Thursday, August 27, 2015

I've been thinking a lot this week about Peggy Hubbard, after she posted a video rant against Black Lives Matter:

The points she makes, especially about so-called black on black crime, are ones that I've heard trotted out again and again, usually by white (but sometimes by black) conservatives, as an argument against a greater focus on police violence in America. Not to suggest she's being co-opted-- Ms. Hubbard is very sincere and I've no reason to think this isn't truly how she feels.

But I DO think she's missing the point of BLM. Protests and social change movements are not aimed at changing the behavior of communities, but at changing the behavior of a government or other power structure-- others have made this point much more eloquently than I could. Do yourself a favor and go read their stuff.

There's another theme underlying her rant, though, and it's one I feel the need to address- that black people are protesting police violence while being, in her view, overly violent and unruly themselves. As if that makes black people unworthy of equal protection under the law.

But the right to life is not contingent upon good citizenship or good behavior. As a species, we recognize that there is such a thing as inherent human dignity; that each human life is worthy of protection and advocacy without regard to how, exactly, that life is lived or how sympathetic a figure someone is.

Most importantly, we realize that individual lives cannot be extinguished without due process of law.

The field of human rights exists because of that ethic, and it's one that I stand behind. But it's being violated again and again on the streets and in the homes of this country. I have nothing but respect for Peggy Hubbard and the obviously raw emotional reaction she displays. But the notion that an entire community of people is somehow unworthy of equal treatment is a dangerous one-- the "lesser" status white colonials afforded to Africans formed the basis for slavery in the first place, and and that's led us directly to where we are today.

A person's life must be worthy of protection regardless of their conduct, or we've made no progress at all and "human rights" are simply imaginary.

To those who have countered that "ALL lives matter," that's true, but it misses the point. "Black Lives Matter" is not an attempt to make a life contained within skin of a certain color matter more than a life contained within skin of another color. Instead it's both a recognition and a call to action. A recognition of the injustice inherent to a system in which the deepest and most essential of human rights, the right to live and be free from bondage, is denied to our black American brothers and sisters. Where, for too long, black lives have mattered *less* than other lives in a very real way.

A call to action that cuts through all of our self-congratulatory rhetoric about the victories of the Civil Rights Era and the advent of a "post-racial America." To make those of us who have benefited from that system, the "privileged" like me, wake up to that injustice and work to mitigate it.

Reasonable people can and do disagree about the tactics of BLM, or wonder (as I do) how to be an ally when the movement seems so bent on confrontation as a raison d'etre.

But when Peggy Hubbard says "white people don't care," that's an indictment of white people, probably more than she even realizes. White people, we cannot allow those words to be true.

If we care anything about human rights, BLM's goals must be our goals.


I've been worrying that my time here's a little unclear...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I had to return a library book today before I was done reading it.

Oh, I tried to renew it, but the website told me "This item has holds", meaning of course that someone else wants the book so I can't renew it.

How frustrating is that, right?!

"Oh, just read faster/more, Adam," you say, "other people need books too."

Well, I would have, except the book was Master and Commander (yes, the one they made the movie about,) and I had to look up every third word until I finally learned the difference between a mizzen yardarm and a main topgallant.

And now I'll never know how Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin became such good friends. I hope you're happy, random person who put a hold on my book.

People really need to be more accommodating of my needs.