Thursday, August 13, 2009

Xenophobia in Israeli and USA Media

freidenker24 wrote a post last month where he discusses a recent news story in Israel. In "Israel, the land of Multi-Tribalism" he talks about what he sees as some very problematic portrayals in the media over there.
Not recently, it has come to my peeved attention that Israeli news headlines are made and broken with the employment of a single gimmick: Xenophobia sells.

A deranged woman starves her infant boy to the point of severe malnutrition. She’s mentally ill, and caused her young child terrible anguish, but tragedy and mischief are not enough to keep the Israeli public buying newspapers, apparently. No. The Israeli public wouldn’t be as good a consumer as its masters do dearly wish it to be without some good, well-crafted random-primed hatred.***

It’s the fact that the mother is an ultra-orthodox Jew that sells the newspapers, right?

I mean, gods blind me, I almost forgot there’s some poor infant slowly and painfully recovering in his hospital bed somewhere with all this tribal hate-mongering around.
This is a tragic situation. Like, Freidenker24, I don't give a rat's ass about what religion the mother is/was associated with. It's just a tragedy. I would add that it's not just a tragedy for the little child who was involved; the mother might deserve some sympathy, too. My view is not because I'd ever believe it's acceptable to abuse a child. It just that, if this woman is/was mentally ill, then (in my opinion) there is a certain amount of fault that we should lay at the feet of Israeli society, in general. That's not to say that other nations do any better, because as a person with disabilities I can tell you that I don't see the U.S.A. behaving any better. I think that society has a certain amount of responsibility to care for those who can not care for themselves.

Freidenker24 explains how xenophobia is often used to "sell" a story to the Israeli public. He goes on to comment on what he sees as the basis for this tactic and why it can be so effective in that society.
Hatred is the glue that binds the many tribes living in modern Canaan together, the main catalysis for keeping the vast majority of malign idiots at bay: make us hate the myriad sub-sectors of the Israeli polytribe, and we’ll forget all about the fact that an entire elite class has sprung which makes a living by screwing everybody else. It’s the politicians that are truly non-racist: they screw everyone over, regardless of race, sub-tribe and/or hue.
Sound familiar? It's happening here, too. Look at the views expressed every night by Lou Dobbs and O'Reilly and others in the media who should really know better.

I'm not very fond of some of the tenets of ultra-orthodox Judaism. However, I think those that identify with that label deserve to be seen as individuals, not some monolithic group that should be blamed whenever an ultra-orthodox Jew engages in anti-social behavior. The same is true with regards to those who have been recent targets of America's special brand of xenophobia: Latinos and Arabs.

I would be richer than Bill Gates if I had a dollar for every time someone on the news said "anchor babies", "illegal aliens", or the words "Arab" and "terrorists" used in the same sentence. Like ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel, Arab-Americans are often accused of trying to take over the entire nation and convert us all into their brand of religion. Like ultra-orthodox Jews, I've seen numerous people complaining that fecund Latinos are having lots of kids so that they can get rich off of other people's tax dollars through government welfare programs. I know there are plenty of differences between xenophobia in Israel and the USA, but I found these few similarities quite interesting, too.

Teh Stupid Comes in Threes

Annaham is a brilliant and witty blogger who identifies as a PWD. She's been on my blog roll for a very long time and is always worth reading. Visiting her blog today, I found her short, but sweet, response to a big bag of fail also known as the We Are The Real Deal blog.

To make a long story short, what happened is a bunch of cis-gendered, thin, non-disabled white women decided to create a blog that they said would represent women of all kinds. A commenter named Jelly pointed out that they would need to get some bloggers who are women that exist on the margins of society, if they wanted to truly prove that they were dedicated to diversity. In response, one of the site's bloggers (mamaV) decided to prove just how dishonest and clueless she truly is, by responding like this:

This is yet another perfect example why no blog moderation– totally rules. How else would we be privy to such close minded commentary to ponder?

I am a barbie and proud of it. But I am not proud of the fact that it took me 20 years to figure it out, all the while letting the Jelly’s of the world make me feel like crap.

The green-eyed-monster will kill you. This I know is true.

Yes Jelly, my feelings are “a whoop-dee-do” — They count. They matter, and your attitude is completely discriminatory –just as you accuse us as being.

And, for the record, I don’t feel sorry for you or anyone else —tell me what exactly I am supposed to be feeling sorry for again? How do you define fortunate?

After reading your words, you know what I was left with? “Ohhhh…whoa-is-me.” How long will you cry in your soup before you wake up and realize you wasted your life being pissed off a the wrong thing?

Hugs and kisses ,
Barbie…the goddess you will never be.
I swear, this is the third Special White Woman case I've seen online in the past two days. In the comments of these two posts, MamaV proves that she doesn't even know the meaning of the term "privilege". How in heaven's name does she think she's qualified to represent the views of women of all sizes? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

I'm a woman of color with disabilities. My disability causes me to periodically lose a lot of weight. As a result, I'm always more likely to be underweight than overweight. It's no effing picnic not being able to get the nutrition I need no matter how much I eat. However, I have never had to deal with being charged extra just to ride in a plane or having anyone criticize me for eating "too much". Even when I've taken Prednisone and gained a couple dozen pounds, I never had to limit my shopping to just one or two stores in a mall because none of the others carried my size. I've never had my claims dismissed by a doctor who blamed all of my ailments on one thing. That, my friends, is what it means to have privilege.

I mean, let's keep this real. I'm 128 lbs. right now and I am desperately trying not to lose the weight that I have to work so hard to keep. Even when I was nine months pregnant with my daughter, I never got above 155 lbs. In the past couple of years, my weight has sometimes dipped as low as 103 lbs. When that happened, I was deathly ill and constantly having to go to the hospital to get pumped full of IV-fluids just to keep from passing out, because I couldn't even hold down water without throwing it back up. My eye sockets felt hollow and dry and I was constantly getting dizzy or falling asleep, because I didn't have the energy to stay awake without napping several times a day. It was miserable.

Being skinny--I was far past just being on the thin side--was no walk in the park. However, that doesn't mean that I really understand what it's like to be considered fat. That's what mamaV was and remains clueless about. Saying that being skinny makes you an authority on what "fat" people go through is like saying being non-disabled makes you an authority on what people like me experience. It's just stupid. No, actually, it's stupid and privileged. We shouldn't forget that fact and we should keep on reminding people like her just how stupid and privileged it is.

Now, I'm going to attempt to erase all of Teh Stupid staining my brain after reading that nonsense. Maybe this will help:

The Young Con(men)

Does anyone remember these guys? A purportedly hip hop group called The Young Cons recently received some attention after posting a video on YouTube espousing what's supposedly "conservative values". My curiosity got the better of me and I actually watched the entire video, despite the hilarity inherent in any attempts by two white wannabe basketball stars from Dartmouth College trying to create a hip hop anthem. If there are any aspiring filmmakers out there, may I suggest that you seriously consider this plot line for your next production?

Anyway, it seems the Young Cons have created a second straight-to-YouTube video called "Power of the Individual". On their website, they explain why they created this song.
We made the video because we feel the “Power of the Individual” has been the driving force of our country for the last 250 years and lately it seems individuals are portrayed as victims in a society that is moving towards collectivism at a frightening rate. We wanted to remind people how our country was able to become the superpower it is today and hopefully inspire the younger generation to realize they are in control of their own destinies.
Personally, I think this one should have been entitled, "The Young Cons: Ensuring That the Republican Failboat Never Runs Out of Gas".

I probably wouldn't even have bothered with writing about this--Lord knows I haven't been feeling all that motivated to blog, lately--if I hadn't seen this video featuring progressive blogger and former U.S. Marine, Mike Stark, interviewing these two clowns at a recent Young America's Foundation convention. Check it out for yourselves. Watching Stark expose how little these two know about the man (Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan) they idolize.

Don't Wanna Be an American Republican

Sweet Baby Jesu! Just when I think I've seen all the stupid I could handle this week, Katy Abrams comes along and takes ignorance to heights never before seen. Fortunately, tonight's Hardball host (Lawrence O'Donnell from The Huffington Post) takes her to task and exposes her for what she is: just another clueless blow-hard who can't even articulate what she's so-oo-oo angry about. Somebody should tell this Very Special Lady that her 15 minutes of fame came and went at that town hall meeting. The interviews she's done since then have only made her look even more ridiculous.

At the town hall meeting that Abrams attended, she told Senator Specter that this movement towards health insurance reform has "awakened the sleeping giant". I'm doubtful about that, because as this video shows, she's still living in a dream world. She screams and asks Sen. Specter, "What are you going to do to restore this country, back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?"

Let's see exactly what that would entail. As the O'Donnell points out, Medicare and Medicaid would have to be repealed. However, those aren't the only things that would change. If we went back to what the "founding fathers" created, blacks and Native Americans would no longer be considered people and would (again) allow whites to claim us as their property. Maybe that wouldn't bother Katy Abrams, but there's a lot that would still affect her.

Women, including the white ones, wouldn't be allowed to vote nor would they be allowed to run for political offices. Hell, they wouldn't have any rights at all, if they got married. If they left their husband, for any reason (e.g. he's beating the bejeezus out of you every night, he's forcing you to have sex with him, he's forcing others to have sex with him), they wouldn't have any right to take their children with them nor would they be entitled to any visitation with the children they were forced to leave behind. By the way, if he does beat the living daylights out of her, even if it's to the point of causing permanent bodily damage, she'd be shit out of luck. That would be his right, because she married, a woman became the lawful property of her husband.

She claims that the government is about to tax her even more to pay for this, but she doesn't even know how much money her family makes each year. She claims that programs like "TARP, this health care bill, [and] Cash for Clunkers" are being funded by her. Um, hello? She's unemployed. Exactly how is she funding these programs?

When asked whether she had health insurance, she said she did. However, it's apparent that she doesn't even know what health insurance really is. She has a health savings account, not health insurance. When asked about whether she disbelieves the President when he says that the health insurance reform that he's putting forth would not take away her ability to keep the plan she has, Abrams claimed that she saw President Obama say that "it might take 5 or 10 years, but we will move to a single payer health system".

Not surprisingly, this is absolutely false. It's like those claims that Tommy Hilfiger said that he didn't want people of color buying the clothes he designed. It's a myth, an urban legend. It never happened, but when you're like Abrams and you haven't been paying attention to what goes on around you, you tend to believe crap like this. I mean, she was adamant that she saw this on television and it never occurred. This ignoramus had the chutzpah to laugh out loud and proclaim that she didn't care about 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because she had "other things going on". So, the fact that over three thousand people perished on 9/11 and more than twice as many people have died as a result of these two wars didn't bother her, but she's OMG indignant about her imaginary income going towards providing for the less fortunate. What a joke!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Health Care Rhetoric Directed Toward Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Today this video started making the rounds on the internet. It features a woman reading a little script about health care that she brought to a town hall meeting with (D-TX) Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. Take a look at it and enjoy gawking at Teh Enormous Stupid.


I'm a cancer survivor and I support the health insurance reform that's being suggested, so it's safe to say that this woman's words don't represent the views of cancer survivors as a whole. As a matter of fact, since I have multiple disabilities, I can easily out-do the sob story that this woman is trying to pull out of her ass in an attempt to posit herself as the vulnerable Special White Woman being mistreated by the disrespectful negress who isn't listening to her betters.

By the way, nobody is even suggesting that she should be forced to get care through a government program if she doesn't want it. On the video, she's saying that she's unemployed and going through a divorce and facing a situation where she'll need to purchase her own health insurance. Yet, she doesn't want a government solution. If I was at that meeting, I'd ask her if she really believed that the insurance companies were willing to change their policies just so that she can continue to have coverage.

I wonder what she imagines will happen when she loses the coverage that she now has. Does she really not know that even if she managed to find an insurance company that will accept her, she will need money to pay for it? Since she has no employment, there is no company to subsidize part of the cost as some employers do for their workers. Would she really prefer to join the ranks of the 1,000,000+ people who have to file for bankruptcy every year due to their medical care costs instead of making use of government solutions like Medicaid and Medicare? If so, is she really the kind of person that we should be taking seriously? Personally, I could tell she was a dumb-ass when she started her rant by trying to convince Representative Sheila Jackson Lee that it would be wrong to base her decisions on what she believes is good for America. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Why don't we take a look at the impact of health care costs in America? According to the National Coalition on Health Care (the largest non-profit, non-partisan alliance on health care and comprised of over 70 organizations and representing over 150 million Americans),
  • National surveys show that the primary reason people are uninsured is the high cost of health insurance coverage.

  • Economists have found that rising health care costs correlate to drops in health insurance coverage.

  • A recent study by Harvard University researchers found that the average out-of-pocket medical debt for those who filed for bankruptcy was $12,000. The study noted that 68 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance. In addition, the study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses.

  • Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem.

  • A new survey shows that more than 25 percent said that housing problems resulted from medical debt, including the inability to make rent or mortgage payments and the development of bad credit ratings.

  • About 1.5 million families lose their homes to foreclosure every year due to unaffordable medical costs.

  • A survey of Iowa consumers found that in order to cope with rising health insurance costs, 86 percent said they had cut back on how much they could save, and 44 percent said that they have cut back on food and heating expenses.

  • Retiring elderly couples will need $250,000 in savings just to pay for the most basic medical coverage. Many experts believe that this figure is conservative and that $300,000 may be a more realistic number.

  • According to a recent report, the United States has $480 billion in excess spending each year in comparison to Western European nations that have universal health insurance coverage. The costs are mainly associated with excess administrative costs and poorer quality of care.

  • The United States spends six times more per capita on the administration of the health care system than its peer Western European nations.
If this sounds like a system worth maintaining, then I'd love to hear why that is.