bookmark_borderUFC President Dana White stands up for free speech

Dana White, the president of the UFC, is an example of how sports leagues ought to handle the issue of free speech on controversial topics.

In a press conference after a victory, fighter Colby Covington called the Black Lives Matter movement “a complete sham.” He continued, “It’s a joke. They’re taking these people that are complete terrorists. They’re taking these people that are criminals. These aren’t people that are hard-working Americans, blue-collar Americans. These are bad people. They’re criminals. They shouldn’t be attacking police. If you’re breaking the law and you’re threatening the cops with weapons, you deserve to get what you get. Law enforcement protects us all. If we don’t have law enforcement, it’d be the wild, wild West.” He also called a fellow fighter who supports BLM a communist, a Marxist, and someone who “hates America” and “stands for criminals.”

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Covington could perhaps have phrased things a bit more diplomatically, but I agree overall with his sentiments. Of course, given the political environment of 2020, fellow UFC fighters and sponsors promptly erupted in outrage, calling Covington and his comments “flat-out racist” and “disgusting.”

To his credit, White defended athletes’ freedom of speech. “These guys all have their own causes, things, their own beliefs,” he said. “We don’t muzzle anybody here. We let everybody speak their mind. I don’t know what he said that was racist. I don’t know if I heard anything racist that he said.”

More coaches, teams, and leagues should adopt similar attitudes. True diversity and inclusion require tolerance and acceptance of a wide range of political views. With athletes almost unanimously expressing support for the BLM movement, usually with the wholehearted endorsement of their teams and leagues, it is important to consider the rights of those with dissenting views. If athletes can speak out in favor of BLM, fairness requires that they also be free to speak out against BLM if that is how they feel. 

bookmark_borderThe linguistics of protests, riots, and BLM

As someone who is fascinated by words and ideas, I have long been pondering what is the best name for the protests that have been happening since the death of George Floyd and the ideology that motivates them. Participants in and supporters of the protests, of course, use terms such as Black Lives Matter (BLM for short), anti-racism, and racial justice to describe their movement. Detractors of the protesters sometimes call them the “woke mob” or use the term “cancel culture” because of the movement’s propensity to demand the cancellation or firing of any individuals, movies, shows, or books that do no conform to their ideology. Commentator Robby Soave coined the term “1793 Project” to describe the mentality, because that was the year the Committee of Public Safety took over the French Revolution and began inflicting terror on anyone who did not conform to their ideology. Some people characterize the ideology of the protests as left-wing, radical, Marxist, or even anarchist, and some go so far as to call the protesters domestic terrorists.

This topic has been on my mind as of late because the Associated Press recently tweeted about the appropriateness of various words for acts of protest and resistance. The AP’s twitter thread reads as follows:

“A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium. Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s. Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt. Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent. They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people. Revolt and uprising both suggest a broader political dimension or civil upheavals, a sustained period of protests or unrest against powerful groups or governing systems.”

The AP seems to be suggesting that the recent actions and events should generally be referred to as unrest or protests as opposed to riots. It is difficult to write about these events in a neutral way because in addition to the arguments both for and against the actions themselves, there is an almost equally heated debate about what the actions should be called. Proponents prefer the words “protest” and “protesters” because these words focus on the cause that the participants are advancing, while opponents prefer the words “riot” and “rioters” because these words focus on the destructive actions. The AP has declared itself firmly in the “protest” camp.

I also found it interesting that the AP mentioned the possibility of characterizing the recent events as a revolt or uprising. Some participants in the events have, on a similar note, characterized themselves as participants in a “revolution” or “resistance.” I disagree strongly with the use of such terms to characterize this movement. This is because, as the AP notes, revolts, uprisings, revolutions, and resistance are all directed against powerful groups or governing systems. In other words, they are actions taken by “underdogs” against the establishment or, to use a term popular among hippies in the 1960s, “the man.” The Black Lives Matter movement, in my opinion, is the opposite of this. Contrary to what is portrayed by members of this movement, I feel that the BLM movement is less about diversity and tolerance and more about enforcing conformity. It is less about standing up for the underdog and more about trampling on and bullying unpopular minorities. It is less about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable and more about comforting the already comfortable and further afflicting the afflicted.

As proof of this, one need look no further than the BLM movement’s attitude towards the Confederate States of America. The members of the Confederacy were rebels in the truest sense of the word. They carried out a revolution against a powerful federal government. Outnumbered and with fewer supplies and a less modern economy, they lost. The South was physically devastated, its economy destroyed, its leaders charged with treason, and its people forced to remain part of the Union, at first under military occupation before they were eventually allowed to enjoy the full rights of citizenship again. It is impossible to think of a better example of an underdog than the Confederacy. Yet in the year 2020, members of the BLM movement insult and denounce the Confederacy and every person associated with it, tear down, vandalize, beat, smash, burn, lynch, and urinate on its statues, demand that its flag be banned, and advocate that it be “erased” and every reminder of it obliterated from the earth. This is the very essence of “punching down” as opposed to “punching up.” The Confederate generals and soldiers who are the objects of the BLM movement’s hatred were revolutionaries; therefore the BLM movement cannot accurately be described as a revolution or uprising.

For similar reasons, I’m not in favor of characterizing this movement as “radical.” I also don’t particularly favor characterizing it as left-wing, Marxist, or anarchist. These are all distinct ideologies with philosophical principles that define them. Much of today’s activism does not seem to be motivated by any ideology, per se, but by more of an anti-ideology. Instead of focusing on specific philosophical principles, the recent actions too often focus on destruction for the sake of destruction. Nor do I think domestic terrorism is the right term, because as destructive and violent as terrorism is, it is motivated by principled devotion to an ideology. Additionally, any terms involving the word “mob” call to mind the mafia, and I don’t think it’s fair to the mafia to compare them to this movement.

What is the best term to describe this movement, then? I sometimes use the phrases “black supremacism” or “reverse racism” because of participants’ tendency to demonstrate negative attitudes towards white people merely by virtue of being white. But I’m not sure these are the best terms. Black supremacism seems a little harsh, and the idea of reverse racism is problematic because it presumes that racism against black people is the “default” type of racism. I often call participants in this movement bullies, but this word can apply to any mean, intolerant, or pushy person and is not specific enough to be a good name for a particular movement or ideology. An idea that I strongly associate with this movement is political correctness. Political correctness in itself is not a horrible thing; if someone wants to use politically correct language and ideas in their own speech and actions, they have the right to do that. What is striking about the recent activism is its desire to obliterate everything in the world that does not conform to the requirements of political correctness, in other words its complete intolerance and disregard for dissenting views. Political correctness reigns supreme and is prioritized above logic, philosophy, diversity, or kindness. Some terms that I feel come close to capturing this phenomenon are “aggressive political correctness,” “political correctness run amok,” or perhaps, “cult of political correctness.”

Regardless of what words are used, I will continue writing about the BLM movement, political correctness, and the associated protests and riots, most likely using a variety of different terms until I settle on a word or words that I like best.

bookmark_borderConfederate lives matter

It is horrible enough that supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have brutally and mercilessly attacked, both physically and verbally, statues of historical figures in public places. What is even more disturbing is that these acts of vandalism and destruction are not limited to monuments on city streets and in public parks but have extended even to the graves of fallen soldiers.

For example, back in June, someone “tarred and feathered” several Confederate soldiers’ grave stones at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. The area of the cemetery that the vandal(s) targeted is known as the Confederate Mound and contains the remains of 1,600 prisoners of war who died at Camp Morton. Tarring and feathering was a form of public humiliation popular during the 18th century that was often used by angry mobs against British tax collectors. 

In another incident, someone pulled down Confederate flags that had adorned graves at the Resaca Confederate Cemetery in Georgia. Some of the flags were arranged to spell out “stop racism” and others were scattered on the ground. Over 450 Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Resaca are buried in the cemetery. 

Additionally, at the Confederate Cemetery in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, someone defaced an obelisk honoring known Confederate soldiers as well as unknown Confederate soldiers who were discovered in a mass grave nearby. A swastika was spray-painted on the obelisk and the names of the soldiers crossed out. 

In Little Rock, Arkansas, vandals beat, attempted to pull down, and graffitied an obelisk in Oakland Cemetery that honored 900 mostly unknown Confederate soldiers who died in various hospitals in the area. “They destroyed one of our obelisks and wrote all over it with spray paint, and chipped it very badly beyond repair,” said cemetery employee John Raines, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “They wrote a bunch of racial slurs and f this, f that.” The vandals also desecrated nine nearby wooden grave markers, gouging the word “Confederate” out of them. To their credit, cemetery staff reported the incident to law enforcement as a hate crime, and a man named Mujera Benjamin Lungaho was recently arrested and charged with vandalizing the graves and obelisk.

In Silver Spring, Maryland, someone knocked down a grave marker in the Grace Episcopal Church cemetery that honored 17 Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Fort Stevens. A note left on the scene read: “Here lies 17 dead white supremacists who died fighting to keep black people enslaved. The Confederacy was and always will be racist. Let this marker be a more accurate depiction of history because the last one was a disgrace.” The original grave marker, which the vandal(s) characterized as “disgraceful,” simply read, “in memory of seventeen unknown Confederate dead” and provided additional factual details about them. 

The behavior demonstrated in these and similar incidents is beyond despicable. It is wrong to argue that Confederate statues should not be displayed in city squares, but to deny fallen soldiers a dignified and peaceful rest is an entirely new level of wrongness. The fact that people would take it upon themselves to go into a cemetery and desecrate soldiers’ graves, in some cases bringing spray paint or even a strap with which to pull down a memorial, is disgusting. It takes a truly cruel, nasty, and mean-spirited person to demonstrate such hatred towards someone who died over 150 years ago. Yes, the South had slavery, but it is ignorant to view that as the single defining attribute of the Confederacy and of the soldiers who fought for it. Confederate soldiers were people, just like you or me, each with different motivations for joining the Confederacy and each with an individual story. (See this Facebook post for an eloquent example of this.) One does not need to agree with or support the cause that these soldiers fought for in order to acknowledge their personhood and show them basic respect.  

The BLM movement is based on the presumption that most people believe that black lives do not matter. But essentially no one holds this view. Instead, it is rebel soldiers who are treated as if their lives did not matter. In our politically correct society, it is considered “disgraceful” to provide a Confederate soldier with a simple, factual grave marker, while an “accurate depiction of history” requires these soldiers to be reduced to “white supremacists” and their cause reduced to “fighting to keep black people enslaved.” Acknowledging those who fought for the Confederacy as individual people is no longer acceptable; instead they must be posthumously sworn at, insulted, beaten, thrown on the ground, stomped on, tarred and feathered, their very names violently obliterated. This is true bigotry, and this is true intolerance. And it is not limited to a handful of vandals but extends to prominent politicians as well. 

An attempt by Congress to replace Confederate-inspired military base names has received a lot of publicity, but what is even worse about Section 377 of the National Defense Authorization Act is that it would actually require Confederate soldiers’ graves in Arlington National Cemetery to be desecrated. This amendment would require that the government “remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense.” The website Conservative Daily points out that there is a large Confederate monument at Arlington that is surrounded by the graves of 482 soldiers. The amendment would presumably require the removal of the monument, which would be logistically impossible to do without disturbing the graves. And even if somehow the Confederate graves were allowed to remain, the amendment would ban any sort of signage or plaques pertaining to them. “Just think about how small of a person someone would have to be to write an amendment in 2020 that could force the exhumation of 482 Civil War soldiers because they disagree with the cause they fought for,” the Conservative Daily article continues. “The GOP is so spineless, they actually believe that posthumously punishing Civil War dead is a reasonable ‘compromise’… Three years ago, this started as a debate over whether cities should have statues honoring Confederate officers like Stonewall Jackson or Robert E. Lee. Today, it has transformed into a debate over whether Civil War grave sites should be exhumed so that the dead can be posthumously punished.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

bookmark_borderJake Gardner’s life mattered

On May 30 in Omaha, Nebraska, protests took place in response to the death of George Floyd. As often is the case during such protests, property was vandalized, buildings were damaged, and businesses were looted. A confrontation took place between bar owner Jake Gardner and protester James Scurlock, which ended with Gardner shooting and killing Scurlock. District Attorney Don Kleine declined to bring charges against Gardner, explaining that the shooting was self-defense. Naturally, because Gardner was white and Scurlock was black, supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement erupted in outrage, assuming that Scurlock must have been an innocent victim and Gardner a murderer. So, a grand jury was convened and special prosecutor Frederick Franklin was appointed to lead the grand jury investigation. On September 15, the grand jury indicted Gardner on charges of manslaughter, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, attempted first-degree assault, and terroristic threats.

On September 19, Gardner died by suicide. A veteran of multiple tours of duty with the Marines, he had recently told local news channel KETV that he was “more anxious now than when I was flying to Iraq.” According to his defense attorney, Stu Dornan, he had received death threats and as a result had hired a bodyguard and had moved to California. Gardner felt that the BLM riots resembled a war zone. According to Dornan, someone shattered the window of the bar with a pole, which Gardner thought was a bullet. As people began climbing through the broken window, Gardner pulled the fire alarm, called police, and went outside. There, in video footage described by District Attorney Kleine, Gardner’s father and several protesters pushed and shoved each other. Someone shouted that Gardner had a gun, causing a group of people to tackle him. He fired two warning shots, but then Scurlock jumped on him, and he fired the fatal shot. 

“The grand jury indictment was a shock to him,” said Dornan. “He was really shook up.” Another attorney for Gardner, Tom Monaghan, said that his client had already been convicted in the court of public opinion, particularly on social media. “We have to stop the lies,” he said. 

Franklin, the special prosecutor, attempted to justify the charges. Gardner was “philosophically opposed” to the protests, Franklin said (as if that is a bad thing). He and other individuals were inside the bar with the lights off during the protests, which Franklin characterized as “set[ting] up an ambush inside his business, waiting on a looter to come in so he could ‘light him up.'” Franklin acknowledged that “vandals and people engaged in destroying did just that” but claimed that “there was not a single attempt to go inside the property.” Video taken by a protester showed the initial confrontation between Gardner and Scurlock and demonstrated that Gardner was the aggressor, Franklin said, without providing details. As far as I am concerned, whenever a confrontation happens between someone who is part of a mob engaged in looting, vandalism, and destruction and someone who is not, the person who is part of the mob is necessarily the aggressor. Even if no one had vandalized Gardner’s business or tackled him, he would still be in the right and Scurlock would be in the wrong. The fact that several people knocked Gardner to the ground for having a gun makes this even more true. Bearing arms is a fundamental right, and it is an act of aggression to physically tackle someone for exercising it. The intolerance, nastiness, and destructiveness demonstrated by supporters of the BLM movement is unacceptable, and I support anyone who has the courage and independence of thought to stand up to these bullies. 

Making things even worse, after causing Gardner’s death with these unjust charges, Franklin insulted him. “I think it’s contrary to the beliefs that I have, for anyone to engage in that sort of conduct,” he said of Gardner’s suicide. “But beyond my personal beliefs, him doing so deprived the community from having this evidence play out at trial.” Franklin also relayed a comment from a friend: “You have two families, devastated by the loss of a son, or brother, or father. But that’s what hate produces.”

This statement is true, but in the opposite way that Franklin and his friend intended. There was nothing hateful about Gardner’s actions. He was simply trying to defend his business, his father, and himself. It is the rioting mobs, who began their senseless destruction shortly after the death of George Floyd and four months later show no signs of stopping, who are truly hateful. Supporting a movement based on the presumption that most people are racists who think that black lives do not matter, smashing and burning property, destroying businesses, verbally and physically accosting innocent people, and bullying into silence anyone who dares to disagree with their opinions… these are all acts of hatred. Assuming because of his race that Gardner was the aggressor, demanding that he be charged, and slandering him on social media, these are acts of hatred as well. So yes, Gardner’s death, tragically, is exactly what hate produces. And even his death wasn’t enough to satisfy the hateful mobs. “People are rejoicing and carrying on and celebrating because another life was lost,” Gardner’s cousin told KETV

To every person who participated in or encouraged destructive riots, to every person who criticized Gardner on social media, to every person who demanded that he face legal action, to every person who presumed his guilt, to every grand juror who voted to indict him, and to special prosecutor Frederick Franklin: Jake Gardner’s blood is on your hands. 

bookmark_borderWhat part of “preserved and protected for all time” do you not understand?

As I wrote about earlier, during this summer of political correctness run amok, the beautiful Confederate carving at Stone Mountain has become a target of anti-Confederate intolerance. Now, a group of politically-correct, intolerant people have formed an organization called the Stone Mountain Action Coalition and have presented their demands to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, the group in charge of maintaining the mountain and its surrounding park.

For those who have never seen Stone Mountain, it is a huge mountain near Atlanta, Georgia with an enormous image of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved into the side for all to see. Near the base of the mountain are various statues, flags, and plaques honoring people from each of the 13 states of the Confederacy. Stone Mountain is, in my opinion, a truly unique, amazing, and awe-inspiring sight.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Stone Mountain Action Coalition is demanding that the carving no longer be maintained, that the nearby Confederate flags be removed, that Confederate-related names of streets and buildings in the park be replaced, and that the park focus on themes such as “nature, racial reconciliation and justice.”

One of the co-chairs of the coalition, Ryan Gravel, said, “We don’t believe that taking a piecemeal, token kind of approach to adding little trinkets here and there is going to be good enough to really resolve the history of the mountain and the way that people see it.” Meymoona Freeman, another co-chair, said, “It’s time for transformation, it’s time for healing, and it’s time for progress.” Other members of the coalition stressed the need to make the park “more welcoming.” 

But what exactly needs to be “resolved” about Stone Mountain? The carving is an incredible feat of engineering and art honoring three historical leaders. The fact that some people dislike those historical leaders, and by extension the carving, is not a problem that needs to be solved. Every single thing in the world has people who like it and people who do not like it. No one has the right to demand that everything they do not like be obliterated from the world, particularly when the thing in question is a unique, magnificent, and beautiful landmark that took years of creativity, craftsmanship, and hard work to create. There is nothing hateful or racist about honoring the Confederacy and its leaders. As the Confederate point of view falls further out of favor among the mainstream media, political establishment, and society as a whole, it is even more important that sites like Stone Mountain be preserved. Even if the carving is not actually removed, to cease maintaining it and to get rid of the Confederate flags and street names would be to strip the park of its uniqueness and identity. It would be to make Stone Mountain, and the world, a more bland, homogenous, and character-less place. For those who admire the Confederacy and enjoy this memorial park, getting rid of the Confederate features would be the exact opposite of healing, the exact opposite of progress, and the exact opposite of making the park more welcoming. And to actually destroy the carving would be so unfathomably awful that it hurts to even consider the possibility. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked several geologists for their thoughts on how such a thing could be achieved. Their ideas, which involve explosives, disfigurement, years of dangerous work, and millions of dollars, are sickening when one considers that these measures would be employed with the goal of destroying a priceless work of art.)

The reason the Stone Mountain Action Coalition is not demanding removal outright is that Georgia law currently protects the Confederate memorial carving. This law was enacted as part of a compromise in 2001 when the state legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Georgia state flag. The law reads: “The memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed, or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.” The fact that some people are even mentioning the possibility of changing this law demonstrates the intolerance of the politically-correct crowd. What part of “preserved and protected for all time” do they not understand? First, Georgia’s flag was changed, with the assurance that Stone Mountain would remain. Less than 20 years later, those who seek to destroy Confederate history have broken their promise and are trying to get rid of Stone Mountain as well. Attempts at compromise have done nothing to stop the inexorable progression towards a complete erasure of Confederate heritage. There can be no compromise, there can be no moderation, and there can be no “pushing the limits” of the law by ceasing maintenance of the carving and hoping that nature and the elements gradually erode it. Stone Mountain must be preserved and protected for all time, just as the law says. And given that the anti-Confederate bullies have reneged on their part of the compromise, advocating for a return of the old state flag wouldn’t hurt either. 

bookmark_borderMuseum of Fine Arts infiltrated by political correctness

With political correctness taking over the world to an increasing degree, it is not surprising that museums are being affected. Not only is the iconic Theodore Roosevelt statue being removed from the Museum of Natural History in New York, but the Museum of Fine Arts in my hometown of Boston has implemented negative changes in response to the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement.

When the MFA re-opens on September 26 after being closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, a magnificent portrait of King George IV will be missing. The portrait, by John Singleton Copley, was removed because, according to the MFA’s director, Matthew Teitelbaum, it was deemed inappropriate to emphasize America’s relationship with Great Britain. Additionally, visitors to the Art of the Americas wing will be greeted by a text on the wall explaining the museum’s efforts to “expand, contextualize, and diversify our holdings, and to consider the objects in our care from new and overlooked perspectives.” The works of art, the text notes, “ironically relied on oppressive economic systems, raising questions about the notions of ‘liberty’ that inspired their makers and patrons.” Portraits of Revolutionary War heroes will get explanatory text noting that they were slaveholders. Paul Revere’s Sons of Liberty bowl will get a text explaining that it is made from silver that was likely mined by slaves and therefore that “the material of the bowl belies the values it stood for.” According to the Boston Globe, these changes are being made so that the museum can be more inclusive and “expand its cultural embrace.”

However, like most actions taken in response to the BLM movement, these changes make the museum less inclusive. A beautiful, glorious painting of King George IV was needlessly removed. The new explanatory texts on various works of art cross the line from being neutral and factual to actually criticizing the art, its creators, and its subjects. It is unnecessary and inappropriate to add text that essentially calls Paul Revere and other leaders from the Revolutionary War era hypocrites. Worse, the museum’s explanatory text not only criticizes individuals from our nation’s history, it criticizes the very ideals upon which our nation was founded. There is no need to contemptuously put the word “liberty” in quotes while pointing out its alleged inconsistency with the economic systems that existed at the time.

Colonial-era American culture deserves to be celebrated just as much as any other culture, and our founding fathers deserve to be celebrated just as much as historical figures from other cultures do. Do the museum’s galleries of African, Asian, and Oceanian art contain explanatory text criticizing these cultures, their values, and their leaders from history? Works of art from all cultures should be accompanied by text that is neutral, factual, and educational, not negative, critical, or pushing any particular ideology.

I suppose I should be grateful that the Museum of Fine Arts did not go further by removing more paintings. But these changes are a step in the wrong direction and are demoralizing and upsetting given the sheer number of changes in this direction that are occurring in the world at the moment. I love art and history, and going to this museum has been one of my favorite outings since I was in preschool. Now I am not sure if I want to go back there ever again. Just another example of the BLM movement’s seeming determination to seek out all of the beautiful and good things in the world and ruin them.

bookmark_borderPavel Bure’s refreshing comments on BLM

The recent protests by professional athletes in a variety of sports have been demoralizing to anyone who truly values justice. The decision by athletes and their leagues to cancel games as an expression of support for the Black Lives Matter movement has made me, until this point an avid sports fan, seriously consider boycotting watching sports.

It was refreshing when I happened upon some comments by retired Russian NHL superstar Pavel Bure on the BLM movement. “If we talk about equality, one law should be interpreted equally for everyone, he said, according to a translation by RT. “If something happens to a white person, it’s OK, but if he is black – it’s a big tragedy. All people should be treated equally. I worked in America for more than 20 years playing with guys from different ethnic groups. My best friend was Gino Odjick, an American Indian who introduced me to his ethnic community. But native Indians are the most oppressed nation in North America. Donald Brashear, a black guy, was also my friend and there was no racism. What is happening now is outrageous hysteria, reverse racism. Why should anyone apologize?”

Retired NHL goalie Ilya Bryzgalov also expressed refreshingly reasonable views on this topic. “I don’t see any connection between the NHL games and the Wisconsin shooting, which we know very little about,” he remarked, according to RT. “How can ice hockey and sport be linked to unlawful acts performed by a policeman?… I’m tired of this hype. Talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, I just want to ask, don’t the lives of other nations, like Latin Americans and Asians, matter? It’s highly politicized. Finding a connection between such things is absurd!”

Exactly. The fact that the NHL canceled games as a protest against a police shooting in Wisconsin is absurd. As both gentlemen expressed, everyone should be treated equally, and the BLM movement does the exact opposite of that. It is not appropriate for the NHL or any other sports league to express support for this movement. 

bookmark_border“No justice, no Derby”

The Black Lives Matter movement yesterday chose the Kentucky Derby as its latest occasion for protests. Activists gathered in a park near Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and marched towards the racetrack chanting “No justice, no Derby!” The fact that the race was even run was described as insensitive, callous, and tone-deaf.

These criticisms are, in my opinion, ridiculous. There are legitimate concerns about police brutality, and people are understandably demanding justice in the police-involved shooting of Breonna Taylor, who lived in Louisville. But why is any of this a reason to cancel the Kentucky Derby? Police officers who abuse their authority deserve to be punished, as do all those who perpetrate racism in our society. But to cancel the Derby would not accomplish this. It would punish the hardworking trainers, jockeys, grooms, and owners who have dedicated their lives to caring for horses, as well as the racing fans, and most importantly, the horses themselves who have been training for this moment all year long.

There are all sorts of injustices and wrongs in our society. Racism against black people exists in some places, and racism against white people exists as well. Anti-Semitism exists, as does prejudice against gay, transgender, and asexual people. Income inequality, social pressure, animal cruelty, and climate change are all serious issues. As a person on the autism spectrum, I face discrimination and other challenges on a daily basis. But no one who is affected by any of these other issues has demanded that major sporting events be canceled. Yes, racism and police brutality deserve to be condemned and protested against. But so do all forms of injustice. All of the injustices that I listed are equally widespread and equally problematic as what the Black Lives Matter movement is protesting against, if not more so. So why do Black Lives Matter protesters believe that their issue should be treated preferentially to all others? To demand that the Kentucky Derby be canceled as a response to the injustices that the BLM movement cares about is unfair to everyone affected by other injustices, as well as to everyone who loves horse racing.

The fact that something unjust happened does not mean that events that have absolutely nothing to do with the injustice should be canceled or that people who have nothing to do with the injustice should be punished. The Kentucky Derby is not a frivolous social occasion. It is more than an excuse to wear fancy hats and drink mint juleps. It is a prestigious sporting event for equine athletes, which horsemen and horsewomen build their entire year around. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was rescheduled from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September, and was held without fans. These measures are more than sufficient; there is no reason to demand that the race be canceled entirely. Supporters of BLM should focus their criticism and protests upon people who are racist and police who commit acts of brutality; not innocent horses and the people who work with them. To demand that the world of horse racing stop in its tracks for the BLM movement, after already being disrupted around the country by the pandemic, is truly tone-deaf.

P.S. Although I was rooting for Tiz the Law, congratulations to Authentic and all of his humans!

bookmark_borderRand Paul and the ignorant mob

In yet another example of the intolerance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Senator Rand Paul was attacked by an angry mob of over 100 people while leaving the White House after the Republican National Convention. As he and his wife were trying to make their way back to their hotel, the mob swarmed around them, screamed insults, profanities, and death threats, and physically prevented them from moving.

The Daily Caller tweeted a video of the incident.

Senator Paul also described his ordeal on Fox & Friends:

They’re attempting to push the police over to get to me, so at one point they push a policeman backwards, he stumbles and he’s trying to catch his balance and I catch the back of his flak jacket to stabilize him to make sure he’s OK because he’s our defense. If he’s down, the mob’s loose on us. I truly believe this with every fiber of my being, had they gotten at us they would have gotten us to the ground, we might not have been killed, might just have been injured by being kicked in the head, or kicked in the stomach until we were senseless… They were shouting threats to us, to kill us, to hurt us, but also threats shouting “say her name,” Breonna Taylor, and it’s like you couldn’t reason with this mob, but I’m actually the author of the Breonna Taylor law to end no-knock raids, so the irony is lost on these idiots that they’re trying to kill the person who’s actually trying to get rid of no-knock raids.

That’s right, a mob of Black Lives Matter supporters threatened and harassed the very person who has authored 22 criminal justice reforms, including abolishing no-knock raids, which led to Breonna Taylor’s death. Apparently completely ignorant of this, the mob told the libertarian-leaning Republican senator, “We’re not going to let you go alive unless you’ll say you’re for criminal justice reform.” Paul’s actions over the years demonstrate quite clearly that he is. As Paul wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News, “almost no one has said Breonna Taylor’s name as often or sincerely as I have.”

Continue reading “Rand Paul and the ignorant mob”

bookmark_borderAthletes’ boycott is inconsistent and illogical

The world is finally emerging from a government-ordered lockdown during which countries, states, and cities forbade their citizens from leaving their homes for anything other than necessities. A more severe, wide-reaching violation of people’s rights can hardly be imagined. 

Yet because of an incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin in which Jacob Blake was shot by police officers, the NBA, NHL, and MLB have decided to cancel their games as a form of protest. I do not mean to minimize the injustice of what happened to Jacob Blake. Obviously, being shot and paralyzed as a result is absolutely horrible, and he did not deserve for this to happen. But I disagree with the claims by the Black Lives Matter movement that incidents like this are symptomatic of an overarching trend of systemic racism. Like the equally unjust and tragic killing of George Floyd, this was an isolated incident. It is being investigated, and if any of the officers involved are found to have acted wrongly, they will be punished. The shooting of Jacob Blake is being handled the way it should be. 

So why did so many athletes boycott their games in response to this but not in response to issues that are actually important? 

As a result of demands by its athletes, the NBA agreed to postpone all of yesterday’s and today’s playoff games. The NHL called off today’s playoff games, and MLB postponed three games yesterday and seven games today after some players decided to sit out and their teammates and managers backed them. 

Contrast this with the complete lack of reaction when the majority of states in the U.S. enacted stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, banning all people within those states from traveling, going to parks, doing outdoor activities, getting together with other people, and operating businesses. Did any professional athlete express any opposition whatsoever to these tyrannical policies that violate every person’s rights on a massive scale? If so, the media has done a good job of keeping it secret. 

As another example of an issue that merits widespread protests, take the barbaric destruction of buildings, businesses, and worst of all, statues that has been perpetrated by protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement across the country. Why have no professional athletes taken a stand against these violations of people’s rights? Why has no one pledged to boycott games until the vandalized statues are restored and protected?

It’s not only recent injustices that merit protests. Why have no athletes protested against technology companies’ constant tracking of everyone’s internet activities? This practice violates every person’s privacy rights. Why did no athletes protest the deployment of full-body scanners at airports in 2010, also violating every traveler’s privacy rights? Why did no athletes protest when the federal government passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, requiring all people to purchase health insurance? This law violates every person’s right to decide what to do with his or her own money. And why did no one protest the passage of the Durham-Humphrey Amendment in 1951, requiring each person to get a doctor’s permission before being allowed to purchase medications? This law violates every person’s right to make his or her own medical decisions. I could continue listing examples until this blog post became as long as a novel, but I think you get the point.

All of these issues are more important, and more deserving of protests, than an isolated incident of police brutality. The decision by so many basketball, hockey, and baseball players to boycott games over one instance of injustice while completely ignoring others is illogical, inconsistent, unjust, and unfair. Their gesture is meaningful to Jacob Blake and those who care about him, but it is a slap in the face to all those people who are negatively affected by other types of injustice.