Friday, September 24, 2021

Free, White and 21.

July 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Health, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Disputes over COVID treatments and mandates are indicative of where the country is today.  Full of contradictions, hypocrisy, fear, anger and ignorance.  Vaccine mandates for children have all but wiped out infectious diseases like measles and polio in the school-age population.  Science works.

Yet, because of spurious arguments and widespread misinformation, acceptance or refusal of the vaccine has become a statement of your political identity and has very little, if anything, to do with the common good.  If we don’t find a way to distinguish between who is vaccinated and who is not, and isolate the unvaccinated when in public spaces, everyone remains in danger of infection.  I bet if coronavirus caused acne, we’d all be vaccinated by now.

The news media, for fear of appearing biased, continues to report statements and theories about the virus that have no basis in fact. As they do in other spheres as well.  Take politics.

Why does Kevin McCarthy have any credibility to talk about January 6th?  His public statements just after faulted the former president for the insurrection before later declaring it was no big deal.  While he led the fight to kill an Independent Commission, he later signed onto the creation of a Select Committee.


From the very beginning of that committee’s formation, it was understood that he could appoint members “in consultation” with the Speaker.  So the Speaker always had the ultimate authority to decide who would serve.  When he nominated members, who by their own public statements said they had no intention to seriously pursue what happened, Pelosi slapped them down.

Then the media dutifully reported the whining of McCarthy and other Republicans that the Speaker had acted improperly when, in fact, she was merely exercising the authority they had all agreed to.

By the way, the loser of the 2020 presidential election knows he cheated in even more ways than he did in 2016 (remember the post office fiasco for instance), that’s why he still can’t believe he lost.

Then take the so-called “culture wars.”  The latest battles being over The 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory.  We all know the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence proclaiming “all men are created equal” and we also know that dozens of the signers enslaved other human beings.

Some have said the word “men” was used as a synonym for “people”.  But we know that’s not true because the legal architecture that followed in the Constitution only enshrined the rights of citizenship for land-owning white men.  If that were not the case, there would have been no need to amend that document to abolish slavery (13th), grant birthright citizenship (14th), extend to men of color the right to vote (15th) and extend the franchise to women (19th).

George Orwell wrote in his book “1984”, “Who controls the past controls the future.  Who controls the present controls the past.”  These attempts to “whitewash” American history, going so far as to legislate against teaching factual accounts of past events, are more about control of the narrative than about lessons on the legacy of unequal treatment of some of the country’s inhabitants.

If you can wipe away the very presence of people of color, let alone their accomplishments, you can paint a picture of retuning to an idyllic white America as your motivation for all manner of things; like segregation and voter suppression.  To that end, it’s like recriminalizing teaching people to read.

And what the hell was Stephen A. Smith talking about when he said that phenom Shohei Ohtani couldn’t be the “face of baseball” because he spoke to the public through an interpreter.  Did being a native English speaker help Hank Aaron overcome hostility for having the audacity to break baseball’s most famous record, making him the face of the game?

What he wanted to say was “baseball is for white boys” unlike basketball and football.  But that’s not true either, at least since Jackie Robinson broke the colorline.

Right now we live in a dangerous time.  When facts and opinions are interchangeable.  We don’t like “elites” in science but worship them in sports. Crowning MVPs.  People breaking into the Capitol to overturn the results of an election are patriots but people marching to end police violence or protect voting rights are a threat.

You can see how that played out recently in Florida.  After last year’s Black Lives Matter protests the Governor championed a law banning street demonstrations.  Strictly for public safety he said.  Allowing motorists to hit pedestrians if they were protesting in a roadway.  Until Cubans did it.  Then that law was ignored.  The senior Senator from Florida said the President should ensure the people of Cuba have the internet, while opposing his infrastructure plan that would bring broadband to all Americans.

We’re dealing with basic, elemental things here.  Truth is truth and opinions are not facts.  Any statements beginning with “all ____ people” (fill in the blank) are inherently inaccurate.  If you are trying to prohibit any American citizen from voting, by any means, you are not for democracy.

On that last point, about democracy, it’s important not to get sidetracked by fights over the filibuster.  The real issue is voting rights and how to maintain and enhance them.  Senate Republicans have already figured out a way to have votes on their priorities (taxes and judges) subject to a 50 vote threshold.  Senate Democrats have to now do the same.

Finally, we should be just as outraged about six-year-old Nyiah Courtney being shot and killed by marauding teenagers, at the intersection of MLK and Malcom X in D.C. no less, as we are by unarmed people being killed by police.  And we should be appalled, and speak out against, racist nonsense spewed by anyone, including members of our tribe.  And call “BS” whenever we see otherwise.

People of a certain age will remember how when somebody was caught doing some crazy shit, and didn’t want to admit it or apologize for it, they would simply say, “I’m free, white and 21.”  Meaning, “I can do anything I want to do,” no matter how dumb or ill-advised.  That’s the prevailing sentiment today.  But that’s not how you build and maintain a family, a community or a nation.

If we don’t honor the ties that bind, we are destined to fall apart.

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell

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