’s stock in trade these days; hell, you might as well read “The Blaze” or “The Federalist”. But, as I said last Friday, you can’t let a little thing like facts get in the way of top quality fear-mongering.

Generally, the article continues the narrative that the whole thing is about bathrooms. Sure it is, that’s why it prevents local governments from enacting laws that extend protection to groups not included in its text, something that was ruled unconstitutional in Romer v. Evans (well, that’s inconvenient). And, it prohibits cities an counties from setting their own minimum wage. About the only thing these two items have in connection with bathrooms is the smell emanating from them.

On the Facebook post where they shared the article, the National Review claimed that “Liberals are PANICKING over something so very common sense.” Okay, let’s get one thing straight: there’s about as much “common sense” in the new NC law as there is truth in their article. HB 2 isn’t about the safety of women and children because there was nothing in Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance that would’ve endangered them in the first place.

What Charlotte did with their now-overturned law was add “marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression” as protected classes. Now, you may be wondering how such a thing could lead to pedophiles molesting our little darlings in public restrooms (it wouldn’t, of course; but that’s irrelevant when you’re trying to scare people into voting for you). This incredibly creepy idea goes back to something I alluded to earlier, “the bathroom predator myth”.

The fantasy of evil men entering women’s restrooms for nefarious purposes is extremely durable, even though it has conclusively debunked. Probably because conservatives trot it out any time we talk about ensuring that people who are LGBTQ are accorded the same rights as straight folks. As, Enid Strict would say, “Well, isn’t that special?

I’m not sure where this fable came from, but it blasted onto the scene last year, when the city of Houston attempted to pass an ordinance that contained protections for the LGBT community.  In response, conservatives fought this effort by making it all about “men” having free access to women’s restrooms, even though they knew it was about much more, i.e. protecting “the gays” from discrimination (God knows we can’t that). The tactic was effective; the ordinance was defeated by a 22 point margin.

The myth proved less successful in Charlotte, where opponents used it in their effort to stop the city council from treating people who are LGBT like human beings. Fortunately, the ordinance was passed over the objections over conservative groups and evanglical preachers like Franklin Graham.

Advocates of this fairy tale found some kindred spirits in Governor McCrory and the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly. These fine fellows vowed to introduce legislation to overturn the law if it was passed. It did and so they brought the hammer down on Charlotte for doing their job and enacting laws that benefit all their citizens.

On a side note, HB 2 supporters have yet to address is the fact that it doesn’t just negate some municipalities’ protections for LGBTQ folks, it also jeopardizes Greensboro and Orange County ordinances that covered veterans. Wait, what? Veterans aren’t a protected class? Oh well, I guess they were just collateral damage. Eggs and omelets, you know?

The truth is, laws like the Charlotte ordinance have been on the books in multiple cities and counties across the country and none of them report an increase in sexual assaults that can be traced back to those laws. In reality, HB 2 is about keeping trans folks in the closet where the Republicans in the NCGA thinks they belong. If they’d just admit that, I’d have more respect for them. I certainly couldn’t have less.

A Few Thoughts On NC House Bill 2

Psst, HB 2 isn't really about keeping women safe.
Psst, HB 2 isn’t really about keeping anyone safe.

It would’ve been more timely if I had written this yesterday, but I had a prior engagement with some wisteria vines and privet hedge that had to be kept. That’s probably for the best because, yesterday, I was still pretty pissed off about today’s subject and things were a little raw. Had I written this post then, it would’ve been one long string of expletives and virtually unreadable (it may not be much better today). What caused all that anger? Wednesday, the North Carolina General Assembly shoved through a bill that pretty much ensures that LGBTQ folks in this state will be discriminated against.

If you haven’t heard about NC House Bill 2, it will, in the words of Governor Pat McCrory, “prevent basic local government overreach and intrusion into the expectation of privacy that people have, men, women and children have when they enter a restroom, locker room or shower facility,” So, you’re preventing “government overreach and intrusion” by engaging in …, government overreach? Right. I think that may be the most unintentionally ironic statement I’ve heard all year.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the governor. Senator Jeff Jackson of Charlotte and Rep. Graig Meyer of Charlotte worked hard on Wednesday to get the word out about some of things the law does, like preventing cities and counties from writing their own non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ folks and veterans; removing legal remedy in the NC court system (you have to sue in federal court which is much harder) and barring local governments from setting the minimum wage in their communities. Nice, huh?

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as multiple companies are speaking out against the law and some are questioning whether they want to do business here. When the GOP took over the reins of government in this state, one of their stated goals was to make it more attractive to business. They are really knocking it out of the park with this, aren’t they?

So, now that we’re all on the same page, there are a few things I want to get off my chest concerning this big, steaming pile of shit questionable piece of legislation:

  • First of all, I want to thank our illustrious lawmakers for the additional anxiety they’ve put on my plate. I mean, I’m not quite stressed enough whenever my son walks out the door, worrying about him running into some asshole who takes offense at the fact that he’s trans. So, this extra dose of angst I get, wondering whether he’ll be denied a service he needs or be humiliated in some other way because he’s not “normal” is really welcome. When it comes to being douche bags, you guys are the douchiest!
  • Second, there are only two ways that I can see someone’s motivations for supporting this law. One is that you think my son is predator who might use an ordinance like Charlotte’s to find new prey. The other is that my child’s well-being is less important to you than an imaginary threat to some women and children yet to be named. Either way you look at it, that’s pretty fucked up.
  • Third, how is this going to work, bathroom-wise? Are we going to post someone outside each and every women’s restroom in the state to look in everyone’s pants and ensure they’re using the bathroom of their “biological sex”? I don’t think that will go over very well. I mean, if people are worried about their daughters being in the bathroom with men, how are they going to feel about some stranger taking a peek inside their little princess’ knickers?

Of course, we could all just mind our own business and let folks pee where they like, seeing as how all the fear over bathroom bills is totally unfounded (it has been debunked by law enforcement, government officials, and women’s safety advocates all across the country). Mind our own business?!? Where’s the fun in that?

Christians For Trump Pt II

This is the man that evangelical Christians are lining up behind. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.
This is the man behind whom more and more evangelical Christians are lining up. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.

On a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight“, John Oliver said, “Donald Trump is America’s back mole. It may have seemed harmless a year ago. But, now that it got frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it.” And, much as I wish he wasn’t, he is absolutely right. Especially since Trump is starting to pick up endorsements. The political ones, like Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions, don’t bother me a whole lot. Christie’s performance in the primaries shows that Americans think he’s a tool and Sessions has only to open his mouth for people to figure that out. No, it’s the religious leaders jumping on the Trump bandwagon that are most disconcerting to me.

Yes, beloved, I said “religious leaders”. Amazingly, The Donald is picking up a good deal of support among evangelical Christians. The list of endorsements from that quarter reads like a Who’s Who of the Religious Right. There’s

  • Jerry Falwell, Jr.
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
  • David Jeremiah
  • Jan Crouch
  • Paula White
  • Robert Jeffress

This list is not exhaustive, it only includes the ones I could verify this morning.

There is one endorsement that I feel deserves more than a mere mention in a list and it comes from James David Manning, “pastor” of ATLAH World Ministries. In the past, Manning has claimed that Starbucks uses semen to make their lattes “even more flavorful” and that gay men would “carry babies in the testicles for nine months and then gestate them out of their assholes” before the City of New York foreclosed on his church for non-payment of water bills. Understand that if you’re backing Trump, you agree with this psycho. Chew on that for a minute.

Of course, Manning isn’t the only “controversial” figure who has come out in support of The Donald; there’s a group with views even more disgusting than Manning’s who are lining up behind Trump: white supremacists. And, he’s cool with that.

Okay, given his comments about Islam and immigration, it’s really no surprise that Ku Klux Klan chiefs like Rachel  Pendergraft (national organizer for the Knights Party, a KKK standard-bearer) and former Grand Wizard David Duke like what they hear. But, it is more than a little shocking that, in 2016, a candidate for the highest office in the land refuses to disavow their support. This is not a joke, people. Trump actually refused, on national television, to condemn an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper gave The Donald multiple chances to distance himself from these people. Tapper brought up Duke’s message to white people that voting against Trump would be “treason to your heritage” and Trump…, well,  you just have to watch it for yourself:

Well, that’s “problematic” (and yes, I realize that is an understatement of massive proportions). But, even more problematic is the fact that it doesn’t seem to bother the Christians who are flocking to his campaign. You’d think the last thing people who follow Jesus would want is to be allied with representatives of what may be the most odious organization in American history (the GOP is coming on strong). But, I guess not. There’s no outrage, no calls for a boycott of all things Trump. Basically, there’s just silence. So far, all I’ve seen is Robert Jeffress’ answer to The Daily Beast’s request for a comment:  “Thanks but I think I’ll pass on this one!”

Siding with the Klan is right where you want to be as a Christian, isn’t it? You know, it’s one thing to watch Trump bullshit his way through hard questions (which are “hard” because he can’t answer the way he should for fear alienating a large part of his base), but it’s another to see a Christian run from the opportunity to call Trump out for not rejecting the support of such an awful group. It’s called “speaking truth to power” and it used to be a thing in Christianity. But, these days? Not so much, it seems.

Boycott Star Wars VII: Attack of the Idiots

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“Do people who want to #BoycottStarWarsVII realize that they’re the managers of the Mos Eisley Cantina in this story? ” Tweeted in reply to #BoycottStarWarsVII by Dr_RoButtNik

Two nights ago, the unthinkable happened: nerds watched Monday Night Football. Not because they were into the game. What, are you crazy? No, a few days earlier, ESPN shrewdly let slip the news that the trailer for the new Star Wars movie would air sometime during the broadcast. So, America’s geek community spent the entire first half of the game, huddled around their televisions with bated breath, awaiting a glimpse of what may be the most anticipated two and half minutes in U. S. movie history. Not being a jerk, I don’t want to make you wait that long, so check this out:

Is that not amazing? All I can say is, if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, you have no business claiming the title of “nerd”.

But, there is a fly in the ointment of all that awesomeness: it appears that a few people are upset because at least one of the lead characters in the latest film is black. What, there are racist nerds? I didn’t know that was even a thing. Sexist assholes who lose their shit when someone calls them out on their objectification of women, sure. But, racist? Didn’t even cross my mind.

Unfortunately, beloved, these unicorns exist, as the Boycott Star Wars VII hashtag painfully demonstrates. Evidently, casting two people of color in lead roles of a film that’s part of a franchise which, up to now, has featured a cast that’s predominantly been whiter than sour cream is somehow “white genocide” (I didn’t make that term up. It’s from one of these assholes’ tweets). And, it’s not just the cast that’s got these White Pride Warriors in a tizzy: director JJ Abrams is a “Jewish activist” who “is an anti-white nut”. Okay then.

I’m not really sure what their problem is. I mean, it’s not like previous Star Wars films haven’t featured minorities in prominent roles. Billy Dee Williams played the cool, urbane gambler-turned-city-administrator-turned-Rebel Alliance leader, Lando Calrissian. And, the voice of uber-villian Darth Vader was provided by James Earl Jones, also a black guy. I don’t know, maybe the problem is that the new movie has more than one person of color on-screen at a time (I guess not being able to see Jones’ face makes it easier to pretend he’s white). Or, maybe it’s because there’s an African-American and a Latino in this film. Who the hell knows? Trying to make sense of racism is like cleaning out a septic tank: it needs to be done, but after just a few minutes of it, you need a shower so badly.

As Trevor Noah mentioned on last night’s Daily Show, this isn’t the first time people have gotten their knickers in a twist over the race of a character in a popular literary/film franchise. It happened with The Hunger Games, Spiderman, and the latest Fantastic Four movie. It is interesting that this outrage only seems to happen in the science-fiction/fantasy community. But I’ve never seen it as particularly racist; more like sci-fi/fantasy fans are so very passionate about the things they love. Like Jordan Klepper said in the Daily Show clip, sci-fi nerds are always upset about something. But, this? It’s 2015, people. Why the fuck are we arguing about the race of two characters and not “the thrust speed of an X-34 landspeeder”.

Watching all this unfold yesterday, I was reminded of Shanghai McCoy (played by Strother Martin in “Rooster Cogburn) who said:

“Been around the Horn, sailed the seven seas, seen everything, done everything, that’s how I know people are rotten. I’ve seen ’em all.”

Right now, I’m thinking truer words were never spoken.

Well played, Arkansas. Well played.

This past weekend, the League of the South’s Arkansas chapter  celebrated America’s birthday with a rally in support of “traditional marriage” and, get this, the Confederate flag. I’ll pause here for a minute to the deliciousness of that irony sink in…, is that not awesome? Of course, it’s easy for me to revel in this amazing display of cognitive dissonance since it’s in Arkansas and not North Carolina. I suspect Jena Barber, the friend I must credit for bringing this morsel to my attention, doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

Now that you’ve stopped laughing at the sheer insanity of the event, you may be wondering, “Who the hell is the League of the South?” Oh, I’m so glad you asked (even if you didn’t). The League of the South is a crazy, whacked out group of secessionists who just happen to have their own private army. Oh, and they’ve been designated a Neo-Confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Of course, they don’t describe themselves that way; according to their website, they are “a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.” Right, because we haven’t lost that war already.

Why am I so happy about something that gives a black eye to the South; a region I love, warts and all? Because it’s not often I get I handed a gift like this. I mean, seriously, an organization designated a hate group by the SPLC has a rally in support of “Traditional Christian Marriage” and the Confederate flag? At the same time?!? Seriously, as a professional smart-ass, how could I not be thrilled by this breathtaking exhibition of cluelessness? If what you’ve read so far isn’t enough, here are 5 more reasons why:

  1. The historical amnesia _ Robert Miller, Arkansas’ Chair of the League of the South, said “the Confederate flag has about as much to do with racism as a Krispy Kreme donut has to do with representing police“. Okay, that’s not really what he said; that quote comes from a blog about Nickelodeon cancelling “The Dukes of Hazzard”. Miller actually made some rambling statement about racism being “irrelevant” and a tool “to silence the enemies of the left”. But, the sentiment is basically the same. Was the flag in question flown by the army of a country who justified owning black folks by counting them as less than human? Sure. And then, 100 years later, was it used as a symbol of defiance against the federal government as they enforced laws granting those black folks equal rights. Absolutely. But, that’s not racism, it’s our heritage.
  2. It’s a Confederate flag rally…, on the 4th of July _  Yes, this was a rally to support the flag of an enemy on the day that celebrates the birth of United States. And, not only that, the rally was staged by a group that wants to leave this country. Why, that  makes perfect sense.
  3. “Traditional Christian Marriage” _ Up until this point, I’ve mostly been talking about the flag, but there’s no way I could let this slide by. “Traditional Christian Marriage”, huh? Right, because marriage hasn’t changed one little bit over the years: marriages are arranged by families, women are basically chattel and are betrothed at ages as young as 12, divorce is the sole province of men, etc. Just so you know, I didn’t go back to the first century for those ideas; that’s the way marriage was in the United States as recently as the 1800’s.
  4. Cultural Genocide _ Yes, removing a symbol that is offensive to 30% of a state’s population from the grounds of a building that’s supposed to represent those people is “cultural genocide”. Just like the recognition that other people have the same rights that you’ve enjoyed for years violates your religious liberty.
  5. Freedom _ “Unless we are removed from them, unless we are free, unless we secede from the Union, we will never see a free south again.” Said by a man who is the state chairman of a group advocating an illegal act, while waving an enemy flag. And, didn’t get arrested for doing so.

I have to admit I’m a little jealous, though. I mean, North Carolina’s entry in this round of the “Race to Crazy” sweepstakes is sending a Klan group to Columbia SC to protest the discussion of another state to remove the flag from their capitol grounds. While that is some Grade A racism, it’s nowhere near as imaginative as a 4th of July rally in support of the Confederate battle flag and “traditional” marriage. Well played, Arkansas. Well played.

I Am Not Ashamed Of My Heritage…, Maybe

Protesters display Confederate flags United States flags from the bed of a pickup truck May 6 on a highway about 15 miles south of Miami in what organizers said was a protest to show support for Attorney General Janet Reno and respect for the flag. Organizers said they wanted to counteract demonstrations held by members of the Cuban-American community that followed the April 22 seizure of Cuban rafter Elian Gonzalez by government agents from the home of his Miami relatives. BC/CLH/
For the record, I am ashamed of crap like this.

It’s a tough time to be a somewhat-progressive white southerner with a history fetish. On one side are all your liberal friends insisting that the War Between The States (which is the polite name and southerners are nothing if not polite) was all about slavery. On the other side are your conservative friends who maintain that the war was fought over states rights. The truth is, both sides are right…, sort of. Yes, the war was actually fought over states rights. But, chief among the rights they were fighting for was the right to own other people. Granted, as distinction’s go, it’s not much of one. But, I’m trying build a bridge here, so cut me a little slack.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that whatever the Confederate flag might mean to me or any other white person, it’s offensive to our neighbors of color. Hospitality (which we southerners claim to be so good at) demands that we respect their wishes and remove it from spaces that are supposed to be open to everyone. Claiming that doing so is “caving in to political correctness” or that taking down flags in states you’ve never even visited  (much less lived in) is somehow a violation of your rights is, well, a little douchey. And, y’all need to stop that shit right now.

Okay, disclaimer issued, so let’s get on with it. Since this flag flap started, I’ve read several articles by southern people who have told us they’re ashamed of their heritage. They speak with great angst about how their ancestors owned other people or fought to divide this county. But, I can’t agree with these folks because I’m not ashamed of my heritage.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly what you’d call “proud” of my family’s history. But I don’t walk around with my head hung low, beating myself up because my ancestors owned other people. The truth is, there was only one of them (my great-great-grandfather) who could even have had the means. Whether he owned anyone or not, he wasn’t exactly a pleasant fellow (known as “the laziest man in Chatham County”, he somehow found the energy to cross the street and beat up a black man for speaking to a white woman). By and large, however, the men of my family in those days were yeoman farmers and tradesmen, just like the majority of the men who made up the Confederate Army. In other words, my family were rednecks and, for them, the war wasn’t about slavery.

So, why did men who didn’t own any slaves go to war in order to preserve the “peculiar institution“? They were duped. By who, you ask? By the planter class who sold them a bill of goods, telling them the Yankees wanted to trample their rights  so they’d fight a war that would preserve a system that was stacked against them. Of course, when that war was over, they found themselves left to their own devices. Until, that is, the master once again had need of his loyal servant. And so, they told them that smart ass Yankees and “uppity niggers” were conspiring to destroy their country, take their land and violate their women. And, just as they had in the War, they swallowed the lie, hook, line and sinker. In fact, whenever a threat to the gentry rears its head, that old chestnut is trotted out again and again. The wording is different, of course, but the message remains the same.

The Tea Party claims to be the descendents of the Founding Fathers, but in reality, they are the cultural descendents of those yeoman farmers and tradesmen who were tricked into serving the interests of people who have played them for fools since the earliest days of this country. And, today’s poor and working class people have learned their lessons well. Hell, the gentry doesn’t even have to say anything anymore, we jump on our black brothers and sisters without being asked, kicking them back down all on our own and waving a Confederate flag the whole time. Shit, I’ll bet even Pavlov would be impressed with that kind of conditioning

Educationally, financially and pretty much every way you can think of, the working people of the South, both black and white, have been (and continue to be) shit on by their “betters”. Sometimes, those “betters” owned vast plantations worked by slaves. Other times, they’re wealthy industrialists who own politicians. And, lately, those “betters” are their own sons and daughters who write condescending articles about how ashamed they are of their backward/racist/treasonous families. It’s so fucking sad that, sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep from crying.

So, no, I am not ashamed of my heritage. I’m not ashamed because it is a history of good people doing the best they could with what they had; which, most of the time, wasn’t very much. I’ll be damned if I’m ashamed of that.