Taking a Knee

This is an issue that I have wanted to talk about since I first heard about it, but hesitated to, since I did not know where to start. Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest back in 2016 attracted a great deal of attention, mostly hate from the alt-right and the horde of Americans living in the mirage of a post-racial America who ignore all signs to the contrary. The ones who argue that discussing racism is racist, but also go out of their way to defend racism from figures like President Trump.

Ben Shapiro is apparently one of the favoured mascots for racists nowadays. He is the perfect example of the new racism. Someone who is intelligent and articulate, not the typical redneck that far too many people think of when they envision a racist. He remains calm when he attacks “the left” and “liberals” (his words) and presents facts in such a way that someone who is already on his side, or on the fence, will eat them up. I decided to look up one of his videos since I wanted to hear thoughts from the other side.

Let’s look at one of the points he makes in this video. The title of this video makes it clear that the poster and most of the people who flock to it to comment, are already on Shapiro’s side. The like to dislike ratio of 36-3 also makes that clear.This is the selective exposure thesis at work, where the customizability of the Internet allows people to search for info that already appeals to their views.

5:34- 760 shootings by police this year according to the Washington Post, 9 of them of black people. In Shapiro’s words there is such as thing as police brutality that has nothing to do with race. Absolutely, I can agree.

Black people are about 13% of the population, so obviously it would be tough for as many of them to die when compared to white people. The issue is the percentage or chance of them getting killed.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2017/

Now, these reports can be flawed because they require local law enforcement to voluntarily divulge this info. As this link shows, there is no government agency keeping track of these numbers. Local law enforcement must divulge it willingly, and only about half of the agencies do. So, the stats that Shapiro presents are skewed.

Let’s look at The Washington Post’s estimates for shootings of black people by cops from 2015 to present: 381 according to this same article.

Now if we go back to the studies Shapiro cited, the totals for 2015 to the present (for all shootings) equals 2688.

So according to the Washington Post’s stats 7% of the shootings were of unarmed black people. Let’s keep in mind that the estimate of 381 does not reflect any killings from 2017 so far.

Let’s also ignore the strong possibility that the numbers are underrepresented, for blacks and as a whole. Okay, Mr. Shapiro let’s just say you win this argument. I’ll ignore any other statistics that argue blacks have a higher rate (not quantity) of deaths by police and go along with your argument.

Now let’s go to an issue that is even more central to the support and criticism of the new wave of kneeling protests in the NFL: Free speech.

 

This is the tool that is used to defend white supremacist websites and white supremacist rallies like the ones in Charlottesville. Yes, protesters carrying swastika and confederate flags are considered white supremacists. If you can’t wrap your head around that, then no amount of statistics or reasoned arguments I present will ever change your mind.

So a statue of a Confederate general is going to be torn down, and people use their free speech to protest. They protest against the removal of the statue of a figure who fought against his president and against the consolidation of a union. Sounds like a pretty divisive figure to me. Seems pretty disrespectful to the American flag since he rallied behind a different one. This general also seems pretty disrespectful to the veterans since his war with the President killed so many and rallied others behind the cause of continued slavery.

When it comes to Kaepernick’s successors, you would think Trump and his base would rush to support free speech. Maybe Trump will say that “many sides” are wrong. Instead, Trump said that football players who kneel should be fired. In Shapiro’s defense, he also denounced this statement as one that a government official should not make. However, Shapiro refuses to acknowledge that racism is a part of Trump’s repertoire or his appeal to his base.

To that point, let’s go back to this video from February 2016.

Jake Tapper initially asks Trump if he denounced the endorsement of David Duke and the KKK. Trump first says he knows nothing about David Duke and the KKK, he can’t denounce a group he doesn’t know. Fair enough.

Tapper then elaborates that he is talking about David Duke, former Grandwizard of the Klu Klux Klan.  Trump says he doesn’t know who David Duke is…right after getting the explanation. Tapper explains again and Trump repeats that he doesn’t know who David Duke is.

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of American history will know what the Klu Klux Klan is, and if you hear someone was a former ____ of it, that implies they were a member. Tapper could not have been more clear with Trump, and it could not be more obvious that Trump just didn’t want to lose voters. Yet you can still find comments on this video defending Trump. It seems like nothing will stop racists from supporting someone who defends their views, but don’t you dare call them “racist”. Then you’re just being a social justice warrior.

How is this video not proof that Trump implicitly supports racists. How about all his comments about Muslims and Mexicans? Why is it so hard for the supposed intellectual conservatives to recognize that the world might not be post-racial when it comes to how minorities are treated?

As an epilogue, David Duke is no longer with the Klu Klux Klan but he is still active in their community. Read his response to Trump’s belated criticism of the alt-right protest in Charlottesville.

When I see white and black players and owners kneeling or locking arms together, I see the same unity that the right supposedly wants. The mindset of pretending racism doesn’t exist doesn’t solve anything. Athletes should be allowed to use their platform to protest, just like the alt-right can. They took a few minutes before a game to make a statement, much less time than the alt-right protest in Charlottesville did. Don’t act like your game or sport has to be ruined because you saw a sign of solidarity against racism. If that is enough to ruin your enjoyment of football, maybe the problem is you.

Stranger Things and Pirates of the Caribbean

Another Super Bowl has come and gone, this time we got to see the Falcons choke and give away a pretty substantial lead so that Tom Brady could get a record- tying 5 Super Bowl Rings.

Anyway, us film geeks were also treated to new footage of this year’s upcoming films and tv shows. There are three main ones I will focus on here. I completely lost interest in the Transformers series after the third film. I should have given up after the second but I’m a glutton for punishment I guess. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favourite MCU films but I am not that excited about the second. The teaser pushed the film near the top of my most anticipated list, but the subsequent trailer, with its focus on Baby Groot, made me lose interest. Yes, he’s cute. Can we move on from selling toys?

I know Logan had some new footage but I don’t want to spoil anymore of the film before I see it. The first two trailers were more than enough for me. With that said, let me begin with my most anticipated.

Stranger Things

I did not realize that season 2 was so far off, with a Halloween release. However, this teaser does the perfect job of building excitement for the second season without giving too much away. Starting off with the old eggo add was genius, and leads to a great reveal of Eleven. Many fans and outlets speculated that she would return, especially since the end of the last season showed Jim Hopper delivering eggoes to a location in the woods. Nevertheless, it is still great to see it confirmed. Not only is Eleven a great character, but Millie Bobby Brown’s performance is one of the best on the show. We also get to see the shot of the kids in their ghostbuster costumes.

Some people see this as anachronistic, but the first season was set in 1983, and Ghostbusters was released one year after. If some time has passed between the first season and this one, then it makes sense for Will and the gang to dress up as the main characters for Halloween or some other occasion.

The teaser also ends on an exciting note, revealing a glimpse of a new creature from another dimension. The teaser makes reference to the upside down, so it appears something else has made its way through. Perhaps it was freed the same way Eleven returned.

This brings up more questions about the plot but I am happy to have that revealed to me gradually, and finally get the answers for myself with the finished product on Halloween. I haven’t truly binge-watched a show in a while so I think this will be an appropriate occasion.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I loved the first two POTC films, but was underwhelmed by 3 and 4. The first trailer didn’t excite me much, and not because Jack Sparrow wasn’t in it. The special effects looked poorly rendered, and they don’t look that much better in this new footage. A great ending to the first trailer was ruined by the need to add “fun”, taking away the new villain’s menace.

However, Bardem’s involvement still made me curious about the film, especially after his performance in Skyfall. His crew looks like they will make interesting villains, and I loved the shot of them running over water as they pursue a woman on the beach.

However, Johnny Cash did help to add to the excitement for this one. The music obviously might not be in the film, but it did help to build excitement as I watched. I’ve already heard people complaining about Johnny Cash being “everywhere” now but two trailers over the past 6 months doesn’t count as everywhere.

We see Barbossa again, and it looks like he may die (again) in this film.

There are brief flashes of new characters but not much is revealed about them so far. I have also avoided looking into the plot more online since I don’t want to spoil too much of it for myself.

We get a brief glimpse of Will, who we can see is starting to become part of the sea. The second film stated that the crew of the Flying Dutchmen only begin to mutate if they fail their duty to ferry lost souls to the underworld, so it appears Will as been slacking on his duties somehow.

We don’t know if we’ll see Kiera Knightley again but I can live without seeing her face again. I was happy to see that this footage didn’t rely on Jack Sparrow too much. The first trailer made it clear he has angered yet another pirate, and this footage makes it clear they are looking for him. We already know the story revolves around Sparrow so there is no need to spread him all over the promotional material. With that being said, it was great to get a brief shot of a mud-covered Sparrow.

Pirate’s Life.