Saturday, November 1, 2008

Culture is the cure

In our little intellectual "salon" (French word) of semi-pundits that include [Fred] and the new guy, [Lawrence], we have at work, we were discussing the recent assassination attempt on Barack Obama by two young pieces of s**t.

A couple of white supremacists in Tennessee, Daniel Cowort, 21, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, drew out a plan to kill a total of 103 people: they would first kill 88 African-Americans, as "88" is the code for "Heil Hitler". They would then behead 14 more, 14 being the number of words in the slogan "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." The final kill would've then been Obama at a Democratic National Convention.

I'm sure, in court, they will run behind the First and Second Amendment, although they were arrested for illegal firearms possession and intent to steal guns from a dealer. The First Amendment being because they were not caught in attempt but just with drawn-out plans.

[Fred] suggested that the government just kill off their leaders and then begin to work on the members individually. And while an enraged, violent version of myself says this is a truly delightful and efficient thought, the morals in me say that this will not work. Besides not always being able to identify who does and does not hold terrible beliefs, killing them will only strength the divide between races. And there are worthless idiots out there who will sympathize with the supremacists' deaths and continue to carry the torch themselves. Perhaps with even sharper conviction.

I began to think that what would really be ideal is for these guys to change ("Yes We Can!" =D). I am fully aware that white supremacists groups have been around for ages, and that for every person that wises up and leaves, some other impetant cur who is angry that they got jumped by a group of black people when they were younger will join (because, of course, there are no Chinese or Japanese or Spanish or Dominican or Indian or Middle Eastern or Russian or British or Italian people who have done death-penalty worthy acts). But I personally feel better about seeing these people be enlightened, looking back on the things they did or/and said and, after months of deep depression and quite possibly suicidal tendencies from the megaton load of guilt (the necessary process through which they must proceed), begin to be understanding and sympathetic for other cultures and races. Begin to recognize people by their personality, adherence to morals and their human rights. Of course, keeping them alive after they've committed atrocious racist hate crimes runs the risk of them just rejoining the White Supremacist movement later on. And hoping Mr. Cowort and Mr. Schlesselman to redeem themselves in the light of rational society may just allow them to better carry out their plan another time. This all gets complex.

Intellect was high during the old days, around the 19th century and before. But in those times, people read or watched plays for entertainment. So, a much higher I.Q. average was more of a side effect then a goal. Then again, the words 'intellect' and 'culture' are very much linked. If European nations were truly cultured or the forefront of civilization (which we'd now have to argue the meaning of), slavery of Africans and the near genocide of Native Americans would not have been. But this is another tirade altogether.

My point is, W.E.B DuBois spoke of having a nation led by a team of elite intellectuals (today's American governments never embody this, and if you think McCain and Palin does, you should be putting your head in an open car door and slamming away), but I think we should all be much more rational on a basic level. I mean, I personally believe that there should be a national mob mentality against people like the two listed above. Against all white supremacists. But there isn't, and I think that's because people don't realize how truly destructive this kind of mentality is. I don't think that people realize it and are just indifferent; if one grasped all the kinds of harm white supremacy does in the short and long run, they would be affected.

I'm beginning to sound like a lousy Repub in telling you what you should and shouldn't feel, so I will stop. But a truly enlightened generation (like the one Obama is working to have =D), would not withstand these sorts of things, nor would there be even half the proliferation of such plans as there are now.

3 comments:

  1. I listened to a fascinating interview on NPR about this topic a week ago. The interviewer was speaking to an FBI coorespondant who was focused on hate group and a man who teaches people about hate groups (who was once a member of one.) It was really intereseting hearing their points of view on those guys.

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  2. I didn't hear about this ... but your post is very interesting.

    It would be nice to think that indeed reformation is a feasible option ... I have to think it's an option, otherwise, I am admitting that people's minds can't be changed. I am admitting that there is no such thing as free will. And I believe in these things....

    Whether you turn to entertainment portrayed versions of this (American History X) or softer versions of this (the couple on Amazing Race two seasons ago who had never met homosexuals or African-Americans until they were on the show) or real life versions of this ... I guess, to condemn hate groups to a punishment because we assume something about their humanity and capacity for change, is as bad as their assumptions about the qualities of the group that they hate.

    (Long post, sorry...) On a related note ... at the sci-fi conference I was at, one of the Canadian authors (who is from a minority racial group here) challenged "high fantasy" authors on their use of war / annihilation and genocide as a way to "defeat evil". He even challenged Tolkein's own use of this as we propogate genocide as a feasible option ... sure, we say - they are monsters, they are horrible -- but that's exactly the reasoning that others have used to justify genocides in the past...

    Same thing goes for condeming hate groups.

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  3. Don't Feed The PixiesNovember 4, 2008 at 8:12 AM

    An interesting topic - there are a couple of problems with the idea of killing people like this.

    Firstly - you run the risk of turning them into martyrs for the cause, and you can't kill a martyr (unfair example - but exactly how successful were the Romans when they killed Jesus?)

    Secondly - there will always be extremists and if you stamp on the fire it may only go underground

    Thirdly - our whole belief system in the "free" world is the right to treat and be treated as humans: we have passed laws that say that criminals must be treated humanely and that supposedly echo our belief in redemption. To say that we believe this and then put someone to death for their crimes is a strange situation.

    People who make decisions based purely on the sex, race, colour, religion or sexuality of a person disturb me greatly (though we all do this to some extent) - but maybe what we need is greater social re-education. Mankind has always made people outsiders for some reason or another and we can't expect the solution overnight...if ever

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