Ever since the 1960s and particularly the Vietnam War, I have been typecast in a way that leaves me without a safety net just like so many other (stereo)type-casted individuals in our society. Some of the top negative type-casts are: poor people (as always), the Middle Class esp. public union workers (new!) , Muslims, illegal immigrants, and people of color.
Stereotype-casting caused chaos and turmoil in my life and oppressed my ambitions as it does with all the other “types.” So it really bothers me because it retards the progress of this great American experiment called Democracy. We also stereotype the way we think about what one might consider philosophical ideas, instead converting them to glib commentaries that brainwash rather than enlighten. So my random thoughts on this kind of black and white thinking:
"There’s no such thing as reverse discrimination" - Reverse is for cars. You either discriminate against people or you don’t.
"What goes around, comes around" - Tell this to people who have worked hard, sacrificed, were generous, and had their ambitions and dreams slammed down by this recession.
"Americans believe in second chances" - Yeah, if you’re Michael Vick or Charlie Sheen.
"It is what it is" - This is unintelligent shorthand for nonsense. What about "it is what it isn’t, but seems like what it is?" Where does this end? Gertrude Stein should have ended the issue when she wrote "A rose is a rose is a rose" 80 or so years ago. Time to give it up.
"You can do anything if you work hard in America" -Keep repeating that to me and my fellow Vietnam vets who got screwed for being patriotic.
"The self-made person" - Sorry, doesn’t compute. We live in a family, community, and society and its structures which help one succeed. Some people go far who are unethical and immoral. No man or woman is an island. No one.
"There are two sides to every story" - There are many sides to every story. Ask different eyewitnesses to a crime and you’ll get many discriptions of the perp.
"It happened for a reason" - What’s the reason Japan’s being punished again? Or the Libyan people being killed by a madman?
"Artists don’t work, don’t want a real job, and they’ll only make it when they’re dead" - Wrong on all counts. Cadavers can’t make it. The only people that make money off of a dead artist are the living. And as an example of the power of art, the dictators in Bahrain destroyed the beautiful 300-ft. high Pearl sculpture in their main square because it symbolized freedom and democracy to the oppressed Shite majority.
Quote I like from yesterday’s funny pages: “I’m not an e-reader, I’m an I-reader” — I hold the book, I turn the page, I smell the paper, I put the bookmark where I left off, and no batteries needed.
I read another pertinent quote that sums up my feelings about glib cliches. And you might even call this a glib cliche, but I embrace it because it illustrates so well our obsession with moving on rather than learning from history. Moreover, every generation is guilty: “The past is a foreign country - they do things differently there”
P.S.- more random thoughts:
Do you know that no one understands Gadhafi because he speaks the dialect of a small Bedoin tribe, so on Al-Jazeera TV they need a translator to make him understood to the rest of the Arab world? Mubarak had the same issues when speaking - a unique dialect. Because there are so many tribes in the Arab world, much of the language is better understood written than spoken.
And speaking of private vs. public sector jobs, it’s not just public sector job benefits that are under-funded. Private job benefits are too, but have been bailed out by the gov’t body called the Pension Benefit Guaranteed Corporation. But it is now having trouble picking up the huge tab of so many bankrupted corporations. In fact, Republicans are fond of quoting FDR about his lack of support for public unions. Yet FDR thought the big business conservatives of his time were “economic royalists who practiced economic slavery.” As that great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “Deja vous all over again.”