In managing The Random Journal, I read a lot of news.  This morning, I was looking for things to write about but also posting a new piece I put up by writer, Andrew Hall, about President Obama resigning.  I thought it would make a good “breaking news” story and posted it to the site and then a bunch of conservative Facebook groups, Facebook is the best driver of traffic I have found.

I thought I had heard of most of the crazy rumors about our president.  He’s a Kenyan muslim hell bent on America’s destruction, yeah, tell me something I don’t know.  Then I learned he’s also a “crack smoking, homosexual liar.”  Now, that’s new, I told myself.  His wedding ring, some say, has an inscription “There’s no God but Allah.”  Snopes has disproved that one, which means little to the true believers because they see the rumor busters as being “liberal hacks and Obama apologists.”

This all got me thinking.  When my side loses an election, I may be sad about it (see my reaction to the 2000 presidential) and maybe mad but I know there’s another election coming and in politics, sometimes you lose.  In 2000, I was incredibly upset about the outcome but what made me feel better is my genuine belief in our system of government.  If people preferred George W. Bush to Al Gore, well, then he was the person who should be in the White House.  A few years later when my wounds were healed a bit I started thinking that Gore should have fought more for Florida but my brain never went to a conspiracy place.  I never saw the W admin as Illegitimate.

Fast forward to 2009.  President Obama has been inaugurated.  Not only do people I know on the right dislike this, they see it as a sign that we have entered the Biblical “end of days.”  The United States, some say, no longer exists and we are now part of a “North American Union” consisting of Mexico, us and Canada.  Soon our currency will be made invalid.

To many, Barack Obama was not just the wrong choice to be POTUS, he was born in Kenya (see my post  on my time at the McLaughlin Group).  He’s a muslim with a heart of darkness and sincere desire to destroy America and end all freedoms as we know them.

What?  Isn’t it enough to just disagree with someone?  Look, I don’t think Mitt Romney would have been a good president. I think he thinks he is wealthy because he is just a better person (never mind the legions of really good people who will never be wealthy because they chose to be firefighters, teachers, cops, nurses, the list could go on) and I just don’t agree with his politics.  That doesn’t make him evil or horrible.  He seems like a decent man who just shouldn’t be president.

Maybe someone can explain to me why some people feel it is not enough to disagree with someone but you have to make them into the most evil person.  Why is that?

Here’s an interview with a woman who claims to have been a friend of Obama’s back in Hawaii, you know, during his gay, crack smoking years.

(And please check out the Random Journal).

Us vs. them

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)

The recent shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black teen armed with nothing but candy and iced tea, has got us talking about a lot of things; the “stand your ground laws,” the danger of wearing hoodies and even the fact that we need to talk about race relations in 2012 America.  That’s not to say we are really talking about race relations in 2012 America, we are talking about how we should be.  There’s a big difference.

Personally, I think David Brooks had it right on Meet the Press this week.  We need to talk about race for sure but we need to broaden that a bit.  We need to talk about how we all view each other.  More to the point, how we view people who we perceive as being different from us.  That feels like a really obvious statement but sometimes we miss the things that are the most simple.

I am going to talk about some things that may or may not seem related.

One of my passions is stopping and preventing genocide.  I also have intractable insomnia.  The extra free time the latter gave me the chance recently to reread the book Machete Season; the killers of Rwanda speak.  If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a series of interviews with some of the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.  Now, I will set aside for a moment my complete horror at the fact that they seem to sleep like babies whereas I can go weeks without sleep (yes, people who butchered their neighbors and friends with machetes sleep better than me).  The main thing that sets genocides in motion is the ability to look at people of a perceived different culture as bad.

Closer to home the things that come mind for me are the shooting of Amadou Diallo, a man shot 41 times because when the police asked for his ID he went to get it out of his pocket.  I was living in New York City when that happened and I am not going to lie, that made me fear the police  Rudy Guiliani may have become “America’s mayor” on 9/11 but when I lived in his NYC, police brutality had gone up by a whopping 30 percent and his administration’s response was basically “shit happens.”  Ok, he didn’t say that exactly.  After one instance where the police burst down the wrong door (because they wrote the address down wrong), his response was that if you want less crime, you have to expect this sort of thing.  There was no apology for scaring the crap out of an innocent family.

These attitudes trickle down.  Maybe Ronald Reagan had a point, there is such a thing as trickle down bigotry.

The Trayvon Martin case could not have a clearer racial overtone than the killing of Matthew Sheppard was homophobic.  But our prejudices extend beyond that — we judge others based on their religion, culture, weight, gender — anything we can use to classify someone as different.  This sets the stage for violence on the micro and macro level and it needs to stop (I know you knew that).

Brooks mentioned a great project.  It’s called the Implicit Project.  They have several tests on there where you can measure your attitudes towards people based on a number of criteria.  It takes a few minutes and is well worth your time.  I did a few.  I will post my results if you post yours.  Go here to complete them.