Rational fear, irrational reaction

Map showing all terrorist attacks in 2014. Click image to see full details including links to report.

Russia, Beirut, Paris, and Nigeria have all been targeted by terrorists recently with deadly results.  It’s perfectly rational, and I’ll say reasonable, for people to respond to such heinous acts with fear and trepidation.  Acts like blowing up airplanes, shooting up concert halls and restaurants, or blowing up markets where people shop to carry on in their daily lives tend to open our eyes to the notion that a terrorist act can take place anywhere at anytime.  People respond to fear in different ways, but we all react to it whether we acknowledge it or not.

Fear of the unknown is something we all have to deal with at one time or another.  Everyone has something that their afraid of or have been in a situation where fear has entered their mind.  That’s human nature.  Most people are also aware of the human “fight or flight” response to stimuli that causes fear.  There’s nothing wrong with having a fear of something or being afraid in situations where you are.  How you deal with that fear is where people differ, and that is to be expected because we are not all robotic clones of each other.

For those who think the best course of action in light of recent events is to stop Syrian refugees from entering into their countries, I offer one question.  What will that stop?  When you have an organization reaching across borders using technology to reach people in countries they’ve never come close to setting foot in, what good does stopping people fleeing from getting killed do?

I understand the idea and even acknowledge there’s the ability for terrorists to blend in with refugees escaping death and traveling to other countries to do harm.  Our politicians are all jumping on that bandwagon that stopping Syrian refugees from coming to America is going to keep us safe.  State governors are saying they won’t accept any refugees from Syria in order to keep their people safe.  Some politicians have what I would call dumbass reasoning, but that’s their prerogative to do so.  They represent the people who elected them.  I offer a short list of names to these politicians:

  1. Christopher Lee Cornell
  2. Daniel Patrick Boyd
  3. Adam Gadahn
  4. Abdul Rahman Yasin
  5. Anwar Al-Awlaki
  6. Omar Hammami
  7. John Walker Lindh
  8. David Headley
  9. Colleen LaRose aka “Jihad Jane”

If any of the names sound familiar, that’s because they’re all terrorists or have been arrested for terrorist-related plots.  They were not Syrian refugees.  They were not even immigrants.  They were all Born-In-The-USA Americans, every last one of them.  Stopping immigration would not have stopped them.  Shutting the borders would have done nothing.

I’m not posting this to suggest that nothing can or should be done.  My point is that irrational reaction does nothing to make any of us safer than we were the day before yesterday.  I’d even go as far to suggest that caving to anti-immigrant and/or anti-Muslim rhetoric does more to aid terrorists in indoctrinating new terrorists than anything we can do to stop them.  Our irrational reactions do more to aid and comfort the true enemy than what we realize.

Bombs and bullets cannot kill ideas.  I am a firm believer in that.  One idea can only be defeated by another idea.  For example, we defeated Hitler’s Germany in WWII, yet Stormfront still exists.  There are still anti-Semitic, White Supremacist organizations around pushing the same ideas that Hitler did with his Aryan Nation idea.  Assassinations and bombings did not stop the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s either.  I can remember hearing about Middle Eastern terrorist organizations when I was in grade school, so it’s not like the current groups originated this whole thing.

We need to stop those who wish to do harm to innocent people, not just us.  It doesn’t matter what nation, religion, or ethnic group those innocent people are a part of.  We have to think about our actions in how we go about fighting these groups because the things we do can end up leading to us having to fight a larger group in the future.  Bullets and bombs are short-term remedies for short-term problems.  In the long run, you can’t bomb an idea out of existence, so we will have to beat the idea with an even better idea if we want to win this battle.  The anti-everything rhetoric isn’t going to be a winning idea when the opposition uses that to further entrench their idea that we’re at war with each other.  Hopefully mankind will soon realize this and change pathways.

Map of cities at risk of terrorist attack in 2015 as compiled in a report by Verisk Maplecroft which was released on May 25, 2015. Click on image for more info.

Thank you veterans

I love that video.  I’ve always been fascinated by the C-5 Galaxy, and I even wanted to join the Air Force to fly one.  If I could today, I’d still seriously consider joining to get a seat in a C-5.  Age would keep that from happening now though, not to mention the worsening condition of my knees.

Thank you military veterans.  Thank you for sacrificing your time, energy, and your lives for the missions you were ordered or even volunteered to do.  No, Brosephus did not serve in the military.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because my mother gave me strongly worded advice about the temporary nature of life and how short mine would have been had I gone into the military after high school.

My family is steeped in military participation.  From Iwo Jima in WWII, to Vietnam, and including Iraq and Afghanistan, my family has been present in conflicts around the world.  Even more have served in peacetime.  I know my family isn’t the only one either, and I know the emotions that families go through when members are overseas or out on patrol.

We shouldn’t limit our thanks to veterans to one or two days a year, but I do observe the day set aside specifically to honor vets.  Thank you all for your service to country regardless of the branch or time you served.

Reaction to the Mizzou fracas

It’s been all over the news, and if you haven’t heard about it, then I envy you.  Seriously.  What started off as a small student protest ended up with the resignation of the President of the University of Missouri system along with a chancellor.

There’s been racial tension on that campus for a while based on what I’ve read.  Even before the events of Ferguson cast a spotlight onto the state of Missouri, there were issues of racial animosity permeating on the campus of the University of Missouri.  There was the cotton balls incident where balls of cotton were strewn about in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on the school’s campus.  There have been other ones along the way as well.

If you have small problems and neglect them, they can sometimes snowball into huge problems and overwhelm you.  This is exactly what I think has just happened to former Missouri University System President Tim Wolfe.  What was random small incidents of racist behavior congealed into one huge clusterf**k that ended up with him losing his post.

Kids are going to be kids.  That’s just the truth.  Ignorant people will be ignorant.  That’s also true.  What appears to not have happened in Missouri, however is that there was no serious concerted effort to reduce or minimize these incidents.  There were initiatives and required training for faculty and students.  That doesn’t get to the root of the problem though.  All schools have codes of conduct, and at some point, you have to remove the sources of your problem before they end up wrecking the entire system.

I’m not going to try to be the president and tell him how to run his schools, but I’m sure that expelling students who violate the code of conduct with discriminatory behavior would lead to a reduction in that behavior if it happens often enough and is publicized.  Giving students a slap on the hand and letting them continue can sometimes lead to more problems than benefits.  Also, trying to justify such behavior isn’t going to help either.

Discussing this topic on another blog, I had this comment directed at me.  Usually, I won’t bring other things here, but I think this is a perfect example of how/why this snowballed into something huge.

It is kinda funny to act like there wouldn’t be a white backlash to black folks in Ferguson trashing a city and some whites becoming more hostile to blacks. Hard to believe that people can’t make the connection in terms of race relations. Did black folks really think that some whites in Missouri wouldn’t react negatively to seeing blacks trash a city over a completely trumped up LIE over a police shooting. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The hostility of some whites is nothing more than a reaction to the behavior they see in black folks in Ferguson and other places. You reap what you sow.”

Now, I may be wrong, but the highlighted parts of that comment seem to try to justify racist behavior towards the Black students at the University of Missouri because of protests and riots in Ferguson.  If that is indeed the case (which I’m hoping it is not), since when did acting racist become acceptable behavior because you don’t like the actions of others?  What kind of society do we live in when someone wants to justify being racist because other people of a minority group did something stupid and criminal?  Does this mean that we Black people get to act racist towards Whites because of the riots after sporting events, pumpkin festivals, or G-8 Summit protests???  Gimme an effin’ break…  Nobody’s going to suggest such a thing.

I’ll say this.  I applaud the students of the University of Missouri for using their 1st Amendment Right to free speech to petition the government over their grievances.  I applaud them for doing it in a civil manner, in light of the not-so-civil reactions they’ve stirred in others.  I hope the school can put the dumb crap behind them in the past and work together towards building a unified family atmosphere.  I also hope the administration of the Missouri University System can use this opportunity to re-evaluate their thinking and programs towards student conduct to try to minimize such things happening in the future.

Kim Davis and false Christian persecution

Let me put my “confession” out front before anything is said.  I am a Christian.  I was baptized long ago back in my hometown in Alabama inside a Baptist church associated with the National Baptist Convention.  I grew up with Sunday School and Sunday service being a part of my weekly activities just as anyone else would attend regular school.  I was a youth speaker for a time, along with my cousins, because our grandmother encouraged us to visit with other churches and volunteered our services if they needed a speaker.

I am also a government employee.  I don’t hold an elective office, but when I go to work, I do work on behalf of the U.S. government.  I know that my actions, while on the clock, are those of mine as well as my employer and that I cannot let my personal views cloud my judgement when it comes to enforcing the law.  Now that I’ve got that out the way, let’s talk about Mrs. Davis in Rowan County, Kentucky.

Mrs. Davis is entitled to hold and exercise her religious beliefs as a private citizen without fear of government interference.  She had those rights last week, last year, and she will have those rights next week.  As an agent of the government, however, Mrs. Davis cannot couch her actions as said agent in her personal religious beliefs.  The government is not a religious entity, and her job is not a religious job.  There is a reason for separation of church and state, and her case is a perfect example of why we need to protect that separation.

As a private citizen, she has every right to announce that her religious faith tells her that homosexuality is a sin.  She also has every right to speak out against homosexuality as it pertains to her religious belief system.  If she chooses to not associate with members of the LGBT community as a private citizen, then that’s her prerogative.  The moment that she clocks into work or lifts a pen as the County Clerk of Rowan County, she ceases to be a private citizen expressing her beliefs.

The government cannot discriminate against people based on numerous criteria.  Most recently, sexual preferences have been added to that list.  The Supreme Court has ruled there is a constitutional right for same-sex marriage, and until Congress or someone else passes any type of constitutionally sound legislation to change that ruling, it is the law of the land.  The Constitution was not written with an all-inclusive list of rights that are protected by it, hence the 9th Amendment and its wording.

The people who are claiming that she’s being persecuted because she’s a Christian need to quit peddling that lie.  There are millions upon millions of Christians in this country who are freely practicing their religion and not being arrested for doing so.  Any Christian can walk down to their town square, city center, or anywhere else and kneel and pray.  No officer is going to come and arrest them for exercising their religion.  Those who spread this crap need to quit playing the victim card (as many of them say about other groups) and realize the potential harm they’re causing to our society.

If this were a case of Mohammed Salim refusing to serve females that entered his office without wearing a niqab, would the same religious freedom people stand behind him for his actions?  I seriously doubt it.  If it were a follower of Judaism not fulfilling the requirements of the job as a public sector worker because of their beliefs, would we see the same type of religious circus going on?  I don’t see it.

At the root of it all, we operate under laws that we elected people to pass and enforce.  We can’t arbitrarily change things just because we don’t agree with them because that’s not how it works.  Nobody’s religious rights are being affected or squashed by these rulings.  If you have a job that requires you to serve the public as an agent of the government, then you have to remember that you are the government when you’re on the clock.  Your actions are not your personal actions.  They are the actions of the government.  If you cannot fulfill that job because of a personal conflict, then your best recourse is to seek employment elsewhere.  The role of the government and the protections afforded us from the government are not going to change without significant effort to do so.  No matter how much we cry about it.

Gone home to Lovetron

One of my all-time favorite NBA players has passed away today.  Darryl Dawkins, aka Chocolate Thunder, died today of a heart attack.

I honestly remember him playing like it was just a few years ago.  It doesn’t seem like it’s been 30 plus years since he helped the NBA bring breakaway rims as standard equipment.  Known for naming his dunks, it was the “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam” that brought the end to a glass backboard in Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri on the night of November 13, 1979.  As a kid, I was blown away looking at the replays of that dunk on the news.  Before that happened, you would not have been able to convince me that such a thing was possible.  Just to prove it wasn’t a one time thing, Dawkins shattered another backboard a few weeks later.

Some of the other notable names of his dunks include the Rim Wrecker, the Go-Rilla, the Look Out Below, the In-Your-Face Disgrace, the Cover Your Head, the Yo-Mama, the Spine-Chiller Supreme, and the Greyhound Special (for the rare occasions when he went coast to coast) h/t to Wikipedia.

If I were the NBA commissioner, I’d have to order all backboards to be lowered to half height to honor Chocolate Thunder.  That about the best tribute I could think of to honor him.  While not the greatest player stat wise, he left an impression and a long list of named dunks that will keep him in the memories of NBA fans long after today.

When writing, I have a list of tags that are automatically chosen that I can use.  For this one, Backboard shattering and breakaway rim came up.  Just shows how much of an impact Dawkins had.  Dunk on in Lovetron, brother.  Dunk on.