13 November 2009

I've had it up to here with political correctness.

Political correctness does not exist, at least not in the way it's being used by pundits and politicians. The term itself -- in its current usage -- gained currency as a neat right-wing sound bite to dismiss any allegations of racism or sexism. Oh, you think I'm being derogatory when I use the n-word to describe Blacks? You're being "politically correct." You don't like that I refer to women on college campuses as sluts and candidates for the MRS degree? You're being "politically correct."

In other words, the term has provided a nice cover for neanderthal behavior and has effectively become a blanket term for anything liberal, progressive, or simply sensitive to multiple perspectives. Now, for some reason, the right wing has decided to deploy "political correctness" to discuss the Fort Hood shootings (I'd say to politicize the shootings, but let's face it -- everything is always already political, and here we have the most pungent ingredients for a political soup: army base, nation at war, Muslim shooter publicly critical of US role in Iraq and Afghanistan...). From his perch in cloud cuckoo land, Charles Krauthammer actually throws out this rubbish:
Have we totally lost our moral bearings? Nidal Hasan (allegedly) cold-bloodedly killed 13 innocent people. His business card had his name, his profession, his medical degrees and his occupational identity. U.S. Army? No. "SoA" -- Soldier of Allah. In such cases, political correctness is not just an abomination. It's a danger, clear and present.

The "political correctness" in this case was the initial response of news agencies -- surprising, actually -- not to rush to judgement. In the absence of any information other than the shooter's name and religious affiliation (because we have to remember that information on his business card, radical cleric contacts, and even his specific statements before and during the shooting weren't known until a few days later), the media didn't supply all those missing details.

I fail to see how that equates to political correctness.

When Timothy McVeigh perpetrated what had been until 9/11 the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil, I don't remember the media immediately seizing upon McVeigh's U.S. upbringing and his Christian faith...although of course as details came out they paid quite a bit of attention to the militia movement and white supremacists.

And it's not simply Krauthammer who's trying to link the Fort Hood shooting to the term "political correctness." On comment boards from national papers like the Post to small town local papers, letter writers and anonymous online posters are decrying the "politically correct" military (ha!) and media.

Krauthammer, by the way, doesn't do himself any favors when his major source of information about Hasan's radical ties come via a report on NPR, the right-wing's target that conveniently kills two birds with one stone: liberal media and government waste.

Apparently, what Krauthammer, writing in the comfort of one week's reflection and subsequent news stories, mistakes for political correctness is actually journalistic integrity (which is itself a nearly dead object).

09 November 2009


There's nothing sadder than watching your team fail to show up for big games.

OK, so I exaggerate. There are far, far sadder things than that. Like reading the Washington Post comment boards and realizing that most of the people who take time to write on them are reactionary half-wits. Yet still literate. That's sad.

However, in the context of college football, a team with a good record that fails to deliver in the big game is pretty hard to top in the sadness area. And Penn State has delivered that in spades this year, with losses at home to Iowa and Ohio State, the only two decent teams we will play this year (until the bowl game). In both cases, the offense simply didn't show up. The Ohio State game is harder to swallow, because they essentially have one player, and he's not exactly stellar.

But hey, we lost, and have been deservedly kicked to the lower echelons of the top 25 (19 AP, 18 BCS). We should climb up a few spots by beating Indiana and Michigan State, although I can remember a few late season collapses where we went from big bowl contenders to simply bowl bound.

The bright spots on an otherwise disappointing Saturday were that Florida State and Notre Dame lost.

I really don't take much joy anymore in reading the Florida State espn message board, because the people on there are defeated and nasty and would love to kick Bobby Bowden to the curb -- a bunch of ingrates who wouldn't know football and tradition from next week's flavor of the month hot "new" offensive scheme.

The Notre Dame board still provides great amusement, though, because they are still in denial. They still believe that the nation looks to them as a city on the hill, that every coach and every recruit would love to be part of their mid-tier program, and that every team they play treats Notre Dame as "their bowl game" (I suppose since Notre Dame plays mostly losing teams, it might be their bowl game...most of them end up ineligible to play in real bowls). Oh, and before I forget, that Ty Willingham personally and maliciously destroyed Notre Dame football...some posters, like 73Champs, are rather vehement about this charge, calling him "Willingsham" and "Entitlement Thief" and 73Champs has even provided this little "gem" that provides insight into his asininity: "And then based on the color of your skin, bamboozle another un suspecting employer to hire you so you can drive their business into the ground." He usually pulls that one out when he's called out for still backing Charlie Weis, whose record is a full percentage point (yes one point) above Willingham's despite Charlie's having played far worse competition (Willingham played nearly half his games against top25 opponents; Weis has played fewer than a quarter against that caliber of competition...and their records in those games: Willingham, 8-9; Weis, 1-12...the lone Willingham defender on the board, Cardfan, points this out repeatedly and is generally reviled for backing up his argument with numbers. After all, it's much easier to act like Willingham only got hired because he was Black and, according to 73Champs, was fired because he was "lazy").

06 November 2009

It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Well, this shooting spree at Fort Hood will send the nation into a tizzy for a few days, and set right-wing shitheads off for far longer. Already, the Washington Post's comment boards are filling up with assholes opining that Muslims should be barred from military and police duty, among other things. Here's a fine example:
We should not have muslims in the armed forces, police departments and anywhere they can cause the havoc they live by. Matter of fact, after knowing that several groups of muslims and mosques such as the one depicted spread hate and anti western rethoric we should put them on a watch list. If they find our system draconian then they can go back to the Middle East. After all, the United States of America belongs to Americans, not the rest of the world. I as an American cannot simply go and live in any muslim country safely, thus why should they be safe here. Time to stand up and state: Respect our country or leave. And spare me the "he was born here" routine, time to judge Americans by their allegiance to this country and not by simple birthright. Take a look at Obama, he may have been born here but is the biggest traitor to our nation.

Note the final shot: Obama, for some reason, is the "biggest traitor," although the poster allows that he "may have been born here." Other posters repeat false quotes attributed to Obama that they claim emboldened the shooter. It's insane. I didn't realize so many right-wing retards read the Post. I thought they hated it and read the Times. I mean, I don't go hanging out on the pages of the Washington Times all day long commenting about their race-baiting stories.

The shooting is horrific: a long-time officer shooting his fellow soldiers should be troubling to everyone. The victims died at the hands of a colleague, and while we've become somewhat immune to the notion of workplace shootings, since this workplace happens to be a military base, we're paying more attention. The fact that he's Muslim, of course, is the only thing the right wants to hear, and it is the loudest noise in the media. It's convenient, too, for the racists and ethnocentrists -- the descendants of those who wanted to deport African Americans to Africa and round up the Japanese Americans in World War Two (Yes, FDR, I'm looking at you...) -- who like to believe that the U.S. is a white, Christian nation. They have little understanding of the difference between having a majority population of a certain race and creed and basing your government on racial or religious factors.

But it's going to get worse. It was bad enough for American Muslims after 9/11. Major Hasan's actions will only elevate the calls for state-sponsored religious and ethnic discrimination to more "legitimate" levels. In other words, instead of being the province of racists like David Duke, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh, this bile will also issue from the mouths of politicians in positions of legislative power (for instance, from more polite proto-fascists like Michele Bachmann). Look for bans on Muslim garb (but not cargo shorts or mumus) in certain public places, under the guise of their ability to conceal weapons/explosives. Look for legislation to prevent Muslims from joining the military or working in public safety positions including police and transportation. Look for legislation seeking to prevent Muslims from owning firearms (a bit farther out there, because the NRA would likely withdraw their financial support from any right-winger floating any sort of gun law).

As far as the news cycle goes, I'm expecting a few things:
  • A few more days of focus on Hasan's religion and politics.
  • A few days of examination of the stress of being psychiatrist to returning soldiers traumatized by war (aka transference). This aspect will be accompanied by a reassessment of motive.
  • A proliferation of right-wing (and perhaps even left-wing) conspiracy theories: from the right, the usual "Obama is a Muslim" tripe alongside a more inventive "Obama generated this massacre to distract everyone from the Republican electoral victories on Tuesday"; from the left, "Obama generated this massacre to justify more troops in Afghanistan."

It's really a depressing scenario, but I remain firm in my belief that the racists and fascists, despite temporary surges, remain on the losing side of history.