Posted on November 22, 2012 by Douglas
Today is Thanksgiving Day, and I have much to be thankful for.
- My wife. I met Sarah on September 26, 2011 at a function for new graduate fellows at The University of Alabama. My life has never been the same since. I have in Sarah someone that I can share my deepest fears and greatest joys. We are both advocates for the “least of these”, and our passion about issues in our society keeps up late at night debating politics and policy. She is so kind and caring, even when I am brute and curt. She gives true meaning to the term “my better half”, and there is no one else that I would rather have as my life partner.
- Politics and its corrective power over social relationships. Politics is a funny thing. For politics in a democratic society to work, it requires a bit of coming together. We must all go to the polls and vote and we must all keep our elected officials accountable for their promises and remind them of who they serve. At the same time, politics can be a very divisive issue that can separate associates, friends, and even family. I have culled my Facebook list by more than a few people since the election cycle primarily because of politics (and also, because people seem to have forgotten how to handle disagreements with their fellow humans). Some people would find this to be a bad thing; I do not. Politics is a marker that can let you know how the people that you associate with really view the world. The people that I have deleted have been ignorant of race relations, gender identity, reproductive rights, and the plight of the poor. Because of that, I would probably never have these people in my social circle anyway were it not for Facebook. So they are gone. Do not mistake this, however, as being the ramblings of someone who must have ideological singularity with all of his friends. I am friends with conservatives, school reform advocates, and people who are more than a little wary of unions. But they are all kind and can think for themselves. That does not seem like too much to ask for, does it?
- Social movements. We have had a sort of awakening on the Left as of late. Some efforts have been more successful (marriage equality) than others (Occupy Wall Street), but at least leftists are beginning to organize as a political force that will not be pushed around by either party. The centrists have had control of the Democratic Party for long enough, and all we have gotten in return is austerity, “welfare reform”, “education reform”, and squishy “compromises” that always seem to fall on the backs of working families and the poorest among us. If 2011 was the year that the Left woke up and 2012 was the year that the Left took to the streets, then let’s make 2013 the year that the Left codified its gains in municipal, state, and federal law.
- President Barack Obama. This really goes without explanation.
All in all, there is a lot for me to be thankful for this year, both personally and politically. We should always push forward so that more and more people can be thankful for having the basic needs that every human requires: food, water, and shelter. Let us go forth this holiday season and advance the world we live in towards a more humane world for all of us.
Filed under: Life, Politics | Tagged: Thanksgiving | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 21, 2012 by Douglas
Imagine that. I go from not blogging for over a year to blogging twice in one day. Lots of things to talk about today, apparently.
I became aware of this video when a colleague of mine from my undergrad days posted about it on Facebook just a few minutes before I started writing this. You should be able to tell whether you want to view the video in full or not by the snapshot on the video:
Pretty disgusting, right? Kinda makes you wonder where to begin with all of this, right? My criticism begins and ends with one group of people: university administration.
Read more »
Filed under: Life | Tagged: Racism, University of Minnesota Duluth | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 21, 2012 by Douglas
It’s been a while since I have blogged here. Life for me has changed tremendously since I last blogged here. My last post was actually on the day that my wife and I first started dating. How crazy is that? In any case, I’m back. And the case of Lindsey Stone has really caught my eye.
For those that are not aware, Stone works for an organization called LIFE, which is a non-profit that engages in assisting adults with disabilities. While she was on a work trip to Washington, D.C., she decided to engage in a bit of hipster douchiness at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:
Probably not the best idea.
Now there’s a “Fire Lindsey Stone” page on Facebook, her apology has been covered in a major Boston newspaper, and many people have weighed in on the issue. This has all led me to make few observations on the matter:
- When you post something on social media, you will never be able to predict how it will affect people. This is the “think before you post” rule that one should always adhere to. Given this woman’s reaction–”Hey, you guys know us; we’re just being douchebags like we always are”–she probably thought that the post would probably be seen as hilarious by her similarly hipster friends. She is now finding out that you will never know what will touch a nerve with other human beings.
- Your social media is always open to scrutiny from friends, family, your community, and, most importantly, your boss. It sucks, but it is true. I have had political jobs where I have had to take the most milquetoast of posts off my Facebook profile because of how my boss thought that people might react to what is on there. Free speech is not free; it comes with some responsibility.
- The reaction to this has been…..a little overblown. For obvious reasons, it was an idiotic move to take the picture in the first place. It was even more idiotic to post the photo in a public forum where, I have to believe, at least some of her connections are not hipsters, and come from her line of work. That being said, let’s be real here: if this photo had been taken at the Grand Canyon, the National Zoo, or a national park, no one would have thought that this picture was out-of-pocket. In fact, many of the same people that are up in arms about this probably would have found this funny. The overriding reason behind the outrage is that the photo was taken at a place that honors America’s veterans. I have two cousins listed on the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, my grandfather flew in Vietnam and died from stomach cancer, and I have numerous family that have served and continue to serve in America’s armed forces. I say this to say that I have a unending respect for America’s veterans. But this outrage feels like it is coming from a place of blind deference to the military, and I cannot get on board with that. The Facebook page is festooned in images designed to make you think that she has committed some affront against patriotism, veterans, and America itself. But really, it is just a stupid photo. That’s it. The irony of the Facebook page is that they seem to not understand that the whole “veterans died for our freedoms” concept also extends to those that say REALLY STUPID THINGS.
Does Lindsey Stone deserve to get fired? Perhaps, but that point is really irrelevant. This is an amazing case study on how social media can amplify the loudest voices and most mindboggling images in our world. As much as Facebook and Twitter have helped organize revolutions, take down brutal dictators, and facilitate community change, it has also given voice to certain micro-outrages that should probably be left to the side. Given all of the pain and suffering that we have in this world, and all of the important issues of public policy that we must grapple with as a polis, this is probably one of those things that should be left to the dustbin of irrelevance.
Filed under: Life, Politics | 3 Comments »
Posted on November 15, 2011 by Douglas
Since my last blog post, many things have happened in the GOP nominating process. It is pretty amazing to watch the ebbs and flows of the race continue, even though polls have shown that most Republicans are satisfied with the choices that they have in the race. One thing has become very evident to me throughout this race: Govs. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) and Chris Christie (R-NJ) look like absolute geniuses right now. Why would I make such a statement?
Read more »
Filed under: Politics, U.S. Politics | Tagged: 2012 Elections, Barack Obama, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Politics, Rick Perry | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 11, 2011 by Douglas
….and I feel numb. Not sad, not angry, not anything. Just numb.
Everybody has their “where were you when this happened?” story, and I am no different. I was in the 12th grade at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and I was sitting in Ms. Hilker’s Trigonometry class. Before class even gets started, another teacher runs in and says that “another plane hit the World Trade Center, and there is a large fire at the Pentagon.” We have a television rolled into class, and we just watched the events unfold for the rest of the class. We saw the towers collapse in front of our eyes, and we were horrified.
When I heard about the fire at the Pentagon, I became really worried, as I have an uncle who works there (he lost friends in the attacks). I called my mother to tell her what happened, and she instantly started her attempts to make contact with her sister (a high school teacher at this point) and her fiancée (now husband that worked at the Pentagon). Unfortunately, trying to make calls to anywhere north of Richmond was a problem, as the phone lines were jammed. I got out of class, and my best friend Jonathan brought me home that day. My mother called the house and said, “If I can’t get in touch with my sister, then we are heading to Northern Virginia. So, pack your bags in case.” This was a frightening prospect to me. Driving to Northern Virginia at a time when we did not know whether there were more attacks coming on the horizon? I was hoping that it did not come to that, and it luckily did not; she made contact with them shortly before she left work. Everyone was okay.
The constant images made me sick to my stomach. I remember that it was on every channel; even The Weather Channel made heavy mention of it during its weather broadcasts. At a certain point, I asked my mother if we could just watch HBO because they were the only channel that was not showing ANY coverage of 9/11 at all. She obliged. But when we turned away from HBO to watch the 11pm news, we saw that there was rampant price gouging going on across America. The news announcer, apparently believing that these spikes in gas prices were real because of the likely origins of the attack, was panting on about “$4.99/gallon gas in Kansas City, Missouri…” So my mother and I went out to fill up our gas tanks, and I could not help but to notice just eerily quiet and peaceful it was. After that, I went to bed, frightened at what the next day had in store for us. Of course, the news that Mohamed Atta had actually lived in Virginia Beach and scoped out potential targets did not do anything to make me feel any better in the subsequent days and weeks.
Well, I am ten years removed from that day. And I feel numb.
Read more »
Filed under: Life | Tagged: 9/11, September 11 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 4, 2011 by Douglas
I have been a very staunch defender of President Obama, both on this blog and in person. It has been only on the rare monumental screw-ups where I have upbraided his poor decision making (see Shirley Sherrod). But lately, I have faced a really big struggle within myself because this Administration has undertaken some actions that I have not agreed with at all. It has made me question where my allegiance truly lies.
Does it lie with my principles (leftist), my party (Democratic Party) or a single person (President Barack Obama)?
Read more »
Filed under: Politics, U.S. Politics | Tagged: Barack Obama, Politics, Progressives | 1 Comment »