ciroccoj: (blessed is the norm)
Here's the thing: I don't like Arabs and Muslims. And I don't think that makes me a bad person.

Bear with me, because this is not an anti-Arab/Muslim post. At all.

I don't like them because when I was a little kid (ages 6-8), we lived in Morocco for a couple of years, and it was not a good place to be. We were very much foreigners, because of how we were treated and because of how we acted. Foreigners kept to themselves, mostly, and had few positive things to say about the natives. General consensus was that Moroccans were lazy, dirty, stupid, ignorant, dishonest, and rude. And they did not welcome us to their country; as far as I could tell, most of them resented us and were looking for any chance to cheat us. So even though I lived there for two years, the only Arabic words I learned were La' (no), Inch'Allah (if God wills it), Shukran (thank you), and Makeinsh Fulus (I have no money). Oh, and Sidi Harazem, which was the brand of bottled water we drank. I made no Moroccan friends. I felt no sense of belonging to Morocco.1

And I came away from the experience with a visceral negative reaction to people who looked or sounded Arab. The reaction has lessened over the years, especially as Ottawa has become increasingly Arabicized2, but it's still there if I pay attention: the sight or sound of an Arab person or Arabic-sounding language still makes me a bit uneasy to this day. I feel just a little less comfortable when speaking to a Muslim.

And this is my problem.

Not the problem of Arabs and Muslims. It is not their job to educate me, make me see that really, they're just regular folks, show me examples of good Arabs and Muslims, make sure they don't do anything to confirm my instinctive dislike - any of it. It's my problem. The onus is on me to educate myself, to be aware of my own irrational feelings, to make damn sure my problem doesn't become their problem. The onus is on me to make sure that when I have a conflict with a rude Somalian taxi driver, when I don't like my kid's Muslim friend, when I get pissed off at the obnoxious headscarfed lady in line ahead of me at the grocery store, that it's because they are being rude or bratty or obnoxious, and not because they're being Arabs.

It's on me.

It's also on me to not get defensive when it's pointed out to me that I've been racist. Or classist, or sexist, or homophobic. It's my responsibility to listen to the charge, and try to be objective and search my subconsious for motivations and prejudices. Sometimes I really think the charge is unfounded, but I have been shown up several times and I don't think it makes me a bad person - any more than I'm a bad person for not always being kind to my children, for being careless and losing important things, for having an often messy house. I'm human, and humans make mistakes, and I developed my self-esteem before leaving childhood and it can take a few hits. Finding out that I've unfairly prejudged someone, because of race, creed, gender, etc is just another example that I'm human and fallible. It's unpleasant as hell, and I hate it, but I try to see the positive in it.

Obviously I try hard not to be racist, but when I screw up, I'd really like to know. It's an opportunity for learning. More importantly, it's an opportunity to try to make things right, if I can.

Eg, that Muslim witness in court last year (not one of our clients), who said something I assumed was a lie because part of my subconscious equated Muslim with dishonest, and then it turned out he was telling the truth all along? I can't really apologize to him; I never even caught his name, and it wasn't my case so I had no influence on his life and did him no harm with my assumption. But I can make sure the next time a Muslim witness speaks, I remember my previous failure and this time decide trustworthiness based on something more than, "He feels dishonest to me." Because really what happened that time was that the guy felt Muslim to me. Because next time, my bias may matter. Because bias and prejudice, voluntary or not, matters.


And yeah, this rambling post is partly about Trayvon Martin.

It doesn't matter to me what was going on in Zimmerman's gated community, it doesn't matter if a lot of "unsavory" characters really had moved in recently because of real estate upsets, it doesn't matter if some of Zimmerman's 40 calls to 911 in the last year actually had resulted in thwarted crimes. It doesn't matter if Trayvon Martin was a perfect kid wearing a hoodie or a kid who'd been suspended a few times wearing a hoodie. It doesn't matter if Zimmerman thought he wasn't actually racist, and was friendly to blacks he knew to be neighbours, it doesn't even matter if he felt that he was out there protecting them too. It only matters that he felt justified in running down a kid who was on the phone with his girlfriend, wearing a hoodie and carrying snacks. Because the kid was black.

Oh and no, it doesn't matter that Zimmerman is half Hispanic. That does not mean he can't be racist.

I mean, ffs. Of course he can be racist. Jesse Jackson has said in the past that when he's out walking at night, if he sees a black man, he also tenses up a bit. Barack Obama's grandmother was sometimes uncomfortable with strange black men, despite being devoted to her black grandson. And I bet Obama himself reacts differently to an unknown young black man than an unknown white, because he also grew up in a culture where black means danger and violence and crime. It's out there. We're all steeped in it. Show me a single North American, black, white, rainbow-coloured, whatever, who hasn't internalized at least some kind of anti-black prejudice, and I'll show you a five-leaf clover, 'cause it's just as rare.

Seriously, show me one3. I'd love to pick their brains and discover their secret. Ditto for anti-Arab, anti-Asian, anti-any random marginalized group.


Anyway, I know a lot of people who don't normally care about racism are all up in arms about what happened to Trayvon Martin. I think that's good. But some of the reactions to this have been pissing me off, because it's all been said and done to death before now, and the highest office in America is held by a black man and yet black kids still get harrassed and arrested and gunned down for the crime of being black, and I'm tired of hearing the same things said over and over about all of this crap, from other whites. It comes up every single time there's an issue of racism, and it's bloody annoying.

"But I'm not racist!" "So help me understand racism!" "If I didn't mean to be racist, I didn't do anything wrong!" "How can blacks assume all whites are racist? Isn't that reverse racism, and just as bad a regular racism?"

You know what?

Yes, you are racist.

No, it is not a black person's job to be your personal Black 101 tutor. Learn on your own time, or with black people who have volunteered for the job.

If you acted on your racist thoughts and feelings, you probably did do something wrong. What you meant to do doesn't matter. Eg that black woman you just condescended to doesn't have the privilege of seeing into your motivations; she just got dumped on by your behaviour.

Blacks can prejudge whites because they're human too.

Reverse racism as bad as regular racism? In a perfect world, anti-white racism would be as bad as anti-black. Because it would leave white people just as vulnerable to not being hired, not being promoted, being arbitrarily detained by the authorities, being gunned down by a random racist black guy, as black people are.

Until whites are just as vulnerable to damage from anti-white racism as blacks are to anti-black, I'm going to assume reverse racism isn't as bad. Theoretically, yes it is. In the real world, no it's not. If this black guy doesn't hire you because you're white, you almost certainly have far more job options available to you than the black guy who isn't hired because he's black.

And yes, I've been on the other side of reverse-ism. I've been condemned for my whiteness, I've been condescended to by gays, I have felt excluded and unfairly judged by other minorities. It's not pleasant, but the fact is that I can almost always leave the unpleasant situation and be right back within a culture where I am the norm and the people who treated me like crap are the outsiders. They usually don't have that privilege.

For example, I spent a lot of time among gays and bis in university, and I can think of a few situations in which I felt uncomfortable because I was the only straight person there. Because I didn't feel I could openly talk about my boyfriend among all these women who dated women, and because it was unfairly assumed that I was clueless about issues of homophobia. But I could leave, and be right back in Staightland, where the tables were turned.

It's just not the same. I'm not justifying the snide little put-downs I suffered through, or defending the snotty gay guy who got his jollies out of trying to embarrass me, but it's not the same as knowing that if you hold your boyfriend's hand in public someone might decide to punish your brazen perversion with a baseball bat.


Normally I'm more diplomatic than this. Normally I try to Feel the Pain of whatever white/staight/male person is currently feeling unfairly prejudged, or defensive, or whatever. But the gunning down of this kid has me feeling nauseated and angry, and I can't seem to take the blunt off what I want to tell some of my fellow whites. Namely:

  • Yes, you are racist. We all are. Get over yourself and work on your own racism.

  • Educate yourself. Stop asking blacks to do it for you.

  • Yes, blacks can be racist and whites can get hurt by that racism. Stop trying to make our pain equivalent to theirs. It's not.

  • That's not the same as saying anti-white prejudice is harmless, or acceptable. It's no more acceptable than being punched in the gut is acceptable. I'm just saying it's not as harmful as getting the crap kicked out of you.

  • Trayvon Martin's death is horrifying. The only way to make it less horrifying is to take a good hard look at ourselves and try to do something about the society in which his death happened. If that means demanding the police do something about his death, if it means taking a look at Stand Your Ground laws, if it means looking into ourselves and trying to be aware of our own frailties so we don't victimize more kids like Martin, that's what we have to do.

  • And by "we", I mean whites. Blacks shouldn't have to do a damn thing about it. IMHO.

::re-reading what I've written::

OK. Anger down to manageable levels again. Time to stop writing.

1: Which didn't bother me at all at the time, but which today I see as a horrible waste. An entire country and its people, entirely dismissed as too primitive to bother getting to know.

2: Realized once, upon landing in Ottawa after being away, that much to my surprise the sight of women wearing hijabs was coming to mean home to me, because where we'd been (Florida, I think) they were a very rare sight, and in Ottawa they're everywhere.

3: Non-racist North American, that is. Not five-leaf clover. Though seeing a five-leaf clover would be pretty cool.
ciroccoj: (but baby)

O Canada

Dec. 12th, 2011 05:51 pm
ciroccoj: (failure)
Canada to pull out of Kyoto protocol

I hate being ashamed of the country I love. And between this, the tar sands, and our treatment of Native people, there's a lot of shame going around :(
ciroccoj: (wonder)
Wanted to stand up and cheer by the end of this.

Open Letter to that 53% Guy

Excerpt: I understand your pride in what you’ve accomplished, but I want to ask you something.

Do you really want the bar set this high? Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week? Is that your idea of the American Dream?

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week? Do you think you can? Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

Full article )
ciroccoj: (contemplative)
Jack Layton lies in state.

Going to Parliament in a few minutes.
ciroccoj: (STFU)
I feel seriously sick. You know Fox News North? This article is about how they're losing one of their anchors days before starting, which, you know, yay and all, but this quote just...

"Newspapers are losing circulation, in part because they fear controversy. The media won't tackle the Muslim issue realistically, won't analyse the black crime honestly, avoids anything that might upset the arrogance of some in the 'gay' community, avoids offending official language issues, is uneasy at analysing immigration problems, fears delving into the effects of multiculturalism."


I thought it had been agreed that they couldn't even come into Canada because our broadcast laws don't permit news agencies to lie? Damn, you turn your back and look what happens.
ciroccoj: (100 words)
So nice to see that some things transcend the 49th parallel. Where's the vomiting smiley when you need it?

Oil firms challenge U.S. deepwater drilling ban

NEW ORLEANS/LAFITTE, Louisiana (Reuters) - Oil services companies went to court on Monday seeking to overturn President Barack Obama's six-month ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

District Court Judge Martin Feldman said he would decide by Wednesday whether to temporarily lift the ban while the case is heard. More than a dozen companies involved in offshore drilling operations filed the lawsuit, calling the ban "arbitrary and capricious."

"The government's unchecked authority has shut down this entire industry," argued lawyer Carl Rosenblum, representing the oil industry.

rest of the story

Arbitrary and capricious. I can only reply in Princess Bride-ese: "These words. They do not mean what you think they mean."

Alberta apologizes to oilsands critics

EDMONTON - Legal pressure has forced a senior Alberta government scientist to retract highly public statements saying two prominent oilsands critics lied and fudged their data.

In a letter to the scientists he questioned, Preston McEachern — head of oilsands research for Alberta Environment — now says he was the one who was wrong.

"The statements in my presentation that you did these things were false and I regret very much that I made these statements," he said in a letter to Peter Lee of Global Forest Watch and independent biologist Kevin Timoney.

rest of the story

You mean he lied? My shock knows no many bounds.
ciroccoj: (WTF)
A bit surreal, this. Fresh out of clever commentary here.
ciroccoj: (blessed is the norm)
Pumpkins: Not Just For Pie Any More!

Somebody ought to tell this to the manager of our local Loblaws. They no longer carry canned pumpkin outside of the holiday season because "there's so many pumpkin pie filling varieties that there's no point in just stocking the pure stuff any more."

I tried not to make a face or gaggy-noise, despite having tasted a number of canned pie filling recipes, because that's not polite, but I did point out that pie filling doesn't make good pumpkin soup. The guy looked at me like I was talking a foreign language. "Pumpkin... soup?"

This is the same store that no longer has butchers. I'm waiting for the day when they don't bother carrying unchocolated milk, or strawberries without cream and sugar included.

Also, the boys were watching Discovery yesterday and saw a rather horrific documentary about sharks, and the world shark fin market. We did a little online research and found that the go-to place in Ottawa for Shark Fin Soup is a restaurant within walking distance of our house. We're going to call on Monday and see if they carry the real thing or a substitute.

You know, I don't consider myself particularly green when it comes to food-related stuff. Possibly because I have friends who have their own chickens and cow, and consider home made bread with white flour a decadent treat. But I've run across so many food-related issues in the last few months that I'm feeling myself going granola wrt food too. Which is ironic since I actually don't much like the taste of granola.

It's just... you try to eat healthy and be environmentally friendly, but industry doesn't seem to want to let you. Try to buy unpasteurized milk and you have to jump through endless hoops to get it. Try to grow your own chickens and it's even worse - in fact, in Ottawa, you can't own them at all. Try to take your kids to Wal-Mart (not that I would, but still, it's the principle of the thing) and the chips and coke are deliberately prominently placed where kids want to go. Try to make pumpkin pie from scratch and you can't. Try to not use Monsanto's products and... never mind, I'll go on too big a rant if I start talking about this bit.

Hm... maybe I'm still grumpy over giving up Nestle's KitKats. Could it be that simple? Would a KitKat make me not so food-ranty?

Think I'll go watch Ratatouille when we get back home. That's sure to help :)
ciroccoj: (yuck)
Fox News: Anne Coulter Got What She Deserves

I'm... disgusted on so many levels. The woman being interviewed by Fox News is just... gah.

OK, so, you know what? We do, in fact, have free speech here. It's pretty important to us. It's different from American free speech, but take a look at the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, please, before you go on TV. Specifically, see Section 2:

Fundamental Freedoms
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

I expect to get pissed off at Fox News and Anne Coulter. Right now I'm rather pleased with them, for being true to themselves. Being this pissed off at someone representing a POV I generally agree with is infuriating.
ciroccoj: (Default)
  • Copied from Facebook entry names deleted
    Aaron Dear obama, How many countries got together to help us when hurricane Katrina hit???? No answer? NONE!!!! So why in the hell are we sending money to Hati? i do feel bad for them don't get me wrong but I think its stupid that we are sending money to another country when we can even keep ours going. And where is my funding for scholarships? i need them to. Its probably cause im white. keep up the crappy job

    Kyle There were over 70 countries that helped America after Hurricane Katrina. Shit, even Cuba and Venezuela had sent help and support before Bush ordered the National Guard to assist in helping. What we have sent to Haiti is SHIT compared to what was sent to us after Katrina. Kuwait donated 500 million, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates donated 100 million each, with us getting over 150 million from all the other countries.

  • Another site asks: Why should we help Haiti?
    • It is a good question. If this happened in the US would anyone come to our aid? No i bet not, yet we jump to help every other country in the world, Yet we can't take care of our own. How many people in America are living on the streets? How many people go hungry day in and day out? How many children go without even the basics because their parents lost their jobs? How many children are in the system because their parents cant take care of them? Yes it is very sad what happened to Haiti. I am not saying don't help, but at some point America has to wake up and take care of their own people for once. Stop playing mother to every other country in the world instead of its own children.

    • Honestly, we shouldn't. God/whoever you believe in sent the earthquake to eliminate a nation who could not fend for themselves. What is money going to do? They have been receiving aid for years and years and they spend it on pointless things. They still feed their children mud to eat. They did this way before the earthquake. We definately should not help Haiti.

    • Because we have a responsibility. However, I do find it ironic that we can shell over hundreds of millions of dollars for Haiti within days of the disaster, when it took ages for anyone to do sh*t for Lousiana after Katrina hit.

      Note: there were also replies saying that the US should help because it was the right thing to do whether other countries ever helped the US or not, and two from New Orleans who noted that they had received help from others.

  • And another Facebook discussion
    Michael Stott Yolanda I am calling you out.....Show me one instance of another country sending troops or money to help with either 9/11 or Katrina. I was at both, there was no help besides us Americans!

    Tracey McCoy Block I am tired of United States taking care of other countries, and how do they thank us?!! bombing the twin towers high jacking planes killing women and children. they never helped us when are Americans going to wake up - we need to take care of our soliders,the unemployed, and get ourselves out the trillion dollar debt that obama has pushed us in

    John Daniel Hayes i agree Tracey.Thats what I mean by every man for their selves!

  • Disasters Statistics > Hurricane Katrina > International aid response (most recent) by country

    • Australia: AUD 10 million and a team of 20 emergency response officers immediately. Australia is donating 8 million to American Red Cross.

    • Cambodia: The king donated USD 20,000 to match the USD 20,000 Cambodian government donation.

    • Canada: cut for length )

      The Government of Nova Scotia donated $100,000 towards the Red Cross effort. This was followed on September 8 when the Government of Alberta announced that it was donating $5 million. (Entry too long, see this if you're interested)

    • Cuba: Offering to send 1,586 doctors and 26 tons of medicine. The doctors await permission to enter the US.

    • France: cut for length )

    • Germany: cut for length )

    • Iraq: Has pledged USD 1 million Red Cross via the Red Crescent.

  • International response
ciroccoj: (equality)
This week was historic: Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and General Colin Powell all came out with statements in favor of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
- Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign

I'm seeing a comma between "out" and "with". Whadja think?
ciroccoj: (OMG)
Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.

  • "The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”

  • By the 1980s, the board was demanding that publishers make hundreds of the Gablers’ changes each cycle ... such as pulling the New Deal from a timeline of significant historical events (the Gablers thought it smacked of socialism) and describing the Reagan administration’s 1983 military intervention in Grenada as a “rescue” rather than an “invasion.”

  • Barton and Peter Marshall initially tried to purge the standards of key figures of the civil rights era, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall ... They have since resorted to a more subtle tack; while they concede that people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve a place in history, they argue that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As Barton put it, “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.”

  • ...and I don't have the heart to include the science textbook demands to teach "both sides" of the evolution/creationism and climate change/God's just huggin' us closer "debates."

By far the most depressing part of the article concerns the argument that Texas, as the second-largest market for textbooks in the States, is becoming instrumental in deciding what textbooks are offered to the rest of the country. Because it only makes sense for textbook companies to make sure their books are acceptable to the second-largest market out there. So even if school boards in Vermont and Massachussetts have no problem with history books giving Martin Luther King Jr. some credit for civil rights advances, and science books treating evolution as an accepted theory... who's going to publish books like that, if Texas won't take 'em?

The flister who posted this originally included a lot more profanity in her post. I don't even have the heart for that, to be honest :(
ciroccoj: (cluelessness)

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

Um... what?

ETA: ROFLMAO ooh, MSNBC must have squirrels nibbling their wires too, or Bishop Tutu does:

"It's an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipatesanevn gratr onriutontoars akngou wrl asaerplacefo all," Tutu said. "It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama's message of hope."

::wiping eyes::
ciroccoj: (books)
Does anybody have any more info on this? Because it's got me feeling all open-mouthed and incredulous :(

Philadelphia Free Library System is shutting down )

Link to the article
ciroccoj: (darkest before pitch black)
Government could fall as early as Friday: sources

OK, is this some sort of new Canadian tradition? It's autumn, we must hold a federal election?
ciroccoj: (equality)
California high court upholds same-sex marriage ban

Excerpt: The California Supreme Court upheld Tuesday a ban on same-sex marriages that state voters passed in November, but it allowed about 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before the ban to remain valid.


Well, I can tell my kids that at least Mr. Sulu and Dory the Fish won't have to have their marriages (to other people, not to each other, or nobody would care) annulled. Still. Damn.

Think we'll go feel better by watching Sen. Gronstad of Iowa on Youtube, when he talked about what his daughter told the conservative older men at her workplace re. gay marriage: You guy's don't understand. You've already lost. My generation doesn't care. )

November 2012

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