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You Know I'm Right | Commentary by Betty Arenson
| Friday, May 31, 2013

bettyarensonEither people want to be mainstream – “just like everyone else” – or they want to be “special.” Which is it?

It’s hard to deny that America has come a long way toward having bigotry of all kinds in our rear view mirror. Of course there are individuals who will always have a bias about another’s religion, skin color, nationality, etc.  Overall, I truly believe that group is the minority. Those are inferior attitudes that simply “are.” Decency and acceptance cannot be legislated.  All the rest of us can hope is that the small-minded will see the light, open their minds and hearts, and be more advanced and kind.

Here’s the confusion. We’ll start with the mass media.

The Los Angeles Times’ front-page story, “Mixed-heritage differences bond college students” (May 27, 2013)  continued on page AA4 with “Forging bonds through diversity.” It tells of UCLA’s Mixed Student Union which is “devoted to the rising numbers of students who are biracial and from mixed ethnic heritages.”

The theme is that they feel disenfranchised. The MSU is pushing for the entire UC system to change application forms that will allow the words of “mixed” and “biracial,” even though the forms already allow students to check multiple boxes of race and heritage.

MSU started three years ago. Who knew?

It was not that long ago that America was extolled for being a melting pot.  Our differences were celebrated. Yes, indeed were all Americans. In the modern world of 2013, why are there any boxes to check at all, but for “American” or “Non-American?”

What happened to “God Bless America … The Land of the Free … Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?” Plausibly the MSU’s existence is a huge step-back from mainstreaming that a lot of us thought was the goal. That is, to wear a blindfold and accept people as they are. Not afford anyone to be “special,” but for all to walk among the collective brotherhood-sisterhood without pointing out any sort of trait.

Many find it offensive to hear Asian-American, African-American, Greek-American and so on.  When was the last time (or first time) you heard of American-Hungarian, American-Frenchman, American-Asian, American-Latino or American-African?

For the likes of the MSU members, one would think if they are smart enough to be at UCLA, it isn’t a leap to think they are smart enough to know who they are at their cores, irrespective of the exterior. That sounds more like a self-esteem issue.

In reality, perhaps the whole scenario is about wanting to be special while wearing the collective mask of wanting to be mainstream. What happened to this generation’s “step outside of the box … step outside of your comfort zone?”  Frankly, life experiences lead me to believe these people only think others care about their differences that much. Certainly the colleges and the country have bigger fish to fry.

Considering the roads America has travelled addressing race, gender, inter-racial marriage, global adoption, sexuality, skin color, etc., why do some people, along with the media, and I mean all of them, insist on headlines like the following sampling?

* CNN, Dec. 2009:  “Houston elects first openly gay mayor (Annis Parker)”;

* CNN, Nov. 2012 :  “Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin is first openly gay person elected to Senate”;

* Mercurynews.com, Nov. 2012: “Hawaii sends nation’s first Asian American woman to Senate”;

* Seattle Times, Mar. 2013: “New York could get first gay and first female mayor” (City Council Speaker Christine Quinn);

* USA Today, May 2013: “Robbie Rogers makes history as (Major League Soccer’s) first openly gay player”;

* “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black and I’m gay.” Basketball’s Jason Collins to Sports Illustrated, May 2013.  Heck, Collins even got a personal contact from President Barack Obama.

The crowing is nearly endless. Simply choose your favorite search engine and type in phrases like “First Asian-American fill-in-the-blank” (title/job/career), or First Latino, or First woman, or First anything.

Why are these people not lauded for their skills, experiences and talents?  Why the focus on the gender, race and sexuality? Do any of those traits make them better at their jobs? Pfft. Hardly.

More disgusting is that the subjects of the news items express zero offense. They should be the very first in line to object to the “special-ness.” Instead they ride the celebratory train and allow themselves to be used as pawns.

There is a certain sect that goes out of its way to seek out a reason to be offended. They are nasty little ferrets who live and breathe to find a word or statement to highlight, enhance and/or twist to manufacture a fleeting but usually damaging story – all done to embarrass or diminish another person, the real victim, and worse yet, to pleasure themselves. It’s like their erotica; it’s their vehicle to be relevant.

In taking off the rose-colored glasses, the unimpaired vista shows us that all forms of bigotry, discrimination and phobia are a business. They sell. They provide people – some errant and some just plain contemptible – with fame, income and relevance on a purulent level.

If all of the bigotries and discriminations were to disappear, a lot of people would be irrelevant or out of a job and the media would be diminished.


Betty Arenson has lived in the SCV since 1968 and describes herself as a conservative who’s concerned about progressives’ politics and their impacts on the country, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She says she is unashamed to own a gun or a Bible, couldn’t care less about the color of the president’s skin, and demands that he uphold his oath to protect and follow the Constitution of the United States in its entirety. Her commentary publishes Fridays.


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1 Comment

  1. Karen Patterson says:

    Only a conservative would write such a commentary. How sad is it that in 2013, we still have so many “firsts.” Bigotry and discrimination have held these folks back. What great accomplishments for the younger generation to know that if they are in one of those groups, in the face of hatred, they still have a chance at getting somewhere in life.

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