Resistance is Not Futile

Danielle Muscato, in an interview after her Twitter rant following Trump’s latest SNL whine:

We must resist. Bottom line, resist. That’s why yesterday, I was using the hashtag #RESIST. The day we accept ANY of this as normal, we have already lost. Fascism accumulates power by pushing people, by testing us, by testing boundaries. We must call him out literally every time he says or proposes something that is unacceptable; we must actually label it as “unacceptable”; and we must demand change. From access to health care, to LGBTQ rights, to international relations, to so much more, complacency is literally death in this case, for potentially millions of people around the world, and also for people here in the USA. If you do not already, I encourage everyone reading this to start identifying, personally, as an activist, and to work toward that end accordingly. Resistance, en masse, is our only hope.

Criticism is Patriotism

Important words, from a former President:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.

— Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, in “Sedition, A Free Press, and Personal Rule”, published May 7, 1918; excerpted from Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star: War-time Editorials, Volume 2

It’s obvious that our current President Elect would disagree with these words, as would many of his supporters…who, ironically, are likely to consider themselves more “patriotic” that someone of my ilk, precisely because of their unquestioning support, even though this hews far closer to nationalism and fascism than it does patriotism.

“My country, right or wrong,” is often quoted. It’s a shame that many who toss that around omit the latter part, and to my estimation, the most important part of Carl Schurz’s quote: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

‘Black Lives Matter’ vs. ‘All Lives Matter’

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

TL;DR: The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.

— GeekAesthete

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Violence Never Solves Anything?

Anyone who clings to the historically untrue and thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never settles anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.

— Robert Heinlein

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On Being a Good Person

In general, I think we need to move away from the premise that being a good person is a fixed immutable characteristic and shift towards seeing being good as a practice. And it is a practice that we carry out by engaging with our imperfections. We need to shift towards thinking that being a good person is like being a clean person. Being a clean person is something you maintain and work on every day. We don’t assume “I am a clean person therefore I don’t need to brush my teeth.” When someone suggests to us that we have something stuck in our teeth we don’t say to them “What do you mean I have something stuck in my teeth—but I’m a clean person?!”

— Jay Smooth

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Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think — and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking — that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”

— John Scalzi (via Quoth the Culture on Tumblr)

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Without women, the story doesn’t even begin

So the Genesis story gets written as a justification for why women are they way they are, of how they’re the ones to blame, and of why it’s right for men to take charge, because when a woman decides for herself… well, isn’t that how everything ended up so terrible? But what the story really says, this story men made up to hold women down, is that women have the power to change the world. Women have the power to throw the world into chaos and they do it because the world as it is isn’t good enough. Adam is content and Eve is proactive. Women see God’s world and think, this could be better. Let’s make it better. And if that’s called sin than it’s the best sin there is because without change nothing would ever happen. Without women, the story doesn’t even begin.

— miccaeli miccaevelli

MLK on “inconvenient” protests

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

— Martin Luther King, Jr., in Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Today’s Lesson: Both You and Morgan Freeman are Wrong About Racism

From Today’s Lesson: Both You and Morgan Freeman are Wrong About Racism:

I believe racism is my problem. My problem. I claim it. It is not my problem because I am guilty. It is my problem because I am responsible. I didn’t create racism. It’s not my fault. But if I do nothing, I become a part of it. And it is not something I want to be a part of. I can make that decision. You can make that decision. We can all make that decision.

I know that it can be hard as a white person to read and talk about racism. It’s hard for everyone to read and talk about racism, because it is an ugly thing. When we confront racism, we commit to staring into the face of something both repellant and familiar. It’s hard for all of us, but what I know most about is what it’s like to be white and I can understand the temptation of defensiveness for us white folks. Of resentment. Of feeling accused. I understand the lure of clinging to all the ways in which you, too, don’t have it so good. I am more than familiar with the temptation to demonstrate your own oppression.

But it’s time to grow up. Children make excuses. Children engage in competitions to one-up each other. You’re not a child anymore. It’s time to do better.

Man’s Natural State

Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things or not going certain places or not acting in a certain way.

That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control. That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without raping someone. That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviors be employed so that maybe today, just maybe, you won’t rape someone.

It presumes that your natural state is rapist.

— Original source unknown, seen on an uncredited image file being shared all over Facebook and Tumblr.