My country makes me so sad right now. If you are white and male and not speaking up I am talking about you. There are no bad actors on "many sides". Wake up.
Many of my ancestors would be fumingly upset right now. They would not understand how a great nation full of amazing individual paths arrived at such an poorly unified result in such an unhealthy place and time. We are a phantom collection of singularities and pluralities mixed together like poorly laid cement and reduced to a single word: meme. Alt this, alt that. It's an illusion.
Our ancestors would not understand how their struggles to survive and later their struggles to thrive were coopted by a trivial, select few. They fought in wars both foreign and domestic, wars with guns and wars with words, but they would never have envisioned a war that is invisible while in plain sight, a war that moves slowly and silently. A war that tests and bends the bell curve of idea acceptance, that bends a population who now accept certain ideas as "ok" that they did not used to accept as "ok". Our ancestors would not comprehend this new silent default.
My older boy turns 19 soon and is starting college. When I was 19, I was working at Blondie's Pizza in Berkeley, standing in the doorway watching a not-very-useful protest/gathering devolve into a fully useless riot. I have a bad reaction to useless leftism and am generally disdainful of wanton anarchy, for the record. I perhaps wasn't always like that but we get smarter as we age.
Two mild events for mild, white 19 year-old men. In contrast, my dad was 19 when the US invaded Okinawa - it was to be the stepping stone to a larger mainland assault on Japan. It was a horrible, horrible debacle with hundreds of thousands of lives lost on both sides. Our dad was in the Seabees and drove the landing boats. Here he is (far left), the greek kid building shade structures with POW's - it was just too hot and all hands on deck irrespective of race or creed. I wonder what he felt? What were his ideas like back then? He never talked about the war much, or when he did it felt filtered. 72 years ago last week America dropped the bombs and our dad came home to spend the rest of his years speaking out against and fighting conservatism, racism and fascism.
And I know this: he would be furious now. Just like he was furious with McCarthy, with the Vietnam war, and with all the extremists, racists and fascists over the decades. Even with his own extended family sometimes.
He would not be upset with BLM, or with the alleged alt-left, or with social justice warriors. He would probably find some of those people annoying a**holes - as I do sometimes because let's face it, sometimes the left can be truly exhausting - but he would understand them. He would know the difference between legitimate human rights issues and white supremacist fascism.
I'll continue to follow in his path - even though we disagreed about many things, on these points we are in unison. White male people: whether or not you are actually speaking out... you are still speaking out. There is a problem here and it's always been here. Your attempts at meme-ification, faulty reverse-logic, incorrect use of correlation versus causation, and general false-equivalency are all transparent failures.
Good people everywhere know better.