Tag Archives: Gender Discrimination

An Equal and Opposite Reaction

21733868_10214068171760956_1726168460_oOne of the fundamental maxims of physics is that “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” For everything that is said or done something of equal vigour must be in order. By this logic then, for every fascist, far-right, or white supremacist threat to American society and we the American people there must also be an equal reaction by the far-left, by the Anti-Fascists as they have deemed themselves. Yet what good does the threat of violent action do? What is the point of bringing one’s guns to an anti-fascist protest? What is the point of eradicating the memory of all who have had some dirt upon their hands, who committed evils in their lives?

This moment, at the closing years of the second decade of the twenty-first century, is a moment of immense change, of tribulation not unfamiliar to our predecessors from a century prior. We are living through the waning hours of a period of unprecedented social change and extraordinary wealth for many in our society. We have witnessed a plethora of forces at work in their efforts to bend our society to their aims. Some have sought to bend the law in order to further their own wealth and prosperity to the detriment of others. Still more have fought against those egotists in the defence of the common good and the wellbeing of all.

Now, as we look ahead towards the last months of 2017 and the new year 2018 we are beginning to recognise as a society how uncertain our future is. We are realising that our children will probably not be better off than ourselves, that our generation as well will probably fall in economic standing in a way unseen in the past century. It is natural to react to this with fear, to curse the political, economic, and social systems that led us to this moment. But in our present culture we celebrate fear, overreaction, and anger far too much. We have accepted extreme behaviour on television as normal, and in so doing have accepted that same extremism into our own lives.

We have reached a moment in our history when both the right and left are afraid; afraid of losing what they have; afraid of each other. We have reached a moment when the politics of fear have duped millions into electing a man entirely unfit for the duties to which he is oath-bound to serve. We have reached a moment when lies are far louder than truths and accepted as real by sections of society.

We have reached a point where at long last the old Confederate sympathies are being brought into the light of day as racist echoes of a failed rebellion from 150 years ago. Yet the zeal of the most outspoken on the far-left has created its equal reaction to the zeal of the far-right. Both now have sizeable factions at their rallies who are armed, ready to fight.

Extremism in any form is unnatural and unhealthy. Yet in the current moment in American history it is the extremes of our society that are the most vocal. I cannot deny that our political system is flawed, it absolutely is. I cannot also deny that American capitalism favours the rich, that is how the playbook has been written. I would be an idiot to ignore that our society is rigged against anyone who is not male and of European descent, there is a racial hierarchy in this country that has existed since the colonial era. But I would be blind to also deny that we can change things for the better. We can fix our corrupted political system, we can rewrite the codes that govern our capitalism, we can stand up everyday for the rights of all in this country and day by day continue to chip away at those old biases. But we cannot do these things while we are taken hostage by the far-right and far-left of our society. We cannot fully achieve the great work of our society while our society is a hostage to the militant few willing to kill their fellow Americans in defence of their extreme convictions.

We must continue to march, to protest, to organise, and to vote. We must carry on the good work that our predecessors undertook in generations past. We can make this country a better place for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in. But we must walk the middle road of moderation to do so.

We must understand the full consequences of our actions, we must learn from our history so that we do not make the same mistakes again. There are many who are opposed to the removal of the Confederate monuments because that is “erasing our history.” I disagree. By removing those monuments to a rebellious movement in our history, we are forcing the book closed on that chapter that has yet to settle. After all, we still see the way in which Americans continue to threaten one another with violence at the slightest hint of progressive reform. To make our society better for the next generations we must rid ourselves of this disease of extremism. We must show those who want violence that through peaceful debate we can achieve far greater things.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When the far-left responds to the far-right’s threats of violence with equal threats the far-left only continues that same cycle of violence. Consider that maxim again: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Threats of violence may well be equal on both sides, but the threat of violence on the left is not opposite to the threat of violence to the right. It is not the positive to the right’s negative. Only peaceful protest, nonviolent refusal to play by their rules of violence can achieve that. Through peace and nonviolence we find our equal and opposite reaction. Let’s try it for once. You never know, it might just work.

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How Fox’s Reaction to the Bill O’Reilly Scandals are Systematic of What is Wrong in Our Society

In American society, beyond all the kind words and gentile thoughts, there is one thing that is king: the Almighty Dollar. One is not important enough to be considered at the top of the game unless one is rich. As a result, when a scandal or issue comes up, while hypocrites on all sides will try to degrade their opponent on grounds of morality or sensibility, all that really will matter in the end is how much the culprit in the case can bring in as revenue.

Just minutes ago the news broke that after a series of sexual harrasment allegations, Rupert Murdoch’s American-based media arm 21st Century Fox would not be welcoming top bill Fox News host Bill O’Reilly back onto their network. “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” read a statement quoted by NPR’s Colin Dwyer. Yet that thorough and careful review only came to a close not after the first sexual harrasment claim was published, nor after the following claims became known. Rather, the people at 21st Century Fox chose to wait until O’Reilly’s show, The O’Reilly Factor, had lost a significant number of its advertising sponsors.

Once again the Almighty and practically Sacred Dollar won out over the health, safety, and well-being of the women who O’Reilly had harrassed. Between the hyprocisy of organisations like 21st Century Fox actually claiming to care about it’s female employees and on-air guests, and the sheer lunacy that something as abstract and impersonal as a decrease in revenue would matter more to executives, I wonder how social change will really be able to come about in a society as plutocratic as ours. Ours is a society wrecked with illness, a society that has begun to rot, for the day when we started to care more about pocketbooks than people was the day when we as a society began to lose our sense of purpose and being. We should be ashamed enough to try and do something about it, to make things better for the next generation to come. Yet as long as the present system benefits a few there will be little reason for them to want to make things fairer and more humane.

There are pleanty of calls for reform, for progressive change coming from many levels of society. Millions of people around the globe marched for women’s rights in January of this year, and this coming Saturday many more will march in defence of science on Earth Day in cities across the country. The people most harmed by the current system, especially those most worried about what the latest President might do now in office, have made their voices heard. But are those voices being heard in the boardrooms and offices of the executives? Consider the cheap shot that Pepsi took to reach out to my generation through that infamous TV ad involving Kendall Jenner and a protest. Apparently if we all buy Pepsi then all of our societal woes will be solved. Perfect! Yet still the socially conscious focus of Pepsi’s protest ad was less so on the protest and more on a self-absorbed celebrity trying to sell a soda that frankly isn’t all that healthy. The focus was entirely on them and not us.

Such wide societal divides are not the least bit healthy, and can often lead to a breakdown of the social institutions intended to keep the peace between varying classes, institutions, ethnicities, races, religions, etc. As this widening gulf continues to grow the level of respect that the parts of society have for each other continues to lessen. Our society’s obsessive focus on material wealth is holding us back, keeping us from reaching our full potential. We see multi-million and billion dollar investments in major league teams yet at the same time budget cuts to our education, healthcare, and infrastructure. The new crowd of super-rich who have populated positions of power in Washington continue to propose policies that not only hurt their greatest supporters amongst the working class, but also cause great harm to the country as a whole.

While Bill O’Reilly is just one person in a country of over 300 million, his disregard for the wellbeing of the women around him kn the workplace is one more example of inequality in this country. What’s more, the fact that his employers at 21st Century Fox waited to cut ties with him until their revenue streams were hurt is even more shameful. As long as profits come before people we as a society are seriously unwell.