In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss Paul Ryan's "inner city" remarks, Banter's alleged attack on religion and what we'd do with piles of money.
1. I know this is probably a rhetorical question but what do you suppose Republicans like Paul Ryan are thinking when they call "inner-city" men lazy? They have to know that people will think it's racist. I know they probably don't care but aren't they in enough trouble already demographically?
Ben: Paul Ryan is the product of many years of corruption and rot within the GOP. He's the embodiment of what is wrong with the party and is too rigidly stuck within his own belief system to have even the vaguest understanding of how much of a complete dick he is. I shouldn't think he thinks anything to be honest - he's a privileged frat boy douchebag with no comprehension of a reality outside his own Ayn Rand addled brain.
Chez: Sad to say, you're right -- it is pretty much rhetorical at this point. I have to admit, Ryan's comment shocked even me a little because it was so blatant and inexcusable, no matter how hard he tries to backtrack. I think they're still operating under the faulty assumption that they can preach only to their white, angry, conservative base and continue to win national elections. The best thing about an asshole like Ryan -- to say nothing of quite a few other Republicans these days -- is that he'll always figure out a way to hang himself by making a comment that gives you a window into his real worldview. Romney was the king of that kind of thing, saying stuff that revealed the plutocratic ugliness of his way of thinking. We should be thankful they're their own worst enemies, I guess.
Bob: This is a dominant, but not often discussed, aspect of too many conservatives -- that African-Americans or poor people only need to "get a job" and all problems will be solved. It's a simplistic, ignorant attitude, and it plays very well with other white people who are predisposed to thinking black people are leeches and layabouts. In a more insidious sense, it's a dog-whistle as old as American racism itself; that blacks are "lazy and shiftless." Side note: many of the early silent films in American focused on this line of attack, depicting African-Americans as sex-starved, dice-throwing, drunken, chicken-chasing savages. It was an attitude that was intentionally reflected in the media of the time in order to, among other things, unite both the North and South against a common villain. This stereotype reached a high water mark with Birth of a Nation and became further embedded in our culture through and including today. Sadly, even with an African-American president, there's still much work to do in order to purge this virus from the American experience.
2. Why does The Daily Banter attack religion so much? Faith is many things to many people and it has made a positive difference in the lives of millions. Why is it so important that you ridicule the views of those who think differently than you?
Chez: I'm really the only one beating up on religion regularly around here and that's simply because I think it's ludicrous to cling to bronze age fairy tales in the year 2014. Faith can do plenty of good, certainly, up to and including helping people to just get through the day. But it doesn't mean that the object of that faith is real, only that the faith itself is an analgesic. My issue with faith has always been twofold: one, that beliefs aren't benign since they inform actions and if something irrational is informing your actions you'll be inclined to do irrational things (that's of course your prerogative, but it always tends to bleed over to those around you, particularly nowadays and particularly politically); two, that the truth supported by evidence is important because it's the yardstick by which we measure reality. If we all can't agree on what's the truth and what isn't -- what the scientific method is there for -- then anyone can make up any bullshit story he or she wants and call it the truth. That's chaos. If faith is a positive factor in who you are, then I understand, but wouldn't you be just as good a person without the need for God? If you wouldn't be, aren't you then just being a good person because of the fear of retribution from on-high?
Bob: Even though I'm a strong believer in the separation of church and state; of faith and science; and even though I have issues with religious fundamentalism, whether Christian, Muslim or Miscellaneous, I try not to indict or shame run-of-the-mill religious people. In fact, I think it's a mistake for liberals to ostracize people of faith whether via shaming or radical atheism or lumping all religious people into the radical frame. So while you might see me criticize a religious leader who's bigoted against women or LGBT people, you won't see me criticizing average people of faith.
Ben: I rarely say anything about religion, and when I do it's often quite complimentary. I'm not a fan of any sort of fundamentalism, but I've definitely got time for the spiritual side of life. Personally, organized religion isn't for me, but I have many highly intelligent religious friends whom I respect very much and have a great time bantering with.
3. If you had all the money you could ever want, what would you do?
Bob: I'd stop worrying about the time -- I'd stop looking at clocks. And I'd spend a lot more time visiting my family on the mainland. But honestly, my lifestyle wouldn't change very much. I'm extraordinarily satisfied with my station. I have a nice (rental) house in Hawaii and a gorgeous wife to share it with, plus I get paid to write about politics every day -- in bare feet while wearing shorts and a t-shirt (thanks, Ben!!).
Ben: Write for The Daily Banter, do my Martial Arts training, and bugger off to the Caribbean during winters. Oh, and maybe have more sushi as it's getting more and more expensive these days.