Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Notion of Clarity is Unclear

I haven't hidden from my support for workers, here or anywhere else, or my distaste for Walmart. So I was kind of happy when I heard some news recently saying that Walmart had decided not to build a store in a city where there might be a minimum wage hike. This made me very happy, and caused me to ask, could this be a return for "Mom and Pop?" So many small businesses have disappeared due to the super low prices Walmart can charge, at the expense of the taxpayers, the workers, and those small businesses. Wouldn't it be nice?

In my house the TV is seldom off. And I've noticed a couple of small, nitpicky things about people I see on some of the programs that are on. There are some "reality" programs about pawn shops, and I've noticed that these programs really cater to some pretty awful stereotypes about both the customers and the staffs. For example, one of them takes place in Chicago, and one of the brothers who run it gets tips on the horses from a guy who is probably "mob  connected." On another there is a Jewish family, father son and daughter, who make sibling conflict look like warfare, and their customers, who are mostly black, look like a bunch of crack heads and reinforce every possible scary stereotype about black males. I just can't help thinking that these programs are not healthy for viewers. Not that I would cancel them; I don't want a "nanny state..." just sayin. Also unhealthy, the way somebody out there makes absolutely every female character walk-hips moving so widely from side to side that I keep thinking it would throw my back completely out. Why is that?

Is anyone else as tired as I am of the phrase, "A bridge too far?" It is so completely overused that it no longer holds any meaning.

We've had a nice period in my part of Texas with some slightly cooler than normal temperatures, and some glorious, sublime rain. When it rains here, there are spots with no grass where the dirt runs inexorably to the low spots on the sidewalk and creates major mud puddles. This also happens where the grass is "edged." This also happens in private homes where grass is "edged." It leads to soil erosion. This is not a good thing. Not a question, just an observation.

I love my friends. I have some awesome girlfriends who have been part of my life for longer than any of us care to admit. Sometimes we go places that bring us home late. At least three times I have arrived home late, only to find that my husband has gone to bed and locked the invisible lock. Is it passive aggression, not wanting me going out with the girls that causes him to do that? Is it just an oversight? How do I approach him with these questions?

Drones are in the news regularly today. Most Americans love drones because they can kill "bad guys" or "terrorists" without putting our young men and women in harms way. We, including me, don't want our children going to war and be killed. I would only ask if our babies are the only ones that matter. Drones are not exactly laser surgery, and there is almost always some of that loathsome to me term, "collateral damage," which includes children. Can anyone who values babies and children continue to see this as okay?

In listening to all the talk about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, it occurred to me why the witnesses for the defense were more convincing than the witnesses for the prosecution: clarity. While I'm operating on an assumption here, the division between the factions over Zimmerman's guilt or innocence has led to a conversation that is predictably ideological-the right being more convinced that Zimmerman feared for his life, the left believing that his reaction was based on racism/racial profiling, and that his life was never in danger. I don't want to get into Zimmerman's guilt or innocence, or into the racial questions it is bringing to the front, which is likely a very good thing. The 911 tape is where the prosecution broke down, and this is where right/left, science/anti-science intellectual argument divides. On the 911 tape, there was someone screaming for help. Some people say it was Trayvon Martin, some say it was Zimmerman. Where one falls on that question determines how one feels about the verdict. When Trayvon Martin's family was asked to testify as to whether those screams came from their son, they said they believed it was Martin. When pushed, they wavered, and said they couldn't be absolutely sure. But the defense paraded witness after witness who said that they were absolutely positive that the screams were coming from Zimmerman. They could not be moved from their positions, however pushed. This made me think of all the political and science conversations I've had with religious or political conservatives, and the problem is the same. If I watch programming on, say, The Science Channel, the hosts, who are usually scientists, often ask a question to which the answer is, "We don't know." Or "we don't know yet." On the other side, the answer is always clear; "God did it." This clarity prevents questioning anything, or seeing the need for questioning things. Not needing to question, believing that the problem is solved, can be very comforting. But it can also lead to narrow mindedness, and taking positions that have been proved wrong by those who continue to question. In the case of this particular murder trial, clarity may have prevented justice for an unarmed teenager. And the clarity of these witnesses may have been influenced by what they already believed, which is that a black teenager in a hoodie is probably up to no good. I hope the jury wasn't wrong, but it really doesn't matter now-Zimmerman was found innocent by a jury of his peers, and in our legal system, that means he is innocent. It's too late for questions now, but again, I am glad that this verdict is leading to a conversation about race in America. It has become too easy to rest in complacency and assume that the U.S. has got rid of the "race problem." I have absolute clarity that this is not true.

1 comment:

Rene' said...

Proof that we have yet to eliminate racism in this country are the extreme comments from the right on Obama's talk. They accuse him of spreading hate, fueling the fires. Yet when you read his talk, if they bothered, it was very much a call for peace and understanding among all cultures. We all view life through the prism of race. It's inescapable. That does not make one a racist. Unless one has had the opportunity to be fully immersed in a different culture, we have only our own race with which to see the things that go on around us. It is when we can open our minds to the reality that others do not share that same vision and experience that we can then begin to get somewhere. Calling it race baiting when someone says racism is a problem is, in my book, proof that someone is either extremely naive or being purposefully in denial. Open your mind and your heart might just follow. I'm shocked and saddened by how many people, including some I have known for years and whom I consider good friends, are falling into the closed mind category. I'm glad Obama opened this can of worms. It is relevant. It is necessary. And who better than he to broach the subject?