Archive for racism

NAACP, Tea Party, and Racism

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

The biggest news among politically-minded blogs and websites is the NAACP’s charge for the Tea Party to remove and punish members of the party who use racist or vulgar language. It’s a harmless charge, one that should easily be implemented by the Tea Party, and anyone else who observes racism in speeches or signs by Tea Party protesters.

Harmless, that is, unless you work for a conservative news network.

Bill O’Reilly’s blog from 15 July, along with many other conservative news sources, seems to report that the NAACP has called the entire Tea Party racist. From his blog: According to the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, the Tea Party is chock full of racist people bent on harming African-Americans…. The NAACP picked a bad time to brand the Tea Party with the racist label…. By saying the Tea Party followers are sympathetic to racism when proof of that is scant, the organization has defined itself as irresponsible.

However, from the NAACP website: NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.

There seems to be a huge difference between those two reports. And besides, I’m more apt to believe the report from the organization the report is about, rather than someone trying to defend the “attacked” organization.

In Bill’s blog, he also mentions Mr. Jealous talking about protesters holding signs that say “Lynch Barack Hussein Obama,” and that, after an “exhaustive search of media reportage about the Tea Party,” he could find no such signs. Even Sean Hannity is in on the talking points, saying that he can’t find any evidence of racism in the Tea Party.

Which is hilarious, because a quick Google search brought up some of these racist and otherwise inappropriate gems, all from one website:

From Huffington Post

A sign calling for several Congresspeople to be hung

From Huffington Post

A sign comparing American taxpayers to Holocaust Jews

From Huffington Post

A sign stating that Obama is the new Hitler

From Huffington Post

Obama loves taxes, bankrupting America, and killing babies

From Huffington Post

"Freeloading Illegals are Raping U.S. Tax Payers"

I wish I could post all of the signs I’ve found. I really do. But between the Huffington Post, Blue Ridge Muse, and several other websites posting pictures of these racist signs, and YouTube having several videos of racism within the Tea Party, it’s hard to believe that the movement is being marginalized and lied about.

Granted, the NAACP has looked away on several forms of racism from minorities. In glancing through the NAACP blog, there is nothing about racism caused by black people or Hispanic people. But at the same time, the Tea Party denying racism in their ranks is simply foolish. As hard as it is to say, racism is still in America today. It’s not as blatant today as it was in the 50s, but it still exists, now in code or cute little euphemisms.

In order to make even more progress with this whole race issue, we need to acknowledge it, and get rid of it. The moment the Tea Party acknowledges and rids itself of the blatantly racist, maybe more people would take it seriously as a movement.

Political Incorrectness: Adjective-Americans

Posted in opinion with tags , , on June 28, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

The worst part about living in this culture of not wanting to offend anyone and to always be kind and respectful to different cultures is that many times we go too far. In our attempts to make sure that every reference in America is free from prejudice and harm, we lose the whole point of our language. One of the most blatant examples of this going too far attitude is the invention of the term, “[Adjective]-Americans.”

The only problem (which is, in fact, a huge problem) with the [Adjective]-American culture is that many times, we are completely off with the descriptors.

Over the years, the term for our dark-skinned, former slave friends has evolved into “African-American.” While it is a much better descriptor than “Negro” from days of old, it is far from being the most effective descriptor. Once upon a time, I was caught up in the hype of political correctness before a friend of mine pointed out to me: “You know, a lot of our ‘African-American’ friends never came from Africa. They have no ties to Africa at all. Therefore, they are not African-Americans.”

That statement has stuck with me ever since. In fact, most of my black friends can’t even describe in what part of Africa their ancestry lies. The only people I know that is a true “African-American” isn’t even technically American; I had a roommate this year in college from the country of Kenya, and while technically he is here on a student visa, he would never call America home. “I am African, through and through,” he has told me.

This same concept goes for all of the other [Adjective]-Americans out there: Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Arab-Americans, etc. Unless you know for a fact that they were born and raised for a time in that geographic region, and then came to America, those are not true descriptors of that group of people. Granted, most Hispanic people are Mexican-Americans if they’ve gone through the proper legal channels. But I have only met a few true Asian-Americans, and have never in my life met an Arab-American, though I have met plenty of people in America with Arab ancestry.

The thing that strikes me as the strangest of all is that there is no similar [Adjective]-American for people not of minority status. If I wish to identify myself as a “German-American” or an “Irish-American” or a “Norwegian-American,” I should be able to do so. But because my skin lacks some essential pigmentation, I am merely “white.” It’s a strange sort of racism that tries its hardest not to be racist, and it isn’t working.

In fact, thinking about it, I’ve met more Norwegian-Americans, Italian-Americans, Canadian-Americans, and French-Americans than I have African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Arab-Americans. The whole idea of an [Adjective]-American culture is ridiculous. Is there a problem with describing people the way they are?

My black friends are black, and they identify themselves as “black people.” My Asian friends identify themselves as their heritage: Vietnamese, Laos, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, etc. My Mexican friends are Mexican, my Indian friends are Indian, and my white friends are trying to figure out what exactly is the right thing to say, lest they become forever black-listed as “that racist guy.”

James Cameron’s “Avatar”: An Equal-Opportunity Offender

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Before I begin, let me just clarify: I don’t get out much, which means that when huge blockbuster movies come around, I rarely get out to see them. I make a big effort to go out and see the “Saw” series (though I missed Saw VI) and the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen all three Lord of the Rings in theatres. But for some reason, despite it’s technological mastery and fantastic visual imagery, I have no desire to see “Avatar”, James Cameron’s latest epic about the friendly blue giants called Na’vi.

And from the looks of it, it’s probably a good thing, as this movie (that has already made over $1 billion dollars, I might add) has set out to offend everyone. James Cameron, what have you done to the world?

Special interest groups everywhere are up in arms about this movie because it has offended them. The Vatican claims that “Avatar” is offensive because it promotes nature worship over religion. The military claims that “Avatar” portrays soldiers as “fanatical crazed killers who have joined a military mercenary force to destroy a civilization so that corporations can capitalize on some rare commodity”.

But it gets stranger than that: anti-smoking groups claim that the movie promotes smoking as a positive trait. Left-wing groups claim that the movie is racist because an exotic culture needs to be saved by a white human. Disability groups are upset twice: first, because the synopsis for the movie describes Jake Sully, a disabled Marine, as “confined to a wheelchair”, and secondly because Commander Quaritch promises that Jake will “get [his] real legs back”.

But what is really mind-numbing is that LGBT groups are protesting “Avatar” because it depicts heterosexuality as continuing to be the sexual norm in the future. And what’s even worse that that mental health experts claim that the movie is causing depression in many who see the movie, because the world of Pandora is the perfect Utopian society, and as one man was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplated suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora.”

Really? All this over a sci-fi movie?

Of course, this isn’t the first time that special interest groups have rallied together to protest movies. A short list of movies that have been boycotted in recent years include:

  • Bruce Almighty,” which shows a human using God’s powers, despite being a lesson in letting God do God’s thing.
  • The Harry Potter series, which indoctrinates children into becoming witches and wizards, despite the fact that both the movies and books say that wizardry is hereditary.
  • “The Ringer,” which makes fun of disabled people, despite the fact that producers worked directly with the Special Olympics to avoid being offensive. And,
  • Tropic Thunder,” which uses the term “retard.” To be fair, it was used as a commentary on special needs roles as compared to Oscar wins–if you go “half-retard,” like Dustin Hoffman in “Rainman,” you win; if you go “full-retard,” like Sean Penn in “I Am Sam,” you lose.

The only problem with all of these arguments against James Cameron and his nifty little movie is one that nobody seems to see: the movie is science fiction. The key word in that last statement is fiction, a word that means, “It’s not real.”

The real issue behind all of this “controversy” is that people love to be offended, and nobody does it quite as well as Americans. The fact that we’re being offended by works of fiction, and quotes taken outside of the context of situation, character, among other factors, is disgusting.

Then again, look at the world around us: we’re recovering from a horrific economy. America is fighting two wars. Haiti is still recovering from that horrific earthquake. The world is an absolute mess, so maybe it’s great that we can escape to the perfect world of Pandora, and all the peace and harmony that it stands for.

But being offended by nearly every aspect of the movie? That’s ridiculous and unacceptable.

My suggestion to the world: snap out of it. Not everything has a hidden political agenda, and if you’d open your mind and stop trying to make everything politically correct, you might be able to enjoy yourself every once in a while.