bookmark_borderAtrocity

Disgusting.

Cruel.

Vicious.

Intolerant.

Immoral.

Heartbreaking.

Again and again I’ve tried to find words adequate to describe actions like the ones that took place in Charlottesville today, and again and again the English language comes up short.

Acts like these have taken place so many times over the past three and a half hellish years that I cannot keep track, my brain cannot comprehend the overwhelming magnitude of what has happened.

Yet again, the winning side of the war decides, for some inexplicable reason, to beat up on the losing side.

Yet again, the strong, powerful establishment decides to torment the rebels, the dissenters, the underdogs, all while preposterously claiming that they are somehow disadvantaged and oppressed.

One meager statue representing human diversity, representing dissent, representing being different from the norm, amidst a sea of essentially identical statues all representing mindless conformity, deemed unacceptable in their eyes.

Having relentlessly criticized my clothes, my hair, my shoes, my socks, ridiculed the way that I speak, bullied me because I like different music and movies and books than they do, none of that was enough for them. My special interest – the one thing that makes my life worth living – had to be destroyed too, the public spaces of our country redesigned to ensure that I receive the message that I am hated, that I am unacceptable, that I am sick and deviant, that I am not welcome to exist.

I am deemed unworthy of even a single work of public art making me feel accepted, making me feel included.

Yet again my body, mind, and soul are consumed by agonizing, unbearable pain.

There are no words that can fully convey how much I hate the people – and I use that word loosely – who did this.

They do not hold the moral high ground.

They forfeited any claim to it a long time ago.

They deserve the most severe punishment possible.

But even that would not be enough, because no punishment could possibly be as severe as the punishment that they have inflicted on me – an innocent person who has done nothing wrong – through their actions.

bookmark_border“The USA is a white settler colonialist state”

“The USA is a white settler colonialist state…”

What the heck does that even mean? What is a “settler colonialist state”?

We need to eliminate the term “settler colonialism” from our lexicon. Phrases like this are meaningless mush, with no use or purpose other than to insult and shame people based on their skin color.

How exactly are immigration laws racist?

How exactly is your statement “truth,” Bree Newsome?

And how exactly are people wanting to outlaw it? Who exactly are the “they” of whom you speak, and what steps have they taken to outlaw statements like yours? More importantly, how can you claim that statements like this one are in danger of being outlawed when every major politician of the ruling party, every major corporation, and every member of the mainstream media, is parroting it?

 

Similarly to the question with which I began this blog post… what the hell is a “white colonial power structure?” This seems to be just more meaningless mush whose only goal and only effect is to paint an autistic person like me, who has been told that I have no choice other than to sacrifice my wishes, preferences, needs, and happiness for the expectations of others for my entire life, as somehow “privileged” and therefore bad and having no right to complain or be upset about anything. Thereby doubling down on the exact things I’ve been told ad nauseam by neurotypical society my entire life. Awesome.

Also, how can someone “maintain white rulership in the USA” when such a thing has never existed?

Also, what racist violence, exactly, is Newsome referring to?

And what anti-democratic violence, exactly, is Newsome referring to?

And why is it a bad thing for something to be anti-democratic, anyway? To speak of anti-democratic violence as if it is a bad thing presumes that to be pro-democratic is good, and I strenuously dispute this presumption. Democracy is a form of government in which the policies implemented are the ones that are favored by the largest number of people. Given that the goodness or badness of a policy has nothing to do with the number of people that favor it, democracy is not a good form of government. To be anti-democratic is not something bad, because a democracy is not something good.

In conclusion, this Instagram post and the account that posted it are just another example of our society’s practice of privileging and elevating the voices of those who have not experienced discrimination or significant hardship, while stomping on those who have. If the people who run this Instagram account actually wanted to feature the voices of the oppressed, they would feature tweets and blog posts by people like me, who have been shamed as sick and bad our entire lives… and for our entire lives had our feelings and perspectives dismissed as “privileged” because we were born with the wrong skin color.

bookmark_borderBurlington pride month controversy demonstrates society’s hypocrisy and intolerance

Recently, a controversy erupted over a Pride month event, and a protest against it, at a school near where I live. The reaction to the protest encapsulates the intolerant attitudes of our society.

For the month of June, Burlington Middle School was decorated with Pride decorations, including the ubiquitous and racist Pride flag (see this post for an explanation of why it is racist) and a poster with the Tennessee Williams quote, “What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved line a road through mountains.” This quote, understandably, offended straight students. So a group of students protested, tearing down the racist Pride decorations and chanting, “My pronouns are USA.”

(Source: DC Draino Instagram post)

Appallingly but not surprisingly, public officials criticized the protesting students, as opposed to the intolerant displays against which they were protesting. 

Members of the Burlington Select Board called the protest “unacceptable” and characterized it as both “intolerant rhetoric” and “displays of intolerance and homophobia.” In reality, however, it was the Pride month celebration that was intolerant and unacceptable, because it involved the display of a racially discriminatory flag, as well as a poster which claimed that an entire group of people do not exist.

A statement by school superintendent Eric Conti was similarly lacking in both logic and moral decency.

Conti described the protest as “hateful,” which makes no sense because there is nothing hateful about standing up against racial discrimination or against the attempted erasure of an entire group of people based on their sexual orientation. (Arguably, it is the discrimination and attempted erasure that are hateful.)

Conti also said that the school system is “obligated to provide a safe environment for all students to feel safe, seen, and respected without retaliation.” This is true, but in the opposite way of what Conti meant: to display a flag that excludes white people and a poster that denies the existence of straight people is to ensure that not all students feel seen and respected. If Conti truly cared about the ability of students to feel seen and respected, the Pride celebration, and not the protests against it, would be the target of his criticism.

Making things even worse, Conti pompously declared that “it is not enough to publicly denounce these incidents as they happen” and called on people to “educate our community on the nature of these events.” Actually, “these events” should not be denounced at all; they should be publicly praised, and the racist and intolerant Pride celebrations should instead be denounced. The “nature of these events” is that people protested against a poster telling them that they do not exist. I fail to understand how that is a bad thing. The Tennessee Williams quote that erases the existence of straight people is what should be criticized here, not the students protesting against it.

Conti’s statement also said: “I recognize that discussions and celebrations of individual identity are complex and impacted by individual values, religions, and cultural norms, the result of which may include expressions of racism, anti-religious hate, ableism, and in this case homophobia. The Burlington Public Schools believe in the individual dignity and humanity of each and every person in our community. We embrace everyone for who they are and for what they bring to our schools and larger community. Let us all work on being kinder toward each other.”

But there is nothing homophobic about maintaining that straight people exist. And the problem is that displaying racially discriminatory flags and a poster erasing the existence of straight people is antithetical to believing in the individual dignity and humanity of each and every person in a community. For straight people and white people, these flags and poster deny our dignity and our humanity. So it is clearly false that the Burlington Public Schools believe in the individual dignity and humanity of each and every person in the community, because if they did, they would be criticizing the Pride celebration, and not the students protesting against it. Similarly, the Burlington Public Schools obviously do not embrace everyone for who they are, because if they did, they would be condemning the anti-white and anti-straight displays, as opposed to the students protesting against them.

People do, indeed, need to work on being kinder toward each other. It is people who display a racially discriminatory flag and a poster erasing straight people’s existence who need to work on being kinder to other people. Again, Conti should be criticizing the people engaging in these discriminatory actions, not the people protesting against them.

“I was shocked and horrified,” one parent reportedly whined. But what people should be shocked and horrified about is the fact that Burlington Middle School held a celebration that discriminated against students based on their race and sexual orientation. It is the discriminatory flags and poster that should cause shock and horror, not the students protesting against them.

This topic might seem unrelated, and I might sound like a broken record for bringing it up in yet another blog post, but I think it is important to mention the horrific things that were done to Confederate statues and Christopher Columbus statues over the past three years. These disgraceful actions were the most unacceptable, intolerant, and hateful actions ever to take place. These actions were more antithetical to individual dignity and humanity, more antithetical to seeing and respecting people, more antithetical to embracing everyone for who they are, and more antithetical to kindness, than any actions that have ever been taken. And when I say “ever,” I mean ever, in the history of the world.

If people truly cared about tolerance, truly cared about seeing and respecting others, truly cared about dignity and humanity, truly cared about embracing people for who they are, truly cared about kindness, then these are the actions that they would be criticizing, denouncing, publicly condemning, and taking a stand against. It demonstrates appalling hypocrisy and complete moral bankruptcy that society does absolutely nothing to speak out against truly intolerant and unkind actions, yet falls all over itself in its haste to condemn a protest involving middle school students who had the audacity to affirm that straight people exist.

bookmark_borderJune, the month of exclusion and discrimination

June used to be a month that I looked forward to. It marked the beginning of summer, with flowers blooming, school ending for the year, and rain generally absent. Now, I dread the month of June, and it has nothing to do with the cold, windy, and wet weather that has been occurring recently.

June marks Pride Month, as well as Juneteenth. Two observances that acknowledge, honor, recognize, and celebrate certain politically favored groups of people, while excluding everyone else. Two observances that are popularly perceived as being all about equality, diversity, and inclusion, while in reality being about the exact opposite. June has become the month of conformity, exclusion, and discrimination.

To begin with, take the Pride flag. I don’t have a problem with the original version of this flag, with six stripes in the colors of the rainbow. But I have a problem with the version that is currently favored, the version that has become pervasive everywhere you look, especially during the month of June. This is the flag that, in addition to the rainbow stripes, includes a triangle of white, light blue, and pink to symbolize trans people, as well as stripes of black and brown to symbolize the experiences of LGBTQ+ people of color. This, to put it bluntly, is racist. Those who created this flag and those who choose to display it have chosen to give special recognition to black and brown people, while giving no equivalent recognition to white people. (One might point out that the color white does appear on the flag, but its intention is to symbolize trans people along with blue and pink, not to represent white people.) There is no justifiable reason for doing this. The rainbow flag already symbolized LGBTQ+ people of all races equally. There is nothing about a rainbow-striped flag that could be construed to only represent white people. Whoever is responsible for adding the black and brown stripes must have either interpreted the rainbow flag as only representing white people, which is false, or acknowledged that the rainbow flag already represents all races but decided that black and brown people deserve additional recognition while white people do not, which is racist. Either way, the Pride flag, as it is most commonly displayed today, is racially discriminatory.

The racist Pride flag is fitting, the perfect symbol for the intolerant attitudes that are so prevalent in our society. According to our society’s dominant ideology, some people deserve to be acknowledged, honored, included, represented, and celebrated, while others do not. Some people’s feelings, viewpoints, perspectives, and experiences matter, while other people’s do not. 

The past three years have been nothing short of traumatizing and soul-crushing for me as an autistic person who loves statues and history. For three years, people have intentionally destroyed everything in the world that makes my life worth living. They have inflicted horrific and indescribable pain, on purpose. They have set out to deliberately remove each and every work of public art that makes me feel included. And they have done so with unimaginable cruelty, violence, and brutality. Whether in the form of angry mobs, self-righteous public officials, or faceless bureaucracies, society has decided to physically alter the public spaces of cities and towns to ensure that people like me feel unwelcome and excluded. To ensure that people like me will never again have any possibility of feeling happiness, joy, or belonging.

And then, as if all this weren’t bad enough, society decided to characterize the events that I’ve just described as “hope” and “healing.”

Just like society has decided that it is not enough not to be racist, but that one must be actively anti-racist, society has not merely decided that I do not deserve to be acknowledged, honored, included, represented, or celebrated. Society has decided, if such things are even possible, that I deserve to be actively anti-acknowledged, actively anti-honored, actively anti-included, actively anti-represented, and actively anti-celebrated. 

I am not black. I am not gay, or trans, or queer. I am different. I have been different my entire life. For as long as I can remember, I have talked differently, walked differently, learned differently, and thought differently. I wore dresses, pigtails, and Mary Janes, while everyone else wore tight jeans and sweatshirts. I excelled at reading, writing, math, and memorizing facts, but wasn’t able to hold a conversation, hit a baseball with a bat, ride a bike, or tie my shoes, all things that my peers did effortlessly. People didn’t understand why I did the things I did, and I didn’t understand why they did the things they did, either. People didn’t like me. I had few friends and was bullied. Historical figures were the only thing that made my life worth living. The fact that statues of them existed in public places was the only thing that made me feel included, made me feel seen, and made me feel that life was worth living.

And then society decided to take that away. Society decided to spend time, money, and effort to destroy what made my life worth living. To ensure that I would never again feel welcomed or included when I set foot in a public place. 

There was never really a word for what made me different. It was just me being eccentric, or deviant, or weird, or messed-up. It was just another Marissa thing. Me doing or saying something that didn’t make sense. Me being completely quiet while the other kids told inside jokes and swapped stories. Me being unable to understand something that to others was obvious. I know now that the word is autism. But I didn’t know it then. Queer people, trans people, black people, indigenous people, Jewish people… all these groups have a word for what makes them different from the majority. When there is a word for what makes you different, it means that there are other people who share the same difference as you. It means you are not alone. Perhaps you might feel alienated or excluded in the larger society, but there is always a group of like people that you can return to, a community that will provide acceptance, empathy, belonging, and support. Not so for me. Even among my immediate family, I was judged, stigmatized, shamed, and criticized. I was different from them, and they didn’t understand me. In short, I have always been alone. 

For this reason, I have felt different and alone in a way that queer people and black people have never experienced. I have felt different and alone in a more profound sense than people who can easily put a label on their differences. And this was before society decided to destroy everything that made my life worth living. 

If society truly cared about diversity and inclusion, it would be going out of its way to acknowledge, honor, recognize, and celebrate me, not actively making me feel excluded. If society truly cared about diversity and inclusion, it would be raising funds, hiring artists, and making plans for the creation of additional Confederate statues and Christopher Columbus statues, not doing the utterly sickening and horrific things that it did to these statues.

Because Confederate statues and Columbus statues symbolize people who are different. They symbolize people like me. By erecting them in public spaces, our society was stating that people like me do, indeed, have a right to exist. But the death of George Floyd caused society to change its mind about that. Using some sick, warped version of logic that I will never fully comprehend, society decided that for the actions of Derek Chauvin, I deserve the death penalty. 

It is beyond hurtful that after three years of inflicting horrific and indescribable pain on me because I am different, after three years of telling me in the most brutal, cruel, and violent possible way that I don’t have the right to exist, society would go out of its way to celebrate gay people and black people. To think that this constitutes inclusion, and diversity, and treating everyone equally, demonstrates a complete lack of empathy. I understand that the tone of this blog post might be perceived as angry and negative, but I truly believe that Pride and Juneteenth are neither uplifting nor positive. They are examples of how our society acknowledges, honors, includes, and celebrates some people while excluding, humiliating, and viciously attacking others. Whenever I see that hideous black and brown rainbow flag, see a sign in a store window expressing solidarity with the LGBTQ or black community, or hear of a Pride or Juneteenth celebration, I am being told that I am not a person and that my feelings do not matter. 

I don’t have anything against queer people or trans people or black people. What I have a problem with is society’s inconsistency, hypocrisy, and intolerance. I believe in treating everyone equally. I believe that everyone should be included. By celebrating Pride and Juneteenth, after three years of brutally, cruelly, and violently telling me that I don’t deserve to be represented or included, society accomplishes the opposite of that. If queer people and trans people and black people are going to be accepted and celebrated, then I deserve to be accepted and celebrated as well. If the pain of queer people and trans people and black people is going to be acknowledged, then I deserve to have my pain acknowledged, too. 

bookmark_border“Hateful”

“Hateful.”

This was the word used by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to describe a flyover by the organization Save Southern Heritage Florida, in which an airplane carrying a banner that read “Put Monuments Back” flew over a Jacksonville Jaguars game.

How exactly is it “hateful” to argue that people like me have a right to a life worth living?

How exactly is wanting to have a life that is actually worth living “hateful”?

Apparently, only Mayor Curry and people like him are allowed to have lives that are worth living.

And I am not.

Believing that I am actually entitled to the same respect and the same protections as others… is hateful.

Daring to ask that I be treated equally… is hateful.

Apparently, I am required to just put up with everything that makes my life worth living, being destroyed. Other people are allowed to hurt me as badly as they want, with complete impunity, and I am not allowed to defend myself. I am not allowed to point out that actually, destroying everything that makes a person’s life worth living, is bad. I am not allowed to state that I would like the things that make my life worth living, returned.

In the eyes of Mayor Curry, asking for the world to allow you a life that is worth living is “hateful.”

No, Mayor Curry. You are the one who is truly hateful.

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_borderPsaki’s ignorant comments on bullying

Recently, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made some truly idiotic comments about the Florida law prohibiting education about sex and gender related topics for kids in preschool through third grade.

Here is what she said, according to the Daily Wire:

“A bill like this, that would discriminate against families, against kids, put these kids in the position of not getting the support they need at a time where that’s exactly what they need. It’s discriminatory. It’s a form of bullying. It is horrific… I think the most important question now is why are Florida leaders deciding they need to discriminate against kids who are members of the LGBTQI community? What prompts them to do that? Is it meanness? Is it wanting to make kids have more difficult times in school and in their communities?”

The fact that Psaki uses words such as “discriminatory,” “bullying,” “horrific,” and “meanness” to describe this law demonstrates a complete lack of empathy towards people who have actually been discriminated against and bullied. Psaki’s comments are particularly objectionable because a huge amount of the discrimination, bullying, and meanness that has occurred lately has been perpetrated by the Biden administration.

To give just one example*, President Biden has repeatedly used rhetoric that insults, threatens, and aggresses against people who opt not to get the covid vaccine. He has attempted to implement policies requiring people to get the vaccine in order to work for the federal government, for any company that contracts with the federal government, for any employer in the medical field, or for any employer with 100 or more employees. He has also used rhetoric to encourage all employers not covered by the above categories to force their employees to get the vaccine as well.

Essentially, Biden chose to use the power of the presidency to force people to undergo a medical procedure against their will. And as Press Secretary, Psaki has enthusiastically defended these efforts. Forcing people to undergo a medical procedure against their will is the epitome of discrimination. It is the epitome of bullying. It is the epitome of meanness. Forcing people to undergo a medical procedure against their will is truly horrific. And requiring medical documentation in order to participate in public life truly, to use Psaki’s words, causes people to have more difficult times in their communities.

For Psaki to describe the Florida law using all of these terms, while completely ignoring the fact that these terms actually apply to her own actions and those of her employer, is deeply illogical, hypocritical, and immoral. Psaki clearly has no idea what discrimination actually is, what bullying actually is, or what meanness actually is. To truly understand what these terms mean, Psaki would need merely to look in the mirror.

 

*Another example that comes to mind is the brutal campaign of destruction that has been waged against statues and monuments to unpopular historical figures. These actions are infinitely more discriminatory, bully-like, horrific, and mean than a law limiting what types of sex ed can be presented to young children, yet Psaki has not uttered a single word of criticism when it comes to this topic.

bookmark_borderThis is what real privilege looks like

Today is December 1, which means that we have reached the end of Native American Heritage Month. Throughout November, various media outlets, companies, and brands acknowledged and celebrated Native American heritage in various ways.

For example, the Starbucks app had a section on its home page honoring indigenous employees.

The Microsoft Edge browser introduced an Indigenous Heritage Month theme.

And all month long, Comcast had a special section in the main menu on the TV dedicated entirely to Native American related programs.

What you wouldn’t have been able to tell from consuming mainstream media or going about your day in mainstream society is that the previous month, October, was Italian-American Heritage Month. Unlike with Native American Heritage Month, neither Starbucks nor Microsoft nor Comcast acknowledged Italian-Americans at all during our designated month. Nor, to my knowledge, did any mainstream media outlet, company, or brand. With the exception of an Italian flag being raised at Boston City Hall Plaza on October 1, I did not witness any recognition of Italian-American Heritage Month by any entity other than Italian-American organizations.

There is nothing wrong with the fact that so many companies and organizations celebrate Native American Heritage Month. But in my opinion, there is something wrong with the fact that they do this while ignoring Italian-American Heritage Month. To acknowledge one group’s month but not another’s is discriminatory. It sends the message that indigenous people are more important than Italian-Americans. Companies and organizations should treat all cultures and ethnicities equally. Either acknowledge and celebrate all cultures’ designated months, or none.

Making this inequity even worse is the fact that an increasing number of cities and states are abolishing the observance of Columbus Day on the second Monday of October and replacing it with Indigenous People’s Day. This in addition to the fact that the day after Thanksgiving is celebrated as Native American Heritage Day in the U.S., and August 9 is designated as International Day of the World’s Indigenous People by the United Nations.

I have heard it argued that Italian-Americans should be okay with the obliteration of Columbus Day because they still get the entire month of October. But indigenous people already have the entire month of November, as well as specific days in November and August. Why do they deserve a third holiday more than Italian-Americans deserve a single one?

It could also be argued that for all practical purposes, Italian-Americans don’t even have a month at all, given that our month is almost entirely ignored by mainstream society. Additionally, with Columbus Day – the reason for designating October as Italian-American Heritage Month in the first place – being obliterated throughout the country, it becomes hollow and meaningless to celebrate a month when one is no longer allowed to celebrate the reason for its existence.

Essentially, indigenous people get a month plus three holidays to celebrate their heritage, while Italians get nothing.

Adding insult to injury, indigenous people also receive additional benefits through government programs solely because of their ethnicity (for example, the Lifeline emergency broadband program provides an extra $34.25 per month for internet service to people living on tribal lands).

It is clear that our society values some cultures more than others, an inequity that has grown even worse in recent times. Privilege certainly exists in our society, but not in the way that most people believe.

bookmark_borderCAIR’s hypocrisy on vandalism

The Massachusetts chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) recently issued a press release condemning acts of vandalism against two predominantly African-American churches. While these actions – one involving spraying black paint on a sign outside the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Springfield, MA and the other involving ripping a cross from the ground outside the Zion Baptist Church in Everett, MA – certainly deserve condemnation, I take issue with CAIR’s decision to condemn some acts of vandalism while ignoring others. 

In a separate press release, CAIR also condemned the vandalism of a Native American petroglyph called “The Birthing Scene” in Utah. But after glancing around CAIR’s website, I saw no mention whatsoever of any of the horrific acts of vandalism that have been perpetrated against European cultures’ statues, monuments, memorials, art works, buildings, or historic sites. No mention of the dozens of Christopher Columbus statues that have been torn down, smashed to pieces, burned, kicked, beheaded, or strangled. No mention of any of the acts of vandalism committed against statues of Junipero Serra or Juan Ponce de Leon. No mention of the Confederate monument in Portsmouth, Virginia that was smashed to pieces with sledgehammers by a vicious mob. No mention of the lynching of a Confederate soldier statue in Raleigh, North Carolina. No mention of the firebombing of the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia or the obliteration of Confederate statues from that same city. No mention of any of the dozens (hundreds?) of beautiful, historic statues that have been brutally attacked and destroyed over the past year due to hatred of the cultures that they represent. 

“The American Muslim community and CAIR are standing in solidarity with all those challenging anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and all other forms of bigotry,” the organization notes in each press release. It is interesting that the organization chose to specifically mention “anti-Black racism,” as opposed to just listing “racism.” Why is anti-black racism more worthy of challenging than anti-white racism? And why is white supremacy worse than the attitudes of black supremacy, anti-Italian bigotry, and authoritarianism that have motivated the brutal and heartless campaign of statue destruction of the past year? If CAIR truly stood in solidarity with all those challenging bigotry, they would condemn the vandalism of works of art honoring Italian, Spanish, and southern heroes just as strongly as they condemn vandalism of Native American works of art and predominantly black churches. 

In conclusion, it is inconsistent and discriminatory for CAIR to single out certain acts of vandalism for criticism and condemnation while completely ignoring others that are equally heinous, if not more so. To CAIR, acts of hate against some cultures are appalling and deserving of condemnation, while acts of hate against other cultures are perfectly fine. 

bookmark_borderDiscrimination shouldn’t be part of Covid relief package

One idea that has been proposed as part of the latest Covid economic relief package is issuing payments of $3,000 and up to people who have children. Specifically, a bill proposed by Rep. Richard Neal would pay families $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17. Sen. Mitt Romney introduced a similar proposal that would give even more money to people with children. Even worse, some Democrats in Congress and White House officials want to make the policy permanent, meaning that people will continue to get free money from the government every year for no other reason than the fact that they have children. 

This is a terrible idea, which anyone who believes in equality and justice should oppose. Giving a benefit to people with children, but not to people without children, is discriminatory. Any Covid relief or stimulus package should give the same amount of money to everyone, regardless of family status. Unfortunately, discrimination against people without children is pervasive in our society and is rarely even recognized as discrimination. This unjust state of affairs is demonstrated by the fact that political leaders from both parties have introduced these discriminatory economic plans and that no one in the media (as far as I have seen or heard) has raised the idea that these policies might be discriminatory.

“Biden’s proposed child benefit has quickly emerged as a potentially defining feature of his administration’s economic agenda – one that could make a lasting imprint on American welfare policy,” gushes the Washington Post. The Post’s article details the various options with regards to how the payments would be administered, whether they would be sent every month or every year, what the income limits would be, and whether they would be based on the current or previous year’s tax returns, but does not even mention the possibility that the entire idea of giving money only to people with children might be unjust. The article also mentions the fact that some conservatives oppose these benefits because they provide money to both working and non-working people, but ignores the most significant reason for objecting to the benefits: the fact that they exclude people who do not have children.

“This pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” said Rep. Neal. “This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most.” 

Sen. Cory Booker called the policy “the biggest impact we can make for economic justice in our country.” 

These comments completely miss the point. People without children need a roof over their head and food on their table as well, and it’s just as devastating for someone without children to be driven into poverty (if not more so, because the stress of living in poverty is compounded by the stress of living in a society that systematically discriminates against you). Discriminating against people based on their family status is exactly how the tax code is not supposed to work. And contrary to Booker’s claim, discriminatory policies like these constitute economic injustice.

From taking away everyone’s Second Amendment rights, to essentially sentencing the entire population to house arrest because of the existence of a novel virus, to obliterating the works of art that give cities and states their identities, this is just another example of how those in power are attempting to make the United States as bad a place as possible. To use a Covid relief bill to further entrench discrimination into our society is exactly what our country does not need.