Just enrolled in my final class for my anthropology AA. When I’m done that class, I’ll actually have a degree in anthropology. Not a big degree but a degree. That will be my first degree in anything. More importantly, my dream of being the go-to guy when a gang of local teens accidentally summons an ancient demon using a Ouija board they bought at the local haunted curiosity shop will be that much closer to realization. As will my other dream of being defenestrated by a demon and impaled on a picket fence or some such thing.
I’ve also been accepted into ASU’s online anthro program. I know ASU has a bit of a reputation as a party school but that’s probably just because everyone is drunk all the time.
I’m really pretty happy about that. Continuing in anthropology as opposed to sociology or, god help me, the humanities, was pretty important to me. I don’t even have anything against sociology but I prefer the more qualitative approach of ethnography to the more quantitative sociological approach. Both have value but, as for me, I have a preference and it’s anthro.
Anyway, onto the news.
Some controversy here over the last couple of weeks. The long and short of it is, after some cluster outbreaks involving migrant workers and their workplaces, the government of Gyeonggi province basically fucked up their response. They decided to mandate that all foreigners in that province needed to get tested within a timeframe –under penalty of fines– and then didn’t even provide adequate facilities or staffing for the sudden influx.
This met with protests and formal complaints, Korea’s human rights watchdog got involved, the whole thing was ruled discrimination, and that scheme has been canceled.
Oddly enough, I don’t think the intention of this plan was to discriminate or scapegoat. I think the government was, in a ham-fisted way, attempting to help. They wanted to provide testing to migrant workers. The devil is in the details, however. One always has to be very careful of associating the virus with groups of people. Not just because of issues of human rights, which are, of course, vitally important, but because it doesn’t take many wrong steps towards blame to discredit and imperil the entire epidemiological response.
There’s a lot of ways to categorize risk groups but “foreigner” just isn’t one of them.
Speaking of Which
The news out of America regarding anti-Asian racist violence is terrible. I feel like I have to be very careful on this subject, lest I get it twisted, or my readers do.
So to start with: I think the shootings were racist attacks and hate crimes. I believe that racism needs to be addressed and stopped. The state sponsored racism is some of the worst going and it needs to be addressed and stopped – through defunding the police and funding social services. And also, racists within police departments (schools, hospitals, and government bureaucracies, and private companies) need to be rooted out. That the “bad day” cop in Atlanta was, after buying, wearing and racist anti-Asian t-shits, able to keep his job, let alone be put in front of a microphone to address the press after an act of anti-Asian violence, is unfathomable. Or should be. These days, it’s all too easy to fathom.
And that level –the level of t-shirts and statements from public officials– is probably the level where hate crime laws would be most effectively used. That cop’s shirt was hate speech.
At the same time, I’m tired of all the concern about motivations. Not to say that these are not a thing to be unconcerned about. But I really believe that some time, a lot of time, needs to be spent on means. Guns need to be banned. Because you can have a world with racism and full of misogynists where those women are still alive. It’s not a perfect world or even a good one but it’s one where these women are still alive. It’s a better one.
An example — this piece of news floated across my desk yesterday.
Police said Tuesday they are searching for a man who allegedly threw lukewarm coffee at women on the street in a suspected hate crime against females.
Police in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, received reports that a man on a bicycle hurled coffee at a total of six women who were alone at a bus stop or on a bench at night from March 9-21. The victims are all in their 20s.
Police are trying to track down the suspect through closed-circuit TV footage.
“As it is suspected as a crime targeting women, we are mobilizing all possible resources to track down the suspect,” an officer said. (Yonhap)
I don’t share this to show ‘this is better and that is worse’ or anything like that, nor to diminish what happened to the victims of this assault by contrasting it with mass murder. To my view, getting lukewarm coffee thrown on you by a sexist maniac is fucking awful. That’s not cute. That’s serious shit. If it doesn’t appear so to you, you need to stop comparing everything to what should be unthinkable atrocities. And the man who threw that coffee needs to face serious criminal repercussions. Fuck that guy. He’s a total asshole and he needs to pay. And these women need to feel safe and be safe in public. That goal is incompatible with dickheads like this wandering around throwing beverages on people.
To me — the difference between this coffee idiot and the mass shooting idiot is not in their attitudes or motivations. I bet they have pretty much the exact same attitudes and motivations. Nor is it in their personal sense of restraint. Both are willing to purchase and hurl projectiles at people, stalk around for vulnerable victims, terrorize people, and give no shits about other people’s boundaries. And I bet both blame their victims for their feelings.
The difference is in their means and their capacity to inflict damage. In one case, the asshole has to buy a coffee, bike around while it cools off, then launch his hate-driven assault. In the other, the asshole can get a machine gun, drive 30 miles between attacks, without his weapon losing any ability to inflict harm, and just keep shooting.
Racism and misogyny needs to end. The capacity of racists and misogynists to inflict harm also needs to be limited. And I do not think these goals are opposed.
There is no opposition between the goal of ending racism, misogyny, homophobia, or transphobia and ending gun violence. It’s not like shootings such as these help to solve the racism problem. I have little faith in the illuminating properties of mass murder.
Some people on the left might point to self-defense as being a reason to keep guns around. I think that’s just a fantasy land. It’s a leftist version of ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.’ It’s just some sort of dream of power that doesn’t line up with reality. When you look at the amount of women murdered with guns in domestic disputes, by ex-boyfriends, the many more who live in quiet terror of an armed partner, and you compare that to the amount that actually employ a gun in self-defense, it’s pretty clear that the easy availability of guns is not meaningfully opposed to rightwing terror. These guns are much more often a tool of it. And that’s not even getting into the racist patriarchal ‘protect my family’ bullshit or how the American arms industry murders and helps to murder people abroad – many of whom are just standing up for their rights.
And when it comes to the self defense of an armed insurrection within America, well, there might be some basically delusional misunderstanding of what small arms in the hands of untrained people can actually do against an M1-Abrams tank, a group of battle hardened soldiers, or an air-force.
But some people have invested a lot of mental energy and their hard-earned money into these fantasies and, no doubt, having guns around, makes them feel better. As is usual, it’s mainly other people who pay the cost of hallucinations of liberty. Better for kids to have active shooter drills than for an adult to face the world without a gun, I guess.
Ending prejudice is incredibly important. Limiting and ending its capacity to do harm is more important than changing attitudes. While it has to happen in lockstep with other measures, banning guns is also foundational to both projects. Maybe the easiest part.
The gun problem is a problem that could be solved with pretty much one law. No guns allowed. And hit the goddamn manufacturers first. Close that industry.
I also get this feeling like . . . I don’t really know how to put it. Gun laws and practical measures only ever seem to really talked about when it’s dead white kids or politicians. When it’s anyone else, it’s just this all encompassing fog of “fixing the hate in the hearts of Americans.” And I kind of think that discourse, in itself, speaks to how lives are being prioritized. With some people, concrete measures get discussed. With others, it’s like a nationwide therapy session. One way or another, it seems like these murders get treated like the oppressor’s feelings are the first thing that needs to be solved. It all has some whiff of “thoughts and prayers.”
And, like, I get it. When some bullshit about “bad day” gets trotted out by the public authorities, that narrative has to be hit back against. But I’m also just sick and tired of the cop bullshit setting the lines and terms of discourse. That bullshit has to be hit back against but we also need to be able to think beyond reacting to their malarkey.
It’s fucking inadequate is all. A lot of it is. The approach to racism, to guns, to just so much of it. Just totally inadequate.
I hope no one takes any of this to mean that I don’t think the racism is a serious problem. I do. And it’s not one concern to the exclusion of others but it’s one I just haven’t seen brought up much. I think it needs to be. Aside from the rest of all *gestures around wildly at everything* it’s just that I much prefer racists and racism to be unarmed.
In Other News
It’s tomato season and I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce. You might be able to spot the tomatoes I used in a bag on my table here.
Today I have to give some of my sauce away. I bumped into my barber on the way home yesterday and, short conversation later, she told me how much she liked spaghetti. So I’m going to bring her some of my sauce today and I hope she enjoys it.
And I spotted and identified a new-to-me bird.