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My complex relationship with Black History Month

Yes, today especially, will be one of those days.

So one of the things I’m often loathed to deal with is the current month we take part in here in the US. And there are a lot of reasons for my general state of annoyance. Some of which I’ll get to over the course of this particular piece for your viewing. Whatever this month means to you, I’m sure you will be offended. Remember all emails should be sent to yourruthlesswonder@gmail.com, but let’s get moving.

I hate the necessity of Black History Month

One of the glaringly obvious things to me about Black History Month is that we do in fact need one. The adage is often said that they teach black history 1 month out of the year, and 11 months out of the year it is white history. Now other ethnic groups with their own ceremonial months may disagree, but the very existence of their months honoring their heritage in fact exists because of black history month. So y’all can have several seats while I finish my point.

I hate that we need to have a dedicated month recognizing very specific and generally speaking, the same old accomplishments. It is one thing to talk about major firsts in a culture, it is another altogether to only talk about them, and never add in discussion of new, and or alternatively important milestones. But then I think about kids now who don’t know Missy Elliot has been rapping since the 90’s and I get it…a bit.

The deeper reason I hate the need for the month is the outright ignorance the rest of the year. Part of the problem is the thing that comes from the exceptional nature of America in the first place. What do I mean? Well because America is the first, and one of few current nations made based on commonly united political beliefs and not geographic similarities, we have a “not everyone is the same.” problem when it comes to heritage. Because things can never be complex enough, add in slavery, reconstruction, the great depression, the civil rights movement, Korean war, Vietnam war, The hippies, and the 70’s and by the time you get to the birth of the legend you now know as THE Ruthless Wonder in 1982, things are odd.

Thus what seems like a good idea really can get out of hand. I hate the idea that it isn’t common knowledge how important schools like Lincoln, Langston, Alcorn, and basically every HBCU not named Morehouse, Spellman, or Howard are to the collective history of America. And that’s right I said America not black America. Black America as an idea pisses me off, but I’ll save that for another day and a probably a full on Note from your favorite super villain.

That we still need a true out and out campaign for black history month, where even giant corporations have to make some half ass attempt to act like they care about black people by repeating lock stock and barrel the same classic accomplishments on company flyers is demeaning to me. I look no further than Black Enterprise. I’ve been a BE reader to some degree since my parents were getting it while I was a kid. But when we talk about achievements related to african americans in American society, it rarely comes up. The same magazine which has not been handed over to larger(white), media corporations. That has not had the financial instabilities. That has a respectable presence, and has since the 70’s. “No no, tell them about CJ Walker, and Harriet Tubman again.” Which brings me to the next problem I have.

I hate the fake pro-black focus of Black History Month.

When I was truly a child the point of Black History Month seemed to be hyper focus on accomplishments, and talk about things that could make you proud of your heritage. As I have gotten older things have taken a turn. I remember them in waves. Wearing only red black and green. Busting out African cloths. only wearing black designers clothes. blah blah blah. The reality is for Americans who are black each of these was a means of at least acting the part of reconnecting to your roots. Which might be a good idea if the rest of the year wasn’t the almost exact opposite of that.

Dashiki aside, 90% of those who appear black in the US have only ancestral connections to the continent, and 5% of the remaining 10% are more than 3 generations Americans. And I’ll save the Black but also Latino folks for another discussion as well. Given the numbers I can understand the idea of wanting to know who you were. But for an exercise ask your Italian friends the last time they dressed up in Roman robes and spoke random latin words or phrases. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now that they are done laughing you can see my point. It is good to research, learn about, and especially learn from the root of all people(Yes I said all. You denying humanity came from Africa is like me denying Gravity applies to feathers). But homogenizing African culture into a single outfit, and one particular language’s catch phrases is buffoonery. And it disrespects the very idea of what Black History Month seems to have been about. Woodson very rarely references the direct link of American Blacks to Africa when coming up with black history day. And even civil rights leaders focus on the accomplishments, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of Black Americans when they address the then week long and later month long celebration.

This wasn’t supposed to be back to Africa day. This wasn’t to be “Come out as a black Israelite” week. And most certainly it wasn’t call everyone not buying into your unintelligible and oblivious pro-black faux-afro-centrism month. This was supposed to be a day, week, and month to look at old, modern, and contemporary black accomplishments here in America by Black people and celebrate them. The way the month is now abused to get people to buy your stupid book, listen to your “Afro-consciousness” struggle rap mixtape, or pick up another copy of the hidden colors series is disgusting. Celebrating Black American Achievement is laudable. Trying to push your faux revolutionary agenda along with merchandise is race pimping.

I hate what it really says about America and Americans.

The hardest part of this piece today is that for all the complexity in my relationship with Black History Month, I love parts of it. Seeing parents post videos of their kids reading Langston Hughes like I did as a kid. Watching young women and young men talk about the influence researching Malcolm X now has on them. Students fighting to get to see Selma. These are great things. They are things we need to remember and cherish. These are things that we wouldn’t have the access to 15 years ago. That is beautiful. That is what I love about this month. No matter that it is the shortest of the year.

The reason I say I hate what it really says about America is that I know these things will only occur in months like this. Save the students who began their struggle at the end of January, these kinds of moments are part and parcel February only. Anything else will be an outlier. A seeming non-sequitur. Because unlike our schools, events, drinking fountains, transportation, and voting rights, history is still highly segregated. It should be normal to talk about the alleged role Benjamin Banneker had in crafting Washing D.C. alongside Pierre Charles L’Enfant after being part of the survey group. It should be simple for Literature teachers to reference the fact that Alexander Dumas was black French writer who also would use some of the lavish gifts he received to help support American Abolitionists.

It is disheartening for me, to see the various things I know because I read about them in history, or learn about them in the present day, never grace history books that get updated yearly. From College texts, right down to the entry level reading for pre-schoolers. It says Americans, don’t actually care about learning. It says Americans, don’t really want to know more about the cultures that have come together to make us great. And for all the granola munching, soybean slurping, rice milk drinking, vegan cheese making, dog rescuing, gentrifying liberal wastes of my time that give it lip service, they are no better than their dip spitting, klan member, confederate flag waving, Santorum supporting, racist assholes.

But bigger than my hatred of bigots, It says America is regressing. It says we don’t want to be exceptional anymore. The fact that we need black history month to remind white America that some things are just not okay is sad. That we need it to remind black people to try and achieve is sad. That we need a specific month to pull black children aside and tell them how important to the fabric of this great experiment they are, and the ones who came before them were is sad. When American History is taught to include all the cultures that have made us great, hopefully we will have advanced enough to no longer need this month. Until then I loathe the month, but I lovingly endure it. Because It just might make us all better. And also because it pisses off racists and bigots alike, and you know I love that. I could talk about the problem of Black vs. African American. Maybe next week. For now though…Words Don’t Do It Justice!

 

– THE Ruthless Wonder

WDDIJ Presents The Justice League: Elite Law Schools Can Do What They Want

Elite Law Schools Can Do What They Want

It’s my final year of law school and I had just finished my last final exam for the fall semester. Four exams filled with utter misery, confusing hypotheticals and might I add, law- professor- created exams with typos (and they say how important exams are). It was Friday night and I felt like I just got paid but I didn’t. I was completely exhausted from studying and working and working and studying.

So naturally, after exams I went out for celebratory drinks with a fellow law student as we bitched and complained and drank whiskey until about 4 am on Saturday morning. I crashed and woke up at 11:00 am and looked over at the alarm clock and realized that I had missed the bus heading to the Justice for All March on Washington calling for justice for Mike Brown, Eric Garner and the countless other Black men who had been killed at the hands of police officers-of which has lead to zero indictments returned by State grand juries. As I opened my eyes, the first thought that came to my mind was: “ I really wish I would have gotten accepted to Harvard!”

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last several weeks, let me set the stage.
Columbia University Law School has allowed its students to reschedule their exams if they feel traumatized by the recent grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. According to the school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Mr. Scott’s letter said. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

Once Harvard and Georgetown got a whiff of the news, they too, allowed their students to take exam extensions and the news sparked a rage among legal scholars, law students and legal social media went amok.

CONTROVERSIAL ALERT: THE ARGUMENTS PROCEED AS FOLLOWS!

Opponents of this policy say: Who do these students think they are by requesting an exam extension because they were so-called traumatized? I went to law school during heavy political tensions and I still took exams! And how does one measure “traumatization” in this matter? Is it based on race- Participation in protests? This is not fair!

Proponents say: Law School is (allegedly) designed to promote justice and create notions of fairness in grey areas of the law that are tainted with injustice. Law Schools have a duty to create social engineers and pioneers who have a primary goal of making the legal system operate more effectively and more efficiently. So why not?

So here is my humble opinion.

Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Cheers to Harvard and Columbia and Georgetown law schools who are attempting to make a legal education worth it again because 99% of law schools, like 99% of laws are not adjusting to the changing climate and people are getting pissed off!

Which Reminds Me.
***NewsFlash***
Law School Exams are No Longer Relevant

The hardest part about law school is getting in. The 2nd hardest part about law school is the first year. After that, law schools really need to relax the role of the final exam because it adds nothing greater to a law student’s life. It doesn’t make a better lawyer or even prepare students for the bar exam. It is set in place because law schools are not willing to transform their curriculum in a real and practical way so they continue to apply the same old traditional norms that are no longer applicable to modern day society.

Harvard and some of the other Elite schools have already taken a stance on the one exam grade issue and has eliminated grades altogether giving students a High Pass (HP); Pass (P); Low Pass (P) and Fail (F). Now, of course everyone wants the HP-but the message is clear that if you get into Harvard Law- Harvard Law has your back! Once a student is accepted to these Ivy League schools-there is a rebuttable presumption that the school’s name alone will carry them where they need to go-not how well they did on a Torts Exam.

Exams, arguably are for first year students and should be revisited after graduation but before the BAR exam. One does not NEED exam after exam to become an effective lawyer (or advocate or CEO or whatever other reasons people go to law school). But one NEEDS to advocate and stand for something-particularly justice.

Now, do I think that some students will totally exploit this opportunity arguing that they are apart of the so-called traumatized group, meanwhile are home buying more time to study? Of Course I do. But who cares-its Harvard-Its Columbia and-Its Georgetown! These are the students that will be the next Supreme Court Justices and heads of government anyway. They need to understand how the political climate changes the law and they need to be apart of the process. The future Obamas of the country will not remember exam questions when they are sitting in office but they will undoubtedly remember the day Darren Wilson was not indicted and the country proceeded in uproar. Exams, in such cases, are superfluous. They really don’t matter. I’m just jealous that I didn’t have that same opoportunity to postpone my exams but the applause remains. The Elite law schools just keep winning.

White Privilege

White Privilege

Right. I’m probably going to get alot of hate for this one, but I can’t be the only person annoyed by this. Recently I’m seeing a pretty interesting trend involving alot of pretty little blond haired blue eyed white girls asking if someone has ever heard of ‘white privilege’. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, white privilege does exist, and choosing not to talk about it constantly doesn’t mean that I am trying to sweep it under the rug — I just don’t see the point in talking about it as a white person. See, the problem I have with this entire discourse is how fake people are. Yes, white people are inherently privileged. Yes, I benefit (from time to time) because most of the time my complexion is lighter than most (as an Italian, I can get pretty brown if exposed to enough sun). Sure, as an Italian I am technically considered white (but according to the United States Census, so are Middle Easterners), but that didn’t stop me from experiencing my fair share of flack when I was a youth with a natural tan that turned me brown and hair that basically curls into an Afro on its own will.  On some days people thought I was hispanic, and some people though I might have just been a really light-skinned mulatto. You try being any of those in the heart of conservative Oklahoma. Coupled with the fact that most of my childhood I lived in low-income neighborhoods when we could afford it and motels when we could not, I did get a little taste of what life was. The difference? I could stay in-doors and become white as a ghost. African-American’s don’t have that luxury. This is why I cannot help but feel the way I do when it comes to white privilege, I find it so disingenuous when many people speak of it and these are the reasons why:

Social Justice Warriors. I have steadily come to hate Social Justice Warriors who sit behind their hipster glasses yelling ‘Check your privilege’ at people. Why? Because White Privilege as a concept to primarily affluent white college student Social Justice Warriors is just a way that they can get around the fact that they feel guilty about the fact that they’ve been inherently racist throughout their life without ever honing up to their personal mistakes and taking responsibility for themselves. Instead, they still sit around on the internet telling individuals to ‘check their privilege’ and bemoaning how unfair minorities are treated in America without actually doing anything to help said minorities or their communities. By acknowledging ‘white privilege’ you are essentially, as a white person, saying that you agree that people of color receive, in general, a disproportionately fucked up end of the deal while simultaneously still reaping all the benefits of ‘white privilege’. This kind of annoys me. I’m fine with Persons of Color talking about White Privilege because they have to deal with the shit end of the stick — but the affluent white girl at starbucks talking about white privilege? She can get the fuck out of my life. Seriously. There is a difference between educating people about White Privilege in order to destroy the gap that exists, and just using a buzzword so that you can make it seem like you actually care — spoiler alert, she probably still clutches her purse and walks to the otherside of the road when she sees a black man walking toward her. See, I support actual education of the inequality of society as created by a system of Ethnocentric disparity. That is beneficial. By teaching all children early on about discrimination and why it is a fucking asinine concept, you have the possibility of rooting it out. You are actively making a difference. Posting to everything on facebook about ‘white privilege’, however, is just you trying to make yourself feel better.

You cannot address the plight of the African-American community until you address the problems at the root of the plight — about how our government spends more on guns and bombs than it does on education, the fact that a pointless war on drugs sees African-Americans incarcerated at higher rates and for longer duration than White People. You cannot fix the problems with America by simply talking about White Privilege. Being an internet crusader about white privilege isn’t going to change anything. There is no point in “enlightening” adult white people to how much easier they have it, because a majority of white people know they have it easier — the difference is is that the majority of white people do not flop around on tumblr and twitter pretending like they actually care by going on about ‘white privilege’ like talking about white privilege is some how going to make matters better for a person of color. Seriously. I cannot name a single white person off the top of my head that just suddenly woke up one day and went “You know, thank you for telling me about white privilege, I had never noticed before that African-American’s disproportionately get the shit kicked out of them by police”. The reply to you mentioning these things is almost always:
a) The Racist Reply
b) The “I already know and shit sucks” Reply

You cannot fix answer A because there is no fixing stupid, and you cannot fix problem B by simply yelling WHITE PRIVILEGE  and CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. That isn’t the way world works, as much as you so desperately wish to appear enlightened and progressive to your fellow Social Justice Warriors, you’re being hilariously disingenuous if you’re going to sit there as a white person  and trumpet on about white privilege like you’ve never benefited from it and like you understand what the average minority deals with. You have no clue. I have only had a small taste of it, and like I said, I was able to change — they aren’t. I can’t even tell you how horribly it must suck, but you know what, I actually try to make a difference.

Going on about White Privilege as a white person is simply taking the easy way out; you are acknowledging that you do not have the burdens that a person of color might have but do nothing to reverse the inequality. It is easy to claim solidarity, but unless you’re dedicating your time to actually making changes for the better, I got no respect for you. Going on about ‘white privilege’ as if it suddenly makes you understand what a Person of Color experiences does not make you enlightened, it makes you a douchebag — someone who wants to reap the benefits on social media of seeming like they are committed to social justice but in reality probably spends more time in Starbucks than they do in disenfranchised neighborhoods.

To admit that you are white and privileged is a frivolous thing that serves no purpose other than to make yourself feel good. You do nothing to bridge the African-American Caucasian Achievement Gap in Education, you do nothing to abridge Socio-Economic Factors that lead youth to turn to a life of crime. Honestly, most of the people that speak about ‘white privilege’ would never set foot in a ‘bad neighborhood’ — never donate their time or money to a community center, never volunteer to teach at a ‘high risk’ school.

Get off your high horses. Stop pretending like you give a rats ass on the internet and actually go out and change something. Push to have laws changed, become an educator and volunteer to teach in low-income neighborhoods. Give your time to community centers, do something to better poverty stricken communities. If you own a business, hire qualified minorities. There is alot you as a privileged white person can do to change the bullshit system in America, but most of you won’t do anything about it — you’ll just sit on tumblr, twitter, and facebook talking about ‘white privilege’.
Well, that’s my rant. Sorry if you don’t agree with me, but I would rather see people going out and giving more to low-income neighborhoods instead of sitting around talking about how privileged they are. One might actually make a difference.

The Absurdity Racist America

The Absurdity Racist America – How was this acceptable?

Some people would say that racism is dead today in America. They would say that the civil rights movement won, that racism obviously isn’t a problem anymore and that the majority of the country realizes that being a racist is just unacceptable, right? Wrong. Not only are African-American’s incarcerated with stiffer penalties and more frequently than Caucasian individuals, but they remain to this date discriminated on all the way up to the highest levels of government — hell, even with an African-American POTUS, those who would serve and die for our country were dealt a massive insult by these United States

image

This is a copy of the Army Regulations that were published on the 22nd of October in 2014 in which the United States Army deemed it acceptable to refer to our African-American soldiers as “Negroes” and “Haitians” as an alternative to “Black” and “African-American”. Did I suddenly fall asleep and wake up in the 1950s? How did this racist policy become acceptable, exactly? Not only is it very racially charged to have a bunch of White soldiers referring to their African-American comrades as “Negroes” but it adds in the double whammy of allowing you to refer to all individuals of color as Haitians? Why is this a big deal? Because these men put their lives on the line for our country and our freedom and deserve better, they do not deserve to have racially charged language viewed as ‘acceptable’ regardless of who uses it. Slang not withstanding, there isn’t any way this is remotely acceptable. Yet, it was a thing. This was reviewed by the pentagon and actually published as policy.

Now, according to CNN, the Army is uncertain as to when this regulation was first added, but it continued to be publish until at least the 22nd of October 2014. How long did it take it for this regulation to be removed? It took until roughly November 7th, about 24 hours after the news report from CNN first broke revealing that it was Army Regulation. It took God only knows how long for somebody to realize that the Army was periodically releasing regulations that made it acceptable to refer to African-American servicemen as Negroes. That in and of itself is a problem — did nobody bother to read the document? Was it just vast ignorance? Or was it a quiet, complacent acceptance?

Frankly, the answer could go either way. It is likely that it is just good old laziness on behalf of the United States Army, who clearly failed to read through the regulation before setting it out for publishing — but it is equally likely that this wording lived on within the Army Regulations as a bleak reminder to the not-so-distant racist past of the United States Army. It was only just World War II, afterall, that African-American soldiers were discriminated upon and considered  inferior and while to you or I that moment might seem like so, so long ago the but in reality it wasn’t that long ago. The truth is that the United States Marine Corp was full integrated by 1960, but racial tensions continued to exist.

We have made large strides of progress but we have also taken steps back, and it is documents like this that serve as a stark reminder to the history of this country and how willing we were to degrade men and women whom volunteered to serve our country. This regulation should have never been passed and worse than that this regulation should have been noticed sooner — it should have taken more than a news report pointing out the flaw for the Army to realize that this was a problem and that it needed to be fixed. I am a supporter of the United States Armed Forces, and in that regard I do not view our African-American soldiers any differently than I do the whites. They deserve the same respect and dignity afforded to all service members, and to have allowed this regulation to linger so long and so heavily upon the regulations of the United States Army is an insult to the countless African-American soldiers who willingly gave their lives for this country, a country which spent over half of its existence dedicated to hating and dehumanizing them.

You have to take pause and reflect upon the irony of it all — we had African-American soldiers serving in Europe, fighting against the Nazi regime, to ensure the freedom of other people that they themselves were not afforded in their own country. Segregation was still in full swing, and right up until just before the beginning of World War II, the American government was actively practicing Eugenics experiments. Likewise, we were conducting human experiments on African-American’s without even letting them know about it. Here were individuals willing to lay their lives on the line so that other people might know the freedom that their own country had deprived them of.

The question I get so often in my hometown is “why do we need a Black History month?” “Why isn’t there a White History month”?  To which I frequently have to sit down and actually educate people as to the reality of the plight which African-American’s suffered at the hands of a racist government that did everything in its power to keep them down. It is a struggle I will never have to know, but it is a struggle which I recognize as a reality. The atrocities afflicted upon African-American’s by the United States for the majority of this nations existence are innumerable and have caused irrevocable damage. People refer to this as Post-Racial America, but I don’t see it. I see a country which is still struggling to push past its racist nature, and moments like this only remind me that I still have a part to play in this battle, that as a future educator it is my duty to strive diligently to broaden the minds of otherwise narrow minded fools.

To that end, I would like to apologize on behalf of America that we ever allowed such a travesty as this Army regulation to carry on as long as it did — no citizen of the United States, let alone one of our brave soldiers, should endure such an asinine insult. It may have remained in the regulations due to negligence, but it was not negligence that put it there in the first place and for that, I am sorry.

Sometimes being right sucks.

Sometimes being right sucks.

That isn’t something you’ll hear many people say, but it’s true. Sometimes you look at things and you know how it’s going to play out, so you make a prediction. Sometimes it’s good to be right, other times it sucks. This is one of the times when being right sucks. See, nobody wins over me being right on this issue and it has done nothing but proven just how utterly screwed we all must be. I know what you must be saying “But Revanchist, what were you right about?”.

Well, to be simple, everything I talked about last week. You see, not only is the war in the Ukraine revving up once more with reports that Russia is moving heavy weapons and troops into Eastern Ukraine again but a report from the Pentagon came out that says the U.S Mission to combat Iraq would most likely require boots on the ground in Iraq again.

Sure, Obama said he wouldn’t put troops on the ground but I’m sure we all knew that was going to fly out the window sooner or later. We pushed ISIS but no matter how hard we pushed them with the air campaign, it wasn’t enough to stem the rising tide. Can we ever stem this tide? I don’t think so, I think we made a mistake in 2003 when we first invaded Iraq. I was right in that regard, as well. Without the Tyranny of Saddam holding the country together the only thing our foray into Iraq has given us is a new breed of jihadists. How did it happen? Well, alot of the people that joined ISIS were just children when the United States invaded Iraq. Right or wrong, those Children grew up in the worst possible of environments and they had a clear name to point fingers at for why their world sucked so bad.

Was eliminating Saddam necessary? Probably,  but I do not think it was the right course of action to take. We eliminated the lesser of two evils, it seems. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, I’m not sure how we thought this would somehow be different, that after we toppled Saddam the entire country would forget about centuries old grudges and ethnic ties. You cannot impose a western mentality on a country like Iraq, where loyalty lies more to ones tribe than it does to a unified concept of a country. How could we expect them to see that we were the right ones when all those young children saw was the devastation brought by American bombs and American soldiers?

So, while I was right, I take no joy in it. American citizens are once again going to spill their blood in a foreign country. In retrospect, it is kind of absurd. Today, people who were just children when the Iraq war began are getting ready to pick up the fight. Over ten years have passed since we invaded Iraq in what was a conflict that was supposed to end in just a month — a fact that seems almost like a joke eleven years down the line, when an entirely new generation of Americans are going to be dying for a war that was started by their fathers.

When Herbert Hoover said “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” I don’t think he ever predicted that it would come to a situation like this. On one side, we have the disillusioned youth of Iraq and Syria who watched their country torn to shreds by foreign interests who picked up the flag of rebellion and religious extremism versus the children of the conquerors. Much as the conflict in Palestine continues to breed new generations of religious zealots, I have no doubt that the continued conflict in Iraq will continue to create new generations of Jihadists.

As of this moment, the war against ISIS costs $300,000 an hour to fight and that is before we actually deploy any sort of real manpower. We all knew from the beginning that this war was going to be one we could not win with air power alone, and anyone else who thought otherwise I would call hopelessly optimistic. There is still hope, though. Write your congressmen, tell them you are opposed to another ground war in Iraq. It might work, but I doubt it — America has already made their vote when they elected warhawks, I only hope that they made the right one.

Speaking of voting, it isn’t even like a majority of American’s voted the Republicans in on principal. The truth of the matter is that the country only had a 36% voter turnout, the worst this country has had in nearly 72 years. That is the problem with our country, it isn’t that we cannot make the right decisions just that we no longer care enough to try. To those of you who believe your political apathy does not hurt the country, I can only shake my head at you and sigh. You do yourself and your country a great disservice when you do not vote — it is by majority that these people are supposed to be elected, not by 36%. So, maybe we won’t actually end up with another war in Iraq, because at this point I’m hoping that I’m wrong.

– The Revanchist

War

War

Si vis pacem, para bellum. An ancient saying which, for those of you unaware, translates to “If you want peace, prepare for war” and unfortunately, it seems that war is once again starting to rear its ugly head. To be frank, we’ve never really gotten a break from war. With the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq finally drawing to a close after so many years and so many deaths it seems that American’s are willing to once more send our troops unto the breach.

How so? Well, conflict in Iraq is revving up with the addition of a Syrian problem that President Obama had desired to end before it began (only to be shut down by popular opinion, Russia, and the Republicans) and now it is his fault that ISIS spawned out of it. To be fair, there wasn’t alot he could do though he did seem like he was ready and willing to pull the trigger at one point. Of course, Russia has proven to be a most hilarious and belligerent member of the world community with their recent foray into Ukrainian politics in a most uninvited manner.

So what changed? Well, you can probably start preparing for the inevitability of boots on the ground because the War Hawks are in power and their mouths are salivating with glee. I find it most humorous that when the POTUS was willing to act on Syria, the American public was almost entirely against it but now that ISIS has appeared as a direct result of the Syrian conflict and American’s have died because of it the public finds themselves upset that the POTUS did not do more to stop it. What did you want him to do? He wanted to intervene in Syria and you all sent him a clear message that you didn’t want it — he acted upon the will of the people at the time and because of that we now have the fustercluck of the century brewing on our hands. So, what is he to do now? Send troops in? Probably.

While I remain a firm moderate, something more happened this election day than just the republicans winning. No, American Exceptionalists saw a greater victory this election than anyone else. What are American Exceptionalists? Well, they are known by many names but primarily they are the War Hawk Neocons of the Republican Party such as good old John McCain. These are the same people with so much campaign money tied up in defense industry lobbyists that they can want nothing more than war. They will achieve their goals, hell, it’s almost inevitable at this point. John McCain who is expected to become the next chairman of the senate armed forces committee has already expressed his desire to send weapons to the embattled Ukrainian government as well as to look into broadening the war against ISIS.

In the short time I have been actively studying the politics in America I find an almost amusing trend in how people vote, assuming they even vote. They often yell and scream about how they want change before ultimately reverting to the same style of government they had before they fought so hard to change it, but beyond that, when America wants to go to war it seems that we always elect Republican. For instance, October saw a rise in the willingness of American’s to send troops on the ground in Iraq in Syria, up to 45% vs the 38% of September. Likewise, 71% of American’s polled believe that we should send ground troops in if ISIS attacks any America facilities in Baghdad.

As we see the public consciousness drift more toward accepting of a future war, we also saw them vote in surprising numbers for Republican candidates who had war hawk tendencies. I am no psychic, so I cannot predict what the future holds but the incoming Hawks have already pledged to ramp up that good ol’ Nationalism we all used to know and love from the days of yore. Indeed, McCain has not only spoken about sending American weapons to the Ukrainian Government and broadening the efforts to combat ISIS but there has also been talk about China and its incursions into the South China Sea. While I am a moderate, I am deeply worried that the effort we expended over the past six years to repair the image of our country is going to be flushed down the drain. The sending of weapons to Ukraine will escalate tension between the United States and Russia, and sending ground forces into Iraq and Syria once more will only reignite a war we had finally closed the books on. Infact, I can go so far as to wager that sending American troops into Iraq and Syria would only bolster the ranks of ISIS because Iraqi tribal leaders have, for the most part, made it clear that they do not want American’s to be fighting in Iraq again.

I am not sure what it is with the American fascination of returning to the same things we fought so hard to change, like a battered spouse that returns to their abuser we seem willing to repeat the same mistakes in the hope that the outcome will somehow be different. Call me a sensationalist, but the ramp-up of propaganda lately has been quite noticeable. No longer do the United States Marines encourage you to ‘run to the sounds of chaos’, but rather to essentially run to help those who cannot help themselves, a clear change in tone given the ongoing conflict against ISIS as well a justification that any combat we do is precipitated by the need to defend innocent lives. I wasn’t kidding when I said you could expect American soldiers to be deployed back into Iraq in the next 10 years. I have already heard reports from individuals within the military that I am friends with who have stated essentially that their units are being prepared to possibly deploy to Iraq.

So, that is my rambling for the day. I cannot predict the future, but I know the signs of a country revving up to go to war and with the public’s opinion gradually shifting more toward accepting it you can pretty much bet your bright stars that the war hawks we’ve recently elected to power will be more than happy to capitalize on it.

So yeah, I am the Revanchist. Same bat place, different bat time. Sorry if you’ve missed me, I had a bunch of bullshit going on in life that we’re just not even going to talk about. Until next week.

Sic luceat lux.

Ruthless Grab Bag: Too much, too soon, too often

One of the things that often comes up with my writing here on WDDIJ is a request to cover a particular topic. And usually I just don’t do it. In some cases what someone wants to cover I want to cover and so it for a moment interests are aligned and it works out. Oddly enough my silence on some particular matters has been due to an over abundance of work on outside projects. And my appearance on a Friday instead of my usual Monday is because we have two writers who are just straight up swamped. So everyone send positive thoughts towards Ref and Revanchist, They’re deep in dealing with various things that take way more focus than writing here. They’ll be back when they can. And now let’s get to it. GRAB BAG!

Too Much

I’ve found that despite a general, “I wonder what they look like” feeling, I just don’t care about the leaked nudes fo celebrities or the coverage that commanded. I have never seen Margot Robbie naked and I’m certain such a picture would launch ten thousand ships in her honor. I’ve never seen Ruth Negga in anything revealing, and I’m certain I would swear a blood oath for me and all my descendants to fight demons in her name. My point is Despite how interesting in theory Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton nudes are. I don’t care. But…

I don’t think that this is sexual assault as some have stated in media and online.

Look I agree this is an invasion of privacy. I agree that this probably included some extortion of the women whose photos were released. But “Holy Hyperbole Batman!” are we really about to say this is the same as a woman being raped, a child being molested, a man being violated in prison by other men? Did that sentence feel gruesome? Good. That means you’re still capable of human empathy. See hard as I try, I can’t equate the conversation with a friend in college who told me about when she was raped with these photos leaking. I can equate it with a lot of other issues. Like being spied on by the public. Like getting doxxed. Like having things stolen from you. That these are of these women in various states of undress is bad. And the exposure to the rest of the public is also horrid, but this is a bridge too far, and a pound too much. Let’s deal with the guys that leaked the photos, and the ones that hacked the accounts, but climb down off that ledge and stop minimizing rape and sexual assault by turning it into a buzzword.

Too Soon

Somethings you are never ready for. And some things you have way too much time to do and never do them. Now don’t worry I’m not about to say the site is closing. I want to talk about how Ray Rice has been handled. When we all first learned about the situation we were all worried about what this meant. Would the NFL do the right thing? Would the legal system get justice for Jenay? What did she think? What had happened in the elevator itself?

And those were fair questions. They were exactly what needed to be asked. In the aftermath though some people got into trouble for coming to a conclusion too soon. Now let’s talk about Stephen A Smith. He got suspended for his comments, and even fellow ESPN folks like Michelle Beadle were chastising him for what he said. Fair or unfair that was too soon for both of them. As analysts the smart thing would have been for Smith to not address the larger issue of domestic violence and whatever perceptions he has. However, the language being used to describe him by Beadle was just as disheartening. While she stopped short of calling for his job, she might as well have.

And while I’m on the too soon topic, OBAMA!

Okay now that the racists have gone, let’s talk the real deal here. I am not an isolationist. But I do have isolationist tendencies from time to time. And this situation with ISIS/ISIL(I prefer calling it ISIL since that is what they actually want to do.) is one of the times I like to say nope, nope, you do your own thing we’re done. Here’s the thing about humanity. We’ve gotten to the point that now we have to cover for each other’s screw ups. ISIL is worthy of direct US intervention, but Boko Haram isn’t. Why? Well I’d say because the issue in Nigeria with Boko Haram is far more complex and isn’t sitting on top of oil production but that would be overly cynical.

No the reality is that this is just not a smart time to appear and help out. It is in fact too soon. Why? Because if you thought Iraq in and of itself and on its own would stay together you are clearly not a student of history. The country was an artificial creation and combined groups that were meant to balance each other’s presence in the region precisely because they did not get along. And you can thank T.E. Lawrence for that(If you don’t know go look it up). In the modern day expecting them to get along post Saddam is akin to expecting China, Tibet, and Taiwan to get along without outside help.

And that is why I don’t want US military members,which happen to contain lots of friends and family in them, to be sent on a devil’s errand of stabilizing a country that does not wish to be. At best we can expect Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Slovenia. At worst well, World War 3 with Nukes flying seems to be my particular brand of nightmare fuel. My point is sometimes you need to let a state fail and see what rises out of it. Helping groups escape from persecution, defending trapped Americans, ensuring safety for UN troops and other groups is fine. But full scale US intervention is far too soon.

Too Often

I cut off the last topic on purpose, because I know you feel some type of way about it. The reality is people see an armed group attempting to set up a new government and of course taking land through bloody conflict and say they should be stopped. But back up a minute. Isn’t that how re shinning city on a hill was founded? Now I don’t necessarily like the idea of the Umayyad Caliphate as run by ISIL is not necessarily my favorite of ideas, but why are we getting involved? Seriously take a moment and think why you care other than people dying. Far too often America and other heavily developed nations feel called to save every situation unless people say otherwise. But this isn’t Darfur, this isn’t the Rwandan genocide. This isn’t even Russia retaking the old Soviet Union countries one incursion at a time. The thing that should frighten you about the situation and any situation from this day until the end of the very idea of countries and super powers is that Iran wants to work with the US.

Too often in these days we see people out of position from getting involved in things they didn’t need to. In a country where student debt is over 1 trillion, Darren Wilson still hasn’t been charged, and Greg Hardy is somehow still not being subjected to the NFL’s domestic violence policy, we are ready to commit small ground troops and more drones and planes to bombing ISIL. We’re going to have to get some priorities eventually people. Too often the US is committed to showing up like the police, your father, or the boss and dictate terms. We’re doing it in Israel, We’re doing it in Iraq, and we’ve done it in far too many places far too many times.

Well this is far less problematic for America itself than CNN, FOX, and MSNBC would have you believe(No amount of teasing Michelle Bernard appearances even with Tamron Hall will get you back in my good graces people). The reality is hard to hear, and too often we ignore it. The hard truth is much of the middle east would stop having such issue with us if we would stop getting involved. Egypt and Libya are in constant conflicts, but we aren’t on the ground there. So why Iraq? Let’s go. I’d rather we deal with the fracking effects in the Dakotas, the achievement gaps in education between places in the south and places on the coasts. The police militarization. The student debt.

 

The fact minimum wage for servers is such a corrupt system that most employers don’t even attempt to prove the staff is making up the difference between the 2.13 per hour they get and the minimum wage of 7.25 per hour they are required to get in tips. We have a rising epidemic of mentally ill homeless. We have a VA system of reporting for claims that is older than my mother. Hell we have a makeshift fix to the healthcare crisis that will assure that we limp forward until someone is willing to sacrifice a second term for fixing the true problem. Hell we have so much monetary influence on the political process that candidates spend more time giving donors lapdances and blowjobs than talking to the people who are supposed to vote for them.

Folks too often we spend our time talking about, dealing with, and involving ourselves in things that don’t need us. Not just as a nation, but as a single human being. I thought about a friend of mine who was just telling me about something he’s dealing with right now. And normally I’d go into super friend mode and try and help him solve the issue. But instead I just sat there. listening like always, but not offering a solution. The only difference was that I didn’t offer an idea. Fun how his situation worked itself out. Too often we get too deep into things we don’t need to. And too often it has dire consequences. Think on that next time you see a story about someone doing something they really didn’t need to. I’d talk about more in this grab bag but…Words Don’t Do It Justice!

 

– THE Ruthless Wonder