Monday, December 1, 2008

There is no Switzerland

So there's this great quote on Shakesville (which is quickly becoming one of my top favorite blogs EVAH) and I wanted to post it here but it seemed like posting it, without context of WHY I think it's such a great quote, would somehow lessen it.

Doing the Monday morning read-through of the newspapers and the blogs, I found the following:

1) Salon has a front page spread about Charles Graner, one of the guards convicted in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Roommate L and I were talking about the article and whether or not the sentence he is serving is a just one:

me: Did you read that article in Salon today/yesterday about the Abu Ghraib guard?
Just interesting when you're thinking about torture
and US involvement
L: Yeah, I read it last night before I read the other stuff
me: ahh
L: So sad
me: yeah
L: And corrupt
I have no pity for that man however
He can rot in hell
But the lack of action higher up in the military / government is inexcusable.
me: I have some pity for him. Not enough to release him from prison, but probably enough to not let him spend 29 months in solitary confinement.
We don't know how much of that they were ordered to do
it's always difficult with the military.
It's not enough though, because if someone told me to do that
I would refuse, regardless of the consequences
and I would have gone to the press
and the people
and been a whistle blower
and he didn't
he complied
and for that
he deserves to be punished
for a damn long time
But I do think he is the scapegoat
and that that's unfair
L: Yeah, I hear that perspective and I agree with the scapegoat issue, but him smiling and thumbs-up-ing over bloody corpses- that lessens my pity.

2) There's a post over at Racialicious (probably one of the healthiest blogs for me or anyone to read) about Native American stereotyping and how common and harmful it is. I recommend reading it, as well as visiting all the links provided, as well as reading the lengthy and heated commentary that follows the posting. One of the posters seemed SO hostile to me in her challenges to other commentators, but Latoya (owner of Racialicious) had a different take on it:

Kathy-Oneida Nation is quite correct. It does get tricky when someone purports to comment on the nature of a community that is not their own. Now, I can only speak to Rob - not as familiar with Jess, but I’ve been working with you, Rob, since I’ve been on this blog - and I understand where you are coming from. We’ve checked Newspaper Rock for a while, and Rob actually does do good work with reference to bringing awareness to issues within the Native Community, particularly in reference to stereotypes.

However, Rob, this is part of the process. I know that you and Jessica have knocked heads before about this. And to be honest, that is going to happen. Tim Wise often writes about how he doesn’t expect anything from the communities he discusses in his anti racism work - he is often met with mistrust, but he acknowledges it is with good reason.

Carmen and I run a multiracial blog - we get hit all the time with questions about why we cover the things we do, and who we allow to cover certain issues. Often, if we are called by the media, we are asked to refer them to someone that is a part of a certain group - a transracial adoptee, or maybe a Muslim woman who is also African-American. Could Carmen and I talk about some of these issues? Sure we’ve posted on it enough, done our own research.

But most of the time, producers want someone who speaks from that experience. It isn’t just for the authenticity factor - it’s also because a lived experience can provide insights that you just cannot duplicate with research and observation.

And this is why we - and I would caution everyone on this blog to do the same - tread lightly when we cover issues outside of our own experiences. We all internalize stereotypes, and we can all make mistakes. And it is only by listening and learning that we move forward.

3) The Black Friday coverage of the deaths at WalMart in which people were trampled and killed and a pregnant woman was hospitalized.

Here's the quote:

"This is why we've all got to be consciously, deliberately, vigilantly all in. We each make a difference in this world, for good or ill. There is no neutral. There is no Switzerland. There is only saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another—prejudice, hatred, humiliation and pain—or saying yes. And sometimes there is only stopping and kneeling and laying your hands on a stranger and putting your own body in between theirs and a herd of the unconcerned.

Always, every moment of every day, we must remember that kindness really can be a matter of life and death."

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