Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I read the news today, oh boy...

I've been sitting here for most of the day, trying to find something to write about here today.

No, really. My general routine is to look around at some news sites, read the blogs I usually read, and then, if all else fails, to look at some "This Day In History" type sites. Generally, by the time I'm about halfway through the list of sites I visit, something has jumped out and yelled, "Write about me!"

But not today. It isn't that there isn't anything going on in the world. There are some interesting topics being discussed over on Ravelry, including the Catholic school in New Jersey that asked their female students to take a pledge not to swear but, initially at least, did not ask the male students to also refrain from cussing.

In the news, there's the debate over whether John McCain was racist when he compared Iran's president to a monkey in a Tweet he posted a day or two ago, which caused some others in the GOP to call McCain out for being a racist, or at least for sounding like one. And then there's the memo that has come out of the Obama administration that apparently justifies sending drone attacks against US citizens abroad who are suspected of engaging in terrorist involvement, even if there is no evidence that they are actively involved in plotting attacks against the United States.

And, just so no one gets the impression that Americans are the only idiots, a report published today in Ireland shows that the government there was complicit in sending girls and women to laundries run by Catholic orders over a period of 74 years, where they were forced to work for no pay for periods of up to 10 years each, sometimes for simply being poor or homeless, and some were sent there for the horrible crime of having physical or mental disabilities. The average age of the women committed to these laundries was 23, but the report found that the youngest was 9 years old and the oldest was 89 years of age. Far from being something that happened in an earlier, unenlightened age, this practice did not stop until 1996, according to the reports I've seen.

There's more, but the thought of going back and reviewing it all is kind of repulsive right now.

What it all makes we want to do is go out on the roof and scream, "What in the hell are you all thinking?"

I don't even know which of these three items bothers me the most. It would be easy to say that it is the administration's justification of killing US citizens on foreign soil without any sort of judicial review and in the absence of evidence that the people targeted are actually materially aiding in attacks on the US. It just sounds so much like the Bush II administration that it makes me sick. I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say it is okay for people to hang with terrorists, because it's not okay. But justifying what are basically executions without due process, which is, oh...unconstitutional...is just wrong. It disappoints me very much that the Obama administration would go down this road.

As far as the McCain thing...Maybe he really did mean it as a joke. However, I grew up with relatives who thought it was just fine to belittle people of other ethnic groups by calling them "animals" and "monkeys" and similar things. I hate to even admit that I have had relatives like that, because they were straight-up racists and often didn't apologize for it. Hell, they were often proud of it. If John McCain hasn't figured out yet that comparing a person to a monkey is racist, there is no hope for him at his age, and calling him on it probably isn't going to do any good. Then again, as far as I'm concerned, McCain used up all his good will when he ran for president. I hate saying that, after all he went through for his country, but I don't believe that even the most heroic deeds can't carry a person for the rest of their life when they start just being ignorant. The thing is, he made it even worse by telling people to just "lighten up" after he was criticized for the incident. So, Ahmadinejad seems to be sort of a horrible person. Big deal. That doesn't mean that it is permissible to aim racist statements at him.

Yes, I know. Politics doesn't work that way. Well, maybe it should. Treating someone with a little respect goes a long way to engender good will over time. It's just too bad that it isn't possible to turn back the clock and repair bad behavior on the part of all the governments of the world, including our own.

Which brings us to the situation in Ireland. The report released today shows that the Irish government was involved in more than a quarter of the upwards of 10,000 girls and women sent to these places, which were run by Catholic nuns. While 61 percent of those sent there were there for less than a year, 7.7 percent spent 10 or more years there. Often commitment to these places was "informal" with, for example, homeless women taken there by police without any sort of formal legal proceedings. Basically, these women were being put into slavery for however long a time they were kept at these facilities, some of which were doing laundry for the Irish military, for the nation's health service, and for the department of education. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and WRONG. Okay, so maybe the world was different in 1922, when this thing started. But it didn't end until 1996...less than 20 years ago. Ireland's prime minister is reported to have said he is "sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment", but did not actually offer an apology. Great. Just freaking great.

I thought that maybe sitting down and writing about these things would make me feel better. But it didn't work; if anything, I'm more pissed off about these items and particular and about the world in general than I was when I started writing.

Maybe by tomorrow I'll be a little calmer. Maybe.


Audrey Humaciu said...

I read a novel (based on actual history) that here in America some women were institutionalized by their husbands - usually wealthy - to get rid of them. And then there was Changeling, also based on fact, where women were institutionalized because they pissed off the police. Sigh! We have come a long way, and we must continue studying the past and learning from it to complete the journey. (something McCain should have done, c'mon who doesn't know monkey is racist)

littlemissattitude said...

Oh, yes. That sort of thing - husbands having their noncompliant wifes institutionalized - definitely went on, even up into the 1950s and 1960s. Horrible thing.