Category: World Events


The events of this past weekend were horrific, but they have brought us as a nation to a tipping point and simply put I don’t think our President is responding appropriately.

Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups are hateful and despicable, and there is no reason the President should have waited for 48+ hours to say that. Even if he was waiting for facts about the weekend as he claimed, you don’t need facts to specifically call out and label a Nazi or White Nationalist deplorable. There is no way to paint the rhetoric of these groups as anything other than hateful, and he could have said that clearly while reserving his right to defend their first amendment rights. He chose not to.

The timeline of Mr. Trump’s responses and the reaction he got from the media, public and alt-right respectively is really concerning. (Check out David Duke’s, a past KKK leader, twitter if you don’t believe my characterizations of the alt-right/White Nationalist response)
1) Mr. Trump initially blames “many sides”: media and general public outraged while alt-right praise him
2) Mr. Trump finally condemns Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups by name: media and general public still think it’s too little too late while alt-right get super angry and upset, claimed he was only pandering not really meaning his remarks
3) Mr. Trump tweets that he can’t do anything to make media happy even after condemning specific groups -alt right claim this is proof Trump was only following orders/advice from aides and never meant his condemnation to begin with.
4) Mr. Trump goes back to “many sides” line among other troubling and off the cuff remarks – alt-right groups again embrace and praise him, mainstream media widely criticism him.

Looking at these statements and the responses he was getting from the public/media vs the alt-right and whose opinion does it look like he values more?

Now lets look at his most recent statements from the press conference a bit deeper because there are two points I feel the need to discuss.

First at one point he used the term “us” and had to correct himself when referring to the alt-right. Yes he corrected himself, but he continued to use language indicating that the counter-protests were the “other side” throughout. How exactly am I supposed to believe that he doesn’t have a sympathy for the alt-right white nationalists?

Second, he vehemently indicated that there were “very fine” people on both sides. There are no “very fine” people who are willing to march under (or even in close proximity to) a Nazi flag. “Very fine” people don’t proclaim they are superior because they possess pale skin. No “very fine” person calls for the extermination or oppression of a group of people due to skin color or religious creed. A “very fine” person would have seen the march the evening before where people carried lit torches and chanted for the elimination of POC and Jews and would have decided to take action and leave if they didn’t want to be associated with that crowd’s philosophies.

Simply put Mr. Trumps remarks are not enough and even giving him the benefit of the doubt as to his intentions veer dangerously close into condoning the actions and philosophies of these extremist groups.

Many of these groups are fighting under Mr. Trump’s name, and if Mr. Trump DOESN’T want to be held responsible for them he needs to do more to publicly condemn them and publicly address and correct their “misconceptions” of his words. If these crazies really are misinterpreting him he has nothing to lose from setting the record straight and everything to gain in legitimacy as a leader.

He needs to recognize and take steps to correct the way his words are fueling rather than diffusing these groups. If he wants me to believe he doesn’t value the alt-right/Neo-Nazi opinion and vote he needs to take concrete action to disassociate himself. Not once has he publicly asked these groups to stop using his name, likeness and/or slogan to further their cause. Until he actually does that I’m going to call a spade a spade and assume he’s not only ok with them chanting his slogan, carrying his signs and praising his actions but that he wants them to do it.

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I spent the better part of this past decade living within an hour of Charlottesville, Virginia; it’s a beautiful town that is home to many of my close friends and that holds many fond memories. To hear the name of this town become synonymous with hatred and violence is a startling and distressing turn of events.

I’ve never been blind to the racial issues boiling under the surface of daily life in Virginia, its impossible to miss. Virginia certainly has a long way to go to address the deeply rooted racial injustices of its past. Still I never thought there would come a day that a group of people would openly march under Nazi flags in that small college town.

As people are discussing the events of the past weekend I keep hearing from conservative pundits and alt-right sympathizers that it was just a demonstration against removing a confederate statue. Now to be completely fair I can actually make an argument for the preservation of Confederate monuments, and I do believe that it is within the rights of US citizens to peacefully assemble and protest. However these weren’t just a bunch of historians protecting our heritage. Specific hate groups started sponsoring and promoting the event and rapidly took over its purpose.

They even named it “Unite the Right” and the purpose as listed on the alt-right websites I visited listed nothing about the statue and everything about standing up against POC, Jews (referred to in derogatory names) and to promote white supremacy.

So protester who is claiming you were there about the statue answer these questions please:

If you want to claim that you weren’t aware of your protest being over taken by white supremacists, how do your actions show that you didn’t approve of them being there? If you were really there about ONLY the statue why didn’t YOU stand up and ask the Nazis to leave? Why didn’t YOU make it clear they weren’t welcome? If they refused to leave or didn’t want to confront them why didn’t you leave to avoid being associated with them?

Anyone who stayed at that protest after the tiki torch march the night before where idiots chanted racist and antisemitic hate speech knew full well who was marching with them on Saturday and chose to be complicit in their hate.

We are guaranteed the right to hold whatever opinions we want in this country. Even if I think your opinion is morally repugnant and evil, the government has no right to stop you from expressing those beliefs. You are allowed to be a hateful bastard in this country without fear of legal action from the government. That said your friends, community, employer ect. very well may have other consequences for you and your free speech doesn’t protect you from them.

Also the moment you stop following police direction and start using violence against others it has stopped being a legal protest. These groups refused to follow police orders as early as Saturday night, and continued into the morning. Long before there was a car into a crowd, there was violence from the alt-right toward the counter-protest.

While the initial and indeed the VAST majority of the blame for the chaos and violence on Saturday rest squarely on the shoulders of the white supremacist protesters that doesn’t mean that all of the counter protesters are completely blameless either.

While the initial and most deadly violence was caused by the Neo-Nazi side, “antifa” also used violence. If we are going to condemn the violence on one side we also must condemn the violence on the other. Even a few people using violence from allows the “many sides” comment to be made and gives people like the President room to legitimize the resistance. (more on that and the President’s response in a separate post)

This is where the let’s go “punch a Nazi” memes have angered me. While I understand the impulse to WANT to punch racist ass holes, that isn’t how our society was built. No matter how repugnant they have a right to SAY hateful things, and the government has to let them. It’s the government’s responsibility through law enforcement to keep that speech from becoming action. When we step up and try to take vigilante justice not only are we sinking to their level but we could possibly be putting law enforcement into a position where they have to defend these racist jerks because we’re the ones breaking the law.

It’s our job to use our own rights to peacefully and legally combat these idiots with our own rights of free speech. There are peaceful ways to disrupt racist rallies, and we HAVE to focus on that. As difficult and arguably unfair as it may be we have to be beyond reproach as we combat intolerance. It’s a hard road but going backwards into hate isn’t an option I’m willing to let happen.

Thoughts on Syria

Fair warning: this post will be disjointed and unorganized, but honestly that’s where my thoughts are on this issue at the moment and I just need to get them out there (and hey that’s the whole point of this blog). I do hope to get back to semi regular posting once the dust settles from my move, job change and wedding.

 

 

My thoughts on Syria:

Sadly the Oatmeal has some of the most honest commentary of this whole thing

-There are no easy answers or good choices as to who should be in power. People on both sides could be seen as potential threats to our national security.

-Our President did have the right to do something without Congress’ approval, and by placing that restriction on himself he may be significantly changing Presidential war powers for the first time since the War Powers Resolution and the ramifications of that scare me. Politically speaking he was stuck between a rock and a hard place; either seem like he was taking too much power (like Bush) or like he is now be seen as weak.

-I believe wholeheartedly that something has to be done about the use of chemical weapons, however the implications of taking action without global support terrify me.

-Something has to be done to uphold US credibility after the “red line” was crossed, however I don’t know what that action should be.

-At this point we are facing serious retaliation no matter what we do.

Supremely Frustrating

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing cases having to do with gay marriage, and because of that it seems almost everybody has lost their minds. It seems like a large portion of the people I know are loudly clamoring that we need to show the supreme court (insert your side of this issue here) RIGHT NOW.

First off, have we forgotten that we don’t want the supreme court to care what the popular opinion is? Have we forgotten that they are supposed to be unbiased judges of the law? Have we forgotten that they must be detached in order to be what we need them to be? I believe firmly that everyone has the right to protest, march, picket, yell, scream, and express their opinion in whatever they want, but don’t mind me while I pray and hope fervently that it doesn’t make the smallest bit of a difference in what the court decides.

We will not know for months what the court’s decision is and endless speculation, vilification of the opposition and fear mongering only creates a hostile climate that drives us farther apart as a nation. The decision will not change the fact that there is a deep divide amongst the people. The opinion of those few justices may effect the practicalities of the law, but it will not end this discussion, nor will it solve this problem.

I support gay marriage as both an issue of equal rights and an issue of freedom of religion, however I will not be doing anything out of the ordinary this week because the supreme court is holding a hearing. Ask me what I believe and why and I will gladly tell you, this week or any other. I’m not saying that the rulings will be unimportant to me or that I don’t have hopes that they will go a certain way, but rather that I care more about being a calm voice for what I hope is sound reason for the long term. I believe that is the only way there will be real change.

Religion and Tolerance- Part II

Over the weekend the unrest across the globe has not weakened, and rather continues to grow.  My heart truly breaks as I hear people spout ignorant and hateful words blaming the entire groups of people who have nothing to do with what is going on.

 

I am horrified to see that the ignorance and misplaced hatred quite clearly goes both ways. The violent groups are taking out the anger and hatred caused by a few lunatics and turning it toward the larger east target of the US as a whole. Meanwhile so many people here are taking out their anger and frustration on Islam and the region as a whole.

 

I have no real ideas on how we can stop this vicious cycle, all I know that my thoughts and prayers will continue to hope for peoples hearts and minds to be opened.

 

I found this opinion piece to be quite interesting. Here are some key points that stuck out to me:

“The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.”

“The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.”

Religion and Tolerance

I have been deeply saddened by some of the comments that I have read responding to the rising tension in so many countries that seems to have been started by one hateful film. Comments from friends, political candidates and the media have all fueled the flames of hate and misunderstanding.

I pray that we can come out of this stronger and show that we will not be dragged into blaming all members of a faith for the actions of a misguided few. I pray that we can prove that those who would paint our nation as hateful and intolerant in order to justify violence are quite decidedly wrong. We must show that we are a nation of tolerance and acceptance for all people who embrace liberty and peace no matter what God they pray to or what building they do it in.

Here are some remarks that Secretary Clinton made that felt were quite appropriate, and that I desperately hope will continue to be true:

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries…Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer…They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue…But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,”

A Somber Anniversary

Yesterday as we mourned the events of 11 years ago on the other side of the world terrorists again took the lives of Americans. While the scope of the attack can in no way be compared to that of the attacks years ago on our own soil, again I find myself shocked and saddened by what the world has come to.

As I read more information about what happened in Libya last night, I find my emotions and thoughts keep getting jumbled. For the time being here are some general thoughts and feelings about it now:

*This was a terrorist act, from extremist groups, the general public and government of Libya seem to be condemning the act. The US should not, and can not focus the anger toward the country nor the general Islamic public who did not have any part in this.

*It is truly tragic that a group of US Diplomats who worked so hard to bring freedom and peace to this country died while serving. Their lives of service should be remembered and honored.

*Our global community and great blessing that the internet can be is a dual edged sword. It is quite amazing and horrifying that a few people could create a video that would cause a ripple effect that would end up causing people who had nothing to do with it to lose their lives.

*Uncle Ben from Spiderman was right, “with great power comes great responsibility”. We now have the ability as individuals with very little investment to reach a global audience, and no standards to which we have to be held.  From the name of a teddy bear, swimsuit models, and even opinion documentaries it appears we are now anything could ignite a culture war. Can we really hold anyone accountable for how someone who has a completely different world view might interpret what they are saying or how they are saying it? Should we ever consider censorship? Should we censor the masses to prevent a few (in some cases arguable insane) people from getting upset to the degree of committing violence?

*Honestly the some of the comments and Facebook statuses I have read today make my head and heart hurt. We should be angry, but we must be careful who we focus that anger on, and how we let it effect the big picture. Hate will breed hate,  but I would like to think that we can rise above some of it. We must learn that we can not respond to ignorant hateful acts like this with more ignorance and hate or the situation will only become worse.