Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Only The Right Bear Arms

By today, this is probably old news, but it's disheartening nonetheless. From Yahoo News on Monday: About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

I shouldn't really have to comment on this subject; the irresponsibility and idiocy speaks for itself. However, after having watched Alain Resnais' harrowing documentary Night and Fog (1955), which presents the horrors of the Holocaust more effectively in thirty-two minutes than any feature-length film I can recall, I am reminded by the film's ultimate message - we are all responsible.

Society feels most comfortable when a truly horrific event such as the Holocaust can be attributed to a certain people and a certain place and, more importantly, be remembered as a one-time mistake of the past. It's not very easy, however, to recognize present crimes of the same nature, especially if they're still in their infancy. Ordinary American citizens aren't ready to take some sort of social responsibility for the slowly-mounting violent climate created by Republicans. Today, it's gun-toting protesters within very close proximity of the United States President. But what will tomorrow bring?

Below is an editorial I wrote for the Austin High School Maroon one week before the historic election last year, expressing a related frustration.

Earlier this week, I found it a little disheartening to open up Yahoo News and click on an Associated Press story that matter-of-factly stated the following: “Law enforcement agents have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives said Monday.”

I know, I know – these individuals are hotheaded extremists with strong prejudices who, thankfully, don’t represent the opinions of mainstream Americans.

But to be completely honest, the extreme views of these two skinheads aren’t that far away from the verbal violence of many Austin High School students. I’m not talking about well-informed, well-spoken conservatives who genuinely have doubts about the specifics of Senator Obama’s politics; rather, I’m speaking about a certain league of morons who have deemed Obama and his cronies as Muslim terrorists with a socialist agenda to overtake the nation, and who have made it their damned bloody mission to eliminate him completely.

These are the people who have the audacity to wave the Confederate flag proudly from their car windows; the people who rip off the Obama ’08 bumper sticker from the back window of my 1988 Ford Bronco II, and tear the sticker to shreds. Six months ago, they were condemning the very idea of a female candidate for President; now, they’re rallying behind a female Vice Presidential candidate who somehow appeals to the “Pro-America” parts of the country.

Who exactly are these conservatives, and what is so conservative about their nature? Since when did drunk driving, reckless endangerment with drugs and alcohol, skipping school to smoke marijuana, and excessive littering become part of the conservative agenda? From what I can see, the majority of the so-called conservatives aren’t conserving anything, although they’d like to pretend otherwise come Sunday morning at church.

Not that liberals don’t have moral or religious codes – I certainly do – but I don’t see a great many Obama supporters who follow such a twisted logic as the aforementioned league of morons. Nor do I understand the following scenario – an impassioned John McCain supporter shouts in one of my senior classes, “Socialists are taking over the country! All of these liberals are lazy, useless people who don’t know how to do their work! They just sit around, and do absolutely nothing, and then they want to take away the hard-earned money from conservatives who have worked their entire lives!”

The person who said this has an estimated 2.0 Grade Point Average, and while normally I wouldn’t even respond to such absurd comments, this particular statement was a personal attack on me. Although I am sure there are plenty of “lazy” liberals in America, this person might as well have been talking about herself and the majority of the conservatives in the class, who regularly fail their courses, participate in zero activities outside of school (drinking-binges not included), and panic when college applications are on the horizon, begging mommy and daddy to shell out the big bucks for a university that favors the dollar over the brain. I am not one to brag, but I am not lazy. I have worked rigorously in and outside of school my entire life, committing years and hours to dozens of activities, and still remaining firmly planted in the Top Ten Percentile of my graduating class. I find it insulting that somebody who is repeatedly bailed out for his or her own mistakes by mommy and daddy dares to condemn me for supporting Barack Obama.

But then again, I’m sort of a radical myself. I have the weird and crazy notion that equal attention should be given to the Austin High theatre department as to the football team.

Despite the fact that none of the people I’m referring to are reading this article (or coming near any newspaper, for that matter), my larger fear is that the violent threats made by my fellow students, while hopefully no more than an exaggeration of their conservative beliefs, could one day culminate in the sickening extremism described in the Yahoo article above. It's very frightening, honestly, to look around a classroom and attempt to guess who in your senior high school class is capable of committing a political hate crime. The number of candidates is truly alarming.

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