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Duck Call

The A&E Channel has a variety of programming that caters to a diverse viewership. The network is dependent upon ratings driven revenue. When an employee of a company makes statements that might dissuade customers from offering patronage, then *any* company –no matter how they generate earnings– is compelled to do what’s in the best interests of the stock holders. Certainly a significant portion of the A&E customer base/viewership who are of African origin, and/or homosexual.

I would venture to say that there is a probability that there are executives in the company that Mr. Robertson (“Duck Dynasty”) works for who are also either gay, or African Americans (who lived through the civil rights movement), and who were insulted by his remarks. If any employee, anywhere purposefully insults their employers, the repercussion is usually a suspension, or dismissal. I don’t imagine that anyone reading this who is under the employ of another has the ability to publicly denounce the source of their income. 

There is also a distinct probability that Robertson violated the terms and conditions of his contract. When one has a high profile, public job, they are contractually bound to not embarrass the company they work for. As such, contracted media personalities are “employees at will”, and are subject to a professional code of conduct.

Moreover, if a cashier at a supermarket  purposefully insulted a group of customers, for whatever reason, there would be a reasonable expectation for said cashier to be let go. If a corporate executive violated company policy by making disparaging remarks about class, race or gender, they would at the very least be subjected to a human resources review.  Why should this be any different?

To another point, Mr. Robertson’s was not hired by A&E to offer sociological perspectives. Nor do his bigoted statements about gays and blacks constitute a “differing opinion”.  There is certainly a difference between saying that “homosexuality is against my religion”, and offering an unwarranted, ignorant commentary.

Also, while first amendment activists are concerned about protecting uncomfortable free speech, Phil Robertson’s remarks are not likened to Don Imus, who was hired for off-color humor and to give his opinion. One could make the argument –and I certainly did– that Imus’ firing was purely born of politically correctness, and propagated by a special interest/ third party. Robertson’s suspension is much more likely to be in the best interests of his employer.  Indeed, Phil Robertson’s social commentary were purposefully made uninformed statements, and intended to solicit negative attention.

However many who are defending Mr. Robertson’s purposefully bigoted, overtly ignorant assertions as “free speech” are cowardly doing so under that guise so as to propagate their like-minded hatred of gays and minorities. It is merely a way to publicly support right wing, homophobic, racist predispositions and pretend that it’s Robertson who is being victimized, rather than the groups he is  disparaging. Thankfully, most Americans know better.

 For if one finds themselves earning a significant income in a high profile position, they can no longer hide behind religion, colloquial provincialism, being a “child of the sixties” or a bastardization of the first amendment and hope to escape societal constructs.

Spoons and Guns

It’s been a few days since Aaron Alexis ambled into a Naval facility in our nation’s capital and with his new, legally bought shotgun, articulated his angst. Twelve people who were going about their normal routine were killed. As such, with yet another on a long list of mass shootings under our nation’s increasing belt size, our legislators and news-ertainers will begin their monthly debate on guns and their relationship to bullets ripping through the vital organs of innocent Americans. It should continue, with the utmost sincerity until –at least– the next celebrity meltdown.

Predictably, the same vapid arguments for the escalation of gun sales will commence. As has been the case since the Republican party has been compromised by Capital interests, they will find themselves on the wrong –not to mention factually inaccurate– side of this debate. Thus, gullible middle Americans will be frightened into over-arming themselves to their own detriment, and a false narrative will be blathered that the government (read: Black guy in the White House) is ‘coming for our guns”. The constitution will be bastardized to make a convenient case for capitulating to the gun lobby. And how one interprets the second amendment will become a metaphor for how they express anxiety over the cultural topography in our nation becoming darker skinned.

The racial dynamic of the NRA is the part of the gun debate that is being left out of our discourse.

The common rationalization is, that there is no correlation whatsoever between the common use of guns as mass murder weapons and ease by which said murders might be committed. Vapid, apples to armchair analogies are continually made by myopic gun advocates such as “if guns kill people, then spoons make you fat”… or some similar drivel. As if one person overeating had the capacity to kill thirty people around them in a single spoonful of carbohydrates. Or that criminals won’t obey gun laws anyway, as if that is a rational explanation for legislating the statistically proven lie that more guns will decrease violence. For that matter, why have any laws?

But in a way, the gun lobby is kind of right. Guns –by themselves– don’t kill people. Nor for that matter do nuclear bombs. However psychologically and emotionally damaged people, who don’t have to engage in background checks –not to mention convicted felons or those on the FBI’s terrorist watch list– who bring guns into crowds of people with malicious intentions do kill people. With ease, I might add.

So it is incumbent upon rational people to call out the lies emanating from the political right regarding guns, and moreover the irrational, post-Obama interpretation of the second amendment. It is of vital national importance to expose how the GOP’s and the NRA’s position on background checks have contradicted themselves since a black President was elected office, how this pertains to a bigoted cultural reaction, and how a false narrative has been created around the actuality of gun culture. Many gun advocates –whether they admit it or not– are preying upon cultural apprehension. The reality is, gun sales is all they care about, not the second amendment, you, or your lives.

Here’s the thing… Good middle-American gun-folk are under the general impression that their singular, covert background in whatever job they might have –be it in a cubical or lifting things– and their extensive training watching action movies and playing Grand Theft Auto will adequately prepare them for that moment when a homicidal maniac opens fire in a crowd. Somewhere in their attenuated synapses, the GOP/NRA electorate envision themselves heroically springing into action with a Rambo-esque disregard for their own safety. With bullets flying, pistol-packing Patriots would undoubtedly be there to protect their fellow citizens thanks to their constitutional right to carry a firearm and “pew-pa-ching” — gun down villains holding the very automatic weapons that the NRA claims every American sociopath also has the right to carry. Because true Americans like themselves will unwaveringly quell any carnage bad guys might impose on the populace.

Then afterwards perhaps a few news interviews and a spot on Letterman.

But the reality is that you’re much more likely to cower in fear and duck for cover. You’re much more likely to be Fredo than Sonny. The hero fantasy tends to fade when ones instinct for self preservation kicks in. I understand that armed brown people might seem scary in a lily-white suburban paradise, and that carrying a loaded firearm in Applebees in the company of other people’s children might appeal to your cultural anxiety. However statistically, you and your gun will do more harm than good.

The rational thing to do would be to juxtapose how we interpret the second amendment, against the constitutional mandate to insure the domestic tranquility. Perhaps we can even say aloud in public that the words “well regulated” precede the words “shall not be infringed upon” in the second amendment. But rationality doesn’t seem to have a place in our national discourse anymore, either.

Obama Anxiety and Racism Denial

When human nature collides with subjectivity, rarely does intellectual honesty override passion. Truthful introspection more often gives way to projection of one’s own irrational fears in others, and denial of the darker parts of who we are. Our cognitive ability to reflect inward is mired in human frailty, and often prevents us from making uncomfortable admissions about ourselves.

Which is to say that bigots rarely recognize themselves as such, rather they’ll internally rationalize their predispositions as something else, and find ways to express themselves thusly.

Where it concerns our brown skinned President and uncomfortable admissions, the new racist tag line goes something like this: “Anyone who disagrees with the Obama is automatically called a racist by liberals.” … or something like that. I’ve heard variations of this a thousand times, and it usually accompanies partisan platitudes, and accusations of anti-Americanism, a love for Islam, or imaginary socialism. It’s a clear deflection of the nature of one’s bias in order to justify becoming selectively appalled at the present administration. So allow me to explain why this ad-hominem premise is not only false, but is also the projection of one’s self in how he or she might form political opinions, and the denial of one’s own bigotry.

As the American cultural topography becomes increasingly darker skinned, the natural reflex against change can reveal itself in ugly ways. When confronted with one’s own bias, rather than cognitively admitting to ourselves that there is a cultural effect at work regarding how certain predispositions might have caused overzealous reactions heretofore never experienced with other presidential administrations, the internal defenses immediately rise. No one wants to admit that their principles are influenced by something unbecoming of a lucid free thinker. And although the intent is often not malicious, that is how fear manifests itself as racism. You mind if we dance wif yo’ dates?

As such, political centrists often find themselves in the unenviable position of defending a president that they would rather not, rather than acquiesce to the sometimes racist, and often irrational criticisms which defy socio/political facts. Centrists often find themselves appearing to lean left (in order to better frame their perspectives in a reasonable manner) in the face of racist ravings. Sometimes, rational political perspectives –which many in the GOP might accord– go unheard because there is little hope of their acumen being understood by such zealous, right leaning lunatics.

For instance, I have taken the president to task many times over policy, capitulation to the will of capital lobbies, and even chided his cavalier attitude over what I perceive to be an abandonment of his base –in very liberal minded company– and I’ve never been called a racist for doing so. Likewise, when I’ve done the same in the company of conservatives, what I often experience is that uncomfortable look over the shoulder that one performs before telling an inappropriate story… before becoming bombarded with racially tainted, mostly inaccurate assaults. What the GOP electorate rarely acknowledge is the nature of their criticisms, and how it rarely concerns policy. Rather its more often personalized –if not downright fallacious– attacks.

Ridiculous Meme’s posted to social media that misrepresent circumstance and disregard truth in favor of racist innuendo are all too common. Like other forms of institutionalized racism, it is more comfortably delivered through anonymity, or a third party. And like when we shout epithets from behind the wheel of a car knowing that we do so removed from accountability, the vitriol is severe. Still, the present day political climate allows for internal reconciliation, and permits otherwise decent republican folks to name call their President and bear false witness under the guise of patriotism.

Which is not to say that there aren’t plenty of things to criticize this, or any President over. That’s part of the job. However it’s instances of selective outrage over things like President Obama’s use of predator drones, or his administration’s handling of the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi… when the prior (Republican) administration had several such attacks which have never garnered the calls for investigation –let alone impeachment– that the Benghazi failure to save lives did. But the disparity of outrage for the same acts committed by the Obama administration as opposed to other administrations, is directly proportional to one’s willful political ignorance. Only honest introspection can determine to what extent racism plays a part in determining the singular direction of one’s own level of angst.

The problem for many is that President Obama represents the cultural change in our national landscape, and thus the malevolence directed at him is more a function of anxiety than it is personal. I get that. It’s often not intentional. Nevertheless, it’s still based in racism.

Which is not to say that everyone who has experienced a negative racial reflex regarding the changing cultural topography is worthy for membership in the Klan. The acumen of one’s life’s experience while formulating these percepts should never be dismissed. However to “double down” on ignorance in the light of actuality, and remain steadfast in bias for no other reason than to find comfort in racist proclivities is an abhorrent social dynamic, that unfortunately, has become more prevalent with the election of President Barak Obama within the Republican voting base. For the GOP to move forward into the twenty first century, it must change that dynamic within their party.

But before they can solve the problem of reflexive racism, they have to recognize that there is a problem.