Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”. Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including age, disability, dissension from popular opinions, economic status, ethnicity, gender identity,language, nationality, political alignment, race, region, religious or spiritual belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.
So as I sit here, skimming Twitter and the news (thereby avoiding the task of writing a research paper), I sigh and sigh. As the presidential election creeps closer, it seems the attacks grow more vicious, the rhetoric more misleading and childish, the desperation for campaign contributions more feverish. The heated vitriol among the most loyal supporters has always been there, but now it spreads through everything like a virus, infecting even those who had been more moderate and tolerant in their opinions and commentary.
I know this seems like a pretty harsh observation, but understand that I am not singling out one campaign or another, one group or another. I am pointing to both. Those of us who are in between become swept up and overwashed by the tide of vicious attacks and false accusations. Some who do not wish to receive figurative black eyes from the fervent remain silent. Some dare to express their thoughts but do so in fear of being misjudged or misunderstood. Some just do not care, seeing the entire process as futile as in their eyes nothing will ever change. Those who attempt to educate themselves about issues become exhausted after sifting through a barrage of bias. One side calls Romney a liar saying that he flip-flops, will present whatever works to get elected, and only cares about the rich. The other side says that Obama is the liar, distorting and cherry-picking facts that only support him, placing the blame on others, and keeping his real agenda hidden. If one votes for Romney, he or she must be a racist, an elitist who doesn’t care about those less-fortunate. If one votes for Obama, he or she must be a radical feminist/environmentalist, poor and uneducated, or a socialist (socialism is NOT communism by the way). No matter how a person feels, no matter which issues are important to that person, no matter what beliefs are best supported, the other campaign and its lackeys seek to break that person down (or lift them up) to earn another vote for their candidate.
So here is how it is for me…An American citizen with very real concerns and beliefs that are shaped by my personal experiences…a person who has worked hard to educate myself about my opinions and the issues that are important to me so that I can reach an informed decision: I have spent many hours researching and reading articles, blogs, documents, and information. Some of it is biased, although I try to find both sides. Some of it is boring, tedious, “want to shoot myself in the head” rhetoric in the form of laws, bills, and statistics. The point is that I have not allowed ANYONE else to do my thinking for me. I have questioned everything, and I have made up my mind. I know who I will be voting for come the time. I know why I am making the choice- why I believe and feel what I do. My choice is popular with some and unpopular with others (about 50% either way according to polls).
Now, even though I have made up my mind and am not afraid to express myself, I do not wish to persuade anyone else to feel the same way. I will argue proudly for my own beliefs, but I will not dismiss someone else’s simply because they are different. I do not view someone else’s opinion as inferior to my own. I might wonder to myself what motivates them, but that is because I recognize and understand that we are all very different individuals with different situations, experiences, and needs. I want to understand not change them. We are all at different places in life. Even if I might disagree with another person’s choices, I do not question the integrity or ability of others to make their own decisions. I fully embrace the right that each individual has to choose to vote or not. I embrace the right that each has to choose a candidate. AND I am sick and tired of listening to those who put down, attack, and vilify others because they think differently. I am sick of hearing about “libtards” and “republictards”, “Socialists” and “Facists.” I am sick of the finger-pointing, name-calling, and nastiness that oozes from political commentators, media outlets, and Americans. This is not high school. We are supposed to be rational, educated adults. So the likes of Rush Limbaugh resorting to calling Sandra Fluke a slut and Lawrence O’donnell challenging Mitt Romney’s son to a fistfight are infantile and unacceptable. Sadly enough, I could go on and on about this, but my entire point is that the behavior turns my stomach and serves nobody well.
In turn, I wish to be respected for my choices. I would like to be able to say something in a conversation without someone calling me “Darwinian” or “provincial.” I would like to be able to read and listen to civil, rational conversations. I would like to be able to read something that isn’t so heavily biased it makes my head spin. I would like people to quit implying that because I feel the way I do or believe what I believe there is something wrong with me.
When the election is over and done, when a president is sworn into office, life will continue regardless of who it is. My life will go on as it always has, and I will adapt accordingly as I always have. Some things will be harder; some things will be easier. I will do whatever I must to protect myself, my family, and my beliefs with integrity because in the end that is what really matters to me. Whether we have to change our lives completely will depend on how the tide flows. As always, I will find a way; my family will find a way; we will survive a President Obama or a President Romney.
Please bear with me as this post is a work in progress. Today I am attempting to let my hair down, relax on the research, and express a viewpoint. I have limited time and focus as the animals, children, and husband are circling around me. To make things even more hurried, I have a commitment to be somewhere soon. So, I am going to hurry and spit it out.
I read a good amount of material, and I read often. Unfortunately, I usually end up spending more time reading the comments following an article rather than focusing on the article itself. The reason being that I am often shocked and taken back by the amount of negative and derogatory terms used. People who write in the comments section rarely have anything substantial or intelligent to add. Usually it is a brief harangue filled with vicious attacks. I would even go so far as to say that the posts border on hatred.
Rarely is this hatred focused on one individual or idea. It is often a fountain of expletives and poorly written insults against another group. It is what I would consider political racism between republicans/conservatives and democrats/liberals. I am not implying that intelligent people capable of disagreement and literate discourse are the perpetrators here. I am simply suggesting that the many illiterate, bigoted, intolerant, and hypocritical respondents have little to offer except regurgitated epithets that are often inflammatory and unjustified. It makes me wonder how many people in America actually think and act in this way. It scares me to realize that there are people in America who think and act this way. I am not suggesting my own superiority as I do not feel that way. I do not propose that my style of expressing myself is any better than any other. Nevertheless, I do expect a certain amount of decorum from people, especially adults. And I would like to think that Americans are capable of more than overused slang and vulgarities.
I am beginning to work on a list of derogatory terms as I stumbles across them. Feel free to send me any you have seen. I will continue to add to the lists. As I said, this is a work in progress.
This immediate period following the tragedy in Colorado should be a time for personal reflection, empathy, and expression of support, not fuel for anyone’s political agenda
Before I begin, I would like to pay a small tribute to one of the victims who lost her life Friday night. I think it serves to remind us that these were real people with real lives, and tragedy (and in this case irony) are not strong enough words to describe the loss of these lives. She wrote a poignant piece on her own blog about the gift of life, “ After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given” (**). Rest in Peace Jessica (Redfield) Ghawy .
As is true of many Americans, the recent shooting in a Colorado movie theater has rocked my world. No, I do not have any personal connections to the city of Aurora. I did not know any of the victims or witnesses. But as a living, breathing human being, I still feel intense grief and shock. I am horrified by the details as they emerge. How can one individual so callously end the lives of 12 people and harm numerous others? How can so many innocent people attending a movie screening end up in a situation like this? What if it had been me or someone I loved?
Whenever such a thing happens, these questions come to mind, as they should. Horrible events serve to remind us that we are mortal beings, often vulnerable to tragic circumstances. There is no way to explain how or why, which creates even deeper pain and fear in many people’s minds. And despite our best efforts, there is no way possible to explain away the pain and fear or understand it. It is an irrational act by an irrational individual and defies all logic. Period.
Yesterday, as I watched the news, I found myself at a loss for words. I was filled with a profound sadness and even shed some tears as I listened to witness accounts on the news. I am not a religious person. Nevertheless, my heart still filled with sympathy, and I said a few silent prayers for those who were directly affected. What else could I do?
I expect that many Americans felt the way I did. I believe that we all were doing a little soul-searching and reflecting on our own lives and loved ones. I was pleased to see that the majority of our local and national leaders made it a priority to set aside their political agendas to extend condolences and express deep sympathy to the people of Aurora. Both Obama and Romney suspended campaign efforts, set aside their negative attacks, and kept their responses short and devoid of blame or negative rhetoric. Many other officials echoed the sentiment. I read through 57 comments gathered by the Huffington Post (4), and each expressed deep-felt sympathy. This is the way it should be in the wake of a national tragedy. It provides some measure of comfort to the American people and shows respect for those affected. Nevertheless, not all leaders followed suit. There were some who decided to take advantage of a tragedy to serve their own political agenda less than 24 hours afterwards. They could not even wait for 24 hours!!! This to me is vulgar, disrespectful, and just proves how callous and insensitive these individuals/ groups are.
A prime example of this is one politician who has proven again and again that he is a selfish, narrow-minded zealot, Michael Bloomberg. The man could not wait to espouse his view and barely acknowledged any of the victims before launching into his diatribe. He was joined by the mayor of Boston and the president of the Brady Campaign.
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people — President Obama and Gov. Romney — talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how.”
— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (1)
In a press release issued by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote, “The fixes are easy and they are common sense. It’s about enforcing existing Federal laws and making sure we don’t let criminals buy weapons. We need to put a background check on all sales and require states to step up their reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to make sure we have a check that works. Maybe this will finally wake up Washington.” (2)
“As someone who has suffered the lasting impact of gun violence, and president of Brady (Campaign), I can tell you that we don’t want sympathy. We want action. Just this past April 16, the anniversary of the worst mass shooting in American history, 32 victims of gun violence joined us to demand Congress take action to stop arming dangerous people.”
—— Dan Gross, president of Brady Campaign (1)
The only question I ask is WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? Why is it so difficult to allow at least 24 hours to pass before attempting to turn this into a measure for gun control? It is one thing for Americans to express their opinions and feelings, but these are supposed leaders. I call them “supposed” because in my opinion this type of behavior shows a lack of true leadership in a time of tragedy.
Just to illustrate, here are a few examples of how some who very strong viewpoints on gun control did not abuse this event to make a point. They took the higher ground, and in my opinion, showed true respect.
“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is a member of a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but when he issued a statement expressing shock and horror on Friday after a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, he had nothing to say about gun control” (3).
“The NRA said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community. NRA will not have any further comment until all the facts are known.” (3)
Some other thoughts to support how inconsiderate and brash the comments from Bloomberg, Menino, and Gross are the following comments:
“Moreover, it often isn’t immediately apparent what gun laws would have made a difference in specific cases” (3)
” ‘When there’s a crime such as this, it often takes a few days of police work to figure out if a gun loophole has been evaded to cause the crime or if there has been a hole in the gun laws to allow someone to get the guns,’ he [Jim Kessler] said” (3).
(**) Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting
(1) Condolences, calls for action among national reaction to deadly Colorado theater shooting
(2) MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS STATEMENTS ON AURORA SHOOTING
(3) Colorado shooting unlikely to spur changes in gun laws
(4) Shooting In Aurora, Colorado Sparks Outpouring Of Political Reaction
On the Tragic Shooting in Aurora, Colorado
Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor, Reacts To Colorado Shooting
Video: Mike Bloomberg Calls on Candidates to Address Gun Control
There are many disturbing teen trends these days. We are made more aware of it by the easy accessibility of social media. However, perhaps the most disturbing to me is the growing issue of groups of teens who are acting out in public venues with absolutely no regard for others. Their actions vary from civil disobedience to theft and violent beatings of innocent people. One of the most disturbing factors to me is the brazenness of the individuals involved and the lack of any productive consequences.
This is not a new trend. It has been happening more and more over the past couple of years. Nevertheless, there is so little coverage by the media that stories remain local, which gives the impression that the incidents are not very common and only happen in certain areas. After I did a little research, I found that this is simply not true. There are stories from all over the country. One individual has complied a timeline and list of events with links to sources. It is quite an eye-opener. I have read through some of the stories for myself and posted links to examples below. To see the full list go to violentflashmobs.com.
Yes, throughout American history there have been riots, mobs, and protests dating back to the 1800’s (the Anti Abolitionist Riots and New York City Draft Riots). Some had a purpose such as during the civil rights movement. Some were violent such as those in L.A. after the Rodney King beating. Some defy logic such as those that occur after a big celebration following a national playoff game (ie, Montreal mobs loot stores after Game 7 win in the NHL playoffs). Nevertheless, one common denominator that all of these events have is some instigating factor; whereas, teen mobs in current events are mostly random, without purpose or direction, and carried out by young people.
I cannot even begin to speculate about the cause or nature of this type of behavior. Is this is sign of our deteriorating society? Is it one of the negatives of advances in technology? Is it symptomatic of something sinister? Who knows? It is easy to blame the immature thinking and behaviors of teens, racial factors, parenting problems, and pop culture. Obviously there is a larger issue at hand, one that should create deep concern within all Americans, black, white, urban, suburban, etc. It is not just a problem in one city or within one cultural group. It is something that has the potential to affect us all. Something that could instantly alter a life, or many lives, forever.
**On a side note, I wanted to also express my disgust and concern with the blatantly racist comments left on some of these websites, especially Youtube. In my opinion, it is inexcusable and deplorable behavior of the worst kind, and shows just how ignorant people can be. (i.e. “Crackerazz honkeys “, “No wonder those monkeys were actin’ all da’ foo’!”, “lazy entitled ghetto trash.”, “yall white trailor trash azz”). SIMPLY APPALLING!
Here is a brief list of some other incidents that have occurred around the country. Some involve violence, and some do not.
On June 31, 2011- Pittsburgh
Police: Teens Leave Church Picnic To Riot In East Liberty
On September 10, 2011- Minneapolis
“Mini-riot” in downtown Minneapolis caught on tape
On December 26, 2011- Bloomington, Minnesota
Moving melee causes chaos at packed Mall of America
On March 23, 2012- Miami
Trayvon Martin Protesters Ransacked North Miami Beach Walgreens
On May 23, 2012- Baltimore
Flash Mob Steals From Baltimore 7-Eleven; Beats Store Manager Who Tries To Stop Them
On May 27, 2012- Milwaukee
Amateur video shows teenage brawl on North Ave. near McDonald’s
On June 16, 2012- Troutdale, Oregon
Police: Group of teens ‘flash robbed’ grocery store
On June 18, 2012- Detroit
Detroit gas station beating caught on tape
FOR MORE EXAMPLES VISIT
- Smash mob causes havoc at WalmartYouTube video shows teens throwing food, merchandise around store
- 300 Black Teens Flash Mob Florida Walmart $1,500 in Goods Stolen!
- 300 Black Teens Storm Florida Wal-Mart
- Hundreds of teenagers storm Walmart in criminal flash mob (VIDEO)
- ‘Smash mob’ with THREE HUNDRED wreaks havoc on Wal-Mart as teenagers fire gunshots, throw food and rob the store
- Teen Mobs Terrorize Shoppers in Florida, Oregon
- Philly mayor chides black parents over teen mobs
- Teenage Mobs: A Rising Epidemic
- Are teen mobs the next wave of urban unrest?
- MARAUDING MOB OF 50 TEEN-AGED GIRLS BEATS DOWN 2 NYC COPS
- Surveillance Pictures Released In Mob Attack On CTA Red Line