I've had one of those days at work. During lunch, I was answering a call, typing an email, and reviewing another document. You know, one of THOSE days. And I will be lucky if I catch up tomorrow.
After I polish off some more of this nonsense, I'm supposed to go to the gym. And run on the treadmill. Because apparently when life is a little more difficult than I would like it to be (and I guess I would like it to be pretty easy), I have some chocolate. I'm not talking about ten pounds of chocolate. I'm talking about some chocolate. I don't eat mostly broccoli, so I guess by today's standards I am basically poisoning myself, but honestly I do not eat that much food most of the time. (Though I suspect my thyroid dose needs to be tweaked. Meaning at least two medical appointments and many hours in traffic. I'll get to it.) Nevertheless, I am not in the best shape and I'd like to have less cellulite than I do and half of my suits don't fit and that makes me sad.
What I want to know is, if I put in a really diligent day at work - meaning that I force myself to focus on things that I don't really want to do, for hours and hours - and then I do my hour-long commute, and then I get home and do the laundry or wash the dishes or water my garden and weed and stake the cornstalks that are falling over or make a big batch of dinner or finish the insulation on the porch or sand, treat, and paint the back steps or any of the dozens of other labors that are on my list - why am I not automatically in perfect shape?
This is a genuine question.
I understand that, as a matter of biology, editing other people's work product for ridiculous typos and bad logic doesn't burn a lot of calories. But I really don't enjoy it. And I force myself to do it anyway. We each have a limited store of willpower, and while a spiritual director will tell you that the more you exercise your willpower, the more you have, that is simply a ridiculous lie. Maybe it's true that exercise increases your capacity to use willpower, but on any given day, grinding yourself into productivity has a natural limit after which you actually are going to eat ten pounds of chocolate. I know this for a fact because I have tried to work 14-hour days and also eat healthy and go to daily Mass and go for a run many times. It does not work.
I want to know why, if I abuse my psyche into strain and tedium for hours upon hours, why do I have to abuse myself (with condemnation. "You great pig! How dare you complain about how your suits don't fit? You're LAZY. Think about what people in third-world countries have to endure! You're lucky you even have a gym to go to! You're lucky you have legs to run on at all! You could be handicapped! You're an ungrateful wretch! With love handles because you have no self-control or good sense and your diet is disgusting and you act like it's a monumental effort to run 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill! GO RUN RIGHT NOW!") just so I don't have to hate myself for not being a size 4 any more?
For the record, I don't feel good about myself after I go to the gym. Or daily Mass. Or after I eat a salad and skip the chocolate (actually, I feel severely sad about that, so much so that I will almost certainly have the chocolate later). I feel good about only one thing: the abusive voices will be silenced until tomorrow.
The problem with the life of virtue, to my way of thinking, is that it is a failure model, not an accomplishment model. I like anything with an accomplishment model. "Look! You spent twenty hours in the last month working on this wretched garden plot! And it looks stunning! Four people just said so spontaneously!" "Hey! You worked hard all semester, and spent hours reading obscure references so you could write a brilliant final paper! Then you managed your time well and got it written when you had a clear head, and a day left to go back and edit! You got the only A in the class! You win!" "You've been in the kitchen all day in the heat while other people were lounging. But you made magnificent cookies and everyone loves them and thinks you're brilliant!" I will work until I fall over if at the end of a manageable period, I WIN.
Virtue is a lack-of-accomplishment model. "You got up this morning on four hours' sleep to get to daily Mass? Great. But you were late, weren't you? And how closely did you pay attention? Were you recollected at the consecration? Do you remember what the readings and the homily were about? HOW MANY ROSARIES HAVE YOU PRAYED TODAY? Oh, you think you're a saint because you managed to show up for 18 minutes of Mass? Sure, that sounds like sanctity to me."
I think I should just be fat.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Before I offend further people with my tales of depo-provera (in my search for meaning in my barren existence, I've evidently taken a page from Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged), I thought it might be a good time to discuss Indian food.
Without further ado:
I do so with the note that I really love Indian cuisine (at least, what I've been exposed to in restaurants, which may not be at all representative), which is why I'm working on learning to cook it. But I didn't grow up with it, and I'm sure my palate is hopelessly lacking. If you did (or have access to the recipes of someone who did), you ought to give my ideas a miss. (Though this is a fairly faithful rendition of the recipe in my Indian cookbook.)
2 good-sized skinless chicken breasts (bones optional)
3 tbsp. butter, divided
14 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tbsp. tomato paste
pinch of sugar
pinch of sugar
3/4 tbsp. garlic (1 large or 2 small cloves)
3/4 tbsp. fresh or preserved ginger
1/2 tsp. garam masala, plus a bit more
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder (or paprika - see note)salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
(1) Put an empty Dutch oven on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, empty. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with garam masala (the "bit more"). Melt half the butter in the Dutch oven, then turn down the heat to medium and add both chicken breasts.
(2) After getting both sides of each breast to a "cooked" color (the middle will be raw), put the lid on the Dutch oven and cook the chicken, turning every 2-3 minutes, until almost completely cooked (maybe 15 minutes?).
(3) Once the chicken is cooking, put the rice, soy sauce, and 1-1/3 cups water in a pot on high heat. Once it reaches a rolling boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and cook 13 minutes without stirring.
(4) Cut the onion in large cubes and the garlic and ginger in even chunks. Puree in a mini food processor or with an immersion blender (or a mortar and pestle, if you're mad old-school). Then add the can of tomatoes (with juice) and the coriander, cumin, garam masala, and chili powder. Puree everything.
(5) Once the chicken is 98% done through, move it to a cutting board, and pour the tomato puree into the Dutch oven. Add the remaining butter to the Dutch oven, along with a pinch of sugar, the tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of water.
(6) Cut the chicken into cubes, whatever size you'll want to serve - I do about 3/4" cubes. (At this point, you will have to remove the chicken bones, if any.) Toss the cubes in the Dutch oven.
(6) Cut the chicken into cubes, whatever size you'll want to serve - I do about 3/4" cubes. (At this point, you will have to remove the chicken bones, if any.) Toss the cubes in the Dutch oven.
(7) Once the rice has reached 13 minutes, scoop it into the Dutch oven as well. Turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 15 more minutes.
(8) Adjust seasoning; you'll want to add quite a bit of salt at this point, and may want to add some more of the other spices as well. (If you haven't used them before, you should taste them before you add them, so you know what flavor they contribute.)
(9) Turn off the heat and stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream. Add more if the color or flavor are not what you're shooting for.
1. Clarified butter would be more authentic, if you want to take the time.
2. Coriander, cumin, and preserved ginger (but not garam masala) will likely be at your grocery store. However, they are cheaper, fresher, and better at any hole-in-the-wall Asian or Middle Eastern grocery (which is also the only place to find garam masala). Buy some of those $1 spice jars at World Market to store your new spices.
3. The recipe calls for chili powder, but American chili powder has a Tex-Mex flavor, IMHO. I'd use Spanish pimenton or Middle Eastern paprika (pick that up with your masala!) if you have it. (Cayenne pepper is NOT the same thing.)
4. All the butter chicken I've had has been mild, almost sweet - not hot. If you wanted it hot, you could (a) substitute diced tomatoes with green chilies for the plain tomatoes; (b) add cayenne pepper (or substitute it for the chili powder); or (c) increase the chili powder and/or cumin.
5. I see no point in buying half-and-half or light cream. I might decide I want to make whipped cream instead of sauce, and then where would I be? Plus, heavy cream keeps forever. But use what you have. Just be aware that lower-fat substitutions aren't going to impart the same sweetness.
6. You could also add Greek yogurt to the sauce, but it has to be added off the heat, and the fat-free kind will turn into a mess. Get at least 2% milkfat. (Yogurt will make the sauce tangier.)
7. Almost forgot - you're supposed to use already-cooked Tandoori chicken for this recipe. That would definitely have more flavor, but that means two recipes instead of one, so I just season the chicken heavily before cooking it.
8. A whole stick of butter would probably be more authentic. Just add the remaining 5 tablespoons in step (5).
8. A whole stick of butter would probably be more authentic. Just add the remaining 5 tablespoons in step (5).
I think that about covers it. Enjoy! Or disagree vehemently. Really up to you.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
I'd like to take time out from saying offensive things about infertility (don't worry - depo provera post and more offensive comments coming soon) to say offensive things about race relations. At least, I hope they offend people - as many people as possible. There are a lot of people in this country who desperately need to be offended on this subject, continually until there is a behavior change. And then some we should just give up on and incarcerate.
I don't really follow the news, so I am sure I am missing some scintillating details of the Paula Deen story that someone else will know. I can't imagine that will in any way change my mind (and if the Republicans can't find a conservative to run in 2016, I will absolutely be writing her in), but here are the basic facts of the story as I understand them.
Oh, by the way: I just about never discuss politics on this blog. Obviously there's an intersection between sacredness of life and sexuality issues and politics, but I can't very well get away from the former while discussing infertility and my decisions particularly, and in any case my political views on the subject are informed entirely by my religious views - not the other way around. But I am making an exception in this case because I have just plain had it on this ludicrous subject.
So, as I understand it, Paula Deen offered deposition testimony - or perhaps trial testimony - in civil litigation involving a restaurant run by a family member. The plaintiff, a former employee, accused the restaurant owner of sexual harassment, or racial discrimination, or both - doesn't really matter. Since Paula had some ownership or management interest in the restaurant, the plaintiff theorized that her views on race must be relevant, and therefore elicited from her that at some time in the past, she had used "the n word," and that in planning a family wedding, she had wanted to use a "Gone With the Wind" theme, for which she wanted to use all black waiters, in formal wear. The testimony (though not originally public) was ferreted out by the media and published to much fanfare, in the wake of which the Food Network (the cable channel) fired Paula, who hosted a popular cooking show there.
Let me make clear at this point that these particular actions are not what I would have recommended for Paula had she asked me; that they were imprudent for a public figure in this political climate; and that the "Gone With the Wind" theme in particular, though it may have been benignly meant, should probably have been abandoned as too likely to hurt people's feelings.
Let me make much clearer than that that I do not care. Because Paula is not the problem here.
Paula has been constrained to apologize, which she did extremely clumsily, I am guessing because she does not really understand what she did wrong. At one point she said that she attempts to call "the black races" by whatever term they deem preferable at the moment. This, too, has been cited as an example of insensitivity. Seriously? Paula has to be upwards of 60. Obviously (this is the point of her career), she grew up in the South. For those who were not born until the '90s or have deliberately forgotten all of history until that point, "African-American" is not the eternally proper term for black folks.
This, for two reasons. First of all, I am not going to call anyone "African-American" who is not calling me "Caucasian-American." If "white" works for me, "black" works for you. And since I personally did not enslave you personally, you can just abandon the social reparations paradigm under which you think I have to tie myself in conversational knots whenever I see you. That is ridiculous. By the way, my family didn't have slaves; we've never been wealthy, in any case, but they were busy being persecuted by the Russians, who had taken over their country for a century. (They finally got out in 1908.) For which I am not claiming reparations, by the way. So go jump in a lake.
The second reason, regarding which the left-wing sound chamber has adopted an official policy of amnesia, is that "African-American" is a term of quite recent adoption. The non-derogatory, neutral, descriptive term for black folks as used by every English-speaker in the United States was originally "negro" (look at Frederick Douglass's writings if you don't believe me). And I emphasize again: neutral. It was a description. Of course it was - it's based on the Latin word for "black." Most European languages use their word for the color black to describe this racial group. And before you clamor that this just evidences their short-sightedness and lack of humanity, since these people are not actually the same color as the crayon, I'm not actually white, either. More of a light pink color. These are linguistic shorthands; every word in the language uses them in one way or another. The problem isn't the language. THE PROBLEM IS YOU, the race-baiting idiot who wants to talk about (other people's) use of language all the time. As near as I can make out (and I grant I am not a linguist), "n.i.g.g.e.r" is a Southern slang/mispronunciation of "negro." (As you may have noticed, Southerners pronounce a lot of vowels differently from us northern folks.) Whether it was originally derogatory I don't know; it has that association now, but I would not be surprised to hear that it was originally neutral also. At some point in the 20th century, "negro" was superseded by "colored" as the standard term. Again, a neutral descriptive - you will find lots of neutral (and positive) uses on a quick search of documents from the early and middle 20th century. I don't really understand why this one went out of vogue either, but I invite you to consider the following. If you've heard (or if you did hear) your grandmother say, "That nice colored boy," or heard someone her age say it - you winced, right? Because you realized she meant it kindly, but how could the dear old bat be so out of touch, and offend the poor child so terribly? And embarrass you? Well, again, you're the one in error, not her. She was taught that that was the polite and proper way to talk about people, and the one they preferred. She politely conformed. Nobody told her she was going to have to change the language she used every generation or be told she was using hate-filled language. And the people suggesting same (including you, wincing person) are actually the ones with the hate problem. Because if you know her motives are benign - even benevolent - why does her language have to be constantly changed on her? Because now, instead of not merely acting with hate, she has to dance like a circus monkey to convince the (white) trainers somewhere at MSNBC that she is desperately fearful of their inaccurate accusations of hatred? Who really hates whom here? Oh, and then consider this. How many cosmetics displays have you walked by in the grocery store that proclaim, "Women of Color"? And how schizophrenic are you when you nod approvingly at "of color" and wince at "colored"? Get over yourself. Again.
And then, I believe in the '70s or '80s, it became "Afro-American" for about ten seconds. I think the hilarity of the association with the "afro" hairstyle overwhelmed the same people who can't puzzle out "Sino-Japanese War," so it was replaced by the '90s with "African-American." Unfortunately, this is not idiot-proof, either, and since at this point the system is being entirely administered by idiots, it leads to some real hilarity. Let's say you have a coworker from Trinidad. "African-American"? You think? He may not be either of those things. Maybe you just shouldn't talk to him, since it's impossible to be politically correct about him - God forbid you prioritize treating him as a human being, and leave the PC double-speak to the talking heads. And then there was that delightful sports interview with the Canadian hockey player. Who was black. The idiot (white) interviewer wanted to ask him about his experience as a black hockey player. However, the interviewer (a specifically American idiot) needed to do so in a way that made absolutely clear that he was performing every available form of ritual obeisance on the subject of politically correct racial references. (He should probably just have started the interview saying, "Now, you know I'm only asking because I know all those whiteys are racist." Would have saved him a lot of trouble.) So he kept trying to call the fellow an "African-American." And the fellow kept pointing out that he is not an American. Never has been. Obviously, he is not African, either...witnesseth the Canadian hockey uniform. The interviewer was (as we already know) very stupid, and could not manufacture the term "African-Canadian" for which his poor servile brain was obviously desperate. And the hockey player didn't take pity on him and just say, "I'm black." And I wouldn't have, either. This man has got himself trapped in a vicious circle of self-reinforcing stupidity. You know from that performance that he's insufferable to other people on a daily basis whenever they fail to conform to his stringent (and illiterate) linguistic code of political correctness. Why not let him suffer and enjoy the spectacle? He deserves it.
The context and source of Paula's use of "the n word" I couldn't say, of course. (Nor, I suspect, could anyone else - so far as I know, Paula's testimony provided sketchy information, at best. The entire media firestorm about her nasty racist behavior has been based on speculation regarding the context and her motives.) Paula may in fact be a nasty awful person who truly and passionately hates all black people because they are black. But I have no evidence of that (on the contrary, I've seen her on national TV being extremely charming to black people), and in the absence of evidence I am unwilling to conclude same. The interesting part, in my opinion, is that the folks at the Food Network who fired her, and everyone else who is now criticizing her, very obviously have not concluded that, either. What they have concluded is that she failed to perform the trained monkey dance, and that therefore (without any basis in fact) they get to say that she is hate-filled. That's right in the playbook for this topic. And this is because the vast majority of humans living in the United States of America today are certifiable mental patients on the topic of race.
For one thing, you get a get-out-of-jail-free card from any accusations of race-based hatred if you address a large group of people (whether accurately or not!) using a seven-syllable identifier when a one-syllable term is readily available. Think of the extra six syllables as a ritual bow - forehead scraping the floor - that will protect you from the wrath of the despot. And I note that you can harbor hatred in your heart for the people you describe with these seven syllables - you can, for example, believe that the U.S. taxpayer should pay for there to be more abortion clinics in inner cities precisely so that more of this group's unborn children will be killed in the womb, thus reducing the group's future population - but if you always use all seven syllables, then that belief will be cited as an example of your compassion. It's like a magic spell in that way.
Conversely, of course, if you genuinely love all people as Christ loved them regardless of race, but you refuse to recite the magic incantation, you are sorely lacking in the magical armor that you may need some day - because accusations of racism fly through the air in these parts like pollen in spring. If one day you should happen to select a white applicant for a job whom you believe more qualified than the other applicants (including a black one), and the black one disagrees with you, you could be sued. (Of course, "you could be sued" is just an objectively true statement about life, particularly in America.) And your failure to recite the incantation will be cited as evidence against you - "And she called him BLACK. Prima facie evidence of animus!" You may be bewildered to find at this point that nobody is interested in the fact that you called one of the other applicants "white." This seems equivalent to you, and yet no one wants to hear about it.
Unfortunately, the use of the magical "African-American" moniker is only scratching the surface of what is actually a truly serious problem. The liberal media would tell you that the serious problem is that white people, despite constant and vigilant reeducation, can somehow never be stopped from harboring some form of deep-seated hatred toward their darker brethren. And every year the definition of "hatred" must be changed so that something can be diagnosed in a significant portion of the white population and tiresomely harped on by the media.
Meanwhile, the number of black children born in America today who do not have a pair of married parents exceeds two thirds. Black babies are grossly overrepresented in the part of the population that is killed in the womb. Though by no means all (or only), significant numbers of blacks in America live in areas afflicted by poverty and violent crime. A disturbing proportion of the children living in these areas have no fathers in their lives, meaning that they have only one parent to raise them (who presumably isn't earning the salary of two people), limiting their supervision in a possibly dangerous area and meaning that they probably don't have someone around to help with their homework and ask about their day over a family dinner. Add to that the fact that mom probably doesn't have much of an education either, and the educational and career opportunities for these kids are extremely limited. And that's before we get into the possibility that mom is not working but on welfare, or has drug or alcohol problems, or has a revolving string of boyfriends who may subject her children to sexual abuse - all tragically common problems in inner cities. These kids are growing up with serious odds against them. Every serious consideration of this problem indicates that the structure of the welfare system eroded, rather than buttressing, the stability of the black family (complete with a married mother and father). And the statistics are clear that if these kids grow up with their married parents, their futures look entirely different. So you would expect that the grand social machine that is so vigilant about Paula Deen's wedding planning concepts would be right on top of ferreting this problem out and correcting it, thereby dismantling the system that causes children to grow up as high school dropouts and sexual abuse victims and gang members.
But it isn't. Isn't that fascinating? Little kids are getting raped by their mothers' boyfriends on a wholesale basis - this is really happening, people - and the "hate" police are not only paying no attention, they'll call you a racist if you acknowledge that it's happening. That's right - you're a bigot if you see something with your own eyes and describe it. Even when the description is the first necessary step toward stopping it. But if you describe one of these nice child-raping gentlemen as black, they will be all over you for your bigotry.
If this blog post were found by aliens intercepting our internet waves (who could read English), they would think the writer were describing some fictional world, perhaps, or else on some very, very hard mind-altering drugs. Because America is that crazy on the subject of race - no one would believe it was true if they had not seen it with their own eyes. I'd like to believe it's not true, but unfortunately I can see it and I don't buy into the program of denying inconvenient facts. I'm pretty sure it's bad for my mental health, to say nothing of my character.
Which raises the question - for whom are these facts inconvenient? Obviously they are uncomfortable. They are unpleasant. No one wants to think about children suffering so terribly. And it's reasonable for us to deny that something so terrible is happening without good evidence. But what if we have good evidence? Such that we know it's happening, and (as people with some form of conscience) we know it needs to be stopped? What would cause us to deny it then? Obviously there can be no good answer to this question; no one with any humanity would deliberately dismiss this problem in order to allow it to continue. But, again, if the uncomfortable facts are demonstrably real, then they must be admitted and (if possible) explained. I can't see into the hearts and minds of these awful people, so I cannot say for certain, but one theory I have heard that covers all the facts (as Sherlock Holmes would advise) is that the liberal establishment can have the votes of the average black voter in perpetuity if it makes enough of the black community dependent on welfare. That's sick, right? I don't think it means that these people want children to be raped, but it may mean that admitting the issue and doing something to protect those kids would require them to work to eliminate a permanent welfare class, and they depend on that permanent welfare class to keep them in office, so...maybe better if the problem just weren't there. So they can't admit that it's happening. Or, allow anyone else to do so.
When you look at the actual facts of the situation, the use of the word "hatred" becomes laughable - or maybe just sickening. If I treat people with respect and hold them to high standards (whether black or white), if I expect the person next to me in the metro to speak and act politely (whether black or white), if I expect a TV news anchor to be equally likely to state the race of a suspected criminal whether he is black or white (or an Arab), then apparently, I am a hatemonger. To not "hate" people, I would have to hold white job applicants to one standard, and black ones to a different (that would be lower, in case you're not tracking) standard. I would also, in the same conversation in which I am applying this lower standard, deny that I am applying a lower standard, deny that there is any reason to apply a lower standard (such as, I don't know, the underlying assumption that the black applicant couldn't meet the higher standard), and accuse anyone who refused to cooperate with me in these lies of - you guessed it - race-based hatred.
Then, somehow, knowing that I apply these different standards to applicants, I would have to do business with other companies, encounter a black employee, and magically believe that there is no possible way he was selected on the basis of a different standard from the white guy in the next cubicle, and they are presumptively equally competent. I would have to do so even if the black employee is a cardiologist, and if he makes any errors that a 5% more competent applicant wouldn't have made, I will die. It's not important whether I live. It's important whether I can do the circus monkey dance. Because if I can't, I'm a "hater." And better to die of a botched heart surgery than be a hater, amirite?
Of course, any given black heart surgeon could be better than every white surgeon in the country. You don't know about individuals based on generalities. So, why are we applying race-based generalities in affirmative action programs, again? Are we checking to make sure that every black applicant who gets "plus" points for his race grew up in poverty without a father next to a drug house, or are we OK with the color of his skin as a proxy for probable disadvantage? What about me? My parents are divorced and my mother is mentally ill and I grew up on welfare. What about the child of a black lawyer or a black doctor? Or media mogul? Didn't the Supreme Court say that the government couldn't use race (or even gender) as a proxy for race- or gender-associated traits when we could find a narrower way of identifying those traits? If the government (!) can comply with that, why can't anybody else? (Uh, including the government. Because the Supreme Court somehow discovered a different standard where discrimination in favor of black people is concerned. It says that, you know, right in the Constitution.)
Of course, it's easy to criticize. (In this case, I would say, impossible not to.) Do I have a solution to this impossible problem? Come, now.
Actually, I do. I have an easy solution. It's almost effortless - except, of course, in the sense that the life of virtue is a tireless battle. Post-fall, we're not naturally inclined to goodness. But it is at least simple. First of all, just tell the truth. If the mugger was black, the news guy should be no more hesitant about saying so than if he's white. If it turns out 80% of the muggers in 2012 were black, we should say that too. And we should want to know why that is, and what can be done about it. (By which I don't mean starting an affirmative action program for white muggers.) If black students are performing poorly on exams, we should acknowledge it immediately, and see what can be done to fix it - without defaulting to explanations of white racism (the only context in which we're allowed to acknowledge negatives with respect to the black population. It's OK to say they're struggling because they're our victims, apparently).
We should stop implementing systems that assume that black people are incapable of working or staying married or taking care of their children or following the law; any assistance we give anyone should be predicated on a fundamental basis of respect for them as human beings, which includes all the expectations of their behavior and character that we would have for anyone else we respect. Real charity - in its proper meaning - is founded on the love of Christ for every person; not on pity, not on the belief that the person doesn't exist except as the object of our beneficence, not on a conviction of the person's inescapable inferiority. You give the guy a hand up when he's down because he's going to get back up - and you know he'll do the same for you when you need it.
We should describe people by names that make sense, that everyone can figure out without difficulty, and that nobody means to be nasty. And by the way, when I say "people," I don't mean black people. I love how people who use profanities right and left become prim Victorian ladies about "n.i.g.g.e.r" (which I am typing oddly to confound search engines, by the way). Speak decently to everybody. Is it that difficult?
Avoid hurting people's feelings for no darn good reason. Of course, we can't be inside everyone's heads, and we're all inevitably going to screw this up on a regular basis. (This is the reason I have so much more patience for stupid comments from fertiles than infertiles. Obviously, they don't know what they don't know.) But we should make a serious effort to see through the eyes of those around us, in an effort to acknowledge their humanity - not just as regards race relations, but in general. We shouldn't take for granted our unearned blessings, we should be cognizant of the burdens carried by those who are suffering, and when we screw up and hurt someone without meaning to, we should humbly apologize.
Conversely, we shouldn't take offense needlessly. If we're specially vulnerable on some subject beyond what would be superficially obvious, we should be able to draw the line between the objectively offensive quality of someone's words or actions, and the subjective part that comes from our own elevated sensitivity. (I would contend that IF bloggers rant about pregnant lady parking on their blogs for precisely this reason - they understand that their sensitivity to this problem is particular to them. They may even recognize why the parking exists. It can be objectively logical and subjectively hurtful.) When our elevated sensitivity is something other people should be aware of, because its causes are obvious or because it's widespread, and they are not aware of it, we should undertake to create broader awareness - without undue hostility, because we're combating ignorance, not malice. I would say that where race issues are concerned, this consciousness-raising has been excessively thorough. Most white Americans could identify more racially offensive comments and behaviors than I imagine most black Americans could. I think at this point whites care on average more than blacks.
In other words, we shouldn't pick fights needlessly.
My presidential candidate's actions don't pass this test with flying colors, I realize. (And I'm sure - where treating my fellow man with compassion is concerned - my actions fall short, every day.) But that's OK with me, and I'll tell you why. First of all, Paula cooks. She has never held herself out as an expert on race relations. If she screws something up occasionally, I can't claim to be shocked. If she's held to a much more stringent standard for screw-ups on the subject of race than on any other subject, then I'd like to hear a good justification for it. I haven't heard any so far.
More importantly, I believe that the forces out to criticize Paula are motivated in spirit by evil, and I do not think that is too strong a word. First of all, as I detailed exhaustively above, they're predicated on lies. We're required to bend our language and our assumptions and our treatment of people to a standard of constantly talking out of both sides of our mouths. Granted that's something I have a lot of training on as a lawyer - but I have more respect for people who have a hard time at it. They're more honest. I think honesty is a good thing. Secondly, the criticism of Paula is based on a lot of malicious lies. In my opinion, the most racially offensive comment by a public figure recently - what will be the most racially offensive comment I hear in my lifetime, unless they hire Hitler to replace Keith Olbermann, which, based on their rhetorical style, would be sort of seamless - was the instantaneous and permanent characterization of George Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic."
First of all, the self-blinding reflexes of most Americans to all matters racial must be stopped. A lot of people from Latin America are 100% Spanish by descent; their forebears obviously got there when Spanish colonists came to the area in the middle of the last millenium, eventually establishing a significant ethnically Spanish population, which has intermarried to a degree with the folks who were already there (descendants of the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and other indigenous ethnic groups), but which to a large degree has never intermarried at all, leading to a group of what we in America consider "minorities" who are genetically Europeans (and who are, incidentally, doing a lot better economically than the folks in Latin America who have always been there and who have no Spanish blood. Those folks are a permanent underclass in their own countries. But that is not an American racial problem, so let's move on). I note that the U.S. Census Bureau eventually recognized this significant absurdity, but solved it in the 2010 census by making one category for those who hailed from anywhere in Latin America or were Spaniards. But if you're of Portuguese descent, you're just "white," like me - apparently we're all fungible. Breathtaking.
So what I'm saying is, of course there are folks who came over from Latin America who originally hailed from a European country, typically Spain (although Portugal, Italy, and Germany are also options, of course). But we never ask about their lineage for purpose of checking that "minority" box for preference in university admissions; if they came from Colombia, we're done. And when I acknowledge that there's a difference (which I do, in the case of individual people whom I've actually met and actually know to be of Spanish descent. I have never done so on national television about someone I have never met), I am typically attacked, for being politically incorrect. Because once you've decided (or I have reason to suspect) that you're a minority, I, as a white person, am not allowed to see the color of your skin or in any way be cognizant of information about your race, ethnicity, or culture, excepting what you expressly say to me without my prompting, which I am required to accept at face value even if it is quite obviously false. (I am not claiming I comply with these requirements, by the way.)
The minute the news coverage started about the shooting of Trayvon Martin - that very second - all of this suddenly changed. News anchors whose vision is so poor they cannot tell from suspect photos that a drive-by shooting suspect is black, who after looking at photos and hearing about what mosques they attended were mystified that the Boston marathon bombers were not so much Massachusetts natives in the sense in which the viewing audience would mean it, suddenly could trace George Zimmerman's ancestry through every member of twenty generations, straight to Hernan Cortez (even accounting for his German-language surname!). And the man is white. Not "of conquistador blood," not "of Spanish descent," not "of principally Europan descent." Let alone partly any of those things. White, do you understand? Are you getting out of this picture what you're being told to get? This isn't a question of self-defense or misunderstanding or who acted how stupidly or whether neighborhood watch should be restructured. It's not a couple of too-aggressive guys or a tragic death. Are you reading this headline? Are you seeing this picture of a little-bitty Trayvon Martin we dug out of his high school yearbook so we could show how much bigger the bad "white" man was who shot him? Are you listening to what you need to listen to? WHITE MAN SHOOTS SMALL DEFENSELESS BLACK BOY. Ready, audience? RIOT!
I don't care what you think of the real facts of the Zimmerman case. (Well, I do, but for these purposes it is totally irrelevant.) Whatever George Zimmerman did or didn't do, should or shouldn't have done, cannot exonerate the media for this behavior. People who usually cannot see people's actual race suddenly became able to imagine someone's unverified race. And report it as fact. In the first five words they uttered on the story. While airing a picture of Trayvon Martin five years, six inches, and 75 pounds ago. Without any disclaimer that it wasn't recent or accurate. They did it because they wanted as much controversy as they could possibly generate about this case (and if you don't live in Florida and you care about it, you know that they succeeded). Why? Because it will get them more viewers, which will make them more money. Personally, I believe that they wanted actual race riots. (There is obviously modern precedent for that happening, so they had reason to believe that this could happen, even if it wasn't their goal. They are responsible for the outcome if they know of the possibility.) I believe they actually wanted people they had never met to die so that they could make more money. I believe that they are the lowest form of human beings we have. Lower than child molesters, actually, because most of those people are honestly disturbed. I believe every news anchor who used the words "white Hispanic" should be thrown in prison for life with no possibility of parole, because he wanted to hurt innocent people so he could make money.
These people have not even been criticized - except by me, I suppose. (And maybe others I don't know about. Like I said - I don't watch the news. I just happened to be at the gym the day the coverage of the shooting started.) Paula Deen is being castigated to the heavens, and she didn't want anybody hurt. She used possibly insensitive language (I think it depends on context - including the location and the year - and intent) in private conversations. And she wanted a goofy look for a glam wedding. (It would not be the goofiest that year, nor, probably, the most tasteless.)
And I have a theory about why that is. Obviously, her mild "misbehavior" fell on the un-PC side while the news anchors' inexcusable viciousness aligned generally with leftist objectives, which is the principal cause of her problems. But I think Paula had a target on her back already. The last time she was in the news (apart from her role as a celebrity chef, of course) was because she was being trashed by a lot of psychos following her diagnosis with diabetes - which she "deserved" because she is fat. It turns out that while you're not even allowed to notice that someone is black (or a lot of other things), and to maintain a lot of public lies to avoid giving imaginary offense, there are two groups you're allowed to trash to the point of blood lust, until you're slavering at the mouth: fat people and Christians. In fact, it's considered polite to do so. After all, fat people are fat. They're disgusting. Everything wrong with them (and with anyone else, in fact) is their fault, and they can't be allowed to make their own decisions about so much as how much soda they'd like. No criticism you can think of to level at them, however cruel or irrelevant, is off limits. And Christians? Why, they're just the worst thing the world has today. Don't get me started on those Catholics - they get up in the morning looking for opportunities to oppress women, and they're all child molesters - every man Jack of them. (And woman.) They hate gay people. All Christians do. (Yes, even the gay Christians.) Don't listen to them when they say there's some basis in morality or God's law or the good of the human person for their views on sexuality. No - they want to oppress you. And gay people. As much as possible, because of their inveterate hatred. It's all hatred with them - the only motive that matters. (A Supreme Court justice even said so!) If you actually fed them to lions, it would really be just a start. Unless you fed all of them to lions, maybe. After raping them all first? Would that do? I'd probably have to consult with the folks at the ACLU. They're the experts on that sort of thing.
Paula is overweight and a Southern Baptist. (And don't think that "Southern" thing isn't relevant. Have you heard any liberal Southerner under 60 who has occasion to be in the public eye not apologize for growing up in the South? Or find some way to condemn other people who did?) Therefore, she must be attacked, upon any and every provocation. Her diabetes diagnosis was a great opportunity. But her testimony is even better, because her attackers could suggest that there were other victims of her monstrosity!
I think these people and their hate and their relentless lies are evil - the epitome of evil. They are corrupting our minds. They are attempting to stamp out Christian charity and replace it with political correctness, which is not only based on lies and servility, but which denies the basic humanity of the very people it claims to protect. They are trying to eradicate virtue in the average American of good will and replace it with their pernicious politics; some for reasons of general perversity, some in order to create a permanent electoral majority (which the Federalists cogently pointed out would be terrible), some simply in order to make money, and some for a combination of those reasons. They do not debate ideas with those who don't agree with them, but seek to destroy them personally. They are willing to accept shocking amounts of human suffering as collateral damage in order to obtain their goals. They believe they can destroy people's livelihood, character, and lives by the simple force of their condemnation, because all others must accept it unquestioningly. This must be opposed. Those they attack must be defended, because the attackers are far more evil than anything they criticize. I'm not overweight (just at the moment) nor a Southern Baptist, but I must align myself with those bewildered by a mendacious and vicious accusation of hatred, made not by reason of charity but for purposes of political gain.
And that's why I'm voting for Paula Deen for president.