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Farewell to Decency

liberty

One of the things I hate the most is being told what to read and for that reason one of my least favorite books that I’ve ever been forced to read his Farewell to Manzanar, the story of the Japanese girl whose family was placed into the internment camps and living through the internment camps. Now, I think part of the reason I hated it so much is because it made no sense that the book would be relevant to my life in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2011 (all years I had to read the. Book). Boy, was I wrong … and, of course I was wrong, because why would anything that makes any sense be the norm with Donald Trump as our president. He is literally pushing an agenda that forcibly removes children from their parents. He is pushing an agenda that decided that it is okay to remove infants from their parents WHILE THEY ARE BREASTFEEDING. These are asylum seekers trying to seek refuge in the United States from being victimized, killed, raped in their home countries. Yet the President continues to demonize these asylum seekers.

To make matters even worse, the prison guards at these facilities are refusing to allow our elected officials entry to the detention centers and witnessing firsthand what is happening at these gross, unconstitutional prison camps. I cannot believe that this is happening. I cannot believe that we live in a world where 44% of Americans are in favor of this principle. I used to wonder how this could happen, how America would sit back and let a whole group of people be imprisoned for merely existing, and now I know. It’s not that people aren’t speaking out against this. All four living First Ladies, many politicians, and advocates are speaking out. The problem is that people are supporting this egregious human rights violation and letting it go.

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty states “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, the tempest – tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden doors.” I grew up in awe of the Statue of Liberty, the hope it meant for millions. It no longer holds that hope, that promise, the American Dream. It represents an idiocracy, a racist, misogynist, xenophobic nation.

At this point, I’m willing to give Donald Trump his wall, if only for keeping families together at the border and for DACA. I know the addage that if you give him what he wants once, he will keep asking for more, and who cares. I’m more concerned with the torture that is happening at our borders than with the ego of a “man” who leads by the advice of Nazis.

I used to think that Farewell to Manzanar was no longer relevant to my life because it could never happen today. I wish that was case in 2018. Unfortunately, it’s not, and thus, we have lost all decency.

Again and Again and Again

Last night, in Thousand Oaks, CA, 11 people were murdered in the 304th mass shooting incident in 2018.

Today, there is a flood of mental health posts, again, on Facebook and Twitter. Again, it’s because of mental health issues. If only we could do something to help people with mental health issues. If only we could do SOMETHING to stop these mass shootings. If only there was some kind of common sense law that could pass or something.

Except that there is. But the reason that congress won’t do anything, the reason that America won’t fix this issue, is because it’s easier to blame a non-factor than it is to face the multi-million company that funds campaigns. This isn’t about saving lives, its about saving funds. Congress won’t do anything because they’re cowards. I can’t even name every mass shooting in my lifetime.

I remember as a child, after Columbine happened, being taught what we would do if a shooter came onto campus.

I remember as a child, after Virginia Tech happened, being taught what we would do if a shooter came onto campus.

I remember as 22 year old, after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, going to see the Dark Knight Rises, and seeing the increased security, ensuring that a repeated attack doesn’t occur.

I remember in 2015, after the Roseburg, Oregon shooting, while working at a high school library, asking about what we should do in the case of a mass shooter, the chilling response the Assistant Principal told me, that we should get as many kids as possible in a small storage closet, and leave the rest to fend for themselves.

In 2016, the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

In 2015, San Bernardino.

In 2017, Las Vegas.

In 2018, Marjory Stoneman.

In 2018, Santa Fe.

In 2018, Trenton.

In 2018, Jacksonville.

In 2018, Pittsburgh.

In 2018, Thousand Oaks.

This is disgusting. We need to fix it. And we need to fix the problem. The problem isn’t mental illness. There are millions with mental illness who have no desire to kill anyone (myself included). The problem is guns. But, again, it’s easier to blame the non-factor than it is to blame the money.

Scott’s Voting Guide

You’ve asked for it. Now you’ve got it. Here is my voting guide:

Governor: Gavin Newsom

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Attorney General: Xavier Beccera

Treasurer: Fiona Ma

Controller: Betty Yee

Superintendant of Public Education – Tony Thurmond

Commissioner of Insurance – Ricardo Lara

Senator – Kevin de Leon

House of Representatives – JrJamar Jefferson

Propositions:

1 – Yes

2- Yes

3- No

4- Yes

5- No

6- No

7- Yes

8- Yes

10- No

11- No

Sacramento County:

Measure K – No

Measure U – Yes

The Hate U Give

This will contain spoilers for the book/movie The Hate U Give.

I just finished reading the Hate U Give. Well, I finished it yesterday, but there are a lot of pieces of the book that have required me to really sit and contemplate what it means to me. The Hate U Give is about a young black woman, Starr, who witnesses the murder of her friend Khalil, and she has to decide how she goes on. Does she remain silent? Does she tell her story? Does she tell her friends at her majority white school who could never understand? I’m not going to give away a lot of the story, but there are some things that really resonated with me.

I will start off saying that had I read this book even 5 years ago, my reaction would be totally different.

First off is Khalil’s death. The way that the police treated Khalil, literally doing nothing wrong, asking why he was pulled over, was ridiculous. An realistic. The way that the media and the police treated Khalil after his death was heartbreaking. The way that Cruz’s (the cop) dad was able to go on and give an interview about how his son was a good boy was way too realistic. We, as a society, raise up those who look like the majority, and shame the others. They made Khalil out to be a gangbanger, that he was a drug dealer (which was true), but he had nothing on him. That he was going to kill the cop, which is utter bullshit. The way that everyone other than Starr and her neighbors responded was heartbreaking.

Secondly is Starr’s friend Haley. We all surround ourselves with people who could be beneficial or detrimental to our lives, and Haley proves herself to be detrimental. She makes racist remarks repeatedly, and doesn’t own up to them. She jokes about racial matters, but gets mad when everyone reacts. She unfollows Starr’s tumblr because Starr, a black girl, posted about Emmett Till, and showed her picture. I know so many people who are Haleys, and very few who are Starrs. That should be reversed.

Third is when Starr’s father was confronted by the police. He was trying to help his neighbor, who had just snitched on a local drug lord, and needed to get some sense talked into him. When the police pulled him over, since he was a younger black man, even though one of the police were black, they immediately reacted as if he were a thug. They forced him on the ground, and only let up when they realized the neighborhood was watching them and would fight for him.

Finally, the race dynamic between Starr and her boyfriend Chris. Starr is black, and Chris is white. This is the same for my girlfriend and I. She is black, and I am white. And I don’t care about that. However, she has taught me a lot. I remember when the protests in Berkeley were happening, that turned into small riots, I called her, scared, as I was in Berkeley with no way home, and she told me that they were rioting because their voices weren’t being heard. When Starr tells Chris the same thing, I remembered this event. The same night in the book, Chris asks Starr and her brother and their friend why black people have such weird names. I’ve thought the same thing in the past, and when they respond it’s only weird to him because he’s not used to it, it clicked for me. My normal is not everyone’s normal. My experiences are not everyone’s experiences.

I’m glad that I read this book now, and not when it came out. I don’t think it would have have the same impact on me. I don’t think that I could have appreciated it the way that I do now. I highly recommend reading it, and, if you do, let me know what you think.

Brock Turner, Brett Kavenaugh, Donald Trump

I think this is the shittiest Pokemon evolution ever.

The Brock Turners of the world (young, white rapists) turn into Brett Kavenaughs (old, white rapists. Once a rapist, always a rapist) who then are supported by Donald Trumps of the world (old, white rapists in positions of power) and are able to protect Brock Turners of the world.

It’s the shittiest Circle of Life I’ve ever seen, and it needs to be stopped. Congress has an opportunity to block Kavenaugh, but that would require Republicans to have a backbone, which we all know they don’t.

Basically, we’re all screwed. And it’s not pleasant.

Men Suck

There can be little doubt from the past few days, watching what is happening in Washington, DC with the Brett Kavenaugh hearing, and hearing these old Republican men defending him, that men suck.

We live in a time where men feel like they are absolutely free to do whatever we want, and the truth of the matter is that that time is up. It has been for a long time, and it never should have started.

We treat women like garbage. We take what we want and don’t care about anything else in the process. We hurt people to advance our own goals, and it’s time to end this, because we, as a whole collective, suck.

Even when we are not the ones actually doing the harm, we do just as much, if not more, by not sticking up to the bad apples in the group. We joke about women and no one stands up for them.

I’m sick of hearing stories about my female friends expressing their stories of abuse and rape because no one would stand up for them.

Whenever we criticize men on the internet, there are bound to be #notallmen arguments coming up, but, as a man, I’m saying that yes, all men are responsible in this sham. All men have done something to perpetuate this culture, and all men are responsible for fixing this problem. We must work together to ensure that our friends, family members, and all people are safe from harm.

Brett Kavenaugh simply exists as a face for the issue. He is the visual representation of our problems.

Join me in fighting against this. Let’s make the world safe for women. Let’s make the world safe for people who come out tell their stories.

Believe the women. Believe the victim.

Caliphate

On Wednesday at work, one of my friends told me about this podcast that she was listening to that had her completely sucked in. The podcast is called Caliphate. By Thursday, she had finished the ten episode podcast. I downloaded the podcast and was going to listen to it when I had time, but didn’t expect to be fully engrossed with it like she was. However, on Friday, I had to make an emergency trip to my alma mater, Cal State East Bay, and decided to listen to the first chapter of the podcast, so I could get a feeling for it. I got hooked.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, the podcast is about reporter Rukmini Callimachi and her journey meeting a former member of ISIS and vetting him, as well as her interview with him, his experience as a member of ISIS, and her experience in Iraq, specifically Mosol, which had been under ISIS rule. The connection she has with ISIS, Abu Huzaifa, details his experience, from how he was able to make it to Pakistan so he could join ISIS, to how to made it to the training camp in Syria. His story is detailed in such a way that only someone with firsthand experience in the acts could have known them, such as what it is like to stab a man in the heart repeatedly.

The podcast presents us with some ethical questions. Should Rukmini have turned her source over to the Canadian justice system? Should she have been required to cooperate with their investigation? Normally, I would say that she should have. However, as a journalist, the job is to get the story. If she betrays her sources, then she could be jeopardizing her career as a journalist. She could struggle to find sources to speak to her in the future. The podcast ends with Huzaifa cooperating with the authorities, and what he is currently facing in Canada. I strongly recommend the podcast, as it is one of the best ones I’ve listened to. It’s not scripted, and it flows. I finished the podcast by the time I got home from work yesterday, and I look forward to hearing more from Callimachi and how her experiences influence her worldview, as well as seeing if there will be any follow up with Huzaifa.

A New Low

It has been a long time since I have written two days in a row, but today, the imbecile in the White House has reached a new low. He tweeted, with no evidence, no explanation, a clear and blatant lie:


Not only is this factually incorrect, but it is dangerous. He stated yesterday that he had done a great job in Puerto Rico, was criticized, and is now saying that the death toll is a lie.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tweeted out:


I cannot believe that this is happening. I don’t know where Trump got this blatant lie, but it is dangerous. Thousands are dead, and he doesn’t care. These are Americans, and he is trying to downplay their deaths. Maybe if they were white this would be a different story, but that’s not the case.

Trump needs to be held accountable for his actions, and he needs to be held accountable. Luckily, even Republicans are calling Trump out on his bullshit.

However, when I searched Mitch McConnell’s twitter, nothing has been said.

I will continue to watch the situation, but this is sad. I can’t believe that this is happening. I can’t believe that he will get away with this. Republicans are cowards, and will do nothing to stop their dictator.

In the Face of Tragedy, Racism Prevails

According to CNN, 1 million people have been told to flee the East Coast in the upcoming threat in Hurricane Florence. This is a Category 5 Hurricane, the same intensity of Hurricane Katrina, which I witnessed the aftermath 10 months after the hurricane doing Hurricane relief. Hurricane force winds are expected to hit North and South Carolina tomorrow, with the rainfall expected Friday morning. There are a million people at risk here, and we know that not everyone is able to evacuate, for various reasons, whether economic or health reasons, there are going to be many people whose lives are either going to be lost or severely impacted by this storm. (1)

On Twitter, Donald Trump stated:


However, the death poll in Puerto Rico hit 2,975 (2). Trump is deliberately lying about the job that his administration has done in Puerto Rico. Remember him throwing the paper towels like the people were lucky to get them?


If this is the way that the President thinks that help is coming for the people who are going to impacted by the oncoming storm, then I truly hope the people of North and South Carolina, as well as Georgia, and any other state that is in danger from this storm, are ready to take care of themselves.

Why do they need to be able to take care of themselves? The president diverted $10 million dollars away from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and gave it to ICE in order for them to detain even more immigrants (3). The attention the president gives to ICE is nothing more than fuel to continue to engage his personal racism and the racism of his party.

There are so many people whose lives are about to be changed by this storm, and the President has decided to take money away from assisting them and put it in the already egregious ICE budget. In the face of tragedy, the President’s racism is the direct motivator for his actions.

A Good Man and a Child

I may not have always agreed with the politics of John McCain, but I did vote for him in 2008. I believe that his nomination in 2008 led to the rise of Donald Trump, but not due to his own beliefs, but due to the believes and ridiculousness of his VP pick, Sarah Palin. However, John McCain was a good man. He was a war hero, a POW, and someone who fought for his beliefs. Again, I didn’t always agree with him, and over the past few years, I haven’t agreed with him at all. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is a good man.

Trump, however, is a piece of shit. He has nixed any ideas of a White House statement regarding the passing of John McCain. Furthermore, he continues to act like a child. It appears that we legitimately have a child running the nation, and other countries are mocking us for it. We need to have better leadership, and John McCain was one of those men who, even if you disagreed with his politics, you cannot say that he wasn’t a true leader. His passing makes the country worse, and it shows the true colors of POS in Chief.

Peaceful Protests are Obsolete

This is a short paper written for my History and Criticism of Communication at CSU, East Bay.

 

On December 31, 1964, Malcom X spoke out to a group of students from Mississippi. In this speech, Malcolm X explains that peaceful protest does not work. If you want to make sure that you get what you need, your basic human rights, you can’t rely on using peaceful protest. He says, “But we do not go along with anybody telling us to help nonviolently…You get your freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it. It’s the only way to get it.” This is the gist of his whole speech. We do not go along with this ideology that nonviolent protests are effective. We have to use violence to get the point across. You can’t rely on the sympathy of others. The only way to get what you need is to let those who are trying to keep you from having that, whatever it is, that you are willing to do anything and everything it takes to achieve your goal.

This idea set has a myriad of applications for today. The most important one is the same issue that they were dealing with when Malcolm X was speaking out against this. When we look at Black Lives Matter, everyone on the Right is saying that the protesters need to restrain from using violence in their attempts to get what they need. However, there is no skin in the game for those who are saying that. They’ve never been oppressed by the nation that they live in. They don’t have to fear for their lives for walking down the street solely because of the color of their skin. So, their argument that only nonviolent action is going to get them the desired effect is them using their privilege. When you have privilege, you have the ability to resolve issues nonviolently. But when the justice system targets you for the color of your skin, something you can’t help that you have no power over, you have to fight back. Those of us who understand this who come from a place of privilege are there to help, but to say that nonviolent doesn’t work and that you should protest peacefully is ignorant. Then again, the same people who argue this also criticize people like Colin Kaepernick for kneeling and doing nothing else, doing the exact kind of protest that they argue needs to be done. So the real premise for their argument is you can’t do anything that makes me uncomfortable, regardless of your personal oppression or discomfort.