The War, aka If you don’t like this deal…

Tell you what. Let’s make a deal.

You believe what you want. I’ll believe what I want.

If you agree to this deal, I’ll go into battle side by side with you to safeguard it. I’ll write books about it. I’ll wade through swamps under-munitioned to make sure it isn’t ripped from us, and I’ll cradle you in my arms when you’re shot to pieces, as I hope you will me. I’ll spend my life building machines that will safeguard our freedom, I’ll pay taxes to fund a governmental organization that will protect this sacred right of ours.

If you don’t like this deal, that’s your business. But if you oppose it, attempt to subvert it, or agree to it and then try to go back on that deal, or try to take this right of mine away from me, you make yourself my enemy. As a thinking man, I will find that you are my natural enemy. And so I’ll do whatever it takes to protect this little right of mine. This little right of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, so bloody bright it blinds you. Because it’s my natural right. If you try to make my children, or other peoples’ children, believe in your ridiculous moral codes, I’ll fight you with every last ounce of my strength.

Including spreading propaganda about your organization, be it a church or a political party. Including joining an organized band of resistance. Including taking away your goddamned right to any ridiculous moral belief you want to hold… because once you try impose it on me, once you claim said imposition is inherent in your moral system, your moral system is automatically immoral far beyond whatever immorality you allege mine of having.

I’ll wade through the swamp looking for you. I’ll be in the other trench when you are shot to pieces… (Though I hope this is figurative… I don’t think more young people need to die than do everyday already. Unlike you, I don’t think people deserve to be blown apart for differing from me in opinion.)

I will oppose you, if you don’t like this deal, with every ounce of my strength… because you will have chosen the other side; you will have left people who love freedom and decency and in opposing us you will have necessitated our opposition to you, and our destruction of you if necessary to ensure our freedom.

Christians be warned: your Messiah did not teach bigotry, hatred, imposition of morality on others, political conservativism, free-market economics, or hatred. None of that. Sinful failure’s no excuse, if you don’t even make an effort to try, to love your enemies (and loving those who are just different from you is much less difficult, isn’t it?). Every time you embrace fascism, every time you declare truth to another human being, you play God and in doing so you spit in your supposedly-beloved Christ’s face because you reject his message of love, patience, humility, and forgiveness.

And remember, you had your shot at ruling the world, and failed. Your leaders were too corrupt. Christendom is no more a political force except in a few backwater nations. Like America.

What prompted this? Just the fact that a boy was punished for talking about gay mom in Louisiana earlier this week. I’m seeing red.

A 7-year-old boy was scolded and forced to write “I will never use the word `gay’ in school again” after he told a classmate about his lesbian mother, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged Monday.

Now, apparently, kids are not allowed to talk about their lives if their lives do not fit into the rigid, mentally retarded, onerous boundaries of the imagination of a few sick pieces of shit who happen to have a little political power.

Think about this little boy. Think about the fact that speaking honestly about his family, speaking about his experience, brought down the full weight of the school administration down on him. Imagine the kind of assault on of his understanding of the world that his teachers performed, bastard moron fucks to the last one.

Do I sound angry? Of course. If someone said this about an interracial marriage, I’d be just as angry, but of course, teachers in Louisiana would never do that. It’s just the fashion now to be hateful and bigoted against gays more loudly than one is against non-whites.

Or penguins, for that matter. Will “penguin” soon also be a dirty word, thanks to the mating habits of a few at the Brooklyn Zoo?

Inside this little man-made concrete exhibit — designed to simulate the rocky islands off South Africa from which they originate — philandering female penguins angle for better nests; jilted lovers pick up and move after a love-interest freezes them out; and love triangles are inevitable, complete with messy fallout and recrimination.

For many years, the keepers of the Brooklyn penguins believed that these romantic trials and tribulations took place only between the male and female penguins in the exhibit. Recently, however, they discovered that one more variation on the love theme was represented in the mix — and had been there for years. A blood test revealed that Wendell and Cass, an inseparable pair of 15-year-olds known for a tidy nest and enduring lust, were both male. It didn’t surprise the aquarium folks, but the media got excited and recently outed the adoring and oblivious couple.

When one’s ability to face the reality of the world outside of one’s moral or scriptural codes—worse, when this ability to face reality is limited by one’s horrifically limited capacity for reasoning about those codes or scriptures—one cannot but begin to obliterate all reality outside it. What a campaign that shall be. All the animal kingdom shall have to submit.

Remember Old Yeller? How the dog got too crazy, too dangerous, too loud? And it was simply shot before it hurt someone? Why do American politicians these days put me in mind of that movie? They need, politically, to be shot and put in the ground. I don’t mean literally. Let them retire and live off their kickbacks or their KKK patrons or whatever. Let them harvest mugwort on the roadside for all I care. But get them out of there, America. The rest of the world needs you to do this, too. It’s a poison, watching you do this to yourselves.

Maybe your society was once great, but… now it’s ill. Probably too late already, but if you don’t do something soon, you’re on the same road as Athens, Rome, Ming Beijing… on the road to ruin.

And that road is walked one step at a time: the obliteration of one person’s dignity, one small piece of the truth of the world, inch by inch… until, as Adam so richly implies, everyone is marching and yelling “Heil!”… or being marched upon. For, America is on the march these days anyway.

In high school, my best friend told me that he was gay, and said he would understand if I didn’t want to be his friend anymore. I told him, “Of course I am your friend,” and perhaps he needed to hear that then. But I wish I had also told him that I will fight by his side to protect his freedom, should need ever be. I wish I had told him that morons will attempt to treat him as less than human, to obliterate his dignity, and that he should never, ever be compassionate or understanding with the kind of human garbage who will try to do that to him. Let alone for being gay, even for being black, he likely puts up with more shit than I can imagine.

Finding myself considering this, as a white, straight man, puts me in mind of a post by Lee about a discussion with her boyfriend, lovingly referred to as The Boy.

The Boy argues that France, and maybe even all white people, have set up a system that purposefully excludes non-whites, and that because this system makes up the foundation upon which everyone functions, it’s not going to change. As soon as someone sees that a job candidate’s name is Halima or Salim, they’re going to be less likely to hire them, regardless of experience. These kids aren’t going to be in positions to use their English, and, if they do get jobs which require English, they’re going to have to take further classes because their level is obviously not up to par yet.

I daren’t dream of putting Lee or The Boy into a box in terms of identity, but it’s clear from her post, and the photos on her site as well (which by the way is quite enjoyable and worth reading), that she is a white American and The Boy is a black man, I believe African but I am not sure where exactly his origins are (just that his first language sounds African, unless my brain is more damaged than I think).

Reading his rightly disparaging comments, reading
about her sense of frustration wondering how to arm her students to face this crap out in the world, she closes by commenting that while she wants to help her students,
she doesn’t have

the slightest idea how to give that to them. I havent been through it myself. Life, by comparison, has pretty much been served to me on a shiny, silver platter. So I’ll just give them the best I can, and hope. But that feels so terribly, dreadfully insufficient, because it is.

And it occurs to me that we well-meaning white people are failing. We are failing the people we wish would get help, by not really giving it to them. We are failing ourselves, because in fighting this battle alongside them, we would be better people ourselves. For I think this is the grand secret war of the twenty-first century: the battle against the backpedal. Arnold Schwartznegger and George Bush might each in their way bespeak the insanity of the current day, but they also look backward, no matter how wired their campaigns are. Schwartznegger’s rhetoric about “local control” seems to me to mean a washing of hands by the state, revoking over-arching responsibility and likely allowing local control of taxation for education funding. Poor areas, poor schools. Am I wrong?

Whether or not I am, the simple fact is, in this world, there are forces that work for equality, for the enrichment of all human lives up to a basic starting point which represents the minimum level of dignity a civilization can expect humans to live with. And if we do not join this battle, this secret war against bigotry and exclusion, then we are participants in the loss of the war. It’s far too great a struggle for us to turn our backs on it, to pretend it will sort itself out; yes, we are comfortable enough not to need to worry about it, and that’s exactly where the bigoted elites want us… too fat and comfortable to join the battle. If we let them incapacitate us in this manner, we’ve lost our own dignity as well, we middle-class white people who have inklings that we should know better and know something ought to be done.

Do I know what is to be done? I’m not sure, but I think teaching is important; I think voting is important. I think never letting one bigoted word go unchallenged, unassailed, is important. This is, after all, not a matter of politeness, or opinion. It’s a war, plain and simple. And if we lose, it’s as much your fault and my fault as anyone’s.

Thanks for the link about the boy in Louisiana, Adam. It’s because of you that I have time to devote solely to ranting instead of searching for things to rant about.

9 thoughts on “The War, aka If you don’t like this deal…

  1. Thanks for the link.

    Shit, I really, really cannot believe the story about that boy in Louisiana. As if I wasn’t already upset enough… that’s so disturbing.

    Although, for as much as I bitch and worry and stress, I think there has been evolution. Maybe we’re plateau-ing. Do you really think we’re backpedalling?

    PS Yes, The Boy is African. He’s from Congo-Brazzaville.

  2. Lee! Thanks for the comment.

    Yeah, I sadly do think we’ve been backpedaling. We’ve been slipping further and further back into non-engaged economic agents, which is what our grandparents mostly were. Politics for most people I know is the domain of politicians, and most people I know have gone right back into apathy or anger. Or just posting on their blog, which might as well be bitching in a cafe or bar.

    I think we’ve not so much moved forward as we’ve shifted our bigotries, and this new one against gays in America seems to be a goldmine as far as exploiting the ambiguities of over-forty and over-fifty people who grew up before people talked about things like homosexuality.

    This event and issue could be the next big rallying point in America, but nobody much seems to be lining up to march alongside gays to protect their rights and freedoms. Marching with blacks, okay… marching with latinos, why not. Unshaven-legged feminists, maybe, even. Gays? I can’t imagine it outside a few major cities. The fact that what happened in that article could actually happen is amazing to me. Teachers would instinctively know that doing the same with a mixed-race marriage, for example—telling the child it was unspeakably dirty—is something they could never ever get away with. But if it’s gays, who cares?

    And our implicit tolerance for intolerance is rising, it seems to me, the more apathetic we get. That, combined with a really odious Republican government that’s likely to be re-elected, makes me think we’ve backpedaled. But what do I know, most of my knowledge of things beyond the mid-80s is tinged with whatever romanticisation people apply in hindsight.

  3. Heh. I was arguing something in much the same vein yesterday. :)
    Only mine was in the context of politics….

    “I am rapidly getting convinced that the epic struggle of this century would not be between liberal-secular-democracy and Islamic-fundamentalism but would merely be another version of the older struggle for individual rights & liberties against forces of social, political and religious conservatism.”

    The discussion is here:

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/kateelizabee/6644.html

  4. “This event and issue could be the next big rallying point in America, but nobody much seems to be lining up to march alongside gays to protect their rights and freedoms.”

    This may be true, but I also think that EVERY social movement starts out on this tone. I don’t think white people were flooding the streets to march with blacks until the movement developed a certain degree of strength. Same goes for anything in history: women’s suffrage, peace marches, and now, hopefully, gay rights. I don’t think we’re going backwards, just stalling. A plateau, like I said. Everything grows in stages. The more energy we (you, me, anyone who cares) pump into positive movements, the faster they’ll take off.

  5. Ritu: I think the thing is that the free-vs-fascist fight is going to mainly be domestic or regional… I mainly know the situation in Canada and (the far worse one) in America. I think the other struggle you mention is related to this one but has an international element, and also is mainly propaganda for distraction from the domestic struggle, and let’s face it, that’s obviously what it mainly is.

    Do let’s have a drink-and-bitch session. I am always up for one!

    Lee: I hope you’re right… but I fear that in North America, the major distraction of the Middle East and TWAT (The War on Terrorism) is serving to prevent people from feeling as if they can speak out against an unreasonably conservative government and against the conservatives who have co-opted the nation’s political power. Maybe I’m wrong, though. I hope so!

  6. The free-vs-fascist fight is certainly domestic in terms of strategies and efforts from both sides. But I am beginning to think of it as a global phenomenon, in the sense that the same forces seem to be active in a lot of countries. It is an utterly unoriginal idea but it just seems to me that post WWII period of freedoms and liberties is now turning into the period when the reactionary forces regroup and advance.

    And frankly, the propaganda surrounding this ‘new’ threat of terrorism is doing a rather good job of convincing people that ‘rights’ are a luxury they shouldn’t be squawking about, not when nukes might still go off….

  7. Ritu,

    I’m beginning to wonder how long our drink-and-rant session can last, since we seem to agree implicitly on a lot of things.

    The most ironic thing, I find, is that the propaganda used to gain backing for this “war on terror” is dependent for its success on the production of domestic terror regarding terrorism (and to some degree this approach apparently has enjoyed fairly good success).

    A conservative America would see the irony differently, I suppose: that the terror being experienced in America is the fault of the 9-11 attack, and that all resultant response is a sign of amazing strength and will and resolve in the face of terror. But I think if you look past the spinners’ rhetoric, people are mostly scared by the idea of terrorists swarming all over the world, ready to destroy America, because of the way Bush and the media have escalated this thing into a “new” and “world-shaking” threat. I remember reading or listening to wartime speeches that urged great resolve and hope among the people as America reluctantly plunged into war… but these days the message I get is less about dedication and much more about threat, lurking danger, and the *need* for war.

    Quite a turnaround, a signal that something is wrong… and saddest, it is working.

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