Thursday, 12 January 2017

New Years Retribution

Since 2017 first rolled around, I really wanted to write a blog post, to get back into my rhythm of writing. Last year, I wrote at least one blog post a month, and I like that, I want to see if I can keep that up.
But . . . I couldn't think of anything to write about .Well, nothing but two things. A New Years Resolution list, or a look at the current state of affairs. However, I didn't want to do a New Years Resolutions list because I am not in the mood, last year's resolutions didn't work out that well, and whilst I do have things I want to do this year, I don't want them to be "resolutions". And I don't want to look at the state of affairs because this is not a newspaper, this is a blog, and the state of affairs are pretty gloomy.

So, desperate for ideas, I looked through my Archives, and what I found was that in January and the early posts of the year, I only spoke about two things. I spoke about my New Years Resolutions, or I spoke about something gloomy. Occasionally I wrote fiction, but I have a lot of fiction I'm already working on which I can't put on the blog.
In 2014, my grandmother had a heart attack, and I wrote about writer's block.
In 2015, I wrote a piece about my father's motor vehicle accident.
In 2016, it was another instalment of my Healing Diary, about my chronic anxiety.

So, as much as I want to break from tradition and write something encouraging or interesting for the new year, it seems like January is the depressing month. It's the month when children are peeled away from their holidays and sent to school; the month when tense marriages that were faking it to get through the holidays finally decide that it's time to admit to the kids that they need a divorce & the month when I stop side-stepping the bullshit, and start talking about why this year looks like it is going to suck.
The Word of the Day is: 'MELANCHOLY'

Melancholy /'melənkolee/ n. 1. A gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression. 2. Sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness. 3. Archaic a. The condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine to cause gloominess and depression. b. Black bile. ♦adj. 4. Affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy; mournful; depressed: A melancholy mood. 5. Causing melancholy or sadness; saddening: A melancholy occasion. 6. Soberly thoughtful; pensive.

To begin with, a lot of people have said that 2016 is one of the worst years ever. to which I can only say: No, it's not, don't be so stupid.
Conversationally? Informally? Sure, you can say it's the worst year ever; when I wake up in the morning, and there's no milk, I feel like it's the worst morning ever. Humans "do" hyperbole, it's part of our charm. But there are hundreds of online articles saying "Is 2016 is the worst year ever?"; "It's okay, 2016 is officially the worst" & "Memes that capture 2016 (and why it sucked so much)" and other titles of that nature, and I feel that calling it something like that dilutes the seriousness of the situation, because when I see the words "Worst Year Ever", my brain autocorrects it to "Wurst Yeer Evar, waaah!", because it's just clickbait bullshit, it just sounds like a stupid, internet meme, but that takes away from the truth of the situation, and what it actually means moving on from it.

So no, it was not the worst year ever. There have been years with holocaust, genocide, natural disasters, war, starvation and torture. I mean, do you even know about 72,000 B.C.E.? Humankind experienced a near-extinction event. Not to mention 1348, 1836 or 1919, but you can read about them in this article by Rebecca Onion.
There have been worse years, and to say that it's the worst just because it is the one you feel the worst about right now only shows how myopic you are.
But that doesn't mean last was a good year, it sucked a lot. But it doesn't suck because Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman didn't make money at the box office, because Clinton lost or because several celebrities died. No, from what I can tell, this year sucked for three reasons:

ISIS, Racism. & Trump.

Now, I am not here saying that your personal upset from 2016 doesn't matter. Yes, a lot of celebrities died. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, George Michael & Carrie Fisher - it was the Year that the 70's Died.
And that's before I mention Anton Yelchin, who was taken much too soon.

In January, there was the Zika Virus Outbreak that devastated thousands. In February, North Korea launched a long-range rocket into space, to worldwide disdain; then in September, North Korea conducted one of its the largest nuclear missile tests, also to worldwide disdain . . . it just seems like North Korea is seeing what it can get away with, at this point.
In June, Britain elected to exit the E.U., causing not only a lot of regret from UK citizens, but sent Britain's future into turmoil, saw the prime minister step down and left the world shocked. In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by pro-Russian separatists near the Ukraine-Russian border, killing all aboard, almost 300 passengers and crew. And in September, it was confirmed that Global CO2 levels exceeded 400 parts-per-million, the highest recorded in two-million years.

These all sucked, yes, but crap like this happens all the time. See, swine/bird flu; warfare, aeroplane crashes and North Korea over the last decade for examples. None of these make this year in any way worse than years prior, or even noteworthy in any conceivable way. Years happen; Good things happen, Bad things happen, but ultimately Life goes on.
But to me, the moments that mattered, which will not only be written in history books, but remembered for their impact on the globe, are represented by "ISIS", "Racism" & "Trump". So, let's talk about last year . . .


ISIS
I sidestep other tragedies and focus on ISIS because whilst those other events were horrific, they were "relatively" self-contained. But the effects of ISIS on the world at large is having pervading effects on all of us. Not only from a standpoint of security, but culturally, terrorism is doing it's job and scaring people, leading to political ramifications.
In my own country of Australia, we haven't had many visible ISIS attacks. Sure, there was the Sydney Siege or Lindt Café Hostage Crisis, wherein that jackass claimed to be a part of Islamic State, but we killed that piece of shit and moved on. And there are some stabbings and shootings with people claiming they are part of Islamic State, and one bombing that was stopped before it happened, but mostly these idiots just get killed pretty quickly, and it doesn't even hit the headlines.
See, our fears are not so much fear for personal safety, but fear for our friends, family and country. Because those attacks which have occurred outside of our borders have been disgustingly visible.
In March were the Brussels Bombings, a series of co-ordinated suicide bombings killed 32 people, and the three pieces of shit that ended their pointless lives. In June, everyone worth a damn was devastated by the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, which saw 49 innocent people murdered, along with the worthless waste of space that killed them; this not only hurt those involved, but sent ripples of anxiety through the LGBT community. And of course, the Bastille Day Attack, a heartless vehicular slaughter of over 80 people, which was heroically ended when police exchanged gunfire with the truck and shot to death that piece of human garbage.

These attacks, while committed by delusional fuckwits who couldn't tell jihad from Jehovah, are understandably scary. And this represents, for many Australians, the threat of what awaits us if we do not keep terrorism out of Australia. So, not only has this killed several hundred innocent people, but it's made many Australians become close-minded and scared.
When you're scared you get stupid. Fear and adrenaline are great for acting quickly, and in the spur of a moment when facing a snake, you either run away or attack the snake and you're life depends on such quick action. But this is no time for acting quickly and rashly, because Muslims aren't snakes, they're human beings. And more importantly, there is an important fact that these people are ignoring: it is this fear and xenophobia which makes Muslims feel singled out, to the degree that they lash out by joining an ideology that promises more than it can deliver.
What we need to do is sit down and talk with one another, integrate and be the multiculture that I know and love. You can just imagine, to these terrified xenophobes, it's exactly like I'm saying "don't be scared, sit down and talk to the snake", because that's all they see. But they're not monsters, they're people. Sure, Muslims are capable of serious harm, but so are other people. Scroll up if you don't believe me, I already listed a bunch of disasters from 2016.

But when you think of Islam as the enemy, you're doing Islamic State's job for it. Islamic State declared a caliphate, saying that all Muslims must either pledge allegiance to the caliph of Baghdadi, or be considered the enemy. So when you turn Muslims away, you are telling them that ISIS is right, as far as you're concerned, they're part of the caliphate.
If you honestly think that, you're a moron. I hate Islam too, but I'm an aggressive atheist, I also hate Catholicism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism & Taoism. But I like Muslims, and I do think they belong in this country, not only because they are human beings, but also because they have a much greater chance of putting these regressive beliefs behind them in this country, than in the ones where sharia is actually an enforced law.


Racism
This leads me neatly into racism. Now, you can tell me all you want that Islam is not a race, and you don't have to because I already know that. But I don't care, because there are racist connotations to certain kinds of anti-Islamic sentiment. We all know that Islam is not a Western religion & we all know that historically, Muslims tend to be African, Arabic or Oriental. So, not only are racism and islamophobia not mutually exclusive, they can easily go hand in hand.
For example, one of the reasons why I know that the actions of Islamic State have lead to a greater degree of racism is because people managed to vote Pauline "Please Explain?" Hanson into parliament. Pauline Hanson, who says we're "swamped by Asians"; Pauline Hanson, who says we need to stop African immigration because otherwise your daughter might "end up with AIDS" and Pauline Hanson, who openly compared Muslims to dogs and wants to get rid of all the mosques.
Now, whilst I personally think that she should deepthroat a shotgun and swallow the load, the reason why she was voted in was because she was a racist, nationalist, xenophobic, Christian bigot.
People voted in a bigot because they are feeling bigoted and felt that a bigot would best represent their interests. They voted her in, because they think we need to keep Muslims out and protect Us from Them, because they think foreign Muslims are terrorists.

Now, whilst this is a damning fact of our own bigotry, racism is not as visible here, just yet, but internationally several public figures are also calling for people to ask whether Muslims belong in Western civilization, and focus on keeping our countries and culture segregated from them. But why?
It's because they think Islam, terrorism, crime, poverty and alien culture is something you can "keep out" of your country if you build a big enough fence. This viewpoint is not only wrong, but toxic, as it can also go hand in hand with other ideas, like nationalism, jingoism, white supremacism, neo-nazism & xenophobia. Now, that's a lot of stuff, and some of those connections may seem tenuous, but the facts seem to back me up on this one.
Not only did Australia vote in a racist minister, but Britain's people voted out of the E.U., in the interests of maintaining nationalist business policies and local manufacturers; America voted in a vocal racist, sexist, anti-intellectual bigot & several European countries have either discussed, attempted or succeeded in keeping out asylum seekers seeking refuge from the Syrian Civil War.
Blogger's Note: the Syrian Civil War is an incredibly complex political situation, and whilst I stand by my statement that nationalism and racism are part of the problem, it's a multi-faceted issue more complicated than that last statement implies. There are historical, political, religious, economic and revolutionary precursors which ultimately lead to the conflict. I spent a long time reading the wikipedia page, and I couldn't unravel this can of worms in any coherent way. )
Now, I can't lie, I know that the Syrian Refugee Crisis is nothing to turn up your nose to. It's not a simple problem that can be solved by sitting in a circle, joining hands and singing kumbaya. However, the reason why I call nationalist attempts to turn away these people "racism" is because they are human beings, and I don't care where they came from, because when it comes to questions of morality I hold the tenet of the Veil of Ignorance to be of utmost importance. These are human beings, and just because they were born in a different country doesn't mean that they don't deserve the same basic human rights that you have. And wanting to keep them out just because they were born somewhere else is patently absurd.
To me, the major issue with this is the perspective of these people saying "Yes, they need help, but from where I'm sitting, I need to protect MY people," which is pretty close-minded, considering that the "I need to take care of MY people" mindset is what lead to the Syrian Civil war in the first place . . . not to mention, they would be your people if they were sitting where you were. What makes those people any less "your people" than any other living human being? Oh yeah, they don't look and sound the same, you're right how foolish of me. Please, give me a moment so that I may write that down in a document and file that under "Things that Don't Fucking Matter".

But that aside, what really matters is that all of this is leading to further and more dangerous racism. To things such as white supremacism, xenophobiaanti-semitism, racial prejudice, institutional discrimination, racial violence, nationalist jingoism. & neo-nazism.
Which leads me neatly into . . .


Trump
This is very simple, so I'm going to state it very clearly:
Donald Trump is an imbecile. If you voted for Donald Trump, you are an idiot.
If, however, you think that Donald Trump is full of hot air, and whilst he isn't great, he is still capable of doing some good while he's in office, you're a fucking moron.
Donald Trump is an anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-intellectual, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, crooked, cronyist, elitist, capitalist, racist, rapist, nationalist, bigoted, climate-denying, conspiracy-theorist, nazi-apologist bastard son of a motherfucker.
I am not of the opinion that Hilary Clinton would make a good president. In fact, there seems to be every indication that it was her direct influence that pushed Bernie Sanders (a great candidate) out of the top spot, so I actually kind of hate her. But she isn't Trump. And anything is better than Trump.

I have heard Trump supporters claim that, while Trump does say some outlandish things, most of the worst stuff, like locking out all Muslims, making Mexicans build a stupid wall & suing everyone he doesn't like just won't happen due to logistical and pragmatic concerns, meaning that there's nothing to worry about. To this I say, "scroll up, fuckwit, you're a fucking moron". Allow me to illustrate why . . .
There was a recent calamity whereby Trump off-handedly tweeted that it would be too expensive to build Air Force One, it lowered Boeing's stock by 1%, costing shareholders over $550,000,000, and that wasn't the first time. A similar tweet about the cost of the F-35 fighter jet saw Lockheed-Martin's stocks take a dip as well, and all of this was when he was just president-elect.
Due to the fact that he has not openly distanced himself from white nationalist groups and "alt-right" neo-nazis (and in fact, has embraced them, and even added several to his cabinet), after he won the primary vote, there was a marked and unprecedented increase in racially motivated crimes, particularly anti-Muslim violence, anti-Semitic violence and vandalism against synagogues and mosques including sending threatening letters advocating genocide and defacing property with swastikas.
And then there's the fact that the Trump administration is dismantling the Affordable Care Act, and inevitably going to scrap Obamacare. I could explain how scrapping this also removed the anti-discrimination provisions which once protected people of any gender or sexual orientation, which is a step backwards for the lgbt community. But, it's probably better to explain that whilst Obamacare was not a great system and had quite a few flaws, it was never designed to be great but rather a stepping stone towards an affordable single-payer system, or a hybrid system like Medicare which is available here in Australia. By removing the opportunity for people to use Obamacare, you also remove the opportunity for everyone to have government-funded medical needs as a fundamental human right, which is just stupid.

And I haven't even mentioned that Trump is a terrible businessman who has gone bankrupt several times, and how his Vice President Pence is the worst thing to happen to the gay community since the AIDS epidemic.
The worst part of this all is I'm not even American, and I am reaping the repercussions of you fucking morons who elected a fucking moron into the fucking White House, despite the fact that majority of the fucking country doesn't want to be lead by a racist fucking Cheeto in a bad wig.
Despite the fact that I'm Australian, and live on the other side of the world, I have to care because Australia is allied with America; I have to care, because of crap like what I mentioned above, how unrestricted tweets have a staggering effect on the economy; I have to care, because America is a cultural icon which sets a precedent for things like marriage equality and social justice, which will take a step back at this point & of course, I have to care because my girlfriend is American, and all of this shit that I've listed already, and several things I can't even begin to elucidate upon, keeps her awake at night.
At best, at the very best case scenario, we're looking at a George Bush Jr. 2.0; a moron that the world points and laughs at whilst he stumbles dick-first into controversy and ridicule, but ultimately doesn't do too much damage. And let's not forget, that was no walk in the park either . . .
"[People say:] 'Boy, you comedians are really gonna miss George Bush, I'll tell you that right now, boy. You comedians sure gonna miss George Bush, what are you gonna do man? . . . gonna miss that guy.'
I'll tell you what, I would
happily give back the ten minutes - tops - I wrote about George Bush, if we weren't torturing people and our money wasn't on fire. It was NOT fucking worth it! It was ABSOLUTELY not worth it . . ."
- Patton Oswalt, "My Weakness is Strong" (2009)
So, I don't even want to think about the worst case scenario, but I may very well have to, since I no longer have the option of pretending that nobody is stupid enough to actually vote for Donald Trump.
And if you're in any way insulted by this. If you're a Trump apologist, if you're Alt-Right, Republican or in some way upset by the fact that I don't have any respect for your choices or political opinion . . . I really don't give a shit.
I am not a Democrat, I am not Left-wing, I am not Liberal. I am a Skeptic on the side of Reason, and this is not a reasonable situation. You are stupid, and I hate that you are inflicting other people with your stupidity.

- - -

But I'll tell you what, I do have some resolutions for this year. I have three, one each to combat the leading spearhead of bullshit that everyone dealt with because of 2016. But these are not just resolutions, this is an eye for an eye, I am seeking retribution from what 2016 took away from us. So, for this blog in 2017, I plan on doing what I can to respond to each of these factors, in turn, and dismantling them.
For ISIS, I may look into their backwards bullshit, explain how they are all uneducated and sexually frustrated; or I may just do some posts explaining why Islam and religion in general are dangerous and backwards cults, with harmful and outdated traditions which humanity should, by all rights, outgrow.
For Racism, I may look into the psychology of these racists and neo-nazis, and expose how all their racial hatred and xenophobia comes from a deeply seated inferiority complex, and is ignorant of relevant science, reason and logic. Or, I may just do a post explaining that Hitler wanted to fuck his cousin, and enjoyed it when women pooped on his face (that is not a joke, look it up).
For Trump, well . . . in response to Trump, I have already seen great things come out of artists and the media. Doug Walker of The Nostalgia Critic ended a movie review by denouncing hate for hatred's sake, because although it's hard, we should be kind and listen to one another, so that we can work together. John Oliver of Last Week Tonight, responded to the president-elect with a call to action for his audience to fight for the causes they care about which are under threat in this presidency, by financing the NAACP Legal Fund, MALDEF or the International Refugee Assistance Project; donating to the Natural Resources Defence CouncilPlanned Parenthood or the Centre for Reproductive Rights, giving to the Trevor ProjectLambda Legal or if you are low on funds, supporting your local branches of these kinds of organisations by volunteering your time.
I find that pretty inspiring, so my response to Trump will be that I will stand in opposition to everything that he represents. I will promote gay, lesbian and bisexual rights and the rights of transgendered people; I will promote multiculturalism, human rights and community; I will promote feminism, respect and equality and I will promote science, logic and reason. But more than any of that, I will promote freedom of speech, truth and the rights of every single person to stand up and say:
  "You know what? Fuck you, Trump. This sucks, and it's your fault for being so fucking stupid."

In conclusion, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and Fuck 2016. Next time, I will probably write about something nicer. Which, considering how bad all this shit is, probably won't be too hard.