Awareness

Superiority

by Emily R.

Most of us want to be good people. We want to be nice. We want to say the right things and have people like and love us. Sure, there are outliers. There are people that seem to thrive on cruelty. There are others that really just don’t seem to care what others think or feel. But I think it’s safe to say that those are the exception to the rule.

Often, part of thinking about ourselves as the nice and good people that we want to be means not looking at the parts of ourselves that are not so savory. These parts may be saying hurtful things in the heat of anger. They may be the tendency to disappear when a friend is going through a tough time because we don’t know what to say. And if you’re a white person in America, there’s probably a little voice that is a white supremacist.

WHAT? LOL. That couldn’t possibly be you. You’re good! You’re nice! You believe in equality! You marched! Trust me, it’s there. To quote the Church Lady, you think you’re just a *leetle* bit superior. Because it’s there doesn’t make you a bad person. Your entire life, you’ve been told that you’re the gold standard. Your name (even if it’s creatively spelled) is the standard against which all other names are measured. You’re an American, not an African-American, not a Chinese-American, not a [dash] American. You’re the people on Friends and Seinfeld. Your people lead the charge against aliens and terrorists and asteroids. Hell, your people will save the other poor people that can’t save themselves! If you want a role model from any walk of life, there’s a person or multiple people to look up to and maybe mentor you (and that person is the first [dash] American to be that role model).

Well … shoot. Now what?

You need to find that voice that tells you that you’re superior for no reason other than the circumstances of your birth and consciously silence it. You may have some things which are just a little superior, but it’s not because of the amount of melanin in your skin. They’re probably things that you devoted hours to learning and mastering - like quilting or computer programming or cooking delicious food. And you deserve to pat yourself on the back for that superiority. You earned it.

But any time you have that feeling of superiority, and you didn’t work to earn it, ask yourself why you feel that way. If you see a name that looks or sounds “made up,” remind yourself that all names are “made up,” including your own. That name belongs to a person who is truly your equal (though you still may be a better quilter). Take the time to learn that African American Vernacular English is an English dialect, not “poor grammar” or “uneducated,” and truly listen to the speaker’s thoughts or you just might miss something important.

In short, hold that unsavory part of yourself up to the light and snuff it out. It’s going to take as much or more work than learning to quilt, but it’s worth the effort. It’ll make you a better person.

 

Say Anything

by Morgan W.

So, you can’t lie to Congress, right? It’s, like, a big deal? Well, it depends on who you are.

For a little background, lying to congress is illegal according to statutes 18 U.S.C. §1621 (perjury) and 18 U.S.C. §1001 (false representations before Congress.) The Justice Department generally doesn’t investigate lies before Congress unless their services are requested by legislators. But that makes sense, right? People don’t appreciate being lied to and it’s a waste of time if Congressional hearings become a joke, so Congress probably has an interest in their institutional integrity, right?

Kind of.

After Hillary Clinton testified about her emails in 2015, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Bob Goodlatte authored an official letter, requesting that the Justice Department launch an investigation into whether she could be prosecuted for inconsistencies in her answers. Although FBI Director James Comey eventually determined there was no willful deceit, we all know how that prolonged inquiry turned out for Hillary.

James Clapper, by all accounts, gave false testimony to Congress in 2013 regarding CIA surveillance of private American citizens. Nine Republican senators asked that he be investigated. Then Attorney General, Eric Holder, declined.

Read more about Clinton and Clapper here.

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings. About Russia, of all things. Thus far, there’s been radio silence from apparent Guardians of Truthful Testimony, Chaffetz and Goodlatte. No formal letter requesting an investigation by the DOJ, which Sessions himself continues to be in charge of at his cabinet post. Could be awkward to direct an investigation of yourself, I guess.

But Jeff Sessions wasn’t the only cabinet appointee to lie in confirmation hearings. At least four others did. Luckily, they’ve all been fined and sentenced to jail time. Just kidding. Exactly zero have faced any issues at all and were confirmed without incident.

 

Betsy DeVos denied being involved with her family’s foundation, which donates hefty sums to anti LGBTQ+ groups:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/18/betsy-devoss-13-year-clerical-error/?utm_term=.535b6e83b194

 

Steve Mnuchin lied about his company’s unethical foreclosure processes:

http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170129/trump-treasury-pick-mnuchin-misled-senate-on-foreclosures-ohio-cases-show

 

Tom Price lied about insider trading:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/1/30/1627549/-Tom-Price-lied-to-the-Senate-about-the-sweetheart-deal-he-got-on-medical-stocks

 

and Scott Pruitt claimed he never used a private email account (sound familiar?) as Oklahoma Attorney General:

http://okcfox.com/news/fox-25-investigates/ags-office-confirms-pruitt-used-private-email-for-state-business

 

In an age of alternative facts and conspiracy tweets from atop Mar-a-Lago gold toilets, does this matter? Breaking news: Hillary was treated unfairly and this administration are a bunch of liars, right? Yes, but Republican Congress members should probably at least attempt to appear to care when they’re lied to by their own party. I propose they at least treat lies to secure cabinet positions the way I handle my five year old lying about sneaking sweets: Call them out, take their illegally-obtained cookie away, and tell them to get the heck out of the room before the punishment gets worse.