White. Male. Paranoid.

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source: gouache-design.ru

Powerful white men dominate most, if not all aspects of society in the United States. Is it just because they’re scared?

There’s this thing that I’ve been chewing on for a few years now that has finally come into much sharper relief. I’ve often wondered: how is it that powerful, rich white dudes have not only got such a firm grip on nearly everything but also have, by and large, managed to maintain that grip?

Now, much has been written about the specific machinations that the power wielded by white men has birthed and also how these systems continue to perpetuate their own dominance. But what I’m trying to get at is the underlying emotion or driving force behind the individual choice made by well-positioned white guys to cohere into a force that subjugates, divides and pilfers from the people who, in their own eyes, are underfoot and should stay there.

But of course someone will win and the goal is that it will ultimately be you.

My circle of friends, my partner and myself play a lot of board games. Some of us still go out and drink and pretty well at that. But a quieter night in with friends gathered around the kitchen table sharing snacks and drinks while playing tabletop adventures is more our speed and is especially the case for myself. One of the many things I enjoy about board games aside from the excitement of zero-consequence competition, is how, generally, people’s personalities manifest themselves through game playing.

 

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Ferdinand is generally uninterested in board games.

 

When we sit there at the beginning of the game, we’re all on more or less equal footing. Same number of cards, same amount of make-believe currency, same level of power. What happens next is usually the same sequence that plays out in many of the games we play. Some of us are little more aggressive, a little more keyed-in. Some of us don’t know quite what they are planning to do next and some of us are perhaps too trusting of the other players and just want to have a good time. (A funny notion that is, to be too trusting.) The quicker to trust among us are often used one by one as rungs while the aggressors make their way to the finish.

One of the weapons in the arsenal of the aggressors is to sow distrust among the other players. The easiest way to incite suspicion is to look at your nearest competitor and draw everyone’s attention to their success as to warn all in attendance that they should be stopped or everyone will lose. But of course someone will win and the goal is that it will ultimately be you.

An even more useful and efficient tactic is to turn everyone against everyone. If they’re too busy fighting each other how can they possibly push back against you? You do this by simply reminding another player, in the moment that they gain some temporary power, that they were wronged by some other player. The best strategy when playing from behind is always to gang up on the leader. But, if you’re the closest to winning you of course don’t want that thought to cross anyone’s mind at all. However, when one tastes power, no matter how fleeting, the natural course, the irrational yet tangentially justifiable course, is revenge. The poetry associated with vengeance is often too tantalizing to resist. Seeing someone who is essentially on the same level as you be punished or pushed back down is imminently cathartic.

Well, they don’t know it’s only temporary but you do.

Another characteristic that comes to the fore in certain players is one of trustworthiness. The players playing the most dishonest game are more prone to distrusting other players. The further into the game they go by thieving and lying the more they expect the same actions to be visited upon themselves. Maybe it’s one’s guilty conscience rearing its head? Perhaps not, but it does speak to a very human capacity to be on the lookout for karmic justice. This serves to only further influence future decision making. As soon as a player begins to look at other players in this light, that’s it. They are coming for you with knives out just as you did them so you better crush them first. It’s the pre-emptive strike. It’s the cop firing on someone that they thought had a gun. “I better shoot them first because if I were them, I would shoot me first.

 

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Aerating Caesar.

 

It is entirely possible to win any number of games playing in this fashion. But there will come a time when the other players catch on and silently agree to come for you. At just such a juncture the best you can hope for is that you have enough silly little tokens or game pieces to withstand the assault. Or, you can call for a momentary truce with one of the horde in order to stave off destruction. Well, they don’t know it’s only temporary but you do.

If you are one the players trailing far behind your options become severely limited as the game wears on. You will find that you have to choose between continuing to play in earnest or playing your cards with minimal interest in hopes that the game, so far out of your hands now, will be over soon.

Many of them find the darkest impulses of humankind woven into their fabric and should be seen as suspect from the outset.

Particularly in the Americas when white men conquered and eradicated native peoples it was done with deceit and brutality. With campaigns finished, battles and wars won, systems were then put into place to keep tabs on the remnants of those they had dominated. They did this out of fear of retribution. They confined them to the reservations where they could keep an eye of them for fear that their named enemy was planning on returning the favor. In most cases this was simply not true, the people pushed into the margins wanted their homes and families and to live in peace, not to march into white settlements and put dwellings to the torch. We told ourselves these stories and lies after the fact in the form of John Ford movies to retroactively justify our own paranoid actions and the benefits derived therefrom as white people.

 

Strip me of my citizenship if you must, but I must confess that I hate John Wayne.

 

Not much digging is required to see how that same unjustified paranoia fueled the perpetuation of slavery and later Jim Crow which in several key ways persists into the present day. At every step of the way it became a requirement for the survival of the system to defend cruel behavior and if the white masses think that slave uprisings, race riots and Black Panther militias are going to go door to door killing, raping and looting then you can make almost any policy or practice appear not just necessary but preordained. Paranoia sustained and still sustains discriminatory actions because we visited the aforementioned atrocities first. When you are convinced that karma could be trying to come for you it’s not much of a leap of the imagination to re-frame a person of color advocating for change as an enemy agent who wants to exact Old Testament-style justice.

It is in the name of your own ego that those below are to remain below.

Systems are not completely without feeling. Feelings are what drive humans and humans create systems to organize their society in the ways that they think fit. As these systems are created in our own image they are susceptible to the flaws that come along with human feelings and can be easily exploited on the premise of those same feelings. Many of them find the darkest impulses of humankind woven into their fabric and should be seen as suspect from the outset.

If you are a poor man, surely you see yourself aligned with all poor people, do you not? No, of course you don’t. Unless you find yourself at the very bottom as a poor person of color the only comfort you can give yourself is that at least you’re not one of them. At least there is an “other” beneath you and heaven forbid they should ever catch up to you because then, without any direct change to your station in life, now you are at the bottom too. You didn’t fall. The bottom has simply come up to meet you. It is in the name of your own ego that those below are to remain below.

If you are a white woman, at least you’re white. A shortcut we hear all too often in public spheres wrongly gathers women as a single, monolithic entity, when things don’t actually play out like that. True, many of their life experiences as women overlap but as long as a white woman exists somewhere she will always be perceived as having more value than a woman of color. White women know they aren’t in power, but many of them choose to link arms with white men in order to uphold the patriarchy because the paranoia of what happens next if they don’t is too much to handle. In some examples it’s less paranoia and much more representative of a legitimate fear of marginalization.

…but it does highlight how they have chosen whiteness over being women.

All except one female Republican senator chose to support the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh while no female Democratic senators did. This obviously illustrates not only the partisanship of the chamber and of the United States in general, but also that there are women who will continue to enable patriarchy, in particular white patriarchy, if it means that they can still play second fiddle in their own party’s endeavors. They want power within the structure and they rightly calculated that flouting the wishes of their own white male-dominated political party would hurt their standing within their own chosen hierarchy. Now, to be sure, most of these women were already on that track, second-guessing the Kavanaugh nomination was never in the cards for them but it does highlight how they have chosen whiteness over being women.

White men fear loss of status, especially in terms of their peer groups. They, rightly so, want to either maintain or advance. And it so happens that the best means of doing so are by keeping others behind. As long as no one is gaining on you, you win, comparatively speaking.

 

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“Now look here, see. I told that poor to move or be squashed flat by my Packard, see.”

 

The underlying fears white men associated with the prospect of the others catching up range from the mildly delusional to the outright insane. Political correctness is censorship! They’ll tax everyone into the poor house! Women will castrate men! Black people will enslave white people!

If it looks like there’s a chance that the mobs with get the wealth and power that has historically been withheld they will finally buy the torches and pitchforks they need in order to storm gated communities. If they finally get to vote as easily as they should they’ll elect black extremists. Boys and men will have to wear body cams just to prove that they didn’t commit acts of sexual violence.

The country is divided by them and in their service.

Is this paranoia linked to a collective guilty conscience? In the end, I think no. That would be giving powerful white men too much credit and blind the kind of hyper-cynical eye one needs in order to see what the whole thing is really about. I do think that influential white men wet the bed at the thought of falling from grace and no longer running the system as it was designed to and that their every daydream consists of the methods that would keep the system running smoothly or how to best reap the bounties that they have carved out for themselves.

The country is divided, as white men say. But they’re not telling the whole truth. The country is divided by them and in their service. They align themselves with whatever group they need at the time in order to preserve and protect what they’ve built for themselves.

They host rallies for everyone and say that the “other” is swarming the borders. They pull other men aside and say that women are coming for them. They call white women into their offices and say to work with them lest they be confused for someone working against them. They make the temporary alliances that they need whenever they feel threatened and then discard that alliance when its benefit to them is no longer required.

The lengths people will go to in defense of what they feel they’ve earned knows no bounds, especially when fear and paranoia enter the equation.

If paranoia and fear of retaliation are the lifeblood of the society we’ve been born into, maybe what’s required of us all is to retaliate with our money and with our votes. For my fellow white people, is in incumbent upon us to retaliate by giving our support to anyone but the very same powerful white men who hold all the cards. We cannot afford to sit back in resignation and hope that the game, so far out of our hands now, will be over soon.


Alex Biscarner is a freelance writer living in South Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

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Sexual Predation: It’s Not for You to Say

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The cavalcade of accusations continues. Predatory men of power are presently sweating, awaiting the possible reemergence of their past victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Other men are disgusted at best or apathetic at worst.

In the minds of men who are quick to righteously recoil at the onrushing deluge of claims of predatory behavior there lies a component that is essential to their perspective but is also ultimately fragile and tenuous. That component is the belief that they have never been an aggressor towards a woman.

Our lives can span decades and who can remember their every whim or unwanted advance? Men may find that if they delve deep into their own workplace, school and even sexual histories that they too might have taken advantage of, intimidated, or abused another person in some sexual way. No matter how much of a gentlemen a man thinks he is now does not erase or gloss over past grievances.

What I can say is that I personally have been too aggressive, too stupid and too slow in understanding that what I doing was wrong.

My views now don’t resemble the views I used to have. I would like to think I’ve always been respectful and the better of my male peers, but that’s not for me to say.

I most certainly engaged in the crass talk of teenage boys and young men which is to be expected but not excused. I want to say that I didn’t do any damage. That I didn’t strong-arm a woman into doing something she didn’t want to. That I didn’t make unwelcome sexual advances or that I didn’t speak in a way which was untoward. But that’s not for me to say.

It would be great to think that the men in my lives, be they friends, coworkers or relatives, were never prone to the same kind of sexual predation we see in each day’s news headlines. But that’s not for me to say.

What I can say is that I personally have been too aggressive, too stupid and too slow in understanding that what I doing was wrong.


I was still a teenager I think. There was a party at a friend’s apartment and at this party a friend that I had been nursing a crush on was in attendance. At some point in the evening we made out. I was not drinker at the time, nor was she. We slept near each other in the livingroom where several of our friends also slept and we periodically kissed during the night. I put my hand up her shirt and that was that, it went no further.

Oh, the idiocy of it. I was looking for solace when she was the one who had been groped.

The next morning I felt that something was off. She left abruptly in the morning and if we happened to exchange any words or not I can’t be sure. A few days later I went to meet with the same group of friends at a restaurant and was confronted by the friend who had hosted the party. She caught me quite off guard when told me she was pissed at me in front of our gathered friends. I was flabbergasted. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then she told me I had groped the aforementioned crush while she slept.

I rocked back on my heels as my mind reeled. Had I? Yes, I had put my hand up her shirt. Was it over or under her bra? Did that even matter? I flushed red and stammered.

Then I realized that I must not have known she was asleep. The room we were in at the time was perhaps not the pitchest of blacks, but it was entirely conceivable that if one were attempting to observe someone else in the dark you wouldn’t be able to tell if they were sleeping or not. I am as earnest now as I was then, I didn’t know she was sleeping when I did it.

My friend was still angry at me but took me at my word. My pathetic display of confusion perhaps had something to do with it. I don’t remember anything else from that night except that I raced home to instant message our mutual friend to tell her I had no idea and apologized until I was partway comforted by the knowledge that she believed me. Oh, the idiocy of it. I was looking for solace when she was the one who had been groped.

Too many men have been taking current events and weaponizing them for political points or just to give themselves a clear conscience.

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t know what kind of lingering effects, if any, that event had on her. The best-case scenario is that it was just another in a long string of idiot guys doing stuff to her that they shouldn’t be doing and she doesn’t remember it consciously or otherwise. But the thing that makes intentional or unintentional behavior particularly nasty is that more often than not, the man who overstepped his bounds moves on with his life and the woman is left to deal with the consequences, to pick up the pieces so-to-speak.

And many men will likely never know that they at one time or another crossed the line. They will live on in blissful ignorance of their own trespasses, kept secure by a simple lack of empathy.

Here’s another thing: I don’t know if that’s the lowest I’ve ever made a woman feel. I hope beyond hope that it is, that there’s nothing worse in my personal history than that. Not because I want to be free of the culpability of having created a victim, but because I hope no other woman was put in a spot where she thought less of herself because of something I did.

Too many men have been taking current events and weaponizing them for political points or just to give themselves a clear conscience. “Yeah, I said or did some shit I’m not proud of, but at least I’m not Harvey Weinstein.”

If you really want to show people you know what’s what, take a look back and ask yourself if you’ve always been on the right side of someone’s personal space. If you can say with your whole heart and a full throat that you’ve always been respectful, then I hope for your sake and the sake of the women in your past and present that you speak the truth. However, you must bear in mind that it’s not for you to say.


Alex Biscarner is a freelance writer living and teaching English in the Czech Republic. Connect with him on Twitter.

Not Just My Wife and Never a Bitch

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Everything stopped for a long moment. Flustered, he slapped together an apology and after a few sideways glances the game continued.


I like to think of my wife not as my wife but as my partner. I feel that the idea of what a wife represents is too problematic for me to use on a regular basis. I only refer to her as my wife when speaking with lower-level English speakers to avoid confusion but eschew it in most other circumstances.

And in all ways she is just that, my partner. Whether it’s how we run our home, how we work together or how we make jokes together, we strive to think of each other as equals and that is not a quality that is inherent in the word “wife”. To be a partner is to be a part of something. To be a wife is to be labeled based on where you stand in relation to another person.

But yet I also strive to not speak for her. We are partners but I am not her spokesperson and she is not mine. When a friend of ours called her a “fucking bitch” one sunny weekend afternoon partway through a board game I immediately made it known how I felt, deriding the choice as, “fucking immature.” The action that gave rise to his response was a simple board game maneuver and nothing more, a standard practice in this particular game that she executed without vitriol or malice; just business, nothing personal.

I forced myself through the rest of the weekend-long engagement where we were holed up together amongst other friends at the family cabin of the offender’s girlfriend. That had occurred somewhere around the halfway point of the stay and I could scarcely bring myself to make eye contact with him for the remainder of our time there.

The underpinning of my relationship with my partner would then be a lie because it would have been about me all along and not about equality.

One thing I grappled with was, “Why am I offended?” The word choice certainly had a lot to do with it. If he had called her an asshole, jerk or something similar I’m not sure I would have responded the same if at all. I also tried really hard to dig deep and ask myself if he had said the same to another friend’s partner would I have found it just as despicable? I honestly feel that the answer is a solid, “Yes.”

That was an important step to me in confronting my own feelings on the matter. If what is primarily driving my own repulsion is that he cursed out my partner then it would ring hollow, false. It would mean that I somehow interpreted his transgression as a trespass against me and the things that belong to me. The underpinning of my relationship with my partner would then be a lie because it would have been about me all along and not about equality.

My oldest and dearest friends would never say such a thing to my partner and if someone is capable of saying such things then what, pray tell, are they thinking?

When I finally arrived at the conclusion that I could no longer stand to be around said person I was satisfied with my choice to disassociate with them. After we made it back to town at the end of the weekend and we all went our separate ways I made my intentions known to my partner. She too had obviously been offended and yet was not as upset about it as me. She became concerned that my decision was too rash and that I should think about it some more and weigh the consequences thoroughly. The person in question is a central figure in our social circle here and navigating the scene with such an individual labeled persona non grata would be difficult if not altogether impossible. I relented for the time being to allow for more introspection.

Her analysis seemed to me to be overly shrewd but I had listened and agreed to ruminate on it. In so doing I recalled several instances in my own father’s past where matters of pride had arisen and his mouth interjected on his behalf and subsequently killed a friendship or cost him his job. I openly considered yet again that this could be a motivator for my reaction to the whole ordeal. But I remained steadfast. My oldest and dearest friends would never say such a thing to my partner and if someone is capable of saying such things then what, pray tell, are they thinking?

My partner made an astute observation to me while I mulled things over. This friend, although an extremely fluent English-speaker, is a non-Native English-speaker. Could it be that a cultural knowledge gap or misappropriation was to blame for his choice of words? My counter-arguments were that if he didn’t know it was so bad how come he apologized so quickly and how could he not know it was so offensive? By my measure it was only a hair or two away from the C-word and why choose that particular word when he could’ve chosen an insult more gender-neutral and tame? Because he knew how harsh a thing it would be to say and perhaps lacked the cordiality, self-control or maturity to refrain from spitting it out. The invocation of self-control is not without merit, as this is the same person who once, at a session of Pub Trivia, became so upset about his team not getting a point that he threw a pen which almost hit my partner in the face. So, my assertion that he has the capacity for rage and lacks self-control is not entirely without merit and should be noted.

The experience was altogether new to me and that could have played an outsized role in the shock of the instant. Maybe it wounded me more because as a woman she’s had to grow a callous over where the word lands each time it’s launched.

I made the choice and decided I just didn’t want to be around him. In spite of all of these things which I verbalized, my partner still didn’t think it wise to sever ties. We were in the midst of planning an extended vacation away and when he reached out to her after I made my feelings known to him, she told him that maybe after we returned from our trip I would be more forgiving.

During the course of our time away my partner made her reservations about my decision known and pleaded with me to think it over some more. Eventually I relented and agreed that we wouldn’t put up a proverbial wall and that the next time the opportunity arose we would be open to everyone in our social circle. I acquiesced because I respect her opinion and her feelings. And because, I started to think, perhaps she’d been called a “bitch” before and was used to it by now. She has often told me that she had a lot of guy friends over the years, probably just as many as women perhaps even more. And that one of her ex’s group of friends was not all that classy. For me, this had been the first and only time someone had ever called my partner or even a girlfriend a “bitch” while in my presence. The experience was altogether new to me and that could have played an outsized role in the shock of the instance. Maybe it wounded me more because as a woman she had to grow a callous over where the word lands each time it’s launched.

She’s a modest person, wildly talented and beautiful, and the key reason we live the great life that we do. She’s the planner of most things and my duty is to help her to realize her personal goals and the goals she imagines for the two of us. She is the visionary, not I, and I try to position myself as a tool to be used in the implementation of her aspirations. And so, even though I feel that allowing this person back into our lives flies in the face of what I personally feel, I am not the only person in this relationship. If she is willing to sustain a friendship with someone in spite of what has transpired, then I have only to match her resolve and uphold my end of this partnership.


Alex Biscarner is a freelance writer and English teacher living in the Czech Republic. Follow him on Twitter.

A Woman is Not Just Some Body

Try as I might I can’t shake the compulsion to rate women on Wayne Campbell’s stroke-ability scale.

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Here I am, watching the all-girl alternative rock group Dream Wife and their super duper feminist track “Somebody” and liking what I’m hearing but unable to resist objectifying what I’m seeing. Recognizing this stirs disquiet in me. It also brings to mind the news of allegations against the one half of the queer-punk group PWR BTTM. This particular band has trafficked in positivity and acceptance in their lyrics and yet we hear troubling accusations that should be all-too familiar these days. Guitarist/vocalist Ben Hopkins is rumored to have forced himself on several people and in varying degrees of severity. If someone can appear to be a font of forward-thinking values and yet also be a creeper, then what about me?

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Hello, laaadiiieeesssss…

Which brings me back to the beginning. Here I am, a reasonably progressive dude (I think) and I can’t override my lizard brain when looking at women even as I am admiring their intellect, talent and creativity. Yeah, thoughts are not criminal, actions are. But it’s still a jarring experience to think you’re one way, that you’re above such impulses and then realize that you are not immune to poisonous thought. That you are also culpable and capable of harm.

We as a society assume that sexual predators are just one type of guy. So, ff we start counting the different stereotypes of heterosexual men that are floating around in the zeitgeist, among the first you might come up with is some version of dude-bro knuckledragger and maybe another is a liberal arts major with an ironically old-fashioned wardrobe. We assume that one subset is comprised of utterly pussy-obsessed incorrigibles while the other is respectful and genteel. But come on, it’s not that simple.

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Good Predator/Bad Predator

If we get caught up in labels like those we gloss over the good and don’t recognize the bad until it’s too late. It’s my opinion that plague after plague of handsy rapers has less to do with archetypes and more to do with mindsets. It’s typically men who feel entitled who commit acts most heinous. These sorts of guys feel like they’ve “earned” something and so they try and take it. The same spark that might move someone to commit adultery is perhaps not so far removed from whatever it is that convinces some dudes that it’s okay to be grabby gorilla men. Now, don’t get it crooked, I’m not equating adultery to sexual assault. What I’m saying is that the notion that we all are prone to exists in both situations, “You know what? I deserve this.”

In the putting of the self before the consideration of others one can justify, in their own mind at least, just about anything. I’m no expert but I can’t help but wonder how much of this is environmental. Girls are told not to look like sluts and boys are told that sometimes girls play hard to get, that they gotta earn it. Not through emotional intimacy and patience but through gifts and insinuation. And lest we forget, the boys know what we’re communicating to the girls and vice-versa. Talk about some friggin’ weird input to take with you out into the big, wide world. When we tell our kids crazy stuff like that what are we expecting to happen? Is President Grab ‘Em By the Pussy really such a shock anymore when you consider the kind of stuff adults teach children either on purpose or by accident? We’re basically showing them that males have the power and that’s just how it goes.

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Teach us how to make responsible decisions while respectfully acknowledging the physical and emotional boundaries of others, yay!

And so much emphasis is placed on sex as a subject by parents and so little on decency and respect. Either tell a kid to run from sex or run to it, but good grief don’t you dare tell them about what consent is. I could speculate for days about what got our culture into this mess but to tell you the truth, we might never know for sure but it’s certainly some kind of cocktail of culture and biology. The question we should be asking is, “Where do we go from here?”

Dream Wife has a pretty good idea that we could probably stand to learn from. In the aforementioned track, “Somebody”, (which is eerily evocative of the controversy swirling around PWR BTTM at the present) there appears the lyrics:

“I am not my body

I am somebody”

And there you go. Empathy’s the key. Bodies are not things, bodies are people. Be sure to pass it on to the kiddies.

The American Dream Distracted

Mollifying, tantalizing, patronizing you. Let me lay out, flat out, a few issues that are clouding our judgment as a people:

Jim

IMMIGRATION

You know, what your grandpappy Sven did so he could make a good life for his familials. Nowadays we’re dumping on Mexicans and other Latin Americans for job-poaching and crime-committing but we’re all the time forgetting how we did the same to the Poles and Eastern Europeans, the Irish, the Chinese, and the Italians. If you’re a white American, chances are you’re from at least one of those groups yourself. But we’re missing the point while the real enemy is adroit: the politicos.

I believe in the promise our country holds for others and for ourselves. I don’t believe the promises of politicians. Our government works. Politics are what’s broken in America. Folks are getting their insurance, their food stamps, their stipends so that they can experience, at the very least, a sustainable life in America. Where things get crooked is when we start to listen to stump speeches from powerful men who can’t relate to the vast majority of us. We eat up the fear their feeding us and all the while they’re bleeding us dry. They dress up xenophobia with economy and legality and whitewash the hypocrisy of their own families’ history.

Natives

It’s happening in Europe right this moment. In some countries, far-right (European far-right mind you, the American political stratum is tame when compared to Europe) politicians are winning offices while running as openly racist and xenophobic. Forget the fact that most of the immigrants that comprise the current wave in Europe are from war-torn countries. Those poor people are just trying to survive, forget the promise-of-a-better-life thing. They just want a roof over their heads with a zero percent chance that a bomb is gonna drop on it.

Whether this wedge was intentionally created or not it has drawn a line in the sand in American life: pro-immigration or anti-immigration. If your response can’t be uttered in three seconds or less get the hell out of the way. But the reality is that this issue is too complicated to be rectified in one fell swoop. Walls aren’t going to work and that’s dumb anyway. Who do you think does most of the grunt work in the American Southwest to begin with? I think citizenship should be easier. That way we can account for everyone and they can contribute taxes and be protected from companies that would otherwise take advantage of their undocumented status.

GUN CONTROL

On the left there are those who might want to melt every gun ever made and use the metal to make a statue of the Grateful Dead. On the right there are those who buy more guns every time a mass shooting happens because they think, “Now’s the time for Obama to steal my boomsticks.”

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Most gun owners wanna look like this…

What is actually going on is pretty much nothing. Look, after Sandy Hook went down and nothing changed, it was pretty clear that the gun control issue is effectively dead. If a classroom full of white, middle-class school children getting blown away didn’t do enough to jolt America’s senses then pretty much nothing will. That was the wake-up call and we ignored it.

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..but they’re more like this.

Pro-gun types like to rally round the Second Amendment and say that amassing ludicrous stockpiles of weapons will protect them against a tyrannical government. Good luck, the government has drones. But that’s beside the point. The government has proven itself time and time again to be woefully under-enthusiastic and unable to curtail gun ownership or even gun purchasing. In this respect, corporations and pro-gun organizations have proven themselves to be more influential, better-funded, and more powerful than the government.

Andy

So, with that being said, are pro-gun types taking their eye off the ball? When was the last time a billion-dollar special interest group or a multi-national conglomerate really did anything for Joe Six-Pack? The government gave him unemployment checks when the turd mine he worked at collapsed. When his brother came back from the war he was able to go to school on the GI Bill. When his meemaw broke her other hip Medicare helped her out. His niece got a loan for college through FAFSA.

Oh, but wait, the NRA did send him a sticker that one time.

On the left it’s a pipe dream that anything substantial to limit gun purchasing will occur anytime in the near future. There would have to be a dramatic shift in how Americans perceive gun ownership but ownership rates and guns per household are trending upwards. In the meantime, maybe they need to focus their energies on lobbying reform. The money is just as much an issue as the guns themselves.

POLICE BRUTALITY

Listen, no one likes the 5-o. Rightfully so. Theoretically, if you ain’t a victim and you’ve done nothing wrong, then you shouldn’t have to worry about them jacking you up.

It's hard in the streets.

It’s hard in the streets.

But we know for a fact that that’s simply not true. I’m not angling to take each individual cop off the hook for disrespectful, blatantly racist behavior and tactics. Nor will I condemn the concept of policing and the entirety of the police force as whole. Both are shortcuts and offer no insight. Our police represent our politics. Slain and pimple. Er, plain and simple.

Too much of policing in America is combating the symptoms. Minorities (specifically blacks) were duped, red-lined, sometimes even forced into specific pockets in our major urban areas. That alone did not inherently make those areas into ghettos. However, when you routinely under-fund these neighborhoods and their schools, limit access to public transit (and subsequently employment), allow drug epidemics to run rampant and only arrest street-level dealers and users while ignoring signs that your policing tactics are leading to turf wars, then yeah, those neighborhoods are gonna be kinda rough, right?

Garcia

Now this guy had it coming.

And yet we get bogged down in these cable news debates that push false dichotomies. “Did so-and-so deserve to be shot?” “Does the cop go to jail?” “Look at those rioters, how shameful.” When commenting on society’s ills we seem to be overlooking the question that real healers ask of themselves: How do I find the cure?

I don’t think it’s an out-and-out conspiracy that leads to the disenfranchisement of Black Americans. But I do think that politicians, crooked cops, greedy land owners and real estate developers, and most importantly, apathetic whites conspired to disenfranchise Black Americans.

Detroit is a prime example of white apathy. After the white flight of the 60's and 70's the city slowly deteriorated. Nothing happened in part because no one in power seemed to care.

Detroit is a prime example of white apathy. After the white flight of the 60’s and 70’s the city slowly deteriorated. Nothing happened in part because no one in power seemed to care.

It’s going to take a couple of generations to fix those wrongs. We first need to acknowledge that these things happened and persist to this day. And then be willing to collectively effect change. If we elevate one another then together we all rise.

But for issue of the police I have a three-pronged idea. Body cams are one part. I know they’re not a cure-all. But if we can determine wrongdoing and properly assign blame then departments will have to adapt and improve.

Tactics are another part. Patrol every neighborhood and know the residents. Meet people in the community who will work with you. Don’t write off districts wholesale because you think they’re against you.

McNulty

Maybe things’ll get better…maybe.

And finally, we need improvements to non-lethal weapons. Lethal weapons are the easiest to make, which is part of the reason why they’re so prevalent in law enforcement. Inventing a weapon that stops but doesn’t kill is naturally more difficult because it requires the development of a more efficient mechanism. But it can be done.

Like all of the issues I mentioned there’s nuance involved. I don’t think that corporations and politicians are actively colluding while scheming ways to further exploit the middle and lower class, but I do think that their actions often stem from fear, bigotry, greed, and ignorance. And that these actions dovetail, creating a society where we remain sustained in mediocrity.Glover

So-called wedge issues are perpetuated by our economically-stratified, politically-polarized existence. We’re all either liberal or conservative. We exist at opposite ends of the spectrum and yet we’re caught in the middle because we’re pitted against one another. We’re told we only have two choices in every controversy when it’s just not true. We can work together and find solutions together. We can reform our immigration policies to protect ourselves and those who seek shelter within our borders. We can reduce gun deaths without violating the rights of citizens. And we can own up to our self-inflicted wounds and ensure equal opportunity without sacrificing the comfort of the whole.

We are stronger together than we are apart.