Politics and Social Media (or, an exercise in futility)

Perhaps I’ll designate Tuesdays as being the time of the week that I’ll make political posts, considering this is when I’ve felt like posting something political recently…

It’s kind of sad seeing the same arguments being made by the same people in favor of their designated side of the aisle; talking in circles at each other and nobody walks away satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing people who share my point of view speak up (often eloquently), so I’m not saying stop it, but this post is just exasperation that it’s essentially the same argument at its roots that everybody’s been having since about June of 2015. I see a post that’s political, then I see the names of people commenting and I immediately guess (correctly, every time) what they’re going to say. It’s safe to say we are all pretty deeply entrenched in our professed point of view.

What’s my point? Knock yourself out, speak up for what you believe in…but don’t expect to change anybody’s mind who disagrees with you. At best, you might encourage those who do agree with you but are too circumspect to speak up (you know who you are out there 😉 ).

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Trying to take a sabbatical from the political posts…

A couple of thoughts before I (attempt to) take a break from the political posts (HOPEFULLY; fingers crossed) for what I’m intending to be a good long while; I’m not getting off FB completely, just steering away from the politics:

I’ve always tried to be fair with my political posts and in my interactions with people who comment on them. Key word, “try”; I know I’ve been abrasive and terse from time to time, but not often and never outright malicious, and certainly not “hateful” like I was accused of being just this morning; you’re mileage on that statement may vary, probably depending on your political point of view. But I’ve ALWAYS accepted everybody’s sincerity when it comes to their beliefs. I just realize there comes a point where you reach an impasse with somebody on a given subject to where it’s useless to continue talking about it, because then you’re just talking in circles.

I get enough people who tell me publicly, or privately via Messenger, and quite often when they see me in person, how much they like and enjoy reading what I write…even when they disagree with me. And I get that last a lot more often then you’d expect. That tells me that I AM being fair and respectful with what I’m saying. And I take that very much to heart.

Finally, try a little empathy. It’s easy to demonize people who don’t share your point of view and to make them into this monolithic “Other” to be despised and disdained, as I KNOW I have friends that tend to do this. Accept other people’s sincerity. I have black friends, gay friends, Jewish friends, and Hispanic friends among others who are genuinely scared about what the forthcoming Trump presidency means for them and their families. They are NOT being sore losers who need to just “get over it”. Assuming that you’re a white voter who supported Trump, understand that while it’s tempting for you to just chuckle and hand wave away their concerns and to say that they’re just being silly about it all, this is a very real concern for them. YOU as a white person are generally not going to be subject to these same fears, so it’s not “real” to you and it’s easy to dismiss it. We’d all be wise to stop seeing the world as Us versus THEM and to see it as being that we’re all just trying to make our way in the world.

Unfollowed, cont.

So I just unfollowed several people from my FB feed, some of whom I’m actually friends with in “real life” and who I think well of, or at the very least I am personal acquaintances with. I mean, I get that you feel the way you do about current events and politics, and you have every right to post what you do…but I really don’t need it clogging up my newsfeed, especially since the posting has ratcheted up feverishly as we enter the final weeks of the election, but it’s the same old predictable shit over and over and OVER—yes, we get it, you hate so-and-so with the fire of a thousand suns and you have no shortage of memes and links to share to prove it…but more importantly, I just don’t want to be tempted into posting some kind of rebuttal and end up down the rabbit hole of a fruitless debate.

My question is this: How many of you take the view that it’s better to just unfollow and still stay FB friends, or do you think unfollowing defeats the point and should you just unfriend that person and be done with it? How many of you would feel insulted to find out I unfollowed you because of your political posts? Remember, I got unfriended by that very reasoning before. To me, unfollowing is just a prudent way of avoiding unnecessary conflict with a person, while unfriending is kind of like burning bridges and saying “fuck you, asshole”. If I run into that person who unfriended me out on the street—who once upon a time was a close personal friend—I’m not sure how I would act toward them…”Uh, hi?”

So, what do you think?

Undecided Voters

Because what Facebook needs is yet another political post:

I do wonder how many people are still genuinely undecided between Clinton and Trump, to the point where the debates (both the actual presidential ones and people arguing on social media) might influence them one way or the other. It seems to me that everyone who is voting for Trump has already committed to him, and the undecided voters are really just conflicted about whether to hold their noses and vote for Clinton, or vote third party or even write in, say, Bernie Sanders. I just think it’s hard to believe that people at this point are still weighing Clinton vs Trump per se; it’s really got to be Clinton vs third party/write-in for the undecided voters. That’s just my intuition on the matter; I haven’t really researched who the undecided voters are.

Black Athletes and the National Anthem: Or…Making White Folk Uncomfortable

I’ve managed to avoid really getting into political posts recently, with the occasional exception of humorous remarks about Trump and a few other issues. I realize how passionate some people are about Trump and probably moreso worked up in their disdain for Hillary Clinton. And that’s fine. But I’ve actually had people I considered good friends at one point or other de-friend me on Facebook, evidently because they didn’t like what I was saying or how I was saying it. It sucked and it made me pull back on making political posts because, frankly, it’s just not worth it to lose friends simply because have different political views.

And I’ve posted at length on this particular topic before—black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem…but hearing what this athlete, Michael Rose-Ivey, at the University of Nebraska, has gone through since he and two of his teammates kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick during the National Anthem of a recent football game really made me angry. The N-word??? He should be lynched before the National Anthem at the next game???? (Here is the link: http://www.rawstory.com/2016/09/fans-wanted-me-hung-before-the-anthem-emotional-nebraska-football-player-reveals-racist-threats/comments/#disqus)

Seriously: WHAT IS IT about a person who doesn’t adhere to this proscribed etiquette about our nation’s anthem that enrages people to make death threats and resort to name calling, and namely, using the N-word??? I want to know. Watch the video linked here, or just read the quotes in the article, at least. This isn’t a person who “hates” America. This isn’t a person who should just “keep his mouth shut”. This isn’t a person who should be “grateful” he’s got a scholarship and be content to quietly keep all of you white folk entertained with his athletic prowess. This is a person, and this is a people, who I believe are sincere in their angst over injustices Black America has endured throughout this country’s history.

And please, just shut the fuck up about Chicago in your inevitable response. “But, but, but, but what about Chicago and black on black crime!!!! Why don’t they kneel against that??? Chicago, I tell you!!! CHICAGO!!!! CHICAGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’M AN ANGRY WHITE MAN TELLING BLACK PEOPLE HOW TO PRIORITIZE!!!! CHICAGOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Okay, deep breath, Brian…

It’s been my observation that the VAST MAJORITY of people expressing “outrage” over black athletes kneeling during the National Anthem are WHITE. And I say VAST MAJORITY because I’m sure some fuck is out there right now ready to link to some black conservative who agrees with them. Don’t bother. That’s the exception, not the rule. There’s just no denying the indignant response of certain white people when they see black people not adhering to what they see as “acceptable” behavior toward our Nation’s symbols. I mean, I get it: we as white people want to believe we’ve righted the wrongs of our ancestors when Lincoln freed the slaves, or when the Civil Rights Act was legislated, or when Barack Obama was elected President. Discovering that there’s still work to be done when it comes to race relations and being reminded that ours is not nearly the perfect union we imagine it to be can be unsettling. But try empathizing or seeing America through their eyes. These black athletes who are kneeling aren’t committing crimes, their not cheating in school, they—to me, at least—seem very thoughtful and sincere. And while I’ll never pretend to “feel their pain” or understand what it’s like to be Black in America, I accept their sincerity and their frustration. If kneeling during the National Anthem is a means by which they choose to facilitate an important discussion in this country, I PRAISE THEM. If I had half a nerve, I would kneel in solidarity with them the next time I was in public during the National Anthem.

And wouldn’t that be a grand experience. Even worse than a black person kneeling during the National Anthem, but a traitor to my own race, eh?

I’ll be honest, I’ve not been comfortable with what I see as “patriot shaming”, i.e., calling someone out because they are not “properly” honoring the symbols of this Nation. “Are you standing straight enough??? TRAITOR!!!” “Is your hand on your heart? TRAITOR!!!!” “Are you facing in the right direction? TRAITOR!!!!”  Patriotism should come from within, not be imposed from without. Try asking 1930s Germany how that turned out.

Alright. I think I’m done. If this offends you, it offends you. I’d prefer you not unfriend me, but if you can’t handle my passion on this issue, so be it. I’m just asking you to consider that black athletes have a legitimate motive for their actions in kneeling during the National Anthem. It does NOT warrant death threats or the N-word. They shouldn’t just “shut up” and be “grateful”; they shouldn’t have to refrain from making YOU feel uncomfortable about your country.

CNN article: Gun debate (are both sides half right?)

I’ve long realized that people on both sides of the gun control issue are firmly entrenched in their positions, and I certainly don’t expect this article to make them reconsider (although it would be nice to hear someone say, “Well, they have a point”). But I do know a significant number of people are in the middle with me on gun ownership and its regulation, and this link is for them.
Excerpts and summary:
“The reality is that members of Congress who wrote the amendment weren’t thinking about the individual right to bear arms. They didn’t have to, because they already took it for granted.
“Every record of the Congress that wrote the (Second) amendment and the state legislatures that voted for it shows that their discussions were about the right of the people to maintain state militias…
“At the same time, many Congressmen owned guns, as did many other Americans, and assumed they had a right to do so…
“But they weren’t free to use them entirely as they might have liked.
“That’s the lesson of state and municipal regulations in existence when the amendment was written in 1789 and ratified by the states in 1791.” (The article then lists several examples of state and local governments of the time limiting the possession and use of guns.)
The article goes on to quote the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” he wrote.
Finally the article unexpectedly points to the Fifth Amendment as the true protector of the right to own a gun. It forbids the federal government from interfering with anyone’s “life, liberty or property without due process of law.” Guns were property.
The article ends with the observation that “clearly, the right to bear arms goes back to the earliest days of the United States. But so, too, does the power of legislatures to regulate it in the name of public safety.”
As I alluded to at the beginning, I realize how entrenched the extremes on both sides are, but I believe this is a worthy analysis of the issue.