bookmark_borderA new low in the war on Columbus

The senseless, infuriating, and heartbreaking war against Christopher Columbus has hit a new low.

A replica of his flagship, called the Nao Santa Maria, has been sailing around to various locations, providing tours to the public and educating people about history and sailing. (I visited it in Boothbay Harbor, Maine and Provincetown, Mass, and it was awesome.) In a development that should not have been surprising but is somehow still shocking and appalling, allowing the existence of a ship that is related to Columbus proved to be too much to ask of the intolerant, bigoted bullies of political correctness. 

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A variety of ships, including the Nao Santa Maria, were scheduled to take part in a festival celebrating the bicentennial of the state of Maine. The vessels were planning to sail along the Penobscot River, stopping at various locations from Bucksport to Bangor, from July 9-18. But lumps of flesh and bone with no souls (using the word “people” is too kind) demanded that the Santa Maria be banned from taking part. And, as always, the lumps of flesh and bone got what they demanded.

State Sen. Bill Diamond asked event organizers to remove the Santa Maria from the event, saying, “We regret that this ship was chosen for an event that is associated with Maine’s bicentennial, as the mistreatment of Native Americans is a devastating part of Maine’s history.”

Dick Campbell, the organizer of the tall ship festival, complied. According to the Bangor Daily News, he said: “In our interest to celebrate Maine’s maritime heritage and bring masted ships to the Penobscot basin and upriver to Bangor, we failed to appreciate the symbolic significance of bringing the replica of the Santa Maria to port. We are now much more aware of the impact having that vessel here has on those whose histories pre-date Maine statehood. We apologize to those who have been offended by our error.”

The entire tall ship festival was essentially canceled, with the ships’ trip up the river to Bangor called off and the Santa Maria barred from giving tours at Bucksport, where it was already docked.

One lump of flesh and bone with no soul, Dawn Neptune Adams, called the inclusion of the Santa Maria in the event a “gut punch” and “ridiculous” because Columbus didn’t sail to Maine. She and others who share her intolerant ideology organized two protests on the waterfront, as well as a showing of an anti-Columbus propaganda film, in response to the ship’s existence. 

Another group of lumps of flesh and bone issued the following statement, according to the Bangor Daily News: “The Penobscot Nation is disappointed and disheartened that any group would use a replica of a ship used by Christopher Columbus to celebrate the heritage and statehood of Maine. While offensive in numerous ways, as well as historically inaccurate, it is also deeply harmful to the Wabanaki Nations as well as the descendants of all Indigenous Nations.”

All of these comments and statements demonstrate a complete lack of logic and a complete lack of empathy.

The existence of a replica of the Santa Maria is neither “ridiculous,” nor “offensive” (let alone in “numerous ways”), nor “harmful” (let alone “deeply” so), nor “historically inaccurate.” The statements by Adams and by the Penobscot Nation, however, are all of these things. First of all, the fact that the tall ship festival was being held in honor of Maine’s bicentennial does not create a requirement for every ship to have a connection to Maine. The Santa Maria is a ship; that alone makes it appropriate to include it. It is also cool, beautiful, unique, and different. As someone who loves Christopher Columbus and anything related to him, I appreciated the opportunity to visit the Santa Maria. If you don’t find the Santa Maria cool, then simply don’t visit it. It is wrong to deny others that opportunity.

It never ceases to astound and infuriate me that so many people think they have the right to obliterate from the earth everything that they dislike. Again and again, indigenous organizations have expressed anger and outrage that cultures other than their own are allowed to exist, that viewpoints other than their own are allowed to be expressed, and that historical figures that they personally dislike are allowed to be honored. And unfortunately, due to the cowardice and callousness of our society’s leaders, they get their way nearly 100% of the time. Columbus Day is abolished in city after city, statues of Columbus are brutally and cruelly town down, art depicting him is censored, things named after him are renamed, and now even a replica of his ship is banned from participating in a festival. These despicable bullies have nothing to be disappointed or disheartened about. They get their way on everything, while people such as myself who admire Columbus are allowed nothing. We are the ones who are truly disappointed and disheartened, for we are the ones being treated unjustly. It is us, not Dawn Neptune Adams, who have truly suffered a gut punch. After being psychologically beaten and battered again and again by one horrific anti-Columbus attack after another over the past 14 months, these protests and these comments are yet another thing that has shattered my heart into a million pieces. It is these mean-spirited, cruel, and intolerant views that are truly ridiculous, offensive in numerous ways, and deeply harmful.

Including the Santa Maria in the festival was not an error, and the organizers should not have apologized. In reality, they should apologize for canceling the event. By doing this, they mindlessly submitted to the unreasonable demands of a group of bullies without regard to the rights or feelings of anyone else. The pervasive, systematic obliteration from the world of anything related to Columbus has caused, and continues to cause, immense pain to those who admire him, including myself. By making the decision that they did, the event organizers sided with the perpetrators of this obliteration campaign and added to the pain of those who have been victimized by it. The lack of empathy is appalling. Every trace of the man that I admire is being systematically obliterated from the earth, and no one has considered the impact that these decisions have on people like me, or taken our viewpoints into account in any way.

It is difficult to know who is more despicable: the bullies who viciously protest the existence of cultures other than their own, or the spineless cowards who have abdicated their responsibility to make thoughtful, fair decisions and instead chosen to act as mere rubber stamps to the demands made by the bullies. 

After the Santa Maria’s visit to Bangor was canceled, a citizen of Castine, Maine named Rob DeGennaro offered the ship a place to dock outside his restaurant. According to WABI Channel 5, he said: “We can’t look at it the way that the protestors did over in Bucksport. I understand where they’re coming from as well, and we feel for that, but there’s a lot more that goes into this. I want to just keep it as a positive situation, a positive learning environment is what we’re trying to do here.”

I appreciate that DeGennaro stepped up and came to the ship’s defense, but he has more empathy for the protesters than they deserve. I do not understand where they are coming from, and I don’t feel for them. They are deliberately destroying everything that makes my life worth living. They deserve no empathy and no understanding, because they have no empathy or understanding for anyone else. There is no reason why a ship replica should be anything other than a positive learning experience. But the politically correct bullies will not allow anything to be a positive situation. They will not allow anything to exist that is unique, different, cool, beautiful, interesting, or valuable in any way. They take everything good in the world and destroy it; they take everything positive and turn it negative, controversial, and dark. Bland, mindless conformity is all they will allow to exist. 

I condemn the decision to cancel the Santa Maria’s trip to Bangor, and all those who were involved in it, or advocated for it, in the harshest possible terms.

bookmark_borderState Senator’s preposterous statement on Confederate flag

At a Memorial Day ceremony in Natick, Massachusetts, one brave member of the public decided to hold up a Confederate flag. Presumably, he was motivated by an entirely understandable and noble desire to honor the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives fighting for independence, and perhaps also an equally understandable and noble desire to make a statement against our society’s vicious, full-scale assault on everything related to the Confederacy. Infuriatingly but unsurprisingly given said vicious assault, a frenzy of intolerant, hurtful, and idiotic comments ensued.

For example: State Senator Becca Rausch and Natick Select Board chair Karen Adelman-Foster made the following statement:

This statement is deeply wrong for numerous reasons:

  1. I don’t understand how someone could be shocked, dismayed, or horrified by the fact that a person held up a Confederate flag. A Confederate flag is a beautiful thing, and it is heartening, wonderful, and awesome that someone in Massachusetts had the thoughtfulness and courage to honor the brave Confederate veterans who died fighting for freedom. It is Rausch’s and Adelman-Foster’s statement that is truly shocking, dismaying, and horrifying. 
  2. Displaying a Confederate flag does not “desecrate” anything. This is an utterly preposterous statement, and also a completely hypocritical one given that (as far as I know) neither Rausch nor Adelman-Foster has ever condemned any of the hundreds of brutal and heartless acts of actual desecration that have been committed against statues and monuments over the past year. Displaying a Confederate flag honors the Confederate veterans who gave their lives fighting for freedom, which is exactly what Memorial Day is supposed to be about. Plus, the cause for which they fought – the right to form an independent country – is actually more honorable than the cause of the Union soldiers who are commemorated by the Grand Army monument in Natick. If anyone is desecrating something in this situation, it is Rausch and Adelman-Foster for using Memorial Day as an excuse to cruelly and mindlessly attack an unpopular minority.
  3. Displaying a Confederate flag certainly does not desecrate the memory of people who have fallen in defense of equality and freedom, as the Confederate soldiers were the people who were actually fighting for equality and freedom. It is Rausch and Adelman-Foster who are desecrating the memory of people who have fallen in defense of equality and freedom, because they are using Memorial Day as an excuse to attack these exact values. 
  4. People who display and support the Confederate flag are the people who are actually fighting for diversity and inclusion.
  5. I don’t understand how someone could be hurt or harmed by the fact that a person held up a Confederate flag. In addition to being beautiful, the Confederate flag stands for equality, freedom, diversity, and inclusion. Anyone who is hurt or harmed by the display of this flag is a bully, an authoritarian, and a bigot.
  6. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to condemn the display of a Confederate flag, for the reasons mentioned above. Anyone who condemns the Confederate flag is a bully, an authoritarian, and a bigot. 
  7. Rausch and Adelman-Foster obviously do not have a steadfast commitment, or any commitment for that matter, to justice, equity, or freedom. In fact, their bigoted and intolerant statement demonstrates that they are actively advocating against these ideas.

In conclusion, it is difficult to imagine a public statement more hypocritical or illogical than the one put forth by Rausch and Adelman-Foster. They are literally condemning a flag that stands for freedom at the same time as they claim to be steadfastly committed to freedom. They are condemning an unpopular minority’s flag at the same time as they claim to support the ideas of diversity and inclusion. And they are claiming that the display of a flag that stands for freedom desecrates the memory of people who have fallen in defense of freedom. 

It is this statement, as well as the intolerant, mean-spirited attitudes that motivate it, that is truly hurtful and harmful, and it is this statement that deserves to be condemned. Instead of apologizing for the fact that a Confederate flag was displayed, Rausch and Adelman-Foster should apologize to the brave Confederate veterans whom they insulted, as well as to all the people who have been hurt and harmed by their heartless, mindless, and thoughtless words.

bookmark_borderAttack of the anti-Italian bigots

The town of Wellesley, Massachusetts recently made the disgraceful and unjust decision to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Even more disgraceful than the decision itself are the comments made on social media by Kisha James, an anti-diversity activist who advocated for the holiday change, and her mindless sycophants.

Here I will rebut the statements made by James and her sycophants one by one. Warning: so many disgusting and reprehensible statements were made that this blog post is going to be pretty long.

First of all, James and her allies treat the debate about whether or not Columbus should be honored as a joke. Their primary way of addressing an issue is to ridicule those who think differently than they do. Instead of expressing their views in a respectful manner, they personally attack and ridicule their opponents. I don’t understand what her comment about saying something “with your whole chest” even means, but it is clearly an attempt to ridicule her opponent’s statement. This is what bullies do. Also, “lmao”? I am not sure what James finds humorous about this situation. A beautiful, courageous, and brilliant man is being brutally obliterated from the world. As someone on the autism spectrum who loves history, the destruction of historical statues, place names, and holidays that has taken place over the past year has been nothing short of heartbreaking. Because history is my passion, history-related things such as Christopher Columbus statues and Confederate statues make my life worth living. James and those who think like her have deliberately destroyed the things that make my life worth living. Therefore, most days I am filled with rage, grief, and despair, unsure if it even makes sense to go on living. Maybe I’m just a debbie downer with no sense of humor, but I don’t find this particularly funny.

Continue reading “Attack of the anti-Italian bigots”

bookmark_borderMorgan Freeman is a bully and a bigot

I recently stumbled across a disturbing tweet by Morgan Freeman, in which he demands that the hotel that hosted CPAC denounce the event because its stage was shaped like a rune. If that sounds absolutely ridiculous, that’s because it is. 

The one good thing about this situation is that the Morgan Freeman in question is not the famous actor, but just a despicable excuse for a human being who happens to share the actor’s name. 

Freeman’s tweet is below:

In case it is not immediately apparent how ridiculous this is, allow me to explain. First of all, there is no proof whatsoever that the stage was designed to look like the odal rune. The CPAC stage looks like a pretty typical stage shape to me, and it is entirely plausible that the resemblance to the rune was coincidental. Second, even if the stage was intended to look like the rune, why is that bad? Runes are Viking letters. The fact that the Nazis happened to use this rune does not make the rune a Nazi symbol; it is a Viking symbol that happened to be used by Nazis. There is no rule that if a symbol has ever been used by Nazis, then no one is allowed to use it ever again. 

Continue reading “Morgan Freeman is a bully and a bigot”

bookmark_border2020 thoughts

It would be a cliche to say that 2020 was a horrible year. Almost everyone has been affected negatively by the Covid-19 pandemic in one way or another. For me, the most demoralizing, dispiriting, and discouraging events during 2020 were governments’ authoritarian policies imposed in response to the pandemic, Biden’s victory, and the widespread destruction of historical statues and monuments by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. In this blog post I will discuss how these events affected me personally and how I hope to move forward in 2021. 

I’ve written at length about authoritarian coronavirus restrictions. The fact that they have been implemented almost universally by governments around the world and embraced without question by the vast majority of people is beyond dismaying. Because I’ve already written about this topic dozens of times, I won’t go into it in any more detail in this post. 

The election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States was another demoralizing event. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that the reaction of Biden’s supporters was more demoralizing and upsetting than the election result itself. In every election, one side ends up happy, and the other heartbroken. But the meanness, nastiness, viciousness, and brutality that Biden’s supporters demonstrated was surprisingly irrational and inappropriate.

Social media was flooded with post after post after post expressing joy, relief, gratitude, the feeling of a weight being, lifted et cetera et cetera. Even when posting pictures of sunsets, cityscapes, pets, and babies, far too many people were unable to resist alluding to Biden’s victory as the reason for their happiness. One (now former) Facebook friend shared a meme urging people to start working on “dismantling white supremacy” now that Biden has won the presidency. Another shared a tweet ridiculing Trump supporters and calling them “weirdos” for wearing hats and flying flags with his name on them. Another opined that a vote for Trump was the same as a vote for racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny. Preposterously, people described Biden’s election as a “new birth of freedom” and posted videos of and lyrics to the song “Battle Cry of Freedom” (how, pray tell, does it constitute a new birth of freedom to elect a president who believes in giving people less freedom in their day-to-day lives than his predecessor?). Worst of all, numerous people have expressed the idea that one should not “go easy on” Trump supporters but should, in the words of one (former) friend, “focus on the harm caused.” This is based on a false premise, namely that Trump supporters have somehow done something wrong for which we deserve to be punished. Refraining from personally attacking and insulting people who have done nothing wrong is not “going easy.” It is a basic requirement of being a morally decent person. Trump supporters did not cause any harm; the only harm is that caused by the intolerant bullies who have been contaminating the internet with their vile personal attacks on anyone whose views differ from theirs.

Continue reading “2020 thoughts”

bookmark_borderRep. Bill Pascrell is an authoritarian bully

Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey recently demanded that the 126 members of Congress who joined in Texas’s lawsuit concerning the election results be barred from the capitol building.

In a letter sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren of the Committee on House Administration, he calls the lawsuit and others like it “frivolous” and “malignant” and calls it “tragic” that some members of Congress joined to support it. He accuses these members of Congress of attempting to “demolish democracy” and to “make Donald Trump an unelected dictator.” He quotes the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that no one “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States is allowed to be a Senator or Representative in Congress or to hold any other office. 

“The courageous Reconstruction Congress implanted into our governing document safeguards to cleanse from our government ranks any traitors and others who would seek to destroy the Union,” he pompously gloats. “Stated simply, men and women who would act to tear the United States government apart cannot serve as Members of the Congress.”

Adding insult to injury, he also accuses the 126 members of violating rules of the House of Representatives that “explicitly forbid Members from committing unbecoming acts that reflect poorly on our chamber.”

Pascrell’s preposterous statements have received largely positive reaction on Twitter, which is a dismaying reflection on the state of America. 

In my opinion, it is Pascrell, and not the offending 126 representatives, who deserves to be kicked out of Congress. It is Pascrell who is committing unbecoming acts that reflect poorly on the chamber. Stated simply, he is acting like a pompous, mean-spirited, stuck-up, patronizing bully.

Far too many people today, nearly all of them on the left-hand side of the political spectrum, employ the rhetoric of “treason” and “insurrection” and “rebellion.” It is assumed that complying with authority is inherently morally good, and fighting back against authority is inherently morally bad. The Union and the United States government must be obeyed, goes this line of thought, regardless of whether its policies are just or unjust. These ideas are the very essence of authoritarianism. They are also completely contrary to the ideals upon which our country was founded. After all, America came into being as a revolution against an overreaching British government. True Americans value dissent, freedom of thought, questioning of authority, and fighting back against oppression. True Americans consider insurrection and rebellion to be good things, not crimes synonymous with treason. The type of rhetoric used by Pascrell has been employed ad nauseam against the Confederate States of America and any remaining symbols and memorials thereof, and now it is being employed against those who have the audacity to support Donald Trump. Ironically, many of these people on the left-hand side of the political spectrum, who hold these ideas that are the very essence of authoritarianism, accuse Trump of being authoritarian. Nothing could be more hypocritical or farther from the truth. 

Get off your high horse, Rep. Pascrell, and stop being such a bully towards people who hold different beliefs than you do. The fact that someone who is supposed to be a leader is acting in such a condescending, patronizing, intolerant manner is what is truly tragic.

bookmark_borderAnother day, another defamatory blog post

I came across another defamatory blog post by Michelle Davis at Living Blue in Texas, in which she insults the Confederate statue at Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford, Texas, as well as those who support it.

“There is no question about it, Progressives in Parker County are modern day civil rights activists standing up to hate in their own town,” she pompously gloats.

As usual, Davis repeatedly defames people who support the Confederate statue by calling them “racists” (and also defames the statue itself by calling it a “racist statue”). Also as usual, she personally attacks those who disagree with her, calling the Confederate flag a “loser flag,” categorizing opinions that are different from hers as “garbage,” describing statue supporters as “doing some type of circle-jerk around the statue,” and referring insultingly (and falsely) to the statue as “their precious ode to white supremacy.” And also as usual, she refers to them as “counter-protesters” with the derisive quotes, which makes no sense because the people she is describing actually are counter-protesters. 

First, Davis criticizes the statue supporters for arriving early and surrounding the monument to defend it before a recent protest, writing, “they still think that their Black neighbors are going to burn it down, despite they’ve never burned it down in all of the dozens of protests they’ve had this year.” First of all, I’m willing to bet the statue supporters aren’t just concerned about the possibility of black people vandalizing the statue; the statue-destroying, politically correct mob contains people of all races. Second, I’m not really sure why Davis expects the statue supporters to stop defending their statue just because it hasn’t been vandalized yet. There’s always a chance that protesters could vandalize the statue, so it’s wise to physically protect it just in case. (Also, a flyer advertising the protest contained the words “smash racism,” which could reasonably be interpreted encouraging vandalism. If you use the word “smash” in your own flyer, you have no right to ridicule people for being concerned that a statue might possibly end up being vandalized.)

Davis describes comments on the Sons of Confederate Veterans Facebook page as “hateful and racist” and displays screenshots of numerous comments, none of which are hateful or racist. Ironically, Davis’s blog post contains a photo showing a protester with a sign reading, “Black & brown built this town, time to take the statue down,” which is more racist than any of the pro-statue Facebook comments Davis is criticizing. (Is it really true that no white people had any part in building the town of Weatherford? I’m willing to bet not.)

“Likely, these people don’t even realize how hateful and ugly they look,” Davis writes of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other statue supporters. Except that they do not look hateful or ugly at all. They are standing up for a Confederate statue, which is neither hateful nor ugly. It is actually Davis who looks (and is) hateful and ugly for ridiculing and defaming those with different views than her.

“They’ve been lied to their entire lives and were likely indoctrinated into white supremacy when they were kids and it is now intertwined with their identities,” Davis writes. “It is Living Blue in Texas’ opinion that old racists likely will never learn or understand inclusion.” First of all, speculating about why people hold the views that they do is inappropriate. Davis is not in a position to know what her ideological opponents’ upbringings or backgrounds were like. Presuming that anyone who holds pro-Confederate views must have been “indoctrinated” as a child presumes that pro-Confederate views are false, because it denies the possibility that someone could have arrived at such views through careful and deliberate thought. Second, it’s absolutely hilarious that Davis writes about inclusion when she is arguing that a monument must be removed because the cause that it commemorates is not popular in the year 2020. It is the exact opposite of inclusion to defame, ridicule, and obliterate the history of an already marginalized group. But that is exactly what Davis and the Progressives of Parker County are doing. Clearly, they are the ones who do not understand inclusion.

Then, Davis describes an incident at the recent protest in which an anti-statue protester, Tony Crawford, asks the counter-protesters to “prove that the Confederacy wasn’t racist.” Does she not realize that this isn’t how the burden of proof works? It’s the burden of those who think the Confederacy was racist to prove that it was racist, not the other way around. 

And then she glowingly and admiringly describes an incident in which another anti-statue protester, Jessica Luther-Rummel, “pressed some of these racists for their names” and “told all of the white supremacists standing around that they could all go get f***ed up the a**.” How classy. Why exactly would someone consider it a good thing to treat people this way?

Davis complains about “the racism, hate, and violence” allegedly perpetrated by her opponents and criticizes them for being “full of hate and rage.” She complains that statue supporters allegedly threatened members of the anti-statue group but completely ignores the repugnant behavior of those on her own side, as well as the inherent intolerance and injustice of their cause. It is the anti-statue protesters who are truly practicing racism and hate. And it is completely understandable that people would be full of rage when they have been treated the way that Davis, Crawford, Luther-Rummel, and the rest of the anti-statue bullies have been treating those with different views.

And finally, in case there was any doubt that Davis and the Progressives of Parker County are the true bullies, she closes by gloating about how “the Confederate traitors were defeated by America.” Anyone who considers it “treasonous” to rebel against an oppressive government is an authoritarian and a bully. Yes, the Confederacy was defeated by the United States due to the latter being more populous and industrialized, but I am not sure why someone would consider this something to brag about. Which side won a war and which side lost has nothing to do with which side was morally right. Anyone who has the belief that military strength determines moral right and wrong is, you guessed it, an authoritarian and a bully. 

“It’s baffling how any non-racist can see what’s been happening in Weatherford and not have the urge to stand with or support the Black community and their allies in their efforts to remove this symbol of white supremacy from the lawn of the halls of justice,” writes Davis. Actually, Davis makes it very easy to resist standing with her side. Her mean-spirited, contemptuous treatment of other people reminds me of the bullies that I dealt with in elementary and middle school. There is no place for ridicule and personal attacks in our discourse, and the sheer volume of these that Davis has put forth on her blog makes my brain hurt. The Progressives of Parker County are the furthest thing possible from “modern day civil rights activists standing up to hate.” They are mean, nasty, intolerant bullies who are trampling on the underdog, ridiculing anyone who disagrees with them, and attempting to obliterate from the world everything that does not conform to their narrow definition of political correctness. 

“Enough is enough,” Davis writes. Yes, it is. 

bookmark_border“Stop honoring racist losers”

“Stop honoring racist losers.” These are the words on a sign held by a protester in Weatherford, Texas earlier this year. Like so many intolerant bullies have been doing throughout these horrible last seven or so months, this person was demanding that a Confederate statue be removed from its place in front of the county courthouse. The protest in question happened back in July, but the topic is still (sadly) relevant and I still have strong opinions about it, so it is still worth blogging about. 

At the protest on July 25, a group of hundreds of counter-protesters who support the monument arrived to stand up to 75 or so protesters who were demanding the statue’s removal. Unjustly, the media coverage largely portrayed the counter-protesters as the ones who acted wrongly. For example, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram emphasized the fact that one counter-protester allegedly punched a protester, another counter-protester allegedly slapped a protester, and some counter-protesters allegedly yelled racial slurs and threw water bottles. (This despite the fact that the video accompanying the article shows Black Lives Matter protesters initiating the pushing and shoving.) Reporter Bud Kennedy tweeted repeatedly about a “white male attacking the leader of a justice protest” and claimed that “there is no question justice protesters were the ones attacked” despite the fact that the latter claim is false, that repeatedly mentioning an individual’s race and gender is racist and sexist, and that the protest was in favor of removing a Confederate statue, which makes it the exact opposite of a justice protest. 

“We started to march, and you could hear the roar of the crowd downtown,” said one BLM protester named Karen Smith, according to the Star-Telegram. “I live here, and I have never seen a display of hate.” The lead bully who organized the protest, Tony Crawford, said, “The level of hatred I saw yesterday was something I hadn’t experienced before.” Another BLM protester claimed that their group did not “try to fight or incite any riots.” And various protesters complained that police failed to protect them.

News flash: anyone who expresses support for removing a Confederate statue is a mean, nasty, authoritarian bully who does not deserve any type of protection. It is irrelevant which side initiated physical contact. Advocating that a Confederate statue be removed is necessarily an act of aggression, and the side that takes this position is necessarily to blame for any conflict that may occur. Anyone who doubts this need only take a look at some of the signs held by the protesters: “Your heritage is racist,” “It’s not ‘Southern pride,’ it’s racist,” and the aforementioned “Stop honoring racist losers,” to give a few examples. Plus, a Facebook post by the group organizing the protest called the statue “treasonous.” How can people who insult another group’s heritage and falsely call the other group racist claim not to be initiating a fight? How can someone who crows about having won a war 150 years ago and considers it treasonous to memorialize those who fought for independence claim that the other side is the aggressor? The political correctness movement’s own signs and Facebook posts disprove their claims of having been victimized. If you go out of your way to stomp on the underdog, insult an unpopular minority, and rub salt into the wounds of the losing side of a war, you have no right to complain when the people that you are harming get angry at you and fight back. 

The blog Living Blue in Texas provided an even more egregiously biased version of events. The blogger repeatedly defamed the defenders of the statue by calling them “violent racists,” “terrorists,” and “aggressors,” and personally insulted them by calling them “toothless hillbillies.”

“The Confederate States of America no longer exists,” she pompously writes. “And until these backwoods hillbillies realize that, they will continue to harass, threaten, and assault every anti-racist working to make the world a better place. Slavery is over. The sooner that the violent racists realize it, the sooner we can start to heal.”

Except that those who advocate for the removal of Confederate statues are working to make the world a worse place, not a better one. And that those defending the statues are not violent racists, or racists of any sort, for that matter. The fact that the C.S.A. no longer exists is exactly why statues honoring it are so important. The Southern states were denied the right to form an independent nation, so to attempt to deny them the right to even memorialize their dead is beyond ridiculous. To take away a Confederate monument is to further hurt a group who are already hurting, and who have already been treated unjustly. This is the exact opposite of healing. It’s easy for someone to talk about healing when they are not part of the group whose history and identity are under constant attack. 

Jim Webster, a member of the counter-protest, hit the nail on the head with these comments to the Star-Telegram: “Weatherford citizens stood up to people who came to take down our statue, to tell us how to run our lives and, overall, be bullies… But the thing is, they came to us. We didn’t go to them. We didn’t start anything. They came over here starting stuff. And the citizens of Weatherford won’t put up with being bullied. They consider everybody who tried to protect the statue racist. You know if everybody is a racist, then nobody is a racist.”

Exactly. Enough with these people who go out of their way to trample on an unpopular minority and then claim that said unpopular minority is the aggressor. Enough with this practice of calling everything that you disagree with “racist.” If you don’t want a fight, don’t start one by trying to bully another group into removing their statue.

bookmark_borderIntimidation and authoritarianism, revisited

As I wrote about in an earlier blog post, I have been thinking a lot about the topic of bullying and how it relates to the political and policy disagreements going on today. In my opinion, policies such as restricting individual freedoms in order to fight against Covid-19, as well as destroying statues of historical figures who do not meet today’s standards of political correctness, are examples of bullying. Both these things involve a powerful, majority group taking something away from a less powerful, less popular group. In the first example, those who value safety over freedom take away the rights of the minority who prioritize freedom. In the second example, those who dislike certain statues take them down over the objections of the minority who love and admire the statues.

It is disturbing and upsetting when those who fall into the bully category in these policy debates twist the truth by falsely portraying those on the opposite side as bullies. For example, I came across a column in my local newspaper by Reverend John F. Huston in which he claims that those protesting against stay-at-home orders are the true bullies. “It has been an ugly, ugly campaign season and an ugly, ugly year for human behavior in our land. Who could have imagined the image of armed protesters, bullies, storming the state capitol in Michigan this summer in response to the lockdown? The blatant disregard, even contempt, so many of my fellow citizens have shown for science and public health, that folks would actually see the rejection of mask wearing as a symbol of liberty, patriotism even?”

These sentiments are deeply wrong. The armed protesters who went to Michigan’s capitol building to voice their opposition to the stay-at-home order are not bullies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who enacted the stay-at-home order, is a bully. State legislators and public health officials who expressed support for the stay-at-home order are bullies as well. The stay-at-home order, by taking away individuals’ freedom to move about and associate freely, was an act of bullying. The armed protesters were standing up to bullying. It is disturbing that someone would think that the people fighting back against bullying are the true bullies. The Reverend has things completely backwards.

This has definitely been an ugly year for human behavior, but it is those who cravenly sacrifice liberty for safety who are the source of the ugliness, not those with the courage to stand up to them. The true problem facing America is the worship of science and public health and the resulting blatant disregard, and even contempt, for individual rights.

bookmark_borderOn intimidation and authoritarianism

I’ve written ad infinitum about the authoritarian, morally objectionable policies that governments around the world have implemented in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While most people have mindlessly accepted, and even applauded, these policies, some individuals have had the courage and independence of mind to question them. This is a good thing and should be praised and encouraged. Disturbingly, however, our society and media have demonstrated a tendency to harshly criticize people who speak out against authoritarianism while letting the authoritarianism itself go unchallenged. Those who speak out against authoritarian governments are accused of using intimidation and bullying in an attempt to get their way, when it is the authoritarian governments themselves that are truly guilty of this. To many people, it seems, it is not enough for authoritarian policies merely to exist; every person who dares stand up to these policies must be silenced.

Protests in Michigan

To use an example from a few months ago, protests at the Michigan state capitol against stay-at-home orders were widely (and falsely) characterized as “intimidating.” These protests have been in the news again recently because of the arrests of several people for plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In an LA Times editorial, Scott Martelle equates the protesters, who did nothing more than express their views while possessing guns on their person, with the conspirators who plotted to kidnap the governor. He complains that the protesters “barged into the Capitol” and “intimidated legislators from their perch in the balcony gallery.” But by definition, people fighting back against an authoritarian government are not intimidating. It is the authoritarian government that is intimidating. If legislators are so frightened by citizens expressing opposition to policies that violate their rights, perhaps they should not have enacted those policies. But Martelle does not stop at falsely characterizing those who speak out against tyrannical policies as intimidating. When criticizing President Trump’s suggestion that Michigan loosen restrictions in response to the protests, Martelle writes, “Whatever happened to the notion that governments don’t negotiate with terrorists?” So in his view, not only are protesters who neither harmed anyone nor aggressed against anyone “intimidating;” they are also terrorists. Makes perfect sense. Not. 

“Hanging” in Kentucky

A similar reaction happened when protesters hung an effigy of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear back in May as part of a protest against that state’s stay-at-home order. In a bizarre overreaction, politicians and elected officials from both parties called the protest “wrong and offensive,” “disgusting,” “sickening,” “shameful,” “horrific,” “abhorrent,” “racist” (even though both Beshear and the person who hung the effigy are white), “seditious,” “appalling,” “vile and traumatic,” “inexcusable and shameful,” “despicable,” “unacceptable,” and “completely reprehensible.” The leading Democrats in the state legislature issued at joint statement calling the hanging of the effigy “beyond reprehensible” and “an act that reeks of hate and intimidation.” A column in a local paper described it as “terrorizing a family whose policies you might disagree with.” And Governor Beshear himself said on CNN: “I’m not going to be afraid. I’m not going to let these folks bully me or bully the state of Kentucky…. I will not let these folks that want to ultimately try to force or pressure and really create fear and terror, which is what they’re doing, to make us do the wrong things. They will not intimidate me or us.” He called the protest an “attempt to create terror for a small minority to get their way” and accused the protesters of “trying to bully everyone else into doing what they want us to do.” 

So to sum up, in addition to using harsher language to describe the hanging of a cardboard cutout than I’ve seen used to describe the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the reaction to the effigy got things completely backwards. Protesting against a stay-at-home order was incorrectly characterized as intimidation, terror, pressure, and bullying when in reality, the stay-at-home order itself was all of these things. By telling citizens that they were not allowed to leave their homes and businesses that they were not allowed to operate, Beshear was the one using pressure, he was the one intimidating people, and he was the one being a bully. Beshear has no reason to brag about not being afraid or intimidated. It requires no courage for a governor (the most powerful person in the state) whose authoritarian policies are supported by the majority of people to “stand up to” a minority who are expressing an unpopular (but correct) view. While hanging an effigy is probably not the best way to get one’s point across, the protesters’ message was correct. Stay-at-home orders are morally wrong because they violate every person’s right to freedom of movement; objecting to them should not be dismissed as mere desire to “get one’s way” in a policy disagreement. For a bully to claim that his victims are the real bullies is truly offensive, wrong, shameful, and all of the other strongly negative adjectives that were used to describe the protest. 

Criticism of Public Health Officials

Another example of protests against authoritarianism being criticized more harshly than the authoritarianism itself is a New York Times article about the backlash faced by public health officials during the pandemic. For example, according to the article, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, shared that a commenter “very casually suggested that I should be shot” during a public briefing on Facebook Live. Andre Fresco, director of the Yakima Health District in Washington, said that he has been called a Nazi, a Communist, and Gestapo. “I’ve been cursed at and generally treated in a very unprofessional way,” he complained. “It’s difficult.” Lori Tremmel Freeman, the chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, lamented that public health officials are “becoming villainized for their guidance.” 

While death threats and profanity are never a good way to get one’s point across, people have every right to be angry about the authoritarian policies that governments have implemented. It is difficult to have any sympathy for people who have helped to enact, encouraged, or spoken in support of policies that violate people’s rights. Anyone who does this deserves to be villainized. And along with describing the death threats faced by government officials, the NY Times article wrongly characterizes protests near their homes as a form of intimidation. A California protester quoted in the article got it 100% right when she said: “Some people might have issues with that, that we took it to their house. But I have to tell you guys, they’re coming to our houses. Their agenda is contact tracing, testing, mandatory masks and ultimately an injection that has not been tested.”

Exactly. Those who take away the fundamental rights and freedoms of others have no right to complain when they face backlash, protests, and criticism. Public health officials quoted in the article express concern that due to the backlash against their policies, there will be difficulty finding qualified candidates for these jobs. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. Sacrificing individual rights in the name of safety is not a job that anyone should be doing.