My mom is from a small town in Ohio. A farming town, an old fashioned town. That means I grew up hearing smalltownisms, plainspeak, and a lot of common sense.
Complain that something wasn't fair? Her comeback was "Fair comes in August." Translation: get over it. (And yes, the county fair did always come in August, so given the date of your perceived universal slight, you might be waiting a while for karmic reimbursement.)
Another favorite that sticks with me in everything I do: "There's nothing to it, but to do it." Translation: Quit yet bitchin and just get it done.
But the one that springs to mind this morning as I watch the developments in Boston and see the gross ignorance vomit forth on social media is this: "Sweep your own doorstep."
When the photos of the two suspects were released yesterday, I saw the predictable ones zeroing in on their appearance. Skin color, hair color, hell, their nose sizes. Because we ALL know that a big nose automatically makes one a terrorist threat. Why Jimmy Durante was allowed to walk around freely is still beyond me.
As more information has come to light in the wake of the death of the older suspect, the onslaught of ignorance is as stunning as it is sad. The fact that so many are so proud of their bigotry should be shameful, but as one trip through a message board at Red State, The Blaze, or FOX News will show you, shame is not exactly in their wheelhouse.
Details about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 - now a pretty sure bet to have been the ones who perpetrated the atrocities during the Boston Marathon - are only serving to reinforce the low effort thinkers in this country who fear anyone, anything difference than themselves.
Yes, they are from Chechnya. Yes, they are Muslim.
Like many who have legally sought asylum in our country. If you don't know why, how about you give your geographical ignorance a kick in the ass, Google a bit, and learn about what has gone down in that part of the world.
They did not sneak in as "jihadists" as I have seen in posts. They have been here since the early 2000s - going to school, graduating, going to college. Friends are stunned. One even describing the younger as an "angel."
They were both LEGAL, naturalized citizens of the United States.
More have latched, predictably, onto the Muslim angle. Grabbing their industrial sized paintbrush, the one capable of covering an entire barnside with one swipe - they are condemning all of Islam, every Muslim.
Based on the actions of a few.
Fine. Let's play that game.
Catholic? Hang your pedophile head in shame. Better yet, fellate the barrel of a gun.
German? You Hitler loving, Jew slaughtering, piece of filth.
Hispanic? Is that a big lunch in your stomach or a gullet full of heroin pellets, you drug mule. Oh, and don't cut my head off.
Christian of any persuasion? You are no better than the Westboro Baptist followers. After all, you all identify as Christian.
What's that? The WBC are extremists? You aren't like them? You don't think God Hates Fags? Sorry, I'm not buying it. YOU'RE ALL CHRISTIANS.
Now, the uncle - a loose term as he has not had contact with them in YEARS - has passionately come forth condemning his nephews, offering his sincere condolences to the victims, urging Dzhokhar to come forth, turn himself in, "put yourself at the discretion" of those they hurt.
And what does he get?
Derision. Suspicion. He is being reviled on Facebook. People saying he doesn't really mean it. He's only covering his own ass.
Really? Why? Because his skin is browner than yours? He has an accent? He doesn't go to your church? He's in YOUR country?
Again, let's play it your way. I see you get indignant when Westboro comes out and says they will picket another funeral. You condemn them, you are angered, you are shocked. And Paul Kevin Curtis, the guy who both lamented the removal of God from schools while send ricin laced letters to Washington? You don't support his actions? You don't wish death on the President?
You must be lying. You must not really mean it. You must be covering your own ass because you are a Christian and you all stick together, right?
Condemning an entire group of people based on the actions of a few makes you one thing: STUPID.
Sum and total. There is no prettier way to put it. Sure, I could pull out the thesaurus, but it all comes back to STUPID.
What these brothers did is reprehensible, unforgiveable, heinous, cowardly. What their motivations were remain to be seen.
So before you go to your ignorant fallback position of reviling an entire group of people, think twice, think about who YOU could be lumped in with, and then get a big broom to SWEEP YOUR OWN DOORSTEP.
When it comes to political discourse, civility left the building long before Elvis did.
Stereotypes are slung, disagreements quickly devolve into slurs and slander, and it is not uncommon for a "hot mike" to catch a politician throwing an eff bomb at a colleague like some verbal grenade.
It permeates the emails they send their constituents. Thinly veiled, and sometimes not veiled at all, fearmongering, fingerpointing, slanting, and lying - whatever it takes to keep the rabble roused (and voting for the sender).
Often these emails and campaign fliers bubble to the surface of the national brewpot because they contain falsehoods, open bigotry, and copious amounts of BS - and the sender makes a hasty nonapology before continuing to send more of the same fliers - only with an added "The mainstream media doesn't want you to see this!" for bad measure.
Despite the stereotype, our politicians are not slick. At least not as slick as they think they are. Appalachian Trails, airport bathroom stalls, half naked pictures texted to constituents, babies born of affairs, secret abortions, and touchy feely games with pages.
They are, as is proven each and every day, not terribly bright folk either. One need only look at the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Todd Akin et al to verify the room temperature IQ that sneaks into leadership positions.
And when they get into those positions, their inadequacies, low intellect, lack of critical thinking skills, and interaction bereft of any class or refinement is on full display.
Today's winner of the Hat O' Ass award goes to New Hampshire Representative Peter Hansen.
His response to a debate on the "stand your ground" bill, a response he shared with colleagues via the legislative email system reads:
What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful
retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and
vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary
male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and
women and mothers are the potential victims.
First of all, let's just get the idiocy of the spelling out of the way. Peter, if you are going to refer to us (plural) by our body part, then at least know how to spell. The plural of vagina is vaginas. To add the the apostrophe implies ownership, as in "My vagina's response to your sexual advances would be to immediately slam shut in disgust."
See how that works? An apostrophe is a terrible thing to waste.
Now, to the content of your statement.
Referring to women as vaginas? Seriously?
God knows your party's (<---see how an apostrophe works?) every word, deed, inference, and bill is aimed at reducing us to just that - our reproductive gateway - but to refer to us that way in an official correspondence? Was the word "women" too difficult to spell? Not sure where the apostrophe goes?
Oh hell, why not let it all hang out and just use the words you and your POS brethren bandy about as you knock a few back and write more legislation about our bodies? Cooter, pussy, twat, slit, vajayjay, cooze, poontang, muff, box?
I know, I know - you're just kicking yourself now for settling for something pedestrian like vagina's.
Of course, when his colleagues began publicly calling him out for his crude and demeaning verbage, he responded in a way that is surprising to no one who pays attention to political non apologies: “Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens
to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a
well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation, and
finally if you find the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive
then perhaps a better exercise might be for you to re-examine your
Ahhhh, yes, the perfect "blame it on the offended."
Well, when that went over like a lead ballsac, he tried this approach, ”Can there be any doubt my comment is being misinterpreted and taken
completely out of context? It was not, and is not, my intention to
demean women at any time. It is apparent that the intent of my remarks
has been misinterpreted, the true goal of the message lost and for that I
apologize to those who took offense.”
Ahhhh, Nonapology 101. I'm sorry you stupid people don't get me.
You know, Peter ... wait ... PETER? Seriously? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
I am a woman. Not just a vagina. I am intelligent, compassionate, brave, open minded, and tolerant.
Tolerant of most things.
Just not a prickish, choadish, pork sword, baloney pony, beef thermometer, TOOL like YOU.
A beautiful boy standing alongside his siblings and mother, eagerly awaiting the first glimpse of their father approaching the finish line yesterday in Boston. Smiles, giggles, excitement, pride - all the hallmarks of a child in a crowd of equally happy, festive people.
In the blink of an eye, the shattering of an eardrum, the ripping of a limb - he was gone. Taking his laughter, his promise, his innocence with him.
His 6 year old sister lay beside him, gravely wounded, missing a leg. His mother would be rushed to the hospital and undergo brain surgery.
Martin was only 8. And we are left today to ask why.
Sadly, if we are honest with ourselves - which, let's face it, as a citizenry we excel at bumper sticker patriotism, but fail miserably at self reflection - we should also be asking "Why not?"
This type of brutality happens every single day around the world. Babies die in "oops" bombings. Mothers are left to mourn, if they are left alive at all. Soldiers are sent to fight whole, but are returned missing one, two, three, four limbs. 8 year olds have their bodies ripped apart with stunning regularity on the other side of the world.
And yet we don't miss a beat, a drive thru burger run, a crop harvest in Farmville, an episode of Real Housewives.
Because it happened over there. And our behavior tends to reflect that lives are worth less over there. Even when one of our broken soldiers returns from over there, we tend to look away.
Shame on us. Shame on our egotism. Shame on the hubris that is our calling card, the callousness that feeds our blatant disregard for lives lost beyond our borders. And shame on the ignorance that would allow us to think, "How dare "they" (whoever they turn out to be) kill one of our 8 year olds?"
When will we get it through our heads that we are NOT special? We are not untouchable. We are not some land of unicorns and fairy dust where no evil would dare to tread? We are NOT #1 <-- that being one of the most irritating, arrogant, puffed up lies we tell ourselves.
Is the United States of America a great place to live? YES. Make no mistake, I love my country. I am thankful daily to have been born here. Despite the malcontents, doomsdayers, domestic terrorists, deluded Rambo gun lovers, piss poor economy, broken government, public servants who serve only themselves, and the fact that the biggest thing we produce is ass? YES, the United States is still a good place to live.
Our founding documents make it so. We were born from a set of ideals laid down long ago, that still resonate and guide us today. We have the freedom to come and go as we please, crossing state borders without permission needed, pursuing our happiness as long as our pursuit does not hurt anyone in the process.
But we are conceited, we are stupid, we are lazy, we are geographically ignorant, and we live in a bubble where we disregard what happens over there.
What happens over there can happen here just as easily. We saw that yesterday. We simply have had the luxury of our violations taking place far and few between, not being an everyday occurrence like tying our shoes. We go to the Walmart and fear is not the overriding emotion within us as we purchase food for our families. We attend weddings and do not have to fear a bomb being accidentally dropped upon us as we Macarena. We can drive down a road and not have our guts clinched tightly worrying about the next bump being an IED. And our sidewalks, streets, walls of our houses are not forever stained with blood.
What happened yesterday is inhuman, unforgiveable, impossible to understand, and yes, we have every right to be angry. We should be angry. We should be moved to action. But if it is based in the fact that it happened here, and how dare "they" touch us on our own soil?, that's not good enough.
The injuries, if you are brave enough to gaze upon them, are gruesome,
yet they are the same injuries that occur daily in other parts of the world.
First responders yesterday - many who have served in combat - repeatedly compared the wounds to what they dealt with in Iraq, Afghanistan.
It wasn't just the United States that was dealt a blow yesterday. It was humanity. But humanity is dealt that same sickening blow every single day. We just don't look.
Martin Richard died with two others yesterday. Here.
How many children and adults died over there? If you don't know or care, perhaps you need to reflect on your own connection to humanity.
(Martin, in a picture taken last year with the sign he made for a Peace Walk in which he participated. Rest in peace, Martin, and every "Martin" whose life is taken too soon - regardless of where they take their last breath on this planet.
This afternoon the collective pysche of our nation was once again rocked - this time as explosions ripped through the peace, sense of camaraderie, and excitement of the Boston Marathon.
And yet another TV vigil has begun...
As has become commonplace when something happens in this world, we have all taken to Facebook to meet, console, reach out, try to make sense of what has happened. I love social media for this reason.
We DO touch one another via the typed word. Those we have yet to meet, may never meet, are real in our hearts, in our day-to-day existence, and are important touchstones when we are shaken. Prayers go up, thoughts go out.
And as sure as night follows day, souless, thoughtless, worthless, pathologically mean cowards, cloaked in the invisibility of the internet, crawl out of their lairs and begin politicizing, provoking. I hate social media for this reason.
Death cares not for your politics. Fear is not the sole domain of a single color, creed, religion. Loss does not wear a flag. And blood does not stain a sidewalk in different colors depending on the body from which it runs.
In these early hours, we still do not know why, who, or what. These answers will come. What we do know is that people are hurting.
This tragedy touches us all because it could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. This is simply the reminder of the fragility of our lives, the opportunistic nature of those who strike out, the capricious whims of fate. Those whose lives have been taken (one, an eight year old child), whose bodies have been wounded or permanently altered by amputation, whose hearts have been held captive this afternoon as they frantically attempt to contact loved ones in that area - they are all deserving of our sympathy, our empathy, our grace.
Shame on those who offer anything less.
This is not about President Obama. This is not about the left or the right or theTea Party because as the numbers of injured continue to rise, I guarantee you every political slant is covered in the hospitals, religions are many in the ambulances, and skin colors are as varied as the rainbow.
There are times when the only answer is grace, civility. The birth of President Bush's first grandchild is a perfect example. Did I approve of him as a President? No, I did not. Do I begrudge him the pure, happy, HUMAN experience of welcoming a grandchild? Of course not. I am happy for their family. No politics, no past - just a sincere wish of joy for the Bush clan. That so many have used this birth to post their hideous rants, vicious words, heinous thoughts? For shame...
The Boston Marathon simply takes place in Boston. But it attracts nearly 27,000 runners from 90 countries, countless fans, and every language of media. It is as much a global sporting event as is the World Cup or Olympics. It touches lives everywhere.
If you cannot wrap your mind, your heart around this, step away from the keyboard. You and your shameful offerings simply are not needed here.