Tag Archives: Spain

Why I am not a white supremacist

Shit like this blows my mind: The Washington Post reports that these fliers were found at a campus of the University of Maryland this week:

Washington Post images

Reports the Post:

Fliers linked to a white supremacist group were found this week on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, authorities said, part of what appears to be a new effort targeting colleges in several states.

The fliers featured the logo of American Vanguard, a group associated with white supremacy. One read “We have a right to exist” and another read “Defending your people is a social duty not an anti-social crime.”

“We hear it every day: ‘Whiteness’ is evil, and must be destroyed,” the group said in a statement on its website. “Our religion, our traditions, and our identity are dragged through the mud by the globalist establishment while millions of nonwhites flood our nation every year. If current trends continue, White Americans will be a minority by 2044. It’s time to take a stand.”

As first reported in the school’s Diamondback newspaper, University of Maryland police responded to Marie Mount Hall at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday for a report of vandalism and discovered several fliers posted at the main entrance and the south entrance. Another set of fliers was discovered posted to pillars at Tydings Hall at around 10 a.m. Monday, a spokesman for the University of Maryland Police said, and the fliers at both locations were removed.

American Vanguard, based in California, has posted fliers on other U.S. campuses, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Its posters were found at Purdue University in Indiana, the University of Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and Emerson College in Massachusetts in recent weeks, the ADL said.

Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s center on extremism, said he has been seeing a proliferation of white supremacist, alt-right messaging at college campuses around the country in recent weeks. “It seems to be an extension of this effort by the alt-right and their supporters to try to reach younger audiences,” he said.

Segal also said some white supremacists have perceived Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election as a victory for their cause, leading to hate incidents around the country. “I feel like the alt-right in general thinks this is the time to pounce,” he said. …

Wow. It disappoints me that “American Vanguard” is based in my state.

Speaking of my state, according to at least one source, California was the 48th whitest state in 2004 (with only Mississippi, the District and Columbia and Hawaii having a smaller percentage of whites). That source puts California’s white-alone population in 2004 at 63 percent of the state’s total population.

The U.S. Census Bureau now puts California’s white-alone population at only 38 percent, its Latino population at 38.8 percent, its Asian population at 14.7 percent, and its black population at 6.5 percent.

Yes, a little while ago Latinos surpassed whites here in California, so that now more Californians are Latino than of any other race. And Latinos in California and elsewhere throughout the United States will continue to outgrow whites.

Indeed, apparently the projection is that by 2044 or 2045, white Americans no longer will be the majority of Americans.

Do I feel like my “whiteness” is under threat? (I do have blue eyes, light skin and brown hair, and I did genetic testing some years ago that put my genetic ancestry most likely with the dominant genetic populations of Britain and/or Germany.)

No, I don’t.

Not only are the racial demographics in the United States changing over time, giving us plenty of time to adjust to the changes, but it doesn’t matter what race an American is. An American, to use the definition of a denizen of one of the 50 states, used to be a Native American; then to be an American meant that you probably are or were white; in the future, to be an American might mean that you probably are Latino or mixed.

Nothing is so precious about the white culture, if there is a monolithic white culture (there is not), that it would be an irretrievable loss to humankind should we see fewer and fewer blond-haired-and-blue-eyed human beings born upon the planet. White culture — hopefully only the best parts of it — will be absorbed into the overall culture anyway; it won’t be lost altogether.

As far as changing demographics in my home state of California go, no one is forcing me to learn Spanish (although I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish on my own for a while now), no one is forcing me to change my name to Roberto, no one is even forcing his or her Catholicism down my throat. (I love Mexican food, so if someone wanted to force that down my throat, I’d probably be OK with that.)

I don’t at all feel threatened that Latinos now outnumber the members of my own race in my state. For the very most part, Latinos and whites co-exist in California just fine.

I find white culture to be a bit stiff and boring, and so the injection of other cultures into white American culture is a benefit, not a threat. Other cultures show us still-dominant-in-the-U.S. whites (white-alones still are 61.6 percent of all Americans) other ways of seeing, of believing, of thinking, of living.

And we Americans get to pick and choose. I like the Spanish language. I like Mexican food. I like Cuban music. (I’d love to visit Cuba before I die.) I like the leftist politics that we’ve seen throughout Latin America throughout time. (Yes, I’ve been a fan of both the late Hugo Chavez and the late Fidel Castro — no, I’m not in agreement with everything that they did, but I like that they stood up to the evil empire in the north instead of selling their people out to the plutocratic plunderers of the north.)

But I remain free to hate any or all of those things if I choose. The only thing about the Latino culture that I’m not crazy about is its rampant Catholicism, but, again, no one is forcing me to become a Catholic. (It would take something like the Spanish Inquisition 2.0 for me to “convert” to that oppressive, patriarchal and misogynist, fairly racist [or at the very least Eurocentric], homophobic, backasswards, toxic institutionalized religion.)

In terms of religion, when I’m not feeling atheist-y, I gravitate toward the Eastern religions, especially Buddhism. I’m not a practicing Buddhist, but I’m fairly familiar with Buddhism, and while I wouldn’t swallow, hook, line and sinker all of its teachings any more than I would any other religion’s, Buddhism is the major world religion that makes more sense to me than does any of the others, especially Judaism, what passes for Christianity, and Islam.

I admire Asians, perhaps especially the Vietnamese, whose food I love. My best friend in junior high school and high school was half-Vietnamese; born in Vietnam, as a child he had come to the United States with his Vietnamese mother. He had a bit of a mischievous streak about him, but he was very bright and was a good friend.

Black culture is infused into the culture of the United States to the point that many if not most blacks often complain that elements of their culture have been stolen by whites. Hey, black Americans, we bland white Americans need that spice. Without it, you’d be blinded by our whiteness, too. (Melting pot, baby!)

One of my favorite books is an old one, La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race), by the late prominent Mexican José Vasconcelos. Published in 1925, in his treatise Vasconcelos did assert some things that today we’d find racially stereotypical at best, but his overall theme — that the mixing of the races is beneficial, not harmful, to humankind — was forward-thinking for its time and holds true for today.

Wikipedia notes of La Raza Cósmica:

Published in 1925, La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) is an essay written by late Mexican philosopher, secretary of education, and 1929 presidential candidate, José Vasconcelos to express the ideology of a future “fifth race” in the Americas; an agglomeration of all the races in the world with no respect to color or number to erect a new civilization: Universópolis.

As he explains in his literary work, armies of people would then go forth around the world professing their knowledge. Vasconcelos continues to say that the people of the Iberian regions of the Americas (that is to say, the parts of the continent colonized by Portugal and Spain*) have the territorial, racial, and spiritual factors necessary to initiate the “universal era of humanity.”

Claiming that the Darwinist ideologies are “scientific” theories only created to validate, explain, and justify ethnic superiority and to repress others, Vasconcelos attempts to refute these theories and goes on to recognize his words as being an ideological effort to improve the cultural morale of a “depressed race” by offering his optimistic theory of the future development of a cosmic race. …

Any biologist will tell you that a species that never gets any genetic variation introduced into its gene pool (usually because of isolation) is at risk for extinction because its genetic code never gets any updates, so to speak.

This is true not only for the human animal on the biological level — think of the common results of inbreeding — but it is true for the human animal on the cultural level.

Cultural isolation leads to cultural stagnation, and cultural stagnation often leads to cultural extinction.

White supremacists speak endlessly of strength, but ironically, the genetic and cultural isolationism that they espouse (whites must only reproduce with other whites and the white culture must be “defended” and all other cultures rejected) is a fucking recipe for literal and cultural extinction.

That which does not bend will break in the wind. White supremacists do their fellow whites no favor by advocating staunch rigidity when the changes that we have been experiencing on many levels call instead, loudly and clearly, for flexibility and adaptability.

To be clear, just as there are white supremacists, there are Latino supremacists, Asian supremacists, black supremacists, et. al., people who believe that their race is the best, or, at least, the only race that really matters.

Racial supremacism of any kind is an unfortunate, harmful disease, but in the United States of America of course white supremacism has been the most prevalent and most harmful racial supremacism, but even with that historical fact, no one is really saying that whites don’t have the right to exist, as the flier pictured above alleges.

The supposed war on whites is as bogus as is the supposed war on Christmas (the “war on Christmas,” of course, is just an aspect of the “war on whites”; often, if not even usually, in fact, it’s just code for “war on whites”).

No one, with the exception of a crazy, relative very few, has called for the extermination of white Americans. Very most often it’s white Americans calling for the extermination of other races, or, if not their extermination, then at least their banishment, as is the case with how millions of white, Trump-loving Americans believe that brown-skinned and/or Spanish-speaking individuals all should be banished to the south of the Great White Wall that Der Fuhrer Trump has promised to erect. (After all, these brown-skinned hordes are threatening what it means to be an American — which is to be white!)

So it’s always interesting to see white supremacists claim that whites actually are the victims. Fucking losers.

This is not to say that it’s OK to shit and piss on a white person primarily or even solely because he or she is white. That’s called racism. And you don’t correct racial injustice by committing even more racial injustice yourself.

Nor do you get to punish the son for the sins of the father, so to speak. Because a person is white doesn’t mean that he or she is the descendant of a white slaveholder any more than it means that a person who is a black is a descendant of black slaves. (Barack Obama, for instance, is not. And there are plenty of whites who immigrated to the U.S. after slavery was abolished. And most Southerners didn’t hold slaves during the years of slavery; you had to be pretty rich to hold a lot of slaves.) But even if someone were proven to be the descendant of a slaveholder, do you really get to punish him or her for something that happened when he or she was not even alive?

Slavery was a colossal sin that never should have happened and that can’t be undone. It never should be minimized, but it also shouldn’t keep blacks and whites hating each other in perpetuity. It is the national wound that won’t heal, and even then there are plenty of other wounds, such as the decimation of the Native Americans, who rarely are mentioned in discussions of race; the internment of the Japanese and other mistreatment of Asians throughout U.S. history; and the ongoing prejudice against Latinos, against whom we are told by our pussy-grabbing “president”-“elect” that we must built a huge wall — you know, in order to “make America great again.”

In regards to the second white-supremacist flier shown above, I fully agree that “defending [my] people is [my] social duty.” It’s that I define “my people” very differently than do the white supremacists.

While I don’t at all call myself a Christian, as I reject institutionalized Christianity and don’t believe in bullshit like virgin births and resurrections, there is a quote of Jesus that I find interesting. Three of the four gospels give some version of it. Here it is in Matthew 12:46-50:

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

I always have interpreted this to mean that Jesus (at least the Jesus of the New Testament as he is written about in the New Testament, whether there actually was a historical Jesus or not) did not believe that mere genetic closeness was real closeness; real closeness comes only with a shared worldview, a shared philosophy, a shared love that is not racially or otherwise exclusive, but is universal, all-encompassing.

I extend the definition of genetic closeness beyond the genetic closeness that one sees in his or her nuclear and extended family to the genetic closeness within one’s own race; having said that, again, I maintain that mere genetic closeness does not confer real closeness, and that perhaps is where the white supremacists err the most.

That another person is white doesn’t mean that he or she and I automatically have this bond. We don’t. I don’t care what’s in your genetic code; I care what’s in your heart and mind.

All human beings have the right to exist. White supremacists and other racial supremacists, however, care only about the welfare of the members of their own race. Tragic.

Defending our people indeed is our social duty, but our definition of “our people” had better include all human beings.

*It’s true that Vasconcelos is partial to the Iberian Peninsula, probably especially to Spain, but it’s also true that the Spanish conquerors did something that the white, non-Hispanic European conquerors were loathe to do: they routinely interbred with the peoples they conquered.

Thus, today’s populations of Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, et. al., have Spanish blood in them, as the population of Brazil has Portuguese blood in it.

The willingness to mix racially is laudable, even necessary for the long-term survival of humankind, as I have established, but it’s also important not to feel that one’s own race is superior or supreme… And one could argue that Vasconcelos in his La Raza Cósmica at times at least verges on that.

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With Ireland, yet another pink domino topples; next up, the United States

. Dublin (Ireland), 23/05/2015.- People reacting to results coming in from constituencies around Ireland suggesting an overwhelming majority in favour of the referendum on same-sex marriage, in Dublin, Ireland, 23 May 2015. The first results were declared in Ireland's historic vote on same-sex marriage, with every indication that the Yes side has won, as opponents of the measure conceded defeat. Sligo-North Leitrim in the north-west was the first of 43 constituencies to declare with a 53.6-per-cent vote in favour, followed by Waterford in the south-east with 60.3 per cent voting Yes. (Irlanda) EFE/EPA/AIDAN CRAWLEY

EFE/EPA/Aidan Crawley photo

People in Dublin celebrate the passage of same-sex marriage in the widely-considered conservative nation of Ireland yesterday by more than 60 percent of the vote. Of course, this isn’t all about the Catholick church; it’s about human rights and freedom.

The news story headline from today “Church reels after Ireland’s huge ‘Yes’ to gay marriage” made me giddily happy, but the news story misses so much. It begins:

Dublin (AFP) — The once-dominant Catholic Church in Ireland was trying to come to terms [today] with an overwhelming vote in favour of gay marriage, saying it needed a “new language” with which to speak to people.

As jubilant “Yes” supporters nursed their hangovers after partying late into the night following [yesterday’s] referendum result, the faithful attended mass to hear their priests reflect on the new social landscape in Ireland.

“The Church has to find a new language which will be understood and heard by people,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, one of the Church’s most senior figures, told reporters after mass at the city’s St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

“We have to see how is it that the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is not being received even within its own flock.”

He added: “There’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the Church and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the Church.”

The majority of Irish people still identify themselves as Catholic but the Church’s influence has waned in recent years amid growing secularisation [gotta love the British spelling] and after a wave of clerical child sex abuse scandals.

During the campaign, bishops spoke against changing the law, while older and rural voters were thought to have accounted for much of the “No” vote.

Final results showed 62 percent in favour and 38 percent against introducing gay marriage in a country where being homosexual was a crime until 1993. …

Many things strike me. Where to begin?

As much as I’d love to celebrate the death of the Catholick church, it’s not dead yet. For decades Europeans, Americans, Latin Americans and others throughout the world have been calling themselves Catholicks but have doing what they want to do anyway. They disagree with the church on many issues, such as birth control, abortion and same-sex relationships, but go about living their lives as they wish to live them anyway, but still giving at least lip service to having some fealty to the Catholick church. They have been living compartmentalized lives, and this doesn’t seem to bother them much, if they even think about it much at all.

This phenomenon of compartmentalization (in order to avoid cognitive dissonance, apparently) is quite old, and while of course Ireland being the first nation in the world to establish same-sex marriage at the ballot box (rather via a legislature or court of law) is a milestone in equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals — probably especially because Ireland is considered to be a conservative nation — the Catholick church will continue to sputter on until its eventual demise.

Remember that 10 years ago in the heavily Catholick nation of  Spain, the parliament passed same-sex marriage, which was favored by more than 60 percent of the nation’s people10 years ago. (“The ratification of [same-sex marriage in Spain] was not devoid of conflict, despite support from 66 percent of the population,” notes Wikipedia, adding, “Roman Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed, criticizing what they regarded as the weakening of the meaning of marriage.“)

Spain was the third nation to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium, and was quickly followed by Canada, which became the fourth nation to adopt same-sex marriage.

Since Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and parts of the very heavily Catholic Mexico — Mexico City and the Mexican states of  of Quintana Roo and Coahuila — have followed with same-sex marriage. (And it’s important to note that any same-sex marriage that legally was performed anywhere in Mexico must be recognized throughout the nation’s 31 states.)

And following Mexico with same-sex marriage have been Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Finland, England, Scotland and Wales, and now, Ireland.

A lot of Catholicks in the Western world live in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal. Wikipedia, for instance, puts the populations of Ireland, Mexico and Portugal all at more than 80 percent Catholick, Argentina at more than 75 percent, Spain and Luxembourg at around 70 percent, Brazil and France at more than 60 percent, Belgium approaching 60 percent, and Slovenia and Uruguay around 50 percent.

So Ireland’s having joined the same-sex marriage fold yesterday can’t have been a huge shock; it’s not like it was unprecedented.

But I’ll take this latest win for love and for freedom, the freedom to live one’s life the way he or she wishes to, as long as he or she does not harm others — and no, violating some tyrannical, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging theofascist’s backasswards beliefs on how we, the rest of us, may and may not live our lives (whether we even believe in a “God” or not) is not harming anyone else. Quite to the contrary, it’s the theofascists who always have been causing the harm (in the names of “God” and “Jesus” and “love”), to which the masses have been waking up and realizing, and thus the march of same-sex marriage rights continues throughout the globe. (A lot of work remains to be done, especially in the African, Middle Eastern, Asian and Muslim nations, as well as in Russia.)

Speaking of which, I find it interesting that it’s reported that the final tally from the vote in Ireland yesterday is expected to exceed 60 percent, since earlier this month the polling organization Gallup reported that a record number of Americans polled — 60 percent — now support same-sex marriage. That’s fairly fast growth, considering that Americans didn’t reach the 50-percent mark in Gallup’s polling on same-sex marriage until 2011.

True, not even a full quarter of Americans call themselves Catholick (thank God), and of course we can’t blame only the Catholicks for their opposition to same-sex marriage in the United States, since there are plenty of other hateful, ignorant, right-wing “Christian” churches in the United States, such as the Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Methodists, and, of course, the Pentacostalists, who probably are the scariest of the theofascist “Christians” (whom I commonly call “Christofascists,” after “Islamofascists,” as though the fundamentalist Muslims had a monopoly on “God”-based fascism).

And, of course, the Catholicks aren’t monolithic; many if not even most of them personally are OK with same-sex marriage, despite the church’s official stance on the matter. Still, though, I can’t understand how anyone can support such an evil, harmful institution, even peripherally, such as by even still calling oneself a “Catholic,” knowing the damage that the Catholick Church has been wreaking upon humanity for centuries. (Ditto for the Protestant churches, too; even the more liberal Protestant churches still push a belief in “God,” which to me is only a Santa Claus on crack. [He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!] The opiate of the masses, indeed.)

Of course, of what the Catholick Church and other “Christian” churches are most terrified is continuing to lose their grip on the masses’ minds, genitalia and wallets and pocketbooks. Virtually all organized religions, small or huge, are all about those in the upper echelons of the hierarchy, be they the petty pastors of puny Pentecostal churches or Il Papa himself.

These theofascist tyrants never have cared about anyone’s true freedom — only about their own power and wealth, the sustenance of which requires that others be enthralled to them through ignorance and fear, via “God,” “Jesus,” “heaven,” “hell,” “sin,” “eternal damnation,” etc.

The gaining of equal human and civil rights for non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals is only one front in the continuing throwing off of the theofascists’ centuries-long tyranny. Science, technology (including, of course, the communications revolution that the Internet has been), logic, reason, true democracy (which necessitates secularism) — in a word, modernity — is what poses the largest threat to the continued existence of the infantilezed organized religions that refuse to let go of their desire to infantilize and enthrall all of us.

Next up, I expect the U.S. Supreme Court to rule next month that no state in the U.S. may prohibit same-sex marriage, as such a prohibition violates the equal human and civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The about-40 percent of Americans who still oppose same-sex marriage will, of course, quite predictably whine that a pro-same-sex marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is an anti-democratic fiat by “activists” judges (of course, if the U.S. Supreme Court actually were to rule against same-sex marriage [which I find unlikely], to the wingnuts this would be wholly democratic and the judges would not be “activist” at all, but simply would have done their job to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, you see).

Of course, in the United States we never have had any national referenda, such as Ireland just did on the topic of same-sex marriage. In the U.S. there is no mechanism in place for the entire nation to vote on any matter other than who will be U.S. president and U.S. vice president, and given that the members of the U.S. Supreme Court are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, we Americans, who elect the president and our U.S. senators, of course have some voice in the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, so to call the court’s rulings (the ones that we disagree with, mostly) entirely anti-democratic is, of course, largely if not mostly bullshit.

And I’m quite confident that were same-sex marriage put to a national referendum in the U.S., it would pass.

Gallup polling this month found 60 percent support for same-sex marriage in the U.S., but a CBS News/New York Times poll taken just before the Gallup poll found 57 percent support, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken right before that one found 58 percent support. A Quinnipiac University poll taken right before that one also found 58 percent support, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken at the same time as the Quinnipiac University poll found 61 percent support.

So Gallup’s finding of 60 percent seems to be no more than within a percentage point of two of the actual level of support for same-sex marriage within the United States. (The average of the five nationwide polls cited above, which were taken this month and last month, is 58.8 percent.)

Again, were same-sex marriage put to a national referendum in the United States of America, it would pass. It’s safe for the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging haters to argue otherwise, since we never have national referenda here in the U.S., but the timid, behind-the-curve, right-of-center U.S. Supreme Court (which did, after all, decide the 2000 presidential election even though Al Gore had won more than a half-million more votes than did George W. Bush and decide that bazillionaires may have unlimited spending in elections) would not rule in favor of same-sex marriage if it weren’t confident that a solid majority of Americans are on board with it.

Because a solid majority of Americans are on board with same-sex marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps further emboldened by the latest example of Ireland, most likely will rule in favor of same-sex marriage throughout the land.

And the land will not erupt in chaos and violent upheaval, as the theofascist terrorists warn us will happen (it’s just yet another terrorist threat meant to get them their way over the majority, even though they are in the solid minority), because where same-sex marriage is concerned, the U.S. democracy, such as it is, and as slow as it always has been to bring about equal human and civil rights for all, at least in the area of the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, is working.

Not quickly enough, but it is working, and next month we truly freedom-loving and love-loving Americans most likely will be celebrating in the streets like they have been celebrating in the streets of Ireland this weekend.

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Deep thoughts on the week that was

I post only a fraction of what I could post, because my time is limited (like it is with most bloggers, I have to earn a paycheck, and that doesn’t happen with my blogging, which is a labor of love) and because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like doing something unless I do it right.

So here is some of what I would have posted in the past week or so if I’d had the time (and if I weren’t such a perfectionist):

Movie reviews

“Countdown to Zero”: This documentary about nuclear weapons was disappointing. It taught me little that I didn’t already know or that I couldn’t have discovered on my own via Google (which now is evil, I understand, and which is too bad, because I’ve always liked Google).

“Countdown” apparently lets the United States of America off of the hook for having been the first nation on the planet to nuke another nation. It’s an obvious conclusion that if nukes are bad and the United States is the first and thus far the only nation ever to have nuked another nation — what does that say of the U.S.?

“Countdown” also doesn’t delve into the uber-hypocrisy of the United States — the only nation ever to have nuked another nation (I never tire of saying that) — dictating to the rest of the world which nations get to have nukes and which nations don’t. No, I’m not big on the idea of Iran having the Bomb, either, but it was the United States that opened that Pandora’s box, and “Countdown to Zero” doesn’t even begin to address that adequately.

My grade: C+

“Inception” is entertaining enough, but it also could have been titled “Deja Vu,” because it’s a mixture of “The Matrix” and “Shutter Island.”

“Inception” explores what is real and what is not, and features characters kicking each other’s asses in a video-game-like fantasy land while their physical bodies are unconscious and wired up, a la “The Matrix.” What’s most bizarre about “Inception” is that in both “Inception” and “Shutter Island,” Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who is tortured by the ghosts of his dead wives. The similarity is such that my having seen “Shutter Island” first made me able to enjoy “Inception” less.

Any movie starring both Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, two of my favorite young actors, however, can’t be all bad. (Marion Cotillard, as DiCaprio’s character’s deceased wife, is pretty good, too, although her accent sounds a bit like Arianna Huffington’s…)

“Inception,” besides being too derivative, is too long, though…

My grade: B-

“The Kids Are All Right” is more than all right. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening do a great job playing a lesbian couple with two teenaged kids. Each of them had been inseminated by the donations of a sperm donor (played by Mark Ruffalo, who can donate sperm to me any time…) who later is contacted by the older teen (played by Mia Wasikowska, who starred as Alice in Tim Burton’s latest film) and who comes into their lives.

Probably because I’m a gay man, I have no problem seeing any two people of either sex in a relationship, and having been in a relationship for almost three years now, I see certain dynamics in all relationships, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. (While my boyfriend and I watched “The Kids Are All Right” together, I poked him in the arm several times to declare: “That’s us!”)

I understand that the lesbian community is not thrilled about the type of porn that the lesbian couple in the film enjoy, but, as Moore’s character explains, human sexuality is complicated.

My biggest problem with “The Kids Are All Right” is that Ruffalo’s character isn’t all that believable. Is he a care-free Bohemian or is he a successful businessman? And how does he have all of that time and energy (and the money) to do all that he does, including having a romance with one of the lesbians? Still, the insightful dialogue and the realistic situations in “Kids” make it worthwhile.

My grade: A

Politics

Leave Michelle alone! Had Barbara Bush or Laura Bush gone to Spain on vacation, it would have been no big fucking deal. But because Michelle Obama went on vacation to Spain, and not, I suppose, to Haiti or Darfur or Uganda, she’s taken shit for it. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently huffed:

Is it really such a terrible thing that the president’s wife took a few days off to enjoy the beaches of Spain? Yes and no. Michelle Obama’s trip, though expensive in the context of our dire financial straits, isn’t putting a dent in the Treasury.

But as a political move, it could not have been more out of step with most Americans’ reality. The obvious reasons include the stagnant job market, the depleted fortunes of the middle class, millions of lost homes and, for many, the prospect of an insecure financial future….

On balance, the vacation was poorly conceived but hardly a crime befitting the condemnation. Perhaps of more lasting concern is the missed opportunity for the first lady to set an example of restraint and even generosity. I hear the Gulf Coast beaches could use a cash infusion.

When do the Richie Riches of the Repugnican Party ever “set an example of restraint and even generosity”? Why the fucking double standard that a conservative white man is expected to be a selfish asshole, and gets away with it, but if a black woman takes a trip that any well-enough-to-do white woman would take, she instead should have “set an example of restraint and even generosity”?

And talk about pettiness. Parker notes in her column that

George W. Bush largely escaped scrutiny because his preferred getaway was a place no one else, especially the media, wanted to go. Crawford, Tex., in August? Fabulous.

Whatever else one thinks of Bush, he did have a sense of propriety in matters recreational, perhaps in part attributable to his life of privilege and attendant guilt. He gave up golf after invading Iraq because he felt it would look bad to be perfecting his swing while those he had consigned to battle were losing their limbs. A token, perhaps, but a gesture nonetheless.

A token gesture “perhaps”? And oh, please. The xenophobic, parochial George W. Bush never showed interest in other nations or cultures unless they had vast oil reserves that could be stolen. He didn’t take vacations at home out of some “sense of propriety in matters recreational,” but out of his utter lack of curiosity about the rest of the world.

And Gee Dubya gave up golf? Oh, gee, what a sacrifice! That almost makes up for the damage that he did to his own nation, including leaving office with (not in any certain order) a record federal budget deficit, an overextended military, a crumbling domestic infrastructure, far more enemies around the world than there were before he stole office in late 2000, and what economists have dubbed the “Great Recession.”

Why does Kathleen Parker get paid to write and I fucking don’t?

(Well, that’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that she’s a baby boomer, and boomers never have needed any actual talent to make big bucks, and because as a writer she supports the status quo, which includes keeping Americans stupid and disempowered by discussing such non-issues as Michelle Obama’s vacation, and my intention when I write is to destroy, not to prop up, the status quo. And, we Gen X’ers historically have been shit and pissed upon by the talentless boomers.) 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Gen-X hero!

Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant (pictured above in a MySpace photo), had had it. As a (U.K.) Guardian columnist tells it,

…as the plane was coming in to land, Slater asked a passenger who was attempting to get her luggage from the overhead compartment to remain seated. After the passenger verbally berated Slater, a piece of her luggage fell on to his head. [This website states that Slater’s mother says that Slater was hit in the head by the door of the overhead bin the foul-mouthed passenger was yanking open, not by luggage.] Slater took to the plane’s PA system and announced that he was quitting. Then, after grabbing two beers from a food cart, he opened one of the plane’s doors, slid down the emergency chute, and was gone for good.

This story is being told as a simple episode of “take this job and shove it,” but I think that there is a lot more than that beneath the surface.

Slater is in his late 30s — a Gen X’er, like me, who, I am sure, is sick and fucking tired of being squeezed in the middle between overly demanding (mostly baby-boomer) customers and rich (mostly baby-boomer) overlords who do little to no work themselves but who reap all of the profits while we Gen X (and Gen Y) wage slaves, who usually live from paycheck to paycheck, make their wealth and their comfort possible. (I felt this big squeeze especially in nursing, which I left in 1998 and to which I’ll never return.)

I don’t know how old the obnoxious passenger is, but my guess is that she’s a fucking baby boomer. (I’d bet money on it.)

The passenger’s selfish, inappropriate and illegal actions — this website reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is looking for the passenger because she is accused of “several airline infractions,” including “unbuckling her seatbelt and walking while the plane is taxiing, [constituting] two separate fines of $1,100” — ended up creating a visible wound on Slater’s forehead, but, as a Gen-X wage slave in the “service sector” (the new slavery system) he was just supposed to take it.

The boomers clearly expect us Gen X’ers to continue to take it up the ass indefinitely. We Gen X’ers are overeducated and underpaid, and we’re quite clear as to the future that the uber-selfish boomers intend to leave us, yet the boomers expect their gravy train to chug on forever at our continued expense.

If we Gen X’ers — and the “illegal aliens” — all ever were to refuse to continue being whipped wage slaves for the overprivileged boomers — if we all were to activate and slide down that emergency chute — their comfort would come to a screeching halt.

We Gen X’ers and other wage slaves have the real power, not those parasites who are dependent upon us yet act as though we need them.

Severing the hand that feeds you (and slapping your benefactor in the face with it): I’d already decided long before Obama administration spokesweasel Robert Gibbs called us progressives members of the “professional left” who should be drug tested that I’ll never give another penny nor another vote to Barack Obama. So I can’t call Gibbs’ smug comments the final nail in Obama’s coffin. That coffin was nailed shut long ago, so I guess that Gibbs’ latest statements are just concrete poured over that coffin.

You know, George W. Bush is a major fucktard, but neither even he nor any of his spokesweasels, to my recollection, ever publicly bashed the Repugnican Tea Party’s far-right-wing base.

You may not like your base all of the time, but you don’t alienate your base.

Clearly, starting with DINO (Democrat in name only) Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party decided that it’s OK to promise some things to us progressives but then to do other things — because where else are we progressives going to go?

Well, this member of the “professional left” won’t support Obama anymore. Clearly, the Obama administration has decided to sell us progressives up the river for the unstable, volatile support of the “swing voters,” who can’t tell right from wrong, good from evil, or friend from foe.

I’m more than happy to pick up my marbles (which Gibbs claims I’ve lost) and go home, even if doing so means the quicker collapse of the American empire. I’m with Ralph Nader, whom I voted for president in 2000 and whom I should have voted for president in November 2008 (instead of Obama) — and of whom one of his detractors once claimed believes that things have to get even worse before they’ll ever get better.

And this pundit had it right when he remarked:

We “professional leftists” do indeed need drug testing because apparently the … hallucinogenic of “hope and change” has worn off and the ugly mediocrity of modern Democratic leadership stares us in the face with the not-so-friendly smugness of a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Yup. It was the Obama campaign that had sold us the drug of “hope” and “change” and now criticizes us for having imbibed it.

Well, we of the professional left are going to have to find a new drug.

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Easter celebration or a ‘tea party’?

I was looking at Salon.com’s little slide show titled “Holy Week around the world” when I saw some interesting Reuters images from Brazil and Spain. Boy, did I do a double-take.

Apparently, Brazil celebrates a “Procession of the Torches” in which the participants wear conical headdresses and carry torches

Photos:

Penitents attend the Procession of the Torches during Holy Week ...

Hooded penitents take part in the Procissao do Fogareu (the ...

Penitents attend the Procession of the Torches during Holy Week ...

Reuters and Associated Press photos

Jesus H. Christ — Easter or “Mississippi Burning”?

Anyway, even the Brazilian kiddies get involved in the festivities:

A girl dressed as a penitent prepares before a procession during ...

Young penitents take part in a Holy Week youth procession in ...

Children dressed as penitents prepare for a procession during ...

Associated Press and Reuters photos

Looks kinda like the Teletubbies meet the Ku Klux Klan to me…

And what’s this? A prototype of a “Star Wars”-inspired imperial guard for the increasingly embattled Pope Palpatine?

Penitents take part in the Santo Cepulcro procession during ...

Reuters photo

(Actually, the photo’s caption reads: “Penitents take part in the Santo Sepulcro procession during Holy Week in [La Paz, Bolivia, on] April 2, 2010.”) Also in La Paz:

A hooded penitent attends a Holy Week mass on Good Friday in ...

Associated Press photo

Y en El Salvador:

Penitents carry a statue of Jesus Christ as part of the Via ...

Reuters photo

Not to be outdone by Latin America, Spaniards also don pointy hats this time of year:

Devotees take part in the La Soledad procession during Holy ...

A young girl plays surrounded by Penitents taking part in the ...

Penitents take part in the procession of the 'Jesus Yacente' ...

Reuters, AFP and Associated Press photos

That photo above reminds me of “Logan’s Run” and I find it a bit chilling, actually… 

And even my neighbor Mexico gets in on the pointy-hat act:

Silent procession : Penitents on the procession of silence, ...

AFP photo

It’s all a bit sKKKary, and I think that my Easter has been ruined…

But seriously, why haven’t I seen this before? I’d thought that I’d already seen it all…

Can the pointy hats and the torches be a coincidence? Was the KKK influenced by Spanish and/or Latin American culture?

I just can’t see images like that and think, “Oh, Easter!” I tend to think: “Oh, a lynching!”

At least in their Holy Week celebrations in Spain and Latin America they don’t actually burn big wooden crosses, though — right?

Anyway, I pick on Spain and Latin America (I love them, or I wouldn’t have learned Spanish), but if you are interested in the topic, Yahoo! News has a much larger slide show of Holy Week celebrations from around the world here, including plenty of pictures — like this one:

A Filipino penitent has his feet nailed to a cross during yearly ...

Associated Press photo

— of “penitents” in the Philippines volunteering to have nails driven through their hands and feet (one phenomenon that I have been aware of for many years now).

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