Sunday, December 6, 2020

Overthinking Racism - Part II

Is your local ice cream truck racist?  What about the rap artist who uses the N-word?  Are we over-thinking this?

I was surfing the web the other day and came across an article claiming that ice cream trucks are racist.  Wait for this, you'll love it.  The argument goes like this - Ice cream trucks play a musical melody on a pre-programmed cheap sound organ. The song or songs usually include "Turkey in the Straw" which I remember as the theme song for Murphy's Oil Soap. Anyway, supposedly the alternative lyrics of this song, go on about Black people liking watermelon, only they don't use the words "Black people".

QED - ice cream trucks are racist.  I didn't even realize the song had lyrics!  The Wiggles have a lot to answer for.

Meanwhile, across town, there is a rap concert where a guy on stage uses the N-word every five seconds, describes his girlfriends as "bitches" and "ho's" and talks about slapping them around, or being a criminal, dealing drugs, or shooting people.  But thank God, he isn't racist or misogynist!

But ice cream trucks, though - probably all run by the Klan.

Don't get me wrong, recent events have illustrated that racism is a very real and widespread problem in this country - and worldwide.   I'm not talking about ice cream truck jingles, but people who express a virulent belief that white people are a superior race and that blacks are not welcome here.

Oddly enough, often it isn't white people expressing this belief.  In a recent case, a bookstore owner was harassed in Bayonne, New Jersey with repeated phone calls, e-mails, and notes left on her door, telling her that "her type" (Black) is "not wanted here."   She finally had enough and called the police, who took this very seriously (and people say we haven't made progress!) and caught the guy, who turned out to be of Asian descent.


It is not an isolated incident.  We have seen examples of Hispanic people making racist comments and threats, apparently believing themselves to be "white."  As I noted before, in many Latin American countries, the Caribbean, and South America, people consider themselves to be of Spanish or Portuguese descent and thus "white" and not Hispanic or a "person of color".  In fact, there is a lot of discrimination in such countries, based on race, with darker-skinned peoples on the bottom of the totem pole.

I've got news for these folks - when the Klan is done with the Blacks, they are coming after the Asians and the Hispanics.  The folks who profess white supremacy don't consider you white.  And this goes for the Gays, too - I've run into a number of Southern gays who are racist (and Northern ones as well!). They don't seem to realize they wouldn't be welcome at a Klan rally, except perhaps as a "special guest" on the end of a rope. Politics may make strange bedfellows, but racial and sexual minorities got no business being racist.

That being said, I think the looking-for-a-racist-under-every-rock is going to backfire. I recalled before that the term "cake walk" is considered by some to be racist - and yet President Obama has used the term.  Some say it refers to slave dances, but others merely a dance, not necessarily racist or slave-related.   Whatever the root is, you can drive yourself nuts finding racist meaning in nearly every word in the dictionary, which some folks appear to set out to do.

The problem is, this gets out of hand, and eventually, there is push-back. You can't go around telling people they are worthless pieces of shit for whistling "Turkey in the Straw" or patronizing an ice cream truck.  It is just nonsense.  You are castigating an innocent person while at the same time, giving the full-throated Klansman a free pass.  He can't help it, right?  We need to identify who our real enemies are, instead of making everyone an enemy.

J.K. Rowling got into hot water lately with some Tweets she made late at night after one-too-many cocktails, apparently.  She was criticizing the National Health for administering puberty-delaying drugs and providing "transitioning" hormones and preforming surgery (e.g., double mastectomy) on girls as young as 15.  Some have asked the question as to whether someone of that age can "consent" to such dramatic surgery and hormone treatments - which are likely to render them infertile - at such an early age.

It is a valid question and something that should be discussed.  Also up for discussion, who pays for this? These sex-change surgeries (now called "gender-reassignment" or "gender confirmation" surgeries) are very costly - and not really necessary to the survival of the patient.  Some are arguing that these are necessary surgeries for the well-being of the patient or even their very survival, as they would otherwise kill themselves.  Huh?

I don't think Ms. Rowling is being "transphobic" for raising these issues. Others would like the discussion shut down entirely.  Children should be allowed to have life-altering surgeries, and that's that.  And the costs should be born by the taxpayers or your insurance company and you have nothing to say about it.  Why?  Because the experts have spoken, and you need to shut up now.

But experts can be very wrong.  And in this instance, we are moving into uncharted waters. This whole "transgender" thing is very new, and the idea of children making life-altering decisions about gender and their bodies is somewhat novel as well. What happens ten years from now if people decide (as some have, already) that maybe this was a mistake?  It is not something that can be readily reversed.   We should tread cautiously before experimenting on people - particularly children.

It seems like we are being sold an agenda here - and that is what is causing a lot of push-back from the far-right and even from the middle.   If you want to change your gender, fine.  You pay for it.    You want to change the gender of a child - someone not even old enough to vote, drink, or have sex, not fine.  There is a reason we have an "age of consent" for sex in this country (and indeed, worldwide).   Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that we are operating on children to alter their genitals before they are even of an age to consent to even use them?  How can they possibly consent to this?

But that isn't the issue. You are not even allowed to ask the question. And when people do things like that, it drives a lot of this discussion underground, where it festers - and eventually explodes.

I wonder, what did people do before gender-reassignment surgery was invented - or hormone injections were done?  I mean, these are things that all were invented in my lifetime, and human history goes back thousands of years.   There have always been Tomboys and effeminate men throughout history.  None had the opportunity to "change genders" and yet they seemed to survive somehow with the "wrong" equipment.  Why, in the last two decades, has it suddenly been decided that this surgery is "necessary" instead of elective?

Again, the "experts" have spoken, so we have to shut up.   You have no opinion in the matter other than to agree.  Even having an opinion in the matter is oppression.

For fuck's sake - has the world gone insane?   I mean, serious shit is going down all across the planet.  Global waming, mass-migration, terrorism, wars, economic disruption, economic disparity, and let's not forget our own President trying to stage a coup.   But no, the pressing issue of the day is whether an 8th grader should have a sex change - and how we are all supposed to not only accept this, but celebrate it.

I dunno - why not wait until at least age 18?  And what are the long-term effects of "puberty-delaying" drugs?  Why does one want to delay puberty?

Experimenting on humans is a bad thing.  When my sister had breast cancer, one of the things her "doctor" (and I use that term loosely) suggested was hormone replacement therapy.   Well, according to some more recent studies, that was like throwing gasoline on the fire of breast cancer.   She's dead now, as the cancer came roaring back with a vengeance.  Hormone replacement therapy has fallen from favor these days.   It is sort of like the idea that margarine was better for your heart - until we found out it was loaded with trans-fats which basically gave you heart disease.

We keep trying these experiments, on the general population, and only later on do we realize what horrific mistakes we made. Back in the 1950's, everyone smoked and advertisers featured doctors touting how smoking was healthy.  Johns-Mansville gave away the "asbestos house of the future!" as a grand prize in a drawing.   Everything made of asbestos, even the curtains!  How lucky could you get?

Years later, we learn that these things kill you. Actually, we learned early on, but the evidence is suppressed and the "experts" tell us everything is just fine.  Well some experts do - the ones paid by the cigarette companies and the asbestos companies.   Others had different ideas - and it took decades for us to realize our errors.

I fear the same is true here - we are hearing only one side of the story - experts who promote this gender-change theory, because that is their practice and they make money from the practice.   No opposing views are permitted, and those who say otherwise are shouted down.   This is not a healthy, open discussion.

The net result of all of this, is that we make enemies of everyone.   The man in the ice cream truck who bought a cheap electronic organ pre-programmed to play "Turkey in the Straw" is now the enemy.  The children's author who expresses an opinion that maybe children should be allowed to grow up, before you lop off their genitals, is ostracized.   Pretty soon, well, you've run out of friends and turned everyone into an enemy.

The same is true of the far-right.  I mentioned before that the Klan isn't going to welcome Asians, Hispanics, or Gays with open arms.  In fact, the folks in the Klan have pretty narrow view of who qualifies as "white" and among hard-core white supremacists, well, they narrow it down even further - Nordic blond people only please - no Spanish or Italians or Slaves or whatnot.   Taken to its extreme, it narrows down to a group of one.

What it gets down to is radicalism.  Both parties - the Democrats and the Republicans - would do well to toss their more extremist members out.   The Democrats don't need "Democratic Socialists" who never vote for mainstream Democratic candidates.  All they do is screw up the primaries, run third-party spoiler candidates, and tag the party with idiotic slogans like "defund the police" and "free college and free ponies for everyone, whee!"   The GOP is all-too-happy to slap these labels on more mainstream candidates, an thus end up winning elections.

Republicans are just now realizing they have the same problem - and maybe January 5th will reinforce that lesson.  The crazy far-right maybe helped elect Trump to office.  Let's face it - how can you otherwise convince poor people to vote for tax cuts for the rich, other that to appeal to more baser instincts?  But the antics of the Qanon types are starting to scare mainstream Republicans, and the post-election Trump Temper Tantrum is making many middle-of-the-road Republicans realize they did the right thing by pulling the "Biden" lever - as enough did to hand him the election.   You go too far radical, you lose the middle.  And there is more in the middle than at the extremes.  And before you know it, some Qanon crackpot is saying you're not a real Republican, but a "RINO".

Like I said, the Democrats will screw up a wet dream, even if they win the Senate.   Already, Ms. AOC is shooting her mouth off with criticism of Biden.  She doesn't "get it" that just because a Democrat won the White House that he will automatically cow-tow to her radical agenda.  I suspect the fears of the Republicans - that America will be turned into a Socialist State - will not come to pass.  Not only do a majority of Democrats not want this, but the infighting and mud-slinging from the far left, will insure nothing gets done.

It is sad, but I guess all political movements are like this - they eventually go into self-destruct mode.  A party makes progress, and the first thing they want to do is "purge" the party of those deemed no sufficiently loyal, or those patronizing ice cream trucks.   They go looking for enemies, and if they fail to find them, fabricate them from whole cloth.   It is pretty sick, but these self-appointed minders decide for us, what is correct politcal canon, and then castigate anyone who doesn't go along with them.

It's a pretty shitty and petty political solution - and one that simply doesn't work.  You can't have a "big tent" if admission requires that people toe to your party line.