Category Archives: #culture

Reclaiming the Perverted

Can it be done?

Yesterday, two things happened on my Facebook feed at the same time: one friend put up an image of a Hindu swastika saying it meant welcome and shouldn’t be condemned as a Nazi symbol. Almost immediately afterward, someone else put up a Confederate flag, saying it was a symbol that stands for Southern history and pride, not racism. I felt sucker punched. Both of these people are good folks, working to change the world for the better. How did they not understand?

Both friends received immediate mixed reviews. Some posters agreed, using their intelligence or knowledge of world history to insist the affected race/generations get over their ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to these images. Others, realizing the innocence and good intentions of the image poster, urged their friend to take down the offensive image, for their own sake. The one who posted the Confederate flag image, after being told stories of what that flag had stood for during slavery, the civil war, through jim crow to murder by police, took down the image and replaced it with a sincere and truly heart-felt apology. That was easy to explain, however. The Confederate flag had never stood for anything else except hate.

The responses from people opposed to displaying the swastika, interestingly enough, were drowned out by a number of starry-eyed, mostly young, idealists who have only experienced the evil of that symbol through novels and mini-series, classroom textbooks, or movies, the exact same way they learned about the innocent origins of a Hindu symbol. Three generations or more removed from Hitler’s atrocities, they claim the right to redefine the meaning of the swastika in the name of those who suffered under it, presumably in the name of modernism. They seem to see great positivity in trying to reclaim it as one of warmth and welcome, to shake loose its negative connotations.

Today, my friend put up another post, this time without the symbol but naming it, asking if it had been wrong for him to post it yesterday. Again, the majority of people, supportive friends, gave him plenty of props for being brave enough to put it up. Since the young person in question is actively involved in making the world better for LGBTQI youth, I believe he would rather I offer him a sound argument than blow smoke up his euphemism, so I responded with this.


I really do understand the support offered for your stance on posting something innocent that was twisted into evil. And I do understand the understanding offered by those unaffected by the Nazis, or those who are more than two-generations removed.

But, as many of my Trans friends have pointed out to me lately, it’s not okay to tell people you didn’t hurt them, when you actually did. It wasn’t intentional. It certainly wasn’t what you meant when you posted the image. But to some in their seventies and eighties (those who lived through it) that symbol alone creates a trigger response unlike any you’ve heard about before. The sheer evil that’s come to be associated with that symbol (however perverted) is living, breathing history to some of those around us.

I have dozens of older Facebook friends. Many of them will now see your post, because I chose to answer you. I am grateful you didn’t put the same image back up again on this post, because I really don’t want to subject them to seeing it. That’s why I never answered you yesterday. The pain is as raw today, for some of them who will never get beyond it, as it was when they lived through it so long ago.

In seventy years, you’ll be the generation looking back on whatever horrors are unfolding under our current regime. Perhaps, if we’re not wise enough to learn from the history of the past, we may be doomed to repeat it. If you survive, remembering those who did not, what will seeing an image of the orange imposter do to you? You won’t know until you get there.

Sometimes you cannot reclaim what was perverted. The poor fellow who drew the original Pepe the Frog will never get his creation back under his control, it’s been perverted beyond all reason. The Hindu symbol that is not a Nazi swastika may be well received in the part of the world where it originated and is fully understood, but here (except for certain Native Americans who have used the symbol for centuries) and in Europe it stands for only one thing: White Supremacy

(Name Protected) was right. You’ll never know how many people were hurt by seeing that symbol yesterday, they’ve more than likely already blocked you. If you are open-minded enough to understand why All Lives Matter is insensitive and dismissive of the black civil rights movement by demanding people accept a white version of equality, then you can wrap your head around this. And telling those triggered by any form of the swastika they need to get over it, rise above it, or use their intelligence to accept the truth, is denying the way a wounded psyche works.

I think you should create a new symbol of peace and equality, Original Poster, something we can all rally around to lead us out of this nightmare we’re sharing. The crow’s foot in a circle had its day. Make a symbol easy to wear on a chain or print on a T-shirt that stands for all that is good in humankind. Give us that instead.


Now here’s where I may have gone off the tracks…



And for that person who skims my post instead of reading it and then decides my hour-long thoughtfully written response is an attack on Original Poster (instead of intelligent discourse) and get all offended on his behalf, let me remind you of something very important: you don’t know me. Don’t dump your assumptions all over me in your rush to defend your friend from an attack that never happened. Original Poster is a friend I’ve had conversations with and I respect him enough to answer his question honestly from my perspective. Sheesh. And the fact that I’m so sure I’ll get trash talk from someone in response to this post is sad and the reason I’m thinking of erasing the entire thing before I post it.

Nah… I’ll have my say no matter how unpopular.


I dunno. Should I have kept my big mouth shut (or words unwritten, as it were)? What would you have done? Let me know with a comment if you think I over reacted or not.

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Wildflower Power

traf-and-genta-in-poppiesportraitWildflowers are rebels, outcasts who refuse to grow well tended in gardens. They come and go capriciously, carried by seeds on the wind and appear sporadically as the seasons change. They are literally the hippies of the flower world.

My wife is former Air Force and has a very negative view of hippies. She is a naturalized citizen and did not grow up in America in the 1960’s, as I did. During her eight years of service, she watched videos of soldiers returning from Vietnam being surrounded at airports and called ‘baby killers’ and ‘war mongers’ after grueling tours of duty. Many hippies were war protestors and were described as dirty, lazy, sex-crazed, drug-using bullies. To this day, that’s the way she thinks of them.

I, on the other hand, was just a handful of years too young to have been a love child of the6a00d83451574769e201b8d17ddd08970c 60’s. I was only eleven in 1968 and had to watch from the sidelines as people my babysitter’s age got involved in social issues like civil rights and fighting for equality. The hippies embraced bright colors (remember Day-Glo?) and looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Their clothing was sexy, freeing, and exotic all in one. The ones I knew personally were college students, young, vibrant, beautiful souls trying to make the world a better place.

They spread love instead of hate and faced power with peace. Flowers became a symbol of the movement when they were inserted into tflower_power-bernie-boston-1967-145c3005be51255d642he barrels of guns held by soldiers called out in response to peaceful protests. As a form of protest, it was visually arresting. Even as student protestors were gunned down by their own government’s forces, they answered with the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peaceful resistance, they told us, was the only way to change the violence in the world.

But the propaganda machine, paid infiltrators, and the inevitable righteous zealots shaped the national conversation to the one that was fed to our military stationed overseas, including my wife. Her version is the one that most younger Americans hold because they weren’t there. They don’t know. They know only the characterization of hippies, not their character.

And protests of any kind, speaking truth to power, calling attention to social issues, standing up for those undervalued or mistreated, have become anathema to American Citizens Joe and Jane. We, those who sit before our national network television or our backlit computer screens, have bought into the idea that we should only protest on social media, without muss, fuss, or interruption of the daily duties of corporate America.

imrs-phpColin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, and others like them are protesting peacefully when they refuse to stand for the national anthem. They are not hurting anyone, or blocking buildings, or bringing traffic to standstills. They are not yelling, disrupting, or forcing their behavior on others. They are exercising their RIGHT as an American citizen to protest when they disagree with their own government’s behavior. They are breaking no laws. Let me repeat that for emphasis. THEY ARE BREAKING NO LAWS.r126245_600x600_1-1

These young athletes are the wildflowers among us. They refuse to grow in the shade of our carefully tended national garden, instead insisting on their right to raise their heads defiantly to the same sun and stand proud, free, and beautiful. They won’t be planted, tended, and harvested at anyone else’s pleasure. Their peaceful protests have brought attention to a situation they feel strongly enough about to risk their careers. This is their country, and they’re not happy with the way things are going in their government. They must vote to change things, speak up to be heard on issues important to them, and protest effectively when they feel their government is doing something wrong.

That’s their duty as American citizens, not standing while a song is played over the loudspeakers. In America, patriotism cannot be mandated by the government. That is precisely what makes us a democratic republic and protects us from tyranny.

WILDFLOWER POWER!

 

RAINBOW AT HALF-MAST

It’s been a hard couple of days, I won’t lie.

There are the inevitable questions: Why there and then? Who was really behind it all? What made him do it? And while there are answers, they won’t satisfy, because there are no answers good enough to make up for the sickening horror, pain, and devastation.

Time does strange things when you’re grieving. Two days can seem like a week, and hours can disappear in the blink of an eye. The heaviness I carry around makes me tired without having done anything. Fighting despair is apparently exhausting.

Friends have put up heart-warming posts on Facebook telling me that it’s okay to grieve and feel bad, passing along celebrity reactions to the horror, wise and witty memes to distract, and doing what we ALWAYS do when attacked as a group; bucking each other up. Even one of my white, straight, cis-gendered male friend (35 years my junior to boot) reached out to tell me he valued me as a person and a friend. My mother sent me a text telling me she thought the massacre was horrific.

And although all of that helps, none of it makes the fear go away. It’s easy to say that we must answer hate with love, that our Pride counters his cowardice, and that just keeping on keeping on is enough. But it’s a lot harder to ignore the gut-gnawing fear that swam into my belly as I realized that I’m suffering a kind of PTSD, born of the many times I’ve reacted to the number of attacks in our history. There have been so many, too many, over the years and like an overstretched rubber band I’m finding it hard to bounce back.

Still, Barack Obama, George Takei, and dozens of others have soothed my ragged nerves some with their balm of rational concern. It will take time (which may pass quickly, or not, depending), but eventually I will carry on again, if not calmly, at least with hope for a better future.

The bastard may have scared me, but not witless. As long as I have a brain, and I can express myself through words, I win.

#Pride #NoHoldingMeDown #AmWriting #PTSD

Young Adults… Great Models for Moving Literature

 This is the beautiful face of my favorite young adult. She lives near me, visiting when she can. Smart, suspicious, silly, sensitive, and strong… and that’s just the S’s. Of course I love her, who wouldn’t? But I’m also, in the interest of full disclosure, her nana. My wife is her maternal grandmother.

But I’m not only impressed with who she is as a young adult, after all I’ve known the special person, “M”, since she was born, and she was a freakin’ awesome baby/toddler/big girl/pre-teen before. No, I’m also impressed by her group of friends, and so many like them around the world.

Young adults these days are rockin’. They embody many ideals, tempered with a world-weary acknowledgement of the commercialism of their learning environments. They know social media is self-serving, and have learned the hard way that many messages are commercials disguised as truth. Young adult these days, however, are savvy. They question, not just values, but power. They are demanding answers, and when those aren’t forthcoming they dive headlong into research.

World-wide, nearly instant research. The world is much smaller than it’s ever been before. With the proliferation of videos, kids are finding out that people are much more the same, than they are different.

Which is great, because the next older generation is getting that all wrong, accepting wide divides between people and being prodded into conflicts which settle nothing, but greatly stir dissatisfaction and inflame passions.

Personally – and remember you heard it here first, folks – I believe that a new ’60’s type revolution is on the brink of exploding. I think today’s young adults are watching the posturing and posing of their elders, and are about to do what another group of young adults, who have been neatly categorized and dismissively labeled as ‘hippies’, did fifty years ago.

Their music tells stories of rebels, and vigilantes. The depths of despair are appearing in their art work across genres, as are the heights offered by hope. They are demanding better educations, and holding their educators to ever rising standards. They are remembering what so many of their elders have forgotten:

Love Conquers All.

Yep, young adults these days totally rock. “M” and her friends – here’s to you! Go get ’em, kiddos.