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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:34 pm

I was watching some videos of protestors/rioters pulling down statues in various places in the country. I really dislike seeing this kind of thing happening here. I disagree that they should be taken down at all, regardless of whom they're for, but bypassing a peaceful and orderly means of doing so--that is, appealing to local government--by tearing them down yourself is not right. Going after Confederate Generals is one thing, but targeting statues of Washington and Jefferson is just obnoxious.

Some wacko-ness for sure.

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Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:46 pm

yep I agree, it smacks of mob-rule. IS pulls down statues it doesn't like, it doesn't give a good impression.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:37 pm

Thankfully it's not that widespread. It's certainly there but not everywhere. Like people have been saying, these protests are mostly peaceful.

A couple days ago I watched the new body cam footage from the Floyd killing, and then went back and watched the original video for the first time. And then last night I came across these statues and taken altogether it's got me in a bit of a funk.

I've been coming at the BLM movement from a position that is less sympathetic than a lot of people I know. My girlfriend got really upset with me when we were talking about it really early on after Floyd was killed. I had, as I usually do when I hear about something that sounds like something I disagree with, been reading statistics and numbers on police-on-black killing in the US. And when I was saying that the things she was saying like "There's open season on black men right now" (as in, police were slaying huge numbers) were not actually real, she felt like I was coming at her with this abhorrent racist position. I think I was too quick-to-judge about the whole thing, even if I was right about the actual statistics. And, of course, I understand where she's coming from. (I think.)

Anyway, I don't talk to her about it any more, or anyone really except my coworker and boss a little bit. It's not productive, and I'm trying to figure out where the truth lies in all this mess. As is usually the case, it's far more complicated than most people are willing to admit. BLM is more complicated as well of course. It's made up of a great variety of people who have been united behind a pretty simple idea: injustice does take place in the US and something should be done about it. The problem for me is that within the BLM movement there's a lot of assumptions being made about why this injustice is taking place, and what should be done about it. As assumptions usually go, many of them are misguided and incomplete.

I was removing bike racks at a school in Santa Cruz at which we've done several projects over the last couple years--the bike racks are being removed to accommodate outdoor class-rooms for the fall--and as I was running power out from one of the classrooms I saw on the white-boards notes from a faculty meeting on the fall curriculum. There was a section on history in which the teacher's had diagrammed the BLM movement into a chain that began with Slavery and ran through Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and Prison Incarceration.

There's certainly a point to be made here about how these things are all connected, but I'm curious how much nuance will be applied to the end of that chain. There are prominent speakers whose ideas are being highlighted by the BLM website, like Angela Davis, who have long argued that the prison system is hopelessly corrupt. She's gone so far as to say that the prison system in the US is more akin to a new form of slavery than it is to a component of a justice system. She considers herself an abolitionist, in the sense that black people affected by this prison system need to be released from their new slavery. It's not a position that allows for nuance.

Anyway, perhaps I'm focusing too much on the radical aspects of BLM. The idea that has made it so populist, that injustice is occurring that something should be done about, is something with which I agree. But I can't agree with the claims about the extent of the problem, the main cause of the problem, nor most of the stated solutions to the problem.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:52 am

{{ My view on these matters Forest, looking in from the outside is that there is a problem but its getting a very American response!
What I mean by that is the BLM is kind of two things, there is the movement itself, its organisers, chief campaigners, notable speakers, fund raisers and the like. And they seem to be made up largely of the more militant and the more radical end of the left spectrum.
But then you have the majority of people who are out protesting in BLM marches and the like, and they are not BLM members but just sympathisers, horrified by what they have seen and in the case of many black people sick of how their interactions with the police have gone their whole life.
The stats do seem to show a higher percentage of blacks go to prison than whites and get shot by police per head of population.
But the problem with the statistics, and going on them alone is they only give you headlines. You can see how mnay black people were arrested, how many black people shot by police, but not how many police were disrespectful to black people when dealing with them, how many were rougher with black people than they would have been with white, how many harrassed, stopped and followed and favoured choosing blacks to stop over whites. And for some black people thats their whole life experience of dealing with police. So when they see something like the Floyd death all that anger, frustration and low level resentments against how the police treat and speak and deal with you goes whoosh up in flames in an outpouring of fiery fury. And we see that in some of the destruction that always goes with major protests over perceived injustice.

But then you have to look at from the police side too. Stats show not only that crime is higher in many predominantly black areas, but that crimes against black people are more likely to be comitted by another black person than anyone else. And the job of the police is to respond to where there are crimes.
This leads police to thinking along the lines that there is more chance stopping a black man walking late at night in a ghetto will yield a result in the form of a crime; drugs, illegal weapon or whatever, than stopping a well dressed white man walking home through a leafy middle class surburbia at the same time of night will. Basic profiling.
The way round this it seems to me is to figure out why crime is higher in such areas in the first place. Now the answers to that are obvious- poverty, lack of quality education, role models, stable crime free environment, worthwhile job prospects or advancement in education, creative outlets, and a sense of having an equal voice in society.
Problem is politcs enters it, the right will tell you the problem is the breakdown of the family unit in black communitties- too many single mothers and conversely also too many abortions, and government trying to help too much making them dependent on state handouts rather than getting off their asses and going and finding work.
And the left will tell you that its systemtic racism embedded in the system and that only massive regeneration through government funding and training programs, and housing programs, funded through general taxation can help, and quotas for hiring black police officers and compete retraining of police banning stop and search and the like and the removal of anything anyone finds offensive from the public sphere.
And as the two sides are dymetrically opposed, nothing actually happens at all and the problem persists generationally, steadily getting worse till something like what is currently happening happens.

Onto prisons now. I was genuinely shocked when I first learned that prisoners in the US produce a wide range of white goods (thats fridges and stuff, not goods for white people) whilst in prison for little to no pay. That does rather seem a bit like slavery, forcing someone to work in the production of consumer goods for no pay, and it would also seems to provide a rather dangerous incentive for keeping the prisons topped up with prisoners- they produce massive quanties of consumer goods at almost no production costs.
In many European countries they have much higher success rate in ensuring when prisoners leave they dont reoffend. And its mainly to do with treating them humanely as prisoners, and encouraging training, learning trades, creative works and other means of having new options in their life to choose from when they get out. And then having support systems in place after they get out to help them adjust and find a new crime free life. Not using them as a means of cheap labour, who then leave prison no better than when they entered in terms of options, with no support and also now full of resentment and anger towards having been abused whilst in prison.

I find Amercian morality to be very, vague. It claims a Christain/Judiac morality on the surface yet it practises using prisoners for labour, some states still carry out death penalties, you will collectively through single taxation fund a massive miltary yet refuse to do the same to ensure everyone has access to equal medical treatment at need. You go to war to prevent countries developing nuclear capabilities, whilst being the only country to have used nuclear weapons aganst civilian targets. And a host of other moral contradictions.
I'll give Amercia this, its fast, takes most countries a thousand years or so to chalk up that amount of moral ambiguity in its actions. }}

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Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:54 am

I think there are so many moral ambiguities because America is a big place. The peoples living in it are so diverse in attitudes and styles of life it might as well be a difference country. What does a New York socialite have in common with a Texan cattle farmer, what does a Native American with a Miami housewife? how on earth could there ever be a common morality? apart from a very loose affiliation with Christianity which goes from flat-earther end of the worlders to those who only attend weddings once a decade under duress. It was always bound to be difficult.

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Post by halfwise on Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:27 pm

All excellent points on this page!

I'll add a little to the ambiguity. I think part of the reason blacks tend to have more unfortunate run-ins with police is a combination of culture and resentment. There is more crime in black communities which of course means more interactions which will breed more resentment. But in black culture it's more common to be vocal about your feelings, or to put a more positive spin on it, more of a tendency to talk through issues with all the emotions on your sleeve. It comes across as being non compliant, when in reality all that's happening is a very quick display of honesty and context. What is being looked for is a response in kind, and then most situations could de-escalate. But instead it's seen as "talking back" and insubordination, leading to attempts to crush the rebellion. But god love'em, black folks don't take kindly to being sat upon, either literally or figuratively. This is why it's so important to have blacks on the police force as sort of cultural liasons.

But the black community is actually more pro police than the white community. I've seen this in jury duty where blacks are more likely to accept police testimony over victim testimony, while white people are more likely to say "this is a case of he said/she said" and worry about the ramifications of saying the police are always right. But the black jury members will say "you have to remember the police are here for US" and take a more realistic stance. They generally are NOT anti police, but they are anti police who work against the community rather than with it.

I have friends who are very anti BLM because they only see the "leadership" component that Petty mentions without seeing the larger non-militaristic side. It's hard to get people to see the larger picture when the "leaders" are saying things that don't represent the larger movement that pretty much ignores them.

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Post by Lancebloke on Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:08 pm

Petty - If you actually read a lot of the bible (old and new, various versions etc) then I think a lot of the actions are actually very Christian! Not the watered down, enlightenment rubbish that is peddled but actually what the Bible itself says.

On the slavery side... i am pretty sure the constitution says that slavery should not be a thing.... unless tried and found guilty by the state. Then they can be slaves.

I think your point about right vs left is the most valid part. I watch a lot of commentary that includes political stuff and it seems to be ever more polarised between "left" and "right" and it seems they can no longer meet in the middle even though I am sure most people are in the middle when it comes to what policies they agree with.

For some reason, it also seems that the rhetoric from those in charge is ever more divisive and really attempts to split people in to their different tribes, fight with each other and ingrain their positions. A lot of the time this seems to be backed up with "fake news" to reinforce those in each echo chamber and by rejecting anything that does not fit the narrative.

It actually takes a lot of work to get to the truth these days... and most people cannot be bothered with that on top of having to deal with their daily problems.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:00 pm

{{ Lance I think the statue thing is a great example of the problem and where average folk are.

The right say that the statues are history, should be celebrated, and are part of the fabric and history of the country. They are untouchable.

The left says they are symbols of white supremacy and repression of minorities or full on slavers and they should have no place in the public sphere and be pulled down and destroyed.

But if you look at polls of what people actually want the majority favour the much more sensible and far less extreme approach of put information points at all statues that clearly lays out the history of the person, good and bad with no bias one way or another, and let folk decide, or move the most offesive to museums with relevant information.

But the sensible level headed majority view is almost utterly been drowned out by the left and right side fighiing each other over their extreme views.
The middle ground, despite being the majority view, doesnt even get a hearing.}}

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Post by Lancebloke on Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:19 pm

The statue thing annoys me... but the thing with that is it is actually opinion based.

Should we wipe out all memory of something because, by today's values, we find it offensive regardless of what else they may have done that we all think is actually good?

Should we use it as a symbol of how far we have come, where even the most lauded characters of days gone have faults that we should, and often have, learned from?

Even the things we find truly evil... should we tear them down because of that and try and bury in a forgotten library of outrage?

I can probably see both sides depending on who/what they are.

The things that really get me is where there is actual sound, thought out and potentially tested reasoning why we should or shouldn't do something and yet there is argument because someone is peddling a spun version of that truth.

Areas like climate science, gender equality, transgender rights, healthcare etc.

The layperson generally does not have the time or team of specialised advisors to form a credible opinion and so is influenced by the platforms they interact with. And the people running those platforms often have no problem putting out bullshit information knowing that it does not serve those they are feeding, only those that serve it!
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Post by Mrs Figg on Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:07 pm

If we looked at statues in a binary way, good person vs bad person, there would be no statues. Nobody is either/or, but a mixture, even people like Rhodes or Coulson. We wouldn't have a statue of Boudicca because it could be argued that she carried out a bloody massacre of innocent Roman children and women. We wouldn't have anyone on a pedestal.

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Post by halfwise on Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:06 pm

The point that Petty makes of the sensible center never getting heard is something that should be printed on billboards and plastered on buildings. Problem is, the sensible center are too sensible to get worked up over things, so don't make the racket the extremes do. It's a shame.

I forget who said it, but at one point politicians from both sides would meet, get drunk and hash out some policy together. Nowadays we can't even achieve what two drunks in a bar used to be able to accomplish.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:41 am

Mrs Figg wrote:If we looked at statues in a binary way, good person vs bad person, there would be no statues. Nobody is either/or, but a mixture, even people like Rhodes or Coulson. We wouldn't have a statue of Boudicca because it could be argued that she carried out a bloody massacre of innocent Roman children and women. We wouldn't have anyone on a pedestal.

Indeed, a kind of "he who is without sin, put up a statue of yourself first".

I agree with most of what you say Petty and thanks for the nuanced comments. I reserve the right as always of disagreeing with some of the more simplified judgements you tend to make against the U.S. But I do not resent said views.

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and a thousand tongues had told
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:23 am

I reserve the right as always of disagreeing with some of the more simplified judgements you tend to make against the U.S.- Forest

{{ I like to try to give the impression the US leaves on those who dont live there. The outside view looking in, I think America is often so crazy and out there that there is a danger, living there you think these things might be normal- like regular mass shootings or electing a genuine moron as President, or refusing to wear a mask as its a symbol of opression and an attack on freedoms slap laugh (Sorry the utter stupidity, ineptitude and ludicrousness of that one cracks me up every time)
America doesnt give a very nuanced impression from outwith! }}

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