Category Archives: Politics

Columbus Day is no reason to celebrate

Image from law.marquette.edu

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance … They would make fine servants … With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Christopher Columbus

And here we are today – October 10, 2011. America! The great white man’s world! We deserve this, right? Our happiness and quality of life was created and maintained on hard work and perseverance, right? We owe it to the great mariner himself, Christopher Columbus!

Well, sort of. But, not really.

Let’s give Columbus credit where credit is due. (This shouldn’t take long): Kudos on finding America, even though you weren’t looking for it.

Christopher Columbus

Now that praise has been offered, let’s look further into the ambitious one’s discovery. Now, I accept that I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Columbus’ inability to own a GPS in 1492. But that doesn’t excuse his ruthless tactics in destroying the Native Americans’ way of life.

Columbus is responsible for a level of genocide that can only be described as astonishing. Ever since this point, Native Americans have been treated as second-class citizens. For this, Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota refuse to recognize the formal holiday of Columbus Day.

The University of California, Los Angeles published documents from the era in which Columbus and his gaggle of slave owners founded America. The editor of that project, Geoffrey Symcox, had this to say:

“While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing – not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting Biblical scripture – to advance his ambitions … Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently … The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail – if it was recognized at all – in light of his role as the great bringer of white man’s civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise.”

Other documents detail Spaniards within Columbus’ fleet “knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.”

This day is a cause for celebration? The only difference between Columbus and Osama bin Laden is that bin Laden never set foot in America.

Ignorance is bliss

How, exactly, does the factual evidence of the Columbus massacre not penetrate deeper into society? Why is it not taught in schools? Why does it take a book like “A People’s History of the United States” to put something like this on the map?

America must get over its squeaky-clean image it has fabricated for itself. We’re not a Norman Rockwell painting. We have a disgusting past that we must accept. And by accepting that, we must take Columbus Day down from the pedestal of being a federal holiday. (One more day of work for some of you. I’m sorry.)

This does not mean we must feel guilt for being in America. Sure, we’re ruining it. But that’s a different post for a later date.

Remember today for your heritage. But don’t let the atrocities slip your mind. What that motto we used for 9/11? “Never forget?” Well, let’s remember and never forget where we come from and who lost their lives for out life of luxury.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Williams, Coulter taking back the country … way back

Image from blogs.tennessean.com

Hank Williams Jr. compares President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler.

Conservative talking head Ann Coulter compares Wall Street protesters to Nazis.

Why are so many political comparisons taking root in the 1930’s? And why are they always coming from the far right?

Williams, who is known by the younger generation as the slack-jawed hick that does the Monday Night Football theme, reached deep into the Tea Party lexicon (about 16 words) and found one he knows nothing about, other than it’s bad.

Obama is trying to give a population healthcare. Hitler gave a population a moderate oven.

Image from assets.nydailynews.com

The answer, in my mind, seems to come down to appealing to the lowest-common denominator. The most out of touch person can likely telling you something about Hitler and the Holocaust. The extent of their detail will probably be, “lots of people died,” but, shit, it’s something.

By posing as an authoritative figure on television, the uneducated will listen. Media literacy is a big problem today in America. Many people cannot correctly identify whether they are viewing analysis, opinion or news editorial content. By Fox News posing Williams as someone who actually knows something, it gives the “average” out-of-touch person the idea that Williams has done an iota of research.

Today’s post is a call to you, the reader. What is your take on the standards of criticism seen in the media?

Is this seen on both the right (Fox News) and the left (MSNBC)?

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Subjectivity of Comedic Boundaries

The Onion
BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. #CongressHostage

Stepping out of it’s traditional output of write-and-post news satire, The Onion came under fire on Thursday for “breaking” the “news” that congressmen had taken children hostage in the Capitol. Nearly 20 “live” tweets posted on Twitter played out the fictional situation that prompted a very real statement from Capitol Police, forcing them to explain that everything was fine at the Capitol.

The tweets evolved and ended with jabs at the inability of politicians to come to a bipartisan compromise over how to handle the situation.

It was all in good humor, right?

The Onion
Arlington gun shop confirms Rep. @EricCantor bought 6 semi-automatic handguns, 3 rifles & 600 clips of ammo last month #CongressHostage

The Onion is constantly pushing the comedic boundaries to shine a false light on pop culture figures; it’s sort of what they do.

The Onion is not a news source, it just acts as one. (Think Fox News. They’re both funny, but for very different reasons.) But the folks behind literallyunbelieveable.org have discovered that is not always the interpretation. And they had a fun time with the Twitter universe’s response to the posts.

Protection

The Onion doesn’t “break” news. It has never even attempted to be a go-to source for news. It’s satire. Nothing more. And, with that, what The Onion did was perfectly fine in the realm of its fictional world.

Had The Onion even once attempted to keep up with a “real” news story, it would create too much of a grey area of what it considers to be real news worthy of coverage.

Case in point: The Onion did a lot with 9/11. None of it included following the live events as they unfolded.

If The Onion attempted – even once – to blur the lines between its satirical news and a real-time current event, it would be stripped of its identity. There is not one iota of flexibility for The Onion, and that makes it a pretty interesting case study.

No harm done

No children were harmed in the making of this joke. That could have been the tagline for this stunt. (And I use the word “stunt” without negative connotation.)

There was never a threat to national security that spawned from the story. There was a mild inconvenience, but never a threat.

The only harm that was done was to the American psyche. Congress can do some fucked up shit, and that has become ever apparent the last four years. But kidnapping children and taking them hostage? People fell for this? How stupid are we?

It wasn’t funny

Then what is? Has humor in America been limited to a grown man with his hand up puppets’ asses making funny voices? (No, I’m not talking about Joey Gladstone.)

It seems, from my point of view, that the darker the societal time, the darker the humor produced by said society. This type of humor offends prudes and the humorless, but provides a philosophy championed by comedian Lewis Black. To paraphrase, Black said in order to move on from national tragedy (he was referencing 9/11 and the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan), we must be able to joke about it, not only with ourselves, but with others. To become a humorless society would be to become the enemy.

His tangent is poignant and sadly relevant.

Today, depending who you associate yourself with, political humor is borderline treason. Joking about America’s issues (or just bringing them up) means you’re not “patriotic.” (One of today’s most manipulative words)

This is a shame because today’s political landscape provides for great humor. (See: Chris Christie)

Humor is subjective. It always has been. It seems like natural logic that a more sensitive society would be the side effect of edgier comedic tastes.

But I’ll side with Black on this one. If you silence the humor, you are the enemy.

The complete Onion story: “Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage.”

Tagged , , , , , , , ,