Uncommon Sense

April 11, 2023

Oh, DeSantis is Going to Be Pissed

I was watching a documentary last night, made in 2021, entitled “Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots.” Middle Florida, I learned, is a region in the Florida Panhandle between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers. It includes the six easternmost counties of the Panhandle (that’s the westernmost segment of Florida) and the documentary focused mostly upon Leon County of those six.

In any case this documentary explored the role of slavery in building the economy and infrastructure of this segment of the state, with effects able to felt to the present day, not just to the descendants of those enslaved persons, but to the entire culture.

Now what is really going to piss off Governor DeSantis is the opening splash screen of agencies that helped make the documentary. Here they are:

Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs
FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights
Florida State University President’s Council on Diversity & Inclusion

Wow, Florida state institutions promoting Critical Race Theory! DeSantis’s mind will be blown.

April 2, 2023

A Degraded and Degenerate Race?

In my last post I quoted Louis Agassiz (from 1846), who became one of the most prominent scientists in America and of his time, with regard to his “feelings” that Black people were a “degraded and degenerate race,” hardly earning the label of human.

Now since Agassiz was supposed to be a scientist and a trained thinker, what could lead to the Black servants he was observing in 1846 appearing to be degraded and degenerate?

  1. Could it have been that their religion had been stripped from them?
  2. Could it have been that their culture had been stripped from them?
  3. Could it have been that their family members and friends were stripped from them?
  4. Could it have been that no education was provided them? (In many places in the Antebellum South, teaching a slave to read was illegal.)
  5. Could it have been the beatings or maybe the branding and other mutilations?
  6. Could it have been the malnutrition and poor medical care?
  7. Could it have been the lack of any personal autonomy or freedom?
  8. Could it have been the humiliation of being sold like cattle?

Louis Agassiz, could it have been the effects of fucking slavery?

Imagine if you were plucked from your bed in the middle of the night and allowed no contact with your loved ones, neighbors, fellow churchmen, etc. You had no recourse to the police as they claim what was happening to you is legal. You are not allowed to read anything or teach any of your fellow slaves to read. If you are a woman, you are sexually raped as often as the masters want. You are put to work and punished physically if you were too slow, or your work wasn’t good enough. You had to grow your own food because your masters weren’t about to feed you, but you were responsible for feeding them, and cleaning up after them, and working in their “businesses.”

After 40 years of this with no hope of rescue, would you not feel degraded? Would you not feel degenerate?

All of Agassiz vaunted intellectual powers did not allow him to see this obvious reason behind his discomfort in the presence of such people. The thing about biases is that they are hard to recognize and then acknowledge that you have them.

People are talking seriously about reparations for what our ancestors did as slave owners. Some are saying “I didn’t do that, why should I have to pay?” This is stupid. This is like saying “I didn’t start the war, why should I have to pay our soldiers.” This is why government was created. Our guilt is collective and white folks, listen up (I am one of you), you are still benefiting from what was done to Black people during our slavery era and the remnants of those practices still in existence. Our guilt is collective, not personal, so our reparations should also be collective. We all need to pony up, even though there is no amount of money or free education that could possibly pay for being enslaved. Think about the mental exercise above. Had it really happened to you, what happened to all of your goals and aspirations, and hopes for your children and grandchildren? Is there any amount of money that would pay for those losses? Certainly, in our current culture, an amount of money would help the descendants of those slaves create better lives for themselves, as a partial repayment for what was lost.

Scientific Racism

As you probably know, I am a scientist. Scientists are often upheld as paragons of rationality . . . but. . . .  And you knew that a but was coming, didn’t you? Scientists were, undeniably, promoters of racism. We now know that the concept of race is bogus, but it wasn’t always so. Allow me to state a for instance.

Louis Agassiz, emigrated to the U.S. in 1846 where he continued a prodigious life in science. Agassiz was known for “observational data gathering and analysis. He made institutional and scientific contributions to zoology, geology, and related areas, including multivolume research books running to thousands of pages.” (Wikipedia) but “His theories on human, animal and plant polygenism have been criticised as implicitly supporting scientific racism.” (again, Wikipedia). That probably should be “explicitly supporting scientific racism.”

Even though he decided to live the rest of his life in the U.S. when he first arrived he wrote his mother of his extreme discomfort from his exposure to Black servants. “And when they advanced that hideous hand towards my plate in order to serve me, I wished I were able to depart in order to eat a piece of bread elsewhere, rather than dine with such service. What unhappiness for the white race—to have tied their existence so closely with that of negroes in certain countries! God preserve us from such a contact.”

Agassiz, was born and spent much of his early life in Switzerland and so had no contact with Black people whatsoever. He allowed his personal emotional reaction to drive his science toward mistake after mistake.

And he was not alone. Whole cadres of scientists rushed to support the claim that Black people and other people of color were degraded “races,” and hardly worth the label human. They created pseudoscientific evidence out of whole cloth to support their preconceived notions, which were not dispelled (but not done away with) until the mid-twentieth century. Like the Christian support for Black slavery in the nineteenth century, the “scientific evidence,” like the “Biblical evidence,” supplied has lived to this day.

March 9, 2023

Systemic Racism? Never Heard of It

Right-wing Republicans (Are there any other kinds any more?) are fond of denying that there are no after affects of black slavery in this country and pooh-pooh that claim that systemic racism even exists.

An article in The Guardian yesterday stated:

“When Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin had their home assessed by an appraiser in 2020, they learned it was worth $995,000. So the Black couple, who purchased their home in December 2016 and spent thousands in renovation costs over the years, decided to get a second opinion. They “white-washed” their property and had a white friend pose as the homeowner. Weeks later, a different appraiser assessed the house’s value at $1,482,500.

“The couple sued for discrimination.”

We certainly wouldn’t want those black folks to have enough money to buy into another white neighborhood and we want to make it easier for a white couple to replace this black couple . . . wait, WTF?

Anyone doubting the existence of systemic racism is exposing willful ignorance. The federal government has admitted to creating a red-lining program that prevented black and brown people from even securing federal or even private loans on houses in white neighborhoods, for Pete’s sake.

And I assume every denial of systemic racism begins with a prologue starting with “I am not a racist, but . . . “ This should be a clear sign the speaker is a racist, because if you feel you have to deny it, you are about to utter some racist bullshit.

Oh, and the Austins won their case.

And, if you still have doubts The Guardian article went on to state that a pair of researchers “analyzed more than 47m appraisal reports collected from licensed appraisers between 2013 and 2022. The data had been made public for the first time, a decade after Howell and Korver-Glenn (the two researchers SR) first pursued it.

They found the gap between the home values of white homeowners and homeowners of color widened over the last decade. When unpacked by race, the results were staggering: appraisers valued homes in white neighborhoods two and half times more than homes in Black neighborhoods. For homes in Latino neighborhoods, the gap is larger, despite the fact that the value of the Latino residents’ homes were bigger than Black residents’.

Systemic racism doesn’t exist my ass.

February 2, 2023

Now Black Cops are Killing Young Black Men

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Race,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

One of the tasty topics on display currently is the Death by Cop of a young black man, Tyre Nichols, in Memphis. All of the cops in the execution squad were Black. Conservatives heads exploded, “See, see, just what we have been saying all along; it is not a race issue!”

But it is.

There has been a decades long campaign to demonize young Black men. Sending them to jail keeps them from voting, at least it had. And there was money to be made running jails, you know. And well, they are just nig . . . you know.

This demonization was so great, and focused on law enforcement, that even Black cops have come to despise young black men, no matter how squeaky clean they might appear. Think about Black cops who view themselves as “good guys,” yet who still suffer racial discrimination, think about the current situation. It is likely they are thinking: if all those young Black men were not forming gangs and dealing drugs, we wouldn’t face so much blow back. It is all their fault. They themselves fell victim to the propaganda of the “Dangerous Young Black Man.”

August 9, 2022

Big GOP Brother

At present, some states with GOP majorities are beavering away to ban abortions completely. They are planning on using your phone records as evidence of activity that could signal abortions. They are making vigilantes out of citizens to promote a police state, for now just for abortions. They are telling people what they can and cannot do.

Go down their list, the actual list of what they are acting upon, not the list of things they say they “stand for.” To them, freedom of religion means we should be a Christian nation. Women don’t deserve equal standing with men in business or at home. They want to ban abortion and birth control as the natural state of “wives” is to be barefoot and pregnant. There have declared that there is no racism, so minorities should shut up about perceived oppression. The poor are moochers, takers. The sick don’t deserve medical care. Their illnesses are due to poor lifestyle choices.

In other words, anyone not like them shouldn’t have the fundamental rights they insist on for themselves. They don’t think of you and me as real Americans, or even fully human.

Sound familiar?

And lying is not a problem with them. Consider this statement by Mafia Don Trump during the recent election:

“The (Biden) campaign has joined forces with those trying to tear down America and our way of life. He comes out with a platform . . . there will be no oil. There will be no God. There will be no guns.” (Donald J. Trump)

Has anyone noticed that there is no oil? How about guns? Are there no guns anymore? And is God missing in action somehow? The same lies were applied to President Obama, he was going to “Take our guns!” There are more guns in American hands now than ever before. Odd form of taking away, that is.

When are Republican voters going to wake up and realize they are being played? The real agenda of the oligarchs has nothing to do with these topics. The real agenda is lower taxes for the rich, less regulation of business, and preservation of the social privileges currently provided to white men.

The GOP says it wants a smaller federal government, yet they are currently expanding the intrusiveness of government into our personal lives, as has every Republican (and Democrat) president in recent history. Smaller government, my ass. They want government doing their bidding, not ours.

Republican National Convention in the near future?

July 27, 2022

White Supremacists Aren’t What They Used to Be

If you have ever watched Fox (Fake) News or even if you haven’t you are probably aware of the Great Replacement Theory. This is a grand conspiracy to replace white people with “people of color” and even Jews!

We all know how politically powerful ethnic minorities are, especial those consisting mainly of illegal aliens, they . . . what? Uh, I am currently being told that this “great replacement” is not being perpetrated by the minorities themselves. They do not have the power.

So, whoever is doing this . . . it can’t be the Republican Party, because all of the white people liable to be replaced already vote Republican, so it must be the Democrats! Yeah, it is the Democrats! You know the political party so powerful that they lost a presidential election to the extremely lame, reality TV actor, Donald Trump. And the party that has disorganization as party of their party platform.

Oh, this is pathetic. Listen white supremacists. If white people are so damned superior as you say they are, how about they act like it. Running around crying about theories, theories!, like Critical Race Theory, and the Great Replacement Theory, sheesh. Grow a pair. Act like a superior.

For the rest of us, if a white supremacist bothers you, grab them by the pussy, anywhere will do because they are 100% pussies, afraid of their own shadows.

July 13, 2022

Big Lies are Woven into the American Story

Mafia Don Trump’s Big Lie, that the 2020 election was “stolen” through voter fraud, is still an infant. It won’t become a toddler until this Fall. Many people are addressing Trump’s Big Lie as if it were unprecedented in U.S. history. It is not. In fact, Big Lies are woven into the tapestry of this country.

By definition, a big lie has to be large in scope as well as being patently untrue, just repeated over and over until it can masquerade as a truth.

In my life I have seen quite a few. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin incident? It led the U.S. to fully engage in the War in Viet Nam. Of course, we found out later it was a lie. Remember Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction? These imaginary weapons were used as a justification to wage yet another war.

If you spend a little time reflecting you will discover more than a few: Elizabeth Holmes, the creator of the bio-tech company Theranos, promised to revolutionize blood testing but was convicted of fraud when it was found out that she had just lied her way to prominence and billions of dollars of venture capital, etc.

But in this country’s history, the biggest Big Lie dates back a ways. No, not to Revolutionary times, although there were lies enough to go around, I am talking about just after the Civil War, over 150 years ago. You remember the Civil War, when a handful of Southern states treasonously declared war on the rest of the states, you know the states called the United States. They ended up losing that disastrous war, but to this day there are still claims that they didn’t lose and that they are still fighting. There are claims that the Civil War was about state’s rights (even though the state’s statements of succession all mentioned their desire for slavery to continue as it had as the primary cause).

Just after the war ended, a disgruntled Southerner assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, but accounts of the story taught in our schools never mention the role the Southern state’s treason. The U.S. President, ranked by many as our greatest, was assassinated by a Southern traitor and that never gets mentioned! Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Gen. Robert E. Lee were traitors under the U.S. Constitution’s definition of treason, according to William A. Blair, yet neither man – nor any other Confederate – was ever tried for the crime. So many families lost people during the war that there was little energy for vengeance and the North opted for reconciliation. We were paid back by the Biggest Big Lie of American History, that of the “Lost Cause,” the fight for the rights of states to not be dominated by the federal government.

Just a century ago, southerners began erecting large numbers of statutes honoring “heroes” of the Civil War, no, not Northern soldiers but Southern traitors. Imagine the people of Boston raising a statue of Benedict Arnold, shortly after the Revolutionary War. There have been no statues raised of Benedict Arnold but we have more than 700 monuments to Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and other Confederate soldiers and politicians who betrayed our country (as of 2020). And this does not count the public buildings, schools, etc. that bear the names of the traitors.

The ironic thing is if you ask school kids who have studied American history to name a traitor to the U.S., they will all pipe up “Benedict Arnold,” whose name is synonymous with treason, but none will mention any of the Southern state’s traitors who did far more damage and cost far more lives. Gee, I wonder why that is? (Look at how textbooks are sold and to get maximum sales, books have to be “acceptable” to a large number of states, especially the biggest ones: California, Texas, etc. Texas, notably, has tried to get slavery in the U.S. downplay as “not being that bad,” “Slaves were treated like family,” etc.)

The recent battle over displaying the Confederate battle flag on public buildings in the South was part of the ongoing Big Lie. They claimed the Southern Civil War battle flag, called the “Rebel Flag” in the vernacular, as merely a token of Southern culture. It didn’t have any meaning otherwise. (They apparently didn’t ask many Black people about that.) My suggestion was to let them keep their flag but it had to be overprinted with a giant “L” because they were and are losers. They lost. So, the flag should stand for the simple lesson that traitors end up losing. Now there is a lesson from American History . . . and a part of Southern culture.

More and more southerners are giving up the Lost Cause Big Lie but it is over 150 years old and not dead yet. Let us hope that Trump’s Big Lie can be laid to rest much more quickly.

June 29, 2022

The Toxicity of the Concept of a Chosen People

Filed under: Race,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:59 am
Tags: , , ,

Recently we have seen pushback on the Black Lives Matter movement, typically by using another meme “All Lives Matter.” It is funny but all of us have some desire for exclusivity, no matter what we claim. In this country underlying all such discussions is the religious idea of there being a “chosen people.” These people have been chosen, by their god they claim, for special treatment because they are “special” some how.

If you are old, like me, you might remember a pop song called, The In Crowd. Here are excerpts from the lyrics:

I’m in with the in crowd
I go where the in crowd goes
I’m in with the in crowd
And I know what the in crowd knows

Any time of the year, don’t you hear?
Dressin’ fine, makin’ time
We breeze up and down the street
We get respect from the people we meet
They make way day or night
They know the in crowd is out of sight

. . .

At a spot where the beat’s really hot
Oh, if it’s square, we ain’t there
We make every minute count
Our share is always the biggest amount
Other guys imitate us
But the original’s still the greatest

. . .

We got our own way of walkin’
We got our own way of talkin’, yeah.

This was written for a high school crowd, I am sure, in which socially evolving young people desperately wanted to be accepted, especially by those who seemed “the coolest.” In high school we invented words that were exclusively ours (ours were words like cool, bitchin’, and boss . . . We got our own way of talkin’, yeah) There was no sense to being “special” if nobody else noticed.

In the U.S. Christianity has broken up into thousands of denominations, each one claiming to be different from the others and, of course “special.” And they exclude. They exclude people who they don’t want to be special like them. Maybe those they exclude are Catholics, or LGBQT people, or . . . ugh . . . Democrats! You can’t be exclusive, without excluding “others.” Of course, we tend to demonize those “others.” Ask any evangelical Christian about atheists, it is unlikely they have never met one, and they will nonetheless have a strong negative opinion. Their religion claims that to be moral you have to believe in their god, their way, and so atheists are automatically immoral and not to be trusted. Exclusion you see.

But in the vein of “All Lives Matter” are we not all “God’s Children?” If we are all god’s children, why did the Abrahamic god “choose” a single people out for special treatment? Why exclude the rest?

Is there any more evident reason to believe that those scriptures were written by men, for men than that? Why would an all–loving god, create a race of sentient animals, and then just select out a small subgroup to educate and ignore (or worse, condemn) the rest?

Divinely inspired scripture, my ass. The word of god, my ass. Rather the Word of Man; scripture inspired by “The In Crowd.”

April 28, 2022

Sometimes a Title is Enough

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 8:12 am

In this case it is a subtitle (to an Eric Sentell post on Medium.com).

Republicans display systemic racism by banning

teaching about systemic racism

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