Category: Uncategorized


But they had a permit…

No.

Just…no.

How eager we seem to be, to find a ‘soothing’ explanation or justification for something that is unsettling, scary, rocks our calm seas.  Shhh, it’s okay.  No-one is to blame, because everyone is to blame.

Yeah.  Not going to let that slide by without comment.

Starting just with the label, Anti-Fascist. How on earth has this ever become a term that describes an ‘alt-left’ stance or point of view?

I was under the impression that this nation as a whole is and was anti-fascist. If that isn’t the case, wouldn’t we have been an Axis power rather than an Allied one in World War II?

The thousands of gravestones in the pic below represent anti-fascists as well, or so it would seem to me.  Opposing Nazism and Fascism was what they gave their lives for, was it not?

American_military_cemetery_2003
(This is the Normandy memorial site for American servicemembers. )

[Random intruding thought – wasn’t it always ‘the left’ who had the reputation for opposing war, anyway?  And yet, seemingly the opposition to Fascism is clearly now a leftist trait…so does that mean that all these graves are just so many ‘dead libtards, good riddance’?   (No, those aren’t my words – I overheard them said about the Charlottesville victim while in line at a store, not kidding.)

And would that also mean that we (all the Allied nations) must now also consider ourselves equally ‘to blame’ for WWII, because we took a stand (without a permit, even!) against Nazism and Fascism?  Nevermind…moving on…]

White supremacist views are also not historically tied to only one political party.  Wasn’t George Wallace a Democrat?   Said at his inaugural address (governor of Alabama) that he stood for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”? Stood in front of the entrance of the University of Alabama, in an attempt to stop the enrollment of black students?

Racism and bigotry can exist in any part of the political spectrum.   Similarly, denouncing it, standing against it, is also NOT the province of any particular political stance or party. You don’t have to be ‘alt-left’ (or even moderately left…) to be against hate and intolerance.  Nor to be willing to stand up against it.

We should *all* be standing against it.

Period.

Regardless of political party or stance.

It also doesn’t matter that one ‘side’ had a permit and the other didn’t – that is a such a lame excuse that it’s unreal.  That anyone is buying it (or repeating it) is even more unbelievable, at least to me.  It holds about as much water as your five-year- old hauling off and hitting a playmate or sibling, and then saying, “well, he started it…”.

Seriously.  That kind of excuse especially shouldn’t be finding purchase with mainstream conservatives, considering that personal responsibility (and personal restraint) is typically one of the base supporting pillars of the mainstream conservative platform.

I’m pretty sure there have been (non-permit-holding) counter-protests at probably every KKK rally/assembly, going back at least to the civil-rights era if not before.  That’s why there is a police presence at them, also going back decades.  Because they know that people are going to show up and be angry and passionate in opposition.  You cannot bar the general public from a public place just because a given group has a permit to hold an assembly there.

This is nothing new, and it doesn’t require funding by some shadow-figure to happen (I certainly don’t need anyone to pay me to stand against a hate group).  Nor does it need any sort of pre-arrangement from a shadowy opposition group, either.  People who are against hate and bigotry will show up regardless, and will be passionate in their opposition regardless.

[Another random thought…if the situation had been reversed, would someone claim the Blues Brothers movie gave birth to the ‘alt-left’ movement?  They did after all show a car plowing through a permitted, official assembly of neo-Nazis…

…which is only to say that one can find congruence almost anywhere, if one is determined enough on finding it…]

Just about any kind of protest will bring out counter-protesters, even if they’re not organized or pre-planned as a counter-protest. But any side being angry or provocative (or one side having had an assembly permit while the other does not), still does not confer any moral high ground to one side over another.

And it damn sure doesn’t cover outright murder.

A group created to specifically counter-protest another group isn’t automatically nefarious either. Take the Patriot Guard Riders for example.

Patriot Guard Riders as a group was created, exists, and assembles specifically to oppose the protest activity of another group. They assemble to escort military funeral processions, specifically as a counter to Westboro Baptist protesters.

I’m pretty sure PGR doesn’t need to seek a permit for every funeral procession they escort. And their assembly and escort *is* a counter-protest against WB’s protests – even if WB doesn’t actually show up to that particular funeral.

The riders also typically show up looking as if they’re ready to rumble.  Gotta admit, a large group of leather-clad bikers are certainly much more visually (and viscerally) intimidating than a group of WB protesters in standard civvies…

(Though trust me that I’m well aware that the majority of bikers are actually teddy bears with hearts of gold, and are not at all prone to violence.  I’m only talking about the outside visual impact/contrast, coupled with the associated stereotype that was created/propagated by the outlaw-biker subset).

So if you want to go into a side by side comparison of a hate-filled protest group, with another group that is centered on counter-protesting the first group…if you compare them only on how it all LOOKS and do not take into account what each side actually stands for – then you could just as easily conclude that PGR comes prepared for violence, against the poor innocent, peaceful, Christian, Westboro Baptist protesters.

No?

(For the record I totally support PGR and what they stand for.  They just made for a very good example of how and why both the ‘looks’ of a group, and their reason for existence aren’t particularly reliable indicators of what a group is about or stands for – ergo why those factors don’t actually make for a good counter-argument, the way they’re being used against opposition groups in this case).

PGR does not stand for violence, is not organized around violence. But at the same time, they also leave little doubt (at least in my mind) that they mean business, and I’m pretty sure they would physically block a WB protester from a bereaved military family.

Even if it meant having to take a swing at them.

And you know what – I really can’t find it in my heart to fault them for that, if it happened.   Not unless they did cross the line into grievous bodily harm, or murder.

PGR isn’t trying to take away WB’s right to assemble or protest. They are not there to be violent or to provoke violence.  But I can absolutely see an escalation happening if a WB protester pushed one of them far enough.

In that case, which ‘side’ had a permit and which didn’t would still be completely irrelevant.  And I’m fairly certain that nobody would accept a ‘both sides’ argument as any kind of mitigating factor, if a Westboro protester ever plowed a car into a line of PGR riders and killed one or more of them.

In fact, I’m almost certain that conservatives and liberals alike would condemn that pretty equally.

Which is what makes it so unbelievable to me that instead of a fairly universal condemnation of what happened, people are actually discussing (and dividing) over who had a permit?  As though this has any bearing on the right or wrong of what happened, or somehow makes the fault fall equally onto the victim(s) and the perpetrator(s)?

Really?

On a side note, nobody would point at PGR and assume they were all ‘left’ either, simply because they  were created to (and regularly assemble to) oppose a group that self-identifies as conservative Christian (and therefore, ‘right’).

In fact I’d bet a lot of PGR members are right-leaning themselves.  Which is again to say that standing up and coming together in opposition to hate, intolerance and bigotry isn’t the province of only ‘the left’.

Conservatives in general do not stand for hate, and it so it shocks me that so many (right now, in this situation) seem to be allowing themselves to be put into a position of defending hate-groups like the KKK.  Of granting them equal footing with their opposition.

I guess lest they be accused or suspected of being ‘too left’ if they go against that grain, now that the line’s been drawn in the sand by the party boss – but it wasn’t and isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘left’ issue to begin with.  And there really is no need to make it into one.  I don’t know why people are making it into one.

For the record, I also do not condone violence as an opposition to hate-groups.  So if this Anti-FA group does actually espouse violence, then I’m also not ‘for’ them and don’t consider them legitimate.  (BLM does NOT espouse violence, but that’s a whole other post that I do plan to make at another time.  And if you feel compelled to answer just that one statement from this post, I’d respectfully ask that you wait for that other post, and I’ll be happy to debate it when it is the actual subject of the post.)

And if Anti-FA actually do believe violence/anarchy is the answer (vs just being painted as such by others, in the attempt to deflect both blame and attention…), then I hope they do see what the end result has been, and will be.  The depiction of hate-groups as victims, and the subsequent normalization of hate-group beliefs as being legitimate, worthy, or on any kind of moral equal footing serves no-one but the hate groups.

I also do still uphold the right of assembly and protest, even for such morally repugnant groups as the KKK or neo-Nazis. However, the right to stand up and say “I oppose you, I oppose what you stand for, and you do not represent my beliefs or thoughts” is also a right.  Anytime.  In any public place that you’re otherwise entitled to be in or on, with or without a permit (obviously, you are not entitled to break into someone’s home to take a stand against them and their beliefs…).

Will tensions escalate when there are protesters and counter-protesters in the same place, sure – it always has done, and always will do.  It happens whether we’re talking about strong/passionate opposition in politics, policies/law, or even sports teams and sporting events (violence related to those has certainly happened as well).

But passions running high over politics, law, or sport is still not an excuse for murder.  Period.  And when it crosses the line into murder, the ‘both sides’ argument becomes null and void – unless both sides have crossed that line.

The President’s support of white-supremacist groups, and the attempt to deflect blame and outrage away from them shouldn’t really have been a surprise to anyone, though.  The insistence on putting someone like Bannon into a key position from day one should have been enough of a declaration of beliefs already, even if you had been able to dismiss some of the campaign-trail comments (about minorities and the disabled for example) as ambiguous.

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Coexist – updated

When I was young and learning both world and US history, several things stood out to me.  Things that made me shake my head, in the purely black and white view that only the young can have.  That iron-clad certainty, that everyone should have seen things as clearly then as we do now in hindsight.

I was both horrified and ashamed, when I learned that we’d rounded up thousands of Japanese-Americans and put them into interment camps during WWII.  I could not understand why these people would be considered a threat; immigrants (62% were American citizens) who had come to seek the American dream and had committed no crime other than originally being from a country that we were (now, at that point) at war with.  I didn’t understand, but consoled myself with the thought – ‘at least we know better, now’.   (more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_internment)

I’m still completely amazed at the whole ‘Red Scare’ McCarthy era.  Actors, musicians blacklisted and refused work because they either refused to participate in the farce or had union or overly liberal leanings.  Seriously, Grandpa Walton (Will Geer) a threat to national security?  Burl Ives?  Pete Seeger?  Orson Welles?  Eddie Albert of Green Acres?  Enough of a threat to warrant being called before Congress and/or investigated by the FBI?  What the heck were we thinking? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist, also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism)

I also recall being heartened by reading stories of Christians, atheists, etc helping Jews hide or escape the Nazis during WWII.   I wondered to myself even then if I’d have been willing to risk my own life to try to save someone else’s, and with typical youthful optimism, decided I probably would.  Today?  I’d like to think I still would, but of course that’s something one can never know unless actually faced with it.  

Or the more recent story of Billings, Montana, in 1993; where the response by a community to a brick being thrown through a window of a house displaying a menorah, was to urge all people regardless of faith to display a menorah.  And hundreds did. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/menorah.htm)

But, on the flip side of that, how did so many Christians stand by and even endorse Hitler’s aims in the first place?  How many Christians objected to it at the time?  A somewhat enlightening quote (from this site: http://www.ushmm.org/research/the-center-for-advanced-holocaust-studies/programs-ethics-religion-the-holocaust/articles-and-resources/jews-and-christians-the-unfolding-interfaith-relationship)

“Thus, there were significant but isolated voices of protest. Many of these statements drew on church teachings about compassion and social justice, as well as church commitments to civil liberties. Yet, they appear to have found little resonance within the broader community of lay Christians at the time. And, although they did lay a foundation for Christians after 1945 to wrestle theologically with the reality of what had happened during the Holocaust, most of them did not yet confront the theological reality revealed in the Holocaust: that centuries of anti-Jewish teachings by the Christian churches had helped to create a culture in which the genocide of millions of Jewish men, women, and children was possible. Only after 1945 would the Christian churches throughout the world begin to confront the deeper theological challenges of the Holocaust for Christian faith and teaching.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Christianity at the time, is it?  Would you have felt or acted differently back then?  Would you now?

Some of you will already see what all the above have in common; Japanese internment camps, McCarthyism, and few voices of protest during the rise of the Holocaust.  Fear, primarily.  And to some degree, misconception or misinformation.

I speak out about this because I understand, now, how they all happened.  And I can’t help but feel it’s happening again.  And I don’t want to have to be ashamed of what our generation might do, the way I was ashamed at what past generations did, in the name of fear.   I don’t want other kids in history class years down the road to shake their heads and say, ‘How could they have been so blind?  How could they have let hysteria run wild that way, to the harm of innocent people?  Why didn’t anyone speak up, why didn’t anyone try to stop it?’.

If you routinely speak out against Muslims, I would ask you – how many do you personally know?  What are you actually basing your opinions on?  What do you really know about that faith, that didn’t come from a news story about something terrible happening?  

Can you understand that *any* religion can be used to promote hatred and violence, or oppression?   How would you feel if you heard people asserting that Christians were oppressing women?  It’s happened right here in the US, more than once.  A more recent case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Jeffs.  Is that the true face of Christianity?  Or is it just a case of someone using it for their own aims?  And what if that was the only news of it you ever saw?  Wouldn’t that tend to make you believe that that was the aim of all Christianity and not just that one group?

Take a look at the breakdown by country in this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country

I bet there are countries on there that you have never even *heard* of, that are 80% or more Islamic.  Some of them, I have been to myself (as a woman).   If you truly believe that Islam is about oppression, why haven’t you heard about all of them, not just a select few?  If you truly believe in the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, then why aren’t we hearing about all of them, not just a select few?  Why aren’t ‘Muslim terrorists’ coming from *all* of these countries, and not just a select few?

Perhaps because it’s not the religion itself, but instead the use that some leaders/countries are making of it?  The same way that Warren Jeffs, the KKK, Jim Jones, and Westboro Baptist Church are and have with Christianity?  You can separate those out easily and not take them as ‘representative’ because you *know* other Christians, even if you’re not one yourself.  You’ve lived and grown up in a society where you knew lots of them, where you were exposed to it routinely.  You also know how many and how varied the different sects of Christianity are; even an atheist can typically tell you that the practices of Catholicsm aren’t exactly the same as the practices of Baptists, even though they’re both “Christians”.  Do you even know how many different sects of Islam there are?  Or are they all the same to you?

I’d like to think that I’d have put a menorah on my door if I lived in Billings in 1993.  But how many of us would show the same sort of solidarity to a brick thrown through a Muslim’s window?  How many of us might stand by and allow (or even actively support) the rise of a charismatic anti-Muslim leader who convinced us that eradication would be for the good of us all – creating the next Hitler?  Would you stand by and let it happen?  I would hope that no-one I know would, but I despair every time I see hatred poured forth on a religion for the acts of individuals or hostile nations that are *not* representative of an entire faith.  The media is partially responsible, for dragging religion into every violent act these days – including noting that the Navy Yard shooter was Buddhist.  

There is nothing wrong with being opposed to terrorism or oppression.  We should all be opposed to that.  But recognize it for what it is.  Recognize that terrorism and oppression are purely human traits that have nothing to do with any particular religion.  Any religion can be used to further the aims of people in power or seeking power.  *ANY* religion.   And also recognize that fear leads us into bad places, even with the best of intentions.  

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