Find another scapegoat: the petting zoo is closed.

Today’s article is incredibly political in nature. Will some of you be pissed off? Probably. The goal is to get you to think about your behavior.

There is a lot of talk about “call out” culture. Read: a lot of armchair quarterbacks who will hide behind a fake veil of humanitarianism with a Facebook account and a blog.

“White male oppressors…”, “White male privilege…” Who the hell are these people actually? It’s easy to point fingers and demonize instead of dealing with bigger social problems. Hate, in all forms, is a learned behavior. Somehow, it seems OK to generalize and use a form of gender bias and color bias against white men, which, ironically, is the same form of hate oppressors use all the time, and have throughout history.

But why consider someone else’s feelings, especially someone who has not done a damn thing to you, get in the way of a good scapegoating?

I am white. I am male. Simply biology. Race does not exist, according to the Human Genome Project. I am a white, male, poly, queer, leather, atheist, HIV+ socialist. Bet you were not expecting that. Usually, finger pointers do not, and it typically leaves them speechless, until they find something else to gripe about. Additionally, I still want to know how the phrase “people of color” is somehow supposed to bring people together? And who decided who was “colored”? By stating some people are “of color” and some are not, aren’t you starting with divisive language?

But why let science get in the way of a good scapegoating?

“I take offense to your language.” What the hell is that exactly? Do you wish to talk about privilege now? Because when I hear a statement like this, it makes me wonder the following: “Who the hell died and made you God?” Does this phrase imbue you with a special cloak of power? Do you feel that your right to say something trumps mine? My favorite lately had to do with one group who screams about the rights of free speech for the LGBTQ community, but lobbied (unsuccessfully) to have a television program withdrawn that didn’t match their agenda, even though it had gay men in it. Instead of using the show as a platform for education and outreach, they wished to stifle someone else’s creative content.

But why let free speech get in the way of a good scapegoating?

According to the Census Bureau, there are more poor whites than in any other “ethnic” group in the United States by population. That is just the sheer numbers of the math. Again, when I hear people talking about the poor, it is usually only in reference to non-whites. And why is it when poverty-stricken “people of non-color” are mentioned, it is usually incredibly derogatory, and we are “poor white trash”?

But why let mathematics get in the way of a good scapegoating?

As someone who grew up in poverty and literally still is below the Federal poverty level, poor is poor. Period. My husband and I both only work part time, have only one vehicle (he is a nurse who travels all over the state to work and I no longer drive), live in a budget apartment and still rely on a food box monthly. (The suit you see me photographed in was a gift from the local HIV+ food bank.) We make do, and don’t own anything of value in a capitalist system, not even gold, gemstones, or other expensive jewelry. Ever since his cancer diagnosis three years ago, we have struggled to stay afloat.

But why let economics get in the way of a good scapegoating?

According to W.E.B. Dubois (the founder of the NAACP) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (the Nobel Prize winner), the real cause of racism, for example, is capitalism. They, and others like them, used historical context, economics and science to arrive at these conclusions. They did their homework, and became targets of the FBI and enemies of the state. Very little is ever mentioned about this. In my opinion, it is because the system has led people to believe that “getting over” means subscribing to a set up based upon winners and losers and economic disparity. Capitalism is a system that values what you own instead of who you are.

But why let history get in the way of a good scapegoating? 

My absolute favorite, though, are the groups that take money from those companies that are well-known to exploit the poor, and then tell everyone about the great work they do. One well-known organization gave a sports apparel company a 100% rating, even though they use overseas child labor. A more local organization takes money from a company known to be against net neutrality. This company lobbied for high speed internet to those who afford it, and wished to leave the poor without technology and access. Is this what equality looks like? Or how about the AIDS organization that takes money from pharmaceutical companies that exploit the sick, takes money from oil companies that pollute the environment or use alcohol fundraisers even though more than half of all new infections are a result of people making health-adverse choices while drinking?

But why let hypocrisy get in the way of a good scapegoating?

One of the largest nationwide LGBTQ organizations recently had a board member step down. This group is constantly calling out “shame” (literally) on their website to people who have attempted to stifle their agenda. This is a group that constantly “worries” about protecting LGBTQ youth. But this board member stepping down was no run-of-the-mill retiree. He is a man in his 60s, white, male, very rich and was arrested for allegedly having sex with a 15 year old boy. Not one mention was made of this on their website, not even his step down from the board (he is one of the founding members of said organization). Yes, it is innocent until proven guilty. I believe if said organization really wanted prove how pro-LGBTQ youth they are, they would have used this now-former board member as an example of how the system is actually set up to protect them and the constitutional rights of all people.

But why let transparency in the justice system get in the way of a good scapegoating?

I started a small business this year, because regardless of my talent or awards, no one wants to hire an openly HIV-positive, poly, socialist, atheist, queer leatherman. My business model consists of four parts:

1. Use technology to empower others to create their own small business.
2. Share the costs of web hosting and design products among all people in the group, even if some cannot pay.
3. Create an on-demand system of products that prevent waste, not just recycling or eliminating it.
4. Cross promote each other’s services and products to others.

Is this perfect? Hell no. Am I making money? Not enough to cover costs yet. Is focusing on a business model that makes everyone a “winner” worth all the extra effort? Damn skippy.

But why let a proactive, everyone-equal approach that supports non-mainstream companies get in the way of a good scapegoating?

In the last two general elections, I did not vote for Obama. Immediately, this typically vilifies me with psuedo-liberals. They of course immediately think in terms of Democrat or Republican, a typical “either/or” way of thinking. I then correct them and tell them I voted for a non-traditional candidate. Then it gets worse: I am immediately labeled a supporter of the Tea Party. Imagine their surprise (and absolute cluelessness) when I tell them I voted for women in the last two presidential elections, and one of them was black. I am then “informed” that not voting for a Democratic candidate is throwing away my vote, as if I would wish to support any party that favors the mistakes of business over the people and then send those same people to fight in overseas lands we have no place in being.

But why let democracy and the power of individual voting get in the way of a good scapegoating?

More than anything, what we are talking about here, from my purely democratic socialist standpoint, is the power of the rich taking advantage of the poor. The gap is widening, something everyone agrees on. Beyond affirmative action, where is the greater concern for this widening gap? Or is everyone who uses call out culture and scapegoating shoring up their bank accounts to make themselves look good against the “white male oppressors” and deceiving others by using things like gender bias and race bias and then applying to everyone who fits a mold they have a grudge against?

The next time you go on about white privilege or whatever tool you are using to be divisive, remember this letter and one other thing:

I am not the cause of your tragedy. Find another scapegoat. The petting zoo is closed. 

Ben Brown Jr., owner
Beaverton, OR

“Bash Back” poster ©2015 Ben Brown Jr. Click on image to enlarge for detail. 


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