When Life Gives You Don Lemon IV: If A Lemon Tree Falls In The Forest…

In 2014, I became familiar with the career of one Mr. Don Lemon, a young, charismatic news anchor over at CNN. I say “news anchor” because that’s what they call him. I assume the more accurate title of “Shameless Propagator of Tabloid Drivel Making A Mockery of Journalism” wouldn’t fit on the business cards.

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

In fact I went so far as to dub Lemon “one of the most destructive forces in culture.” A harsh accusation, but I’d argue not an unfair one. And so I try to keep tabs on the guy, hoping against hope that a Google search of his name will not result in some fresh wave of misinformation, Islamophobia, and general fearmongering nonsense. So is this our lucky year?

I’m afraid not.

Here’s what the country’s lousiest news anchor has been up to since we last checked in:

Asking A Muslim Lawyer If He “Supports ISIS”

By Muslim lawyer, I mean Arsalan Iftikhar, esteemed human rights lawyer, adjunct professor at DuPaul, and internationally recognized author and intellectual. And no, Lemon did not ask Iftikhar that question to establish for the audience that Muslims don’t automatically support terror. You can see the pained shock on Iftikhar’s face and the obliviousness on Lemon’s. And to be clear here, Lemon’s exact words were:

“Do you support ISIS?”

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That was it.

No set-up, no context, no follow-up. Just an insulting question that was (if intentional) designed to rile up Iftikhar or (if unintentional) so blithely dumb that it could have come from-

-well, the likes of Don Lemon.

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That said, baiting Muslim guests for for ratings is par for the course where Lemon is concerned, but the blatancy here seems just plain painful. I shouldn’t have to explain that one might ask with equal legitimacy if Don Lemon supports the Crips on the basis of his race, or if he supports the LRA on the basis of his religion.

But asking for a bit of incisiveness from news anchors is clearly demanding too much. Continue reading

One of the Reasons Our Guest Writer Left Facebook: Not-Quite-A-Counterpoint About Online Opinions

We, and I speak for both Gordon and Kat when I say this, don’t often reference our guest posts, as much as we appreciate them. A large factor may be because any responses or rebuttals from the writers to our commentary, though welcomed [we’ve had our own back-and-forths before], are less likely to be written and featured . The reason I open with that is because of Casey Bennet’s post titled “Why I Left Facebook“, which was one of the inspirations for this post as well as being an article I didn’t like very much initially.

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The reason for that was I felt it read more like a list of complaints, many of which could be applied to regular human behaviour.

To give credit where it’s due, he addresses any potential criticism
in his penultimate section “Life After Facebook“. Bennet states outright that many of the factors to him leaving “could have been avoided”; that he could have maintained his Facebook feed in a way that let him “[filter] out negativity and [focus] on what was actually beneficial.” He also points out that if that work is too much for you then it might not be worth, which is likewise extremely valid.

Of Bennet’s grievances against the social media platform what I’d like to focus on is the first, the very to-the-point “Opinions“.  Continue reading

Notes from Underwater: Surviving a Psychiatric Stay

I’ve spent most of this summer in and out of the psychiatric hospital parking lot. My husband spent most of it behind the metal detector where they make you strip out your pockets and take the laces out of your shoes. It has not been Barbie’s Dream Summer™. Knowing how the craziness (both medically and vernacularly) can be overwhelming, I wanted to write a quick help list to keeping your head above water for any of you who also find yourself in this situation.

All storylines will be different but there are elements of my particular situation, a spouse with Major Depressive Disorder and multiple suicide attempts, which would and could also apply to other mental health inpatient situations. This is focused on caretakers. Your loved one will be under the care of professionals in the hospital setting. You did your job getting them to help and now you need to survive the storm. Here are some things that kept me afloat.

1. For the staff, this is just a Tuesday. They will seem horrible and cruel and surprisingly unbothered by what is most likely the second most terrible day of your life. Checking into a mental hospital is a bizarre combination of going through airport security, checking into a motel, and entering a nightmare world where people calmly respond to the most important person in your life explaining that they planned to buy a gun. Without any irony, one doctor (via webcam because the process took so long that it was three hours past normal office hours when we got to the “see a doctor” step) mimed placing a pistol in his mouth and the resulting explosion with hand gestures.

Another doctor referred to a patient who committed suicide as “breaking his winning streak”. There are stupid procedures and passwords and rules and regulations about everything. This is not their fault. Their job is to provide a dampening effect on the raging emotions of patients and caregivers by casually indicating via body language, tone, and word choice that everything is acceptable and that there is a calm and rational solution. You are still allowed to hate them for it.

(I really wish this was a joke, or exaggeration, or poorly executed satire but it was the literal reaction of the secretary at the hospital.)

Continue reading

Covering the Hijab at the Rio Olympics

Past weeks have seen the internet come to blows over pictures from a women’s volleyball game between Germany and Egypt. This picture:

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Now where most sane folks would see a simple game of beach volleyball, the denizens of the interwebs have managed to read in some fantasy about a clash of cultures- “the free and civilized West against the superstitious, primitive savages of the East.” Comment sections have been flooded with everything from sarcastic half-jokes…

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…to open propaganda.

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“Because I, from the comfort of my armchair, know this athlete’s situation better than she does.” -Idiot Commentor

There’s been snide comment after comment directed not at Doaa Elghobashy’s performance in the game, not towards her assertion that what she wears is her own damn business, not towards her teammate (Nada Meawad) who doesn’t wear a hijab…

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And I think it’s because people aren’t actually angry about any of that.

For all the sanctimony, the issue at hand seems not to be with mandates or even just pressure to wear the hijab. It has nothing to do with standing up for women- on the contrary. I do think that the extreme contrast between Elghobashy and her German counterparts hit a nerve that most people didn’t realize they had. I think it does forced folks to ask themselves some truly uncomfortable questions about why they actually watch the sport.

I’m talking about this:

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Now I seriously debated putting that picture up, but as cringingly uncomfortable as it is, I think it speaks volumes about our culture. Continue reading

Listening, Communication, and Police Brutality

It’s been a little over a month since the shootings of Alton Sterling, Phil Castile, and the police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and I still don’t have the words to describe my emotions. I can say that I am still hurting, angry, terrified, and confused. But it’s more than that. I grieve with my black brothers and sisters across the nation and I wonder about my future here in the States as a black woman.

What’s going to happen to me if I am ever pulled over by a police officer for something I didn’t do? What’s going to happen if I’m out walking in my neighborhood and someone calls 911 on me because I look “black and suspicious”? What’s going to happen the next time I’m in a store and a clerk sees me wandering around?

After Sterling and Castile were shot, not one of my friends asked me how I was doing or if I was affected by the news. I’d even been posting about my pain and confusion on Facebook. But do you know what happened after the police officers were killed in Dallas? Family members and Facebook friends jumped on their keyboards typing out “Pray for Dallas” and “Blue Lives Matter” as fast as they could. I respect law enforcement and was hurting for the policemen’s families too but what does that mean to me when people do that? How do you think that makes me feel? Continue reading

Sorry, Clinton- These Are The First Women To Have Run For President

“Here’s the thing about Hilary- you don’t have to like her, but you do have to admit…”

If I had a nickel every time I heard those words I’d probably be rich enough to pay Clinton’s speaking fees. And that was before her official coronation nomination on July 26th. Now the news, the papers, and the internet is awash in varying degrees of jubilation and grudging respect.

“You don’t have to be happy about her, but you do got to admit that it’s pretty historic that there’s a woman running for president.”

I don’t.

In spite of the Democrats’ latest attempt to rewrite history in their favor, Clinton is not the first woman to have run for president. Hell, she wasn’t even the first female candidate to be nominated this year.

So again, I don’t need to admit ****.

There are scores of women who have boldly run for president, have done so before Clinton, and have done so on infinitely more admirable platforms and causes. It is these women who should receive our recognition- and of the 30+ or so candidates in American history, here are just a few of the highlights:

cynthiamckinneyCynthia McKinney

Presidential Bids: 2008

Party: Green (Formerly Democrat)

Notable Achievements:

Introduced legislation against the Iraq War (the one that Clinton voted for), as well as the impeachment of George Bush and several high ranking members of the administration. McKinney additionally attempted to introduce bills to halt the transfer of arms to countries with poor records on human rights (another dissimilarity with Clinton). Perhaps most impressively, McKinney managed to get herself arrested during a humanitarian mission to Gaza in 2009, after the aid ship Spirit of Humanity was boarded by Israeli forces (this being, of course, the same apartheid regime that Clinton has pledged her unconditional support to). Continue reading

We Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Yet Another Millennial Throws His Peers Under the Bus

I don’t think you need to subscribe to a Judeo-Christian worldview to come to the conclusion that people are generally horrible. To be more specific, I find that many of us [myself included] tend to believe we deserve more than we really do, that a good portion of our wants are in fact needs or rights. It was the crux of my post on leaks last year, and recent events have once again brought this issue to light.

The first has to do with Overwatch, a game I informed you has been eating up all of my free time. On August 2nd, after a few mistimed reveals over various platforms, game studio Blizzard officially announced their first seasonal event, the totally-not-the-Olympics Summer Games.

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As a playerbase no one really expected this. Yes, there was the expectation of new skins coming down the pipeline, but not new skins and a slew of other cosmetic items, as well as a wholly unique brawl [that, let’s face it, is just Rocket League]. However much of the initial excitement over the upcoming content turned to ashes in players’ mouths when they realized that they would not be able to purchase any of it.

To elaborate, Overwatch is not an F2P (free-to-play) game, which don’t require your purchase and instead support themselves through various optional microtransactions. Blizzard was upfront that Overwatch, after being bought, would be releasing new heroes and maps for free, promising to support the game moving forward. In other words, everything that is essential to playing would cost nothing.

With that in mind, all Summer Games items are exclusively unlocked, from August 2nd to the 22nd,  through loot boxes that you can earn by simply playing the game. In contrast, all standard items can also be purchased with in-game currency, which is earned in the same way. Loot boxes can also be bought with cold hard cash. Upon finding out that their means of acquiring these Summer Games items were thusly limited people flipped out. Continue reading