The Boston Marathon is one week from today, and I do not plan to go. For many years, I enjoyed watching the runners cross the finish line on Boylston Street, as well as walking around in Boston on what was usually a beautiful spring day. Even though I’m not a diehard fan of long-distance running, the Marathon signaled the start of spring, and the atmosphere of excitement and joy in the city was difficult to top.
In 2020, there was no Marathon due to Covid. In 2021, the Marathon was held on Columbus Day, a day that has been wrongfully turned into Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Boston and some of its surrounding suburbs. The Boston Athletic Association, the organization that runs the Marathon, decided to apologize to indigenous people for holding the race on “their” day (which is actually Italian Americans’ day). To atone for this transgression, the BAA donated money to indigenous organizations and financed various events and art installations honoring indigenous people. Separately, competitors at the Marathon were required to have received the Covid vaccine. For the 2022 Marathon, the BAA has banned Russian athletes from competing due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At first glance, these decisions by the BAA may seem to have nothing in common. But recently, while pondering the Marathon and whether or not I should go, I had an epiphany: all of the things that make me angry and filled with moral outrage are things that are discriminatory or exclusionary in some way. And the above-mentioned decisions of the BAA all fall into this category. These policies are the reason why I will not be attending the Marathon this year, or perhaps ever. I don’t want to support an event that discriminates against Italian people, Russian people, and people who have opted against getting a particular medical procedure. One of my most basic beliefs is that everyone should be treated equally and everyone should be included.
Unfortunately, in my experience, discriminatory and exclusionary attitudes have become increasingly common and accepted in our society. An increasing number of cities, towns, and organizations have decided, like the BAA, to honor and celebrate indigenous people while ignoring Italian Americans. Like the BAA, companies and governments around the world have perpetrated blatant medical discrimination by enacting vaccine mandates. And now, Russian and Belarussian people are being excluded from athletic competitions and other areas of society because their president made a foreign policy decision that most people disagree with.
Additional examples are everywhere. Affirmative action, by its very nature, treats people differently based on race, which is the definition of racial discrimination. People who don’t like guns refer to those who do to as a “death cult” and ridicule them for allegedly “fetishizing” “killing machines.” Politicians mindlessly express support for “working families” while completely ignoring the fact that this rhetoric, and its corresponding policies such as child tax credits, paid parental leave, and many welfare programs, blatantly discriminate against people who do not have children. During the “Me Too” movement, people were lectured, “Yes, all women” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and exhorted to “believe all women.” Silly me, I thought that making generalizations about people based on their gender was sexist, and that people’s credibility should be evaluated without regard to their gender. And, although already mentioned above, it bears repeating that intolerant attitudes with regard to Covid safety measures have reached truly appalling levels of ugliness over the past year. People around the world have been subjected to vicious rhetoric, excluded from activities and public places, barred from employment, fined, and even banned from leaving their homes, all for declining a medical procedure that happens to be recommended by the medical establishment.
The BLM movement and the “woke” ideology provide a myriad of examples of discrimination and exclusion. The reason why I hate this ideology is because it is the exact opposite of what it claims to be. The people who pontificate the most vociferously about diversity and inclusion are, in reality, actively working to undermine these values. An obvious example of this is the obliteration of Confederate statues, flags, holidays, historical markers, and place names. Deciding that only one side in a war is allowed to be honored is the antithesis of inclusion. The brutal destruction of monuments to any historical figure who is even remotely controversial has had the result of completely stripping our country’s statuary of its diversity. It is the antithesis of diversity to allow only the viewpoints of the majority to be reflected in public art. The vicious attacks on Christopher Columbus statues and Columbus Day are similarly discriminatory. Not only does the erasure of Columbus deprive the world of a remarkable historical figure; it also discriminates against Italian Americans.
The slogan “Black Lives Matter” is itself discriminatory. Why should only black people’s lives matter, while the lives of other races are ignored? The phrase “All Lives Matter” resonates with me. Every historical figure deserves to have his or her life memorialized and his or her story told. Every person should be honored, respected, and included, no matter their skin color, gender, age, religion, culture, sexual orientation, abilities, preferences, choices, experiences, or political beliefs. Enough with elevating groups that have allegedly been marginalized, while actively harming other groups and individuals. Enough with singling out certain groups to honor and celebrate, while trampling on everyone else. Instead of having special months and days for black people, indigenous people, Asian Americans, women, gay people, trans people, et cetera, let’s include everyone and treat everyone as equals.
It is my belief that supporters of the “woke” ideology do not actually believe in diversity or inclusion. Instead, they simply believe in going along with whatever cause is popular and groveling at the feet of whatever group happens to be politically favored. I believe in diversity and inclusion. I believe that All Lives Matter, not just the lives of people who are politically favored.