Monday, March 22, 2021

A staged border scandal. Plus: Atlanta

Cannon here: This site took a semi-hiatus because a series of personal reverses created a deep depression. Y'know how Winston Churchill used to have "black dog days"? Well, I get black dog months. 
The saddest incident occurred a few days ago, when I witnessed the death of a woman named Melissa Leicht, struck by a car not thirty feet away from me. A horrifying sight -- and I keep seeing it in memory. If only one could shut the mind's eye as easily as one can close one's physical eyes.
In my judgment, the driver was not speeding and not at fault. The victim had tried to jaywalk across a wide, busy, ill-lit avenue and was struck just short of my side of the street. Hers was not a body built for running, since she had unusually small legs and feet. Although news reports state that Leicht died at the hospital, I feel certain that she was killed instantly; there was no breath and no bleeding from a large wound in her right thigh. (The iliotibial band was quite visible.)

Hopeless as the situation was, I should have performed CPR. I did not do so because, years ago, I somehow came under the impression that one must not attempt such a thing without official training, which I've never received. Frankly, I thought that the process was more complex than it really is. As I learned later that night, there are videos on YouTube which explain everything one needs to know in just a few minutes. There's no special trick to it. Current thinking holds that even poorly-performed CPR is better than no CPR.
If only I knew then what I know now! I've decided to include a link to a CPR training video somewhere on this site. You don't need certification to be of use in an emergency; just watch that video. 

Even though bad memories may haunt, one must eventually re-immerse oneself in life. There's so much going on in the news! 
I'm particularly intrigued by this story. The border problem was a predictable angle of attack against the new administration. Biden inherited a classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Some progressives demand completely open borders -- an obvious impossibility -- while Republicans claim that any non-Trumpian approach is tantamount to an open border policy. I have little problem believing that right-wing malefactors (including those working for the Border Patrol) might stage theatricals designed to make the crisis impossible for Biden to resolve. 

Right now, I'd like to hand things off to D-Jay, whose view of the Arizona shooting coincides with my own. (Frankly, when the news broke, my first thought was that someone had attacked one of those joints that promise a "happy ending" without delivering.) It is now clear that this was a crime of religious and sexual insanity. Once again, the left fell into the trap of "racializing" all human phenomena. The presumption that the Atlanta shooter hated Asians is akin to a presumption that Jack the Ripper hated whites.

*  *  *

The Deprogramming Dilemma – 16

The Atlanta Shootings – Another Kind of Hate Crime?

By D-Jay

A 21-year-old white guy in the South goes out, buys a gun and proceeds to murder eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent.


At first glance it might look like the very definition of an anti-Asian hate crime, especially when viewed against the background of the “former guy’s” constant attempts to shift whatever blame he could from his own coronavirus failures onto “Chy-na” and the truly awful attacks on Asian-Americans that have followed.


In the aftermath of the shootings, many of us on the left immediately went there and racialized the incident. 


FBI Director Christopher Wray did not. 


In a recent interview on NPR, he stated that, although he has, “elevated racially motivated violent extremism to our top threat priority level about a year and a half ago” and has “been trying to call out this threat for a number of years now…it does not appear that the motive [for this incident] was racially motivated.”


Maybe he’s on to something.


Could it be that, in our current rush to put every bad thing that happens into the basket of racial intolerance, we overlook other issues?


Other problems.


Other kinds of hate.


From what we now know about the perpetrator of the crime, Robert Aaron Long, we are led to wonder if the catalyst for his murderous rampage might have been less the anti-Asian racial hatred being fueled by Trump and his crowd, and more hatred of himself and his sexuality instilled by the dogmas of the Crabapple First Baptist Church of which he was a lifetime member.


Consider some of the choice passages from their Bylaws:

We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.

In other words, what we believe is the only truth.  Stray from it and you risk eternal damnation.  People who strictly adhere to our beliefs are good…and everyone who doesn’t is bad.

We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. 

We believe that any form of sexual immorality … is sinful and offensive to God. 

A wee bit judgemental, perhaps?  No pressure here, boys and girls. 

We believe that the end of the world is approaching; that at the Last Day, Christ will descend from heaven and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.

Toxic Right-wing Pseudo-Christianity at its finest.


And, according to an excellent bit of journalism on his background by Mark Berman, Brittany Shammas, Teo Armus and Marc Fisher in the Washington Post, young Mr. Long took it all very, very seriously.


Unfortunately for him, he also had the normal hormones common to men and women of his age.  Hormones that made him hate himself.  Hormones that seem to have convinced him that he suffered from a “sex addiction,” a highly questionable psychological construct.  Maybe he just had a normal, healthy, strong desire for sex.  To be blunt, maybe he just needed a little nooky without the guilt.


In the context of his pseudo-Christian programming, however, did he see himself as having fallen into sin?  Was he headed straight to damnation?  In his own mind, had he become “sinful and offensive to God?”


Here on this side of Judgement Day, his good Christian girlfriend had left him when she found out about his visits to the massage parlors he went on to attack, and his parents appear to have tossed him out of the house. 


According to the Post story, he was also a deer hunter and lover of guns.  His brand of church has no problems with those things, it seems.


And so he snapped.  Somehow, he came to believe that the way out of his problems was to remove the sources of his temptation by killing eight people who happened to be at some of the locations he associated with them.


And the leaders of his wonderful church?


Did they show compassion for the boy they raised to be a conflicted killer? 


Did they take a long, hard look at the rigid dogmas they promote and consider what responsibility they might have had for these gruesome crimes?


Of course they didn’t.  They tossed him out on his ear and disavowed all connections with him or responsibility for his actions.


They’re doing the work of God, after all.  Why should they bother to question themselves?


So now, six Americans of Asian descent and two others are needlessly dead.  Was there an anti-Asian racial component to their murders?




Then again, perhaps not.


In our rush to judgement about race relations, let’s not overlook the other kinds of hatred being fanned.



Contributing factors to our democratic decline:

From the Right

Truth Decay – Destruction of the Ability to Distinguish Fantasy from Reality

Ever Worsening Demonization of the Media

Manufactured Distrust of Science and Expertise

The Iron Bubble of Disinformation

The Dark Money Conspiracy

Information Warfare Aimed at Us

Domestic Terrorism

Emergence of a Full-blown Cult of Personality

Ongoing Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering

Election Security

Continued Weaponization of Social Media

Toxic Right-wing Pseudo-Christianity


Sexism and a Pseudo-Macho Mentality

Putinism and the International Neo-Fascist Movement

Lack of Education in Civics and Critical Thinking Skills

Destruction of Crucial Democratic Norms

The Collapse of Good Manners and Propriety



From the Left (and Sometimes the Center)

OTT PC (Over-The-Top Political Correctness)

Inept Messaging

Lack of Media Investment


Surrender of Rural America Without a Fight

Failure to Call Out and Counteract Toxic Right-Wing Christianity

Failure to Call Out Right-Wing Racism, Sexism and Fascism for what it is, and Counteract it in Time

Framing Too Many Issues as Being Rooted in Race Rather than Economics and Class

Failure to Recognize Just How Bad Things Can Really Get

Forever Bringing Beanbags to a Knife Fight

Failure to Protect Critical Norms

More people ought to be saying this. His church clearly does the same thing to its young members, as the Catholics do to theirs. To freight normal sexual urges with guilt -- and to use that guilt as a method of controlling the kids. At best the kids get sexual hangups to beat the band.

And as you rightly point out, the odds are high that when Mr. Long did not meet the church's inappropriate "standards" he fell into self hate -- and then took that hate out on others. Not excusing his behavior in the least but if churches teach this sort of doctrine no one should be surprised at the result.

As for why his targets turned out to be Asian women, the jury is not yet picked. Did he have a thing for them and blame them for his "fall?" Was his attraction to them based on some kind of stereotype? Both are possible in my view. Of course if I were AAPI I would be angry and frightened nonetheless.

What we need in this country: real sex education starting in the early grades as is done in Northern Europe. Where from a young age boys and girls are taught what they need to learn to prepare for loving relationships of mutual respect (and mutual pleasure), and to create healthy families if they should so desire. Too bad it can't happen here.
I both agree and disagree, anon. The disagreement comes down to one basic fact which you've overlooked: Near as I can recall, none of the mass shooters we've had to deal with come from a Catlick background. If you look hard, you may find one or two who were nominally RC, but religion was not a motivating force in their lives.

Roman Catholicism has a well-earned rep as THE guilt-tripping religion. But it seems to me that even the gonzo-weirdo far-right Catlicks specialize in beating THEMSELVES up. There's a difference between tightening the cilice and reaching for the ammo.

Catholicism is the religion that gave us the phrase "mea culpa." Fundamentalist Protestantism is the religion of culpa sui, sua culpa, non mea culpa.

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