Monday, October 25, 2010

A Recurring Nightmare

With the recent suicides of gay teens due to bullying from their peers, our social consciousness is once again focused on the practice of bullying. As someone who survived a lot of bullying in my elementary and secondary education, it's a subject that is close to my heart. It's nice to see that we're paying attention to a practice that can really scar a child or a teen for life or drive him or her to do something far more devastating.

Yet, I can't help but feel that we've done this dance before. Remember how we swore "never again" after Columbine? The two teenage killers were victims guessed it...bullying. Well, "never again" lasted all of about a year before things went back to "normal." How long do you think it will take us to forget about the lessons we're relearning about bullying now?

Sure, we can feel good about coming together and coming out against bullying. What happens when that good feeling you get by "standing up to the bullies" goes away? More often than not, the desire to act goes away as soon as our memories fade. How many more victims are caused by our short term compassion?

And the saddest part of it all? We still aren't dealing with the bullies themselves. Usually, there's a reason a kid or a teen takes up bullying as a misguided hobby, and more often than not it stems from the bully's family life. Abuse, apathy, twisted adult role models, or just general insecurity can all create a bully. In a way, the silent victims of bullying are the bullies themselves. Instead of trying to help them, though, we demonize them and chalk up their behavior to "being a bad kid."

As tragic as the recent suicides are, the fact we need them to remind us of the horrors of bullying is even more tragic. Until we get serious about bullying, count on there being more lives shattered because we fail to understand the problem.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Mr. Williams? A Ms. Sherrod on Line 2."

As I'm sure you've heard, National Pubic Radio has fired commentator Juan Williams for comments he made on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" that they felt were "inconsistent with its editorial standards and practices." What did Williams say that was so beyond the pale for NPR?


Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

Later in that same segment, Williams also took O'Reilly to task for his statement on "The View" where he painted Muslims as terrorists, saying Christians shouldn't be blamed for Timothy McVeigh.

First off, I'm not a fan of Mr. Williams' politics by any stretch of the imagination. But I will stand behind him on his firing because, in truth, his "offense" was taken out of context. When combined with his statement about Christians not being responsible for McVeigh (an odd comparison to make, but that's a blog post for another time), Williams doesn't come off as bigoted as NPR seems to think he is.

It's not unlike the Shirley Sherrod situation where her comments were taken out of context and used as justification for her to lose her job with the Department of Agriculture. Personally, I think Sherrod should have lost her job for reasons other than the comments she made at a meeting of the NAACP, but that's neither here nor there. The Juan Williams situation bears an eerie resemblance to the Shirley Sherrod situation in one important way.

It was white Leftists doing the firing in both cases.

Seems our lily white friends on the Left have no problem dumping a person of color when they become "radioactive," even when the comments in question are taken out of context and whipped up into a frothy glass of self-righteous indignation. But Leftists never take someone's words out of context and creates straw man arguments out of them, right? I mean, aside from Media Matters...and the Huffington Post...and DailyKos...and DemocraticUnderground...and, you get the picture.

As of this posting, our good friends at the NAACP have yet to weigh in on the Williams firing, but I'm sure they're working on their statement as we speak. Unless, of course, they're too busy whipping up more racist lies about the TEA Parties. Then, their response might be delayed, but I'm sure it will be lightning fast when they do it.

While I'm sure Mr. Williams isn't holding his breath waiting for the NAACP's statement, plenty of people from both sides of the aisle are upset with NPR's rash action, as we should be. Williams was fired for nothing more than expressing an honest personal opinion within the context of a larger conversation, a conversation I might add that the Left doesn't want. NPR's actions reek of the same reflexive desperation that Shirley Sherrod faced from the Department of Agriculture, and I see the same result coming. The white Leftists will eventually cave and give Williams his job back in the hopes that everything will be forgiven and forgotten.

Let's hope Juan Williams forgives, but never forgets.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Five Keys to Republican Victory in November

Michael Moore recently put out five keys to a Democrat victory in the midterm elections on his website. His winning keys ranged from "growing a backbone" to "supporting a moratorium on foreclosures." In that spirit, I wanted to give Republicans five keys to victory.

And unlike Mike, mine actually might work.

1) Let the Democrats go negative, but respond with a positive. In judo, a student learns to use an opponent's force against himself/herself. This election season, the Democrats are facing an uphill battle, so their natural inclination (having exhausted the possibility that they might run on their records) is to go negative. However, that doesn't mean the GOP needs to follow suit. Running a positive ad after a negative one from the Left will have a positive effect, in my opinion. Take Christine O'Donnell's ad responding to what Leftists like Bill Maher have said about her. It was simple, to the point, and barely referenced politics at all. Even an ad with a "soft negative" like Carly Fiorina's ad using footage of Barbara Boxer asking a soldier to call her "Senator" instead of "ma'am" would work.

2) Don't assume the TEA Party will vote Republican. A common theme with the Right these days is to call for "party unity" over voting for a TEA Party candidate we can support. That's what gave us McCain/Palin 08, another victory for Arlen Specter, and moderate Republicans getting control of the party. Yeah, how'd that work out for ya? The TEA Party may be made up of Republicans in great numbers, but that doesn't mean they'll vote Republican out of reflex. The GOP needs to take some stock in what the TEA Parties represent and work that back into the platform going forward. Saying you're a "compassionate conservative" that votes for continued funding of the Department of Education is nice, but making it so that parents have more say over curricula than some bureaucrat in Washington, DC, is nicer.

3) Make the Left run on the issues. You know the Left is going to go personal this year, but that's because they're desperate to avoid talking issues. With an electorate looking for more than typical politics, give them issues to discuss. Make a Democrat Representative like Alan Grayson defend his stance on health care reform. Make Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid explain the benefits of the stimulus package. And watch as they will do anything in their power to avoid giving a straight answer. They have no substance, folks. Time to step up and make the campaign about what the American people want.

4) Take command. Democrats love to say the Republicans are the "Party of No" because Republicans haven't done a good job at widespread articulation of their alternatives. It's almost like Republicans are ashamed to engage in the exchange of ideas, mainly because the Left has done such a masterful job at twisting the truth. In situations like that, you don't get frustrated and cede the battleground to the enemy. You charge ahead and you fight for the ground you're standing on. Democrats counted on Republicans to be lazy and still cowed by their connections to George W. Bush, but with an electorate that no longer cares what Bush did by and large and a Democrat Party so eager to bring up Bush in lieu of talking about the current President, now is a golden opportunity to take back the intellectual and rhetorical high ground.

5) Fight for every last vote. Conventional thinking on the Right has it that certain groups won't vote Republican, so they're written off (case in point: blacks). Yet, even with overwhelming odds like that, there are people seriously rethinking their support for Obama and Democrats in general. That's a good sign for the GOP, especially going into 2012. Closer to home, as it were, you might be able to sway some votes from the Independent and conservative Democrat side by engaging them, giving them some kind of sign that you might actually care about this country and have ideas on how to fix it. Even if a voter is 99% sure he or she is going to vote Democrat in November, there's still 1% that can be used as a foothold.

It may be short notice for the GOP, but using these ideas in the home stretch could mean the difference between victory and defeat in several close races across this country.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Adding Insult to Injury

Remember when Leftist talk show host Ed Schultz claimed he could get 300,000 people at a rally in Washington, DC, with six months of promotion?

Well, back in June of this year, African-American leaders started talking about organizing a rally to counter Glenn Beck's 8/28 rally. Let's see...late June to early October is...right around 3 1/2 months. Even with unions and the NAACP busing people in for the rally, estimates have the 10/2 rally at around 150,000 people.

Oh, I'm sure Ed will come out with an excuse that "we didn't have six months to promote it like Glenn Beck did," but the point is still that they had the time to promote it heavily, and they failed. Even with the "star power" of someone like Ed Schultz, they couldn't muster much more than half of what Beck's 8/28 rally garnered. (And, no, I don't believe the 87,000 number CBS put out because I've been to the Lincoln Memorial twice now. The length of the reflecting pool alone could accommodate that many people as densely populated as it was at the 8/28 rally.)

But, I guess it bears repeating. There are only two words that fit yesterday's rally in DC: epic fail.

Saturday, October 2, 2010