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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, the National Anthem, and Priorities

The truth is, as a football player, I don't have much use for Colin Kaepernick. The whole kissing his steroid enhanced bicep after a touchdown is a bit much for me. Why not just scream, "I love myself" while dropping your pants to show us how much? It might be more honest. What's more, I have always thought he was a flash in the pan, as most quarterbacks who can run really well usually are. I don't care how fast you are as a quarterback, professional football players and coaches will eventually find a way to defend against your running and force you to pass. Rare is the quarterback who can both run and pass extremely well.

However, as an example of what it is to be an American, I love Colin Kaepernick. I don't love him enough to kiss his steroid enhanced bicep, but don't let that deceive you, I love him for his courage and integrity. I support both his refusal to stand for the national anthem and his reasons for doing so. I have taken similar action regarding the flag and the pledge of allegiance for many years now. Of course, nobody really cares because I am not a professional football player, but nevertheless I have done so.

Probably around ten years ago as I sat at a Fourth of July parade, popping up and down as flag after flag passed, it suddenly occurred to me that this was nothing more than a litmus test of nationalism. At that point I decided that I would stand when a group of Veterans passed with a flag out of respect for the Veterans, but the rest of it was nonsense - the kind of nonsense that "my country right or wrong" nationalists just love. I believe a true patriot criticizes their country when they believe it is wrong in the hopes of bringing change, and I also believe America has failed to live up to its purported values for most of my life.

I believe Donald Trump does well in certain circles because a great number of people cannot tolerate ambiguity. The truth is that the less educated you are and the less intelligent you are, the more likely you will be unable to tolerate ambiguity. It will be much more comfortable for you if everyone looks the same, dresses the same, goes to the same church, and believes the same thing. Obviously, in a diverse society such a person is not going to do well at all. They will begin looking for reasons to exclude people who reflect the very diversity this nation was founded upon, and the more violently and permanently they can be excluded the happier these people will be. These are nationalists, and nationalists of every background and place of residence have always found narcissistic autocrats like Donald Trump appealing. Any responsible leader bearing even an ounce of integrity begins to get nervous upon realizing they are surrounded by sycophants, tyrants surround themselves with them.

In the city where I live there is no equal opportunity, there is no honest attempt to address social injustice, there is the greatest inequality in opportunity and income between blacks and whites in the nation, and the political hacks that run Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin believe the answer to the inevitable violence that arises from decades of refusing to redress issues of injustice is to add more police, arrest more people, and step harder on the necks of the people you are trying to keep down. Meanwhile, the whites sit in terrified and ignorant huddles, believing the nonsense they are fed by those in power and afraid to agitate for change that would make this city a better place for all people. Much as on the national level, the alternatives we are offered to the hacks in power are more of the same, or even worse - law and order candidates reminiscent of the 1960s.

National anthem? I'll be on my ass, thank you very much,

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Gangs and the Media: Violence and Healing

An outstanding piece on the state of things in Milwaukee - and around the country:

Gangs and the Media: Violence and Healing: I’ve had some thoughts on violence and healing. They are personal but also reflections on what has happened to my city this past month....