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Vent September 16, 2009

Posted by Kimmothy in Whatever, World.
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Being a citizen of South Carolina is a dubious distinction lately. First our hot-to-globetrot Governor unwittingly invented a new code for when you plan to sneak off with your extramarital lover – just tell people you’re going to “hike the Appalacian Trail, heh heh heh” and they’ll know exactly what you mean. Then of course our Congressman last week, whose two little words will forever be far more remembered over the several thousand worded speech the President gave.

Heather wrote a thoughtful post about it the other day and this is by no means an answer or retort to that, as she always gets her point across very clearly and I happen to agree with it. But some of the fallout I’ve experienced as a citizen of this state in the aftermath has gotten my hackles all hacked up in a big way. I get both sides of this thing: it was an inappropriate time and place for the rude outburst, but also that the man who did it feels very passionately about the issue and in fact was correct in his statement (something the media pretty much glossed over) (of course). Either way, he quickly apologized to the President, the President graciously accepted his apology, and they both said let’s move forward from this and have a civil discussion about it.

My question is, is it even possible to have a discussion like that anymore? A lot of things have been building for so long and people feel the issues we’re facing now are so crucial that many of us are letting our emotions lead the way, causing complete divisiveness. We feel we need to pick a side, any side, politically, socially, religiously, Team Jon or Team Kate. It’s black or white, with no room for gray areas whatsoever. Shit, dude – I LIVE in gray area. And I think if we’re going to be able to have civil conversations with each other, we have to be both educated about the topic, whatever it may be, and open-minded enough to listen to an opposing view without regressing back to 2nd Grade name calling.

The day after the infamous Fall 2009 You Lie Healthcare Reform speech, one of my Facebook “friends” posted this as her status message: “I don’t care what your politics – RESPECT – HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!!!!!! Shame on you Joe Wilson! You should’ve just finished it with the “N” word and really made your point!”

Please hold on just a minute while I reattach the top of my skull.

This is someone I went to high school with, the sister of a close friend of mine. She’s half white, half Philippine, married to a black man, and was the girl in our small(minded) hometown known as the one who “goes out with black guys.” So I’m willing to bet she’s had to deal with some bullshit in her life. But someone please, and I’m serious here, PLEASE explain to me how disagreeing with a Presidential policy and vocalizing it by calling  him a liar automatically means the Congressman is a racist. Anybody? Is she using deductive reasoning and presuming that Congressman + South = Prejudiced? Seems to me all she’s done there is to simply perpetuate another stereotype. And rightly or wrongly, I took offense to it, as its something I’ve been accused of before, and I don’t know about you, but it makes me almost feral with rage.

Right before the election I was with my extended family for a long weekend in Disney, our annual reunion. We’d gotten into a spirited political discussion (always a good time) and when it became obvious who I wouldn’t be voting for (I am without question the minority in my family regarding political leanings), my cousin’s wife incredulously said, “So you’re a racist?”

I was too shocked at the time to come back with any kind of thoughtful retort,  but now close to a year later I’ve thought of a few.

“No, I’m not a racist; are you a sweeping generalist?”
“No, I’m not a racist, but neither am I a Socialist. Or a narcissist. Or a cellist. But my birthstone is Amethysist.”
“If you’re speaking with regard to his being black, no. I’d be more than happy to vote for Condoleezza Rice or Alan Keyes but neither of them are running for President.”
“No, I’m a Jew, just like you. I’ve also had two very close friends, one who is a black woman and the other Korean. My bedroom walls used to be entirely covered with Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy and Prince posters. I once caused a stir one night at the Roller Barn in eighth grade when I dared to ‘couple-skate’ with a black kid in my class. I used to be so naive to the many small nuances of racism that I once asked my friend if she wanted to share a large Coke when we were at the movies and was completely shocked when she told me we shouldn’t because people would flip out if they saw us drinking out of the same straw.”

I could go on, but I feel stupid enough already having to quantify it this much.

There are a lot of things going on right now that are scaring the holy bejeezus out of me. I don’t want to have to be scared to voice my opinion when I feel strongly about something; I need to keep a clear head, remain calm and not get derailed when someone tries to steer the conversation with cheap shots and take the focus off of the issue at hand. Nothing will be solved that way, nothing. And right now? There are a lot of problems that are going to need solving very, very soon.

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Comments»

1. Heather - September 16, 2009

I’m not sure what media you’re referring to glossing over whether he was correct or not in his outburst, but it’s been a really heated topic on our local news and even when I went to look things up on the actual bill proposal and on non-partisan websites to verify, out of my own curiosity, if he was actually correct in his outburst (because that’s the kinda jackass I am)..I got my answer.

As far as the racism thing goes, I was actually kind of shocked to read that Jimmy Carter “went there”.

For folks who might or might not click on my post, it wasn’t about the politics of the thing. I’ve told Kim before that I don’t debate politics and I am of the thought that my opinions on such things are only interesting to me. It was about common courtesy and behavior in the workplace and what would happen if you or I would try to pull something like that where we are employed. That’s all.

Great post, Kim!

Kimmothy - September 16, 2009

I thought you did a great post which is why I referred back to it, but the more my thoughts rambled about this, the more it went in a different direction, which happens frequently with me (cuz I’m a rambler, I guess).
I hate the term “liberal media” and don’t want to name specifics, but almost every outlet I read/heard/saw, wanted to concentrate a lot more on the outburst and how “backward” this state is, rather than do the research and report the facts. YOU do research, I do research, MANY private citizens do research before they expound on things…you’d think since it’s kind of a reporter’s JOB, they might should too.
Thank you for the compliment; your opinion means a lot to me, as you know.

2. Taoist Biker - September 16, 2009

I think I said this better in my comments to Laura and Heather, but wtf, here goes.

What disgusts the ever-loving shit out of me is that it’s bad enough that we have allowed ourselves to fall into (or be steered into by those with their own interests in mind rather than the common good) exactly that red/blue, black/white divide that you so perfectly describe. But we compound that by immediately sinking to shit-slinging in the place of any kind of meaningful dialogue. Reasoned debate is useless; the winning side is not the one with the best idea but the one with the most screech-able slogan and who can muster the most people to drown out the other guy’s screechers.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I can disagree with you, Kim, on which people and which policies we support – but if I can’t do so in a manner which is respectful, acknowledges your own desire to resolve our national problems as you see them, and offers you a place in the future of our country, then I deserve whatever condemnation can be mustered.

I tremble for the fate of our people when I consider that there is too much money involved for there ever to be respectful and reasoned debate in the halls of our government ever again.

Kimmothy - September 16, 2009

As usual, you said it far more eloquently than I ever could.

3. Laura - September 16, 2009

You and I may not see eye to eye on politics, but we DO see eye to eye on this very important point: People, In General, Are Stupid.

I think that’s a sweeping generalization I’m safe in making, right?

Kim - September 16, 2009

AGREE

4. LL Cool Joe - September 16, 2009

An excellent post again.

I was going to say something deep but then I read Laura’s comment and just cracked up and couldn’t agree more! And if I can ever get back on her blog I’ll tell her!

Kim - September 16, 2009

She was quick and to the point!

5. morethananelectrician - September 16, 2009

I have found that since I have stopped watching the news channels, that I am becoming more in tune with neutrality. The black/white-red/blue issues are what makes ratings, which is what these TV and radio shows are all about. The health care thing came up somewhere yesterday…and I was able to watch it on a FB post. You can read post after post and see it slip from the real issue and straight ito exactly what TB discussed…just a bunch of name calling with everyone “talking” and no one listening. One person turned into a “socialist” and the other a “racist.” Sigh.

Kimmothy - September 17, 2009

You’re right – I’ve had to severely cut down on news watching because it’s not good for my blood pressure.

Taoist Biker - September 17, 2009

I’ve done the exact same thing. For the exact same reason.


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