14 May 2018

Not in My Name Bozo

I feel like I owe an apology to a Facebook friend - even though the bozo who verbally attacked her is the one who actually owes her an apology.  Let me tell the tale.  I will try to not go off on too many lengthy tangents in the telling, but I can not promise it will not happen.

I must start with saying I do not tolerate verbal attacks on others, silently.  In fact being angry, even outraged in some cases, especially in previous decades, is actually how I learned to not be silent about tolerating mean rudeness and verbal attacks on myself - unless I had determined it was advantageous to remain silent to provide an abuser opportunity to change.  Rudeness and verbal abuse are the same and different.  Ill-mannered rudeness is not always intended to be abusive, however verbal abuse is intended to be damaging in some way and while not always overtly rude, does rise to the level of abuse when it is consistently repetitive thus needs to be named as such.

What happened is that some bozo was leveling a “you people” rant at a Facebook friend the other day, primarily (probably entirely)  because of a comment I had made on her post.   While I may remain non-responsive or passive when mean rudeness or verbal abuse is directed at me, I do not tolerate it for long when witnessing other folks being targeted, and I refuse to tolerate it when it escalates to verbal abuse  directed at others for something I have actually said - and in this case actually put in writing.  

My friend and I had both posted a factual meme about Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional interrogation, a few days apart,  which pointed out congressional hypocrisy in a humorous way.  Specifically, it was how Congress was valiantly defending Americans because of an outcry about data being collected through Facebook about its users that is used by advertisers and foreign interests. Of course the hypocrisy is that government has routinely been doing the same, for decades, without cause and without being called on the carpet to be similarly accountable.  The irony of course was that the Zuckerberg interrogation  could not have been a more obvious matter of “the pot calling the kettle black” - in the guise of the public interest. Me saying this is not me defending the corporate Facebook/Zuckerberg debacle.  That is one thing.  The interrogation of Zuckerberg is something else.  And that is what my comment had addressed.

Because contradictions associated with hypocrisy always suggest there is some reading between the lines that needs doing, I had been musing upon a possible hidden agenda off and on during the several days of the Zuckerberg interrogation as I witnessed the nature of it.  It would have tried the patience of Job.  I had already mentioned that he tolerated it well on a status update via my own Facebook page.   So, having mused upon other potential reasons for a time, after my friend’s meme showed up in the feed, I posed a question in a comment on that meme.  I really did wonder what my friend and others might think or if others had considered there was something more to the interrogation than met the eye - and ear.

In my relatively brief comment I had been wondering if the obviously hypocritical interrogation of Zuckerberg was a two-birds-with-one-stone effort to test his resiliency, self-discipline, patience, endurance  . . . all of which might be attributed to political parties wanting to groom Zuckerberg to eventually run for political office, not to mention an eventual fight over which would support him, before Zuckerberg might have had any idea about what was potentially being considered.   After all he is rich and well connected, personally, through his successful business venture.  Clearly his mettle was being tested by the congressional interrogation which was much more accusative and repetitive than some have been for those being appointed to political office, even with all the polarity in congress.

Of course our political parties employ foresight when shopping around for future candidates, unfortunately too often much more foresight than they and those they propel into office demonstrate once the supported candidates are in office.  But Zuckerberg is still young enough to become more of a threat to the power structure with his money and influence if reigning in of him with a promise of support for candidacy at some point, does not start soon.  Of course not everyone who is rich and well connected entertains the idea of being elected to public office, and for good reason.  It can be a thankless job when done well, and deserved hell when duty, accountability, or both are  neglected.

Zuckerberg’s relative youth also provides time for political party efforts to manipulate him into saying or doing something that could be used to extort him, later, in the future, should he want to or be persuaded to run for political office.  If nothing else, U.S.ofA.‘s political parties have proven themselves to be cut-throat ambitiously competitive in destructive divisive ways, both aggressive and passive- aggressive, which have created denigrating attitudes of polarity in many Americans.  Of course investing in candidate shopping is not necessarily done with ill intent or with negative effects.   It simply did seem rather obvious to me that Zuckerberg could be of potential interest to party honchos and that how he tolerated the congressional interrogation and the aftermath could relay useful information to them.

So!  That was the nature of my much more briefly stated comment of wondering posted in response to my friend’s meme.  Having been offline for a time, when back online I noticed there was another response to her meme so wanted a look at the other response.  It was actually an active ongoing exchange with some bozo having leveled a “you people” rant at my friend because of the question I had posed - as food for thought and/or comment.  His rant was an ongoing persistent exchange that had started out and continued as a repetitive attack on my friend with his first comment “Are you people defending Zuckerberg?”

My friend’s reasonable measured and mannerly responses clearly were incensing  him into a temper tantrum.  But what he was ranting about was the Facebook/Zuckerberg debacle, not the congressional interrogation of Zuckerberg - two different, albeit, related topics.  I doubt he was angered by the meme which was totally factual.  I had to laugh because he was reacting emotional like women are stereotypically expected to, and accused of doing, instead of being rationally logical.  My friend was responding reasonably and logically . . . but he continued with his emotional tirade which of course was a typical undermining effort to “put words in her mouth” while he got angrier each time she briefly but clearly responded.  In typical divisive fashion intended to promote polarity, he seemed to believe Zuckerberg  had to be demonized as all bad and was not even addressing the topic of him being interrogated by our legislators.

The offender was being obnoxious and insulting.  He was trying to make my friend accountable for my comment; he was talking to her like a naughty child; he was pulling a “you people” on her!  So I typed a short comment 1) asking him to expound upon what he specifically was referring to when he said “you people”  2) calling him on the carpet for attacking my friend and speaking to her like a recalcitrant child 3) telling him he had no right to blame my friend for my comment, that if he had to express his rancor, it should have been directed at me, the person whose comment, clearly, had angered him.  

However, when I clicked “post” the returned message was that the post had been removed.  So either my friend had deleted it, or changed the privacy setting.  Who could blame her?  The rancor was obtuse and abusive.  Blame someone else because of me you bozo, I was thinking, and see where it gets you with me.  Certainly not ignored.  I can be relentless with defense, as  needed. 

“You people” - uh huh.  I thought of a long drawn-out incident another friend had finally made public after suffering through long months of reactivated ptsd after having been the target of discriminatory negative prejudice a year earlier at a public event.  She experienced the incident as a racist effort intended to humiliate and silence the clear and loving voice of reason with which she ordinarily provides insight into circumstance through her own personal experience, from childhood onward, as a memoirist author, about a long-standing violent abusive deadly political conflict which is not well understood for what it is.  So, with her successful endeavor to address discriminatory bigoted negative prejudice that had been directed her way having arrived at closure, if not completely at least for the time being, the timing of this "you people” business was really rankling and needed some explaining  to clarify whatever meaning it had been intended to convey.  It is the #MeToo/#TimesUp era now, after all, too, and “you people” fault finding is  likely to need some accounting also from that perspective.

Having differences of opinion and reacting emotionally, even angrily, is nothing new on social media - but it is unproductive and redirects attention from issues that actually need rational discussion - so some of us continue attempting to use Facebook for that potential, thus my comment on my friends meme.

So . . . what could “you people” have meant?  I needed to consider what I know about my FB friend that could have resulted in the both of us being labeled as “you people”.   Hmm . . .  first and foremost she has an interest in and is reliably knowledgeable about the Middle East region, thus a colleague in that respect.  Many appreciate that her posts are useful and informative to both novices, experts, plus all those in-between who have an interest, for whatever reason.   Clearly, she has taken the responsibility to educate herself and stay updated about the Middle East.  Clearly, she has developed a certain amount of expertise which is the same path all of us  have taken who developed a similar regional interest at some point in time - that of self education.  

It is quite clear that graduating high school and college, including gradate school, does not leave one educated about a  huge amount of our nation’s history, including political history both domestically and internationally, even when that is the focus of one's  degree.  So much is not taught, or worse mistaught which requires that we  make an effort to learn what we need to know, ourselves.  Self-directed learning is always good when one has an all-consuming interest.  Learning to fit it into one’s life in a way that is not all-consuming is the lesson.  Perhaps, more precisely, it is a new perspective one chooses from which to approach everything about life that for a time may seem like an obsession, but instead becomes an expanded more holistic way of life. 

As adults whose career, work, family are a priority there has to be some sort of personal connection for us to initially take a serious interest in issues that are beyond our personal experience which are damaging to friends.  By doing so we learn the damage done to people of other nations, our own nation,  the world of nations, and ourselves, because of injustices being perpetrated.  The era of social media surely has made that clear, by now, even to the most self-centered of people.  If a major take away about the dawn of social media as a way of life is not “we are all obligated to be informed voters, and advisors to elected and appointed officials” then I wonder about those who don’t get it.  But, I digress.  My friend and I both have an invested regional focus in common - much more than  superficial, judgemental, concerned, appreciative observers with a passing interest . 

Why was this bozo throwing a hissy fit as skillfully as any woman could have?  He had an Arabic name but I doubt his “you people” comment was directed at a the mutual interest all three of us share.  It might be predictable he would have an interest, given the region has become a world interest, politically, and will continue to be as long as active conflict continues to occur in the region.   Might he have been attempting to chastise my friend for “straying” from predominately posting about ongoing conflicts in the Middle East?.  Doubtful, but who knows?  If we leave that possibility be, then it leaves us with  three more similarities to which his “you people” comment might have referred.  1) Clearly we are both women;  2) we are both women “of a certain age”;  3) if he looked through photos on my page and saw a photo of me (which I doubt he did) or guessed correctly, he would have ascertained we both appear to be Anglo.  So that leaves me with wondering if his “you people” rant was targeting skin color, age, gender, or any combination of the three, or some sort of assumed ethnic, racial, or religious prejudice on his part - but it really probably doesn't matter what the reason is for those who believe they need to hate others  - since any excuse will do.

That he started his rant claiming “you people” (the two of us) by suggesting we were defending Zuckerberg, is irrelevant to the topic because I was the only person he could have misconstrued as perhaps defending Zuckerberg.  But that would not have been reasonable because I was not commenting on the debacle, only the interrogation.  That I recognized Zuckerberg was holding up well under interrogation was not in defense of the Facebook escapade.  Yet, the bozo was responding as if my friend was are not capable of the compartmentalizing required for being objective as she tried to fend off his unwarranted attack of her.  We do not actually  know  to which prejudice or combination of prejudices his “you people” referred. We can only guess.

Maybe it was skin color - an Anglo woman “defending” (according to him) an Anglo man, so he thought it was o.k. to attack an Anglo woman for the comment made by a different Anglo woman?  Convoluted, yes, but such convoluted approaches are certainly characteristic of racism - or would the label of  “racism” be dependent on the color of the skin of both of us being different than the color of his skin?  Gotta wonder. I don’t know the color of his skin.  So perhaps ethnic prejudice would be a more precise name for it in this instance given the fact that his Arabic name would confer "ethnicity" as our current polarized and prejudiced perspective in this nation tends to perceive ethnicity.   Or . . . . was it, instead or also, ageism?  Perhaps it was an unwarranted assumption about folks of retirement age (as I am, don’t know if my friend is too) - that "old people" are prejudice for/against skin color  as if our own attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and actions had not contributed to supporting and ushering in good changes throughout our entire adult lives, to date, which had started occurring, reinforced by accompanying laws, in our own youth as the civil rights movement became an era. As it became more universally inclusive with people of all colors, ethnicities, and backgrounds publicly and loudly  objecting to the injustices and inequities - eventually laws were the result intended to be used to make the good differences they were intended to make. 

What is it about the both of us, exactly, that resulted in the bozo believing we deserved his prejudicial "you people" rancor, and why?  That we are women, our skin color, our age, our middle east interest - which of these identifiers that we have in common?   Inquiring minds want to know.  Really.  Being confronted with these prejudicial attitudes - and a few others too - is neither new, nor unusual.   Too often people trying to provoke in the way he trying to are simply considered to be ignorant, and ignored for the purpose of not giving them the power, at the time, to disrupt and create the negativity in others which ill-intended people are addicted to trying to provoke.  

However, as I was reminded, lately, due to my aforementioned other friend’s racist travails (which also included a huge dose also of ethnically targeted political prejudice), we owe it to ourselves and everyone else to get our knickers in enough of a twist to speak up when these things happen - especially when other people are verbally abused because of something we, ourselves, have said or done.  When we have integrity, self-respect, and wish the best for others; and choose to project caring and compassion to all, then we can not be silent about these things happening to other people even if we choose to ignore them, sometimes, when they happen to us. A person being verbally abuse to someone else, because of me, got my knickers in a twist.  She deserved better.

I certainly do not expect everyone to agree with my perspective.  However, because most of my own opinions are not carved in stone, for a variety of good reasons, I always appreciate the insight of the opinions people are generous enough to share.  I also rarely engage in name calling - but the most mannerly way to express disgust in this instance is:  your time’s up bozo - your unacceptable attitude and your unacceptable behavior have both been called out.