bookmark_borderAre conservatives punishing companies for “speaking” on social issues?

I recently saw a newspaper headline about the decision by the state of Florida to revoke Disney’s special tax status. The headline made reference to conservatives’ practice of “punishing companies for speaking on social issues.”

I take issue with this word choice. I am a conservative who disagrees with Disney’s decision to publicly take a stand against the Florida law banning explicit sex education for children under fourth grade. Similarly, I found it morally wrong that so many companies issued statements publicly praising the George Floyd protests when they broke out two years ago.

Of course, I cannot speak for all conservatives, but speaking for myself, the reason these actions were upsetting is not because companies were “speaking on social issues.” It is because companies were taking a position on something that they should not be taking a position on. It is because instead of being neutral, companies chose to be biased. It is because instead of treating everyone equally, companies chose to discriminate.

By choosing to criticize the Florida law, Disney has decided that the (supposed) right of gay people to discuss their sexuality while at work is worthy of defending. By choosing to praise the BLM movement, companies have decided that (supposed) systemic racism against black people is a serious enough problem to speak out against. “Why would someone be upset by this?” you might be wondering. There is nothing wrong with supporting LGBTQ rights or anti-racism, after all. But the problem is that LGBTQ people and people of color are not the only people who have been wronged, harmed, or treated unjustly.

How about, to give just one example, people such as myself, whose hearts have been shattered and lives ruined by the destruction of the historical statues that make our lives worth living? How about Americans of Italian descent, or Americans of Confederate ancestry, whose heritage has been almost entirely obliterated from the national consciousness thanks to the BLM movement? 

By taking positions on issues of LGBTQ rights and black people’s rights, companies are saying that the rights of these groups matter, but not the rights of other groups and individuals. Companies are saying that the perspectives, experiences, and feelings of these groups matter, but not the perspectives, experiences, and feelings of others. Companies are saying that the struggles and problems faced by these groups are worthy of acknowledgement and empathy, but not the struggles and problems faced by others.

When I see a company expressing support for gay rights or for the BLM movement, while ignoring the pain inflicted by the destruction of historical figures, it hurts. It sends the message that my perspectives, my experiences, my feelings, and my pain do not matter. It sends the message that the company does not value me as a customer or as a human being.

So unless a company commits to expressing solidarity with every individual and every group that has gone through something difficult, the company should steer clear of expressing support for political causes. When a company expresses support for some causes but not others, that company is inherently expressing the belief that some causes matter while other causes do not. And that is discrimination, full stop.

Characterizing the conservative position as a desire to “punish companies for speaking on social issues” makes conservatives sound as if they are pro-censorship and anti-free-speech. It makes conservatives sound as if they want to silence those who disagree with them.

This is a deliberate mischaracterization of the conservative position, designed to make the conservative position appear illogical, hypocritical, and illegitimate.

I do not want companies to be silent rather than speaking out. I want companies to be neutral, rather than biased. I want companies to treat everyone equally, rather than demonstrating favoritism. I want companies to be inclusive, rather than discriminating against unpopular minorities who happen not to be politically favored. 

I do not believe that companies should be punished for “speaking on social issues.” I believe that companies should be punished for being biased and discriminatory.

bookmark_borderThoughts on discrimination and exclusion

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.

bookmark_borderJustice for Kyle Rittenhouse

Today (or technically yesterday) the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial returned the correct verdict, acquitting Kyle of all charges. This trial resulted from an incident last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in which Rittenhouse fatally shot two people (and injured a third) who were participating in a BLM protest/riot and who physically attacked him. He argued that he acted in self-defense, and the jury agreed.

Throughout the entire ordeal, numerous people, including reporters, commentators, politicians, and even the president, have viciously insulted and slandered Rittenhouse. People have called him a white supremacist, presumed his guilt, made racist and sexist comments, and ridiculed him for crying when he testified in his own defense.

The assumption behind these anti-Rittenhouse attacks is that the BLM movement is right and just, and that anyone associated with it has the right to do whatever they want, no matter how aggressive, cruel, mean, or harmful, with impunity. According to this way of thinking, any attempt to defend oneself against BLM supporters is aggression, and any attempt to push back against the BLM movement’s ideology of black supremacy is white supremacy.

I disagree with this way of thinking, to put it mildly. So, apparently, did the jury.

Many people have claimed that if Rittenhouse were black, the trial would have had a different outcome. This is true – if Rittenhouse were black, he would never have been charged in the first place. He would have been deified and glorified as a hero, politicians would be falling over each other in their haste to issue statements praising him and insulting the people he shot, and rallies to support him would have erupted all over the country.

For those who claim that Rittenhouse’s acquittal is an example of “white privilege” or “coddling of conservatives,” for someone to be charged with murder in a clear case of self-defense is the opposite of privilege and coddling. For those who claim that Rittenhouse killed two people and faced “no consequences whatsoever,” to be arrested, charged, and tried for murder, viciously insulted by millions of people, and almost unanimously slandered as a white supremacist by the media (and by the president of the United States) is the opposite of facing no consequences.

Many people have criticized Rittenhouse for traveling across state lines. Did these same people also criticize the counter-protesters who demonstrated against a rally for the preservation of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017? If you believe that people in the latter situation acted rightly by counter-protesting, you are inconsistent if you believe that Rittenhouse acted wrongly by going to Kenosha. By all accounts, Kyle went to the site of the protest/riot to oppose the actions of the protesters/rioters. His plans included acting as a medic, putting out fires set by the protesters, repairing property damage done by the protesters, and protecting businesses and people from violence and looting. It is wrong to say that Kyle “had no business being there” or “should have minded his own business” or “was looking for trouble.” When there is a protest – particularly when it is a violent protest in the service of an unjust and racist cause – people have the right to counter-protest. And people have the right to bear arms while counter-protesting (or doing any other activity, for that matter). 

Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum were not victims. They were bullies and aggressors. They would still be alive today if they had minded their own business and not attacked Kyle (or if they had altogether abstained from rioting in support of an unjust and racist cause). To all those people claiming that there is no justice for Huber and Rosenbaum, this is false. Huber and Rosenbaum chose to align themselves with an ideology that supports anti-white racism, discrimination, the destruction of statues and monuments, the violent erasure of unpopular historical figures, ethnicities, and cultures, and the infliction of horrific emotional pain on anyone who dares to express dissenting views. And while demonstrating in support of this ideology, they chose to physically attack an innocent person. This might sound harsh, but Huber and Rosenbaum got exactly what they deserved. 

For far too long, “woke” and politically correct people have inflicted horrible pain, damage, and injustice on other people in the name of “racial justice” and “equity.” For far too long, supporters of the BLM movement have been allowed to bully and intimidate others, completely dominate the public discourse, perpetrate countless acts of violence, vandalism, and looting, obliterate the legacies of historical heroes, destroy priceless works of art, spew the most vile and vicious words of sexism and racism imaginable, and both verbally and physically attack innocent people. For far too long, they have faced no consequences for these despicable actions. 

But today, that stopped. Today a jury recognized that in at least one instance, members of the politically correct BLM mob acted wrongly, and an opponent of that mob was justified in defending himself. 

This doesn’t come anywhere close to undoing the enormous harm that has been done by the BLM movement over the past year and a half. It doesn’t come anywhere close to achieving justice for the countless people whom the BLM movement has hurt, or for the historical figures whom this movement has torn down and stomped on. But it is a start, perhaps, to a long-overdue turning of the tide. Along with the victory of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia and the (at least for now) defeat of the totalitarian vaccine mandate, I am imbued with a sense of hope that there may, possibly, be some good left in the world that is worth fighting for.

Kyle Rittenhouse, you give me hope. For your courage in standing up to bullies, I salute you. 

Jurors, you give me hope. For rendering a just verdict despite tremendous pressure to do otherwise, I salute you.

bookmark_border“Reckoning”

Reckoning. Again and again over the past year-plus, we’ve heard and seen this word: on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, online, and on social media. Everywhere we go, we are bludgeoned over the head with the idea that America is having a long-overdue “racial reckoning.” And now this concept has spread to Canada and Europe, with a plethora of articles alleging that other countries are in need of racial reckonings as well (such as this one, titled “UK faces reckoning after unmarked Indigenous graves discovered in Canada“).

According to Dictionary.com, the word “reckoning” has several meanings, including “the settlement of accounts,” “an accounting, as for things received or done,” and “an appraisal or judgment.” 

The aspect of the current “reckoning” that is most upsetting and objectionable to me is the destruction of statues and monuments. Likenesses of historical figures ranging from Queen Victoria to Robert E. Lee to Christopher Columbus have been beheaded, torn down, lynched, strangled, kicked, set on fire, and otherwise brutalized. The perpetrators of these actions argue that they are advocating for racial equality. But the incessant talk of a needed “reckoning” is based on a false presumption. To characterize the destruction of statues as a reckoning presumes that the existence of the statues is bad. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Having statues of a wide variety of historical figures is crucial for having a world that is worth living in.

Destroying statues inflicts horrible pain on the people who love and appreciate those statues. Given that the word “reckoning” means “the settlement of accounts” or “an accounting, as for things received or done,” using this word implies that people who love and appreciate statues have done something wrong and deserve to be punished. This is completely false. Statues are just as valid and legitimate an interest as movies, trains, dinosaurs, sports, or anything else, for that matter. No one deserves to have his or her object of love and admiration obliterated from the world. Far from being a reckoning, acts of brutality against statues are in reality acts of aggression against innocent people who have done nothing wrong. The participants in the anti-statue movement are not settling up accounts, getting revenge, or getting even with those who have harmed them. They are inflicting harm and pain on people who have done nothing wrong and harmed no one. In other words, this movement is not fighting for racial justice; it is actively inflicting injustice.

Similarly, using the word “reckoning” to mean “an appraisal or judgment” implies that there is something bad about statues and/or the people who love them, something making the statues and/or the people worthy of condemnation and criticism. But it is the people destroying and removing the statues who deserve condemnation and criticism, as they are the ones acting wrongly in this situation. The idea that what is happening is an appraisal or judgment also presumes that the currently prevailing views about race and statues are necessarily correct and that viewpoints from the past are necessarily wrong. According to this presumption, it is a desirable goal to evaluate historical figures using today’s values and to modify our communities’ statues and monuments accordingly. But this way of looking at things is completely false. Views popular today are no more likely to be correct than views unpopular today and/or popular in the past. In fact, the views about race and statues that are dominant in 2020-2021 have inflicted enormous amounts of harm and pain on innocent people and transformed the world from a place that was worth living in to one that is not. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the previously existing statues and monuments. Far from righting a wrong, the removal of statues takes something that was perfectly fine and ruins it.

In conclusion, to use the word “reckoning” to describe the recent trend of vicious attacks on statues is incorrect and unjust. It places blame on the victims of these hurtful actions and lets the perpetrators completely off the hook. The existence of statues of controversial historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Confederate generals is a beautiful thing, not a problem that needs to be reckoned with. The eradication of these statues, whether via violent destruction or peaceful removal, is the real problem. And the perpetrators of these actions, whether protesters or government officials, are the ones who deserve punishment and condemnation. The endless onslaught of statue destruction, as well as the fact that our society has treated this as if it is not a serious problem, is what truly merits a reckoning.

bookmark_borderBLM activists threaten to turn memorial chair into toilet

One of the arguments frequently made by the intolerant bullies who oppose Confederate monuments is that battlefields, museums, and cemeteries are more appropriate locations for these statues than city parks and town squares. But now, the existence of anything Confederate-related, regardless of location, has become intolerable for BLM supporters. A group of them stole a Jefferson Davis memorial chair from a private section of the Old Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama. These idiots sent a letter to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, telling them that they would turn the chair into a toilet unless the organization displayed a banner with a quote by black supremacist terrorist Assata Shakur, who murdered a police officer. 

“The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives,” the banner read. Fortunately, the UDC did not display it, and police managed to recover the chair unharmed. Stanley Warnick, Kathryn Diionno, and Stanley Pate were charged with the theft. 

The thieves explained their actions as follows: “The common thread between now and then is the criminal justice system. That’s where the racial caste system is preserved today, much like these monuments. Why did we steal a chair? To make a point. To redirect the conversation back to what matters, people, not property.”

These statements make no sense. First of all, I’m not sure what any alleged racial caste system has to do with Confederate monuments. Second, the BLM movement and those who share their politically correct, intolerant way of thinking are the rulers of this country, while those who support the Confederacy are an unpopular minority with no power, so the vandals have that completely backwards. Additionally, statues and monuments are what matters, yet they are being treated as if they are completely worthless, so the vandals have that completely backwards as well. Technically, memorials are property, but they are essential parts of a world in which life is worth living. Without beautiful statues and monuments honoring a wide range of viewpoints and causes, the world is dull, bland, and empty and there is no point in people being alive. Statues and monuments are also the physical representations of now-dead historical figures, and harming them is an attack on those heroes’ lives and legacies, just as harming a living person is an attack on that person. Historical statues and artifacts are what matters, they are what it is important, and they are what the conversation should be about. They deserve far more respect and protection than they have been given.

Comments on Twitter about this unfortunate incident are, as usual, infuriating:

In the one instance in which someone actually made a reasonable comment, another individual, apparently thinking he/she was being clever, made a completely nonsensical reference to Mein Kampf. What does Hitler’s autobiography / manifesto have to do with a memorial chair to Jefferson Davis? 

Also, they did nothing wrong? Seriously? The thieves most definitely did so something wrong.

As for the call to get the sledgehammer… really? The fact that someone would take delight in the prospect of a historical artifact being smashed to pieces with a sledgehammer is beyond reprehensible. I cannot understand how someone could be so filled with hate and cruelty that he/she would demand the violent destruction of another person’s property that is located on private land and not hurting anyone, merely because it is related to the Confederacy.

These people, and their vicious hatred for anyone who is different from them, are sickening. 

bookmark_borderBiased article about statue genocide in Richmond

This article is old but still biased and inaccurate enough to merit blogging about. The article in the Richmond Free Press, from last June, describes the brutal and heartless destruction of a statue of Christopher Columbus and a statue of Williams Carter Wickham as follows:

Decrying police brutality and white supremacy, Richmond protesters have taken an active approach to removing symbols of oppression by pulling statues of Christopher Columbus and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham from their pedestals in public parks.

The Columbus statue in Byrd Park was brought down with ropes, briefly set on fire and dragged into Fountain Lake on Tuesday evening following a protest and march down Arthur Ashe Boulevard led by members of Richmond’s indigenous community.

During a a peaceful protest in Byrd Park, demonstrators reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples.

“We no longer leave behind people in this movement,” said Joseph Rogers, a member of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.

Taking an active approach? That’s an interesting way of describing the brutal and vicious destruction of beautiful works of art that are not yours to destroy.

Additionally, the statues destroyed were not symbols of oppression; they were symbols of freedom, liberty, diversity, independent thinking, and fighting back against authority, all of which are the opposite of oppression.

Furthermore, the author describes the actions in question as a “peaceful protest,” despite the fact that in the previous sentence, the author wrote that the statue of Columbus was brought down with ropes, set on fire, and thrown into a lake. (Just typing those words makes me feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest.) These actions are anything but peaceful.

Plus, the claim that demonstrators “reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples” is blatantly false. Destroying statues is inherently non-inclusive, particularly when those statues represent unpopular minorities, which the Columbus and Wickham ones did. And destroying statues that represent marginalized and oppressed people, as these statues did, is an attack on marginalized and oppressed people, which is the opposite of expressing solidarity with them. So the demonstrators actually did precisely the opposite of what the article characterizes them as doing. The quote by one of the protesters that “we no longer leave behind people in this movement,” is preposterous. This movement, by destroying statues that represent cultures and viewpoints other than their own, is actively attacking and trampling on people who do not think the way they do. That is inherently leaving people out and leaving people behind. The name of the organization is also preposterous: by destroying statues of unpopular minorities, the organization’s members are actively advocating against freedom, justice, and equality.

Later in the article, the author inaccurately describes the events in Charlottesville in 2017 as a “deadly white supremacist rally.” The rally was actually to express opposition to the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, which has nothing to do with white supremacy. Additionally, the rally was not deadly; it was the counter-protest by intolerant bullies that caused violence.

The article also describes Edward Colston, whose statue was viciously destroyed in a similar incident to Columbus, as a “17th century slave trader.” This is an inaccurate characterization. Colston was a merchant. He bought and sold a variety of goods participated in many different industries, of which the slave trade was only one.

Finally, even the article’s headline – “Columbus and Wickham statues come down” is biased. The brutal, vicious, disgusting, and intolerant destruction of statues should never be treated as something even that is remotely acceptable. This headline completely fails to capture the moral wrongness of the actions described within it. Any article needs to characterize the deliberate destruction of statues as the atrocity that it is.

bookmark_borderThe statue genocide in New Hampshire

The statue genocide that has been perpetrated by the Black Lives Matter movement is such a painful topic for me that it is often too difficult for me to read about it. But on occasions when I feel able to do so, I try to research this topic, both for a website that I am working on that memorializes its victims, as well as for the purpose of determining if there are any states in the U.S. that have been untouched by the genocide and therefore are possible places where I could live. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any. When researching the possibility of moving to New Hampshire, I came across an article from the New Hampshire Union Leader outlining the efforts of the politically correct bullies to ruin everything in the state. There are numerous problems with the article and with the people quoted in it, which I will outline below:

First of all, the entire premise of the article is wrong. The author, Shawne Wickham, characterizes the destruction of everything good in the world as a “soul-searching” motivated by learning more about monuments and the historical figures they represent. It is assumed that everything from getting rid of Aunt Jemima from the pancake mix, to taking down a weathervane depicting a Native American at Dartmouth College, to renaming Franklin Pierce University, to renaming the city of Keene, to altering the Hannah Duston Memorial, is a good thing. But these are bad things which eliminate the richness, beauty, and diversity of our world and move us closer to a society in which every person thinks the same and every place looks the same. We should be aiming to add more beautiful, amazing, wonderful, distinctive, glorious, unique, and diverse things to our world, not to eliminate the few existing ones. New Hampshire has never had any statues of Christopher Columbus or of any Confederate generals, and the article presumes that this is a good thing, but it is not. What would actually make the world a better place is to add more Confederate statues and more Columbus statues to our public spaces, but, as is the case with almost all of the media coverage over the past year about the topic of statues, this is not even presented as an option.

A major topic of the article is the statue of Hannah Duston in Boscawen, NH. Duston is a woman who was captured by Native Americans in 1697. The Native Americans killed her baby, and she eventually escaped and killed 10 of them in revenge. University of New Hampshire Professor Meghan Howey and Abenaki leader Denise Pouliot joined forces to “address” the statue (there again is the false assumption that the existence of statues that are at all different, distinctive, or controversial is a problem that needs to be solved, as opposed to a good thing that the world needs more of). Their plan is to create a park called “Unity Park N’dakinna” around the statue, including interpretive signage as well as a statue of an Abenaki family. The project will involve various experts such as artists, historians, and landscape designers, and a statewide fundraising campaign is planned. My question is… what is the point of all this? Without Columbus statues and Confederate statues, the world is not a place worth living in. There is no point in expending resources on any statues, parks, or public spaces until all of the Columbus statues and Confederate statues have been put back up. It is not fair that one group of people gets to design a park that represents their history and values, while other people are forced to live in a world where everything that represents their history and values has been destroyed. It is a slap in the face to read about all the thought, effort, expertise, and money being used to create this park, while I am no longer able to enjoy any parks in my hometown of Boston because they remind me of the fact that the statue of my hero, Christopher Columbus, was brutally beheaded and the city has made no effort to hold the perpetrators accountable. To focus resources on this park, while everything that makes my life worth living has been destroyed, is to tell me that my pain does not matter, that my feelings do not matter, and that my happiness does not matter. It is to tell the Italian-American community and the Confederate community that our lives, and the lives of our ancestors, do not matter.

Another topic of the article is Confederate statues. Ellen Townes-Anderson, a professor at Rutgers, argues in the article that obliterating statues of Confederate leaders does not amount to erasing history, because battlefields, museums, and books still exist and are still available to those who wish to learn. This is true, but what makes Confederate statues so important is not just their educational value but also the fact that Confederate leaders deserve to be honored and glorified. They fought bravely for the cause of individual liberty and self-determination. The existence of beautiful statues honoring deserving people and causes is an essential part of what gives cities, towns, statues, and countries their identities. It is a crucial part of having a world that is worth living in. Elizabeth Dubrulle at the New Hampshire Historical Society argues that Confederate statues are particularly bad because “they did commit treason… Where in the world would you put up statues to people who committed treason?” Anyone who uses the “treason” argument to criticize the Confederacy reveals him/herself to be an authoritarian and a bully. Every person and/or group of people has a fundamental right to leave his/her country and form a new one, and that is exactly what the Confederates fought to be able to do. Anyone who thinks that the Confederates committed “treason” by forming their own country is an authoritarian who tramples on individual rights. Dubrulle also mentions that Confederate statues were allegedly created to promote a racist agenda and that the Confederacy has come to symbolize white supremacy in modern times. But the motivations behind a statue’s creation, as well as people’s perceptions of the statue today, are not the deciding factors in evaluating the statue. What truly matters is who the statue depicts and what that person stood for, which may or may not match up with popular perception.

It’s horrific enough that magnificent statues of Columbus and of Confederate generals have been viciously destroyed across the country, but the ideas suggested by the people quoted in the article – such as renaming the city of Keene because its namesake participated in the slave trade and stripping President Franklin Pierce’s name from a university and law school because he had the audacity to compromise with the South on the issue of slavery – are downright ridiculous. Howey, the professor at UNH, suggests that this new way of looking at history is “much more interesting and nuanced,” but I see it as the opposite. The so-called experts quoted in the article, and many people in general, are essentially attempting to get rid of everything that honors anyone who is not considered 100% perfect according to the social norms of 2021. This makes history, and by extension the world, bland, boring, conformist, and soulless. History has been my passion since I was 10, and there is nothing interesting or appealing about this way of commemorating and studying history. 

Rutgers professor Townes-Anderson says in the article that it feels for the first time “like real change is possible… we have the best chance we’ve had in a long time.” But the change of which she speaks – the eradication of Confederate statues from public spaces – is a negative change, not a positive one. The BLM movement is turning the world from a place that is mostly bad, with a few beautiful and good things still left, to a world that is 100% bad, in which the few remaining beautiful and good things have been destroyed. Media coverage of this topic needs to recognize this. Instead of being presented as something neutral or even positive, the statue genocide must be treated as the horrific injustice that it is.

bookmark_borderThe real double standard between Capitol and BLM protests

One of the most disturbing and infuriating things I’ve ever witnessed is the media’s and society’s promulgation of the myth that the pro-Trump protesters at the U.S. Capitol were somehow treated more leniently than Black Lives Matter protesters have been. This is one of the most blatantly false ideas I have ever heard, and it has been expressed over and over again, ad nauseam, by people across all forms of media and social media.

Coverage of the recent happenings at the Capitol is so offensive to me that I haven’t been able to read and analyze a huge amount of articles on this topic. But this article by USA Today provides an overview of the BLM/Capitol protest comparisons made by various public figures. I am going to attempt to explain why these comments and statements are wrong and unjust.

The article itself describes how during the BLM protests last spring and summer, “law enforcement often clashed with demonstrators, deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, bruising faces and bodies, and, in one incident that went viral, pushing an elderly man to the ground.” Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, gave a similar characterization of events: “When Black folks are protesting and progressives are protesting peacefully they were tear-gassed, they were arrested, they were shot with rubber bullets. They were shot with real bullets. We should not be witnessing what we are witnessing today in this nation. It’s a global embarrassment. None of this took place.”

This, to use a very technical philosophy term, is complete and utter baloney. First of all, no Black Lives Matter protesters have been shot by police. Johnson’s reference to being “shot with real bullets” seems to refer to the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, a counter-protestor who killed two BLM protesters in defense of himself and local business owners whose property the protesters were destroying. Because Rittenhouse was a private citizen and not a police officer, this shooting has no relevance to the topic of the respective police responses to the BLM and Capitol protests. Additionally, how can Johnson claim with a straight face, with regard to tear gas and arrests, that “none of this took place”? Over 100 of the pro-Trump protesters were, indeed, arrested and charged with crimes, and over 200 are being investigated by the FBI for federal felonies such as sedition and conspiracy. Suspects have been hunted down all over the country, and law enforcement is widely publicizing surveillance footage in an attempt to identify even more suspects. Not to mention the fact that one of the protesters, Ashli Babbitt, was killed by a police officer, and two more protesters lost their lives due to mysterious causes during the conflict with police. And all of this despite the fact that the actions of the BLM protesters – destroying countless innocent people’s businesses and countless beautiful, irreplaceable historical statues – were vastly more deserving of punishment than the actions of the pro-Trump protesters at the Capitol. Johnson is (kind of) right about one thing: how leniently BLM protesters have been treated compared to pro-Trump protesters is indeed a global embarrassment.

On a similar note, Bernice King, the daughter of MLK, tweeted: “If this were Black Lives Matter storming the Capitol, tanks would have been in the city by now. The response tells the story of our nation’s racist history and present.” There is absolutely no evidence that tanks would have responded to a hypothetical protest in which BLM protesters entered the Capitol, and the leniency with which such protesters have been treated as they smashed, decapitated, and burned priceless works of art all across the country for months is strong evidence against King’s claim.

Adding to the ridiculousness, CNN commentator Van Jones tweeted: “Imagine if #BlackLivesMatter were the ones who were storming the Capitol building. Thousands of black people laying siege to the seat of government – in the middle of a joint session of Congress? Just imagine the reaction.” I can indeed imagine the reaction. It would not have involved a protester being shot to death by police. It would not have involved hundreds of protesters (or any protesters, for that matter) being hunted down, arrested, and charged with federal crimes. Instead, it would have involved those protesters being unanimously praised as brave, selfless, and heroic by the media, politicians, and society.

Joe Biden voiced similar sentiments, saying, “No one can tell me that if that had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.” And Rep. Marcia Fudge claimed, “There is a double standard.” These statements are indeed true, but in the opposite way from what the speakers intended. As a side note, there is also a double standard in terms of how presidents are treated by the media and by society. Why is it that Biden has received zero criticism for referring to protesters who disagree with him as a “mob of thugs,” while Trump was ruthlessly attacked as unprofessional and un-presidential for far less insulting rhetoric?

“We have witnessed two systems of justice: one that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol yesterday, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer,” tweeted Kamala Harris. “It’s simply unacceptable.” Actually, the two systems of justice that we have witnessed are one that let people smash beautiful statues to pieces and another that hunted down and arrested hundreds of people, and killed one person, for entering the Capitol building. These disparate systems of justice are indeed unacceptable, but in the opposite way from what Harris meant.

“It’s not any shock that we see this huge contradiction that we can storm a capitol, break into elected officials’ offices, the chamber, and create other chaos trying to perform a fascist coup, and we see little to no consequences,” said activist Kofi Ademola. “But Black protesters here in D.C. and Chicago, we’re heavily policed, brutalized, for literally saying, ‘Don’t kill us.’ There was no planned insurrections. We were literally just advocating for our lives. It speaks volumes about the values of this country. It doesn’t care about our lives.”

This statement is preposterous. As I have already explained, one protestor who entered the Capitol was shot to death and hundreds were hunted down, arrested, and charged with federal crimes. Even the thousands of pro-Trump protesters who made no attempt to enter the Capitol have been shunned as pariahs, fired from their jobs, and received death threats. How can Ademola claim that this constitutes “little to no consequences”? Nothing could be further from the truth. His claim that the pro-Trump protesters were “trying to perform a fascist coup” is equally ridiculous. Countless photos and videos show the protesters carrying Gadsden flags and Confederate flags, emblems of rebellion, liberty, and resistance to authority. This alone is sufficient to prove that the protesters were attempting the exact opposite of a fascist coup. The protesters at the Capitol are the true anti-fascists, ironically a distinction that the left-wing group Antifa claims to hold. Also ridiculous is Ademola’s claim that BLM protesters were “literally just advocating for our lives.” BLM protesters have destroyed countless businesses, buildings, and statues. In what universe is advocating for the destruction of other people’s property and precious works of art considered the same thing as advocating for one’s life? This country certainly seems to care about the lives of these protesters, given the fact that it allows them to brutalize works of art all across the country without making any attempt to stop them or punish them in any way.

And the Black Lives Matter Global Network said in a statement: “When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets. When white people attempt a coup, they are met by an underwhelming number of law enforcement personnel who act powerless to intervene, going so far as to pose for selfies with terrorists, and prevent an escalation of anarchy and violence like we witnessed today. Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear-gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.”

The last statement is false for reasons that I have explained above and also completely ignores that fact that one of the pro-Trump protesters, Ashli Babbitt, actually was shot. The characterization of BLM protesters as protesting “for our lives” is inaccurate for reasons that I have also explained above. Additionally, the reference to “white people attempt[ing] a coup” is not only false but also racist. The pro-Trump protest comprised people of all races. (For example, a picture in this gallery from the aftermath of the protest shows a baseball cap that reads “Black Voices for Trump.”)

So in conclusion, there is indeed an inconsistency between the reactions of law enforcement, as well as the media, tech companies, and society in general, to the BLM protests versus the pro-Trump protest in Washington, D.C. The double standard is precisely the opposite of what most people think it is. Seeing mobs brutally destroy beautiful works of art representing historical heroes with almost complete impunity, and then seeing pro-liberty protesters being hunted down, arrested, personally insulted, ostracized, fired, and slandered as fascists and terrorists for standing up to government overreach, is so unjust that it makes my soul cry out in agony.

bookmark_border“When we say something is racist, believe us”

In an opinion piece for the Boston Globe Magazine, Linda Chavers, a lecturer and dean at Harvard, complains about her “first angry white student.” Near the beginning of her teaching career, a student in Chavers’ class was upset about his low class participation grade and told her that he “felt he was a minority in a classroom ‘led by a Black woman.'” In my opinion, this sounds like a pretty good point. Every student has a right to ask teachers why they got the grade that they did and if there’s anything they can do to increase their grade. But Chavers considers this student’s comment to be an example of racism.

Chavers also sees racism in her interactions with co-workers, including those who ask her “What do you do?” She describes this as a “loaded question” and a “sinister covert act.” Describing the co-workers who ask such questions, she writes, “it’s as if my resume has personally insulted them” and “as if I have committed an assault.” Silly me, but I thought that asking a person what they do for work was a friendly way of making conversation. Are people supposed to automatically know that Chavers is a professor by looking at her? “I am the only one truly affronted by these interactions,” Chavers claims. How someone could be affronted by kind, polite, and completely non-race-related interactions is incomprehensible. 

Chavers complains that “the stripping of our power started long before we were in the workplace” and that she has “endured so many battles that what some might call ‘attitude’ is actually just exhaustion.” But she doesn’t give any examples of actions that people have taken to strip her power away, of battles that she has fought, or of elements of her life that are particularly exhausting. 

“Prioritize the Black women in your workplace,” Chavers urges. “Listen to what we say and listen when we say it the first time, not the hundredth. Don’t be defensive. When we say something is racist, believe us.”

There are a couple of problems with this, however. Prioritizing black women might sound like a positive thing, but prioritizing any race or gender over others is discriminatory. Treating everyone equally is the fair thing to do. Similarly, it might sound like a good thing to believe black women when they say something is racist, but this fails to take into account the rights and the point of view of the accused. Accusing someone of doing something racist is a serious allegation. To take such an allegation as automatically true is unjust to the person being accused. If someone does something racist, that is wrong, and the person absolutely deserves to be punished. But falsely accusing someone of being racist is equally wrong. It’s important to determine whether or not an allegation of racism is actually true.

As for telling readers not to be defensive… it’s difficult not to be defensive when one is constantly being criticized and attacked. Chavers dedicated an entire essay to accusing the people around her of being racist, sinister, and engaged in a conspiracy to take away her power and cast doubt on her qualifications, without providing a single piece of evidence. If she were reading this blog post, she would likely accuse me of being racist for demanding evidence as opposed to accepting without question her claim that complaining about a grade, or asking someone what they do for work, is inherently racist. Chavers complains about how upsetting it was when one colleague whispered, “everyone’s tired of what she has to say, and she should just be grateful to be here.” Maybe she should start saying things that actually make sense, instead of making baseless accusations and seeing racism where it doesn’t exist. 

bookmark_borderA riot is the language of the unheard

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Watching and reading news coverage and social media posts about the pro-Trump protests at the Capitol has been enormously stressful, infuriating, heartbreaking, upsetting, and exhausting. It is not the actions of the protesters that make me feel these emotions; it is the attitudes and opinions expressed by journalists, commentators, authors, politicians, and society as a whole. The protesters did nothing wrong, and their actions are understandable and justified. Their treatment by the media and society is utterly appalling in its harshness, cruelty, hypocrisy, and inconsistency. 

People who believe in freedom, liberty, and individual rights are angry. And we have a right to be angry. We have been trampled on for a long time. Our income has been stolen by excessive and unjust taxation, our right to make our own medical decisions is under constant assault, privacy rights are essentially non-existent, we are not allowed to board an airplane without passing through a full-body scanner, and even our freedom to leave our houses and move about in the world has been taken away with the advent of a novel virus. And then the Black Lives Matter movement decided to start burning down our businesses, banning our flags, destroying irreplaceable, beautiful statues of the historical figures we love, and, adding insult to injury, claiming that they truly are the ones being trampled on and that we are the oppressors.

When someone is trampled on, he or she becomes angry, and justifiably so. We have protested peacefully again and again. We have explained our views civilly. But no one listened. Our concerns were dismissed as the whining of entitled, privileged crybabies, and the fact that we had the audacity to complain at all was used as evidence that we were selfish jerks. We have been called white supremacists, misogynists, xenophobes, and “deplorables” and been accused of “bitterly clinging” to the things that we value. When we have objected to these characterizations, our objections have been taken as evidence of our “white fragility,” and when we point out that this is racist, this is taken as further evidence of how fragile we are. When one is ridiculed, mocked, and dismissed again and again, one becomes increasingly angry, frustrated, and exhausted. The more angry and exhausted one becomes, the less able one becomes to express one’s views in a measured and articulate manner. And as we become less and less articulate in expressing our views, society takes our lack of articulateness as further evidence that we are are boorish, irrational jerks and ridicules and mocks us even more harshly. The cycle continues, with supporters of individual liberty becoming more and more angry and the rest of society insulting us with increasing nastiness and brutality. The injustice of this situation is overwhelming. It becomes nearly impossible to express oneself eloquently or constructively. When people are treated this way, what happened at the Capitol is the logical result. 

And now, the actions of the Trump supporters at the Capitol have been swiftly, completely, universally, and brutally condemned, used as yet further evidence to impugn the character of all conservatives and libertarians. Anchors and reporters on national news networks call us disgraceful, deplorable, disgusting, sickening, buffoons, idiots, thugs, traitors, domestic terrorists. The terms “riot,” “Trump mob,” “insurrection,” and “coup attempt” are used as if they are non-controversial, neutral descriptors. All over social media, people complain about the devastation, sadness, and even nausea and tears that they experienced while watching the protest. The condemnation infiltrates even areas of life that should have nothing to do with politics: commentators during basketball and football games have called the protesters “terrorists” and decried the “violent riot;” teams have put forth statements alleging that the protesters were treated too leniently by law enforcement; articles on psychology websites speculate about what type of mental disorder could explain the protesters’ behavior; and a speaker during a history lecture that I attended pontificated about how everyone is “saddened and shaken” by the “assault on our democracy.” No attempt whatsoever is made to understand where the protesters are coming from, why they felt so angry and unheard, or why they decided that such drastic action was their best option. 

Making this societal reaction even more inappropriate is the complete lack of proportionality when compared with society’s reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests. The widespread looting, destruction, arson, vandalism, and violence committed by members of the BLM movement had almost no impact on society’s perception of the movement as a whole. The media described those protests not only as mostly peaceful, but also as brave, noble, heroic, and necessary. Countless brands, celebrities, athletes, and all four major sports leagues issued statements in support of the movement. The cruel and barbaric destruction of historical statues and the damage done to business owners were dismissed as unimportant. Almost no one was punished for these despicable acts, and in many cases local governments actually rewarded the perpetrators by removing the victimized statues. Essentially, the way that it seems to work is that when someone on our side does something illegal or violent, everyone on our side is punished. And when someone on the other side does something illegal or violent, everyone on our side is punished. Those who support individual liberty are characterized by the insulting (and sexist and racist) stereotype of the entitled, irrationally aggrieved white male, while the grievances of members of the BLM movement are portrayed as justified and understandable. Never were any leaders of the BLM movement asked to disavow the violent or destructive actions committed by members of their movement, but that is exactly what was immediately demanded of Republican political leaders and conservative organizations with regards to the Capitol protest. Also in the wake of the protest, social media companies, online stores, and other websites banned large swaths of conservative users, and when these users moved to a conservative-leaning alternative, that app was banned from the major operating systems’ app stores. Nothing even remotely similar to this occurred in response to any BLM protest, no matter how violent or destructive. 

And then, taking things to a new level of preposterousness, society and the media complain that the protesters at the Capitol were treated unfairly leniently compared to BLM protesters, when the exact opposite is the case. Imagine what would happen if black people or Muslims stormed the capital, the media asks, implying that it’s obvious they would be treated more harshly. I’ll tell you what would happen: none of them would be arrested, and they would be lauded as heroes by the media instead of being universally ridiculed and condemned. 

So-called journalists and the general public alike have gone on and on about their horror at the attack on their beloved Capitol, which in their eyes symbolizes the democratic process. But neither the Capitol building nor democracy is a defining feature of America. The defining feature of America, the principle upon which it was founded, is individual liberty. And when our political leaders, institutions, and society as a whole trample on individual liberty, then our political leaders, institutions, and society as a whole have forfeited any right to be obeyed and respected. Those who protested at the Capitol were brave freedom fighters who risked their personal safety to stand up for their beliefs. Their actions were justified, and they deserve none of the arrests, charges, or criticism that have been leveled against them. 

In summary, we have been bullied and beaten down, and it is the bullies who are complaining that they are shaken, nauseous, and in tears because some of us actually had the audacity to stand up for ourselves. This reaction is as ridiculous as if a hockey team defeated its rival 8 to 1 and its fans were nauseous and in tears after the game because they were so upset that the other team scored one goal. It also demonstrates a complete lack of empathy; how do they think we have felt all these years as we have been relentlessly insulted and our rights violated? The bullies who have been oppressing and trampling on us receive no scrutiny whatsoever and are portrayed by the media as innocent victims while we, the true victims, are vilified, mocked, and condemned. As a result of this pervasive unjust treatment, we are angry, we are frustrated, we are overwhelmed, and we are exhausted. We are tired of being trampled on, tired of our rights being violated, tired of being insulted and ridiculed, tired of our complaints and grievances being dismissed, tired of being told that we are privileged and that we are the problem. When a society treats people this way, it has no right to criticize them for fighting back.

“When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.” – Thomas Jefferson