The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To slp and an Iraq thought

"My apologies, Steve. Apparently I didn't realize that being a person of color made that person an authority on all aspects of prejudice, just like a person surviving cancer makes them an authority on all aspects of cancer."
Wow. Something really touched a nerve there. I never said I was an authority on all aspects of prejudice. I never said that white people don't have valid perceptions. I HAVE said that I've never met a white, straight, lean-bodied, Christian middle-class male with much of a clue about prejudice, but change any one of these parameters and they grasp the problem much more rapidly. (I could add things like height, nation of origin, etc.) I have opinions, but I don't recall mistaking them for the "truth."

"And no, I ain't 100% white, and I grew up in SD where it was legal to kill Native Americans until the 1970s. And if you had any real experience of the system, maybe talked with some non-white police officers and correctional officers, you might have learned something about trying to keep people alive and safe in a broken system that all you middle and upper class people such as you safe in their homes wanting their legislatures to pass more and more punitive laws to put people in those systems and then get upset when they hear about someone actually try to help those people in there instead of just throwing away the key."

Excuse me? You're assuming I haven't had "real experience" with the system, aren't you? A bit presumptuous. And if I am upper middle class, I wasn't born there. I worked my way up. Did I criticize you? I was pointing out a way that the prisoners might be feeling, or that I believe it likely for them to be feeling. I never said anything about your intent, honor or performance. Touchy, touchy.

"You will say what you want, regardless of what I say, and you will apparently do you best to categorize me as racist because I wondered about some behaviors. I was going to ponder about the effects of a non-white being raised in a racist environment being equivalent to a frog being slowly boiled (a frog will try to jump out of a pan of water that is suddenly boiling. It will not attempt to jump out if the temperature is slowly raised to boiling over a long period of time). I was also going to ask about this being related to the fact that some people seem to find an economic advantage in racism, and that these people may not be whom we think they are, but you are too focused on other points."

Again, WHAT??? How did I categorize you as a racist? I said and think no such thing, man. Jeeze. Kindly quote to me what I said that makes you think I would feel that way. As to your questions about frogs and so forth, and people finding an economic advantage in racism, I have no idea what you mean. I am, on the other hand, quite certain that there are people who use racism as an excuse not to try, or to excuse failure. That doesn't mean that racism doesn't exist, and is not subtly pervasive, just that human beings will avoid responsibility for their own lives at any cost. And I think this tendency (and all basic human tendencies) are distributed equally across the racial spectrum. To me, there is absolutely nothing special about being white--either positively or negatively.

"Have a good life. I won't return here, so have at your image of me at your pleasure."

Again, wow. I have no idea why you think I disrespect you. I merely pointed out that those who have made their way into your care are likely to distrust the system you represent. And that if you are white (or are visually identified as such), they are likely to think you will side with the officer who made the racist comments. I never said you WOULD, only that such prisoners would be tempted, or prone, to think that way. Obviously, I hit a real nerve here, but if you look carefully at my words, I'm not the source of your pain, my friend. I'm sorry if you've been hurt on this issue, but I'm not the culprit.
On a completly different subject, I've been mulling it over about the "Free Iraq from Saddam" and the "Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" wings of the Right. And you know what? I can't reconcile them. I can see how someone can be honestly in favor of one or the other, but can't get past believing that the intentions are in conflict. I mean, if you want to free Iraq from Saddam and give security and peace to the American people, you want a stable government in there as fast as possible--like, tomorrow, say. Our troops come home. Yippee! But how the hell does that help the "fight them over there" crowd? If we leave (by this logic) the terrorists will simply follow us here. For these people, the best result would be an endless war in Iraq, acting as a magnet for radical terrorists from around the world. It's not as if there is a set number of terrorists, and that once these are gone, it's over. No, terrorists are recruited and created. Our own security forces admit that our actions in Iraq have created more terrorists.

So...if you want peace and security for Iraq, you are in group "A." If you want to fight the terrorists in someone else's yard, you are in group "B." Both "A" and "B" are on the right, but they have different intents, and different agendas. For political purposes, they seem to be covering each other's butts, but I fail to see how they are really the same thing. At all.

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