Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bigotry Against Bigots is still Bigoted

There's a lot of people being upset by bigotry these days. Facebook pages and websites rising up against intolerance are gaining more followers and hits. And there's a good reason for that: bigotry isn't a good thing. It holds back a society, damages communal harmony, and in general it isn't a nice thing to do.
Now some try to be clever about this and say they are Bigoted against Bigots. It is, or was, cleverto turn the weapon used by intolerance against it. But it's it proper? Does hating people who hate make you any better than them.
To demonstrate, consider this: you meet a person who you quickly learn has a low opinion of African Americans. Most people would be repulsed by this. I'd like to think that most people would simply be wary of this person; watch what they say and avoid a confrontation. But I know people who would actively target said person for ostracism.
But in that case, they'd be ignoring the idea that this person may be a loving parent, a hard worker, and be fully aware that their opinions are not popular.
But is this acceptable simply because they are expressing an opinion that is morally repugnant (we'll ignore for now whether morality exists for since I don't believe is does)? Are we justified in hating the haters because we know what's right? But are we then giving subtle acceptance of such reactions by dismissing it?
In his epic work The Risen Empire, Scott Westerfeld postulated that there was no way to change people's minds; that the only solution was to let old beliefs die and raise a younger generation on new ideals. I endorse such theories. Our best solution is to let the poison run its course, while of course making sure no new poison enters the wounds.
To close out, I'd like to point out that this isn't a "we're better than that" attitude. It's about what's most effective. Baring an epiphany, you can't force a thought into someone's head. Hatred cannot be undone by reason alone.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hypocrisy or Why I Hate Thomas Jefferson

Children's programming can be an odd thing at times, as can stream of consciousness thinking. Below is a rather charming song from an old cartoon called "Histeria!" Aside from being the first Epic Rap Battles of History in... history, it is pretty informative in terms of the inventions of the two founding fathers.
But as I listened to this in may car (Yes, this song was good enough for me to convert it to digital music for my car stereo), an old hatred began to surface. You see, of all the historical figures I know of, Thomas Jefferson is the one I hate more than any other. As I drove and thought, the obvious thought came to mind. "Sean, you mean you hate Thomas Jefferson more than Hitler?" Yes, I do. In fact, I have more good things to say about Hitler than I do about Thomas Jefferson. Yes, I'm serious. Though I do have more negative things to say about Hitler, the balance is still down for T.J.

You see, this all has to do with my greatest transgressions: Hypocrisy. And Thomas Jefferson is one of the most celebrated hypocrites in history. Before I list the crimes of our third president, I want you to understand how much I hate hypocrites. While watching a documentary on the Jones Town Massacre, they got to the part of documentary where the kool-aid was being served. Now, not many people know that a majority of the victims did not drink the poison willingly, so this was not murder in a metaphysical sense but outright murder. And at this revelation, I was disturbed, but was still relatively calm and seated. Then, almost in passing, they mention that Jim Jones, the de facto murderer in this case, did not drink his own poison; He had his guard shoot him in the head.

And at this point, I bolted upright and nearly screamed at my television set. That bastard! You can murder hundreds of people and I'll hate you with a standard level of aggression. But if you can't practice what you preach, you will have my undying scorn.

And this is where Thomas Jefferson comes in. Now, the obvious conclusion is that Thomas Jefferson wrote "All men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence and owned slaves. That is bad, but it very clearly outlines in the constitution that equality own applied to white men. So he gets a pass on that from a technical standard. But Thomas Jefferson, who is quoted as saying "I cannot live without books", wrote only one book in his life, Notes on the State of Virginia. This book was written as a rebuttal to claims made in Europe that the American soil was somehow stunting the growth of it's people. Jefferson refuted this by saying that White American were unaffected by this effect, but it was devastating to the African brought over as slaves.

The big highlight of his writing was that African Slaves should be ashamed of themselves for procreating because all they do by it is bring more slaves into existence. Not even the Egyptians were that cruel. Not to mention that it gets even better when, after writing these words, he went to France with Sally Hemings (who was 14 at the time) and began to father 6 children with her. So should Thomas Jefferson be ashamed that he brought 6 slaves into existence with an underage girl? Yes, but he probably wasn't.

Hypocrisy is the most deadly of sins a person can commit in my mind. It's something I try hard to avoid in my personal life. Being a liar like Andrew Jackson is bad. But where Jackson told the Native Americans they would get consideration for fighting for the Union and subsequently drove them out in the Trail of Tears. But Jackson never liked the Indians, and he was lying from the get go, which is still detestable, but less so than hypocrisy. And while their are probably bigger hypocrites in history, Jefferson is probably the one most overlooked. And that's why, for all his limited accomplishments, he earns my anger more than any other.