Monday, October 11, 2010

No more excuses

By Edward Copeland

It's been quite awhile since I've written anything here. My movie blog and my health has kept me busy and I haven't felt particularly inspired on the political front because I find it all too depressing. However, after reading a Salon blog post shared on Twitter by Roger Ebert yesterday, posting it on Facebook, where a friend of mine shared it and another friend shared it from him and I read some of the absolutely ridiculous comments, I felt I had to write about this.

I'm not going to mention candidates by name or parties in this post. For its purposes, they really are irrelevant. I'm just tired of people trying to make excuses for people's hate. The blog post in question dealt with one African-American woman's reaction to seeing a bumper sticker on a car while she was in a drive-thru lane that read THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT BY WHITE MEN WITH GUNS. She goes on, with illustrations to recount all of the ugly, racism that has surfaced since 2008. Whenever she mentioned to friends her concerns for where this country was heading, she often was told to stop being so sensitive, as if she could forget that she lived through the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and that Emmett Till's mother was her fifth-grade teacher.

It sounded so similar to what I would always hear growing up when I would complain about relatives who were being racist or saying racist things. "Oh, they grew up in a different time." It was a sorry excuse then and if it ever were valid, the expiration date has long since passed. It reminded me of the the third season of The Sopranos when Tony went nuts because Meadow was dating an African American and Carmela trotted out that excuse about a different time and place to which Meadow responded quite rightly, "New Jersey? Third millennium?"

The very first comment on the Facebook thread accused it of being "extreme wackadoodleness from the halfwit left" and that the column and photos were all concocted lies made to make people think there was rampant racism as some sort of electoral gambit. She paid such close attention to the post she referred to the "inane author" as a he when the writer was a she. Another commenter compared it to high school cliques and by even bringing up the growing hate "in order to rally your own troops is simply widening the chasm a little further." Don't talk about it and it won't exist, I guess is his point. This isn't about rallying troops. This is about decency.

Right now, we have a U.S. House candidate who dresses as a Nazi for re-enactments, excusing it because he says it was impressive that a country as relatively small as Germany could conquer as much as it did. A candidate for governor of New York said that homosexuality is not an equally valid lifestyle and children should be taught that families should be a husband and wife raising children, despite the fact that while married to one woman, he had a daughter with another at the same time. What values does that teach?

There is no rational excuse for racism or anti-Semitism or gay bashing or any other form of hate based on race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Those who place those categories only into political context instead of basic human decency are the ones with the problem. Ignorance is ignorance. No more excuses for it shall be allowed. Everyone with a brain knows better and everyone who sees or hears an example of it and doesn't confront it and call the perpetrator on their ignorance and stupidity may as well be as guilty as the moron themselves. It's time to bring back good old-fashioned shame and ostracism.

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