Saturday, October 23, 2010

Conservative Conundrum

For as much as conservatives work at being, well, conservative, I'm not sure they understand just how easy it is to be, well, conservative. Let's face it, life is easier when you just deny progress. Its easier when you deny people their rights. Its easier when you allow some entity to create the rules you live by and then swear that its the best type of freedom around. Its easy to deny the facts. Its easy to deny social convention. Its just too easy, so why do they work so hard at it?

I have no answer as to why they work so hard at being conservative but I have a theory. First, like most irrational actions, it takes a lot of effort to keep perpetuating the mythology they have created inside their own minds. Take the Founding Fathers, for example. None of today's current political pundits were around during the founding of the United States, so none of them truly knows what the Founders intended but they sure talk like they do. Even the most vocal of the conservative wing probably has actually read less than ten percent of the writings associated with the beginning of our republic (sorry, but for the most part we don't live in a democracy), the initiation and subsequent fighting of the Revolutionary War, the process of writing our Constitution, or the work that took place for about 50 years after the first presidential election. If someone actually had read and studied all of those writings, then that person would be considered a scholar of late Colonial America and the early American republic. We don't see those people on television advocating a one-dimensional view of our nation because they are smart enough to know that we have never been one dimensional. Hence, even the most conservative scholars of early America generally divide perspectives into one of two ideas.

Those who consider themselves conservatives tend to view our Constitution and its principles as static, whereas the liberals see the Constitution a dynamic. Again, we see where conservatives tend to take the easy way out, somehow believing that our Founding Fathers believed that the world was going to hit its pause button at 1789 and that was that. Except there was no such thing as a pause button. So how were we supposed to stop changing? We were no longer British subjects, but somehow that doesn't seem to conflict with the idea of remaining static? The logic doesn't add up. Same goes for the Second Amendment. If the Constitution and Bill of Rights are static, then why should people be allowed to bare any type of armament not readily available during the Revolutionary War? No semi-automatic handguns. No M-16s for deer hunting. No one would even be allowed to carry weapons with a brass cartridge casing, let alone an Uzi. But that doesn't apply to them because it is not part of their mythology. It is alright for old white guys to carry guns with a permit. They can even have a conservative revolution. But let the Black Panthers walk into the State Assembly in California during the Civil Rights Movement and suddenly gun control makes sense. How many conservatives support Malcolm X's By Any Means Necessary ideology? They should because it is supported by the Second Amendment. How many agree with the Latin Kings's ideology to sell drugs to whites if they give some of the money back to their home community and its schools? They should because it falls in line with laissez faire economics. How many conservatives agree with Tucson Unified's right to teach Raza Studies because it is truth, just not a truth oft spoken? They should. But they don't because they are hypocrites and the truth is too difficult for them to face.

So next time you see some partial truths posted by conservatives, ask them how blissful ignorance really is. Even more important than that, give them a short lesson in reality with the facts to back it. All one needs is a couple of books or an Internet connection to see how complex and dynamic the world really is. You might not win any converts, but that shouldn't be one's purpose, the real purpose is to expose the truth; and truth sure ain't an easy pill to swallow if you only believe in unsubstantiated mythologies. So here's to those of use who dine on the truth because it is good. Keep a healthy mind and keep on thinking.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Critical Left

Sure, I believe that Bill O'Reilly and other pop culture pundits like him are insensitive, antagonistic, and a general representation of where our nation has gone wrong. It is obvious that the culture wars of the Bush years have extended into the Obama years with a vengeance, and the rise of the TEA party is a shining example of the libertarian right's willingness to impose its will upon our nation. On the other hand, we have the lefties who, essentially, are unwilling or unable to fight back.

It seems that there are many reasons for this deficiency in the liberal camp, if it can be called a camp at all because there seems to be little cohesion on part of American liberals. Not only is this sad, it is also indicative of our nature. I don't mean this as a back-handed compliment, but when you look at a group of liberals and compare them to a group of conservatives, the visual differences are obvious, but it is the underlying differences that hurt us the most. Take, for example, work. The various earthen hues found across the liberal spectrum is generally busy at some sort of job for a large part of the day and/or they are attending school to improve their education. Of course, that's great but a bunch of liberal social workers and teachers talking to each other about the ills of the world does not directly engage the right in an all out match of wits, facts, and reason. In the public eye then, the left loses.

The right detests our ability to think and talk critically about what our problems are and how to solve them. They especially hate it when we try to get at the root of a problem becasue that requires too much analysis, which we are good at and they seldom care about. Plus, the right laughs at us because we are so busy trying to understand their position that we never go to battle about the issues. At some point we need to limit how much we take them into consideration and just accept the reality that the left and right are in an ideological war. The problem is that while the right is standing on the battle field, the left has its nose stuck in books. Hence, if we are not even in the same place, there can be no battle. The right has also become so adept at distorting language and ideas, and then presenting them publicly that the left doesn't even know where to begin when it is ready for a fight. Sometimes, we're just too damn nice, but the right regularly gets down and dirty and doesn't care whose toes it steps on, and they are quite good at using language to sway their masses whichever way they want. It openly promotes xenophobia and homophobia to the point that it has become a natural piece of American culture. It has turned uneducated people such as Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell into political heroes. It listens to and believes in Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly as though they carry some divine providence in their words. It probably is even safe to say that they believe they are somehow the "Chosen Ones", and regardless of what they are chosen to do, they are absolutely on the right ideological side.

When it comes down to it, the right is a camp based in faith. They follow their leader regardless of how ridiculous their requests or their ideas might be. They believe in religion. They believe in a nostalgic perspective of an America that was true only for a select group, and they want a return to their version of the American Dream. Most importantly, they are so entitled that they are willing to blame everyone who does not fall into their strict definition of who is worthy of success. They even trivialize the struggles of their own forefathers so the Other America takes the fall for any missteps. Tea Partiers come from folks who easily acculturated to America by willingly learning English and teaching their children the greatness of the American Way above all other culture. Although the left knows that this is nothing more than a myth, it openly does little to nothing to present another perspective.

We love to teach, and think, and read, and work with those who need the most help. We are teachers and social workers, but we are also business people working to help the little guy become established, we are the bankers who did not get greedy and give out loans to people who could not afford them. We work and we toil, and at the end of the day we are tired, obviously too tired to pick up the tools of our wisdom and beat the right at its own game. When we are energized we work for charities and attend fundraisers for breast cancer. When we are energized we engage each other in meaningful debates that show our intellectual prowess. When we are energized we create a more meaningful world through art, meditation, reading, and thinking. All the while we are preaching to our own choir and the rest of America does not see that as strength. Instead, we are attacked for it. We don't become the school administrators that can affect change because we love to be in the classrooms. We don't run the Department of Social Services because we are too busy helping foster kids. We don't own the construction companies that can build environmentally responsible communities because we are busy being good carpenters so people have a reliable house to live in. But some of this needs to change.

I do not have the answers, but there is a need for those of us on the left to engage the right at their own game, and then turn the game into our own. Maybe it begins with responding to the ignorant people who reply to articles in the newspaper. Maybe it means creating more progressive blogs and websites. Maybe it means bringing intelligent speakers to high school and college campuses. Maybe the problem is so big that we, as a whole, just need to begin somewhere. Even this blog has only a few followers, so how are the ideas supposed to be passed along when you read this and say to yourself, "Huh, he's got a point," and then close the tab until next time?

We can be both an intellectual and a critical force. Zack de la Rocha said, "Its got to start some place. Its got to start somehow. What better place than here? What better time than now?" I think he's got a good point.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


estas sombras salvajes
me chiflan desde lejos
desde alla
mas alla
por donde viven fantasmas
e ideas
y filosofia
y piel
y hueso colorado
sangre mezclada
descansando en charquitos
en el piso
donde pegan los tacones
y arrastran las plantas bailadores
al ritmo de la banda
amantes se abrazan debajo una luna llena
que brilla ojos danosos
labios mojados y hambrientos
almas arrimadas a una barra
un trago de tequila en mano
suspiran un brindis
caen lagrimas adentro
y gritan a los cuatro vientos
chiflan a los perdidos
como yo
parado en el horizonte
nada mas que un estranjero
pero me saludan
desde alla
mas alla
estas imagenes
estas sombras
estas memorias
frias como fiero
balanceadas como una navaja
me llaman
a mi

Friday, October 8, 2010

friends can do that

Last night I was chilling with my friend Ivan that I haven't seen in quite a while. After an hour or so of casual conversation we get into politics. Ivan's a smart guy and we can have meaningless conversation and meaningful conversations, and last night he helped put me in my place. That's what a real friend can do. After talking religion and politics and sharing how outraged I get at complete ignorance, and how I become even more outraged at people who willingly spread ignorance he said, "Hold on a minute. I agree with you. I've tried to fight it, too; but maybe you're doing yourself more harm than good." Then he makes the obvious connection between my insomnia and how often I become engaged in debates with the people I refer to a the fucking willing ignorants of the world. "See," he said, "I agree with you, but I can see how riled up you get." Connection. Bingo. Fuck.
I like politics and I like debating issues. I think it keeps me mentally sharp and forces me to look more deeply at contemporary problems of our time. It also makes me fucking crazy when I start connecting too many of the dots. Maybe he's right. Maybe I should relax a little bit. Maybe I just need some time preaching to the choir so I don't always feel like I'm going into battle. We'll see.
At least I have a friend who knows me well enough to tell me the truth. That's more important than politics.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've been reading things from the Skeptic, Richard Dawkins, and Noam Chomsky and all of a sudden something hits me. It so simple. So obvious. I've known it all along but it has finally come to a head like a zit on a 15 year old face. Kablam! And I said it aloud, "Trust Me are two of the most dangerous words known to mankind."
You see there's a big difference between trust and proof and a lot of people get sucked in by the whole "trust me" scheme. I'm not just talking teen pregnancy here, I'm talking everyday ordinary things that we base our lives upon.
Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.