This is the new south, same as the old south…

This post began life considerably different. It was actually going to be about all the political junk mail I’d been receiving. But back in October when I began writing it, the election had not commenced, and as I started to delve into the blatant racism evident in these emails, it began morphing into this rant on racism.

I had it sitting in my drafts. The idea that I had for it had evolved into I guess something that I really needed to get off my chest. What started as flippant, took on a serious tone. And as I read over, and over, and over, it just didn’t mesh with me. It didn’t have the vibe I originally wanted to convey.

So it sat in my drafts. And honestly, after a week or so, I’d forgotten about it. You know, because I blog so much and so often… *whistle* Yeeeah. Point is I finally remembered it and decided I needed to just get the damn thing posted already. But now the election has gone down, and half of the post is fairly pointless in the context it was written, so what you’re getting now is more of an expansion on my “Trapped in Texas” post.

I got some flak after that post, which was followed by posting my pictures of Portland, people assuming the two were related. It was suggested that “while Portland is nice enough, there’s no reason to idealize it.” K. Duly noted. And completely off base. Perhaps this will better clarify the meaning of “Trapped in Texas.”

I have come to realize this year, perhaps more astutely than in previous years, that I’m surrounded by racists. It’s people I work with. It’s people I debate with. It’s people I call friends. It’s even some members of my own family. It’s shocking. And saddening.

I actually heard these words recently spoken by someone I used to think was a reasonably intelligent person: “I need to stock up on more guns for when we go to war with the niggers.” I was flabbergasted. Did I really just hear that? In 2008? Are you fucking kidding me?! And just as bad, the people around at the time all nodded their heads in agreement.

The very thought that we might have a black president has suddenly brought the inner racist in these people boiling to the surface. And of course, we’re in a zealous fervor with our seething hatred of muslims, that all it takes is a name to convict someone of hating America and wanting to destroy us from the inside. Facts are irrelevant. In fact, facts are openly ignored in favor of the most irrational of explanations.

And when the facts clearly dispute this irrationality… doubt is forcefully cast upon the truth in order to reinforce the cycle of irrationality. Snopes, who for the better part of a decade have been a source of concise summaries to a mountain of fact checking and research on a wide variety of subjects, is now under scrutiny because someone on MySpace claimed they have a hardcore liberal bias, so they can’t be trusted. And the junk mail starts flying. Seriously?

How do you rationally argue against those so willing to lie and concoct falsities? How do you talk sense to those so willfully ignorant they would rather believe the lies than question their own worldview?

As is all too often the case, religion is front and center. The divisive malcontent of our nation. The snake in the garden. Religious extremism.

I can’t help but recall a book I read not too long ago: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the future of Reason. It might as well have been a warning to us. A wake up call. The cycle of irrationality has to end. The cycle of hate has to end. We will be our own destruction. We’re running full speed towards the edge of a bottomless pit.

We use religion to justify our arrogance, and then we use religion to justify our incredulity when the consequences of our arrogance come back to bite us in the ass. We used religion to justify slavery. Hitler used religion to justify the holocaust. We’re using religion right now to deny civil rights to homosexuals, and have been for over 30 years. We used religion to do the same thing to blacks years before. We’re using religion right now to justify a war that we entered under false pretenses. We’re using religion right now to cast doubt upon science, and the monumental evidence that supports the theory of evolution. We’re using religion right now to run a government whose own constitution guarantees the separation of church and state.

Irrationality feeds irrationality.

Hate breeds hate.

Violence begets violence.

North Texas is moderately, at best, more progressive than the most backwoods deep south towns. Towns that still spell “Coffee Cup Cafe” with K’s. It may be cleaner. Richer. More diverse. But irrationality is most certainly alive and well, and hate flows like water. I try to fight it. And I’ll keep fighting it. Hopeless though it may be overall, if I can help break this cycle for at least one person, it all will have been worth it.

But it’s exhausting. I feel like I’m sinking, like I’m being overtaken by this latest wave of ignorance, caught in it’s undertow

So for the next 18 17 16 15 months, I’m trapped. I’m clawing my way out, but there’s still a long way to go.

Miles to go before I sleep.