Posts Tagged ‘ politics ’

Race-Related? Watch Your Mouth.

mistake A couple of days ago, I walked into the lunch room at our school, and into an ongoing conversation about Zimmerman being pronounced “not guilty.” I said “Oooh boy” under my breath but also out loud, as I got my lunch out of the fridge, kind of without thinking about it. You know — sort of an involuntary reaction which says, “This should be good…” even though i had no intention of injecting myself into the conversation. Then he looked at me and said, “Oh, well what do you think would happen if it was a black man killed a white man?”

I should have said, “Hey, OJ got off, didn’t he?” but instead I took the diplomatic route: “The same thing that would happen when a black man kills a black man. It’s murder, he’d go to jail.” Or, he’d be voted not guilty by a panel of his peers. Or they wouldn’t have bothered trying him at all, because the DA knew right out of the gate that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict.

I thought he was going to be alright just discussing the topic. It isn’t smart to discuss these things at work because they can get people riled, but I don’t get offended easily and am careful about the opinions I put forth. I also respect others’ right to their opinion, and don’t go off the handle when someone disagrees with me. He also kept a pretty even tone, and didn’t appear to be losing it, so I was open to what he had to say. But he somehow then managed to go straight into slavery –f*cking SLAVERY — telling me about, “Why is it right that some people get reparations and others don’t?” (That’s a direct quote, I’m not making this up.)

This is a black, late-fifties security guard, asking me this in front of another instructor of ours, who happens to be black as well. Who I happen to have a pleasant working relationship with. Way to put me on the spot there, pal.

My immediate reaction was to tell him, “Because neither you nor anyone you have ever known was a slave in this country.” He told me that his mother’s grandmother was born in 1886 (or some similar personal fact), but it’s irrelevant. Even if his great-great-great grandparents were slaves, we are five to six generations removed from those atrocities, and an increasing majority of people in this country had little or nothing to do with them. My family wasn’t even in the United States yet, while that was going on. I continued, “Also, because taking money from people who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened and giving it to people who didn’t either is wrong.”

He told me, “No, it isn’t,” and I knew that we could no longer have an intelligent, rational conversation. He made a big stink about “ending the conversation” as he left the lunch room, and after he left, all I could think of was, “WHY did he have to go and do that?”

After we got back from lunch, I told my class that sometimes, discussing things of that nature at work gets dangerous, and that once they are said, they can’t be UNsaid. They kept pushing me to give them the details, to figure out what happened and who said what; I declined but told them, “I didn’t tell you this to talk sh*t on this guy behind his back; I told you this so that you can watch your mouth when you’re in the field and working around people you don’t know.”

I realize that I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to have a family history related to that era, and for folks who do, the memory of what happened never really dies. I also believe, however, that it makes no sense for people to direct anger at each other over something that happened over a hundred and fifty years ago. Doing so is a large part of the reason that problems are the way they are in the Middle East, for example. Senseless atrocities happen all the time. There’s no minimizing them, of course, but when there’s no one to hold accountable, there’s no choice but to find a way to move on. Penalizing people unrelated to the crime is wrong, however good it might make one feel.

In any case, I want to caution you to bite your tongue at work. I am not much for ‘polite’ etiquette, but as I said to my class, you might reveal something about yourself which will change your coworkers’ — the people you see more than your own family, in some cases — opinion of you for the worse.


No, Really: Do You Have ANY Idea What You Are Saying?

I have an old fraternity brother who is politically liberal, and he recently put on his Facebook status, “I still don’t understand how anyone can believe that cutting taxes, especially for the super rich, helps the economy.”

I sent him one comment in response:  “Do you know that it doesn’t from your studies in Economics?”

I personally seem to identify most with the Libertarian party’s values.  I’m a small government kind of guy, not a “small-government-but-let’s-ban-gay-marriage” kind of guy.  Irrespective of my own political views, my comment was designed to point out what we so often forget:  Most of us have absolutely no idea what we are talking about.

Ron paul was booed at one of the Republican debates after he said that he believed we brought 9/11 on ourselves.  It’s obvious why:  Who could possibly think we had any part in that attack?  They hate us for our freedom and prosperity, right?  A laundry list of historical facts supports his belief on that matter (not necessarily my own, BTW), but the crowd did not want to hear it.  For them, it is an open wound, and Paul is a traitor for thinking we, us, America, could be anything but infallible about that whole situation.  They (the voters) are ignorant of the facts, unable to imagine life from another peoples’ perspective, and thinking with their hearts.  Jeff Foxworthy said once about marriage on his comedy album “Totally Committed” (I couldn’t find a link to it online), “If she ain’t happy, you ain’t happy.”  When some guys in the audience proudly booed his opinion, he said simply, “Booin’ it doesn’t make it less true.”

I understand the thinking behind cutting taxes to spur the economy, but I don’t know if it actually works other than in theory.  The thing is, I know that I don’t know.  

Why can’t people admit that things are never as simple as they seem in soundbites, and that voting based on emotion is possibly the most irrational thing they could do?  Recently a long-time acquaintance of mine put on Facebook that he would be voting for Obama after years of voting for Republicans, for no other reason than because Obama had just come out in defense of gay marriage.  He is gay, and so that was his impetus to switch parties.  This is pure lunacy, in my opinion.  Regardless of what President Obama’s opinions on gay marriage are, he has literally no power to do anything about gay marriage’s current state.  It remains a states’ rights issue, and would have to be passed by Congress to become federal law.  He is throwing a vote at one miniscule issue in an election where the economy and our country’s future viability is at stake.  Any port in a storm, I guess.

The fact is, if you want to be someone who has an opinion that people will actually listen to, you need to dig deeper than the talking points you’ve heard on O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow.  Have a little history to back up your stance.  Illustrate why your opinion is correct based on facts, trends, and historical evidence of similar situations.  Don’t be this lady, repeating the mantra of “End the Bush tax cuts” to every single question posed to her, because she has a feeling-based opinion, but no facts to back it up.  (Skip to 48:30 or so to see the point of this link, but watch the rest of it because it’s worth a view.)  You cannot walk up to someone and spout out your view, expecting to change peoples’ minds, with this tactic.

In an actual conversation with someone, you should be open to hearing their point of view–and actually listen to it.  Here’s the secret to why:  No one cares about you in a conversation.  They want to feel like they’ve had a chance to have their side heard.  They want to feel like they have spread their opinion to you.  They want to feel like what they have to say is worth something.  They care about themselves.  It’s the reason why you will make friends by asking them tons of questions about themselves–people love to talk about themselves, and if you give them the opportunity to, they will remember you fondly and have no idea why.

I digress.  The point is to do a little homework before you spread your personal brand of cheer.  It will go a long way to bringing people to your side by way of leadership, not dictatorship.


Who Will You Vote For? Do You Do Any Thinking On Your Own?

I’m sure that liberals will vote for Obama, and conservatives will vote for Romney (largely because they have no other choice).  But why?

I met a guy once who claimed to be “pretty conservative,” yet he could not disguise (to me) that he voted for Obama.  I could tell because of the way he tried to hide it when he talked about how obnoxious Sarah Palin was, or how it was “possible” that Obama’s healthcare bill would be a good thing…but he was fooling no one.

The fact that he is black is irrelevant; he was like many millions of other people, voting with their gut.  This is the part that makes me livid with the establishment anymore:  These politicians pander openly to whoever their demographic is, and it actually works.  This nation has become a nation of talking points, a nation of mindless voters.  Either you are a conservative who agrees with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or you are a liberal who wants to tax the rich even more heavily.

President Obama’s recent admission that he supports gay marriage is nothing more than a pandering to voters.   Who cares what he thinks?  He’s just another man, and literally has no control over how the laws are written to echo his own opinions.  If the laws are to change, they require the states to vote.  Further, I thought it was absolutely awesome that he flew all the way to Afghanistan to deliver a campaign speech to us here, back home.  I wonder how much that cost us.

Of course Romney’s old company cut some jobs…some companies were bloated and needed to lose some weight.  What these new ads rarely mention is actually how many jobs Bain Capital created.

I am a skeptic of both sides.  Obama is clearly the worse candidate for this country…if his lawsuit on the state of Arizona is any indication, there’s only more fun to follow.  But the fact is that Romney has already implemented socialized healthcare in his state of MA, so I’m not completely confident he won’t champion the already-passed Obama blasphemy along the way for the entire rest of the country.

Obama is only springing the gay marriage thing because he already knows he can’t run on his record (sure, it includes the killing of UBL and the passing of a healthcare bill that nobody wanted, but the truth is, all of the numbers are down for him).  I suspect that Obama and Romney are actually the same candidate–that is, whoever wants them to win (or lose)–and our “two-party-system” is actually worthless, but we just don’t know it overtly yet.

I know that you might feel that I’m wrong here, but if you feel strongly enough, prove it.  Neither of them are good for the direction of this country, and the evidence is more than an opinion.  Neither candidate solidifies its base, and neither candidate proposes to make things better (Romney’s Day 1 campaign isn’t helping matters at all, IMHO.  Tax cuts?  Really?).

Beyond talking points, prove me wrong.

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