A lot of people are expressing surprise at how terrible people are. They are disappointed in family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers who refuse to wear masks, or who refuse to stay in and avoid socializing, or who appear to be racists or, at the very least, unconcerned about racism (which really are the same thing, but that’s another discussion). I think all this awareness is because we are in a strange moment in time, facing many existential and identity challenges at once. Though it seems shocking to see how selfish people are, I think we’re just experiencing people outing themselves right and left as zero-sum-gamers.
Dear White People,
I’m glad we’re discussing race. As the heirs & beneficiaries of the systems that limit people of color, it’s our job to end institutional racism. We must examine our attitudes, prejudices, behaviors, and fears, and understand how they contribute to stereotyping, exclusion, and violence. Yes, we need to talk.
As people tire of social unrest, there are those who would suggest that this is a culture "war." That kneeling is somehow a form of disrespect. That broken windows are worse than a life ended. That trying to elevate one group of people somehow oppresses another group of people.
Don't let them fool you for a moment.
Yesterday I shared the following post on Facebook:
“I just read that there is not one Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election who accepts the theory of evolution. How can this be true? This is the worst thing I read all day.”
This statement elicited a number of responses, one of which was this:
One theme that presents itself over and over again in human history is that during times of great stress – famine, war, natural disasters – the capacity for empathy in general suffers as people attend to their own survival. That’s why stories about people rising above catastrophes make us feel so good – because we realize that it’s special, and admirable, to rise above one’s own pain to care for others.
So when we have tremendous failures of empathy, I tend to look for the tragedy driving it. And right now, I don’t see it.
I often find myself thinking, “What the hell is wrong with Texas (or South Carolina, or Kansas . . .). But after I think that, I feel ashamed. Yes shame. Strong word. But it’s apropos, because one of the hallmarks of small mindedness is clumping people together with generalizations.
Besides, I know and love people from all of those places. So I happen to know that for every dim-witted, racist, anti-poor, anti-Muslim, fundamentalist Christian thing that Texas or Kansas do at their State Capitals, there are thousands of right-thinking people in each of those states who are deeply pained by the action. In fact, I suspect (based on polling data) there are more people in each of those states who disagree with the way their legislators are behaving than who agree.
Republicans Play This Game Better
So why is this happening?
We are who we lead. If the Republican Party doesn't want to be considered the party of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and bigotry, it must stop catering to those who embrace those values.
How does any thoughtful woman reject the concept of feminism? After all, feminism is simply defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Not better than, just equal to.
That sounds right and reasonable to me. Would anyone argue that we should not have the right to vote? Should we not be safe to walk in the streets, able to rent an apartment or buy a home without the co-signature of a husband or father, eat in a restaurant unaccompanied by a male? And I have yet to hear one reasonable explanation for the fact that women in the United States still earn 73-cents to each male dollar.
People are resentful that radical jihadi terrorism has caused us all to live in a Code Orange world. Women have been living in a Code Orange world for a long time. Sometimes you figure it out when you’re really young, and you carry that wariness and those high cortisol levels around with you for the rest of your life. Other times, you don’t realize you live in a Code Orange world until your boyfriend beats and rapes you over buying the wrong kind of beer, or a stranger yanks you into the bushes on your college campus. But eventually, most women come to realize that we live in a Code Orange world.
Ask me what I am
My answer depends on the time of day
Surely I cannot be all these things at once