Category Archives: racism

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.

 

It’s That Time of Year Again: The Annual “What I’m Thankful For” Post

How about the fact that this shitty ass year is almost over?
How about the fact that this shitty ass year is almost over?

Well, beloved, today is Thanksgiving and you know what that means: It’s time for my annual semi-snarky “What I’m Thankful for” post. This tradition started before the “gratitude challenge” became a thing, but being a dedicated curmudgeon, “What I’m Thankful For” quickly turned into a vehicle for skewering American’s penchant for jumping on a bandwagon while totally ignoring the implications of that bandwagon. Plus, I’m enough  of asshole to really enjoy letting the air out of people’s balloons.

 Saying this year’s post was hard to write  is a bit like saying the Titanic’s maiden voyage hit a snag: true, but a massive understatement. By any reckoning, 2016 has sucked ass. In a year that began with the death of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and is ending with a god damned reality star elected president, it was a bit hard to find things for which to be thankful. Hell, I can’t even say, “It could be worse” with any confidence, because I’m not sure that it could. But, it’s Thanksgiving and this what I do at Thanksgiving. so here goes:
  • Thanksgiving break _ In case you missed it, I’ve gone back to school, pursuing a degree in English. It’s been awhile since I was in the academic world and had sort of forgotten how nice it is to have some time where you aren’t freaking out because an assignment you haven’t even started is due in a few hours. But, my enjoyment is tempered by the fact that finals are right around the corner. And, I have a test on my second day back. Good times.
  • My Chucks _ By “Chucks”, I mean Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. I’m thankful for them for many reasons, but mostly because they’re not New Balance, which has been declared “the official shoe of white people” by The Daily Stormer. Sure, they aren’t “Made in America” anymore, but at least I’m not wearing something endorsed a racist neo-Nazi, alt-right asshole.
  • Pandora Radio _ I have to arrive at school around 7:30 every morning or I have walk what feels like a couple of miles to get to my classes, the first of which starts at 9 AM. I end up spending the intervening time in the cafeteria where the televisions are tuned to ESPN’s SportsCenter (or worse, Headline News). Thanks to Pandora, I can tune out all that inane bullshit  and enjoy something a little more edifying. Like the Weird Al Yankovic channel.
  • Social media _ Every so often, I see people talking about a social media fasts or telling their friends they just can’t take it anymore and their getting off Facebook for a while. Not me. I can’t see any instance where I would willingly give up Twitter or Facebook. I mean, where else am I going to find daily, even hourly, reminders that I’m not the absolute worst person in the world?
  • My friends with young kids _ Because it’s nice to be reminded just how wonderful it is that my kids are grown and (almost) gone.
  • Blog material won’t be hard to come by for the next four years. Yeah, this one’s pretty much an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. But what are you gonna do?

If you’re thinking this year’s list is darker than ones from the past, you’re probably right. But, like I said earlier, 2016 has sucked ass. I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful that it’s almost over.

RNC Follies

During a recent Facebook Live prayer event, Franklin Graham said that our country “is in trouble”. He even went so far as to say, “We’re on the precipice of anarchy.” And, I agree with him 100%. Why would I ever agree with anything Franklin says? Simple, I’ve been following the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. And, if what went down in Cleveland last week is any indicator, anarchy is what we’re in for if we elect this Roald Dahl villian come to life.

Starting with a speech which turned out to have portions lifted from that of another First Lady and ending with an address that had everyone who heard it shitting their pants, this year’s RNC was a “five-alarm dumpster fire”. I realize that’s a little unkind to dumpster fires, but it is an apt description. Why would I say that? Check out the following observations:

  • Monday night, we were treated to a speech from Melania Trump. By now, the plagiarism angle is old news. But, there is something I haven’t heard brought up: Melania’s speechwriters decided to steal from Michelle Obama, someone Republicans have spent  the last 8 years belittling and demeaning. So, Michelle is a joke of a First Lady until you need some words for cour candidate’s Barbie doll wife to say during her first public outing? Why that makes perfect sense!
  • Then, there’s Rudy Giuliani, who contributed to the fear-mongering spoke on “Make America Safe Again” night (also Monday). Filled with the usual half-truths and empty rhetoric that characterizes any Republican speech about Hillary, Rudy’s address was notable for two reasons: Giuliani took the “angry white man” shtick to another level and, amazingly, he didn’t mention “9-11” one single time. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who uses that phrase as punctuation.
  • Tuesday’s theme was “Make America Work Again” . Now, one might expect a night with such a title  to be about jobs and such.  Instead, it was a Hillary Hatefest. including a  mock trial of Hillary Clinton conducted by Michelin Man impersonator, Chris Christie. Evidently, the only jobs Republicans are interested in are Fox News pundit or Unhinged Right Wing Talk Radio Host.
  • Wednesday night, Ted Cruz spoke and, well, it was awesome! Cruz, in an act of defiance, refused to endorse Trump, instead telling the crowd to vote their conscience. The crowd’s response? They booed. I mean, really booed. You know, if someone tells you to ” vote your conscience” instead of blindly endorsing your candidate and you boo them off the stage, what does that say about your candidate?
  • Of course, we have to talk about The Donald’s acceptance speech.  Like Giuliani and all the other speakers who did their level best to scare the living shit out of anyone within earshot, The Donald pulled out all the stops. The America in his speech made the desert hellscape of “Mad Max: Fury Road” look like a utopian paradise. It makes sense, though., since Trump probably has more in common with Immortan Joe than a U. S. president.
  • But, perhaps the most interesting thing about this little shindig was the absence of anything remotely related to Jesus and what he taught. That’s a little funny don’t you think? I mean, the Republicans have told us for years that they own Christianity and yet, from what I saw, Christianity was pretty much absent from their convention. Jesus (you know, the guy the Christian faith is based on?) told his followers not to fear, to love their neighbors, to welcome the stranger, to care for the poor and more. In other words, pretty much the polar opposite of everything said in Cleveland last week.

After watching this shit show unfold, I have reached an unavoidable conclusion: If you aren’t horrified by what we’ve seen the last few days and driven to do whatever it takes to keep this deranged Oompa-Loompa out of the White House, you are no longer in touch with reality. Trump should be polling behind a fucking sweet potato. Instead, he’s neck and neck with Hillary. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like what that says about America right now.

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.

Remembering History: The Greensboro Sit-ins

I wrote the first version of this post three years ago. Since this is the anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-ins, I thought this would a good time to dust it off and give you an updated version. Enjoy.

The Greensboro Sit-ins at their height: 63 of 66 seats taken by African-American students waiting to be served. It only took 6 months for them to get a bite to eat.

57 years ago today, four college students walked in and sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N. C. Now, a group of people sitting down at the lunch counter wasn’t a big deal; it happened every day. But, this? This was different.

You see, these four young men, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair (now Jibreel Khazan) and David Richmond, were African-American and African-Americans were not served at this particular lunch counter. If a black person wanted to eat at Woolworth’s, they went to the counter in the basement. But, under no circumstances did they sit down at the main counter upstairs, a custom that prevailed in Woolworth stores across the south in those days.

But, these four 17-year-old freshmen did just that, politely asking to be served. Eventually, the manager asked them to leave, but they didn’t; they stayed on those stools until closing time. The next morning, the four, later known as the Greensboro Four, were back along with 20 of their peers, including students from Bennett College (a historically black women’s college in Greensboro). On the third day, 60 students showed up. By the fourth day, the crowd had grown to more than 300 people and 63 of the 66 seats at the lunch counter occupied by young African-Americans with final three seats taken by waitresses. That must have been a sight to see.

At first, Woolworth’s stood by their policy, stating they would abide by local custom and keep the counter segregated. But, after 6 months of bad sales and worse publicity, they relented and opened it anyone. The story doesn’t end there, however.

The actions of these four young men started a chain reaction, with sit-ins happening all over the south which led to the desegregation of not just lunch counters, but other places as well. In May of 1960, a group of Nashville students led by John Lewis, the Georgia congressman our president recently accused of all talk and no action, achieved citywide desegregation. The genie was out of the bottle and there was no going back.

The sit-ins also led the SCLC to fund a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh N. C. for delegates from the sit-in centers, 19 northern colleges and groups like CORE, and the SDS . Out of this conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was formed. To say the sit-ins changed the face of the civil rights movement is an understatement. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have nearly as successful if those four young men hadn’t walked into Woolworth’s that day.

I grew up in Greensboro and, for North Carolina, it’s a pretty progressive town. I’m not sure why, Maybe, it’s because this area was originally settled by Quakers, a group known for being progressive. Guilford County was a stop on the Underground Railroad and Levi Coffin, one of the most well-known conductors, grew up here. And, of course, there are the Sit-ins.

But Greensboro has a split personality when it comes to race and civil rights. Yes, it was here that sit-ins brought new attention to the civil rights movement. But, it was also here that, in 1979, a group of Nazis and Klansmen shot and killed 5 protesters in what is known as the Greensboro Massacre. Go figure.

Here in the United States, we’ve come a long way regarding equality. Jim Crow laws are pretty much a thing of the past (the overt ones, at least). Black people are welcome in any establishment in the city and their employment opportunities have increased. Sounds good, huh?

On the surface, maybe. But, according to the latest data, almost 1 in 5 people in this city live below the poverty line and most of them are black. And, in the last few years, North Carolina has enacted new voting laws that purposely make it harder for African-Americans to vote. To top it all off, the President of the United States is a black man and has been subjected to more vitriol than any president in recent memory. The intransigence that seems to be a part of American (especially southern) DNA, can be discouraging. When it is, reading about what happened in 1960 lifts my spirits. If we could make those changes, the ones facing us today aren’t so bad. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Double Standards Abound

Searched #YallQueda and this came up. That's not condescending at all.
Searched #YallQaeda and this came up. Why,that’s not condescending at all.

For the past few days, the internet has been abuzz with news about the militia stand-off in Burns, Oregon. From what I can see, it’s mostly progressive people perpetuating this chatter; my conservative friends are generally silent on the matter. The media hasn’t been much help, either. Much of their coverage has followed along the lines of this tweet from ABC:

Screen-Shot-2016-01-02-at-9.40.46-PM

Peaceful protest? As my friend Michael Woywood pointed out, “…the guns used to take over this building didn’t magically appear. “Accio rifles!”… probably didn’t happen.” I would add that an action like this doesn’t come off on the spur of the moment; to be successful, they need planning. That means when these protesters showed up, they were armed and they had a plan that likely included at least the possibility of violence. In my opinion, that pretty much precludes the idea of a “peaceful protest”.

There have also been posts, articles, memes, etc. pointing out a number of the double standards visible in this incident. Most of them are along of the lines of “black man with gun = thug. White man with gun = patriot”. But, there is a double standard that’s not getting much play: the one that says it’s not cool to use stereotypes to denigrate people of color, but it is acceptable, not to mention uproariously funny, to use them to mock poor rural white folks.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record that I am a white working-class southerner and I have a certain kinship with the  militia folks out in Oregon. I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they’re coming from. Because of that, if I have to listen to one more pretentious educated-beyond-their-intellgence “progressive” gleefully crow about #YallQaeda, someone’s going to get the shit slapped out of them. That’s some classist bullshit and it needs to stop.

It is a pretty common belief among blue-collar white people that they are the last group that it’s still okay to make fun of and there is some truth in that belief. Before you get your panties in a wad, think about this: how many of us get upset about words like “n—–r” or “c—k”, but have no problem with “white trash”, “cracker” or “redneck”? What the hell, progressives? Did we use up all our vaunted tolerance on minorities and people of color and have none left for working class white folks?

When you’re done laughing at your clever, little hashtag smack down, think about this: whenever you say that shit, you are reinforcing the belief of poor and working class rural white people that they are, in fact, persecuted and under attack. You want to know why they “vote against their interest” (i.e. Republican)? It’s partly because they don’t believe the Democratic Party gives a shit about their interests; probably because it’s run by people who think these folks are ignorant hillbillies and don’t bother to hide it. To be fair, the Republicans believe this too, but at least they’re smart enough not to say it out loud.

As I say in the title, double standards abound. That’s as true on the progressive side of things as it is on the conservative. Unfortunately, we’ve been so busy pointing out the speck in our conservative brother’s and sister’s eyes we haven’t seemed to notice the log in our own. Maybe it’s time we did something about that.

Unintentional Irony + Thinly-veiled Racism = Final Thoughts With Tomi Lahren

Illume_Islamophobia_Ridz_002I’ve stayed away from commenting on the shootings that occurred in San Bernardino the other day. I’ve done so for multiple reasons, including that I don’t know what to say and that I’m sick to death of hearing about these mass shooting atrocities. I also didn’t want to add to the cacophony of voices spewing unfounded bullshit. And, let’s be honest, that bullshit came from both sides. The gunsmoke hadn’t even cleared before progressives started their cries for stricter gun control laws even though there is not a law being considered right now that would have prevented this tragic event. And, after we found out that the alleged shooters were Muslims, the right switched over from their pious “thoughts and prayers” rhetoric to thinly veiled racism. But, TheBlaze’s “Final Thoughts With Tomi Lahren” took that racism to a new level in a video titled “God Bless San Bernardino” (there’s no way to embed it here, so click the link).

In a display of breathtaking ignorance, Lahren begins her video with a litany of evidence she considers damning: Stockpiled weapons, explosives, trips to the Middle East, connections to radical clerics. Is it completely circumstantial and really proves nothing? Sure it is, but why bother with trivialities like that? We’ve got to “protect” ourselves. Who cares if some people’s rights get trampled in the process? As long as they’re not hers, of course.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Lahren’s list is that, with the exception of “Middle East travel”, it could apply to more than a few Christians; including Robert Lewis Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter. Of course, Lahren makes no mention of that in any of her videos. The silence of right-wing media types on this subject is telling. It’s the kind of inconvenient and uncomfortable truth they are masters at ignoring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset that people are saying that it looks like Farooq and his wife are terrorists; the more we learn about these two, the more that appears to be true. What upsets me is that people have no problem calling them terrorists before all the facts are in, but refuse to acknowledge the same for Dear, even after evidence pointing to that fact is available. I wonder why that might be?

About a minute into her rant, Lahren says, “Folks, if radical Christians start taking over entire countries and radicalizing others on Twitter and YouTube, I will be the first to say something. But, guess what? That’s not happening!” That may be the most unintentionally ironic statement I’ve ever heard. I mean, did a seemingly intelligent adult seriously say, out loud, that Christians aren’t radicalizing people on social media?!? What, are the Planned Parenthood videos, and the attacks on the LGBTQ community and people in poverty figments of my imagination? Hmm, maybe it’s not “radicalization” if it reinforces what you already believe.

Lahren’s cluelessness continues as she hews to the party line about guns, saying that terrorists avoid places like Texas and South Dakota because those places have guns and “Syed Farooq would probably be on the floor with a cap in his butt before he could murder 14 people.” Unfortunately, for Lahren and her Rambo-fantasizing friends, there is ample evidence to show that, most likely, this wouldn’t be the case. Perhaps the most damning is a report from ABC’s 20/20 about this very thing. They ran multiple scenarios which included civilians with varying degrees of experience with firearms (complete novice to gun enthusiast with 100’s of hours at the range). They gave them more training than most states require for a concealed carry permit, armed them with a training weapon and put them in active shooter situations. Not a single one was able to stop the gunman before being hit themselves. In fact, the majority never even got their weapon out and fired; the novice was the only one who did, and she was hit in the head before getting her shot off. So much for that idea.

Ending her “commentary” in a final blaze of ignorance glory, Lahren tells her viewers that “We can’t walk around paranoid, we can’t stay in our homes scared of the next radical”. That’s interesting condsidering that she spent 2 minutes attempting to scare the shit out of people. But, that’s really the raison d’etre of TheBlaze. Well, that and pissing people off. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty good recipe for…, what was that term she used a little earlier? Oh yeah, “radicalization”.

The Battle Of The Cup

Red cup returns ! #starbucks #holiday #ueno

Apparently, this is what a “war on Christmas” looks like.

I had originally planned to start this piece by telling you that the conservative’s “War on Christmas” has started early this year, thanks to Starbucks’ new minimalist holiday cup design. Unless you live under a rock, however, you already know that because “The Battle Of The Cup” is all but inescapable. If, however, you don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is in a nutshell: the 2015 Starbucks holiday cup is red and unadorned with any Christmas-ey decorations. For some reason, that has sent conservative Christians into a frenzy and declare that Starbucks did so “because they hate Jesus.” I don’t know who started this shit, but Starbucks needs to track them down and thank them because you just can’t buy this kind of publicity.

This brouhaha started over the weekend and, by now, it has been written/discussed/dissected by people much smarter than I and all the decent, intelligent comments about this situation have already been made  so there’s no point in my going there. But, that’s okay because it allows me to play to my strengths: ridicule and sarcasm. And, I have to say, if ever a situation called for ridicule and sarcasm, it’s this one.

Think about it for a minute: Some Christians, members of the dominant culture in this country (78.4% of Americans identify as Christian, a decline from previous studies), are upset because a business decides not to cater to their whim and declare that it’s part of some liberal, PC “War on Christmas”. I swear, some days, this shit writes itself.

Now, most of this freak out is part of the the aforementioned “War on Christmas”, which is really a fabrication perpetrated by a certain television news network to keep conservatives whipped up about bullshit so they don’t realize how badly they’ve been used by the Republican Party. But, that whole “decline in the number of people who identify as Christian” plays a role, too. If only because, without it, said news network wouldn’t have any fear to play on and what would they do then?

Seriously though, have things gotten so bad for Christians that we can no longer afford to share the month of December with folks who believe a little differently? I mean, we’ve only been sharing this month for, well, as long as there’s been this thing called Christmas. In the next month and a half, there are at least 8 non-Christian holidays being celebrated. Granted, the majority of them are either Muslim or Pagan, which don’t really count as far as the folks who have their knickers in a twist over all this are concerned. But, at least one of those holidays is Jewish and I thought we liked Jews. Or, do we only like Jews when we’re separated by an ocean?

But, all the reasons aside, I really don’t get what all the shouting’s about. I mean, it’s not like previous Starbucks holiday cups were an integral part of “putting the Christ back in Christmas”. In years past, the cups have featured snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas ornaments, and other secular symbols of the season. No nativity scenes, no stars, no Madonna’s (Jesus’ mom, not the singer). So, what’s the big deal about a plain red cup? Wasn’t it just a few years ago that most of these people were singing some piece of crap song about red cups? Maybe if they’d put a little of the stuff from their red solo cup into the Starbucks cup, they wouldn’t be so pissed off.

Look, there are plenty of things in this country that are a war on the very spirit of Christmas: violence, poverty, hunger, racism, homelessness, etc. Why is it that those things are bearable, but a fucking paper cup that doesn’t have Christmas crap plastered all over it means secular forces have declared war on the season? A more cynical person would probably say it’s because getting mad at Starbucks doesn’t require people to do actually do anything other than be outraged, while addressing those other things might mean giving up some of our stuff or interacting with “those people”. But, I’m not saying that. I’m not saying that at all.

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.

Oh Boy, Columbus Day!

lets-celebrate-columbus-day-by-walking-into-someones-house-and-telling-them-we-live-there-nowIt appears the name of the holiday we’re presently celebrating has been changed to “Be A Condescending Dick Day” and no one bothered to let me know. Sorry if that comes off a little rough, but I am so over all the Columbus Day bullshit some of my progressive friends have throwing up on social media. Not so much that I’m about to punch my computer screen; it’s more at the “listen to a Ben Carson speech” level (which might actually be worse, now that I think about it). Armchair activists bore the living shit out of me. Said the guy who spends an inordinate amount of time posting snarky shit on the internet.

It would be different if all this anti-Columbus stuff was coming from Native Americans, but it’s not; every single thing has come from white folks. A few items have been shared from a native person’s page or is in their voice (blog posts, articles, etc.) and those are cool. They’re also a little disturbing because I’m not seeing them firsthand, which means my friends/follow list isn’t nearly as diverse as I thought it was. But, the vast majority are posted by white people from other white people. Why is it that allies of oppressed people are usually more strident than the oppressed people themselves? I love you guys, but you’re getting on my nerves.

I make two exceptions for these anti-Columbus Day posts: 1) This clip from John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” because it’s funny (and Oliver is one of my idols) and 2) this comic from The Oatmeal, which doesn’t just slam Columbus (even though the dude deserves it), it offers an alternative. Yes, I am aware that there is a move to transform Columbus Day into  Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but come on. We ignore the shit out of this holiday now and it’s about a white guy. Do you really think changing it into a day that celebrates people who aren’t white is going to go over any better? Especially when the purpose is to remind us of the shitty way we’ve treated Native Americans? Oh yeah, Americans will piss themselves in excitement to celebrate that holiday.

Sure, Columbus was a massive asshole and, we really, really shouldn’t have a holiday named after him. Hell, I’ll even go so far as to admit Columbus Day should be changed to a day that honors Native American contributions to this country. I would say that armchair activism isn’t going to get us there, but I’d be wasting my breath since progressive white people only seem to interested in taking on causes that don’t cost them anything, like Columbus Day or gun control. But, this way is easier and it looks so cool on Facebook. I guess that’s what really matters isn’t it?