America, Land of Politically Correct Racism?
I saw this non news event a day or so ago and was going to pass right by it, but someone posted about it is one of my discussion groups. Then people commented on it. If spewing mindless invective can be called commenting. Sigh. So I was forced to actually examine the issue, which I suppose is a break from the post I was going to write about blowing up babies in Pakistan. Basically the above illustration is a Halloween costume that hit the shelves this fall. And shortly thereafter, some folks began complaining about it, and some stores pulled the costume. My initial response was, that’s kinda tacky if not right downright tasteless. My second thought was, gee, I sometimes think people who get upset about stuff like this are doing their cause more harm than good. I mean, no one would have even heard of this costume if it wasn’t for the publicity that calls to remove it from store shelves have caused. A superficial analysis, but that’s all I thought the topic was worth.
Then it got posted a discussion group I used to frequent. And, frankly, the reaction there surprised me. Basically everyone that weighed in on this issue made the claim that people who objected to this had no sense of humour and were being tediously politically correct. Those were the polite ones. there was also at least one racist diatribe. I made a post about how it wasn’t really a bit deal, but that I could see how some folks could be upset about it. And the group moderator told me my opinion wasn’t welcome in this country and I should go back to where I came from. Well, food for thought, nu?
First of all, let’s look at the claim that this costume is “just a joke.” Let’s see, it’s an illegal alien because it says so in big black letters. We know he’s a criminal because he’s wearing a prison jumpsuit. We know he’s not human because he’s not human. And we know he’s stupid because he’s carrying a fake green card. It’s not a stretch to say that this costume strongly (and intentionally) implies that illegal aliens are stupid, sub-human, criminals, nu? I’m pretty sure that most people would be at least a little uncomfortable with a costume that implied that some group they belonged to were a bunch a stupid, sub human, criminals. The point here is saying “It was just a joke” isn’t any sort of logical defence. Especially in a case like this, where I don’t even get the punchline. What, exactly, is funny about this costume? One lame pun?
What was more disturbing to me though is that attitude of so many that could be summed up as “If you’re offended by it, you don’t belong in this country.” Especially since many of the same were claiming that attempts to get the costume off store shelves was an attack on Freedom of Speech. Refusing to even acknowledge that people who disagree with them have a point while simultaneously bemoaning the perceived attack on “their” rights strikes me as more than a bit paranoid. It’s not a good sign, and more and more I am seeing this kind of polarization on some topics in America. And I mean polarization in that there’s no point debating with people who disagree, they aren’t going to debate. Until yesterday I thought I was in a reasonably mature discussion group, and boy, they showed me. They were willing to discuss some topics, but something politically charged like illegal immigration, and all they could do was wave flags and call names. Scary.
I know there’s always been an element of this in the right, but it certainly seems to be worse in the past decade. And Obama’s election seems to have galvanized this division further. A huge minority of right wing Americans see themselves as a persecuted minority, and that there’s this vast conspiracy to turn the country into some sort of socialistic fascist un-American nanny state. And I’m not the only one to see this divide either, I ran across this interesting article on interviews with Republicans. In any event, this is why I am avoiding some topics, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in debate.
Lastly, the thing I find most alarming about this, the same way I find 9/11 conspiracies alarming, is that is distracts people from the very real conspiracy going on. Wall Street, Washington Politicians, and the Military have joined in an unholy alliance to rule the USA entirely for their own benefit. Granted the right wingers do have one thing right, Obama is clearly a standard bearer for these folks. The idea that he has been making concessions in order to get some of his putative liberal agenda passed doesn’t pass the laugh test anymore. As the continued whittling down of his health care proposal shows, by the time it gets passed all it’s going to do is transfer yet more money upwards.
I don’t know where this country is headed anymore, but I still think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is arguably a historically important image. And there is no way its use here could conceivably interfere with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit and Copyright: Beats me. My next post will be about space exploration, one of the few bright spots in current human events. And I’m planning a post on “Ten Predictions for the 21st Century.” If Nostradamus can do it, so can I.)