pollychromatic

the world through rainbow eyes


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Never Forget, or the Rise of the Alt-Right

We don’t say “Never Forget” to memorialize the people who were killed. Their memory is important. Desperately so. That’s not why we say it, though. We say it because it must be understood that this is a thing that happens. That humans create holocausts. That they can happen anywhere. That humans can easily find themselves willing to send their neighbors to death through their own lack of vigilance, awareness, or even belief.

This is horrible and not okay. Absolutely none of this is okay. The German people were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Russia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Cambodia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Belarus were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people of the Soviet Union were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Armenia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Rwanda were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in East Timorese were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Burundi were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Iraq were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Guatemala were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Bosnia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Pakistan were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Bangladesh were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Syria were not especially bad people. They were just people.

These people and countries that I list here are not all the genocides in history. They are just a majority of the ones from the 1900’s onward. Not. Even. All. Of. Them.

It happens. Not because people are bad. But because people commit genocides when they are desperate. Because when things don’t make sense we tend to say become insular and say it’s “them” or because we need to return to “good values.”


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8 Gun Debate Stoppers That Have To End

We can not have a reasonable discussion about guns until:

1) we stop saying guns don’t kill people.
– This is literally what guns are for. Even hunting is killing. It may be quite reasonable killing, and a good use, but it is killing. Guns are for killing.

2) we stop using the fallacious argument that owning a gun will somehow stop the tyranny of the government.
– Even local police stations have tanks and riot gear for all at this point. Unmanned drones can kill from the sky. The people in Waco and Ruby Ridge had entire stockpiles of guns. These guns did not save them even a little bit.

3) we collectively let the NRA dictate even researching gun violence.
– There isn’t even a national standard for collecting the data on gun deaths.

4) we can embrace the fact that more things contribute to gun violence than simply owning guns.
– Things like the poverty gap, the drug war, institutionalized racism, a culture that fetishes violence (if you think I’m talking about rap music, step back, I’m talking about our entire culture), etc., all may contribute to rates of gun violence. We know there’s correlation, but is there causation? Hard to know. See point 3 again.

5) we stop putting the buck on “the mentally ill.”
– Mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Putting this all on the mentally ill is just another way to say it’s not really “your” problem. In the wake of Sandy Hook, it was literally suggested that we make a national registry of the mentally ill. Not a national registry of gun owners. A national registry of the mentally ill. No. There’s a reason that HIPPA exists.

6) we come to grips with the fact that white dudes who attack people in the name of “freedom,” “anti-feminism,” “white supremacy,” or whatever are actually terrorists.
– Terrorism is not just brown dudes screaming, “Allah ackbar!”* These are forms of fundamentalism. Each one. This dovetails into point 5. We write it off and say the shooter was mentally ill. No. What they were is hysterical. Hysterically driven into a fervor by a culture that promotes fundamentalism. Of all sorts. We say we’re going to “take America back!,” or that “it’s a war on white Christians!,” or “a war on men!” These types of wording are meant to make you feel immediate fear and danger. For goodness sake, the entirety of the Texas government thought that the Obama administration was literally going to attack US citizens in Texas and ship them off to concentration camps. For real. Is it shocking that some people feel like they are in life and death situations? They aren’t “crazy” for feeling this way. Turn into Fox News any night and you will be told that people are coming for you and your way of life.

7) we understand that atrocities happen all over the world at all times, and we figure out how to lessen the reach, and perhaps frequency of these atrocities.
– Rwanda, Syria, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Armenia, Bosnia, Darfur, the indigenous people of North and South America: all of these were genocidal atrocities. They show how atrocities are not simply carried out by the mentally ill. Whole people get caught up in them. Shootings at schools, theaters, malls, churches, etc.? These are all much smaller scale, but if you look at the media that the shooters left behind, you see that nearly always they hoped to ignite just such a genocidal war. Do guns contribute to the reach? How so? Does it contribute to the frequency? The fatalities? Oh hey point number 3.

8) we stop saying that it’s too soon to talk about this after each and every one.
– Can we talk about it now? No. Too soon. It just happened. How about next month? No, a new one just happened. The month after that? No. Again and again we defer the argument for “later.” Later never happens. “Later” is simply “now” tomorrow. If “now” is always too soon, then we will never move anywhere.

*note – Let’s really also confront the fact that a truly small percentage of Muslims are fundamentalist, and an even smaller subset are terrorists aimed at destroying the US.


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Objectively Unreasonable

Somewhere down the line I noticed that I had been making a lot of my political opinions and beliefs out of the broadcloth of “well this sounds right and it should be right…” I believed, somehow, that what should be is what is.  A just world fallacy that did not take into account all the loose ends that fails to address.

I know when that wall started to crumble for me. I had just got finished reading  The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo and had been parsing the Stanford prison experiment, the Milgram experiment, the Asch conformity experiments and a few other behavioral psychology experiments when I heard Alan Greenspan –

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,…”

Cracks starting forming in my wall of carefully built ideology. Things clicked together. I started to notice that no matter how much an idea might make perfect sense people were not math problems. People were more nuanced in their reasoning, and finally in the action based on that reasoning.

So it followed that people, groups, businesses, institutions, and finally countries would also act in ways that were not necessarily logical by basic objective reasoning. People aren’t objective.

This can be great. We can do things that defy reason like pledging to get a man on the moon within the decade when we simply do not have the technology. Or it can be devastating. We can turn neighbor on neighbor  and rape, maim and commit genocide.

Neither of those is objectively reasonable. Both of these happened, and a plethora of other unreasonable acts. Humankind is not reasonable. We are predictable, though. Look at history, study it closely. See the bits in their wider context, and you can start to see a way to guide us toward our better selves, if such a thing is possible.

Perhaps that’s just my logical brain trying to make sense of the chaos.