The Colin Kaepernick affair is a reminder to me of the dangers inherent
in a society that insists on conformity, and celebrates intolerance and
Seventy-five years ago Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union stood out as
bastions of conformity and intolerance in the world, but they were not alone.
Conformity and intolerance were the watchwords of the day, even in the great
Democracies of the United States and Great Britain. The United States was about
to lock up more than one hundred thousand of its citizens whose sole crime were
being of Japanese descent. Judge Lynch and Jim Crow still ruled in the former
Confederacy and elsewhere. In Great Britain, Alan Turing, the man whose
machines would crack Germany's Enigma code machines, would have been
immediately arrested and imprisoned if he had acted on his homosexual desires,
and the German Enigma code would have remained unbroken, changing the war's
course, and leading to hundreds of thousands of additional casualties for the
Allies. Finally, women were second class citizens as much in the great
Democracies as they were in the great Dictatorships.
Things have improved since, at least superficially. Judge Lynch doesn't
rule so often and blatantly in the United States these days as he once did,
although cell phone cameras are showing us how often law enforcement still acts
as judge, jury, and executioner even today if you are poor, a minority, or
both. Jim Crow has gone underground for the most part, but still rears its ugly
head more often than I like or we should be comfortable with. Alan Turing would
no longer be arrested and imprisoned, but there is still a violent strain of
homophobia throughout much of our nation and the world. While women's lots have
improved since the Second World War, they still receive less than four-fifths
the salary a man does for the same job, and are subject to proving they were
raped, and the way they were dressed, or the amount of alcohol they consumed,
didn't justify their being raped.
Conformity, especially in the form of custom, has always been a higher
hurdle to overcome than we care to admit. It usually requires the death of all
the generations for whom a custom existed, such as racism against a given
people, or a prejudice or assumption about a group that exists, finally
disappears. This is the reason that the Washington Redskins still bear that
odious name, and Jews are still called "Christ-killers," even though Jesus was
killed by the Romans, and the Jewish Sanhedrin could have ordered Jesus stoned
to death, as they did the Apostle Stephan, if they had so desired.
The current situation at the Standing Rock Lakota Reservation in North
Dakota is another example of this problem. The genocide against the Native
Americans has always been about the white man's obsessive search for material
wealth. The Trail of Tears was about the discovery of gold in the Carolinas,
Georgia, and Alabama. The Whites certainly didn't wish to share the newly found
wealth with the Cherokee "savages." So they exiled them to Oklahoma.
is happening to the Lakota at Standing Rock, the Paiute at Golden Butte, and
poor and minorities around the country is but a prelude to what is going to
happen to us individually, as well as our country as a whole, if the
Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), and Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership (TTIP) are ever accepted and ratified by the U.S.
Senate. We are already seeing the dominance of corporate interests over human
rights and needs here in the United States. Ratification of either or both of
those treaties will, for all intents and purposes, nullify our Constitution
with respect to anything having to do with those treaties, because both the
Constitution and Treaties together are the Supreme Law of the Land. (Article
VI, Section 2)
great Hunkpapa Sioux leader Sitting Bull stated in a speech in 1875:
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