Friday, May 17, 2013

The Boys (and Girls) Who Cried Racist

In the very off chance that you don't know the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, I'll give you a brief rundown.

A long time ago, before cars and iphones, there was a boy who lived in a small village who tended the sheep for his family. One day, bored and lonely, the boy yelled, "Wolf! Wolf!"
The townsfolk came running out to the field to save the boy from the carnivorous beast. But there was no wolf. The boy had lied. The townsfolk were annoyed.
The next week, the boy yelled, "Wolf!" again. Again the townspeople came running out to the field. But again the boy had lied. The people were angry.
The next week the boy did it again. Only half the townspeople came out this time, and they were angry again.
The next week the boy did it again. Only his family ran out to the field this time.
The next week he did it again. Only his mom came out to help him from the fictitious wolf.
The next week, an actual wolf showed up in the field. As it charged at, attacked, and drug the boy away, his screams of "Wolf! Wolf!" were ignored by all.

When Barack Obama became president, the word "racist" suddenly became the most used word in the English language. (Well maybe, like, second. To the word "like.")
Anytime someone criticized anything Obama said or did they were accused of being racist. If you didn't think a community organizer had the qualifications to be president; you were racist. If you didn't think Obamacare was a good idea; you were racist. If you didn't think the murder of four Americans was because of an Internet video; you were racist.
It went from the obscure, to the main stream, to the surreal. Chris Matthews declared the words "Chicago" and "urban" to be racist. Multiply nouns of every size, shape, and definition suddenly became "racist." Words that had been used in a non-racist way for hundreds of years suddenly became "racist."

Now I went to a school in an inner city Pennsylvania town. I had friends of every race, creed, denomination, and disposition. Racism, to me, is one of the stupidest things on the planet. Judging someone based on a purely physical characteristic that they had nothing to do with (People don't choose what color they're born as. If so, I wouldn't be pasty white) is completely asanine. So to suddenly be called racist for my political beliefs, or hatred of Chicago style pizza (Seriously, toppings go on the OUTSIDE of the pizza. That's why they're toppings, and not innings) upset me. I was incredulous that believing the Constitution should be followed was racist. I was distraught that believing Marxism would only lead to tyranny was racist. I was angry that believing the death of Osama bin Laden should be credited more to the Navy Seals that actually did the killing than to a president who sat comfortably drinking bottled water on the other side of the world was racist.

When someone said my beliefs were racist, I reacted. I read the articles, listened to the newscasters. I didn't wanna be called racist, because I'm not racist.
Five years later....and the word "racist" has as much meaning to me as the word "wolf" did to everyone in that town. I saw a headline today declaring that criticism of President Obama has its roots in White Supremecy. I didn't even bother to read the article. The word "racist" has no effect for me anymore. And it has no effect anymore for millions of Americans who used to hate being called racist because they weren't. Now it's just a sad, pathetic exclamation for people who have no other ways to protect their sad, pathetic ideas. The boy who cried wolf was destroyed by his lie. And the credibility of the boys and girls who cry racist is being destroyed by their idiocy. So go ahead and call us racist. Because the more you do, the less people will pay attention to you.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Of Intolerance and Bravery

In the event that you live under a rock, a monumental and momentous event occurred a few days ago: an NBA player announced he was gay. Not being a die hard NBA fan, I had never heard of Jason Collins before two days ago, as I'm sure few did. He is a 34 year old free agent that has played for 6 different teams and is currently unsigned. Basically, he's a mediocre player who's playing days may have come to an end. Now I don't mean to treat his accomplishments lightly; anybody who plays professional sports is in a very low percentage of a very talented group. I just wish to paint the picture as adequately as I can. In over 700 games, he averaged 3 points and 3 rebounds a game. He was no superstar, to which everyone can agree.

Yet despite his obscurity as an athlete, once he announced that he was gay, he became instantly famous. His name is in every newspaper (or more likely nowadays, website), he's being talked about on all the news channels, and the social media world is exploding with his story. As the first professional athlete from the "Big 4" (football, baseball, hockey, and basketball) to announce he's gay, he is being hailed as a hero. Some are comparing him to Jackie Robinson. He even got a phone call from the president, who is proud of him. He is the new American hero; cited for his bravery, courage, and personal strength.

I'm certainly not going to denigrate Mr. Collins. I don't know the man and so won't speak about his personal character. By all accounts, he's a nice guy. And I would speak out against any vile or negative remarks made about him if that were poured upon him. But just as he doesn't deserve insults, he also doesn't deserve this effusive praise being heaped upon him. I don't know his personal reasons for saying he's gay, but I do know that he has become an instant superstar. He's probably received a few book deals by now, he's been invited for countless interviews, and he is being raised upon a pedestal. Was Jackie Robinson given that? Jackie Robinson was personally and publicly reviled; he received death threats in every town he played in. He was given hatred. Jason Collins is receiving very little, if any, of that. Does it take courage to become a public hero? Or to receive praise and compliments? How brave does one have to be to announce that they are gay in a society that openly approves and applauds the gay lifestyle? I doubt Mr. Collins was unaware of the fame his announcement would bring him, just as Jackie Robinson was aware of the infamy his decision would bring him. And predictably, any who refuse to applaud Mr. Collins' choice of bedmates are being verbally butchered as intolerant bigots. Chris Broussard may lose his job over it.

Yet there is another American, who this very day sits alone in an Iranian prison cell, possibly suffering from internal bleeding due to severe beatings he has gotten from the guards, simply because he refuses to denounce his Christian faith. Saeed Abedini is very far from his wife and children, treated worse than any animal, because of his religious beliefs and for no other reason. This man, an American citizen, rotting in solitary confinement because of his God given right. You see, when the U.S. Constitution was written, the Founding Fathers said the rights protected by it are God given. Which means that all people are given them...not just Americans. Other countries may not choose to recognize those rights, but all people are given them by God Himself. And so today, as Jason Collins is treated like a hero and his detractors villified as intolerant, Saeed Abedini is being tortured to death because he refuses to give up his God given right. And as President Obama is making speeches about and phone calls to Jason Collins, he is doing nothing for Saeed Abedini. So I ask you, what takes more bravery? Where does the true intolerance lie? Is it with the man praised for an announcement, or for the man dying for his faith with little fanfare far away from his home? Today, who is the real hero?