Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uncivil War

On the 150 year anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, I was having a little sparring match on a friend's Facebook page with an admittedly conservative friend of hers.  I thought it was innocent enough and in good fun.  Against all good and sensible advice, I've never been too careful to steer away from political debate or from showing my hand as a social progressive.  I more or less figured the founding fathers fought for our right to free speech, and as long as we keep it civil and respect one another's point of view, debate is healthy.  It's the American Way.  You know all this, I've blogged about it before.  Yesterday I got up to see that the individual made a final comment about waiting to see when they vote my "house boy" out of office next year.  Really?  You really said that, and worse, put it in print?  I didn't respond.  Or, rather, I guess, I am responding here.  (All of this over some cute foster kitten pictures my friend posted.  What could be more apolitical than kittens?)

I have to say I feel heartsick.  I read in the paper earlier in the week in an op-ed that Donald Trump is picking up the banner of the Birthers and pushing that crazy, nuthouse theory.  Really?  Did Ross Perot die and his spirit inherit your body?  I knew you were a little flamboyant, but I didn't think you were flat out nuts.

And then there's Michele Bachman who has taken over the Sarah Palin role of making me embarrassed to be female.  Really?  Do these people really believe the stuff that comes out of their mouths, or do they just spout it for political gain?  I decided I should be fair and watch her on a Fox News interview. If the word Obamacare came out of either her or Sean Hannity's mouth one more time, I was going to come unglued.  I did not make it through the whole thing.  But, really, it comes down to how you put forth your views:  fine, if you want to espouse your opinion on the budget, that is not only your right, but your job.  I disagree with you, but that is okay.  But, she is on that lunatic fringe Birther wagon too.  What is it with these people?  Can they not accept that a native born African American man would be crazy enough to try and govern all of us?

I worry about how all of these nasty comments from people who should be educated enough to know better must impact the Obama children.  True innocents in the war of politics, maybe one of the few criticisms I have of my president is that he exposed them to such ugliness at such a young age.    But, mainly, I wonder how it is that we have evolved so little from the days of the Civil War.  Have we really not learned to co-exist with one another, all races, all genders, all faiths?  No, clearly we have not.  There are two towers no longer gracing the New York skyline as a result.  But, how much better are we from those men if we think it is okay to call someone of color, President or no, a "houseboy"?

The fact that we are such a nation of racists (and that slur goes both ways, there are people of color just as racist as some of their white brethren) is undeniable.  Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, a 90-year old man not far from where I live was found murdered in his home.  It made big news around here.  That same day a nineteen-year old African American male was shot in a drive-by shooting.  I know about it because I saw a picture of his family hugging one another in their sorrow on page five (or somewhere in the middle) of the paper.   The story of the unfortunate white man lead for a few days.  If you ask anyone in the media if the young man who was shot mattered less than the older man who was strangled, they would adamantly tell you that he does not.  Yet, subtly, he does.

Just consider the facts.  I am a lazy researcher, but without any trouble at all, I found plenty of statistical evidence from the comfort of my couch:

From, I found that, at least in 2006, black men made on average $13,334 less than white men.  From, I discovered that the percentage of businesses owned by African American men in the county where my friend lives is 2.8% of the total.  I read these horrible stats online:

"Black professors hold less than 5% of faculty positions. Less than 5% of the K-12 teaching force is black. About 85% of this group is centered in urban areas.
Of all the doctoral degrees awarded in 1990, just 3.5% went to black men and women.
The attrition rate of black university students at many prestigious universities is greater than 60%.
Most NCAA universities refuse to release attrition rate for athletes. An NCAA study showed that nearly 75% of Division I black athletes failed to graduate.
While black students represent 16 % of all public school students, they make up nearly 40% of those classed as learning disabled.
There are more black men in jail than in college."

I will never understand what it is like to be a person of color.  But I do understand what it's like to be judged based on nothing but a pre-determined prejudice and lack of understanding.  We fear what we don't understand.  We hate what we fear.  My family, in our struggles to survive ED, were often the subject of misunderstanding, fear and sometimes hatred.  So, I, in turn, hate that snap judgment that people make about others.  And maybe that makes me all the more thin skinned about an ignorant comment tossed out on Facebook with no thought or consideration at all.

I feel a strong need to get back to the zoo and talk to my gorilla friend. He is undoubtedly more evolved than some of his visitors, and I need a little sophistication right about now.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, let me guess. You were winning the argument using logic, facts and historical accuracy. See, they watch so much Fox and Friends they forget their are such things. Yes, facts and historical accuracy almost always make a conservative republican resort to insults. Insults that are quite often racist and always witless. Which is weird, because you would think people who always resort to insult would at least get good at it. Unfortunately, their politics preclude them from having gay friends. If they did, they could learn how to be insulting AND funny.