Thursday, January 24, 2013

Second 750 Word Post

There's finally snow today.  The grey is broken by white, and my prayers for light have been answered, even by less than a half inch of real winter.  The roads aren't so safe, but I am fortunate I can work from home.  My husband can't, and his car isn't fit for snow.  Why the government doesn't allow at least a modicum of telecommuting is beyond me.  Surely there are some things that can be done remotely, thing that are not top secret.  But then again, in the D.C. Metro area, EVERYTHING is secret, except, for instance, what bloggers like me publish.  Which leads me to today's topic: exposing oneself to a potentially hostile audience.

Like other public dissenters, I've had my share of verbal beatings for criticizing public policy, particularly attempts to enforce immigration law locally, which I and others believed to be discriminatory, counter-productive efforts resulting in social unrest and increased racial tension.  At one point, I had to shut down my blog's comments section, so vile were the responses I was getting, even though most of my posts were rational and well documented.  Admittedly, a few of my posts were angry rants motivated by a lack of action and isolation, coupled with feeling I was helpless to do anything other than speak at public meetings and dare defy the local government and its partners, members of hate groups.  These rants of mine, however, were mild compared to those by racists, bullies, fear mongers, power seekers and blind followers.  I was called a douche bag, a fat chick, a nutcase, a left-wing, liberal socialist terrified of guns, a lesbian (as if being gay should be an insult), etc. 

Now in my world, "douche bag" is just as bad as being called a "cunt," which, when I was growing up, was one of the worst things a woman could be called.  I loathe that the term has become mainstream, but it has occurred to me that the use of that word in particular indicated there was something very wrong with this picture: a woman, in particular, apparently should not speak out in a political environment dominated by men.  I guess doing so made me a femi-nazi. 

Ah, there's another key word that set people off.  Nazi.  It's okay to put a Hitler mustache on Obama, for Seinfeld characters to say "soup-nazis," to watch re-runs of Hogan's Heros, but don't ever, ever use "Nazi" in conjunction with a hate group or politicians engaging in racial profiling and cleansing.  Oh, and don't dare reveal your disabilities on a blog because you immediately will be dismissed, as if disabilities, in particular mental illness, invalidate your opinion.

Now, were I to run a diagnostic tool meant to identify me as a male or female writer, I would probably (once again) be labeled a man, based on my word choice.  Supposedly only men use such direct vocabulary.  I might also be labeled "angry."  But I'm not.  I'm honestly not.  If I were angry, I would say so right here, as I have before.  I've used words like "infuriated," getting "my panties in a bunch" and "pissed."  But right now, I'm addressing the reason most good people (and yes, I dare label myself a good person), especially women, are afraid to take a stand and openly identify themselves on websites that spout supposedly popular beliefs, even if those beliefs are derived from stereotypes, misinformation, racism, prejudice, stubborness, the need to protect some soft underbelly or whatever.  Too many good people do not want to risk persecution, retribution, revenge, violence...what would you add? 

Perhaps they are smarter than I am (I've been accused of being foolhardy).  Perhaps my honesty and willingness to expose myself have nothing to do with courage and everything to do with...I don't know because I've never considered myself courageous, just a spontaneous big-mouth.

I fully recognize the problems with illegal immigration, but when those problems are pinned on one particular group--largely Hispanics in this area--I do become outraged.  Anyone who has ever been stereotyped, bullied or marginalized can relate to what happens to "the other," those identified as a public enemy.  And if there is an unwillingness to relate, we must ask the obvious question: "Why?"  Are you still scared?  If so, of what?  You don't want to become a victim again?  You want to hide behind the pants of an imaginary majority?  You're afraid of a language you don't understand?  You don't like tacos?  Think now.  Think hard.  Think until it hurts. 
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