Twitter as social justice tool


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Chris Rock’s decision to spin humor out of negative Asian stereotypes only feels disappointing in context – it was done amid a backdrop of diversity awareness and directed at a group already convinced their minority status receives little attention.

As a comedian known for building legendary bits around the sort of self-deprecating humor ever present within the black community, we shouldn’t expect any ethnic group to be off-limits. If a “child labor” or “look at these kids math” joke had been delivered on some HBO special, we’d all have a laugh and think nothing of it. On this stage, however, it highlights the sort of hypocrisy and utter lack of sincerity which make the Oscars, and other events like it, so hard to stomach.

Before ‪#‎oscarssowhite‬ hit the internet like a cruise missile with its guidance system on the fritz, the Academy had no intention of wheeling Common out to deliver an award or Whoppi (a white favorite) a speech. The lack of authenticity is staggeringly apparent. It’s as if black celebrities, namely those tolerated by older white folks, were bombarded by the sort of desperate call typically reserved for super heroes – “Please, Mr. Freeman, we need your help. You’re our only hope.”

It was a line up change forced by the sheer volume of social media pressure rather than legitimate, grass-roots social relevance. It may grab Oprah’s attention, but kids struggling on the wrong side of St. Louis aren’t talking about Will Smith’s Oscar snub – they’ve greater, more personal concerns.

This sort of wildly successful, largely elitist Twitter campaign doesn’t gain traction within the Asian American community, even if it implies their inclusion. After all, nothing about #oscarssowhite explicitly sells diversity as a “black” issue. Yet, oddly, no other ethic group can claim they were widely represented on Oscar Sunday. Perhaps they rang Lucy Liu, found she wasn’t interested, and discovered they’d hit the end of their Rolodex. Sure, Sophia Vergara showed her face and Alejandro Gonzalez took home a statue, but in the shadow of 13 black presenters, it felt shallow.

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Why, then, do African Americans seem to hold sole ownership of racial diversity issues in 2016? They’re the most vocal and lack a sticking point which holds the tongue of other racial minorities – African Americans, as a general rule, don’t possess immigrant status and therefore project a greater ownership of this land and her culture. This perception doesn’t in any way diminish the clear impact of so called “immigrant” minorities on America’s cultural whole but rather highlights a difference in mentality.

The “nail that sticks out gets hammered down” or some other piece of pithy Eastern philosophy may work to explain the issue – keep your head down, work hard, stay out of the way, minimize your foot print. This is a message driven into the heads of many immigrant children and, in time, it finds its way through to subsequent generations in some form or another. To demand equality or “representation” is to create distinction. In order to make the statement “People like me aren’t being accounted for” you must necessarily accept that you’re also one of those people – a victim or product of uncontrollable forces. It breeds exactly the kind of categorization immigrant parents have spent years educating out of their children to great effect.

I suspect a good number of Asian Americans will shrug these comments off as trite or harmless, a perspective I’m in little position to judge. However, as is often the case, there’s another, more complicated and necessary conversation enclosed within otherwise trivial satire – the Oscars represents our need to measure the validity of someone’s plight by their desire to “rally the troops”, beat a drum or blow up Twitter. In a world increasingly bent towards the idea of “victim hood” as social currency, protecting rightful claims requires us to remain cognizant of how much we print. Hypocrisy and duplicitous demands represent a flooding of the marketplace, conditions which may lead to a wholesale loss of its value or legitimacy. Only when placed beside one another, as was the case Sunday, do we get a true sense for how social media melds with mob mentality to cloud an otherwise critical conversation. Black issues gained a nationally televised pulpit while Asians got a few math jokes..

God doesn’t kill people, Governments do.


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Religion, regardless of the extent to which you acknowledge its validity, has historically been misrepresented as a source of conflict. Piety and ethos are often the VESSEL chosen by GOVERNMENTS to justify oppression or conquest.

Pope Urban II, a governmental figure paraded as religious symbol, declared the first “Crusade” in 1080 AD under the guise of “liberating the holy land”. This was a border conflict given a similar religious pretext to that of his dictatorial seat. Muslims were progressing into Europe and threatened the overall impact of the Catholic church. Challenging this progress wasn’t a religiously driven decision,  rather one made by kings and cardinals for the sake of their own political existence.

The record of Spanish conquest throughout Meso and South America have a similar ring. While spreading Catholic virtue is often the cited rationale, their own tragic documentation shows an unapologetic resource grab grounded largely in Isabella’s thirst for personal power and wealth. Gold, silver and the clinical narcissism of European monarchy drove this genocide – god had nothing to do with it.

For a modern example we can examine any number of 21st century Islamic states. A young Muslim living in Syria joins ISIS because he is poor, under-educated and angry, not due to any authentic fundamentalism. Disgruntled, privileged youth flee Oxford, not in search of Muhammad’s grace or 40 virgins, but for rather a silly and mundane excuse – their parents allowed them so little hardship they rashly travel in search of it. Maniacal imams understand this brand of despair and capitalize on it like some desert version of a Wall Street suit playing the market.

We repeat the errors of antiquity because we so often don’t understand – or flatly deny – their true origin. Spirituality, a valuable and healthy human process, too often takes a fall in place of man’s true arch-nemesis – melancholy and powerful states.

Planned Obsolescence


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As a people, we continue to dismiss the following reality:

Consumer demand works as the primary force behind company decision-making.

I believe this to be true of nearly all products and industries, short of those being heavily manipulated by state and federal governments (Telecom, for example).

Before you conclude my lack of respect for basic decency and Pelicans forced to wear plastic on their feet, understand that I have a great deal of love for my home and her natural wilderness. Whether or not our environment is worthy of protection isn’t in question – the responsible party, however, is another story.

Corporations find success by mirroring our behavior or predicting its progression outright – the latter being reserved for only the most cunning among them. Apple, for example, has mastered this strategy, producing gadgets so closely linked to our own wants we’ve convinced ourselves of some deep-seeded, inherent need of them. Good companies act according to the wants and needs of the market – a market we define and re-define daily.

If consumers are comfortable buying in the “now”, meaning they aren’t concerned with the environmental footprint of their purchase, than you should expect companies such as Coke to mimic this behavior. Inversely, don’t be surprised when Whole Foods Market, a company whose marketing strategy is based around responsible agriculture, displays the flip-side of that coin. Questions surrounding a business’ moral obligation reflect an overall lack of understanding on our part, ignoring the larger role WE play in that process. They follow only where our purchases lead.

Never concern yourself with the motives of a business man, as what drives him is simple and to the point. There’s a built in complicity between the seller and buyer – both parties are required to produce a result. On the other hand, a state requires your consent on only the most basic of levels. In the event you aren’t interested in giving this agreement, they will take it from a neighbor on your behalf or by force if necessary. There’s no shared-fate within government structure. They seek power at my expense or progress, depending on how it can be best achieved at the moment.

Invest in the demon you know, not the devil you don’t.

Syrian intervention represents a historical cul-de-sac.


julius caesarIt’s sad how often the idea of “moral high ground” has been manipulated to justify the selfish initiative of tyrants and theological enslavement of nations. To our clear detriment, the ploy is effective more often than not.

Sunni clerics employ it to subjugate woman and justify 10 year-old suicide bombers. Joseph Smith spawned a Mormon religion whose perplexedly outrageous tenets are only over -shadowed by its congregation’s sheepish acceptance of them. Isabella tortured, maimed and dispossessed her own people as well as those a continent away.

Julius Caesar marched on Rome and her Republican Government, touting that the poor must be “freed from the tyranny and wickedness of aristocracy”. He failed to mention what he was marching back from- the slaughter and sale of 250,000 “poor” Gauls. Napoleon claimed monarchy amoral and conquered Europe on those grounds, only to crown himself emperor for life at Notre Dame.

Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Stalin used the morality of “economic fairness” to win the admiration of their people – an avenue then exploited to genocide a generation of scholars, philosophers, poets and painters.

History has given us too many examples to count. Blaming these misguided acts on inherent wickedness seems too simple, a cheap method of shifting responsibility onto man as a whole. If collective responsibility rests anywhere it may be in the opposite mentality – a natural sheepishness. Those among us who possess the traits of Caesar, Mao or Lenin – a deeply narcissistic sense of personal value relative to others and the willingness to exploit it – are few and far between. Our true plight lies in a devastating side product of these rare personality flaws in conjunction – that they often lead to power.

EU Economics 101


A comical, yet tragic, update regarding the economic bonfire in Western Europe has been long overdue – here we go. For anyone (most people) not following the scenario in Europe, I’ll give a quick recap.

When the majority of Western Europe bought into currency consolidation through the European Union, their most prominent point of foreign criticism focused on how more successful nations, such as France and Germany, could afford to bankroll the social welfare of nations who simply didn’t possess the resources or structure for long term economic competition. France and Germany believed the opportunity for expansion into such countries would help to mitigate their losses, but understood the rebuilding challenges would be tough at best.

We’ve now reached a point, due to ill-advised policy decisions and bad economic planning, where Greece, Spain and Portugal are all on the verge of complete collapse.

I know what you’re thinking. This is simple, right? I mean The Greeks messed up. They like, America overspent, and in a country that couldn’t pick up NYC’s garbage collection bill from last week. Wrong. The European Union, in an effort to avoid further devaluing of its own currency, is considering an almost complete write off of all Greek debt.

After an underwhelming meeting between the Obama administration and European leaders at Camp David over the weekend, it has become increasingly clear that Europe’s defaulting nations are unwilling to compromise on any plan that doesn’t involve debt consolidation or removal. Greece is even considering a return to the Drachma, a valueless currency they held prior to joining the EU.

The idea of Greece exiting the EU causes a ton of problems, the largest of which is a possible run on Greek banks.

Just as in the United States, Greece has deposit insurance. But with frightening talk of a return to the Drachma, Greeks in the know are pulling out. Experts believe any retreat from the Euro will result in substantial losses to the value of any currency remaining in Greek banks. Here’s the problem. Greece doesn’t have any money.

According to EU sources Spain would stand a modest chance of paying out what it owes account holders, while Portugal and Greece stand no chance at all. Through all of this, France and Germany are still not willing to watch these countries implode.

At what point do you simply let the Greek people suffer for the mistakes of their altruistic Government? I’d say $1 Trillion ago would have been a nice start. But we aren’t going to see a change. Greece and Portugal will fail to be sustainable countries because they have no industry or discernable value within the global economy – this is simply a fact. They have no resources. Their people have no sense of labor value. They produce little to nothing in the way of meaningful exports. They provide Western Europe with no positive contributions.

In closing, social engineering fails – again. But I guess we’re all just our brother’s keepers, right? I mean, that’s what Jesus supposedly told someone at some point. Apparently mankind has taken that passage to heart, and clearly to our own detriment.

Locke on paternal government


Locke theorized that at its core all human government lies rooted in paternalism. That is to say, to which ever extent a government feels compelled to justify its existence, it does so via the father-child relationship.

As a god fearing protestant whose entire philosophy centered around inherent human rights, Locke struggled with juggling his hatred of government with his admiration for the Biblical hierarchy of family. He believed, regardless of its collective nature, that a government should be viewed as an individual and subject to natural law. That notion created the following problem:

If governmental control is immoral due to one man’s lack of right to forcefully compel another, then a parent’s control over the actions of a child must also be immoral.

This concept challenges everything from child labor to age of consent laws. The currently accepted norm is that a society can collectively decide at what age a citizen is capable of making their own decisions, and in turn due rights. But does the right to remove life, liberty or property from anyone, at any age, fall under the umbrella of government? More importantly, does it even extent to parents? Does a 6 year old have the right to property ownership, or do his shoes belong to whomever provided them? A 10 year old clearly lacks the right to pursue his own liberty, as he’s legally linked to his parents for the first quarter of his life.

We so often make powerful statements, such as those contained within our bill of rights, only to backtrack towards something more socially acceptable. Progress is often the result of swallowing a tough pill, and they don’t come much tougher than parental rights.