Politically Correct

I love how what used to be a phrase that explained how to properly articulate things in public has now turned into an excuse to be as rude as possible or dismissive. When someone says they aren’t politically correct, something extremely rude is about to follow. It is the same as saying, “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” Yes you did. You literally meant to be rude. Just because you prefaced what you said does not make it any less offensive.

It is either that or someone is attempting to be dismissive about something. “I don’t have time to be politically correct.” What you mean to say is you don’t have time to be decent. Donald Trump is the prime example of this at the moment. Him saying that “we” don’t have time to be politically correct is just another way of him saying that HE does not have time to be decent. It’s an excuse to be as offensive as he wants to be. The fact that he is leading some polls is astonishing. Meanwhile, who should a legitimate contender in Ohio governor John Kasich is getting overlooked because he sounds reasonable on most of his positions. He sounds like someone that reaches across the aisle and has discussions with people that are not in his party.

Human decency and consideration for others. A crazy concept.

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Evolving Perspective

Perspective is a constantly evolving thing. At least it is for me. It seems as though every year for the past five years I have come across some thing or somebody that has given me an entirely new way of looking at something that I thought I had a firm grasp on. Currently this is happening due to Ta-Nehisi Coates and his incredibly fresh perspective on race in the United States.

Previously I have been an advocate for many things that the average liberal advocates for. Immigration, income inequality, climate change, affirmative action… for the most part I fall right in line with a stereotypical liberal. I do think that I have original thoughts, but for the sake of this short blog I’ll just leave it at that. However, it seems as though that is the problem. Most people who seek a career in either the public sector, or social sciences, look at the United States through the filter of congress and what has a chance to actually make it through the legislative process. This naturally has utility, but seems to narrow our thinking substantially.

I’ve recently read Coates’ article from about a year ago, “The Case for Reparations.” While reading this fantastic article, I also viewed a couple videos of discussions that Coates has had with academics such as Ezra Klein. First of all, it is astounding how much content is involved in viewing these videos and reading this article. The amount of things to digest is incredible and I have yet to do it completely myself. But I have been able to take a couple of things from Coates that I think are simply invaluable.

As I previously mentioned, most of us in the academic world that involve the social sciences see the United States through the filter of what can and cannot pass in congress. For example, in order to explain affirmative action we use words and phrases like “it increases diversity” or “it would help others as well.” Even though we know that the African American race as a whole has been absolutely decimated by America for 350 years and only in the last 50 years have we made any progress at all, (and as Coates correctly points out, that progress has been half-hearted at times) we still feel that we cannot say outright that programs like affirmative action SHOULD disproportionately help African Americans. For the most part I agree with Coates that this is because we want to get things passed in congress. I also believe that liberals just generally want to help everybody and it goes against our nature to focus in on one thing, or in this case, race.

However, once we stop focusing in on what congress can pass, we are able to have a much larger conversation, as well as not instantly stop our thought process. I think that this also has tremendous utility and has an even greater purpose when we want social change. After all, when it comes to race we cannot tackle it like we can tackle Medicare spending. With programs like Medicare we can see how much it costs, how much we need, where we can cut spending, etc. When it comes to race the conversation is much more about moral arguments and understanding an immense amount of context.

It is impossible to put a price on slavery, housing discrimination, or the Jim Crow era. But there is one. Somehow there has to be an answer on how to help the African American race out of the hole that America dug.

I need to do more digesting.

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Marriage Equality

What an interesting couple of days in American history this last week has been. A tragedy in South Carolina, where a racist white male killed 9 black men and women in a prominent black church has sparked a conversation about the Confederate Flag once again. This has lead to South Carolina moving toward removing the flag from public property, and has had a domino effect across some southern states. The Affordable Care Act is pretty close to being cemented in stone. Then today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. Naturally this is a very contentious ruling, and will be a national talking point leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

For some Christians, today is a difficult day to understand. For many, marriage is identified to them through their religion. The issue here is that the United States supports all religions. That is the greatest part about being American, or in any other nation like it in the world. The constitution was built upon this notion. Knowing this, since in the United States there are government related benefits to being married, you cannot keep consenting adults from marriage. It is also important to remember here that it only focuses on civil marriages. This ruling does not force your Priest or Pastor into marrying a couple that they do not want to marry. That would go against the First Amendment.

Whether you believe religiously in what happened today or not, if you live in the United States this was inevitable. Legally it made no sense to stop two consenting adults from marrying each other. We will indeed look back on today many years from now and remember the historical context that today represented.

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Confederate Flag Context

Recently I did a video on the real meaning of the Confederate Flag. Naturally this is a topic that has been debated, and while doing a video it may be difficult to express evidence in detail. It is also my aim in doing videos to make them entertaining, and muddling them with statistics would create long, drawn out, boring videos. Recently a comment was posted on this Video

Here is the comment: “2% of southerners owned slaves, the rich plantation owners who couldn’t handle the work by themselves, the slaves that came to North America saw the U.S flag flying on their slave ships, the civil war was started when the union forcefully took taxes from the southerners, and the south got pissed off. THE FLAG YOUR SHOWING ISNT EVEN THE CSA NATIONAL FLAG! THE BLOODSTAINED BANNER IS! There were black soldiers in the civil war. The south was kicking the norths butt up until 1863. Abraham Lincoln said “if I could save the union without freeing any African Americans, I would” . So if you ever get smart… Take down this video, if you go to a southern town and say this crap… Then God Help You!

I decided that this was a good time to put some context to the video, and here is my reply:

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am that you replied, and with the content with which you replied. You know nothing of history, and your inability to do the bare minimum amount of research is astounding. I will go through your reply point by point, clearly refuting each one, providing evidence to support each of my claims. Since you refused to do any sort of reading prior to replying, I hope that you will take some time here and now to review all of these claims, examine the evidence, and attempt to escape the narrow bubble with which it seems your life has been lived.

1. “2% of southerners owned slaves, the rich plantation owners who couldn’t handle the work by themselves.”
I quite literally have no idea where you could have arrived at this number. It may have possibly been a part of a blog, but just looking at it with common sense allows one to dismiss it outright. For this claim we will look at the original eleven states that seceded from the Union, not the four other border states. Those states carried the bulk of slaves (though the North should be held accountable here as well, though that is not what you were discussing) and according to the 1860 census data, here is the percentage of families in each state that owned slaves:
(here is the link to said census data, http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html)

South Carolina- 46%
Mississippi- 49%
Florida- 34%
Alabama- 35%
Georgia- 37%
Louisiana- 29%
Texas- 28%
Virginia- 26%
Arkansas- 20%
North Carolina- 28%
Tennessee- 25%
As to the claim that rich plantation owners “couldn’t handle the work,” I actually do not know how to respond to this. It seems as though this is your reasoning for slavery, but I will address this claim more thoroughly later.

2. “the slaves that came to North America saw the U.S flag flying on their slave ships.”
This is yet another confusing comment. It is difficult to understand your frame of thinking due to your lack of explanation, but I must assume that you are attempting to use this as an excuse to say that the American flag should also be blamed, or even share more responsibility. In this, I agree. America should take responsibility as a whole, and a large majority of America has indeed done just that. Abolition was the beginning of that responsibility, and the 150 years following this abolition has been a very difficult process of understanding exactly what that responsibility should be. However, the United States as a whole (which the American flag represents naturally) abolished slavery. The Confederate Flag represents those states that did not want this to happen, which is the main part of the conflict here (more information about the Confederate Flag later).

3. “the civil war was started when the union forcefully took taxes from the southerners, and the south got pissed off.”
Sometimes the greatest part of history is the documentation left behind to explain what people were thinking at the time. For our study here, there are some perfect examples of this. Here are some examples of why states seceded from the United States, but I will leave this link here for you so that you can read it in its entirety. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

This is from Georgia, and is literally in the first couple of sentences of their Declaration of Causes of Seceding States:

“For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.”
And a few sentences later… “A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia. The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party.”

You will notice that taxes are not mentioned yet. While this may also be a complaint, it is clear that Georgia and the South were concerned with the anti-slavery North, the election of Lincoln, and what they considered property, which was of course slaves, and the rest of the Declaration continues in this manner. (Again, link above in case you do not want to take me at my word).

Mississippi– For this one, I believe only two sentences are needed, but again the link will allow you to read the entire Declaration.

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.”

This quote is as plain as one can get. It has absolutely nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with slavery and property (which, again, were slaves).

South Carolina:

“But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.”

Most of this declaration focused on the constitutionality of slavery. I believe this quote summarizes South Carolina’s objections very well. Again, not taxes… slavery.

And finally, Texas:

“She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?”

Texas had a few other complaints (none of which were taxes) but again, the main complaint being the constitutionality of slavery.

4. “THE FLAG YOUR SHOWING ISNT EVEN THE CSA NATIONAL FLAG! THE BLOODSTAINED BANNER IS!”

This is perhaps my favorite argument of those defending the Confederate Flag. Yes, the South did indeed have a couple variations of flags. The first of which was called “Stars and Bars,” and while these flags were indeed used, the South and general public recognizes the Battle Flag or the Confederate Flag as we know it today. If the South used the Stars and Bars Flag as they use the Battle Flag today, then this conversation and debate would be about that flag. However, the South predominantly uses the battle flag, known as the Confederate Flag, which represents the states that seceded from the Union and formed the confederacy. This confederacy was driven by the debate about the constitutionality of slavery (as I proved earlier) which is the main reason that a majority of African-Americans and others consider it extremely offensive. Thus, saying “That’s not even the actual confederate flag!” is a worthless statement.

5. “There were black soldiers in the civil war.”

First and foremost, I must again assume your meaning because you refused to elaborate or even make a minimal amount of sense. If I am to take your statement literally… yes, of course African-Americans fought in the Civil War. However, I assume you mean that they fought for the South. There is little to no evidence of this. While there may have been isolated incidents, African-Americans were simply forced to follow their masters into war and labor, or tend to their wounds. This did not require discharging a weapon, which makes inherent sense. They were slaves, and not only was it literally illegal for African-Americans to enlist into the Confederate Army until the very end of the war, why would you give a weapon to a slave? You are keeping them as property… giving them a weapon does not make any type of sense, and beyond that there is merely anecdotal evidence. Here is a link for that claim as well. http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2011/jan/07/ray-mcberry/sons-confederate-veterans-spokesman-said-blacks-fo/

6. “The south was kicking the norths butt up until 1863.”

Hopefully after reading all of this evidence you now realize how insane this comment is. Mostly it is offensive to all of those who died. “kicking the norths butt” is not anyway one should describe the Civil War. Both sides encountered extreme casualties. To compare casualties is not only a disgusting way to analyze the war, it is also pointless. The North outnumbered the South two to one and controlled the most important resources which include Population, Railroad Mileage, Iron/Steel Production, Wealth, Value of Exports, and Factories. Here is a nice link identifying those resources. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/northandsouth.html

7. “Abraham Lincoln said “if I could save the union without freeing any African Americans, I would.”

While President Lincoln had his faults, he was the most progressive president the United States had elected to the point as it comes to slavery. While quickly looking up quotes, you should read the rest of it so that you can better fit it to your revisionist version of history. In this case you did not do that. In the letter you quoted, which was to the New York Tribune in 1862, Lincoln went on to say, “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.” So while Lincoln was no saint, and he often gets too much credit for the abolition of slavery, he was much more progressive than many at the time. Also, if your claim is “Well, Lincoln did it!” is the best excuse you have for states keeping an entire race of people as slaves then you are a very sad individual.

In conclusion, every single statement you made was false. I suggest in the future when you want to comment on something you do much more research and devote a significant amount of time understanding a subject from multiple angles before you begin to reply. If not, this will happen repeatedly to you… and by this I mean you looking absolutely silly and extremely uneducated.

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Inspiration

I think that inspiration comes from many places. Whether it is religious, economic, musical, or any other place that one can think of. Currently I am in college attempting to make it through these insanely long 4 years. Being half-way through is exciting as well as terrifying. Do I really have to go through 2 more years of being low on cash, unable to support my family the way I grew accustomed when I was working 45 hours a week? It is incredibly difficult to stay inspired in the middle of this long road where there does not seem to be an end anywhere in the future. Yet, at times it seems so ridiculous not to be inspired all the time.

I just finished watching the Foo Fighters documentary “Sonic Highways.” It is essentially Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters traveling to America’s largest cities (8 in total) and telling the story of the development of the music scene that happened in that area, and using that inspiration to record their newest album. First and foremost, the historical aspect of the documentary is terrific. From Dolly Parton and Buddy Guy to Bad Brains and Public Enemy, they seemed able to capture the culture of each city and how it related to music. But while all of that was extremely important and fun to learn about, there seemed to be an over-arching theme that happened organically over the 8 episodes.

For me, that theme was rather simple. If you love doing something… do it. Stop making excuses about how hard everything is around you. Stop talking about the barriers in your way. Stop agonizing about every little decision in life and break down life into its simplest form for yourself. What is the one thing that you think about wanting to do every day? Do it, and do it with vigor. Chase after it with every waking second that you possibly can. Do you work a lot? So what? All kinds of people work a lot. Did you just have kids? That’s great, take care of them, and then get back to accomplishing your goals.

Being in college I have all sorts of goals. I want to graduate. I want a high GPA. I want scholarships. I want a great career when I’m done. I also have a wife and I want so many things for her individually and for our marriage. A house, dog, kids, stability, a career for her that she loves, opportunities to positively affect our loved ones. I have also started this website and a YouTube channel. I absolutely love doing videos and want to continue to do it for as long as I can.

Most of the time these goals and challenges seem daunting…overwhelming. That is until I start to see the inspiration all around me. Mostly it is the fact that I know that if I put enough energy and passion into what I am doing, I know that I can accomplish everything I want, and more. Hearing Dave Grohl say that he would come home from school and play guitar until dinner, and then start again after dinner… he wanted to be great at music, so he was. He just did it. My wife received an e-mail one semester from a professor and at the end of the e-mail it just said, “Do you want that A? Go get it.” So I pass that on to anybody who reads this.

Do you want that new job? That wife or husband? Do you want to get into a great college? Do you want to be awesome at writing? Acting? Law? Engineering? Do you want to be a better person? More humble? More confident? Do you want to spend more time with your kids? Loved ones? Friends?

If you woke up this morning depressed about bills, money, life in general… Ask yourself one question. What do I want to be great at?

Go get it.

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