Shared Knowledge May Not Be Much

Today, large groups of people form opinions based on slanted and limited knowledge which they cull from social networks, television clips, and headlines sans story. These snippets tell less than half the tale, but spread like a disease of dumb. Rather than finding one’s knowledge insufficient to discuss opinions among reasoned adults, people are finding themselves surrounded by others who hold the same limited information, and thus wind up believing their knowledge on a particular subject is complete. The circuit of reports in recent weeks concerning the Kony 2012 viral video produced by Invisible Children, Inc. emphasizes a need for individuals to carefully educate themselves on political matters and other news.

The intentions, motivations, and activities of the Invisible Children group have been scrutinized and called into question. So have the realities of the video’s subject, Joseph Kony. So have the actions of the United States in relation to the political situation in Uganda and neighboring nations. Trouble is, most of the scrutiny didn’t come until after millions of people viewed and shared the video, pledging support for its stated cause. Now confusion reigns among the general public, wondering if the whole thing was a con, a lie, an exaggeration, or a misunderstanding. Even worse, the public waits for the next snippet to arrive and give them the answers.

This abridgment of attention the public gives to matters of national or global concern fosters apathy. Accepting and passing on limited information poisons the mind against processing nuanced, complex political problems requiring nuanced, complex solutions.

We need to learn to seek facts before we share stories.

 

The opinions expressed in this post and throughout RedBrownandBlue.com are intended to encourage civil discussion and invite well-reasoned alternatives. You can participate in the conversation by finding us on Facebook or Twitter. We also encourage you to drop us a line by writing to the Editorial Director at jake@redbrownandblue.com. 

Jake Negovan drives Red Brown and Blue to be an outlet for progressive political opinion that leads to the betterment of life for the real, multicultural population of the U.S. and the rest of the world. His columns address the issues faced by our country as we continue growing toward a society of equality. More about Jake can be found on the web at jakejots.com or on Twitter@jakenegovan.



Killing in Afghanistan

One of the first stories coming across the news on Sunday morning told of a murderous spree during the night by a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. The reports claimed a single soldier, acting on his own, broke into the homes of civilians in the Afghan village of Zangabad and murdered sixteen people, including nine children.

The press reports, built largely from details released by NATO and the U.S. government, urgently point out  that the murderer acted alone and “outside his chain of command.” He left his post, noticed by Afghan soldiers who then reported his departure to the American forces, and the Americans went looking for him. At least one local witness, though, claimed to have seen several soldiers involved in the killings and reported that they were acting loud and intoxicated. Afghan officials question the reality of a U.S. soldier being able to stray from his post with such tight security enforced around the military base. Indications that the gunman suffered a “breakdown” arose in some stories while others specified that he had no prior record of mental or emotional difficulties during his time in the military. The bottom line is that we don’t know exactly what happened, and we probably won’t know the truth for a long time, if ever.

What we do know is that Americans have occupied Afghanistan for more than a decade. Many of the soldiers over there now were young children when the conflict began, and know no other condition for the country than as one of America’s remote battle grounds. In a fight that never had clearly defined goals, parameters, or even sides, the purpose of our continued presence blurs more with every passing day. The sanity of it all, sparse to begin with, is eroding, twisting the moral compass of men who expected to be heroes, turning them into monsters.

 

The opinions expressed in this post and throughout RedBrownandBlue.com are intended to encourage civil discussion and invite well-reasoned alternatives. You can participate in the conversation by finding us on Facebook or Twitter. We also encourage you to drop us a line by writing to the Editorial Director at jake@redbrownandblue.com. 

Jake Negovan drives Red Brown and Blue to be an outlet for progressive political opinion that leads to the betterment of life for the real, multicultural population of the U.S. and the rest of the world. His columns address the issues faced by our country as we continue growing toward a society of equality. More about Jake can be found on the web at jakejots.com or on Twitter@jakenegovan.



Reality Check for the Fantasists

Did the Republican Party finally get their fill of crazy in Michigan on Tuesday? Rick Santorum’s defeat in the Michigan and Arizona primaries after nearly a month of front-running momentum seemed to say so. In sports lingo, Santorum went for the “heat check” in the previous week by railing against college educations, JFK, and the separation of church and state. Turns out, he didn’t have the burn he thought he did, and the vote tally ended up pouring cold water over his aspirations of defeating Mitt Romney in Mitt’s home state.

It had been close – polls showed the two men running neck-and-neck until recent days when Santorum’s true colors started pouring out of his mouth. Rick revealed his beliefs that colleges and universities are liberal indoctrination factories populated by “snobs.” He also attacked the impassioned ideals of a man who not only isn’t alive to respond, but remains one of the most popular and beloved U.S. presidents in our history. John F. Kennedy’s words made Rick Santorum want to throw up, he said, because JFK had the audacity to suggest that no church control the American government, and that a man’s religion not be a barrier to participating in that government. Those ideas apparently make Rick Santorum violently ill.

Santorum’s aversion to non-theocratic American law should come as no surprise to anyone at this point. He has been clear and open that his faith is the basis of his world view, and his interpretation of that faith marginalizes women, homosexuals, non-Christians, Christians of non-Santorum-endorsed denominations, blacks, and non-Americans. The only surprising revelation arising recently is that his right-wing fantasies drift much further into the dark than even most Republicans are comfortable with. By attacking higher education, which many Republicans (including Santorum) benefited from, he went beyond attacking the public school system that the GOP has learned to loathe and went after a keystone of American success stories. By attacking Kennedy, he went beyond the dislike of all things Democrat and aimed at fallen president and a genuine American icon whose assassination is still remembered as a live event by many Republican voters.

The question must now be asked, after the voting GOP base has serial-dated a half-dozen hopefuls, if the insincere and out-of-touch Romney succeeds by being the least bizarre Republican candidate. The fantasists who crave a permanent religious conservatism, in which women are enslaved by biology and laws are transcribed from scripture, have now seen the flaws in Rick Santorum. The other handful of hopefuls who have come, gone, or chosen to senselessly linger each also had a moment of fervent support that dissolved once the reality of their own power fantasies came to light. The Republican base is begrudgingly coming to terms with fact that their array of candidates repels much of the general public because those candidates say out loud things intended to be whispered. That’s the reality, and there’s nothing that can change it at this stage.

Romney still hasn’t made a case for his candidacy. He’s letting his opponents do it for him by being themselves.

 

The opinions expressed in this post and throughout RedBrownandBlue.com are intended to encourage civil discussion and invite well-reasoned alternatives. You can participate in the conversation by finding us on Facebook or Twitter. We also encourage you to drop us a line by writing to the Editorial Director at jake@redbrownandblue.com. 

Jake Negovan drives Red Brown and Blue to be an outlet for progressive political opinion that leads to the betterment of life for the real, multicultural population of the U.S. and the rest of the world. His columns address the issues faced by our country as we continue growing toward a society of equality. More about Jake can be found on the web at jakejots.com or on Twitter@jakenegovan.



Should Race Matter to Colleges?

The news broke on Tuesday morning that affirmative action would be challenged again before the Supreme Court of the United States. In Fisher v. University of Texas, the Justices will hear the argument of a white applicant who believes she was denied admission to her college of choice because of her race.

Elevation of this case gives supporters of affirmative action plenty to worry about, considering the conservative bent of the present-day Supreme Court. The expectation/prediction/fear of many is that the Court will overturn their 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger which upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions to achieve a racially diverse student body, and instead fall more in line with the 2007 decision of Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, which claimed achieving racial diversity in the classroom was not the role of the state. Justice Elena Kagan announced she would recuse herself from this case, further diminishing the counterbalance to the modern Court’s inhumane conservatism.

Putting all legal precedents and possible ramifications aside for a moment, this case is an embarrassment to the American justice system. The plaintiff’s core argument is that she should not have been refused admission to the college she wished to attend. The racially charged claim of “reverse discrimination” is a sad excuse used by certain white people who have become accustomed to getting their way too often and then suddenly don’t. What the plaintiff, Abigail Noel Fisher, fails to understand, and what the legal forces propelling this case to the high court refuse to concede, is that being denied because of your race is a different thing than not being accepted in favor of other qualified students who are minorities. The first is racial discrimination. The second is a side-effect of anti-discriminatory policies. Other students were selected, and no more room was left at Miss Fisher’s preferred school. It should be noted that Miss Fisher was in no way denied a college education. She simply didn’t get to go where she really wanted to go. Same story that faces thousands of college applicants every single semester who don’t blame it on black people.

See, Miss Fisher had a way into the school that would have circumvented any involvement of race. The University of Texas employed an admissions policy to automatically admit students who graduated in the top 10% of their respective class, regardless of race or any other consideration. That policy created a means of admission for the majority of freshmen accepted to the school. Unfortunately for Abigail Fisher, her grades placed her in the upper 12% of her class. Close, but no cigar.The remaining slots were distributed at the discretion of the school’s admissions board who, in the interest of creating a diverse student body, considered factors including race, economic background, community involvement, and academic performance. Miss Fisher was not selected.

Without having reviewed elements of the case argued in lower courts, this writer has difficulty believing that Miss Fisher was denied admission BECAUSE of her race. As stated above, being excluded because of one’s race is an entirely different matter than being passed over in favor of someone else who isn’t white. Unless her admission file at UT is stamped explicitly as DENIED, REASON: WHITE PERSON, any number of factors could have led to her exclusion. Under current law, no one in the United States is guaranteed a college education, no matter what preparatory steps one may have taken on the way to high school graduation. Miss Fisher’s suit seems to presume otherwise and, even worse, accuse minorities of stealing her right to choose her collegiate destiny.

The apparent weakness of the plaintiff’s argument combined with the ideological disposition of the Justices raises serious questions about the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case. Rather than a pressing matter of concern for the American people, this looks like an opportunistic stab at affirmative action policies at a time the Court feels it has the votes to kill such policies. The only way for the Court to save face after dignifying this suit with its acknowledgement would be a brutal, shaming defeat of the plaintiff. That appears unlikely to happen. Because of the conservative leaning of the Court and the previous decisions rendered by the sitting Justices, a defeat of the defense seems far more assured.

The education provided by universities today does little to impress. More and more employers report graduates who appear unprepared for employed life. Minds are not tempered or challenged by American universities, but pushed through a systematic exchange of dollars for degrees. Despite the questionable job preparation though, college attendance does provide two important benefits. One is the degree itself, that simple piece of paper that opens the door to elevated incomes. The other is the cultural enrichment created by pooling individuals from different geographic regions, religions, sexual orientations, economic standing, and, yes, races. Eliminating affirmative action programs for college admissions limits minority access to the first of these (perpetuating historically below-average incomes) while also reducing the opportunity for all students to experience the second.

By taking on this case, the Supreme Court is poised to use Miss Fisher’s misguided sense of entitlement as a means of causing further damage to the quality and equality of U.S. education.

 

The opinions expressed in this post and throughout RedBrownandBlue.com are intended to encourage civil discussion and invite well-reasoned alternatives. You can participate in the conversation by finding us on Facebook or Twitter. We also encourage you to drop us a line by writing to the Editorial Director at jake@redbrownandblue.com. 

Jake Negovan drives Red Brown and Blue to be an outlet for progressive political opinion that leads to the betterment of life for the real, multicultural population of the U.S. and the rest of the world. His columns address the issues faced by our country as we continue growing toward a society of equality. More about Jake can be found on the web at jakejots.com or on Twitter@jakenegovan.



Let’s Talk About It

Red Brown and Blue is ALWAYS looking for writers interested in contributing material to the site. Are you angry about the way our Congress is held captive by special interests? Are you fed up with the unequal treatment received by women, minorities, and low-income families? Are you frustrated by the refusal by some elected officials to recognize the long-ago affirmed reality that separate is inherently unequal? We seek intelligent, forward-thinking individuals interested in writing about those concerns and ways we can work to change things for the better.

Red Brown and Blue would like to invite people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, lifestyles, religions, and ages to write about living, working, and trying in today’s United States. More importantly, we want you to speak about how things can be made better in our nation and around the world for all people, based on your own experience and point-of-view.

If you are interested and think you have what it takes, please write to jake@redbrownandblue.com and tell us a little about yourself. We’ll reply directly as soon as we are able with more details.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

The opinions expressed throughout RedBrownandBlue.com are intended to encourage civil discussion and invite well-reasoned alternatives. To join in, please visit our Contact Us page and drop us a line.



War on Religion? Women Aren’t Buying It.

People in the United States who consider themselves religious, particularly women of that group, should be angry with the Republican party. By continuing to equate faith and Biblical adherence with policies that are anti-female, anti-gay, and intolerant of anything outside a very selective and narrow interpretation of scripture, the GOP helps give Christianity a bad reputation. The continued antics of the extreme right paint Christians as unforgiving and completely antonymous with compassion.

Republican mouthpieces are choking the airwaves this week with cries of religious persecution, claiming that President Obama’s mandatory order to extend health insurance coverage of contraceptive medicine for all women violates the right of religious organizations who do not support birth control. The claim is shameful and ridiculous. (more…)