Monday, November 30, 2009

On Fort Hood: Beware of Pundits

Diversity is going to kill America. Or so say conservative pundits in the weeks following the shootings at Fort Hood. I think weak liberal pundits are going to be the death of democracy if they don't stop pussyfooting around issues of national security - in the case of the Fort Hood shootings the mainstream media has given conservative pundits plenty of ammunition (sorry for the gross pun) to voice all sorts of scandalous, racist opinions. To my friends at MSNBC and CNN: call a spade a spade - we are at war with Islam. And the shootings at Fort Hood were an act of terrorism. Neither statement is racist nor a call to violence - it's the fact of our times. While you're not talking about this, the Fox News Channel is having a field day playing upon Americans' worst fears. And guess what? This time around, I'm more inclined to believe their coverage of this incident over yours.

A summary of the attack on Fort Hood: The shooter is an army psychiatrist, but also a Muslim who had been exchanging e-mails with a radical cleric in Yemen for the past year and had made some shocking statements about non-Muslims, specifically calling them "infidels [who] should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats."

I shudder to think that I have gotten more information about this attack, and the link between the shooter and Al Qaeda, from the likes of Ann Coulter than, say, the New York Times. This time around Coulter has found a terrific platform to voice her idea that minorities (aka "victims") have their run of this country, and that it's possible to plan a terrorist attack here under the gaze of the law because the feds will be too scared of coming off as racist and insensitive. Here's her interview with Bill O'Reilly. If you can't watch, here are the three bits of information that are worth taking away:

1-The US media dropped the ball on reporting on the shooter's ties to Al Qaeda (:57)
2- The shooter had never been to sent to war (3:58)
3- The shooter wasn't treating soldiers coming back from war, he treated them before they went on their assignments (4:20)

But you know what else crazy said during her interview? When asked why government officials and the mainstream media have been slow to call the shooter a terrorist Coulter replied:

"We have a caste system in America with different levels of victimhood. You have the feminists, gays, blacks, Jews, but the number one victims, but only starting on 9-11 when they killed 3,000 Americans, became Muslims."

Crazy say what?

See, friends, when those of us on the right side of reason allow political correctness to get the better of us and we don't call things what they are, we lend credibility to the most far-right and un-American ideas. We are, in spite of what us urban elites think, a nation at war. Not just overseas, but here at home. If we can't question the place of Islam in our country, without fear of sounding racist or alarmist, then we stand to lose all of the gains made for minorities in this country. Step up your game, guys - now is not the time for Ps and Qs in journalism.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That Adam Lambert...

I'm a little slow on the uptake with the whole Adam Lambert-oral-sex-on-live-TV fiasco - forgive me, it IS a holiday week after all. But I do have an opinion on the matter if you care to read on.

Artists doing shocking things at awards shows is nothing new - this week's faux-fellatio and boy-on-boy tongue action harkens Kanye West's stage raiding and Madonna's sapphic cougar antics. So the American Idol runner-up shoved his crotch in a dancer's face - big woop - at least he sang live! Janet Jackson wore Uggs, a bad wig and 60 extra pounds of chunk to open up the show. And if you want to talk about bad wigs and bad attitudes, Whitney Houston needs to come off her high horse, talking about her strength. Honey, there are real people going through real problems - that you had the "strength" to go on Oprah and blame your husband for your crack addiction isn't strength. It's brilliant marketing.

While marquee names are looking and sounding tired, sorting through the darkness of grief or addiction to come up with NOTHING, a new crop of artists is clawing at stardom - and if they have to commit all sorts of crimes, from vandalism (LOVED Lady Gaga's turn at crazy with her performance of "Bad Romance") and public indecency, well, dammit, this is pop culture isn't it? You wanna be on top? Set the stage on fire. Literally. And have at it like the proud homosexual that you are.

I personally don't care for Adam Lambert's voice or look. His spectacle looked more like a coming out party for a high school closet-case who shocks the bejeezus out of his little redneck town by turning the school's production of, say, Oklahoma! into a musical rendition of Cruising. Not my cup of tea, but do you, girl.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tear Down This Wall, But Build Another Here, Here and Here

I know everyone has moved on from the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but I've been meaning to make a point about this historic event for a few days now. So here goes: while the world is celebrating the end of the Cold War and the unification of one country that would ultimately become a world super power, our country remains rife with division. In fact, we're very close to building our own literal and figurative walls within our borders.

I feel this most when I think about immigration and gay rights in this country. Both debates have spun out of control to the point of hate speech - Lou Dobbs stepping down from CNN doesn't undo the thinking of too many Americans who openly refer to other human beings as "illegals" and who fear the take-over of this nation by an illiterate, incompetent, brown menace. After all, the Fox News Channel is alive and well. And so is the push for a fence along the U.S./Mexico border, as is the idea that "illegals" should not be covered under a new, universal healthcare plan. In other words, Republicans are happy to plunk down 10 billion dollars on a fence that people are already going to find a way around, as opposed to developing a smart guest worker program that provides a channel for immigrants to enter and leave this country legally and safely. That sort of thinking would benefit everyone, except the contractors building the fence.

But the Republican party is not aiming for visionary, problem-solving policy, so long as people are afraid that undocumented gay Mexicans are going to take over the schools and absolve heterosexual marriage, the GOP will be in business for years to come. That's why the party has decided to abscond the Latino vote altogether by voting in a near single block against President Obama's recent hate crimes law because it has a provision outlawing attacks based on perceived immigration status. In other words, the Republicans voted against the Matthew Sheppard Act because it also grants protection from violent crime against "illegals." (And y'all know I've been writing about hate crimes against Latinos for some time now - this is a real issue, people)

And then there's the issue of gay marriage - in 31 states Americans have voiced a resounding "no" to providing same sex couples the right to marry. The issue is as tired as it pressing - it seems stupid to think that some Americans can be so vehemently interested in controlling other citizens, but then, that's exactly what's happening - it's scary and it's un-American.

But that's where our country is at right now. While I have seriously considered building up my own wall and not engaging with people who don't share my beliefs, I realize that I would then be making these problems worse. So I'll remain open for dialogue, in spite of my lesser, more Latino and argumentative self, and I'll keep writing and advocating for change.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner

When you're an opinionated blowhard like myself you often - believe it or not - check your feelings at the door when you engage in political debate. You gird your loins by smiling politely and resting your chin in the space between your thumb and index finger, clenching your jaw and such when the person in front of you says things like, "look, I love you but I won't support gay marriage," or, "honey, it's a religious issue. Do you see where I'm coming from?"

And my answer to this, if I were a hothead in anddition to a blowhard, would be "Why, yes, I do see where you're coming from. And if you weren't my mom, or dad, or a friend who I really like most of the time, I'd love for you to go back there, forever, and get the hell out of my life." But I'm almost 30 and I do yoga and at this point I figure the people and demons in my life are there for a reason and I might as well play nice with them.

Or should I? Or should we, LGTB Americans, put up with the polite rancor of a nation that continues to dash our rights while passin the bread and butter across the dinner table? Can we comprpomise and make allowances for people who claim to like us but then, in states like California and Maine, vote to tear apart our relationships?

I hate to think that I'm becoming one of these militant Democrats who can't be civilized and accept other people's point of view. But when Republicans are voting in a single block to thwart my rights there's little to nothing that I'm willing to agree on with these people. I'll remain conservative in my opinion on self-determination and personal accountability, but it is becoming harder for me to play nice with a party that thinks my citizenship is debatable.

Friends and family, of course, are another mess. In political debate one often talks about winning hearts and minds, so for me, it's especially heartbreaking that I can't win over some of the people I care most about. Do I shut them out? Do I remain intransigent and force them to see it my way? Or do I allow myself to bend and hope that my flexibility will win them over? I doubt that will work but even I can't force myself to tow such a hard line with those I love. At least for now.