It’s been quite a year so far!
Unfortunately, 2015 looks nothing like what we were promised in the famed Zemekis classic, Back to the Future II. The only thing that movie got right is that sad families eat Pizza Hut. No, we don’t have have hover-boards. But we do have some Internet outrage that is shamelessly exaggerated in hopes of being seen as some kind of altruist.
People are “irate” at a number of things. I’ve had numerous quests for the perfect amateur porn clips interrupted by inane rants and ravings about various “hot topics” that, surprisingly, everyone has managed to fumble. I’m a comedian (a fact proven elsewhere, I assure you), so most of my social circle is the self-proclaimed “progressive” sociopolitical group, which is the easiest to ridicule as they aren’t bound by any coherent moral framework like religion or a strong family. The irony, of course, being that this group spends most of its time pointing out hypocrisies on the “other side.” (Basically all The Daily Show is at this point.)
Either way, rather than stew in my closet-of-a-bedroom and google how much it would cost to build a DIY gas chamber, I figured it would be more helpful if I pointed out a few hypocrisies inherent in the more common (code word for “wrong”) thought patterns out there. I hope we can all learn something from this. (Probably that you should unfollow me.)
Let’s get to it!
The Confederate Flag
Why You’re Mad:
It’s a flag that represents slavery. Despite people’s arguments that it’s “about heritage,” it’s really about slavery and racism at its roots. It’s enough that we still have to endure the resonant socioeconomic effects of deeply embedded racism, so why would any sane person want to fly the symbol of such bigotry above their home/building/NASCAR poster? God bless the people brave enough to take a stance against such a horrific symbol.
Why You’re a Hypocrite:
The American Flag. Duh. This one would be obvious were you not forced through the 12-year rolling pin of public education wherein American aims or actions are deemed inherently virtuous; any opposition (present or past) is simply referred to as “enemy.” The American Flag represents a country that, for almost 100 years, totally accepted black slavery. It also represents the country which helped eradicate an entire native population, stole their land, then sent them packing with a consolation prize of alcoholism and slot machines.
After WWII, the American flag has stood for near- totalitarian hegemony in the Middle East and Central/South America, flagrant dismissal of U.N. resolutions, Security Council decisions, and the like. The American Flag represents a society of people who “elect” leaders who carry out malevolent war crimes, killed millions with sanctions, financially and diplomatically supported the killing of millions more and continues to crush dissent at will, all under the guise of good intentions. In addition, the federal government has been running intense covert spy programs on its own citizens throughout the 20th and 21st century, ballooning with COINTELPRO in the 50s-70s (including targeted political assassination of citizens), and leading all the way up to the current NSA debacle. You know, freedom.
Returning to the topic of slavery, let’s not forget how the U.S. still continues to support and benefit from slavery (or near slave-like conditions) in its overseas manufacturing exploits. The shirt I just nonchalantly threw into the hamper is most definitely the byproduct of our willful blind eye. The United States is clever. It realized that the population will not tolerate certain things unless those things are not right in front of them. So slavery had to go somewhere we couldn’t see it. Same with war. (And garbage, for that matter.)
We are a nation constantly at war, constantly the aggressor, but so long as it happens “far away” to “weird looking people,” it’s all part of something called “international affairs.” It’s geopolitics. It’s macroeconomics. It’s not our problem anymore. The complexity of the situation diffuses responsibility. These are the values and behaviors represented by the stars and stripes. If you take down a Confederate flag, you’re a hero; but don’t you dare fuck with the American flag.
The idea of racism being unique to the South (Confederate states) is absurd, a point already well illustrated and shouldn’t need repeating. Racism takes different forms and it certainly is alive and well in the northern “liberal” states and cities. Chicago is about as segregated as the security line at El-Al.
To take a more fundamental view, the idea of nationalism is inherently racist. Any “flag,” representing a tribe is by default exclusive and will lead to favorable opinions about members of one’s own tribe and less favorable opinions about the rest. That way of thinking leads to a paradigm in which certain lives are valued while others are ignored. (More on this later.)
In short, the American flag is a symbol of genocide, hegemony, racism, jingoism, and inequality. Good thing we don’t stand up and face it while touching our hearts at every sporting event.
Cecil the Lion
Why You’re Mad:
I have to admit I don’t fully get this one. I guess there was some weird backdoor channel that Walter Palmer (the dentist) went through in order to bypass certain laws ostensibly preventing the murder of the lion. He paid money so that he could kill this lion and did so in relatively gruesome fashion. Lions are truly beautiful creatures (just look at the picture!) and to destroy one so frivolously seems needlessly cruel and vicious.
Why You’re a Hypocrite:
If you’re mad about this lion, wait until you find out what your food is made of! It shocks me that you can’t figure this one out on your own. It never occurs to you the blatant hypocrisy in devouring the carcasses of literally billions of slaughtered, enslaved animals? Yet when one fucking lion is killed….
Is murdering animals abhorrent? Of course! But we brag about it all the time and nobody cares.
The ugly nature of how we eat is why we employ some premium cognitive dissonance in order to inhale the newest Umami Burger. If we actually had to watch how the food was made every time we ate it, a lot of us wouldn’t be able to. But publicly weeping at the death of one while callously ignoring the deaths of millions of others is what gets you on this list. I think we use cases like Cecil – I mean, we know his name for fuck’s sake! – in an attempt to reconcile the pent-up guilt we feel over our continuous contribution to essentially a wildlife and animal holocaust. (Vegans exempt.) It’s similar to how we give to charity to buy ourselves out of the guilt we feel over child labor, famine, poverty, etc.
Louisiana Movie Theater Shooting
Why You’re Mad:
Two people were killed, and several were injured, by a crazed idiot who stood for nothing except hate and maybe some anti-women sentiment, depending on which publication trying to exploit the event you read. It’s tragic. Those people are dead forever. Their families will never be the same. It’s truly unspeakable and the gravest of losses, something nobody would ever wish on another person. We need to inspect our gun laws because guns are clearly the root of these shootings.
Why You’re a Hypocrite:
Why is it only when the victims are American that this outrage ensues? Or, even worse, when they’re white? Don’t you find it convenient that every time a shooting like this happens, the media jumps on it and then a huge gun control discussion breaks out? Your emotions are being politicized and you giddily embrace it. There are no gun control debates when 50 (black) people are killed on the South/West side of Chicago. Why not? Because the villain there is not a crazed lunatic; it’s socioeconomics. (Not nearly as entertaining or as simple. Try to imagine the abstract concept of Socioeconomic Disparity as a Bond villain. Could never happen. They need it to be something simple, digestible and completely in line with establishment ideology, like a gay Julian Assange, for example.)
Political exploitation aside, let’s go overseas. Are you aware of how many people are killed by the United States all the time? I’m not talking about “terrorists” (more on this in a second), but civilians. Regular folk. The same week of the Louisiana shooting, the U.S. was supporting a Saudi-led Arab coalition to bomb the fuck out of Yemen, killing thousands of civilians. (The bombing took a 5 day break so that humanitarian aid could reach what’s left of the city. It required about $1.6 billion in aid and funding was around $200 million, or 12.5% of what was needed.) I already wrote a thing about this same phenomenon, the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing, 150 Iraqis were killed in suicide attacks, clearly a direct byproduct of our decade long invasion which destroyed the entire country and murdered nearly a million of its citizens. (Not to mention the million killed, many of them children, the previous 10 years by U.N./U.S. sanctions.) Did any of your hearts go out to them? Do they even enter your mind?
The list goes on and on. Not only do we not even think about the people we murder, but have the hubris to honor the murderers.
If you have a moral principle – namely, the opposition to the slaughter of innocent people – you have to extend the principle everywhere or else it’s worthless. To prioritize American (white) lives over all else is completely racist. To turn around and then lecture people about racism (see: Confederate Flag above) is an opus of hypocrisy.
This is not to say, however, that all tragedies are overshadowed by much larger tragedies existing elsewhere. Notice I’m not talking about Tsunamis or famine – things over which we have no control. I’m mentioning cases toward which “we” (our country) contribute, cases which we could actually influence if they ever entered the realm of public discourse.
Chattanooga Military Shooting
Why You’re Mad:
Some Muslim terrorist (thug, coward, etc.) shot four of our armed servicemen. Four heroes, according to every news outlet in America. This goes to show the irrational viciousness of the enemy with which we are constantly facing.
Why You’re a Hypocrite:
First is the nomenclature that passes as objective. The label of “terrorist” is one that is wholly problematic and should be considered offensive. Labelling this person a terrorist merely serves establishment agenda in their current international crusade of dominating the Middle East (and the globe) which has far more drastically violent consequences than, say, using the word “faggot” or “cunt” or “bossy.” The inextricable link between Islam and terror that has been forged in our discourse as well as the propagation and proliferation of this looming, ominous, ambiguous threat is a huge victory for propaganda.
What makes this especially interesting is that these were members of the armed forces that were killed. So, if this is terrorism, what isn’t? How are nations/people supposed to fight back against U.S. violence if they can’t even go after the military itself? Remember, the U.S. invades, blockades, sanctions, and surrounds nations with military bases at will. Imagine what the reaction would be if any country (Iran, for example) did what we did to Iraq. Would we call them liberators? (Certainly they could rationalize their invasion with some kind of humanitarian pretext.) Or would we call them terrorists? Or an “axis of evil”? This is all playing out like a book that Orwell phoned in.
The way “our” people are humanized, and the “terrorist” demonized is classic media sleight of hand. Imagine how we’d feel if every person killed in a drone strike had their girlfriend’s text messages on the front page, or their families interviewed for cover stories in magazines. The newspaper would be thicker than a Game of Thrones book. This is indicative of a deeply engrained nationalism. (A nationalism that is symbolized by the American flag. Remember from before?) Look at the way we memorialize 9/11. The victims, the statues, the slogans. If we showed the same respect to every victim of our own viciousness, how would we possibly be able to carry on?
The ultimate irony, of course, is that “progressives” love to phrase social movements in terms of power structures. (Patriarchy, etc.) Using that same paradigm, the “Muslim world” is the oppressed subset of the global population while America is the privileged “straight white male” of the world. So, resisting U.S. violence with counter-violence (called “terrorism” in our media) is the ultimate rebellion against established power and, according to their own principles, should be lauded. In modern history, there is no greater example of “punching up” than 9/11.