To Arm Bands, Brothers!

Arm Band

Help for Heroes is a British charity established to provide support for wounded veterans and their families. Like many charities, Help for Heroes has its own line of tee-shirts, arm bands, and other adornments that allow people to show their support and draw attention to a worthy cause. Help for Heroes is not really the cause of this kerfuffle, as far as I can tell; I just thought it would be helpful to explain who they are and what they do.

Charlie Tew, a ten-year-old schoolboy from Essex county in England, was written up in March of this year for refusing to remove a Help for Heroes arm band. According to Charlie, he wears the band in memory of Drummer Lee Rigby, a British Army soldier who was brutally murdered by two Muslim extremists in London. Charlie also wants to honor his own family members who have served, including his uncle and grandfather.

Why would Charlie be denied the right to wear an arm band promoting this noble charity, you might ask? You’ll get different answers. Charlie’s teacher, who started the report against Charlie, worried that the arm band might “cause offence”. I cannot find any record of the teacher saying whom she believed would be offended. The headmistress at Charlie’s school, Tracy Thornton, upheld the disciplinary report but for a different reason. According to Thornton, jewelry of any kind – including arm bands – is forbidden at that particular school.

If that’s true, then Charlie was clearly breaking a rule when he wore the arm band to school, and willingly submitted himself to whatever punishment attended his odious crime. No matter why Charlie was originally put on report, you’ll notice that there is only a tenuous connection between Charlie’s disciplinary problem and the community of Muslims.

Enter the anti-PC brigade, those notorious mountains-from-molehills fabrication experts. Terry Sutton, the president of a separate charity, said this about the incident:

It’s hard to see how the band would cause offence, except, I suppose, to the radical Muslim community. I don’t think that will be a problem in Colchester and in its surrounding area.

Sutton was careful to emphasize that Charlie’s case might offend radical Muslims, but this meme makes no such distinction. It’s amazing how quickly this story changed. It started life as a virtual non-event at a school in southeastern England, but now it is an outrage!

I don’t think conservative meme makers truly understand the meaning of the word outrage. There is nothing here to be outraged about. You might disagree with the school’s apparently strict no-jewelry policy, but that’s hardly worth raging about: it was never explicitly stated to have any connection with Islam. The teacher could have been more judicious in her explanation about why Charlie was not allowed to wear the Help for Heroes arm band, but is that an outrage? If it is, then your priorities are sorely misplaced.

I don’t need to tell you that there are things that truly justify an outrage. Injustice, tyranny, oppression: these are the world’s true evils, and the ones that should excite our anger. A school’s dress code, while over-reaching and over-cautious, is not. Please don’t try to make this simple incident into something it’s not.

Why Isn’t There A “Common Sense” Day?

Walk Naked Day

Yes, I know it’s a joke. It’s still Stupid, so we’re going to talk about it.

Let me say up front that I am by no means an expert on sharia law; nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that a Muslim who looks upon a naked woman is not automatically compelled to commit suicide. If he lusts after her, he may be required to perform some kind of moral penance, but that’s a long way from self-destruction. If you’re an expert on Islam, perhaps you can enlighten me.

The second major sin of this meme is to imply that every Muslim living in American neighborhoods is a terrorist. Of course this is far from the truth. Most Muslims, like most Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, etc, are decent, rational people who want to carry on with their lives as peacefully as possible. The extremists of any religion are the minority, which means that even if this cockamamie meme were true, most of the people forced into oblivion would be completely innocent. Plus, this maneuver would completely miss terrorists who aren’t Muslim, or Muslims who aren’t devout enough to actually kill themselves just because women decided to strip down and gambol about.

Once again, I understand that it’s a joke. I know nobody’s planning to walk around naked, and I know they don’t expect Muslims to kill themselves in droves if they do. But they went straight for the Muslim = terrorist connection, so they deserve scorn and ridicule.

While we’re dissecting this pig, we should also discuss the flagrant sexism that pervades the entire meme. Come on, Mr Memer, you shouldn’t make it too obvious that you view women as objects who exist only to titillate you with their nudity while they flush out terrorists. You have to at least pretend that you understand how women are real people with feelings. They might not be comfortable stripping down to their birthday suits in pursuit of national security and the entertainment of red-blooded American males, you know?

Just in case anybody plans to tell me to lighten up, let me remind you: I know it’s a joke and I get it. I’m just too distracted by the bigotry and sexism to find it funny. Better luck next time.

Bad American

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The following text accompanied this meme. My responses are interleaved with the original text.

This Guy Had The Guts To Put This On The Internet .
Praise God !!!

Hoo boy, I can’t wait!

YES, I’M A BAD AMERICAN
I Am the Liberal-Progressives Worst Nightmare.

What, a guy who doesn’t know how to use apostrophes to make words possessive? A guy who uses tired clich├ęs like “I’m so-and-so’s worst nightmare”? A guy with an unfavorable view of Canadian political parties between the 1920’s and 1950’s? Please continue.

I am an American.
I am a Master Mason and believe in God.
I ride Harley Davidson Motorcycles and believe in American products.

Liberals aren’t actually afraid of any of those things, so I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Ah, you must be operating under the Ann Coulter Delusion – the irrational notion that anybody with a slightly left-of-center ideology hates God and eats puppies.

I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some Liberal governmental functionary be it Democratic or Republican!

So…you don’t like paved roads, police and fire departments, and public schools? Or do you just think all those people should work without pay?

I’m in touch with my feelings and I like it that way!

Ummmmm…congratulations?

I think owning a gun doesn’t make you a killer, it makes you a smart American.

Oh, well there you go. We can just close down all those tax-sucking public schools and give every toddler a gun. We’ll be back on top of the industrialized world in no time!

I think being a minority does not make you noble or victimized, and does not entitle you to anything. Get over it!

It’s amazing what you won’t see when you choose not to look. I think that being intentionally blind to the plight of other human beings definitely doesn’t make you noble. Racism still victimizes minorities. Deal with it. No seriously, I want you to deal with it on a substantive, emotional level.

I believe that if you are selling me a Big Mac, do it in English.

Great. Now I have this funny mental image of a non-English-speaking door-to-door Big Mac salesman.

Come on, dude. It’s McDonald’s! If you want a Big Mac you just say “Big Mac” or “Number One” (or “Numero Uno”, if you want to reach out…I’m sure you don’t, though), then step aside and wait for your order. If you’re trying to specialize your order to the extent that your language barrier becomes a hindrance, you’re putting way too much thought into a crappy cheeseburger. At that point you should probably excuse yourself and go to a much nicer restaurant where the staff is paid well enough to care how many pickle slices you want.

But it’s not really about the Big Macs, is it? I’m guessing you don’t like to hear people speaking Spanish because it reminds you that you have to live around people who are different from you.

I believe everyone has a right to pray to his or her God when and where they want to.

And you’re absolutely correct; you just can’t force other people to do the same thing.

My heroes are John Wayne, Babe Ruth, Roy Rogers, and Willie G. Davidson that makes the awesome Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

Is this still part of the liberals’ worst nightmare? I’m starting to think this is your eHarmony profile.

I don’t hate the rich. I don’t pity the poor.

Liberals don’t hate every rich person; they just disapprove of the ones who give their workers a pittance while moving their massive fortunes into overseas banks to avoid paying taxes. I can see why you don’t hate them: they share your sentiments about keeping money.

Let me guess…you don’t pity the poor because you believe it is their own fault for being poor, right? Sure, sure, look at that guy living in a single-wide trailer who keeps expecting the government to help him buy food. It sure was stupid of him to get cancer and have all of his savings wiped out, wasn’t it? Or how about that lady whose only possessions are stuffed into a shopping cart? You know, the lady who constantly talks to creatures only she can see? Man, what was she thinking when she decided to contract a mental illness so severe that she couldn’t hold down a job?

When you said you believed in God, I assumed you were compassionate for the poor. My mistake, sir.

I know wrestling is fake and I don’t waste my time watching or arguing about it.

Again…congratulations?

I’ve never owned a slave, or was a slave, I haven’t burned any witches or been persecuted by the Turks and neither have you! So, shut up already.

Oh, you first. I understand where the slavery comments come from (stay classy, sir), but witches and Turks? Really? Are the modern-day descendants of the Salem Witch Trial victims seeking reparations? Is the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of some peasant who lost everything when the Ottoman empire overran his homeland demanding a formal apology? I didn’t realize…

See, nobody thinks you’ve owned slaves. That’s not the point. Slavery was abolished long ago, but minorities did not automatically achieve equal footing with their former masters. Even now, minorities suffer at the hands of institutionalized racism. Oh sure, nobody chains black people together and forces them to plow a field, and nobody says they can’t drink from the same water fountains or eat at the same restaurants as white people, but…

There are still people actively trying (and in some cases succeeding) to create laws that will effectively prevent minorities from voting. There are still cases where a white man can shoot and kill an unarmed black kid and the justice system has to be held under one arm and noogied until it agrees to prosecute. For crying out loud, man, you don’t have to own a person to recognize that we are not past racism.

I believe if you don’t like the way things are here, go back to where you came from and change your own country!

Um, you do realize that a lot of the people who are unhappy with the current state of American politics are in fact American citizens, right? Just wanted to clear that up. We have no country to go back to, and we are trying very hard to change our country for the better.

This is AMERICA .We like it the way it is!

Except for all the taxes, minorities, immigrants, atheists, liberals, people who talk about wrestling, and people who don’t ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles, right?

If you were born here and don’t like it you are free to move to any Socialist country that will have you.

I love this country, which is why I could never leave it in the hands of people like you. There are problems (you’ve made that abundantly clear) but I’d like to help solve them, if I can. Also, once again, an uber-conservative rolls out the S-word. Congratulations, sir. You’ve earned an Inigo Montoya meme:

Inigo Montoya

I want to know exactly where the churches are that Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton preach, where they get their money, and why they are always part of the problem and never the solution.
Can I get an AMEN on that one?

Not from me. You can be an ordained minister without preaching in a church. I would have thought a religious man like yourself would know that. Then again, given your racist remarks and utter disregard for the poor, I’m starting to doubt your Christian bona fides.

Sir, you too are part of the problem, so let’s not cast stones, shall we?

I also think the cops have the right to pull you over if you’re breaking the law, regardless of what color you are.

Uh, yeah. That’s what police officers are supposed to do – as long as you’re actually doing something wrong. The problem is that some cops pull over minority drivers who have done nothing wrong. Statistics bear this out. It’s so common that it has a name: Driving While Black.

And, no, I don’t mind having my face shown on my drivers license.

At first I thought this must be another bit of anti-black racism – there’s been so much already – but I was having difficulty figuring out the angle. I haven’t heard much about black people who don’t want their photographs on their DLs (although I did a bit of digging and I can certainly understand why some people might be uneasy about it).

But no, this isn’t anti-black racism; it’s anti-Muslim, I think. After 9/11, a Muslim woman in Florida pushed back against legislation requiring that all driver’s licenses bear a full-face photograph. She ultimately lost in court.

Sir, I’m very happy that you have no problem showing your face for a driver’s license photograph, but I doubt very much that you understand what it means to have the state impose on your religious liberties (And don’t even start griping about the “Merry Christmas” / “Happy Holidays” nontroversy…that’s a load of crap and you know it!) When you smugly imply that these laws don’t affect you, you’re not making a poor Muslim woman look foolish – only yourself.

I think it’s good…. And I’m proud that ‘God’ is written on my money.

Good for you. A lot of people disagree. I could argue that the United States was founded as a secular nation so that we would not become enthralled to any particular religion (a decision – I might add – that affords you the freedom to pray whenever and wherever you want and to whichever deity you prefer). I know that doesn’t mesh with the right-wing fundamentalists’ historical revisionism, but there you go. The only reason our money bears the words “In God We Trust” is because a group of people who did not understand the value of America’s religious inclusivity succeeded in convincing the government to tacitly endorse one particular group of religions.

But if you’re proud of that, good for you. I guess.

I think if you are too stupid to know how a ballot works, I don’t want you deciding who should be running the most powerful nation in the world for the next four years.

And if you’re too incompetent to design a ballot that anybody can use, regardless of age, gender, or educational background, and have the votes counted fairly, then I don’t want you to have anything to do with an election.

I dislike those people standing in the intersections trying to sell me stuff or trying to guilt me into making ‘donations’ to their cause.
Get a Job and do your part!

You dislike a lot of people. Why don’t you help those people out: hire them to keep track of all the people you hate and why. That’s got to be a full time job and it will free you up for other activities.

I believe that it doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes two parents.

Do you even understand what that saying is supposed to mean? By the way, you forgot to add the words “who aren’t gay” at the end of your sentence. It seems like the kind of thing you might have been thinking.

I believe ‘illegal’ is illegal no matter what the lawyers think.

Hmmm, this statement is vaguely hateful but not specific enough for the reader to determine at whom you are spewing your bile. My 11th grade English teacher would not have approved.

I believe the American flag should be the only one allowed in AMERICA !

Finally, we agree on something! Let’s get rid of the Confederate flag decal that I’m almost 100% certain is stuck to the back of your mud-splattered pickup truck!

If this makes me a BAD American, then yes, I’m a BAD American.

The prosecution rests.

If you are a BAD American too, please forward this to everyone you know.

No thank you.

We want our country back!

It hasn’t gone anywhere.

We NEED GOD BACK IN OUR COUNTRY!

Then perhaps you should spend more time talking to the God you claim to believe in and less time being a total ass.

Catholic Apples and Muslim Oranges

Catholic_Condoms

Oops, did you catch that? That oh-so-subtle attempt to once again tie President Obama to Islam? Sure, the Muslim Obama myth may no longer be something you can mention out loud without drawing the derisive laughter of more rational people, but you can still slip the implication that Obama favors Muslims over Christians into your ill-informed tweets and get away with it.

I’m not going to argue about whether it’s right to require faith-based hospitals to provide health care options which are contrary to their religious beliefs. On the one hand, I do value religious freedom. On the other hand, this is health care we’re talking about. Womens’ reproductive health – and the numerous, often difficult decisions that go along with it – are a vital part of overall health care, no matter how much some lawmakers would like to believe otherwise. Restricting womens’ access to reproductive health care is, in my opinion, just as immoral as forcing Catholic hospitals to provide abortions and condoms.

If this tweet-turned-meme were just making the point that the author doesn’t care very much for the Affordable Care Act and it’s implications for faith-based hospitals, I wouldn’t have much to say about it. But the tweeter completely misses the point by insinuating that the president is some kind of hypocrite. Why? Because, according to the tweeter, Obama wants Catholic institutions to provide access to condoms and abortions (which are a part of womens’ reproductive health care and therefore may fall under the purview of any health care establishment) but he doesn’t force Muslims to sell bacon and alcohol (which definitely are not associated with health care, except to its detriment).

If you cannot see the problem with this comparison, then perhaps you think that a woman’s access to affordable reproductive care is on the same level as a person’s access to booze and bacon. Many people enjoy those things, but nobody’s health will be endangered if they don’t get them…in fact, a lot of people would probably be better off. Please, don’t reduce the issue of womens’ reproductive health care to a farce, no matter how much you hate the idea.