This isn’t going to be the normal “why is everyone so upset about everything” post; instead it’s why are our arguments and discussions not adjusting as facts are presented, kind of post.
When I used to work in retail, I once used the phrase “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” with a co-worker. Now, I was living in Colorado at the time, and that co-worker had no idea what I meant (so maybe it’s a regional idiom) and he looked as if I’d just said something majorly scandalous. He warned me that I shouldn’t say that in front of customers, or I might get fired (a concerned warning not a threat). I explained that much of a horse’s health is represented in his or her teeth, and that if someone gives you a free horse, you shouldn’t look to check how long the horse will live, or how useful it would be. He shrugged, unconvinced. Instead of hearing the facts of the case, he just felt his immediate visceral response and stuck with it. He didn’t push it further but it still drove me nuts.
The thing that is currently burning through social media and mainstream media that seems to be separating us into two factions is the NFL kneeling protests. Now, I’m not here to tell you which side is right, what’s been driving me crazy is the ignoring of facts when making this argument. We keep hearing on social media and in other forms about how disrespectful it is to our veterans.
When I hear, or read that, it drives me up a wall. If you want to disagree with the protesting, that’s fine, disagree. But this issue of disrespecting our veterans should be over, because Colin Kaepernick initially was sitting out the National Anthem, and then asked military friends of his what he could do to differentiate his protest from apathy or disrespect for them. He was told to kneel. So perhaps you don’t like it, and that’s fine, but he’s not being careless, or deliberately disrespectful, so that argument doesn’t hold up.
What sparked me writing about this today, was the story about the man who knelt at the White House during the National Anthem. I saw the article on Facebook, and in the comments section, largely saw many veterans checking in to mention their support for the kneeling. Now, I saw maybe 50 comments from veterans, and I’m sure I could find just as many that don’t think it’s appropriate, or who disagree with it, so I’m not trying to say that ‘veterans support this,’ as much as I’m trying to say ‘why are we using veterans, as excuse for this’ or in general why do we use them to excuse for so much?
I assume that veterans are like any other group of people in that some are one side of any particular issue, and others on the other side. I mean look at the fact that not all Jewish people side with Israel; you cannot assign beliefs to a demographic.
I remember about ten years or so, hearing someone say “my father didn’t fight for this country, and risk his life, so that gays could get married.” My response, although I wish I had done it more immediately, was to tell my father (later that day without the original party present) “Dad, I’m mad at you for not joining the military, because now I cannot tell people you didn’t fight for this country so that people could put pineapples on their pizza.”
Now, this type of ‘my feelings are more important that facts’ mentality isn’t limited to the conservative side of politics. A couple of years ago, I read an editorial on Upworthy (back when mostly they were still just sharing uplifting/heartwarming stories) about the “R” word. Now, I understand that using that word derogatorily is upsetting, and I have made a strong effort to strike it from my vocabulary. What I detested about the article, was that this guy who wrote it, was pissed off that ‘mental retardation’ had been a medical classification, and how insensitive that was. You want to change the medical classification? Ok, I’m fine with that. You want to get retroactively offended by clinical terminology that has taken on derogatory connotations? Come on. Let me use a different medical term to give an example of how ridiculous this is. Let’s say, we start using the term AIDS-y as a derogatory statement “oh that guy’s awfully AIDS-y” or “oh she looked pretty AIDS-y” and it’s becomes politically incorrect to use that term, that’s fine. If we then tried to change the name AIDS because of that connotation, ok. If you then want to be upset that it was once called AIDS, then you just don’t get it. By the way, you can fill in “Cancer-y” or whatever you like in the place of AIDS, the point remains the same.
This is what I’m asking of people. If you have an immediate reaction, or a visceral reaction, that is natural, but if you are explained the context, and facts please take those into consideration. It doesn’t have to change where you land, but it should at least change how you get there.