Not guilty. Also, not a surprise

Kyle Rittenhouse. Not guilty on all charges.

I am shocked, but not surprised. I draw a line between the two. Surprise often leads to shock, but I have often been shocked without the slightest surprise. Something needs to be unexpected to surprise me, but I can see something coming a mile away and still be shocked by its arrival. Like that moment between slamming on the breaks and impact. I am frequently shocked, but I am rarely surprised. I think this is because I look for the patterns. I’m not some genius puzzlemaster; the patterns are very easy to see.

The first thing you need to understand is that racism is the stupidest possible idea. There just isn’t a more unthinking concept than one’s character and/or worth being decided according to an amount of melanin in one’s skin. Try as hard as you can, you won’t be able to come up with anything less considered.

The second thing you need to understand is that this impossibly stupid idea is baked into every single function of our society. Laws, culture, all of it. If you need specific examples, please read literally any other post on this blog. 

So, to recap, our society is entirely dependent on and functions according to the most idiotic scheme imaginable. Knowing this, how can I ever be surprised? I just can’t. Flat earth? Boring. Anti-vaxx? Yawn. Scientology? Water is wet compared to racism.

The construct of white supremacy is so foolish, the systems around it can be nothing but transparent and feeble. We all saw what happened at the Rittenhouse trial. We all saw the prejudice of the judge with his false indignation and 45-theme-song ringtone. We all saw Kyle on the stand scrunching up his face and flailing his arms in an attempt to hide the fact that he’s unable to conjure up even a single tear. Even that dipshit Kavanaugh was more convincing.

When explaining this country’s racial progress, my father used to say: “They need to call the cops if they want you dead. In my day any white man could do it.”

We can all see the pattern. We can all see the swell of violence coming. But can we see how quickly we’re sliding backward or are we too busy still being surprised?

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There was just no way to know…oh yeah, there was…

Last week’s election was surprising. Maybe surprising isn’t the right word because a lot of democratic talking heads seem to be shocked out of their minds right now. They can’t believe how hard the republicans whooped their asses all around the country. They got all kinds of reasons and theories and excuses. They’ll tell you all about how that’s just how the pendulum swings in the midterms or how the media has been unfair to democrats or how progressives have pushed the party too far to the left.

That’s all whiny bullshit. Sure, the trend is for the opposite party to win in the midterms, but that trend is nowhere near consistent enough to be inevitable or even reliable. Is the media unfair? I’ll be ready to have that conversation the second they interview a Black parent about how race is being taught to their children. And too progressive? Most Americans support policies far to the left of anything the democrats are willing to do.

The truth is that republicans use race to manipulate white voters and the democrats are helpless to stop them because they do the same goddamn thing. Sure, they may be friendly and polite and their interests may sometimes align with Black interests, but when they don’t: Look out.

I’ve mentioned this before, but remember when the democrats had the most diverse field of major presidential candidates in the history of all glorious liberal history? In case you forgot, in reverse social order of the day, there was a Black woman, a Latino, a Black man, an Asian man, a gay white man, a couple of white women and two old white men. It wasn’t 15 minutes after the first democrat slapped himself on his back before he started asking, “But who’s really electable?”

Next thing you know that question was being asked by every talking head, late night host and podcaster. We all know exactly what the fuck electable means, but in case you’re the very last person to figure it out, what happened next made it plain. One by one the candidates started losing support and dropping out in that exact social order I was talking about earlier. First Harris lost support and dropped out. Then the Castro. Then Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigeig and finally Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren were forced to leave the race. Then there were only two old white men left—But hang on just one minute! One of them is Jewish.

It’s not a grand conspiracy. It’s just how white supremacy works. White people who don’t consider themselves racist will bend over backwards to keep from offending their most devoutly racist counterparts. Just be nice to them and they’ll be nice back, right? They’ll be cool and then we can all get back to normal, right? Right…?

At least 13 people who were at the January 6 rally (read: insurrection attempt) ran for public office last week and at least 10 of them won. This is them being cool. Also, republicans gathered in Dallas in droves because they thought JFK Jr. was going to show up, reveal that he faked his death and then become the 45th president’s running mate in his quest to become the 47th.

Back to normal, right?

The republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia who wouldn’t shut up about CRT somehow won. It’s very surprising. I can’t imagine how playing into white America’s deepest fears could possibly continue to be the single most reliable way to motivate white voters. 

New Jersey’s longest-serving state senate president is a democrat named Steve Sweeny. His opponent was a man named Ed Durr, known for bigoted social media posts. Ed Durr spent only $153 on his campaign, mostly on Dunkin Donuts and paper flyers. And he won. I’m sure the democrats will take a long hard look in the mirror and decide it was probably just another coincidence.

Democrats will often sidestep by claiming to run on policy not culture wars, but, you know… When taxing the wealthy turns to tax breaks for the wealthy, and when canceling student debt turns into free community college—which then turns into neither—and when your best climate change strategies include more oil, gas and coal then maybe policy isn’t the strength you think it is.

They’ll continue on about the republicans and Joe Manchin and how all the other convenient villains are just terrible. Of course, there was no way the president with the 50-year-long political career including first-hand experience of the obstruction Obama faced could’ve possibly guessed how the republicans would behave. Just no way to know.

Any minute now we’ll see celebration of how this is the most money we’ve ever spent on these issues, like firefighters battling a raging forest fire suddenly stopping to congratulate each other on the amount of water they’ve poured. Maybe they’ll say something about how they didn’t get everything they wanted, which is OK because neither did the other side—always cautious to avoid the reality that their casual “wants” are actually our dire needs.

If the democrats aren’t careful even white people will start to feel alienated. Then again, maybe that’s just another swing of the pendulum.

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COVID and racism have a bit in common

Last year 9/11-related illness was the fourth-leading cause of death for police in the line of duty nationwide. It killed 14 police officers. The third-leading cause of death for on-duty police was automobile crashes, killing 19. The second leading cause of death for on-duty officers was gunfire, with 45 dead. There’s a pretty wide chasm between 19 deaths and 45 deaths, but the number of guns and amount of gun violence in this country makes that distance understandable. Not acceptable, but understandable.

Of course, the number-one killer of on-duty police officers in 2020 was COVID-19, killing 245. The difference between number one and number two is stunning—but again, understandable when considering what a difficult year 2020 was. Not acceptable, but understandable.

For some, things will get a little less understandable when learning that as of this writing in late October of 2021 there have already been 240 on-duty officer COVID-19 deaths. Regardless of the shocking number of deaths and continuing threat to their lives, police across the country have been rejecting masks, refusing vaccination and resigning in the face of vaccine mandates.

That’s right. They’re not resigning because there’s nothing protecting them from a deadly pandemic that is killing them in numbers exponentially greater than any other cause. No. Instead, they’re resigning because there is something designed specifically to save their lives. That doesn’t make any sense at all, does it?

Well, it does when you see how police traditionally react to a public health crisis. For example, racism.

Racism has been identified as a public health crisis by the American Public Health Association. Police frequently reject training, refuse to adjust and resign over policy changes designed to fight racism.

Now, am I saying that racism is a bellwether for nearly every social issue and that the privileges established by racism set a standard that gives permission for a societally self-destructive answer to every problem we face, even those that seem as entirely singular as a global pandemic?

Well, let’s just say I can hear the detractors already.

COVID/racism isn’t even real! Even if it was COVID/racism isn’t as bad as they say it is! Talking so much about COVID/racism is just a distraction from the real problems! You say you’re fighting COVID/racism but what you’re really doing is taking my rights away!

Some think the answer to COVID/racism is simple: vaccination/education. While vaccination/education definitely help, there is no simple fix. Even the vaccinated/educated can be infected by and spread COVID/racism. Many overestimate the value of their vaccination/education mistaking it for immunity. Often times, even those who want to do something about COVID/racism don’t realize their own infection or how they help spread it. The answers to COVID/racism evade us because too many are only concerned with how they are individually affected and the problems will persist until we realize how deadly the situation is for us as a whole.

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