I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
September 21, 2017 - 3:51 p.m.
Yesterday's expedition was to my PO box and food shopping I live such an exciting life. The post office is Columbus Circle Station. Something was going on at the Time Warner building, it was crawling with cops, some with assault rifles. Trump must have been around somewhere as there were also Secret Service. They wore body armor that says, "Secret Service" on it. I need to carry around an anti-Trump sign when I'm in the City when he's in town just in case I run across him.
I got that far, got sleepy, got a phone call, got hungry, and decided that I didn't have to blog today. I was torn. Was not blogging undisciplined? Do I blog only because I feel should blog or is fulfilling an inner need? Immediately after deciding I didn't have to blog if I wasn't inspired I read something on Facebook that got me incensed, got me thinking, and fit in with what I had been planning to blog about. So now I'm blogging. Sorry for the late start.
I don't confront people with Facebook comments. Nobody has ever been convinced they were wrong on matters of opinion by a negative comment. I get my back up and dig in when attacked. You can't make it personal, so what I do is respond indirectly. This is especially true when someone says something prejudiced, against either a group or a person. You cannot use reason to challenge visceral responses. What I try to do is get other people, not the one who set me off, to question their own motives. I question mine all the time. It's a good habit to get into.
What set me off today was something racist. The poster doesn't think zhe's being racist; the racism is so deep-seated that zhe can't perceive it. If people overwhelmingly say a word or phrase or usage is offensive and you use it you cannot use "I didn't mean for it to be offensive" as an excuse. You knew offense would be taken and used it anyway. Like everything there's not always a clear line. I still use, "you guys" when addressing groups of either gender as I don't have a good replacement and nobody has ever actually said something to me when I've used it, and I use it often. If a consensus was reached that it was offensive I'd stop using it, standards evolve. When I was a kid we called Chinese food Chinx. The local takeout place had "Chinx" printed on the bags. We never thought of it as an offensive term. Then we became aware that it was from the offensive term for Chinese people, Chinks. We stopped calling the food Chinx. Chinese take-out places stopped putting on their bags. If I used it now it would be offensive. I'd know it causes offense.
I've recently been writing about gender bias in folk music. I've written about gay rights, immigrant rights, and racism. I've always been sensitive to prejudice. As a kid, I didn't call policemen cops because I thought it lacked respect. When I found out it didn't and was often preferred I started using it. As more women joined the force and "policemen" became outdated it was a lot easier than the cumbersome police officers.
I don't want to offend because I don't want to be offended and the golden rule is the best guide to morality. As Hillel said, it's the whole of the law, the rest is commentary. How can we justify discriminating against anyone without it justifying discrimination against ourselves? Each individual or group thinks they are special, but that means that the people you are discriminating against feel special too. What's good for the gander is good for the goose.
I will often have disagreements with people when I speak against members of oppressed groups painting the members of the dominant culture with a broad brush, using the same kinds of language they find offensive when used against themselves. People say, it's different! But it's not. Think of the stereotyped Trump supporter, they view themselves as part of a group that's oppressed and women and blacks as the dominant culture. There's no answer key, there are no answers in the back of the book we can all agree on. If you give women and minorities license to insult white Christian men as a group, how do you justify not letting uneducated white men from insult women and minorities? It's self-defeating, it increases prejudice, it doesn't reduce it. I'm not saying it's equivalent, that the dangers are equal, but the logic is the same.
It's simple, don't do to others what you'd find hateful if they did unto you. You think group A is a special case but the members of group B think that they are. One of the great things about the United States is that we are not a nation built on blood and soil. We are not based on ethnicity. The essence of America is that what makes you American is that you or your ancestors chose to be American. When the country becomes majority minority, it will be America living up to its ideals, not a cause for alarm. We are not a Christian nation the way so many countries are officially Islamic or Israel is Jewish. If we stop being majority Christian, it's just what happens, no different than when we switched from being a nation of farmers to a nation of city and suburb dwellers.
There are two groups that didn't choose to become Americans, slaves and Indigenous Americans. They were both forced to become part of the nation and they are the groups that have had the hardest job being accepted. They are different in an objective sense. The reason we need Black Lives Matter is because for so much of history they legally didn't matter, and they still don't matter today in the attitudes of many. To decry Black Lives Matter is to ignore reality.
Time for me to get off my soapbox. There's lots of music coming up, that's what I'll be writing about for a while. It starts with Emily Mure tonight at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 at 8:15. She has a new CD coming out and I'm doing the merch. Come to the show and if you tell me you read about it here I'll give you a special deal. I won't sing for you.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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