The Ties that Blind

We are imploding, self-devouring and it’s only a matter of time, it feels, before we are required to wear badges which denote our political affiliation of choice. Race is no longer as dividing a topic as politics — despite the fact that we can choose not only our affiliation, but how we approach and manifest it — but we are not given the ability to choose the color of our skin. I was brought up in a city that is majority African-American, yet I am cotton ball white, blonde hair, green eyes and all. I never, though, really give it much thought. In the city of my birth we are blessed to have things which unite us like our NBA team, music, food and spirituality; of course we are different, and thank God for that. I’ve always felt that our city is more interesting and — unlike that bastion of white hipsterness in the center of our state — possesses a soul and a heartbeat all its own because of not only our African American population, but because of the similarly, wildly diverse influence of the considerable Jewish, Greek and Italian communities with which we are blessed. I read on the Twitter profile of someone last night who was tweeting about our team during their game (yes, OUR team), something along the lines of “Memphis born. Wherever I go, Memphis always.” To understand that, I suspect you would have to have been born here or at least have lived here for a large part of your life. I’ve lived all over the world, but Memphis is home. It is inexplicable, gut-wrenching, liberating, unique and at times frustrating. The first time I came home after moving to London almost 20 years ago, I remember flying over my alma mater on the descending flight path, as so many planes do, and the tears welling up uncontrollably and without warning in my eyes. I could not wait to get out of here, both as a child and in the early years of adulthood, so this unconscious reaction to returning to the city which I now recognize holds my roots — the true source of my spirit and fire as an individual — took me by surprise and caused me to question all that I had thought I knew of my home’s influence on me as a person.

I am a Grizzlies fanatic, often flying home from cities distant to make it to important games and always finding a way to watch, regardless of where I am in the world. I am also, as my son would tell you, at times embarrassingly passionate, yelling at refs for what I see as biased calls or scolding our players for blowing a screen or squandering a full shot clock with an attempt at a 3 when everyone knows your strength is defense (Ahem, TA). When we sit shoulder to shoulder, as close to floor level as we can get, I never give a thought to the tone of the skin of the person sitting next to, in front or behind me; the only thing I notice is whether or not they are wearing the colors of my team or if they are an opponent import who is likely to wish me dead by halfway through the first quarter. We are not black, white, yellow, purple, gay, straight, whatever — we are Grizz fans and largely, we are Memphians. The same sort of dynamic can be seen in some of the best restaurants in town or in the church pews of any number of congregations, and it does not necessarily depend on generation. My son’s generation, I am proud to say – though rife with liberal faux righteousness – is as color blind as any ever born. My 70 year old mom, born in rural Tennessee to a father who freely made use of the N-word, truly believes that Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Mike Conley are her kids, despite her being a size zero white woman. I can tell you that she would, without hesitation, throw me over for any one of them on any given day and would nag them to within an inch of their lives with her motherly orders just has she has me every day of mine. She would also, it must be added, give a kidney to marry me off to Vince Carter. I am not saying we are immune to divisiveness or that it isn’t more prevalent for or to others than it is to me; I’m saying that there is a sense that the toughness that comes from having been brought up in a place like Memphis, — and the reputation we have amongst outsiders who have never spent time here — gives us the bond of a siege mentality; “Memphis vs. Errbody,” as our growl towels and t-shirts proudly state. Prejudice exists – I’m not denying that – but transcendence of it is possible, if only momentarily, and it is often in spite of all other obvious attributes that would otherwise divide.

Read More…

Advertisements

A Breakup Letter to the Left

I’ve been having a very hard time this week trying to distinguish from amongst the milieu about which topic I should write. Not because there is nothing that has grabbed my attention or riled my furor, but because I am so spoiled for choice that its like being already stuffed with a four course meal while having a trey of sumptuous desserts waved before you. Yes, absolutely, but no, I would feel like a glutton. On top of that, this week has been so highly charged with negativity that the piece I was going to write began to feel like a too heavy addition to an already heaving pile of unhappy that has been foisted upon the media landscape. I had come up with a half clever concept about playing “Never Have I Ever” with Nancy Pelosi, but it was so simple to draft it didn’t even feel like sport. This has to be challenging lest I should revert to my 7 year old self and try to set the library reading camel on fire because it never seemed to be my turn. Or blow up my school, which I also pondered at 7, and tried at 12. But I digress. The point is that if I do not find it energizing or entertaining to write, I simply won’t, and this week because of the fog of partisan war, no one single topic has clearly risen to the level of drawing my writerly ire, or inspired my sarcastic sensibilities.

Further, to join the cacophony of voices in outrage would make me “one of,” which is something I have never aspired to be. And when I do begin to rant about those on the Left who seem to now be competing in an increasingly tight race for head crazy of the week, I feel that I am suddenly no better than they, meeting their insane, treason-like calls for coup or assassination with ad hominem attacks on things like the fact that nary a one of the celebrities calling for such even has a college degree, let alone a grasp of reality. And that’s how quickly the descent to their level can occur. Though I have reasoned that my growing allegiance to, and alignment with the right has been galvanized by the behavior of those on the left, it has not materially changed my own behavior or who I am, and I do not wish for it to do so now.

My ex-husband and I were legally separated in 2.5 days; it’s something of which we are very proud. No fighting, no fussing, prenup honored, buh-bye. So though a passionate person I am, I prefer not to drag emotions into situations which can or should be dominated or decided by facts or common sense. Further, though I never cared for Twain, I can still appreciate the wisdom in his words, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” In that same spirit, I am quite proud that the right has, almost universally, not lowered itself to the level of the Left or “argued with a fool,” though we have likewise struggled to raise them to our level or saved them from making fools of themselves. Yet the constant verbal quagmires of this week have filled me with some despair, and I have tried time and again to figure out what — if anything — will put an end to all of the senseless sniping, obstructionism, protests, crocodile tears (can we please coin the phrase Crocodile Chuck?), and calls for boycotts and coups.

Read More…

The Trolls, The Taliban & Ugly Betty

Oh the trolls, the trolls, how droll their scolds, though through their spite, I derive insight. Granted, that sucks as poetry or prose, and no, this isn’t really about the Taliban or Ugly Betty, but it is both an apt description of how I’ve decided to make use of the dozens of less than kind missives that have been directed at me in the last few days on Twitter, and those who aimed them at me, all because of the post I wrote about The Exclusionary Arrogance of Western Feminism. I kept a log of my favorites, with the intention being to have a weekly “Troll Tuesday” post that summarizes the best, along with what my riposte to them would have been given more than 144 characters and ample time. But as I re-read through them all, trends began to emerge which were indeed insightful, and which helped better crystallize what it was that so bothered me about this event.

What most quickly became clear is that my trolls fell into three categories: angry feminists, millennial cisgenders and Muslim men. But of these three groups, the only one with a unified message and any conviction were the Muslim men, most of whom wanted me to shut up and sit down, and all of whom agreed that I should not have the right to speak, whether sitting or standing. And good for them, too. Having worked in advertising for most of my career, this is one mantra we often preach – once you decide your mission statement, stay on brand and on message; consistency is key. Given that their particular brand of oppression has been around for centuries, it would be difficult to re-craft a message now, so – meh – why try. When it works, it works.

For their part, the millennial cisgenders were a handbook in poor grammar, airy diatribes, pointless platitudes and whining. I literally could not make head nor tails of most of the tweets from this group, each of them seeming to know the one who came before, their tweet an attempt to one up them with non sequitor babble of monumental vapidity. Things like, “also too as well therefore when we consider the impact of the merry-go-roundification of the total largesse of the progressive doublespeak.” Okay not really; theirs were all less comprehensible. Yet when I genuinely asked them what they were trying to say, they would respond with monosyllabic ad hominem attacks. The worst of the lot – some guy from DC whose Twitter handle is wanggop or some such – replied to my assertion that I had no idea what he was trying to communicate with, “I’m hardly surprised.” Nor am I; I do not speak mealy-mouth millennial.

Read More…

The Exclusionary Arrogance of Western Feminism

fem·i·nism

ˈfeməˌnizəm

noun

the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

If the above is the simple definition of feminism, the women marching across our country today — and indeed in major Western cities across the world — are not feminists in the true sense of the term. As many before me have asked without reply, what rights are there from which we as American women are restricted? Again perfectly manifesting the left’s inability to see irony in any of their deeds or words is the fact that they, as women, are being allowed to freely march in cities across our nation unrestrictedly, despite the fact that doing so greatly inconveniences many who simply wish to go about their day or earn a living unimpeded, and also alienates those of us who are secure enough in our ability to steer our own ships that we shun such efforts wholesale.

If this march was stirred because of fear of losing funding for programs such as planned parenthood — and I can think of no other single perceived women’s issue that was discussed during the campaigns — then these women are selfishly appropriating that as a singularly female issue, ignoring the fact that men, too, are offered services by PP, and only further highlighting the narcissistic vapidity of their effort. But why bother with an inconvenient truth when baseless hyperbole is so much more effective for their cause.

Also asked of those participating in and defending #womensmarch is why they do not apply similar zeal, resources and attention to the legally and culturally oppressed women in countries around the world who not only do not have the equivalent of something like planned parenthood, but who cannot even turn to authorities or even family members in the case of rape or assault because their societies are conditioned to immediately cast them as Jezebels who brought said offenses upon themselves. Freedom of speech for any sex is likewise illegal in many of these same countries, the combination thereof creating the most toxic environment possible for the most vulnerable amongst their populations. Yet my gender marches, shouts, cries and inspires celebrity outcries and support for an entirely imaginary lack of rights in our nation. Which brings me to this:

What exactly is it that Katy Perry, America Ferrera, Chrissie Teigen, Madonna, Julia Roberts and others who have more than ample resources do with their time when they are in other countries that has made them so willfully blind to true oppression of women? One not need go far to witness it, and quite contrarily, one would have to go somewhat out of their way to ignore it, even and perhaps especially in the finer hotels of that most frequent destination of left luvvies, London. I lived there for 8 years and go back almost every month; I saw a frightening example of it over the course of those 8 years and witnessed it again as recently in September of last year, and when I am reminded of it I am both frozen to the core and heartened by the fact that I am protected by the passport I carry, by grace of birth, which is a shield these women cannot employ.

Read More…

Sheep and Stereotypes

My last entry, which even the most humor-challenged amongst us could have surely understood was a tongue in cheek pontification of a single, liberal nation-state on the “Left Coast,” brought upon me an avalanche — or storm from snowflakes — that I had not quite anticipated. I had, of course, observed that the election had brought out the worst of behavior on both sides, but even in taking several steps back, it did seem quite clear that the left had behaved in a manner far less tolerant than the right, and when they did attack, did so with far greater vitriol. Indeed if we learned one new fact about liberals with any degree of certainty during what I think we all agree was silly season, it would be that they collectively possess zero sense of irony. The great tolerators would not tolerate; the love, peace, and potcicle brigade would protest, shout expletives and damage property to emphasize their moral superiority. Some of their most prominent mouthpieces are millionaire performers or media figures of one ilk or another who preach about higher taxes, non-engagement, the AAC, open borders and more, yet some of whom were revealed in the Panama Papers to have made use themselves of elaborate tax avoidance schemes offshore. They’ll fly their G6 to the grocery store, but lecture the rest of us on climate change. They want us to accept refugees but argue against applying even the most basic of common sense checks and balances to that system in order to secure our country because they are afraid of offending strangers, but expect the U.S. citizenry to continue to buy their music and movies. They do not even understand or make an effort to comprehend that a large part of the reason for the now historic refugee crisis is our non-engagement in Syria, whether in supporting regime change or in committing real force to combating ISIS.

But yesterday in receiving the first of my mean tweets — my new badge of honor – I realized that I’ve seen these people before. I see them almost daily in the research that I do for my work. These are the women who are anti-GMO, but want us to feed children in Africa, not understanding the correlation between the two. They give vaccines to their children and would accept life-saving cancer treatment if they needed it, but do not understand that the same biotech that creates those cutting edge drugs is the same that is used in GMO seeds. These are the people who venerate a movie star who produced a documentary called “Cowspiracy” about how agriculture is causing climate change, but who himself likely cannot remember they last time he flew on a commercial plane.

Read More…

Service in a Saucer

 

I wrote this originally in 2088 while still living abroad, and am doing so now for a number of reasons which range from serious to facetious.

First, I’ve always been more than just mildly annoyed at the difficulties I’ve had entering the UK over the years, despite having lived there for eight. I’ve lived in China and Russia, and never faced the same sort of scrutiny that I have there, strawberry blonde, green-eyed, American passport toting Southern girl that I am. To be sure, it is nowhere nearly as bad as it used to be, and hasn’t happened in a very long time – mostly because now when they ask why I’m there, I simply say “because I can,”  list my address as The Dorchester and stare – but it used to border on absurd. Once, when my son was still a very small toddler, I was stopped at customs at Gatwick and challenged on whether or not I had the right to bring my child abroad with me. It was about 2 a.m. in our home in the U.S., but the customs officials pulled me aside and insisted on calling my ex-husband, despite the fact that I had a notarized letter from my lawyer ex-husband stating that my son was in my sole custody,  as well as a copy of our custody agreement which clearly stated the same, in addition to my by then well worn UK work visa.

Read More…

Fundamentalist Barbie

Or “The Regime Has Changed, but The Crazy Remains The Same” Something else I wrote a number of years ago before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – or MockMoodyMadJihad, as I called him – fell from power. Yet it seems relevant still today  – to me at least – because of the ongoing media obsession with PEOTUS Trump’s perceived […]

Read more