Just Don’t Talk About Politics…

Don’t talk about abortion, religion or politics, it’s an unwritten rule. People don’t discuss those topics because …fill in your reason: they’re too personal, it will end up in a fight, they are polarizing, people are so ingrained in their beliefs no real communication can take place, etc, etc, etc. For the most part I agree. The majority of political “discussion” in this country takes place between groups of radio fanatics who bark the same message back and forth to each other without any real give and take. For some folks, Rush Limbaugh is telling them exactly what they want to hear so why engage anyone else?

I often don’t feel the need to confront political talk I don’t agree with because I believe the main focus of the arguers is to muddy the waters and scream louder. It’s what they’ve learned of debate from TV and radio: scream loudest and your point must be true. No thanks.

So why, oh why, introduce politics in this forum? Isn’t it better to crack wise about my car problems, or my son’s sunburn or embarrassing memories from my fat boy childhood? Yes, it is better, and a helluva lot more entertaining. What can I say? My hand was forced.

This little ditty has been making its way around the Facebook merry-go-round:

They sent my Census form back! AGAIN!!! In response to the question: “Do you have any dependents ?” I replied – “12 million illegal immigrants ; 3 million crack heads; 42 million unemployable people, 2 million people in over 243 prisons; Half of Mexico; and 535 more in the U.S. House and Senate. Apparently, this was NOT an acceptable answer. Re-post if you agree!”

It’s so easy to stand up and cheer, isn’t it?! Yeah, we’re all victims! We support all those illegals, and all those drug addicts, and all those lazy people on unemployment! The government sucks, we should tear the whole thing down! Let’s drop a bomb on Mexico filled with inmates! Go white people! Go America! Everybody “like” the glib post with the questionable punctuation! Real patriots don’t stand on ceremony, or can be constrained by the grammatical structures of the English language!

Deep breath. Three, two, one…OK. Everybody’s calm.

First, I assume everyone who stood up and cheered came over on the Mayflower. Because guess what, if you have any Irish, Polish, German, Italian, Japanese, Indian etc. in you, YOUR DESCENDENTS faced the same racist piffle from those who were here when they landed. Your family were called Krauts, Polacks, Micks, Donkeys, Guineas, Kikes, Japs, Dot-heads. I’m 1000% positive than anyone who complains about illegal immigrants has never worked side by side with one. The Mexican kids I worked with in the deli toiled 60 hours a week and sent home money to their families, saved up to get a new pair of sneakers or a beat-up car, fought for everything they could get and lived in cramped conditions with little or no schooling. Sound familiar? Same story as anyone who ever walked through Ellis Island. No, stop telling me it’s different. Just stop. Read the bottom of the Statue of Liberty and then tell me these people who do all the crap jobs we don’t like don’t belong here. Tell me how different their dream is than the millions of people who came to this country in squalor and worked their way up out of the slums.

I’m too sick to work. Before I became too sick, I worked from the time I was sixteen, through breaks and weekends when I was in college from 5am to 3pm six days a week. I would get on a 6:30am train to NYC, work from 9-5 and get home by 8pm every day when I worked in the city. After I became sick and had a series of four operations, I made my way back to work every single time. I worked full-time through illness for better than eight years. Am I some kind of hero? Of course not, I had a family to feed. Still do. Without social security we would be out in the street. Without unemployment insurance and short and long-term disability and food stamps my family would have starved. I wouldn’t be able to keep a house over our heads, or afford medication I need daily or buy clothes for two growing kids if it weren’t for social services. These are the very programs some are trying to abolish. I’ve heard the argument that I’m the “right” kind of unemployed person, someone who paid into the system and isn’t leeching off it, someone who deserves the money. I appreciate the thought. I’m also white and educated and have a voice. How many others in my position can say the same? And if we do away with the whole kit and kaboodle, aren’t me and my family going out with the bathwater?

What exactly should we do with all the prisoners and drug addicts by the way? I have a family member who is a recovering addict, sober for over 5 years. I’m sure most of you out there know of someone who overcame or is trying to overcome a substance abuse problem. Should we just give up? Leave them on the streets to make their way? Could there possibly be, I don’t know, a negative backlash of violent crime that would ensue? Is it more “American” to leave sick people without any options? Oh, they’re not sick, they did this to themselves. So we should turn away lung cancer patients? Diabetes patients? Anyone with heart problems? They all contributed to their own bad health, let’s take away their lifelines and let them swing. The not-too-subtle (and again racist) assumption is that no one of any “substance” gets involved in self-destructive activities. Yeah, right.

What do you think happens in prisons, off the top of your head? It’s not even a secret, right? You can expect to be raped, physically attacked and beaten regularly. These are the places we send our worthless citizens to “rehabilitate” them. They don’t deserve any better, right? They sold drugs or committed robberies or killed someone. All these acts happened in completely healthy places to live that weren’t riddled with abject poverty, inequality of education and oppressive lack of opportunity. Don’t blame us, we didn’t create these conditions by providing substandard housing, pitiful schools and thinly-veiled racial segregation. Oh wait, yes we did. We ensured that we in our little suburban towns have more money per student by yoking property taxes to education budgets, thereby making it certain that anyone who rents in an inner-city atmosphere gets a lesser education than our sons and daughters. Our kids have a better chance, after all, so why waste the money? We should complain about putting up the results of this policy in that Waldorf Astoria known as prison, where inmates spend luxurious evenings not being taught a trade, not earning their GED and not getting therapeutic assistance while trying to avoid being violently sodomized. Quick, let’s get these people back in the street too! I’m sure they learned all sorts of wonderful things about being a better member of society while we were disallowing their dignity and self-respect in conditions that have earned the condemnation of worldwide policing groups like Amnesty International. We paid enough! Go America! Empty the prisons!

If you made it this far you probably agree with me anyway or you would have stopped reading. Oh well. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind who has their opinion already ingrained in their soul. But this is my take.

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    • Brian’s Dad
    • July 29th, 2011

    Brian,
    Well put. More of us need to speak out, and perhaps your post will ignite a spark. Clearly you were raised well, and encouraged to think – probably had a lot to do with your father! Proud of you – on all fronts, and would be no matter what your politics.
    Love, Dad

  1. Thanks Dad. Seems to have gotten a big “so what” from the rest of the population, but hey, I’m on the record.

    • theresa petti butler galimi
    • May 19th, 2012

    Interesting. I agree with most of what you have to say, a few things not so much. We can have a debate when we see each other again.

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