Category Archives: Freedom
I have read a lot this year about racism and sexism. It’s kind of a big deal, right? Definitely, if there is inherent, systematic, foundational racism (or sexism) ((or homophobia)) that is keeping certain races or genders (or sexual orientations) from accomplishing everything they could, that’s something that should be dealt with. If you read something exposing racism, and think, “That’s not racism,” then you’re being racist. Or privileged. Because you don’t understand. And I’m not black, so there is no way for me to ever known how it would feel to go to the store and be treated like a black person, or drive my car and be treated like a black person, or attend school and be treated like a black person. Because I’m not black. So I’ll never know. And that means, that as a white person, I have to accept and believe everything that is said by black people about how they are treated, and why. Because if a black person it treated in a way they don’t like, it’s racism.
Can I propose an alternative?
I think that some people are just jerks.
It’s pretty simple, but I’ll try describing what I mean.
I’m a woman. I went to college in fall 2002 with the intention of getting a degree in Biochemistry. I ended up getting a degree in Biochemistry and minored in Physics. Might as well, right? I was already there and it was only a few more classes. Anyway, in the very first week of classes I met with one of the administrators of my University. He was an old, white man. He asked me what I was majoring in, and I said, “Biochemistry.” I remember this conversation very well, and you’ll see why.
“What are going to do with that?”
“I’m going to get married and have kids.”
“No, I mean what are you going to do with your degree?”
Me, slowly, “I’m going to get married, have kids, teach them and raise them to be really smart.”
Him, with perhaps a touch of disdain, “That doesn’t any sense. If you aren’t going to do anything with your degree, why don’t you major in something easy?”
I don’t remember if I responded. But I know the thought that exploded in my mind was, “What a jerk!”
I was shocked. I was majoring in Biochemistry because I thought it would be interesting; that’s what I wanted to study. I had other reasons; if for some reason my husband died or became unable to work, I wanted to be able to support our family. I wanted to have a degree with some value. I thought other majors might get boring. But mostly I had just always loved science and math and knew that Biochemistry would be a good balance of all the topics I had always found fascinating. Maybe I said something like that to him, but it doesn’t really matter because obviously he wasn’t worth giving an explanation to. He was a jerk, and although I remember the conversation clearly, I never let it effect me. I thought, “What a jerk,” then moved on with my life. I got my degree, got married, had children, and now I’m home schooling them. Exactly what I always wanted to do.
You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t change my major because I felt stigmatized and undervalued as a woman. Women were outnumbered in my classes, but I didn’t care. I didn’t think about it much. (I probably would have thought about it more if I hadn’t already been engaged upon arriving at college, but as it was the genders of my classmates was fairly irrelevant to my studies.) I didn’t petition to have this old, privileged, white male fired for his sexist attempt to hold down a woman and keep her from reaching equality with the males, who obviously belong in the ‘hard’ majors.
I didn’t curl up and demand a safe space with bubbles and puppies, so I could recover from the horror of being treated with such disdain. I didn’t protest by refusing to attend class or take my tests until all of the administrative staff had undergone sensitivity training and they instituted quotas for women in administrative positions in the STEM majors. Because obviously I would need women in positions of power in my chosen course in order to have the best chance of obtaining the same success.
I didn’t leave his office thinking, “This University fosters such negative stereotypes of women. This university has such a deep set patriarchal foundation.”
I thought, “This guy is a jerk.” Him. One random person who said one random, stupid thing. Then I moved on with my life. I attributed his behavior to him, not the system, not society. He said something, I didn’t like it, and that was the END of the situation.
This incident illustrates a couple of points. The first, and I think the most important point our current generation should take away and integrate into their minds and lives, is how you should act when someone says something you don’t like. No matter how offensive, no matter how personally insulting, no matter how sexist/racist/phobic it may sound. Tell yourself that person is a jerk, and move on.
The next takeaway has to do with what this all means. Does racism exist? Perhaps. But I think the far more likely scenario is that some people are just jerks. What do I mean by that? Think back over your life. Has anyone ever said anything mean to you? Have you seen people be mean to each other? If you went to high school you probably saw kids be mean to each other all the time. I did. People made fun of each other. Called each other names. Cut each other down. I saw it, and experienced it. My theory is, there are people out there that will be mean to other people. Maybe they think they have a reason. Maybe they say something about the color of someone’s skin, because that’s what they notice. Maybe they say something about a feminine male, because they think it’s funny. Maybe they put down a girl, because she’s a girl. Or maybe they make fun of the smart kid. Or the religious kid. Or the conservative kid. Or the fat kid. Or the zitty kid. Or the short kid. My theory is that it has a whole lot more to do with the person being a jerk than the person to whom they are being a jerk.
Can you see what’s going on here? There are these categories of protected people who think it’s reasonable to ruin an administrators life and grind an entire college campus to a halt because someone called them a mean name, because racism. Isn’t it far more likely that, instead of a culture of racism where everyone around you is subconsciously judging you based on your skin color, that you just happened to run into someone who likes to cut down other people? And because your skin color is obvious, that’s what they mentioned? And if you had, instead, been fat and white they might have said something about your weight instead?
Like I said, I’m not black. So I don’t know what it’s like to walk around, being black. But black people don’t know what it’s like being white, either. It certainly doesn’t mean that we never get insulted. As a kid I wore pants that were too short, had braces and glasses that were far too big for my face. I was also pretty smart. If there is a stereotype of people who get made fun of, I think it’s nerds. So, yeah, people said mean things to me, and I still grew up to be successful, self-sufficient and happy. Do we need to have a national conversation about how nerds are judged by their looks and personality and have to endure constant taunting and stereotypical portrayals in movies and shows and books? Or can we just accept that nerds exist, and sometimes they get made fun of, and it’s something humans just deal with?
And maybe it’s worse than that. Maybe racism means that people look as you askance when you go into a department store. Maybe it means the police are more likely to harass you. Maybe it means you don’t get called in to a job interview. All because of the color of your skin.
Or maybe those things happen to everyone. I get odd looks when I browse in Nordstroms. Why? Because I don’t look like the kind of person that would spend $10,000 on a purse. Racism? No, I’m white, but I still don’t look like ‘that kind’ of person. And I’m sure there are black people that fit into a store like Nordstoms much more easily than I do. And I’m sure that the employees there know what to look for and how to treat people they think will spend money. Maybe if you get funny looks in a department store, it has nothing to do with the color of your skin.
And maybe other people get harassed by the police. I certainly haven’t had many positive experiences with cops. I had a cop approach me while I sat in my car at a playground, because I looked ‘suspicious’. Then he called back-up when I wasn’t cooperative. A white woman in her late 20’s. Maybe when the cops approach a black person it’s because they’re black. Or maybe they approach lots of people in lots of situations, and it has nothing to do with the color of your skin. Or maybe it does. Either way, you can choose to get over it.
Maybe you didn’t get a job because you’re black. Or gay. Or a woman. It’s hard to know, isn’t it? I interviewed for several jobs after college, and I didn’t get any of them. My husband also interviewed for several jobs, and also got many rejections. It happens. Sometimes you don’t get a job because there is someone else who is more qualified. The remedy? Become more qualified. Try again. Make yourself valuable. Companies (as liberals love to remind us, are run by selfish, greedy, rich Republicans) exist to make money. If hiring a specific person will make them money, they will do it. If you are the person that will bring the most money to the company, they will hire you. My husband and I have both been interviewed and found unworthy by many different companies, because they thought someone else would be more valuable. I swear to you, that’s the motivation.
The point is, you don’t know why things are happening to you. You don’t know why people are mean to you, or why you don’t get a job, or why you didn’t get a loan, or why employees look at you a certain way when you’re in a store. But it seems to me that many black people believe that every negative look, or comment, or anything, is because of the color of their skin. But you can’t know that. You can’t know that. And you can’t assume that these micro aggressions you experience only happen to people in your situation, because you are the only one having your experiences! I have thousands of daily experiences, positive, and negative, and no one can know what they’re like because they’re happening to me. So you can’t sit back and say, “All these bad things happened to me because I’m black, and they didn’t happen to you because you’re white,” because A) You don’t know they happened because you’re black and B) you don’t know that they haven’t happened to me.
I keep hearing that we need to talk about it. Why? In my experience, the things we talk about get worse. When my kids are fighting, I can sit down with them and make them talk it out, analyze everything they said and their motivations for saying it. And they just get angrier, at me and each other. Or I can just ignore it, and they stop fighting and a few minutes later forget about it. Instead of having a national conversation, can’t we just let these things naturally dissipate. Instead of talking about it, just ignore it. If you feel like someone is being prejudice against you because of the color of your skin, or sexual orientation, or gender, just ignore them. The more we talk about it, the more frustrated I get. As a kid I thought racism was the most ridiculous thing. I thought different skin color was like different hair color. Noticeable, but irrelevant. Every black person I knew was just like the other people I was around, so why would I think they were any different? But now, after years of hearing about racism, and being accused of racism, and being told that I can’t help being racist, and seeing protests because black people were insulted, now I view things a little differently. I don’t think that black people are inherently worse or less intelligent. The black friends I have are all awesome. (They’re also all conservative, so there’s that.) We have a black president, the richest woman in America is black, and one of my husband’s best friends is, in addition to being literally the most awesome person on earth, black.
But for some reason, things aren’t as straightforward as they were when I was a kid. Because we can’t stop talking about it. Talking about it just highlights the idea that there are differences. If people weren’t going on and on and on about every bad thing that ever happens to black people, then we could all just look at each other as equals. Isn’t that the goal? If we would just stop talking about it, I think it wouldn’t take much more than a generation for people to stop being ‘racist’. But, in my opinion, there really isn’t much racism to begin with. When a nerd gets abused, it’s because someone is a jerk. If a black person gets abused, it’s because of racism. Isn’t there some discontinuity there? Can’t we just say that anytime someone is being a jerk, it’s because they’re a jerk? Instead of labeling it racism/sexism/phobia when the recipient belongs to a certain group?
I think we could all be a lot happier if we just accepted that sometimes bad things happen. You will run into jerks in your life. If you happen to be a woman, you can tell yourself they’re acting that way because you’re a woman, or you can tell yourself they’re being a jerk. If you’re black, you can tell yourself that they’re being mean because you’re black, or you can tell yourself they’re being a jerk. Whatever you are, whatever they say, just get used to it. I don’t think we have any chance of eradicating mean people from the human race. So stop dwelling on it. Stop thinking you’re a special case because someone was mean to you. It happens to everyone.
I happened to notice that today is the one year anniversary of my blog. That’s kind of fortuitous, and it deserves a post.
Two of my kid’s birthdays, my Dad’s birthday, my nephew’s birthday and my brother’s fiancé’s birthday also happen to be this month. Not that anyone cares, but I wanted to give a shout-out to them anyway.
I started this blog because in November 2007 I wrote a book about why I was Conservative. I thought I did a really good, thorough job of going through all the major differences in opinion, and explaining why I believe the way I do. I wanted to share it because I thought way too many people are pretty negative and close-minded about the ‘other side’ and I wanted to have open, honest discussions. I wanted the opinions I have formed from my various experiences available to anyone who was interested in understanding why Conservatives and Liberals view things so differently. I wanted Liberals to go away from my blog thinking, “I don’t agree with her, but I understand her opinion and respect her reasons.” I wanted people to respond with their reasons for why they believe the way they do. That was why I did this.
That’s still what I want. I hope I can continue to accomplish this. If we can’t agree, at least we can respect each other.
I grew up in Indiana, went to college in Utah, currently live in Chicago while my husband finishes law school, and will soon be moving to Texas. I am really excited. I’ve talked about the various problems we have run into in Chicago, the required tests and ridiculous taxes, and all the hoops we had to jump through to keep a shotgun in our house. (Just once I would like a liberal to explain to me why the constitutional right to a gun doesn’t mean the government buys a gun for me, when the constitutional ‘right’ to an abortion does.) I’ve spent the last three years unable to leave my house without someone asking me for money. That’s not an exaggeration. You can’t get on or off the freeway without someone asking you for money. There are even a few groceries stores I can’t go to without being asked for money. That never happened in Utah or Indiana, both fairly conservative states. It’s weird, right? Liberals take care of the poor, while conservatives hate the poor. Yet, the ‘poor’ in Chicago don’t look like they are better off than the ‘poor’ in Utah and Indiana. Or, maybe programs that say, “We will give you food, housing, cell phones, health care and transportation as long as you don’t get a job” attract people who don’t want to get jobs. I don’t know.
The point is, I’m leaving. My new home has no state income tax, sales tax that is 4% lower than Illinois and $0.40 lower per gallon gas tax. That seems like reason enough to love it. I just don’t understand how liberals can think their programs are so great, when living in their utopia just isn’t.
I also wanted to brag about getting to move to Texas. This is my blog, so I can occasionally mention what is going on in my life. I am thrilled! I won’t have as many real life examples of why liberal policies don’t work. Probably no more pictures of carts full of soda paid for with tax dollars. I imagine my life will be pretty good, with not a whole lot of complaints about the government. Lower crime (I’m not living near the border, where the federal government has refused to fulfill its constitutional mandates and forbid the states to protect its citizens as well), lower taxes, better schools. That’s just the price I’ll have to pay for living in the conservative utopia.
I saw ‘Saving Private Ryan’ for the first time a few days ago. Despite being an edited version, it was still one of the most violent movies I’ve ever seen. As I was watching it, it hit me, in a way I don’t think I’ve ever grasped before, how horrific war is. Watching it, I think I had a glimmer of realization that these were real young men, young men, most of them probably younger than I am. They had lives, and mothers, and many of their lives ended. There is no way for me to adequately describe how I felt as I comprehended for a moment how young these men were, and what they went through, killing and fearing for their lives. I thought of my sons, and knew that I would never want them to endure such a thing. I wondered if it was worth it.
My husband was in the military from 1997-2002. Ten years ago was the deadliest terrorist attack on Americans, ever. At that point we were not married, and when I heard about the attacks one of my first thoughts was that I would never see him again. I remember the whole day, watching CNN in all our classes all day. When I got home my mom sent me out with her car so I could sit in a long line at the gas station and fill the tank. (I’m younger than you thought, right?) I remember crying at the steering wheel, waiting in line for gas, thinking my heart would break because I would never see the man I loved again. But, it never once crossed my mind that we would not fight. There would be retaliation, of course, because we had been attacked and it is the military’s job to protect us. He had voluntarily joined, and protecting American lives is the function of the military. And since that day, ten years ago, there have been no more terrorist attacks on American soil.
I don’t know much about the politics of these wars. They are about oil; Bush lied to us; they are to find WMDs, they are pointless. I don’t know. I do know that all the men and women involved in it volunteered. I know that I support them, and am grateful every day for their sacrifice. I know that we should respect them. I know that protesting the wars does nothing to help them accomplish their goals and survive. I want them to live, and I want them to accomplish their goals as quickly as possible so they can come home and move on with their lives.
Overall, though, the question of whether or not it is worth it stayed with me. (This war is attempting to create some semblance of order in the middle east, and I think at this point is less about protecting Americans from future attacks as it is finishing the attempt to establish a lasting government instead of leaving quickly and allowing it to immediately collapse back into anarchy and groups of terrorists. Even if I’m wrong, my following thoughts are irrelevant to the current wars) I thought about the men in the World Wars, many of them proud to stand for America, proud to represent what America was and willing to give their lives for it. I think of America now, and I can’t help but think; I don’t know if it’s worth that anymore. America used to stand for freedom. America stood for growth, it was a moral guide in a world of dictators and communism. It was a country founded on rights guaranteed because they were given to us by the Creator, not gifted by the government. Those were things people were willing to die for, so that their families and friends could continue living with those blessings.
I can not see that those are the things America stands for today. People used to come to America because it was a place where you could create wealth. You could come and work, and that work would produce something that belonged to you. You could worship without interference from the government. You could be free.
People come now, not to provide for themselves, but to collect what others have worked for and the government has confiscated to give away. People do not come to America so they can worship freely. America has become a land where if your religious beliefs are deemed intolerant, you can be ruled against in courts of law and forced out of business or forced to act against your principles. America has become the land where you are not born free; you are born with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, which you will spend your entire life paying. Debt is bondage, any way you look at it. Americans are no longer born free. You can not simply own anything. If you have an acre of land you have paid for, you may not have it in a year if you can’t pay taxes on it. You can own something, own something you worked hard for and paid for and sacrificed for, and it is not really yours. You spend your entire life paying the government for the privilege of owning it. America is no longer a moral land. The only ‘moral’ still being protected is tolerance. “Tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society. When an immoral society has blatantly and proudly violated all the commandments, it insists upon one last virtue, tolerance for its immorality. It will not tolerate condemnation of its perversions. It creates a whole new world in which only the intolerant critic of intolerable evil is evil.” (Hutton Gibson)
And so I look around at the world we live in. I love this country. I sincerely believe it is the best country left in the world. If there was a better country anywhere else, I would gladly move there (which I encourage all liberals in love with socialism to do. There are countries out there living your dream! Go there, and give us the chance to salvage America! If we end up destroying it with our extreme conservative principles, I’m more than happy to let you have the last laugh.) Despite being the best, it is rapidly failing. There is little left to be proud of, and little left to protect. I am daily grateful that I was born here, but I wish there was more I could do to protect it. It is impossible when the destruction is coming from within. It is impossible when the source is a hundred million people thinking, “Being in America means I should have a home, food, and health care. Provided to me.” There is no protection from a mentality that there are no morals, that every behavior is just as good as any other, and has no negative effect on society. I would not want my children to die protecting America as it is now; but it would be worth anything to preserve America as it should be.
I have gone through several examples of how the government limits our freedoms, infringes on our choices, forces us to act in a certain way, for apparently no reason at all. But, there has to be a reason, right? So, what is the reason? Why can’t I decide what is or isn’t safe for my children? Why can’t I choose whether or not to wear a seatbelt? Why can’t I decide when and how to invest money I work for? Why can’t a group of people just live their lives, choosing what to do and how to interact, with the government only there to resolve disputes and protect the country from external threats?