kitchen_kink: (demon)
One of the goals of the Mexican-American studies program in Tucson was to promote Latino critical race pedagogy. Well, you know, for non-academics, that probably just sounds like gobbledygook, but the whole idea of promoting race pedagogy I think strikes most Americans as very un-American.

-Linda Chavez, Chair, Center for Equal Opportunity



For those who don't know, Arizona has failed at race relations yet again. Twice in one month is pretty astonishing for a state, I know. But besides the insane immigration law, Arizona has now passed a law essentially banning ethnic studies classes from public schools, claiming that they promote the overthrow of the US government and ill feeling toward white people. (There might be other reasons why the Mexican, African-American and Native American kids are pissed at the white kids, but that isn't addressed here.)

I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR yesterday and finding myself becoming more and more incensed. Neal Conan was moderating a discussion including the woman quoted above (who, incidentally, is also a Fox News political commentator and notable arch-conservative, but nobody bothered to mention that), who is the head of "the only [conservative] think tank devoted exclusively to the promotion of colorblind equal opportunity and racial harmony." This organization has a hotline called "Affirmative Action Watch," which has people call in discrimination complaints if someone gets hired because of affirmative action. So we start with this winner.

Then they add James Banks, who is professor of diversity studies and director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington-Seattle. He's obviously knowledgeable and, dare I say it, sweet, but he's not as quick on his feet on the radio as his interlocutor. Still, he fights hard and gets pretty pissed at one point, citing recent (if controversial) research.

What annoyed me so much was that nobody was actually willing to say, "Yes, these kids are angry; yes, America is still racist and these kids should know that; no, the most important goal should not be to assimilate kids into becoming the same as everyone else and fulfilling the white Anglo-American dream." Someone actually called in and said "How would you feel if there were a Caucasian Studies course?" I almost yelled at the radio, "There is - that's American History class!" Chavez used familiar language about putting race "on the back burner," promoting color-blindness, and not wanting to excite hostilities or make kids believe they are victims. Nobody on the show talked at all about how much this is an example of white people being terrified. James Banks, I believe, was very concerned about proving how innocuous the ethnic studies programs were - which is a good goal if you're in his position, I think, but it still makes me angry. It made me extra-angry when Conan seemed to favor Chavez's speech over his, stopping him from speaking to let her finish several times, saying once, "You already said that," and then dropping this gem when Banks got too uppity:

"But James Banks, one thing you were talking about, classes like the ones that Willis is describing that were in the Marine Corps that were inclusive of all groups, not just one group in particular. And as I think you know, Linda Chavez has studied education for much of her life and is her opinions are based on more than just opinion. So that's why we have her on the program." [Full transcript behind link.]

This, after it had been made explicit several times that the Arizona classes do not exclude students of any race, and after Banks got exasperated and said we shouldn't go by opinions "based on just whatever."

I wanted to call in and ask everyone: haven't a single one of you even read the most basic of texts on race and privilege? Have you all been asleep while you sit here and use one derailing tactic after another to keep this conversation dumbed down and not moving toward any change at all?

Sorry this isn't incredibly coherent. Any help on this? Comments? *flails*
kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
It's nights like this that I'm proud to be an American. Or something.

Tonight, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] imlad and I kept to a tradition we'd been exercising for a few years. We have these friends who live in Beacon Hill, and from the rooftop of their apartment building, you get a spectacular view of Boston's fireworks display.

Now these friends are people [livejournal.com profile] imlad knew before he met me. That is, well, they're mundanes. Mind you, they're awesome mundanes. Smart, funny, interesting people, into ancient Greece and modern art, who invite people over who are usually the same sorts of mundanes. We are, in a sense, their pet freaks, and we enjoy being so, and now and then we meet people there who look like they could be pushed over the edge with a feather.

This time, though, the gathering was smaller. Our favorite couple there was now a single, the wife having split and moved to Atlanta. The cooler people we'd met in the past were absent. Our host's busybody older sister and her obnoxious husband were there. We had some chit chat and some nice food, and then headed up to the roof to await the fireworks display.

All around were the other denizens of the building, most of whom seemed to be young and annoying, the types who yell inane things like "YEAH baby! DO it!" every time a big firework explodes. And as I sat and waited for the festivities to begin, I realized a profound truth that doesn't often occur to me anymore in my life: I was bored.

I had spent the afternoon surrounded by people I know and love. My people; my community. I'm very lucky to spend so much time in their embrace, enveloped in their love, sharing food and booze and touch and watching their kids run around underfoot. I don't think I express my gratitude often enough for the fact that, essentially, I'm shielded from the world by a different, smaller world that is being created, day by day, by the awesome people who surround me.

And here I was, on a rooftop in Beacon Hill, surrounded by the kind of people who would bring a television out onto a roofdeck so as, presumably, to watch the fireworks on television and in real life at the same time.

As if to make the final point, the fireworks began. And while at first they were very lovely as always, as the show went on, it began to generate so much smoke that eventually the fireworks couldn't be seen at all. The finale was a series of degenerate booms ringing out over a cheering crowd, who were probably actually crying out their dying breaths before they asphyxiated. Even the one thing that seemed like a guaranteed good time failed us this year, the spectacle we'd come for literally lost in a puff of smoke.

We flowed down the stairs and flopped on the couch, where we watched the post-processing on the local news while we waited out the first wave of people leaving the Esplanade. After a hyper-cheery report on the just-finished fireworks display, which apparently thrilled everyone to death (maybe literally) in spite of the fact that nobody could see it, the news did an editorial piece on why people in Massachusetts are really patriotic, in spite of the fact that Massachusetts is one of the bluest states in the nation.

Let me just say that again so it sinks in.

Even though Massachusetts is a really blue state, its citizens love celebrating their patriotism!

Because we all know that liberals and Democrats hate America.

So this was the idea of the report. The substance? Showing the happy people gathered on the Esplanade in front of the Hatch Shell, bedecked with styrofoam Liberty spikes and waving the American flag, smiling empty, vapid smiles while listening to the Pops grind out Tchaikovsky for the nth time (a tune, by the way, commemorating Russia's defeat of Napoleon in 1812, not our defeat of the British) while fireworks explode over their heads (or at least that's what it sounded like). Then, showing people in other cities, protesting the government's actions! Gasp! Horrors! People who disagree with the government!

How unpatriotic. Juxtapose that with a heartwarming story about a father and son who just came home from serving in Iraq together (they're so proud), and there's your dose of news for the night.

By this point I was so depressed I started to fall asleep, so we said our goodbyes and walked out onto the street, where a sinister police helicopter was circling, shining a searchlight into the alleys below. Streetlights flashed and the sidewalks swarmed with happy patriots trying to return to their homes. Outside of the Charles MGH station, these masses stood, waiting for the armed guards to let them pass in groups into the station.

Yes, really.

On the train home, my feet aching, I stood listening to the conversations around me. A loud man behind me said, "That's your problem, you're so negative about everything. That's why I hate my family. I hate them, because they're always so negative about everything, you know?!"

Do people even listen to what comes out of their mouths?

I don't have broadcast TV at home. The local news is telling people that dissent is unpatriotic, that they should be afraid to walk the streets at night, that being an American is about war and triumph and F15 flyovers and not about what freedom actually means. The circus we go through every year at the Hatch Shell celebrates all of that, and decides that the Raging Grannies in Portland Oregon or wherever are a bunch of commies who hate America.

And a 16-year-old looking kid stands outside the closing doors of a train and says, to someone safely crammed inside the car, "I'll kill you. I swear it. If I see you around, I'll kill you." I watch his dead eyes, flickering cold blue light like TV screens, as the train pulls painfully out of the station.

Back in Davis Square we meet somebody we know almost instantly; she comments on [livejournal.com profile] imlad's kilt as we mount the escalator. On the brick-lined street, a passing kid is singing "Holiday in Cambodia."

At last we're home, and I feel again the tenuousness of my position, the baby-fine but strong filament on which I soar in love. Those threads that weave themselves over me and my loved ones, in a web that I wish weren't necessary.

But it is. Because every time I venture into the larger world I'm reminded of one of the things that depresses me, and that I so wish weren't true: the vast majority of people are sheep. Docile, stupid, reactionary, ugly, greedy, empty-eyed consumers fueled by beer and fear. They're living the American nightmare. And only a very few will awaken in their lifetimes.

As we rounded the last corner to our house, a bumper sticker on a parked car caught my eye. Incongruously but piercingly, it said only, "Sift."
kitchen_kink: (demon)
A college senior at UConn was sexually assaulted, fought off her attacker, then was circled and further assaulted by a pack of cheering dudes - whom she also fought her way out of.

On the one hand, her fighting back, then writing about it in the school newspaper, is awesome.

On the other hand, dude, you see a woman attacked and you laugh and attack her some more?

And then you start with your blame the victim bullshit, and confirm other girls' shame and feeling that they shouldn't come forward about their own experiences with rape and assault?

The title of this post was my favorite comment from the first linked article. If we can't change the attitudes that make these boys act they way they do, perhaps it's time to arm the female populace. Is rage all that will stop this?
kitchen_kink: (Default)
I just got back from the gym, which I rode a bike to and from, in the rain, and while there, jogged for 20 minutes, or over a mile and a half, without stopping to walk.

This is unheard of in my previous experience. But after running nearly 10 minutes in a row the other day, I did my five-minute warmup today and then, after five minutes, figured, "why not ten?" And after ten, why not fifteen? Then all of a sudden, I'd run the whole thing.

What makes me furious is that for all the required gym classes I suffered through in school, nobody ever taught me *how* to run, or how to enjoy it. We were simply required to do it and not ask questions. From the time I was small and had to do the 600 yard dash, I recall being unable to do it. I'd run my little heart out, but after a quite short time, I'd have to stop, panting and wheezing. I'd walk for a little while, feeling the stitch in my side, my tongue swelling, the taste of iron in my mouth. But no matter how long I walked I couldn't regain the ability to run again, and when I reached the end of the course I would collapse and need to catch my breath for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, at home, my older cousin would challenge me to foot races, giving me a ten second head start and still creaming me easily.

By high school I'd pretty much decided that I am One Who Runs Only When Chased, and, as in all other affairs of gym class, wore my athletic ineptitude as a badge of pride. (It got me teased slightly less than if I actually tried to do well.) At some point in our junior year, we were forced to run a mile. We trained for it for several weeks, basically by getting out there every day and running as far as we could.

Naturally, I hit up against the same wall: as far as I could was less than five minutes, and then I'd hit what I now know is an exercise-induced asthma attack and would be able to go no further. In the end I said fuck the gym teachers and walked the goddamn mile.

Did these so-called teachers ever think to show the weaker runners how to interval-train? How to use proper form so that you're using your whole body to propel yourself forward, not just your legs? How to prevent injury? Of course not. It was just, "Get the lead out!" and other such wonderfully creative tools of humiliation. Which at that point was as good as dooming my grade, because I responded to humiliation with anger and spite and refusal to do anything, not with trying harder.

A few months ago, all I had to do was go to coolrunning.com and get the "couch-to-5k" running plan. At first running a minute at a time was difficult.

Today I ran my mile at last. And then some. Fuck you, public school gym class.
kitchen_kink: (demon)
I've been meaning to write this review for a long time, and by now I've all but lost the rage that was to drive it. I'm hoping it will nonetheless still be interesting at least.

300

It seems I can count on at least one thing when one of Frank Miller's comic books gets adapted into a film: I will be outraged and disturbed enough to write an angry and hopefully thought-provoking essay about it.

But while I could see the beauty of Sin City and had some difficulty pinning down what made me sick about it, 300 gave me no such problems.

Its flaws and infuriating qualities were quite obvious.

When I left the theatre after watching this fiasco, I was boiling over. I didn't even manage to get out of the building before literally screaming to my viewing partner, "Where do I start??!!" And so it seemed possible that right then was not the right time to write a review. Instead, I ranted, from the Somerville Theatre all the way to my house and beyond, about all the the things in this film that made me want to tear my skin off while watching it.

Now let me start by saying that I know that some of the things I'm going to criticize in this movie are merely portrayals of a certain kind of society, one whose belief systems an audience member such as myself may or may not agree with. I will dispense with this objection before it is made, by pointing out the unequivocal way in which this film glorifies and fetishizes the way of life that this version of Sparta represents. Before going any further, I put forth as an argument that this film does not merely portray a particular society, however fantastically; it endorses it.

Now there's already been a bit of talk from certain astute film reviewers about 300's references to the current U.S. administration and its relationship to the Middle East; I'm certainly not going to be the first to mention it. But besides my glib snarl after seeing it that "this movie was financed by Karl Rove," there are deeper questions of the rhetoric chosen here that warrant further examination. And beyond these issues, which are troubling enough, there are vast problems of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism, and outright eugenicism that need to be addressed. I've heard some people say that watching this movie was "like a video game," or that it was just "fun" and made them feel like going out and kicking ass. That's all well and good, and I'm far from being against fun, or even ass-kicking, particularly where action movies are concerned. But there are times when we need to take a closer look at what these images are telling us, and what messages we are absorbing into our psyches without further thought. Just as many of us get desensitized to the news and/or don't look at it terribly critically, other cultural markers such as film tell stories about what assumptions are present in our culture now. I believe we ignore them at our peril, both as individuals and as a society. But now I'm getting all soapboxy. On to the movie.

It's raining men... )
kitchen_kink: (demon)
Is there. A reason. Why iPhoto.

Is the SLOWEST FUCKING PROGRAM ON THE PLANET???!!!

[Edited to add:] Anyone have suggestions for other Mac-friendly photo-organizing programs that don't cost $200?
kitchen_kink: (demon)
Dear Whatever Motherfuckers Control New England Weather,

This freezing cold, windy, rainy crap that's been keeping me snuggled in bed until mid-morning and huddled under blankets at my desk?

It can stop any god damn time now, thanks.

Sincerely yours,
Fuck You
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Current university as consumer haven.

Some highlights:

How I feel in class every day:
"Too often now the pedagogical challenge is to make a lot from a little. Teaching Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," you ask for comments. No one responds. So you call on Stephen. Stephen: "The sound, this poem really flows." You: "Stephen seems interested in the music of the poem. We might extend his comment to ask if the poem's music coheres with its argument. Are they consistent? Or is there an emotional pain submerged here that's contrary to the poem's appealing melody?" All right, it's not usually that bad. But close. One friend describes it as rebound teaching: they proffer a weightless comment, you hit it back for all you're worth, then it comes dribbling out again. Occasionally, a professor will try to explain away this intellectual timidity by describing the students as perpetrators of postmodern irony, a highly sophisticated mode. Everything's a slick counterfeit, a simulacrum, so by no means should any phenomenon be taken seriously. But the students don't have the urbane, Oscar Wilde-type demeanor that should go with this view. Oscar was cheerful, funny, confident, strange. (Wilde, mortally ill, living in a Paris flophouse: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.") This generation's style is considerate, easy to please, and a touch depressed."

The value of genius:
"A world uninterested in genius is a despondent place, whose sad denizens drift from coffee bar to Prozac dispensary, unfired by ideals, by the glowing image of the self that one might become. As Northrop Frye says in a beautiful and now dramatically unfashionable sentence, "The artist who uses the same energy and genius that Homer and Isaiah had will find that he not only lives in the same palace of art as Homer and Isaiah, but lives in it at the same time." We ought not to deny the existence of such a place simply because we, or those we care for, find the demands it makes intimidating, the rent too high."
kitchen_kink: (scary)
Last night I had another opportunity to hang around with Objectivists and libertarians, and, of course, get hanged by them. I'm not a very good verbal debater, mainly because even if I believe something very strongly, I can't formulate arguments on the spot, verbally. I need time, to sit and stew and, usually, write about it. Most of these folks, on the other hand, seem to do this sort of thing semi-professionally. So I just decide to shut up and be angry in a little corner until I can reach some written forum.

So. I had Libertarianism explained to me as follows: the idea that the only thing that government should do is protect life, liberty, and property.

Fine. But Property, I said, that's where I get off the bandwagon.

Here's the argument I heard last night: Property is equal to life.

Ohhhhkay.

So does that mean someone stealing my stereo is tantamount to murder?

Essentially, yes - by degrees. If you steal my Ferrari, I've given up some part of my life for that Ferrari, in order to obtain it. Thus, by taking it from me, you've taken away part of my life.

Right. So what if you got it as a gift? What if your parents gave it to you?

Well, then, that's your parents' Ferrari, and you can do whatever you want with it!

I didn't ask, what about native cultures, who don't believe in property, but instead respect the land and what comes from it, and give back where they have taken away? Did that make the Europeans right, who came in and decimated the original American population, because they believed in property rights and had bigger guns?

Let's not go there for now. But here's another thought. That kid who gets the Ferrari from his parents. Where does that kid learn a sense of work ethic, that from effort comes reward? Maybe his parents teach it to him. Maybe they don't. Maybe he grows up a spoiled, privileged brat who inherits the family business and abuses his workers.

Who's to stop him?

And aren't these essentially monarchies, where a business gets passed down from parent to child? That child didn't expend any effort to deserve that besides being born. Generation after generation, entitled children growing up to run bigger and bigger businesses that get more and more heartless. Not in all cases, perhaps. But history seems to bear it out.

What do you do about monopolies? Is it okay if one business drives out all others and is the only one providing a particular service? Who will stop them from charging more and more for that service? Okay, another business arises, making a similar product but charging less. Drives the market price down. Fine. But big company does everything it can to make sure that smaller company's product doesn't work with the predominant technology. Anybody ever heard of a little thing called Mircosoft?

Who's to stop it?

How do you account for differences in birth, education, social status, opportunity? How can you assume that everyone is born with the same abilities, that everyone, given the liberty to do so, will fulfill his greatest potential? Okay, so what if some people don't, if some people never get beyond working at McDonalds.

I know of a libertarian who said, "If I have an agreement with my migrant worker that he'll shovel shit for fifty cents an hour, than that's a free and open agreement and he should have a right to do that." If there's no such thing as a minimum wage, how can we expect these people to stay alive?

The answer that comes to me is, Survival of the Fittest.

Well that's all well and good. But who's going to shovel your shit?

What about the handicapped? The old? The sick? What about people who work hard all of their lives and end up with nothing? How do you decide that your person-hour of work is worth $100 and your migrant worker's person-hour is worth fifty cents? Well, if he doesn't want to work for fifty cents, he doesn't have to. Well, fine, but someone else will, and the original person, who has some pride in the worth of his work, won't, and the market will bear that a person can be paid fifty cents an hour to do backbreaking labor.

Survival of the fittest.

Isn't this how the animals live?

Aren't we supposed to be better than that?

How many libertarians out there think that Jean Valjean, a downtrodden working class fellow with a family to feed, should be shot when he steals a loaf of bread from the baker? Is there no compassion? Do we think: how did he get to this point?

My major problem with a lot of the Objectivist and Libertarian (they seem to be related fairly often) thinking I have heard is that it fails to take human nature into account. (Phrasing stolen from my good friend and, I think, ex-Objectivist, [livejournal.com profile] hawver.) Not to be harsh, but not everyone is special. Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone is going to be a spectacular success. Now I understand that that's not what Libertarians are after: they just want to live their lives in the way they wish and be mostly left alone by the government to do so.

I think this can work spectacularly on a small scale. Say, a village of 200 people. Everybody pretty much knows everybody, and everybody knows what contribution each person makes to the society. Therefore, there is a personalized stake in the workings of the society. Is there a school? Perhaps not; perhaps people homeschool. Well, what if some of the people aren't educated enough to homeschool their children? Then perhaps there are particular parents in the area who run different classes and teach the neighborhood kids different things. When you look at it this way, it's not all that far from socialism - except that everyone only contributes what they wish to, and nobody is compelled to do anything for the good of the whole. Human nature being basically communal, a town of this size will generally take care of its own without being compelled. Somebody falls on hard times, has a bad crop, or a missed shipment, or their house burns down, or something? The libertarian mindset, as I understand it, is that it's their problem. But in a small community, mostly, people will rally and help out. Thus compassion and respect for hard work balances out liberty and lack of regulations.

But what happens to this when you put it on a larger scale?

Beggars in the streets. Old folks abandoned by their families. Orphans, single teenage mothers, battered wives, street gangs - whatever social problem we have right now, multiply it. I'm not saying that our current system of dealing with things like this is flawless, by any means. But what if there are no systems to deal with it?

Well, then. Perhaps a few of the more fortunate help out a few of the less fortunate, here and there, by free will only. The rest of them? Well, I imagine they die, or kill each other.

Hope you have enough entrepreneurial mortuary types to handle the bodies.

I have had libertarians argue to me that if Walmart, acknowledged by nearly everyone I know to be an evil megalith that destroys small towns and businesses, can provide more products for cheaper, than they have every right to do so, and if that means that small family-run businesses get run out of business, then that's just the way of the market.

I don't understand how you could be so vehement about not wanting big government, but you allow big corporations to thrive. Don't you understand that right now, in this country, the big corporations are the ones running it? Their campaign contributions keep the same assholes, the ones that want to restrict our freedoms - and I value many of the same freedoms that you do - in office year after year after year. The people don't elect officials - it's a sham, you know it and I know it.

What makes you think that getting rid of big government, but letting corporations run amok, would change that in any way?

Sure, it might work for a little while, and again, it would probably work quite well on a small scale. But once again, you fail to take human nature into account: Sooner or later, greed takes hold. The desire for more money, more power, makes corporations bigger and bigger, until there's nothing left for the little guy but sameness, and lack of diverse opportunity, and fifty cents an hour, forever. And unless you have an organized, violent revolution every twenty years or so, you can't win against big money any more than you can win against big government.

Where does that leave his kids? Do they have the same liberty that the head of Walmart has? The same opportunity? You can't possibly look at a big factory farm owner and his Mexican migrant worker and say that they have the same exact liberties and opportunities. Nor can you truly say, in every case, that the factory farmer obtained his land, his crops and animals, his money, his power - through basic, just hard work.

Removing big government, regulations, and social programs won't make people free. It'll make them bigger slaves than they already are.

Check your history, under feudalism, indentured servitude, and oh yeah - communism. Out of a group of animals, where the leaders rise to the top and and the weaker ones fall into line, a central authority will always emerge.

All that's really in question is how cruel, or how just, or how compassionate it will be.

And if that doesn't matter to you...well then, my point is proven.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
"Kelly-Jo was throwing up. She couldn’t keep her bowels in. Liquid was coming out of her any way it could." Kelly-Jo, Bell adds, asked a guard if she could "please go to a hospital." But the guard replied, according to Bell, "This is the other side of the dope game. Get used to it."

On the morning of July 23, 2003, a mother of two, struggling with a heroin addiction and in the throes of withdrawal, died in a state prison, despite the fact that she'd been convicted of no crime. The circumstances of her death are extremely sketchy, and the reasons she ended up at the maximum security prison even sketicher - she was awaiting arraignment on motor-vehicle charges, and a judge had ordered her sent to the Salem District Court, which she never reached. Instead, she was left screaming for help all night while the guards yelled at her to shut up. In the morning she was dead, having somehow sustained massive head wounds.

Somebody, please, tell me what the hell is going on with this fucking country.

Also, you politically active folk: what would be my best bet for getting involved with 1) prisoners' rights, 2) drug legalization, and/or 3) harm reduction programs?

I am so pissed I could spit.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
More anti-Franceism, more hatred toward Muslims, more clueless protestors! Yay! I can never get enough!

So the sidewalk across the street from my work seems to be a popular spot for idiot protestors. Today it was a Jewish group, once again protesting against France. When I emerged from the building, they were yelling, "End the hate! End the hate!" Good idea, I thought. Then a woman handed me this leaflet. Watch carefully for the hidden message, kids!

***
France: Arrest the Arab Thugs

On the Sabbath afternoon of March 22, three French Jewish children were beaten by racist thugs.

The incident took place during a massive anti-war anti-America protest. Among the "peace" marchers were French Arabs who marched carrying large sticks and wearing keffiyas. They spotted a Jewish boy on a sidewalk and beat him. The Muslims then raced down a street leading away from the line of march, shouting 'there are Jews over there.' When they reached the door of the JCC (the Centre Benard Lazare), they beat two more fourteen-year-old Jewish boys arriving for a Sabbath youth group meeting.

The marauding Muslims actually shouted anti-Semitic verses from the Koran as they beat the Jewish boys. They were attempting to batter down the door of the Jewish Centre when police arrived.

No arrests have been made despite the presence of numerous witnesses and the existence of television film shot by a French news crew that filmed the entire incident.

This attack is far from isolated. There were four times as many violent racist attacks in France in 2002 as in 2001, a wave of violent assaults on Jews not seen in Europe since before WWII.

We demand that the French government arrest the Arab thugs who beat up Jewish children.

***
Now, I won't even go into the little dig at anti-war protestors and the implication that this war is just. But I did go up to the little crowd and address the people who seemed to be in charge.

"Excuse me," I said. "I just got handed this leaflet. Can I ask you something?

Sure I could, they said.

"This is terrible, of course, and of course these people should be arrested. But does it strike you as ironic at all that while you're over here chanting 'End the hate, end the hate,' your literature refers to 'Arab Thugs' and 'Marauding Muslims,' and implies that all Muslims are bad??" (I wanted to say, "implies racism toward Muslims and obliquely implicates that religion and thus all of its members, rather than a small group of zealots, in the current wave of violence toward Jews?" But I don't think that fast on my feet.)

To their credit, I got some mumbles, an agreement from an older gentleman who said he had objected to the language in the leaflets, and no angry response.

Still. Calling for the arrest of these racist scum while at the same time pointing out as many times as possible that these racist scum are Arabs, down to describing their dress and hypocritically pointing out the hatespeech in the Koran? (Have they looked at their book lately?)

"Reactionary tactics don't make for very effective protests," I called over my shoulder as I crossed the street.

I know I'm probably going to get skewered and roasted on a spit for this, but it just made me hopping mad.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
This morning in the elevator I saw someone with with a secret smile I recognized: that smile of someone who's just left the bed of someone he's mad for, or who has a date later with a massive crush. It was a smile I missed having, and I almost asked him about it, but felt it was obvious. He carried it all the way to the 15th floor.

I was in bad shape last night, and when I awoke--filled with that vague, crippling sadness--but I slowly worked myself out of it, until, upon arrival at work, I felt better. I have to be careful not to let it creep back in on me tonight.

This morning, I was sitting at the front desk with no computer--I couldn't log in because the person with the password was out. I wanted to see how I would do without its glare, its draw, its addictive properties. I was twitchy for a while, missing email and LJ, and the collective weight of everyone else's sadness.

And I wondered if that was in fact the problem: am I being dragged into the mire by being online so much?

Much like the endless viewing of CNN can solidify, and make impossible to shake, the horror of an event like 9/11; or like multiplication tables and religious dogma are force-fed to us and thus branded into the flesh of our minds forever, indulgence in daily weeping and praying and ranting and exposure to immense screaming bandwidths of information--pro-war, anti-war, every possible perspective, every conceivable possibility, every reality and paranoia and utopic vision--it weighs me down. It fills me with imparseable facts, a complete spectrum of opinion from which it is impossible to glean any truth, and a full gamut of painful emotions. Add to this that most of the people I read on a daily basis are friends of mine, whose opinions and feelings I care deeply about, all of whom are hurting in one way or another--inconsolably depressed, impotently angry, soul sick, numbed into quiescent indifference--of course it's going to affect me.

I'm upset about the war. Of course I'm upset about it. It's a cycle of upset: I'm crushed that we're over there, unjustly, bombing a decimated country; I'm frustrated that I can't feel more for people I am so far away from, and that my pity and horror means nothing coming from my place of privilege. I feel guilty for that same place of privilege and feel I have no right to any opinion about Iraqi or any other suffering. And then I feel so angry at my government, for only allowing their voices of greed and hatred and superiority to reach overseas, for making their voices of pomp and condescension, their ridiculous ideas of themselves as Saviors of the World, represent me, while my small voice of dissent and outrage and pity and sadness is crushed into a poor caricature of America to the rest of the world.

But that's not what's making me this depressed. I've shut off the wail of the world before; I can do it again.

It's my friends' voices.

From the most ardent peace activists to my least political and ambivalent friends, everyone is feeling this, everyone is frustrated or feel helpless to do anything, everyone's dreams are being haunted, everyone is overwhelmed and depressed and angry, and most of all, everyone just wants it to stop.

And I believe that this energy is not just cumulative but exponential, that all of this surfing and reading and very collective grieving is creating a cloud of fear and doubt and hatred and suffering, that we need to reach out to each other and spread some kind of positivity, that, whether I believe in it or not, we have to work some kind of magic, if not to stop this war, then at least to stop us all becoming casualties of it.

We are a community here, there's no doubt about that. Singly, we're all carrying our own wounds. Collectively, we're bleeding to death.

Is it time, perhaps, for us to fight our own war, against this darkness that's swallowing us all, day by day?

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dietrich

April 2013

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