Toxic Comments: Normalizing Atrocities, a Resistance Post

Bomb-Cool-iconHave you ever been in a public place minding your own business when a stranger makes a rather loud offensive statement?  They didn’t make a statement pertaining to you, but it was a sexist, prejudice, or propagandist statement.  It’s a statement so offensively toxic that it even offended you!

Words were on the tip of your tongue.  You wanted to tell them their rhetoric was hurtful, wrong, and disrespectful of those around them.  Yet, you didn’t say anything.  You think they had a right to voice their opinion.  Besides, if you confronted them, something bad could happen.  Then you have the worst thought of all:  It wasn’t your problem.

Guess what.  It was your problem.  Furthermore, if you’re an American in the age of 45, it’s most definitely our problem.

As it happens, I heard an educator (unrelated to my academic institution) talking at a Starbucks and she made a horribly disagreeable comment:  I make students stand for the Pledge since my husband fought in Vietnam for their right to say it.

I forced myself not to comment, and yes, it was the worst thing I could have possibly done.

Bio-hazard-icon

In the current climate of highly charged hateful rhetoric and actions, I’m learning from my inaction, and I encourage people to calmly and logically shut down ignorantly toxic comments.  Call them a gateway drug to homegrown terrorism (or for a man to stab their fellow countrymen and call it Patriotism).

~Continued after video~

While the educator’s comments aren’t hate speech per se, it’s still a dangerous comment specifically for pure ignorance, which happens to lead to dangerous nationalism, authoritarianism, indoctrination, and even brainwashing.

Paraphrasing from the above Huffington Post video, Americans let those comments slide, we are helping to normalize such thinking.  Kids who hear it will think that toxic perspective is fine, or normal, and we encourage those few of like, small-minds to voice the same opinions.

Here is why that educator’s comments are so disagreeable.

First, the part claiming her husband fought in the Vietnamese war so American students can say the Pledge of Allegiance is revisionist history and has absolutely no basis in fact.

France-Flag-iconThe Vietnamese War had nothing to do with American freedom nor the Pledge of Allegiance.  America entered the war to help the French retain control of their Indochina colony.  When the French lost control and Communists took over Northern Vietnam, the American government found the situation disagreeable and stayed to help Southern Vietnamese take back the North.

Second, anyone who claims they, or their spouse, fought for the American right to say the Pledge drank the crazy people Kool Aid.  Our government’s Enlightenment Era Creators in the American Revolution were those who truly fought for our freedom.  They fought for the colonists’ right to have an equal say in government as part of a living document that also includes instructions for two methods of revolting against those in power.  Not of the idiocy to say a simple Pledge.

Hypothetically, in some bizarre dimension the Vietnamese War had been about American freedom, that freedom would encompass a wide range of freedoms we enjoy in the real world.  They would include the freedom to choose to say or not to say the American Pledge of Allegiance.

As Americans, we take pride in our First Amendment:Paper-icon

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These days, Americans refer to the First Amendment as freedom of speech or freedom of religion.  In the 80s and 90s, I remember it was referred to as freedom of the press.

The original Thirteen Colonies were formed on the promise of religious freedom and a haven from political upheaval.  Basically, their own countries persecuted (i. e., imprisoned or penalized) them because of their beliefs either in religion or politics.

Even today, there are countries – a few more liberal than America – that still penalize people for criticizing their leaders.  Here are twelve of them:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Lebanon
  3. Venezuela
  4. Poland
  5. Turkey
  6. Netherlands
  7. Cameroon
  8. Bahrain
  9. Kuwait
  10. Thailand
  11. Iran
  12. Indonesia

The American Constitution was written so all American citizens have governmental say without the threat of persecution, which is also covered in the First Amendment (…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances).

We have the right to protest peaceably.  If Americans wish to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance, they can without penalization.  Hell, even in the 20th Century, people burned the American flag at protests without legal repercussions.  Why?  Because that is also covered under the First Amendment.

When I substitute in a classroom, I don’t force the students to stand and recite the Pledge.  Any students who choose to sit, respects the rest of the class by staying quiet through the Pledge.  Those who choose to say the Pledge, respects the classmates who choose to sit – as in not shaming those who sit through the Pledge.

Personally, I stopped saying the Pledge because I disagree with the under God part, which wasn’t added until the 1950s as a convoluted way to combat the political concept of Communism.  (Anyone else confused by that?)  Plus, I don’t recite the Pledge as a protest against the current political stupidity in the White House and Congress.  Although, I still stand and face the flag out of respect for my family history.

(By the way, anyone else think it’s overkill to say the Pledge everyday in school?!  Why don’t we say it once at the beginning of the Academic year or each semester?).

Typically, I resume working after the Pledge and ignore the moment of silent reflection.  I think taking a moment to silently reflect – which is code for pray – is a waste of time when people should do that in the privacy of their own home before going to school or work.  In addition, the Pledge of Allegiance is a prayer since it incorporates under God and was originally written by a minister.

I’m not saying the misguided educator was a follower of the Far Right, but I’m going on the assumption based on her comment.  Aside from the confusion over the term freedom, the Far Right (who proclaim themselves Patriots) get a lot of things wrong.

The Far Right likes to take their Nationalism to the extreme.  Perhaps, they believe the Pledge was always recited by school children at least once everyday across the country dating all the way back to America winning independence from England.

bag-books-iconActually, the Pledge wasn’t a classroom ritual until 1892, and America didn’t have an official pledge until the first half of the 20th Century.

It was not until 1942 that Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. One year later, in June 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it. In fact,today only half of our fifty states have laws that encourage the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom!

Forcing children to say the Pledge in school is not Patriotic since it’s considered a form of authoritarianism in a country that’s supposed to be a Republic.  While forces are attempting to change the foundation of our government to an oligarchy and 45 treats his position as a dictatorship, I believe wholeheartedly that this country will always remain a republic, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

I wish I would have said something to that educator, yet I would have done more harm than good.  Unfortunately, I would have yelled at the woman instead of calmly explain to her the wrongness of her statement with logic.  Perhaps, it would have been a futile attempt.  At least, I would have demonstrated that there are Americans who won’t stand for a dictatorial revisionist history.

However, I’m mainly writing about this experience to encourage other fellow Americans with cooler heads to curb both hateful and blind nationalist propaganda.  The more we make these comments abnormal, the less we have to deal with open hate, Patriotic stabbings, and the fear of homegrown terrorists.

The War on…Everything?: Who are you fighting for anyway?!

Maybe the title is broad.  If you read the news, it seems the GOP is waging a war on everything.  Why do they have the power to do this?  There are some American citizens who do not believe in helping their neighbor.  Despite our differences (whether those differences are based on gender, race, religion, etc.), we should have the moral fortitude to overcome the GOP’s tyrannical dictatorship.

Aside from the War on Women, there are other, less publicized wars being waged by the GOP and the whole American Government.  That’s right.  I said the WHOLE American Government has passed a bill belonging in the War category.  At least, I’m putting it there.

Believe it or not, a Bill has passed (HR 347) — both Congress, Senate, and signed by the President — that potentially makes peaceable protest anywhere in the U.S. a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  In my opinion and the opinions of Lee Camp and Jeanine Molloff from the Huffington Post (and a good friend of mine who clued me in on this particular piece of crap law), this Bill is in direct violation of an American’s Constitutional right to the Freedom of Speech.

Congress shall make no law..prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

In summation, we have the right to gather in a big group, “peaceably” tell the Government they’re doing a seriously bad job, we’re not happy about it, and fix it or we’ll do our best to run you out of office.  Remember, this is a country where the people have the power.  Average American citizens are the bosses of Government.  We tell them what to do for us and they do it.

Last year in Wisconsin, people protested the anti-union bill Governor Scott Walker was so determined to pass — and succeeded.  Governor Walker decided to ignore the people of Wisconsin.  Now he and his Republican cohorts are in the middle of a recall.  A “recall,” if it succeeds, is essentially the American people firing the defunct politician.  In this case, Wisconsin is in the process of firing former (hopefully) Governor Walker.  Welcome to the true power of protesting.

Why in the world would this anti-protest Bill unanimously pass, thereby was unanimously agreed upon, by both parties?  Supposedly, this Bill was created to offer[] consistent protection for those requiring Secret Service details such as the President, Vice-President.  I guess that’s fine except for the

bill itself criminalizes ‘disruptive conduct’ in such vague terms that a 7th grader disrupting visiting dignitaries receiving Secret Service protection, over any issue — (no matter how trivial), such as school uniforms — would be potentially guilty of a federal felony.

This is why some are calling it the anti-Occupy law and it allows the government to bring charges against Americans involved.

Basically, this Bill was signed into existence to protect government, visiting dignitaries, or anyone else who needs Secret Service protection.  If Occupy Wall Street (OWS) stays away from these people, they’re fine.

Not really.  That didn’t stop the NYPD from arresting protestors during the 6-Month Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Protesting is not without consequences.  The owner of Zuccotti Park had OWS protestors driven out of the park.  If they didn’t comply with the edict, they were arrested for trespassing.

An Occupy Wall Street protester says police gave demonstrators little warning before kicking them out of a New York City park overnight and that officers beat several of them during the arrests.

To be fair, there are conflicting reports stating that the protesters were bedding down for the night — a violation of Zuccotti Park rules — and the police were asked to clear out the park because of this violation.  While the police were arresting those who attempted to stay, someone threw a glass bottle at the bus carting away the arrested protestors.

If someone displays signs of agression (i.e., throwing a glass bottle), taking precautions are warranted.  Beating people to the point where they have to go to the hospital is definitely out of order.  One female under arrest had difficulty breathing and was taken away in an ambulance to be treated.  The article gave no other details.

Here is the link to Huffington Posts’ news video regarding the Occupy Wall Street Arrests.  This gives a few personal accounts of protestors.  Sorry I couldn’t embed the video.

As the Government War on Protesting slid by in the media and while the Occupy Wall Street Arrests was just another display of police brutality intimidation, the GOP decided to wage other wars.  The one currently fighting for notoriety with the War on Women is the War on Voting.

While Republican controlled states explain that showing a photo ID will deter voting abuse, that’s not all it does.  These restrictions disproportionately affects the poor, the elderly, and minorities.  If anyone falls under the three aforementioned categories, then it’s likely they don’t own a photo ID and will be denied their right to vote.  No American citizen — natural born or otherwise — should have their voting rights restricted.  It is the right and duty of every American to vote and blocking that right is, in my opinion, completely and irrevocably unAmerican!

The other GOP war is the War on Minimum Wage.  Why not?  Setting a Minimum Wage for workers is highly unfair to the free marketplace and small businesses.  Let’s forget the hardships people are suffering because Minimum Wage isn’t enough.  Some people work two or three jobs and still barely make enough to keep a roof over their heads.  It’s bad enough that they don’t have health insurance.  Yet, they still work hard to live.

Unfortunately, Republicans believe Minimum Wage is unconstitutional.  Some more Republican insanity in this already mixed-up country?!  You bet!!!  This is just the beginning since

It’s no longer unusual for statewide GOP candidates to oppose the minimum wage, child-labor laws, the existing structure of Medicare and guaranteed benefits, restrictions on torture, collective bargaining, and unemployment benefits.

Basically, GOP candidates want to turn the American working poor and the dwindling middle class into cheap labor like Mexico, Thailand, etc. that works ungodly hours for the rest of their natural life until they die on the assembly line.  I could just see a senior citizen at McDonald’s taking a food order and falling over dead after asking, “Do you want fries with that?”  Guess the geezer couldn’t handle a 48 hour shift.

Not gruesome enough for you?  Before the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938,  there were significant health risks for children who labored in factories.

Working conditions that are safe and healthy for adults may not be safe and healthy for children because of their physical differences. Risks may be greater for children at various stages of development and may have long-term effects. Factors that may increase the health, safety, and developmental risk factors for children include:

  • Rapid skeletal growth
  • Development of organs and tissues
  • Greater risk of hearing loss
  • Developing ability to assess risks
  • Greater need for food and rest
  • Higher chemical absorption rates
  • Smaller size
  • Lower heat tolerance

You take away the Fair Labor Standards Act and all the laws regarding fair working conditions for adults and you have America descending into Third World Country status fast.  Kiss the middle class good-bye.

If the Republicans ruled the Government and you can’t keep a roof over your head because you’re making $1 an hour, tough luck!  Republicans want you to roll over and die while they and the rich eat caviar and drink champaign while laughing at all the little aunts struggling to survive.  Do you think they’ll shed a tear while living off your blood, sweat, tears, and corps?  Despite the recent attack on protesting rights by a rarely unified Government, is the Republican world the world you want to live in?