People or Political Pawns?

At what point does a person stop becoming a person? That’s a dark sentence right there — One that could lead in a number of directions. I’ll keep you hanging for one more sentence though, just for dramatic effect.

I’m thinking about this in regards to the migrants who have been trying to cross the US/Mexico border in recent days. The women and children who have had tear gas thrown at them by border security because they were “very dangerous”.

So I wonder, as far as some are concerned, when do people stop being people?

I understand that border security and immigration is a tough subject, and not one that can be answered swiftly in a blog — No matter what some far-right websites claim.

Despite what the majority of the media would have you think, immigration isn’t a simple black and white issue. Some people want to lock a country down entirely, others want controlled immigration, some want open gates, and others want somewhere in between all of these.

Some people are okay with the use of violence, some are okay with the use of tear gas on children, and others are not.

What the Trump administration has going on at the border right now is a flex, and all on the tax-payers dime. For decades the Democrats have been (rightly) accused of vanity spending in order to prove a point, and well, old Donald has taken a page right out of their blue book.

The events that are taking place at the US/Mexico border right now are happening because of the following chain of events:

  1. Donald Trump flippantly says he will build a wall
  2. Followers begin chanting it as a mantra
  3. Trump makes it policy during his campaign
  4. Trump says Mexico will pay for wall
  5. Trump becomes president (eyes collectively roll)
  6. Mexico say they will not pay for wall
  7. Trump demands wall be made
  8. Republican congress says they will have to tax Americans to build wall
  9. Advisors say that higher taxes won’t get him re-elected
  10. Trump in a pickle
  11. Makes anti-immigrant display with money available
  12. Defends the tear gassing of children

Twelve easy steps that explain why children were blinded and thought they were going to die. Of course, they’re innocents who’ve been running through Mexico from violent gangs, so unfortunately an attack by the US probably wasn’t their first brush with violence.

What we’re seeing at the border right now is “the wall”, or the closest we’ll ever get to it anyway.

He’ll never build a giant wall, and it certainly won’t begin construction before people go to the polls in 2020, and yet he’ll win a second term because God has apparently decided to skip this season of “Earth”, in his great binge-watch of all known existence.

Putting some barbed wire and some extra soldiers at the border is the closest he can get to showing a display of power that’s tough on immigrants, without taxing the poor even higher, and it’ll be enough for many of his followers.

Many will forget that he was supposed to build a wall in the first place, and when they go to vote in 2020, they’ll remember images of women and children being tear-gassed and they’ll smile and vote for their orange king.

teargaschildren

Wait…what?

See, that’s why I ask, and wonder — When does a person stop becoming a person?

As I stated, immigration is complex, and not everyone who wants a hard-line on movement wants violence to be used against the people trying to enter the country illegally.

If we tar everyone with the same brush then the whole world burns. And that goes all ways.

But there’s a huge portion of Trump supporters who do lust for the violence, and given that Trump himself defended the use of tear gas just this morning, I’d say that he personally salivates over the idea that he’s currently causing a visceral chaos thousands of miles away, all because he can’t fulfil a campaign promise.

As always, the people who stand by Trump, even though they don’t want violence to be used against immigrants, are going to have to ask themselves a few questions — How long do I stand by this man? What does he have to do to lose my support? How far is too far, and are these people, people?

We’re all the same, at our core. Before you throw on the pressures, expectations and self-made constructs of whichever society we come from, we’re all just fleshy sacks of meat who’re trying to stay alive.

We’re intelligent animals who want the best for ourselves and the people we care about, and if any one of us were born into some of the horrors that are prevalent in less fortunate countries, well, we’d all be running for that border.

It’s a political power play in a vicious game, but one that uses real humans as the pawns. People aren’t pieces in a game, they’re individuals whose right to life should be respected.

What’s my solution then? Because I’m writing as though the current way isn’t the answer and so I better have a solution.

Well, I guess I’ve never understood why we don’t send immigration case workers to the border to process people fairly. If someone is denied, then it can be explained what it is they need to do to be accepted, and if someone is accepted then they’re in America legally and so what’s the issue?

People are more likely to respond to love than hate — I think I have to believe that.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this yesterday:

If you’re wondering why she’s getting so much attention lately it’s because the left-leaning youth of America finally have a leader who is saying the things we’ve been thinking. Oh, and also because she’s a woman who wears clothes — At least that’s why Fox News-Entertainment have been paying attention to her.

Trump and other right-wing leaders conjure up images of exclusively male migrants who are forcing their way across the border. The reality of the situation is they’re families who’re seeking asylum from dangerous homes.

They come to make a legal case, but are met with a barrage of barbed wire and tear gas. All because old Donald doesn’t have the stones to tax his base in order to build a giant wall.

Which, in turn, is all because his father never said he loved him.


Today is Tuesday, November 27th and misinformation scares the hell out of me.

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Will Steven Crowder Ever Change His Mind?

You may know Steven Crowder as a human meme; The person in the original ‘Change My Mind’ image who was photoshopped in support of a variety of increasingly bizarre causes.

That’s also how I first learned of Crowder, which raises entirely separate issues in regards to us being careful of what we deem memetic. If I could follow his content rabbit-hole to learn about his method of debate, I guarantee that impressionable, marginalised teenagers who’ve never been hugged have done the same.

The ‘Change My Mind’ image is from a popular video series made my Crowder, in which he takes a political stance on something, e.g ‘Build the Wall: Change My Mind’ or ‘Hate Speech Isn’t Real: Change My Mind’, and asks people to approach him and attempt to… well…change his mind, obviously.

Other than the shock-factor topics of discussion it seems like an innocent enough format. He’s clearly adopting online troll tactics, by baiting any potential debaters with a shocking headline that he knows will rub them the wrong way — but at least he’s doing it in person, right? He’s not just hiding behind some keyboard and spouting opinions into the world, as I’m currently doing, right this second.

crowdertwo

I try and see the best in people, no matter who they are, so to begin with I attempted to look for the positives in his format — but beyond the fact that he’s doing it out in the open and owning his own opinions without a faceless, nameless avatar, I couldn’t find a single one.

He presents his format as a debate, or a friendly chat, a casual discussion even. He really lays it on at the start of each video by letting us know that he’s non-confrontational, backing it up by leaning casually and drinking a hot beverage, because drinking a hot beverage connotes relaxation.

The confrontational question, his then-confrontational style and him personally attacking people’s ideologies from a trolling and mocking perspective, obviously contradicts his set-up, but that’s exactly why he does it. If he tells his viewers at the start of the video that he’s not going to do something, but then does it anyway, they’ll remember what he said at the beginning and defend his actions that directly oppose his own words.

It’s clear from his videos, and his larger content network, that Crowder has absolutely zero interest in having his mind changed. If his mind were to be changed he’d no-longer be a hard-conservative social commentator, which is how he makes a living. His job is to have these opinions and to generate as much money as possible by holding these views. So changing Crowder’s mind is an impossible task for any potential debater.

More major criticisms of the format are the locations which he sets up his booths and the people he then speaks to (or the ones who aren’t edited out anyway). Typically he sets up his table on college campuses, in order to debate college-age students. Now, I know that students can be intelligent, articulate and passionate, but I also know that they have less life experience than Crowder.

Crowder used to work for Fox News, has produced content for Breitbart and now has his own digital media empire that includes his own show, YouTube channel and plenty of that sweet sweet merchandise.

My point is that Crowder has been in more debates, discussions and on-camera scenarios than most (if not all) students in America. He’s not debating his social equals, and a part of me has to wonder if there’s a reason for that.

In fact, the only people who he ends up debating on-camera are people who fall for the bait of the format in the first place. Anyone with legitimate critical thinking skills can see that the format is a set-up to feed Crowder’s ego and increase his viewers. Any possible ways of legitimately changing his mind would be edited out in post, or simply diverted away from by Crowder.

crowderone
He’s like watching Bill O’Reilly grow-up in real-time

Another power-dynamic he utilises is the use of only one microphone. In most videos he holds the microphone and pulls it away from his volunteer at any point that he wishes to interject. Him pointing the microphone in their direction and leaning back creates the illusion of free-speech and open-discussion for the person he’s talking to — “I’m giving you the right to something you should already have anyway” — is the connotation there.

The use of two microphones would really help his cause in terms of creating the illusion of a fair debate, but it would also stop him from being able to instantly silence his opponent.

We can look to the YouTube comment-sections of his videos, or to the live crowd during his live ‘Socialism is Evil: Change My Mind’ broadcast to see the kinds of people who follow and support Crowder. They’re people who ready to lap-up hate and “own the libs” at a moment’s notice, but I don’t blame them.

As I said at the start, the only people who would think that this format is a fair, open and insightful debate are those who’re impressionable, marginalised and have never been sincerely hugged.

Crowder is the one peddling his carefully controlled and edited version of reality, and they’re eating it up as though he actually cares about anything other than his viewing figures increasing, and his pockets being lined. Remember, this guy is a hard-right conservative, which means wealth and personal gain are a self-admitted driving force of his ideology.

I’ve thought about what I would say if I were at the table with Crowder, but in the live broadcast he faces someone who uses calm logic and example-based evidence, so he resorts to name-calling and relying on the cheering crowd who’re (mostly) on his side. So no matter what you say, he will control the environment to give himself the illusion of a victory, so I wouldn’t even sit down at the table.

However, if I had to, I’d ask him why he believes the things he does, and then I’d listen. Oftentimes both sides of the debate have facts and statistics to support their argument, but he must’ve landed on his side for a reason. I’d love to listen to the whys of Steven Crowder, to really get to the heart of his personal stances.

Nobody who believes that we should treat hard-working people with contempt (anti-social mobility), or that Kwanza isn’t a real holiday (xenophobic), or that you can’t possibly use hate-speech towards another person because it doesn’t exist (arsehole) — I’m just going to say that nobody who believes those things had a happy childhood.

Steven Crowder Needs a Hug and a Therapist: Change My Mind.


Today is Thursday, September 13th and I am a left-leaning social democrat, own me.

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This Is About Children

This is not an immigration debate.

One of the roles of a first-world country, is to forever balance immigration from countries that aren’t as privileged. If you live in an idealised land, people are going to want to be there. You can’t have a desirable country and not expect a flow of illegal immigration from people escaping war, famine and crime-ridden cities. That’s just not the reality we live in. People, yourself included, want the best possible life for themselves and their families.

If you were born into a horrific situation, through no fault of your own, you would fight and claw your way out of it, to give your children the life they deserve.

We can debate statistics on contributions that immigrants make to America vs what they take from it. We can discuss appropriate immigration levels until we’re blue in the face. We can even enter into arguments over what defines an immigrant to the public, and whether or not it has anything to do with race.

But, this is not an immigration debate. Because a debate on appropriate levels of immigration, is a debate worth having. It’s a conversation that major countries should expect to have for as long as our species continues.

I say our species, but I don’t recognise Corey Lewandowski as human. If you’re already finding yourself in a position of defending Lewandowski’s response to the news that a ten-year-old girl with Down syndrome was separated  from her mother, then these words aren’t for you. Nobody can help you now, you are lost and I am sorry for whatever happened to you along the journey of life.

Equally, if you understand that the footage we’ve seen in the last few days of children in cages is an abject, waking nightmare of human-rights violations. Then these words also aren’t for you. Please feel free to read on, but I’m not one for preaching to the choir.

This morning, between bouts of anger and sorrow for the nation I’ve found myself in, I want to open a dialogue with everyone else. Anyone who feels as though this isn’t the worst crisis of our time, but also feels uneasy about conservative talking-heads mocking disabled children live on television. You are the beautiful middle-ground who deserve to have your voices heard. Now more than ever.

So, here are two open letters to people who identify with particular ideologies. In the hope that you’ll put this crisis within a context of your long-held morals and beliefs, and not whatever a biased media outlet, or government, tells you.


Dear 2016 Republican Voters,

You don’t have to agree with the GOP on everything. You haven’t lost a battle if you call your party out when they cross a line. One of the more horrific leadership decisions in my lifetime has been Obama’s call to excessively use drone-strikes on the middle-east, during which he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocents. I vocally condemned him at the time, and continue to do so whenever people try to portray his legacy as one without fault. No party does a perfect job, and to believe so is foolish.

Making a decision at election time is a balance of the positive and the negative. Having had nearly two years to analyse the fallout, I can understand why you backed a Trump presidency. It took some time, but I do finally comprehend the complexity of it all. You voting for Trump initially, that no longer scares me. What breaks my heart is seeing evil, bigoted people across media outlets, defend the inhumane treatment of children, who then have the audacity to claim that they represent you.

You wanted a shake-up, you wanted something new and different. I ask you now, is this what you wanted? It’s okay to admit that it isn’t. If we surrender our morals to a party line, we lose a significant aspect of what makes America free. Please, continue to debate with us, snowflake liberals, when it comes to immigration reform. I’d love to have these conversations back. But stand-up for basic human rights when they’re violated. Call your party leader out when he crosses a line, he’s going to listen to you when you doubt him, because you put him on the throne and have the power to keep him there.

For now, America is still a democracy, and no voice is heard more by an incumbent government than those who voted them into power. Use that voice to call this what it is. It doesn’t mean you’re not a true-Republican or any less of a patriot. If anything, the courage to disagree with your party shows the independence and free-will that makes American people so great.

Thank you for reading.


Dear Pro-Life Activists,

As a someone who is pro-choice, we might disagree on the moment at which human life begins, or the autonomy women should have over their own bodies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a united front on this issue. We can both agree that these children are, in-fact, alive. They’re children who need our help, love and support. Even if all you can spare is a heart-full of empathy at this time, then you are human and your heart is aching at an appropriate moment, and that is beautiful.

I know that a lot of Pro-Life groups are heavily linked to the Christian faith, and I also know that as an agnostic, it would be hypocritical of me to quote the Biblical words of Jesus on this issue. In the last half hour I’ve read several passages that highlight where Jesus stands on protecting children, and I’m going to make the assumption that you know where to find these words.

This is not an attempt to throw your faith back at you, but rather an understanding from an ethical non-believer that you’ll hold-true to the words you live your life by.

Governments love it when we’re neatly placed into ideological boxes that can be marketed to. They’ll assume, based on their demographics and data, that because you oppose abortion you also support this administration on child detention centers. I ask you not to abandon your morals, but to stand by them. Go out, mobilise, and defend the lives of children. I’ll be marching on June 30th to protest the treatment of immigrant children, and I’d be proud to stand beside you on this issue.

Thank you for reading.


No words that I can thread together can possibly match the horror of it all. You’ve all seen the videos, listened to the audio and searched your hearts and minds. We can no longer just hope that there’s an end to the madness, we have to act. You can start by calling your representatives and marching freely in peaceful protest. Or by donating to charities that aid in providing legal council to separated children.

We must first fix the inhumane injustices before opening up debates about the specifics of immigration reform. Children’s lives should not be used as a ransom for political policy.

This isn’t about party politics, this is not an immigration debate.

This is about children.

Today is Wednesday, June 20th and I wasn’t sure about the Nazi-Germany comparisons until now.