A Picker’s Guide to Breaks at Amazon

AmazonPicking

Taking a break at Amazon is hard work!  But if you follow these 12 steps precisely, then with a little practice, you can achieve your goal of successfully taking the allotted 15 minute break without going over and having the dreaded “Time off task”, which you’d likely have to explain to one of those clip board people.  It may seem a nearly insurmountable task to achieve all of these things within 15 minutes and have any time at all to actually, ya know, take a break, but these steps will help you to succeed at the Amazon break.

  1. When you are about 3-4 minutes from the time you start your break, you should find an easy item to scan, but don’t scan it yet!  When you get to your next bin, make sure the item is there, and be absolutely sure.  Then, scan the bin, and take the item, but do not scan the item.
  2. Then proceed with the unscanned item in your tote towards the conveyor belt, and go as close along the conveyor as you can to the break room.
  3. Carefully monitor the time, and when it is the exact minute when your break begins, scan that last item, finish out your tote, and send it on the conveyor. Note that your break officially began when you scanned that last item, and everything you do after that is on your time, even finishing out the tote.
  4. Leave your cart in an out of the way place, but take your scanner and water bottle (if applicable).
  5. Now log out of your scanner as you approach the scanner station and place the scanner in its proper place. And then walk as fast as you can towards the break room.  Pump those legs!  You can rest them a little when you’re picking again, but right now, its break time!  So get to it!
  6. As you approach security, be sure to take anything out of your pockets that would set off the metal detectors and take off your belt if your buckle normally sets it off. Get through security.
  7. Now enter the breakroom very quickly. Pass anyone who is walking slowly, but do not bump in to anyone. Amazon is serious about safety in their warehouse.
  8. You have likely already used up 4-5 minutes of the allotted 15 by now, so quickly find your snack and take any seat you can find. DO NOT FILL YOUR WATER BOTTLE WHILE ON BREAK!  That eats up precious break time, and there are water coolers in the pick aisles.   Instead, take a seat and devour your snack.  If you are prone to heart burn, you may want to have Tums available.
  9. After devouring your snack, be sure to leave yourself at least 5 minutes to get back and scan that first item. As you pass the security desk on your way back, chew those Tums if you have them and pump those legs again!  Don’t worry, I know this is hard, but break will soon be over.  So hang in there!
  10. Grab a scanner, don’t worry about the battery yet. If the battery is low, you’ll be able to change it at one of the help stations AFTER you’ve made your first scan, to avoid time off task.  For now, log in quickly, and pray that your first scan is near.  If it is on the third floor at the opposite end, then it’s time to pump those legs like never before.  You can relax after your break, but you must get to that first scan within 15 minutes of your last scan before break!
  11. Find a cart on the proper floor. Any cart will do.  After making your first scan, you can change to a better cart if you don’t like the first one you find.  That way, you don’t get time off task.  Now, after finding any cart you can find on the proper floor, take only one tote.  Taking two totes may be more efficient, but it wastes precious break time!  Take only one, scan it, get that first scanned pick, and now, take a deep breath.
  12. If you’ve accomplished steps 3 – 11 in 15 minutes, you have succeeded in your goal! Now, find a second tote, no hurry.  Fill your water bottle if you need it.  If your battery is low, change it the next time you pass a help desk.  Try not to take more than 5 minutes between scans while doing these things, but otherwise, you can relax a little as you make these final steps outside of the precious 15 minute break, so that you can actually get back to work.  The first few scans after break are just “token” scans, to show that you are officially “on task”.

 

I hope the above tips are helpful.  Note that if you are over by 1-3 minutes or so, they are unlikely to make an issue of it.  But if you are 20 minutes between scans, you’ll likely need to explain it to one of those clip board people.

Good luck to you at Amazon!  Seriously, the place has its quirks, but canning the sarcasm now, I liked my peak season experience overall.  I made some good bonuses, lost about 10 pounds, and I find working with my hands very rewarding.  Lastly, I must say, and I’m being completely honest here, that Amazon really values safety in the work place.  It is a warehouse with lots of equipment and people working very hard physically.  All of the safety regulations are in place for a reason, so please follow them.

Will African Americans leave the Democratic Party?

BlackTeacherandStudents

The Democratic voting base today is a minority coalition.  It is an alliance of African-Americans, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, transgender and transsexuals, third wave feminists, and atheists.  Of these “minority” groups, African-Americans seem the most loyal.  For decades, blacks have voted at least 90% Democratic.  However, the Democrats expect more of them, and give less in return, as I’ll explain shortly.

First, note that blacks were won over by the Democratic Party gradually from about the 1930s until the 1960s.  There is plenty written on this subject.  For this blogpost, I only want to highlight that blacks were won over when the Democratic Party delivered results for them, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.  But not a lot has been done for the black voting base of the Democratic Party since the early 1970s.

For those who say that racism is history, let me just give you a glimpse of reality.  In the US, Blacks are over five times more likely to be in prison than whites, and more than twice as likely as Hispanics.  Some will say that it has more to do with poverty than skin color, but Hispanics on average are no more affluent than blacks.  Look into “Institutional Racism” if you want to learn more, but in short, blacks are far from achieving genuine racial equality.

Do the Democrats care about African-Americans anymore?

Despite the overwhelming institutional discrimination still faced by African-Americans, very little is said by most Democratic politicians, and Republicans usually deny it’s even happening at all.  (OK, so there’s Rand Paul and … Rand Paul.)

Now consider the Democratic Presidential candidates.  Of the five who attended the CNN Democratic Debate, two of them have strongly pushed for criminal justice reform: Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley.  Martin O’Malley hasn’t polled above 5%, and Jim Webb didn’t have an ice cube’s chance in hell.   Who is at the top?  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  Whenever you hear a speech from either of them to the Democratic base, they highlight their LGBT credentials.  They highlight a “woman’s right to choose (abortion)”.  After alienating the socially conservative half of the working class, Sanders will start highlighting his populist economic policies.  Clinton will try to convince the base that she’s a progressive too.  But you hardly hear a peep about continued racial injustice, criminal justice reform, de facto segregation of public schools, unequal housing, or any of the other structural barriers to racial equality that particularly affect African Americans.  It’s not that Clinton or Sanders don’t, in principle, support racial progress, but they don’t seem to hold it high on their priority list.

The Fragile “minority coalition” – black interests are not Democratic interests

Blacks are often misunderstood to be “hard core liberals”.  Yet they are about as reluctant to identify as “liberal” as most whites nationwide.  Think Progress is just one of many examples of “white liberals” who can’t make sense of this.  The reality is that most blacks may vote Democrat, but they are not “liberals”, they are not “conservatives”, and they are not “moderates”.  Ideological diversity is a privilege enjoyed by whites in this country, and to a lesser extent Asians and Hispanics.  But African-Americans have too much at stake to ponder ideology.  The long history of oppression they’ve faced has forced them to always think of the common good of the black community, sometimes called black utility heuristic .*

Black Americans largely support the economic agenda of the Democratic Party.  Most of them want a higher minimum wage, protection of American jobs (which Clinton suddenly claims to care about lately), stronger safety nets, better funding for better education, etc.  But on the moral issues, like gay marriage and abortion, many don’t know this, but blacks are actually the most conservative demographic in the country.  According to this 2015 Pew Poll, only 41% of blacks support same-sex marriage, compared to 59% of whites.  That 41% is as high as it’s ever been for them, and it’s still not a majority, despite the popularity of this issue.

In the CNN Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton passionately railed against “continued discrimination against the LGBT community”, even though they have the right to marry anywhere in the US now.  With that issue resolved, what could possibly be left?  Yet we hear more from Rand Paul than Hillary Clinton about criminal justice reform and the link to high unemployment rates among blacks.

So gays are making progress.  Transgender people are making progress.  Third wave feminists even are making at least an impact of the Democratic Party itself.  The Democrats continue to court Hispanic voters with promises of immigration reform, such as the DREAM Act.  Yet nothing is being done for African-Americans, and they are on average much worse off than any other demographic.  Most Democrats proclaim LGBT rights as the “new civil rights” movement, but they haven’t even achieved the goals of the old civil rights movement.

How the Democrats will lose them

It won’t happen all at once.  The Republicans, long ago, had the majority of black voters.  They were the party of Lincoln, after all, and they did end slavery.  Following that, however, the Republicans became increasingly disinterested in African-American issues.  They still, in principle, supported some basic civil rights policies in the 1920s and 30s such as anti-lynching legislation, but these issues were low on their priority list.  Consequently, the Republicans slowly lost black voters to the Democratic Party.

The Democrats will likely lose them the same way.  As Republicans prioritized big business friendly policies and appeasement of the then very racist white south, over equal rights for blacks; today’s Democratic Party prioritizes LGBT rights, abortion, immigration policies, and appeasement of the financial sector.

Furthermore, consider that African-Americans are mostly very religious people.  What could be more important to a once enslaved people who relied on their faith to lead them to freedom – then religious freedom?!  However, the left would have us believe now that “religious freedom” is synonymous with homophobia, and that, to them, is the equivalent of racism.  But the calls for religious freedom from the right will certainly be heard by black worshipers.

The one problem with my prediction – Where will they go?

I’m sure the Republicans of the 1920s thought – It doesn’t matter if we pass anti-lynching legislation this year, this decade, or this century.  It isn’t like blacks are going to vote Democrat.  Not the party of the Confederacy!  The Republicans, at their peril, took their black voting base for granted.

I’m sure the leadership of the Democratic Party likewise thinks it can continue to procrastinate on criminal justice reform, continue to blame Republicans for underfunded public schools in black neighborhoods, while putting their real energies into keeping funding for Planned Parenthood.  It’s not like blacks will go Republican, right?  Not the party of Lincoln!  Not the party that ended slavery…uh oh!

I don’t know if the Republicans will capitalize on this opportunity or not.  The party base is mostly older white people.  In short, most of them do not see themselves as racists, but they largely support the institutions that yield racially unjust outcomes.  I’ve watched Rand Paul slowly gain popularity among this group, then become outspoken against racial injustice in the criminal justice system, and suddenly plummet in the polls.**  It’s likely that this base of the GOP will resist efforts of the party to highlight criminal justice reform anytime soon.

There’s also the remote possibility that a viable third party could emerge.  However, that has about a Jim Webb’s chance in a Democratic Primary.

If the GOP plays its cards right, it could win back the descendants of the people they once helped free from slavery***.  Because of that old white voting base, I don’t expect this to happen quickly.  But as blacks become increasingly fed up with the Democratic Party, first they’ll stay home more often, then some Republican politicians will ask – How can we get them to vote for us instead?  And then it will begin.

How will Democratic elites respond if they lose the black voting base?

Democratic elites once took my white, working class ancestors for granted.  As I’ve explained before, white southerners switched Republican for a wide variety of reasons.  But the elites of the Democratic Party, and most of the academic establishment, claim that white Republicans are just racists who can’t get over the end of Jim Crow.  They speak of a “southern strategy” and racist “dog whistles”, while ignoring our real interests.

If I’m right about this, and blacks leave the Democratic Party over the next few decades, will Dem. elites take responsibility for how they neglected their black base, just as they neglected the white working class base?  They can’t claim racism, not against black people, right?  Only white people can be racist.  Maybe they’ll blame homophobia.  They will be able to find some examples I’m sure of certain prominent blacks who are anti-LGBT.  George W. Bush, after all, made some inroads in the black community with his opposition to same-sex marriage.  I wonder if they’ll claim that Republicans have a homophobic “dog whistle” that only homophobic black people can hear.

Then, I also wonder how they’ll lose the Hispanic vote by the end of this century.  Democratic Party elites have a propensity to shoot their party in the foot, despite gun control.  By all democratic (small “d”) logic, they should be mopping the floor with Republicans.  Republicans wage wars we can’t afford, tax the poor, subsidize the rich, send our jobs to South-East Asia, and blame the underemployed working class for being lazy.  But Republicans also know how to capitalize on the blunders of the “liberal” elite.

Note(s)

*I already know that white liberals will opportunistically retort with rhetorical questions like “Who are you to talk about the black experience?  What do you know about it?”  Never mind that white liberals have made their academic and political careers out of pretending to know what African-Americans face.  I don’t pretend.  I’ve never walked a mile in their shoes.  But I do listen to them.  And much of what I state in this blogpost is based on what I’ve either heard from many of them, or read, as you can see in some of my links below.

**Rand Paul is more recently picking his numbers back up.  He was about fourth or fifth last I checked… there’s still plenty of time before the Iowa caucus.

***Really, black slaves freed themselves.  The Republicans supported them when they saw how it would help them win the Civil War.

Link(s) for further consideration:

Another prediction that blacks may leave the Democratic Party:

http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/09/08/democratic-monopoly-on-black-voters-may-be-evaporating-as-seismic-political-shift-is-predicted/

Despite my tone above, I really don’t have a problem with gay people or their newly obtained marriage rights.  If you want to know what I think exactly on that subject:

https://politicallywag.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/i-dont-care-if-gays-marry-and-neither-should-the-government/

Shamy Breakup – Advantage Amy

First, SPOILER ALERT if you’re not up on Big Bang Theory!

Sheldon and Amy seemed a perfect couple when they first met.  They’re both scientists, both severely nerdy, and socially awkward.  However, from early on, Sheldon always had the slight advantage.  Sheldon decided the status of the relationship.  He decided when they were just friends.  He decided when they become “boyfriend/girlfriend”, and he drew up the “relationship agreement”.  While he had the advantage, he did have to consider Amy of course.  After all, Amy drove him to start the official relationship by temporarily dating Stuart (the comic book guy) to make Sheldon jealous.  But even then, Sheldon was calling most of the shots.  Well, the short version of their history is that from time to time, Amy would nearly end it, and Sheldon would give in a little more.

If they both started out socially awkward with nearly identical personality types, why was it Amy who always wanted more, and it was Sheldon who would give in just a little each time?  Both became friends with Penny, and here’s the important part.  Penny is friends with both, seems to care about them both as individuals, but has always been rather neutral about their relationship.  Penny pushed each of them to break out of their shells.  Amy was easier than Sheldon.  It wasn’t long before Amy was going out for drinks with them, dancing, expressing her attraction to other men, such as the loveable but incredibly dumb Zack.  While Amy broke out of her shell, Sheldon only peaked out of his.  Amy then attempted to help him more, but with little success.

In the end, Sheldon was too self-absorbed, and too determined to stay in his comfort zone, and Amy had enough.  And so, Season 8 ended with Amy saying she needed some time to think about them.  Season 9 begins with Sheldon chasing after her, but doing a poor job of it.  It was too little, too late.  Who would have thought that SHELDON, yes, SHELDON, would be chasing after Amy while SHE is the run rejecting HIM?!  This is the same Amy who pretended to be sick just so that Sheldon would take care of her, according to the terms of their “relationship agreement”.  Well now, for once, Amy has the advantage.

I don’t know what will happen with them, but I think they’ll get back together.  I normally embrace the principle “male comrades before women who sell their bodies for money” (AKA “Bros before hoes”).  But in this, I’m on Team Amy.  She’s been wonderful to him, and he doesn’t show her enough appreciation.  I know it’s hard for him to deal with people in general, including Amy, but while they can be forgiving and patient, he needs to meet them, especially Amy, half way.  If they do get back together, Amy will likely have the well-deserved upper hand for a while.  Sheldon will have to come back on her terms this time.  Amy is a cute, nerdy girl with a personality that is just outgoing enough now (thanks to Penny) that she will have other options.  Sheldon?  Unlikely.  He’s beginning to realize just how good he had it.

When we last left off (Season 9, first episode), Sheldon concluded on an angry note.  He’s finally going through what most men go through in their teens.  It needs to happen.  It’s unpleasant, but healthy.  He’ll be angry at women, angry at Amy, but it will pass.  I hope that before they get back together, which I’m sure they will, I hope Amy dates around a little.  She could use the XP, and dating “normal” guys might remind her what is so unique about Sheldon.  For all his faults, he’s certainly one of a kind.

Time for Rand Paul to Go for Broke?

PaulTrumpCNN

Is it time for Rand Paul to “go for broke”?  I’ve been urging caution.  I know the GOP base, they’re a bunch of apes, and Paul has to appeal to them.  The apes are well trained by a GOP establishment to react positively to certain buzz words and catch phrases like “take back America”, and “fight radical Islam”.   They also know to fling their feces at anyone who sounds like they “hate uh’mer’ca”.  But when you’re surrounded by apes, remember – they’re still apes.  They are irrational primates who respect vulgar displays of power.

That’s why they love Trump.  At the CNN debate, I saw Trump mostly doing more of the same.  He refused to apologize to Jeb Bush’s wife for claiming that she being Mexican had softened Bush on immigration.  He hurled insults, completely unprovoked, at Rand Paul.  But Trump remained bold.  He had the courage to look right at Bush and criticize the mess his brother left this country in, right in front of an audience of Republican basers.  Nobody else showed such courage, including Paul.  When Paul had an opportunity to criticize Bush for being a rich kid who smoked marijuana, and later become Gov. of Florida, Paul hesitated.  Apes don’t respect that.

When Paul did finally show some courage and explain point blank that the policy of removing secular dictators like Saddam Hussein, and possibly Assad, leaves instability and bites us in the back; Paul finally got some of the apes to clap their paws.  They’re so like us, aren’t they?

As the actual primary draws near, I’m wondering if Paul should stop worrying so much about not offending the apes, and instead just tell it like it is.  Trump had no qualms about calling out Bush, criticizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and slapping hands with Ben Carson for doing the same.  These normally provoke the Republican basers to hurl feces, yet, they don’t.  They respect Trump as the alpha.  Paul was right to say what he did about secular dictators, but maybe it’s time to take the next step.

As Lindsey Graham spoke of ISIS, Iran, and Assad, and I struggled to keep my lunch down, I kept thinking, “Will nobody call him out?”  Graham keeps talking about the growth of ISIS, and saying how we should have taken out Assad, and be prepared to use force against Iran.  NEWS FLASH!  Iran is doing more to stop ISIS than we are right now.  Assad was too until Obama took Graham’s advice and armed the “rebels”.  Yeah, long story short, ISIS has those arms now.  If Paul got a gentle but positive response from the apes for criticizing the reckless toppling of secular dictators in the Middle East, how much more of a response will he get for calling out disastrous policies that played into the hands of ISIS?  I’m not an anthropologist, but I am an academic, and I’m sure anthropological departments across the country would like to see the results.

On a more serious note, Paul isn’t doing great in the polls.  Trump is at the top, Carson is gaining on him, and Fiorina is picking up the pace.  All three of them look like leadership material to the GOP base.  I’m thinking it’s time for Paul to take some risks like a good leader must, and show the GOP base that he can lead.  I know he can lead, a handful of libertarian leaning Republicans know that.  Some libertarian leaning liberals also know that.  But this is the GOP primary, the planet of the apes.  While I respect Paul’s consistent reverence for the 10th amendment, the rule of law means little to primates.  They respect strength, and Paul needs to show it now.

Another interesting take on this:

Julie Borowski’s hilarious parody of the GOP debates

PS If I thought any GOP basers actually read my blog, I wouldn’t be calling them “apes”, but I can’t imagine this offending my 50 or so readers who are likely Paul supporters, or people who came due to my social commentary and don’t care much about this subject.

PPS  The above is more of a rant.  Sometimes it’s healthy to blow off steam.  It’s not an issue of being a bad sport.  It’s that I’m seriously frustrated that after all the mistakes we’ve made in the last few decades, I fear that some demagogue (Trump) is going to distract the GOP base from our best hope (Paul) of not making those mistakes again.  Honestly, if Trump actually does win, he’ll have my support.  He’s nuts, but he is a patriot, and I don’t think he’ll hurl us into another pointless war.

Why some men hate romance

SheldonAndAmyAwkward

I haven’t been a very romantic guy in a long, long time.  I pride myself on how pragmatic I am.  I love my wife truly, and take pride in our relationship.  It’s a very realist relationship.  We look out for each other, we pick on each other, and we talk things through.  Neither of us have our heads floating in the clouds, and I love it that way.  Sometimes I make a romantic gesture for no other reason than I know she loves it!  But for me, I’ve little interest in romance.

A lot of guys are like me, and I think I know why.  For the last 8 years, I’ve been slowly working on a novel that is loosely based on some terrible experiences I had about 8 and a half years ago.  It is not an autobiography, but fiction loosely inspired by real events.  Heartbreak is involved, and seems to be the apex of the story.  I write of a character loosely based on me, named Henry, and a female character based on a girl I used to know, named Annabelle.  When I first started writing this 8 years ago, those feelings were still so very fresh.  Henry, you see, is deeply infatuated with this Annabelle whom he barely knows.  He’s got it bad…really bad!  When I wrote of it 8 years ago, I could still get those warm, fuzzy feelings.  I’d also get the anger at what followed, the most severe heartbreak Henry will ever experience, the kind of loneliness and depression I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Now, all these years later, happily married and truly free from all of that, I get something very different.  I do not hate the girl who inspired Annabelle, but honestly, the thought of having any romantic feelings for her now just about made me vomit on my keyboard.  I recently remember a mushy, romantic story I wanted to include in this novel.  Here, I’ll copy and paste it for you…

We walked through Kensington Gardens, as I held your hand.  I told you of Peter Pan as we approached his statue, and you were moved.  Your heart was warmed and your cheeks flushed.  I looked into your eyes and you into mine, and I slowly pulled you close.  As our eyes gently closed, my lips began to meet your lips, and our hearts raced.  As we began to kiss more deeply, it began to rain.  We were so deep into each other’s embrace, the rain continued as did we.

I just typed this about 30 minutes ago, and it was painful.  I was not feeling any desire to have Henry walk with Annabelle, or hold her close, much less kiss her.  Ewww, yucky, pitooey!  I felt something in my chest area, but it wasn’t my heart pounding.  It wasn’t butterflies in my stomach.  It was nothing short of disgust.  It’s not just Annabelle, it’s the whole idea of falling “head over heels” in infatuation (so often mistaken for love).  It’s the same reason I hate chick flicks.

I think that many guys who hate romance, hate it because in the past, romance got them seriously hurt.  Guys don’t like being emotionally vulnerable.  There’s no strength in talking about how you were heartbroken.  But there is strength in scoffing at romance.  Part of the reason I so rarely show such romance towards my wife is because I consider what we have to be real, while what Henry has with Annabelle is all just fantasy, based on more fantasy that blended into real life.  When fantasy and real life get too close together, terrible things happen.

So ladies, if you and a man are deeply in love, and he makes too few romantic gestures for your liking, keep this in mind.  He may love you in a way that is very real.  He likely associates romance with something or someone from his past that he does not want to associate with you.  Don’t get me wrong, you deserve some romance.  Just like you do things for him simply because they make him happy, he should do the same for you.  But if it’s only on special occasions and every now and then “just because”, know that he doesn’t love you any less.  I don’t know you or your particular situation.  But what I present here is just a possibility.  The best way to find out, is to just talk to him about it, one to one.

P.S.  I know you like that Sheldon and Amy image!

Nuclear Iran? Here are our options

Professor Wag explains that there are four ways this could turn out:

1. No further action, resulting in Iran getting a nuclear weapon
2. A weak deal, resulting in a nuclear weapon
3. A full scale war, defeating Iran – no nuclear weapon
4. A strong deal, no war – no nuclear weapon

If you have a youtube account, subscribe to my channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX8mKpPubiFGZjDq951VDRA

Best Kos article ever…but it still sucks!

I just got taken for a ride by a very clever article about discrimination in the Daily Kos.  While I have some conservative sentiments, I’ve never cared for the “take back America” mantra.  Last I checked, America was never taken from us, so I’m not sure from whom we’re supposed to take it back.

This Kos article, by someone named Steven D, initially addressed that mantra, which caught my eye.  The first half of it was an interesting account of young Steven’s life in N. Carolina towards the end of the “Jim Crow” era, as a white northerner.  It was very courteous of him to note that these kinds of segregationist norms were uncommon in S. Dakota “probably because there were so few black people living in the Northern Plains states.”  I’ve never appreciated how white northerners criticize the south for all of our history of racial strife, when they up north so rarely had to deal with it, so I’m glad Steven D notes that very important difference in circumstances.  Well, even though I’m about to rip into this article, I’d still encourage you to read it, because the first half really is an excellent primary history source of segregation in 1950s North Carolina.

Now for the ripping. 

While I agree with some of the points that followed, in particular that our criminal justice system continues to discriminate against blacks; in typical Kos fashion the article goes on to make ridiculous hasty generalizations against conservatives, and a series of other fallacious arguments I will explain.  For one thing, Steven D seems to be suggesting that conservatives who say “I want my country back” want to go back to Jim Crow.  I will admit that most such conservatives (who are more anachronistic than conservative by the way), most of them cherry pick the past.  They probably want the prosperity and patriotism of the 1950s, and chose not to remember the segregation, much less the very high tax rates of the era.  But while their memories may be selective, they are not racists, they are not closet racists, and furthermore, it is indeed possible to look to the past, maybe try to re-implement parts of the past you like while leaving behind the parts that you don’t.  I for example would love to make America a manufacturing power house again, like we were in the 1950s.  We don’t need segregated schools to have manufacturing jobs, and it would be absurd to tell me “you can’t cherry-pick, if you want to go back to the 50s, you have to have segregation too.”

What bothered me most about this article is that it engaged in the all too familiar leftist victim group umbrella tactic.  That is, after deeply discussing racial discrimination in the past and present, it jumped into LGBT issues, feminism, Latinos, and any other “victim group” that the monolithic left seeks to homogenize into their narrow-minded political movement.  The article made a clearly false claim about feminism – “Feminism as a movement did not exist until the late 60s and early 70s.”  What about the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries?  What about great classic feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, who encouraged equality in education, reason and modesty?

Religious Freedom is a Problem?

The article then begins to attack religious freedom itself as a mere excuse for discrimination.  So, if a cake decorator is religiously opposed to same-sex marriage, and therefore refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding, that is to be called “discrimination” and the cake decorator punished?  So, you’re entitled to your religious beliefs, but if they offend the left, you have to violate those very beliefs in public…because they’re offensive?  As so often with the cleverly bigoted left, this is compared to the 1950s when blacks were refused service at restaurants.

Here are three reasons why that comparison is absurd.  1.  In the 50s, the discrimination was widespread, and blacks were being denied very basic necessities such as hotels when they were on the road, food when they were hungry, etc.  This greatly diminished their quality of life.  One religious cake decorator refusing to make a cake will not diminish the quality of a gay couple’s life.  There are plenty of cake decorators who don’t care, and would make them a cake.  To compare one entitled gay couple who still had their wedding to a poor black family in the 50s who slept in their car because the hotel “doesn’t serve coloreds” – that is an insult!  2.  Gay is not black.  A black man walks in, you know he’s black.  When racial discrimination is allowed, it’s far too easy to do so and degrade blacks in every way.  The same would be true of any other skin color.  A gay man walks in, do you know he’s gay?  Some gay people don’t “act gay”.  Some straight people are “metrosexual” (I’ve been known to set off a few gaydars myself).  3.  There is a difference between refusing service simply because someone is gay, and refusing to be involved in a same sex wedding ceremony.  While I am not against same-sex marriage myself, as an American, I will defend the right of fellow Americans to practice their religion as they see fit.  This is not “discrimination”, it is freedom.  To punish a cake decorator who refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding is not ANTI-discrimination, it IS discrimination.  This leftist tactic of comparing everything they hate to Jim Crow racism is a clear poisoning the well fallacy.  Well, I don’t want to be racist, so I guess I’ll have to make a cake of a same-sex wedding ceremony.

This next part isn’t even good enough to be absurd

Of course, this is the Kos, and if you think what I’ve discussed above is the worst in this article…just read on.  The article also made a beyond absurd argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana will somehow effectively discriminate against, well, any group the Kos wants to appeal to.  Here are Steven D’s words – “Their efforts encompass attempts to limit the rights of a far wider range of people, from the poor, young people and students, women, Latinos, immigrants, the disabled and, of course, blacks.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is frankly delusional.”  WHAT?!  I’m sorry, but due to my religious beliefs, I can’t serve poor people…that’s what Jesus would do.  HUH?!  Sorry, but I can’t serve coffee to you students who are cramming for an exam because, religion.  REALLY?!  Where did Steven D come up with this nonsense?

I found the ending to be the most offensive and insulting of all.  Again, Steven D’s words – “I certainly don’t want a country where anyone can discriminate against anyone else of whom they do disapprove and escape liability for that immoral and otherwise unlawful act under any pretext, be it freedom of religionracial superiority or traditional values.”  In the name of white supremacy, the Reverend Clementa Pickney and eight worshippers were murdered at an AME Church in Charleston S. Carolina – while exercising their freedom of religion!  There’s a long a tragic history of black worshippers being murdered by white supremacists, and their churches being burned down.  To equate white supremacy to freedom of religion is an insult to the memories of every black worshipper who was murdered.

Why this article still sucks

I’m not frustrated by this article because it comes “from the left”.  There’s plenty of respectable leftist sources, such as The Nation and….The Nation…. I’m not even frustrated by all the ridiculous points I’ve now refuted, as I expect nothing less from the Kos.  I’m frustrated because this article actually had potential.  I’m not saying Steven D couldn’t make these points effectively.  With some basic critical thinking skills he could have made a plausible argument for why gay is the new black, or that it is wrong to refuse service for a gay wedding.  I’d disagree, but I’d at least consider it a respectable article.  But instead, what starts out as a very interesting first hand history lesson quickly degenerates into the kind of left-winged bigotry for which the Kos is notorious.  It is the worst kind of bigotry, as it is often in the name of anti-discrimination.  But discrimination in the name of anti-discrimination, is still discrimination.  If I as a Christian call for religious freedom, then argue that, say, Muslims do not believe in religious freedom*; and therefore Muslims must not be allowed to practice their religion because they are a threat to religious freedom, I would be a hypocritical bigot – no better than the ones at the Daily Kos.

I, too, “want a better country”.  But part of that depends on maintaining those aspects of our country that do work well.  The first amendment, amongst other things guaranteeing freedom of religion, has always served us well.  I’m not prepared to sacrifice that freedom in the name of anti-discrimination.  I’d rather use my first amendment rights to persuade my fellow Americans, than deny their first amendment rights in order to force their actions, which will never change what is in their hearts.

Note(s)

*For the record, I acknowledge that Islam, like Christianity, could be cherry-picked to justify suppressing religious freedom.  But like Christians, the average Muslim especially in America simply wants to practice his/her faith and has no desire deprive others of the same freedom.  If anything Islam has a better history of religious freedom, considering that they at least acknowledge some other faiths as “people of the book” and that during the Crusading era of the Middle Ages, Christians and Jews did have religious freedom for the most part in the Islamic world while the same courtesy was clearly not extended in the Christian world.

My Piece on the Charleston Massacre