Like Bringing A Knife To A Gunfight vs. Like Bringing A Gun To A Dog Park

no-guns-allowed-bloody

Like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

–Origin unknown

You know that old saying, used frequently as a metaphor for entering into a situation inadequately equipped or prepared?

Well, consider this example of the opposite scenario:

So, this past weekend, my wife and I and our dog Zuki were at the dog park at nearby Lake Padden, nestled amongst gorgeous frost-covered trees at the south end of the lake, the dogs were playfully sniffing and chasing each other around, it was so peaceful…

… and then I saw the gun …

… in a holster on the hip of a guy dressed all in black, with a U.S. flag patch on one of the upper sleeves of his jacket, the owner of a Great Dane twice the size of all the other dogs in the park …

… and I instantly felt flooded by a wave of nausea and fear …

… and my brain tried to make sense of the cognitive dissonance.

I tried to imagine just how awful it must be to live in so much fear that you feel you have to bring a gun to a dog park.

But, then I thought of the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S., and how some people think that there would be fewer mass shootings if more people were armed, because, they say, there would be more of a chance of someone being at the scene who could shoot and kill the shooter before he kills or before he kills many, even though there’s no evidence that this is true.

And then I thought, even if this guy was somehow motivated by a warped, misguided sense of civic duty, a desire to protect others, nevertheless, his mere presence and the deadly weapon he carried literally terrorized me, AND he’s allowed, by law, to do so, in my otherwise great home state of Washington, without a license or permit.

And finally, I realized that the other people in the U.S. who are legally allowed to carry guns are police, and the only reason I don’t feel terrorized by their presence is because I’m a white male.

Fear and guns.

Is this really the land of the free?

…all in the name of freedom
Freedom is not domination
I believe
Freedom’s got to come from within
Yes it does
Not with the gun
Freedom’s the ability to feel love for everyone

Mason Jennings

The War On (Dominant) White Culture

Anti-White-Racism-530px1As I mentioned last week, and the week before, there was an incident at my place of employment, Western Washington University (WWU, Western) that has stirred up racial tensions, an incident that made national news, an incident not all that dissimilar to the national news coming from Yale University and the University of Missouri and other institutions of higher education.

Consequently, I’ve been having a LOT of discussions on this topic with people — co-workers, friends, family, casual acquaintances — and while I might share a considerable amount of perspective, opinion, values, beliefs, etc. with these people on a wide variety of topics, some comments coming from them diverged sharply from how I see things, and they helped me zero in on what I see as a key element in the current racial conflict dynamic.

One friend said:

I don’t see an Anglo Christian culture surviving in the USA in the 21st century. It already is in the past.

We are all human but keep in mind humans are clannish, and that’s why all groups tend to take sides on race and religion. People will consciously or subconsciously fight to preserve their clan. Our human nature guarantees it.

In June 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau projected that white people will be outnumbered in this country by all non-white people combined by 2043.

This fact terrifies a lot of white people. My friend says its human nature, I disagree, but that’s a whole other Pandora’s Box that I don’t have time to open now.

We used to take pride in our Statue of Liberty, and the message inscribed upon it:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Now? Not so much. Not if it means that white people will be outnumbered!

Of course, most white people will not come right out and say that America was founded by whites and therefore it is a white culture, with an inherent right to remain the dominant culture in the country.

But, some people will.

At my alma mater, Rutgers University, a White Student Union Facebook page has recently been set up by some students with anonymous Facebook accounts, something that has happened at 30+ other universities across the country.

What’s SO telling in the article is the statement from the anonymous students who set up the page, which can easily be divided into reasonable statements and paranoid delusional statements.

I’ve put the reasonable part in bold:

“Everyday our culture is taken from us under names such as ‘diversity’ or ‘privilege,'” they said in an email.”… We wish to provide an intellectual environment from which white students and allies may learn about their rich and beautiful culture, history and society. This too is slowly being taken from us.”

Listen…

NO ONE IS TAKING WHITE CULTURE AWAY FROM WHITE PEOPLE.

White people are totally free to hold onto and celebrate their culture.

However, white people have no constitutional or moral right to be the dominant culture, to force their culture on non-white people or demand that non-whites assimilate and adopt white culture.

The only way to remain the dominant culture is through asserting superiority, or some kind of privilege to remain dominant, without regard for the majority, by doing so aggressively and oppressively — think South Africa, where whites were only 20% of the population and yet owned 80% of the land and an even greater percentage of wealth, and resorted to Apartheid to keep it that way.

There is no War on White Culture, but…

…white people do need to let go of being the dominant culture.

White people are totally free to hold onto and celebrate their culture, like, let’s say, the men dancing in this video.

On Choosing Gloom

IMG_7495

Now, Fish & Bicycles, from its inception, was intended as light fare.

In my very first post, in October 2009, I mentioned how my previous, now-defunct and unlinkable blog, was almost entirely political, which means it almost always featured heavy, often disturbing subjects, and feeling as I did and still do, that there are already plenty of political blogs out there, that the news media in general is dominated by bad news, I was determined to stay focused on things that I really like, including: current local events, snippets of daily life experiences, art, design, music, film, theater, the written word, technology, travel, sustainability, spirituality, fatherhood, etc.

And ever since, when I’m faced with a wave of gloom, like the wave mentioned above, I either struggle mightily to keep my commitment, to find something positive to post, or I find myself paralyzed, unable to post anything (this is my first in over a week), feeling it disingenuous and unauthentic to pretend that the gloom is not there.

And, at that thought, I’m reminded of something I read on the first topic I mentioned above, last week’s racial hate speech and threats incident at Western Washington University (WWU), an incident that has spawned a series of public forums and facilitated listening and discussion sessions.

Of the very first of these sessions, a town hall, the Bellingham Herald wrote:

In response to the question about the hopes for the university, panelist and graduate student Alex Ng advised that these conversations should make people feel uncomfortable.

“As we go forward as an entire community and as individuals, what we’re asking people to do is choose to be uncomfortable, which is kind of crazy, but it’s so important that we do that and we have to have the courage to do that together,” Ng said.

So, here I am, feeling gloomy but still writing, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to be honest, even at the risk of being morose, choosing to be uncomfortable so that denial doesn’t inadvertently perpetuate that which I could choose to deny.

 

It’s Not About The Mascot

vikingWhen I began writing this post Monday, it was a VERY different post.

I’d read the news that some students and a professor at Western Washington University (WWU, Western), my place of employment for the past 15 years, were calling for a change of the university’s mascot, the Vikings, claiming it conflicts with Western’s commitment to diversity.

And so, I was going to write a casual exploration of the topic, reflecting on the fact that the mascot at the junior high school I attended was also the Vikings, half joking about how the current graphic of the Viking, included here, whether or not you believe it a barrier to creating an inclusive community for people of color on campus, is so freaking scary he looks like he very badly wants to pillage my village, rape my women, and impale me on his horns, and then, maybe, I’d lightly touch on the topic of political correctness vs. free speech.

But Tuesday morning, before having any time to complete this post, an email was sent to the entire Western Washington University community by WWU President Bruce Shepard, announcing that classes had been cancelled for the day in response to hate speech on social media, directed at students of color at Western because of their opposition of the mascot.

So, I needed to take a break from writing and regroup, I needed to read the coverage in the media, and I even masochistically subjected myself to reading the reader comments on the article in the Bellingham Herald and on Western’s Facebook Page.

Then, shortly thereafter, I read the news that five Black Lives Matter protesters were shot in Minneapolis.

And what became abundantly clear to me was:

It’s not about the mascot.

It’s about racism.

What kind of country do we live in where this happens?

  • A handful of students of color state publicly that they oppose a university mascot because they feel alienated by it, and they are met with hate speech and threats, AND…
  • This same handful are told, with derision and anger, that they shouldn’t be offended and scared, that they are “cry babies” and “pussies”, and that this is just political correctness run amok, AND…
  • The president of the university is attacked for cancelling classes, which he did because he understands that students of color might be scared, given that racism and violence on college campuses is a national epidemic, and that the whole university needs time to process the awareness that racist threats were made to our students.

In April 2014, President Shepard, in a convocation speech, said:

“ … if in decades ahead, we are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university.”

…and he swiftly came under fire for those comments.

I suspect that many who found fault with what he said then are likely the same people angrily criticizing the opposition to the mascot and the decision to cancel classes.

Racists have a glaringly obvious tell: Even hint about taking away a symbol of white power — a maniacal Viking, or, let’s say, the Confederate flag — and they doth protest too much.

Listen, I’ll take a politically correct overreaction over a racist overreaction any frickin’ day!

Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.

  

Stuff We Don’t Need: Frankensalmon

big-fish-little-fishREALLY disappointing news yesterday.

As I wrote five years ago, in two separate posts (Post 1, Post 2), some mad genetic scientists, seemingly out of some sci-fi B-movie, have been messing around with salmon to produce fish that grow faster on farms.

There’s really nothing more I can think to say about what a travesty this idea is, especially to people here in the Pacific Northwest, so please consider reading my previous posts linked to in the previous paragraph.

The sad news from yesterday, is that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the government body that is supposed to keep us safe, has approved the Frankensalmon as fit for human consumption, and they continue to refuse to label this or any other genetically modified food.

And yet, there was some hope hidden in New York Times article:

Within hours of the agency’s decision on Thursday, one consumer advocacy group, the Center for Food Safety, said it and other organizations would file a lawsuit challenging the approval.

Despite the approval, it is likely to be at least two years before any of the salmon reaches supermarkets, and at first it will be in tiny amounts.

It is not clear how well the salmon will sell. Some leading supermarkets have already said, in response to the vocal opposition, that they have no plans to sell it.

So, really, it’s up to us.

As the bumper stickers you see here in Bellingham say:

Friends don’t let friends buy farmed salmon.

Teddy Bear Cove -> Chuckanut Bay -> San Juan Islands