Monday, April 23, 2018

Joseph O. Patton: The Great Pretenders

  Every self-described progressive or person of conscience is quick to tell you how they support social justice and equality. I sure as hell do… and I’m not shy when it comes to expressing it. But what does it say about someone who only brandishes some type of righteous anger when a victim of discrimination or racial profiling looks like them or shares their sexuality, religious preference, gender or some other key characteristic?

  This disturbing and unforgivable trend reared its toxic head again during the trial of George Zimmerman, who killed an unarmed juvenile in cold blood yet walked away with no punishment. Yet it seems the majority of those demanding justice and expressing disappointment in the outcome happened to share a similar skin tone to Trayvon Martin.

  Where were people of conscience who are white? Where were LGBT persons who – like Trayvon and all people of color – have long endured a painfully negative and unfair strain of “profiling” in this country?

  When Muslims, Jews, Hindus and other groups of “minority” religions are targets of discrimination, where is the outcry from other people of faith, notably Christians?

  When people of color are unfairly targeted in acts of discrimination, where are LGBT persons? Both groups have faced generations of crippling discrimination in this nation, yet often fail to see the other’s plight or at least neglect to express the slightest bit of empathy or understanding for each other.

  Where are self-professed, freedom-fighting men when women face unfair gender-based discrimination in the workplace or our government targets women’s reproductive rights? Are they only concerned with their own junk?

  If we profess to abhor discrimination, unfair profiling and stereotyping, and unequal treatment – whether it’s based on skin color, gender, social-economic background, religion, sexuality, political preference or any other similar marker – then why aren’t we all speaking out in every case on behalf of every individual or group which is being unfairly targeted?

  Don’t pretend you’re carrying a banner (and a conscience) for social justice and equality if you only speak out and take a stand in a case in which the victim looks like you, shares your sexuality or gender, or claims your religion. That’s little more than selfish, unapologetic tribalism in its purest form, and you’re simply looking out for yourself by way of a proxy.

  Stand up and be counted. Speak out, and shout like hell if needed. Do it in every case of injustice and discrimination or sit down and shut up.

  This article first appeared in the Capital City Free Press on July 15, 2013.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

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