The brutal indifference of tolerance

“Any bonds of humanity, citizenship, or love that he is referring to in this speech, he clearly does not believe in.”

#Trump #LasVegas #Shooting

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During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he doesn’t care about words. So much so that CNN Host Fareed Zakaria said this about him on fellow anchor Don Lemon’s show:

“I think the president is somewhat indifferent to things that are true or false. He has spent his whole life bullshitting. He has succeeded by bullshitting. He has gotten the presidency by bullshitting. It’s very hard to tell someone at that point that bullshit doesn’t work, because…look at the results.”

The media already knows this about Donald Trump. The New York Times reported that Donald Trump told the public lies every day for his first 40 days in office. And it is with that context that I present to you his comments after a domestic terrorist opened fire on 50+ concert goers last night in Las Vegas, outpacing the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre for “deadliest mass shooting since 1949.

“It was an act of pure evil. In moments of tragedy and pure horror, America comes together as one, and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us: our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today, and always will.”

On a normal day, the media is doing its job. It’s slamming Sean Spicer or Sarah Huckabee Sanders for outright lying to the American public without a hint of remorse. It’s literally guiding the president through the intricacies of institutions he has no hope of understanding. But they regularly lose their footing with tolerance.

In the absence of context, these words seem fine. They seem like a call for unity, peace, and love. However, they only work if we forget everything we know about the person saying them.

How can a man who, days ago, attacked a mayor grieving for the people of Puerto Rico as having “poor leadership” be fit to call for unity?

How can a man who yesterday again actively discouraged American citizens from exercising their constitutional rights at a football game ask for peace?

How can a man who insisted, in the wake of white supremacists running multiple people over with a car, that “Eh, there was violence on both sides” call to our common bonds of humanity?

“What do you know of love? Who have you ever loved?” – The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Tweeting a GIF of hitting Secretary Clinton with a golfball? Banning transgender troops from the military? Rescinding the DACA program to deport children brought here illegally? Suggesting that Second Amendment supporters murder Secretary Clinton? Inciting violence at his rallies? Running an entire campaign based on the preservation of the supremacy of the white race? Do any of these ring a bell?

Any bonds of humanity, citizenship, or love that he is referring to in this speech, he clearly does not believe in.

He lies to the media because he knows they’ll believe it, desperate to retain the sense that all hope is not lost, and that there may lie a person capable of the smallest amount of introspection or goodness underneath the horrific mask. (Remember Van Jones drooling over him because he spoke full sentences once?)

But it’s not a mask.

And Donald Trump twists, bends, and shatters even the idea of the truth because he preys on the left’s insistence on tolerance. He preys on the fact that most liberals are committed to “having dialogues” and “reaching outside their echo chambers” and “listening to the other side” which he is wholly unwilling to engage in, and he knows it. He knows that they’re afraid to outright say that he’s wrong and that they’re right.

Pretending that there is some other Donald Trump lurking in the shadows of his ghostly heart represents a brutal and craven indifference to fact, or the communities harmed by his actions, and to portray him as just another viewpoint is the height of irresponsibility.

We should not exalt him for paltry and easy words that he neither means nor exemplifies. And we certainly shouldn’t praise him for hollow words with no commitment to do anything about the violence he decries.

He has no courage or empathy, he has neither sacrificed nor given anything, and he cares not for anyone but himself.

Donald Trump is not a leader, and it’s long time that liberals knew they have no responsibility to call him one or pretend he can be.

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White People, It’s Okay To Feel Bad About Privilege

“The next time a white person blusters at you, ‘Oh, so I’m just supposed to walk around feeling bad about my privilege all the time…?!’, think about what they’re actually saying to you.”

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Every so often, I hear (probably well-meaning) black people say things like “White people, nobody’s asking you to feel bad about your privilege” when having conversations about race and politics, economic inequality, and how that can affect people’s lives right down the color line.

I know that they mean well when they say it, and I know that it’s probably just a response to memes like the that insist that no living white person was responsible for slavery and no living black person was enslaved, and other things like that.

But I don’t think that they should, and that’s because I think it’s okay to feel bad about privilege.

The next time a white person blusters at you, “Oh, so I’m just supposed to walk around feeling bad about my privilege all the time…?!”, think about what they’re actually saying to you. They’re asking for permission to live without empathy.

Empathy is looking around and realizing that other people do not have all of the things that you have. It’s feeling that uncomfortableness that comes from knowing you have a home to go to when others don’t, that you have an education when others don’t, or that you have cool gizmos and gadgets that others don’t. It’s also a complicated system of managing how we interact with the world, how we help others, and how we balance our desire for justice with competing interests – namely our own.

But as they’ve described it, they don’t WANT to have that feeling. “Feeling bad” for people is icky, and they want to live without icky. Definitely without icky. They don’t wish to be reminded of the inequality that exists in the actual world, and instead, prefer a cloistered reality where they don’t “feel bad” because they’ve noticed something outside of themselves.

All of those things that I mentioned are real levels of privilege that I personally have, by the way.

I once had a friend ask me why black people don’t like to swim. Off the top of my head, my first guess was, “Well, black people do tend to live in more impoverished communities that are in the urban centers without much access to bodies of water like pools or lakes, and often lack the monetary resources to be able to afford things like lake houses, ski doos, tubes, boats, etc., and that probably just creates a habit of not swimming very much.

She looked at me, confused, and said, “Are you saying that black people are poorer than white people?”

I’m not going to lambaste her for ignorant, but clearly she lacked exposure. And what people are saying when they ask to not “feel bad” about their privilege is that they like it that way.

Let’s get one thing straight: “Feeling bad” can be a really good thing. What I’m about to say may be heresy in some atheist/freethinking circles, but there are some problems that logic does not crack.

– Americans weren’t always outraged about Vietnam, and were only more outraged when they could see it. That’s “feeling bad.”

– The Civil Rights Movement made grand use of the media to sensationalize the brutalization of black bodies to the general public. That’s “feeling bad.”

– “Feeling bad” is the kind of thing that makes a person realize their LGBTQ son or daughter is a real person, because that’s what empathy does.

Empathy can overcome miseducation and break through barriers that raw logic is not able to penetrate. It can also be a useful surrogate for exposure, because just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean you’re a bigot. It means you’ve been sheltered from it, and empathy is often a great way to build that bridge to someone about something that you may not know a lot about, whatever it is (racism, sexism, or tapioca.)

But you’ll never learn any of that if you run around insisting that it’s wrong that you have to notice other people’s pain, or that it’s wrong for other people to bring that to your attention.

That’s not empathetic. That’s not human. And if you’re gonna feel that carelessly towards other people, that’s what you really should “feel bad” about.

Photo: https://goo.gl/HpDTwf
Photographer: Johnny Silvercloud
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