Dear Papa Bear,
Normally, I would not write in to a column about a issue I'm having. However, since this is something I've had a lot of people talk to me about and I don't know the answer, I figured taking it to a higher source makes more sense. So, I am a late 30-something furry, and I've been in the fandom nearly a decade. As I've aged, I've noticed furry has become, for lack of a better term, "tainted" by social politics, gender wars, and identity politics. Unfortunately, much of the issue is coming from a result of the young taking over leadership roles in our community. My question is, what can we "the elder generation" of furries do to maybe help curb the tide of this problem and what do you think of furry becoming so hyperpolitical?
Lotus Wolf (37)
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Dear Lotus Wolf,
Good question, and one I certainly relate to, being a greymuzzle myself. Yes, the fandom is changing, and it is radically different from when it started in the late 1970s/early 1980s. This is the result of a couple of things: 1) the internet, and 2) how it has grown to include hundreds of thousands of people. As the fandom becomes more visible to the general public, it has attracted a lot of people who don't really "get" furry. They are in it more to get attention than to be a part of the fun. Part of getting attention has been to do political things such as becoming a Nazi or Antifa furry. In this bear's humble opinion, furry is not a place for politics (this includes any sexual or gender or identity politics). It's supposed to be a place to avoid mundane things like politics and economics and social pressures. I disagree with you that furry has become "hyperpolitical." Yes, politics have encroached upon it, but not in an all-consuming way--just enough to be annoying.
What to do about it? Number one is to avoid validating people who want to make politics a thing in the fandom (doesn't matter if they are on the right, left, or moderate). They are basically trolls and should be ignored and blocked. Second is to reemphasize the fantasy aspect of the fandom by encouraging and participating in the writing, art, and games of the fandom. Third is to do what we can to educate the younger generations about furry history and who we are. Such things as Ash Coyote's documentary The Fandom can be helpful, or reading books such as Joe Striker's Furry Nation.
Change is inevitable and will continue in any living fandom. There will be good things about the fandom and bad things, but that's okay as long as we don't lose sight of who we are. Communication and education are the best approaches. We should also recognize that some things simply are not acceptable. I, for one, do not appreciate seeing anyone wearing a swastika armband at a furcon (or the Furry Raiders' armband, which is obviously similar, and don't tell me it's not), and I'm not a fan of how Antifa furs have behaved in the past, nor do I care to see furcon room parties for Soviet Furs.
Young people in America, especially, have lost an appreciation for democracy and freedom, sadly. They have been coddled and spoiled and no longer understand how lucky they are. A Cambridge University study showed that 55% of Millennials don't think democracy is important. The failing here is not with the Millenials, however; it is with the older generation and our current politicians who have made a mockery of democracy. What the Millennials are abhorring, really, is the distorted and corrupt "democracy" we now have. The internet, as we have seen so painfully recently, is also to blame for spreading lies and misinformation about our political institutions and a number of politicians.
The furry fandom is a victim of the times. Don't blame furries themselves. I hate when people say things such as "The fandom is just a bunch of furverts and drama queens and haters." No, it's not. Almost everyfur I meet--young and old--is a wonderful person. But it only takes a drop of arsenic to poison the entire cup of tea. More and more, admins in places such as Facebook groups (including me) have been prohibiting politics and hate in their groups. If those who run social websites, furmeets, and furcons remain vigilant, they can do a lot to eliminate or, at least, minimize the problem.
There need to be adults in the room, in other words. And I call on the greymuzzles and other, younger, adults who have taken it upon themselves to assume leadership roles in the fandom to set standards for their groups and organizations. We have seen what happens when supervision is lacking (e.g., the closing of Rainfurest and some other cons). Be an example to the younger furries and you will go a long way toward keeping the furry fandom a fun and enjoyable social phenomenon.
This is an important topic, and I've only brushed the surface of it. I welcome my readers' comments and input below.
Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve just been very busy with woodwork and social stuff. However, recently I’ve been thinking about the sad and dark stuff that happened in 2020 and how so much I wasn’t expecting just how low the year could get.
I’ve been feeling down lately (though I stress I wanna live more than anything). The news and all the horrifying stories about COVID-19 and the horrific crimes committed by police (the fact I now cannot trust them with my life given my mild Autism and hearing about police murdering Aspies [people with Asperger's] is both depressing and disturbing), the numerous deaths of beloved figures from disease, the recent financial recession in my country. Not to mention the natural disasters that occurred earlier in the year and so many events I were looking forward to getting cancelled.
I’ve also suffered a relapse in depression. There are nights where it’s been so overwhelmingly miserable, I just want to cry myself to sleep. I struggle to smile and find the situation so hopeless, I can’t stop frowning. I just wanna smile again and feel hope and light, not this looming despair and darkness that leaves me paranoid of a horrible disease. It’s so scary and uncertain.
I’ve been feeling lonely lately. Trying to get out of the house to help my mother out with shopping and seeing a friend is to try and cheer myself up. It’s hard to feel hopeful when the news is destroying my faith in humanity and the global pandemic is killing so many people. I’m just so overwhelmed.
I also felt a sense of guilt from what happened with Etika. I wanted to help him because I could empathise with him and wanted to help him but when I heard he was blocking people trying to help him, I didn’t do anything because I loved his stuff and I wanted to not bother him. I was scared when I heard about his disappearance and was devastated when I heard the news of his suicide. I’m crying typing this because I feel so guilty I didn’t do anything even if doing something kind meant being blocked for trying to be a good person.
Also, one massive thing that traumatised me and made me feel terrified was my Mum’s so-called friend (I’m just gonna call him “J” even though he has the same name as my brother which I find insulting). I noticed early on in 2019 when J was emotionally abusive to my mum, gaslighting her and making her feel as if he was the only one who truly loved her(my separated father is 10-times the better partner than that bastard). He was also screaming at her at times. I could hear them through the paper thin walls. He threw things and was cruel to her. First time that happened my brother and I (and my dog Jake though neither of us got our shoes on and I couldn’t get my phone or wallet from upstairs) ran out while my Mum called the cops (this is before my trust in them was destroyed this year) and her bloody bruised face still haunts me. Second time it happened at night after he “apologised” to her and threatened to kill himself if she left, I couldn’t take it anymore and screamed at him to get out and stay out! I never once trusted him and my mum screamed at me that I should be glad dad and mum are in separate relationships. I don’t appreciate abuse. I always had a gut feeling not to trust him but I was nice to him anyway before the second time because I wanted to give him a second chance. He even gave me chew lollies but I suspect it was a bribe to shut me up and it didn’t work. I now associate the packet of lollies with that asshole. I hate them.
Both times, he destroyed something in the house (the car park door on the 2nd time) and made my mum cry. I hate myself for being so scared. I hate that man for what he did and it took every bit of willpower not to attack him the second time he attacked my mum. He’s also taller than my mum and me so he’s intimidating. He’s a monster. A cruel, manipulative and evil sack of shit who I hope I NEVER see his face again.
By the way, I should clarify despite my sadness at my parents separating, they’re still good parents who care about me and my siblings.
The 2010s were honestly some of the darkest and lowest points in my life. I was seriously hoping 2020 would actually improve things but it just got worse. I really wanna hope 2021 is slightly better but I have no idea. I wanna be a parent before I’m 30 but I’m worried if I’ll be a good parent given that I remember a social class from primary school when we were given a younger student from another class to help as a “parent” and I wasn’t there for them so they were given to someone else and the kid told me to my face I wasn’t there for them and were disappointed in me. I know it was just a school Project but it haunted me ever since and makes me scared I’ll be a bad parent for real. After some horrible abuse I went through from that shithead, I realised how important my family mean to me. I really wanna be a good loving attentive father one day.
I guess my questions are this: is there any hope for the future and how can I be a better person? Also, hope your leg’s okay, Papa Bear. I was rather worried when I heard the news from you. Stay safe, mate.
From a concerned and unhappy canine.
Sam the Dog
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Wow, there is a lot going on in this letter. There are at least four questions here: 1) Given the current state of the world, how can I be optimistic and hopeful about the future? 2) How do I deal with my mom and her abusive boyfriend? 3) Should I be a parent soon? 4) How do I deal with my feelings of guilt regarding Etika? (Please note in future that you are only supposed to ask one question per letter, but I know that writing this down is a catharsis for you, so it's okay this one time.
Let's start with the second one first. Domestic abuse is a serious business. Your mother's boyfriend is emotionally abusive and, it sounds like, even physically so. There is not too much you can do until your mother recognizes this, and there are many psychological reasons too complicated to go into here as to why she might be so reticent to change her life. I'm not sure what Australian police are like, but if you do not trust them to help with domestic abuse problems, I would recommend you contact Lifeline Australia (https://www.lifeline.org.au/), which offers services concerning suicide, domestic abuse, and other crisis support services. Start with them.
Next: Etika. What happened to Etika is not your fault. Could you have done more? Sure, you could have tried to talk to him more or recommend help for him, but ultimately his choices were his own. You do not own other people's fates; you only own your own fate.
Should you try and be a parent before you are 30? Ideally, in my opinion, no one should try to be a parent until they have their shit together, but if I could somehow enforce that, Homo sapiens would become extinct in a couple of generations. Almost no one has their shit completely together, so the second option would be to have your shit mostly together, meaning you had enough income and could provide a stable environment to nurture a child into adulthood. Do not become a parent for your own selfish reasons (I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, "I want a baby so I have someone to love me" or "I want a baby so I have someone to take care of me in my old age" or "I want a baby so that I can have someone to carry on my legacy.") All of these reasons are wrong reasons for bringing a human being into the world. So, ask yourself: "WHY do I want to bring a child into this crazy world?"
Lastly, the BIG question: How can one be optimistic about the future in such a grim year? To get a grip on this, one must accept that life goes in cycles. There are good periods in history and bad ones; economic good times and depressions; periods of political stability and periods of unrest. I sympathize with your unease in this Time of Trump, which is simply horrible. I am very nervous that our American republic is being destroyed and we are regressing into a past when racism ran rampant and when destroying the environment was the status quo. Right now, it is about 50/50 as to which path we will follow in November, and it is truly disturbing how many Americans still support Trump and his evil reign of hatred and racism. Let us hope that voters will turn things around, but if not, and we get four years (or more) of Trump, even then there is still hope because, as noted, eventually evil is overthrown and things improve. The only question is whether that happens sooner or later. Of course, you are in Australia, which is a stable, fairly socialist country (compared to the US), so you should be okay, especially since Australia is doing better handling the COVID-19 pandemic than many countries (South Australia is considered one of the safest places on Earth regarding the coronavirus). I think you will be okay. Hang in there.
Looking worldwide rather than just in Australia, yes, there has been a definite swing toward right-wing regimes in recent years. Countries including the USA, Brazil, the UK, Hungary, Poland, and Austria have growing right-wing movements. This is the result of a couple of things, including reactionary movements against immigration and the success of liberal legislation giving rise to counter-legislation. Basically, white, conservative Christians fearing they are losing power to brown-skinned people who follow other faiths or who are liberal socialists. So, we get a political phenomenon based on changing world demographics. As with any active system, there is turbulence during a transition from one equilibrium to the next. Things will settle down eventually, but it could take decades.
You can't take on the world by yourself. But I do like the saying, "Think globally, act locally." If you wish to do something, get involved in local political, social, and environmental groups, and see if you can lend them a hand. That will ease your sense of being powerless because you will be doing something constructive.
Good Luck to You! Take Care! Bear Hugs!
Why? Why are Europeans such scum? I cannot understand. It's almost unreal how a race so greedy, vile, agressive and warlike can exist. No, I won't consider the fact that "European" isn't a race on it's own, but they... I just can't take it.
Thieves and murderers. Bandits and barbarians. Terrorists disguised in uniforms.
They've done all sorts of things but still have the audacity to call themselves the beacon of peace and love? The cradle of technology and civilized growth? After all the people they slaughtered, the wealth they violently took from the rest of the world. They're like parasites. And they STILL believe themselves to have the higher ground?!
"Moral superiority"? "Protectors of peace and mankind"?! ""Prestige?!"" Wealth?! """Culture"""???? .......... BULL-FUCKING-HORSE SHIT! None of what they own today is their own! NOTHING!!!
Global empires built on foreign blood and tears, they hold no regard for human life. Pretty ironic of them to act like peacekeepers and protectors of human rights and civilization when they're the CORE of all those problems they're trying to fix, and they aren't even going to accept the responsibility. Their feeling of false superiority is more important than the world suffering.
They say we, people of the Middle East are "primitive and stupid", that Africa is a "backwater shithole" BECAUSE it's the Africans' own fault, that Eastern Europe is lagging behind because they aren't as "cultured" or "superior" as the Western Europeans. None of that is true. All of those regions are like this directly due to the fact that European scum came to plunder, loot, burn, murder, fuck and take away.
There exist no continent, on which the European cockroaches didn't make their move. Native Americans nearly wiped out, Africans and Indians race crippling poverty, Eastern Europe is lagging behind, Asia isn't looking good either, I won't even mention the Middle East and South America.
"Kill and steal, for wealth and glory!!!".
National Socialism? Imperialism? Capitalism? Nuclear Weapons? Battle poison? Genocide of the natives worldwide? Concentration camps? Colonialism? 2 FUCKING WORLD WARS LED DUE TO WESTERN GREED, millions of dead, not 100 years ago??!!?!
The European man doesn't seem to mind (when I say European, that counts the "Americans/European immigrants", they have no RIGHT to call themselves "American"), why, he's the man in the high castle, isn't he? He surely must have gotten "so high" because of his superb intelligence, strategy and culture, and not because he was the ONLY one who's capable of launching global colonial massacre and looting campaigns against "the lower races". No, they must be so wealthy and prosperous because they are so cultured and freedom/democracy-loving? Because they're "so good" and we're "so bad".
The white race is the scum of the Earth. There is no race so lowly and unhuman to have killed the most people, burned and looted most settlements, massacred more innocent civilians, enslaved and exterminated more cultures, declared more wars... Than the whiteys. And they STILL feel superior to all other races.
And the ones that aren't scum (hopefully there are many today), what did they do? "Oh, welp, can't change the past :)!". Living in luxury, having more than 70% of the world's wealth centered in 5 countries, all of which you know certainly.
And after all of this, we're supposed to be PRIMITIVE? WE'RE SCUM?! We're at fault because we had our wealth, lives and culture taken away from us?! Being forced to speak the language of the murderer and the tyrant?
They look at us the same way they look at the dog or the ugly spider. We are trash? And they...
Forget it. This world sucks. All because of West Europe. The core of all mischief and misfortune. The home of the delusional man who believes himself to be the saviour of mankind, civilization, culture and technological advancement.
Why does it matter now... They've already taken everything the rest of the world had. And the countries that could've opposed West Europe aren't here anymore, no matter how flawed those countries were, they were truly more of a saviour than the West ever will be.
Why won't they stop even now? Don't they have enough?!?!?! They're still trying to rob us even when we have SO LITTLE COMPARED TO THEM!
DAMN YOU ALLL! I HATE THEM ALL! Why won't you just leave us be? Why, why, why why why why why?
Icarus (age 26, Egypt)
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There is a lot going on in your email for sure. To answer your questions fully, it would literally take many books. I am going to try and address your issues concisely and clearly if I can, and you can take them as you wish. I'm not sure whether you know this, but your email is addressed to a man whose ancestors came from England, Germany, and Russia. So, given that my blood comes from Western European (and Eastern) scum, you might not wish to listen, I don't know.
To begin with, I don't disagree with you. Many of the world's problems today--especially in continents such as Africa and Asia--can be traced back to the period of European colonialism. To put it in fundamental terms, the problem is that Europeans came in, carved out large sections of land, declared them as "theirs," and totally raped them. One example of this would be the slave trade from Africa to the United States (although it should be noted that many African tribes got into the business of selling rival tribe members to the British). Another, more recent, example is Palestine. Basically, what happened there is that, after World War II, the Europeans shipped out a lot of the Jews to Palestine because they didn't want them in Europe (the Jews were happy to leave after the Holocaust, of course), and they kicked out the Palestinians, who had been living in what is now Israel, for centuries, without a second thought. It is a grave injustice, and I completely sympathize with the rage of the Palestinian people. They have been treated like garbage, and it coincides with your statement that the Europeans feel superior and thought absolutely nothing about treating the Palestinians like they didn't matter and they could just kick them out of their homes.
Then, as European powers began to collapse overseas, they abandoned their colonies and allowed them, one by one, to gain independence. The problem was that the borders that were created were based upon colonial borders. This meant that various tribes and ethnic cultures were thrust together artificially and told they were one nation. These people didn't really get along, and the result was a lot of internal strife. The wise thing to do would have been to create countries based on where various tribes had settled. Another problem was that the Europeans didn't help their former colonies transition into republics. Instead, they left them with holes in leadership, which made it possible for various military dictatorships to arise. Finally, because many of the natural resources had been raped by Europeans, they often didn't leave those countries much to get by on; too, when you are busy fighting internal wars there is not much opportunity to grow your economy.
Yes, many of these countries now struggle, but it is because they have not recovered from being colonies yet. These things take time (many countries didn't become independent until the mid-twentieth century), but I do see hope for many of these nations. One example of this is Vietnam. After France and the Americans finally left these people alone, the country has recovered and is now doing much better. One might say, "Oh! But the Communists took over Vietnam!" So what? If you look at it objectively, Vietnam is doing very well under Communism, thank you very much. China is, too, actually. It is not the political system that matters, it is how that system is run. A "democracy" can be just as bad as a monarchy if it is run by corrupt people. Whether a country is socialist or democratic or a monarchy, it can be okay for the people provided they are allowed to live, work, practice their religion, get an education, and not be harassed by the country's leadership. The USA touts itself as a democracy, but that is inaccurate. We are a republic and one that has been downgraded recently to a "flawed democracy" because of Trump and the Republicans.
That said, let's go back to the generalization of evil white Europeans. We need to take a longer, historical look at human history to see that there have been many empires in the past that have used and exploited people. China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, unified China by oppressing all its minorities, taking over their lands, telling them they could not speak their own languages or practice their own cultures, so that he forced a monoculture on all he surveyed. The Mongols were the terror of Asia and half Europe for many years, creating one of the biggest empires in human history. The Byzantine Empire enslaved the Jews and many other people when it was the dominant power in the Middle East. The Ayyubib Sultans and Muslim caliphs also enslaved people and forced many of them into their militaries. The Kingdom of Kongo enslaved the conquered Mwene Kabunga people.
I could go on and on, but the point is that those people who were killed and enslaved by those various empires probably felt the same way about their conquerors as you do now about Europeans.
The problem is not white people. The problem is human beings. Humans have this flaw in which they crave power, and when they get that power they inevitably abuse it. Fast forward to the United States of America. The USA was actually a pretty weak country on the international scene until they flexed their muscles in World War II and became a superpower. Of course, by this point we had a long history of oppressing and killing people (Africans, Native Americans), but once we helped defeat Germany and Japan we developed this illness in which we saw ourselves as the saviors of the world (not entirely true, since actually, the Soviet Union was the country that turned the tide on Hitler when they chased them off the eastern front). Anyway, we got this big ol' freakin' chip on our shoulder and started telling everyone what to do with their countries. This has been a disaster, especially when it became clear that we were supporting various dictators (e.g., the Shah of Iran) because they had oil, and we bombed the crap out of countries that refused to cooperate fully with us (e.g. Iraq) while telling the world it was because they were evil. Meanwhile, we are good buddies with Saudi Arabia, a long-time secret sponsor of terrorism, because they sell us oil.
But America is now weakening, and despite your rant about Europeans, their countries have weakened considerably as well. Next country at bat is China. Watch them as they become the new superpower and I guarantee you that you will see them abuse their power wherever they can (they are already making moves on Southeast Asia with the artificial islands they are creating as places for naval bases).
White Europeans are not superior. Nor is anyone else. It's just that at this point in history (and it might seem like a long period, but centuries are really only a blip in history) they are holding the cards. But all empires rise and fall. Europe has fallen; America is currently falling; China will rise and then, inevitably, fall as well. Power is an illusion.
Now, let's address materialism. You correctly rant that Westerners are hogging the world's resources. Indeed, it is said that each American baby that is born will use 10x the resources during their lifetime as someone born in a--pardon me for using this term--"third world" country. Yes, we are materially prosperous, but that is not all good. Surveys show that Americans are extremely depressed and unhappy. Why? Because we are too concerned about money and things. Meanwhile, travelers to places like Africa, even poor countries, witness that these people are much happier because they have much stronger community bonds (the ones not torn by war, of course). As for Europeans, they actually, in general, are content to have "less" than Americans. They tend to live in much smaller abodes, own fewer cars (because public transportation is so much better than in America), and are not gluttons. We are already seeing the effects of runaway capitalism, gluttony, and greed in America as the nation is being torn apart because of the 1% hoarding the money. The average American these days is doing worse than their parents did. And so it goes.
So, to answer what I feel is the essence of your question: it is not all the fault of western Europe alone that the "world sucks." It is because of human nature that there are wars and poverty when there doesn't need to be. You must be careful, Icarus, not to stereotype people because of their color or nationality. That is the road to prejudice, which is likewise a big reason why there is so much hate in the world. Giving in to hate will only destroy your spirit and make you suffer more. In other words, it hurts you more than it does them.
It is easy to give in to hate and despair, Icarus. I have been guilty of it, too. And I wish to thank you for writing me because it made me stop and think about things, and you have made me feel a little better for doing so. While I am not saying that you or I can stop all the misery in the world, I would like to suggest that both of us would do much better to try and be good people, help those around us, and be shining lights in the darkness. As they say, think globally, act locally. The best weapon against hatred is not hatred. It's love. (Also humor; making fun of politicians is great fun).
Icarus, you have chosen an interesting name, a name from Greek mythology about a man who tried to fly and touch the sun only to go down in flames. It is a story of the hubris of humanity to think we can be equal to the gods. Just like Icarus, empires try to claim the sun as their own and they inevitably crash and burn.
Do not be like the empires. Be humble, kind, and loving. Then you will find peace because nothing in the world is so worth having as love in your heart.
I hope that helps.
This is the second time I have written to you. During my studies, and even before, when I grew bored of TV series, I turned to following world news, American news, and some conservative Internet commentators.
Through these, I learned about the Social Justice Warrior movement and its misguided ways. The extremist members of this movement propagate hate against white people. Is it really ok to hate based on ethnicity? Why did the term "people of color" come to existence with the meaning of non-white people? Is white not a color? If not, then why is black considered a color in this sense? For both white and black are considered shades, not true colors, in art. SJWs connect "whiteness" to the colonizers of the Americas and not only to them, they extend the meaning to all Europeans, a crude generalization and racism on their part. One might ask the question why is it that they only view white people as not belonging to America when, in fact, African slaves were brought there to replace "the Indians" (native Americans), because they couldn't handle the burden of slavery well. So, in this sense everyone except native Americans should get out of your continent, the thought of which is quite absurd. Even so, why do they think it is ok to blame the younger generation for the sins of the older?
When commentators speak about gender and race issues, they make it sound like that SJWs are everywhere and pose a big problem. Because I'm not living there, I have limited means of gathering information. So, I would like to ask you: how widespread is this belief in your society, especially in the furry fandom, since it's known to be one of the most accepting fandoms? Do people get hung up on chasing nonexistent offences, intolerantly preaching tolerance, or is it just a magnified issue which doesn't come up as often? What is your opinion about this in general?
Farkas Ürdüng (23, Hungary)
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I think it was comedian Eddie Murphy who did a humorous stand-up routine about color. Talking about white people, he noted, “When white people get cold, they turn blue; when they get angry, they turn red; when they get sick, they might get yellow or green, but when black people are cold or angry or sick, they’re still black. Seems to me white people are the ones who are colored” *snerk*.
Your letter seems to entangle two separate issues: social justice warriors and white guilt. They are not always the same. SJWs are objects of criticism because they are a form of troll, using insincere outrage over things they have heard are not politically correct and then having vitriolic fits about them online to score social justice points, so they will be seen as popular. Such people only do their “activism” online and do not do anything constructive in the real world to effect real change. In other words, they are frauds. Their use of politically correct mantras is just a tool for trolling; they don’t truly care about the issues they complain about.
Let’s move on to the politically correct movement in America and white guilt. Here is an extremely brief overview of the history behind it: As you are likely aware, the United States has a long history of oppressing other races, especially African Americans and Native Americans, but also other groups, including Chinese and Japanese immigrants, LGBT people, and, of course, women (who weren’t even allowed to vote until 1920, long after black men were “technically” permitted to vote, though many factors made this difficult, such as Jim Crow laws). Beginning with the 1960s Counterculture Movement, which centered in universities, especially those in New England and the West Coast (University of California, Berkeley, was the epicenter), and the Civil Rights Movement led by such figures as Martin Luther King Jr., there was a strong reaction against the injustices perpetrated against minority groups. A dissonance needed to be resolved between these injustices and the American image of being “land of the free and home of the brave.” Obviously, unless you were a white male, most Americans didn’t even start to experience real freedom until just the last few decades of our history.
[Side note: your statement that “African slaves were brought there to replace ‘the Indians’ (native Americans), because they couldn't handle the burden of slavery well” is untrue. Indians experienced slavery, it’s true, under the Europeans, but when it comes to Americans they were more often slaughtered, run off their lands, and put in re-education schools where they were forbidden to use their native languages. Africans were brought in to work the fields, primarily in the South, although a number of Northerners had slaves until those states started making it illegal. In other words, the Indians (who were perfectly capable of being slaves and often were [especially under Spain]) were mostly seen as a people to be exterminated (they posed a challenge to the white American concept of Manifest Destiny), while the Africans were considered a labor resource.]
After generations of work by civil rights leaders, America made progress in its laws to finally treat minorities better. As with any tidal change in society, there are reactionary forces led by about half of America (at least) that is still extremely prejudiced towards these groups. But because it was no longer legal (or at least ignored) in American society to be overtly prejudiced and abusive towards these groups, they kind of went underground. An example: before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, the state of Michigan passed a state constitution amendment banning such unions. Before it went to a vote, however, polls indicated that most Michiganders were against the amendment. You see, even though the polls were anonymous, people didn’t want to be seen as prejudiced, but when they entered the voting booths, they voted for what was really in their hearts: hate. The same is true with racism in many parts of this country. For example, local leaders in some southern states have removed voting centers in areas with black majorities to make it harder for them to vote, but they say the reason is because they need to cut election costs.
Now, with a racist jackass inhabiting the White House and a majority of minority-hating Republicans in Congress, hateful Americans everywhere have felt empowered to once again spout their prejudices (currently, it is mostly aimed at Muslims from Arabic countries and at immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and south of the border). Republican leaders justify their actions by labeling Muslim minorities as terrorists and immigrants from Mexico and Central America and other points south as moochers stealing money from American taxpayers. The words on the Statue of Liberty have no meaning to right-wing people.
To point out your correct observation that all Americans are either immigrants or descended from immigrants (except for Indians [and, by the way, it is okay to call them Indians], who got here first), conservative politicians and other Americans do acknowledge this, it is just that they would prefer our immigrants to come from places like—as Trump requested—Norway, which he considers to be not a “shithole country.” The problem there is that people in Norway are generally much happier than Americans and have no compelling reason to flock here en masse.
Like a game of ping-pong, with the counter-revolution of white conservatives on the rise, you are now getting a counter-counter-revolution of left-wingers and those who are obsessed with political correctness, and part of this political correctness is a self-loathing (if you are white) for all the injustices of the past, even if you weren’t personally responsible for them. This is why Columbus Day is celebrated less and less and why there was a recent movement to destroy monuments to Confederate leaders.
As we bounce back and forth, the two extremes become more and more extreme, while moderates in the middle become scarce. Today, we have a deeply divided nation that is literally (judging by voting) a 50/50 split between liberals and conservatives. Add to this the fact that we have lost the ability to compromise in Congress, and that social media encourages people to express hostile opinions without having to hear counterarguments, and you have a real mess on your hands.
Social Justice Warriors are just one symptom of a much larger issue: a country that is as divided today as it was just before the U.S. Civil War and all that this implies. Some states, such as California and Texas, are even mulling over the possibilities of seceding from the union—something that is becoming a possibility because of the lack of true leadership in Washington, D.C.
As for the furry community, it is well established that its members tend toward the left, politically speaking, though there are some conservatives within the fandom, which would imply that there may be more SJW people in the fandom than in the general population (I have no statistics on this, however; it’s just a hunch). I believe that the SJW phenomenon is one restricted, for the most part, to the online world. Mostly, this is people raging against the wind to little or no effect. I find it an annoyance that is easily ignored and avoided.
Much more important than the impotent SJW population is the very real fact that the United States is in serious trouble—politically, socially, economically. Indeed, this is coming to a head involving the Constitution and the power of the Executive Branch, which, at this point, could go one of two ways: 1) in the 2018 and 2020 elections Americans start to regain their senses and bring back some sanity to Washington, or 2) we go the way of Nazi Germany and descend into a dictatorship that would mark the end of the United States as we know it.
And how are things in Hungary?
Last year because of Donald Trump many people from Islamic countries have been deported back to their home countries. They were forced to board planes leaving from New York, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California after being arrested and detained by Immigration Control Enforcemen—or ICE—agents. What can I do to prevent further deportations of people from Islamic countries from happening?
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Excellent question. I think, in truth, this is the first time Papabear has ever received such a politically hot query (conservative "Ask Papabear" readers might be offended by what I am about to say, but oh, well). Even though the outright ban on immigrants from several countries ordered by Trump has been stayed by a federal judge, border security prejudice against Muslims and deportations have increased significantly. A witch hunt like this has not been seen in our country since the anti-Communist McCarthy era of the 1950s. The election of Donald Trump has brought back a flood of racist feelings in this country. Hateful people feel empowered by his being elected and are coming out like cockroaches when the light of justice (forgive me for sounding like Po here) has been turned off.
Americans have a long history of that here, including prejudice and mistreatment of African Americans, Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, Irish immigrants, Japanese Americans, Communists, LGBT people, and now Muslims (especially if they are from the Middle East; many Americans are too dumb to realize many Muslims are not from Arabic countries, even sometimes confusing Sikhs for Muslims if they are wearing turbans). In short, our country thrives by hating other people, it seems. Politically, inciting a people to hate a certain nationality, ethnicity, or religion as an "outside threat" is used to unite people behind a government striving to stay in power. Americans talk a good game about being lovers of freedom (I remember in grade school how they tried to convince us we were a "Melting Pot"--lies), but we are just as prejudiced as any other country. Controlling people in this manner is better achieved, too, when the people are uneducated, which is why our public school system has been deliberately dumbed down by politicians and religious extremists.
But there is some hope.
Slowly, over the centuries, America has experienced some encouraging waves of liberalism and open-mindedness. Since the 1970s, especially, we have been making some significant progress in gay, women, and minority rights. What sometimes happens (as we are seeing now) is that "conservative" whites, when they see this kind of evolution in civil rights taking place, become defensive and fearful that "their way of life" is being threatened (meaning white Christian "American" values). When this happens, there is a backlash of conservative paranoia, resulting in sympathy towards Christian televangelists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and more subtle groups that pretend not to hold those values but really do.
What can you do about it? The above problem arises when liberal and progressive thinkers become lazy and complacent (this is why Hillary Clinton lost the election--she assumed she would win and this resulted in her making many serious mistakes, such as assuming she would win Wisconsin and Michigan, therefore, not campaigning enough there). So, what you need to do is:
I hope that helps. Fight the good fight, my furiend.
P.S. Below is a helpful book I edited about Islam that should clear things up for many people.
I am currently a politics student with aspirations to enter the world of politics later on in life, either as a councilor or as a Member of Parliament. However, I am concerned that, as a politician, my private life would come under much scrutiny by the media, including my identification as a furry. Based on your doubtless rich experience and opinion, do you think that it would be wise for a furry like me, whom nobody outside of the furry community knows that I am, to go into politics?
Many Thanks and Kind Regards,
* * *
While I’m more familiar with politics in the U.S. than in Britain, it’s pretty much a cutthroat occupation, wherever in the world you may go. You can be assured that, should you run for public office, your private life will be scrutinized with a tweezer and microscope. And if any flaws—real or perceived—are discovered by an opponent, they will be used against you. It seems that these days more elections are won based on attacking one’s opponent, rather than running on one’s own merits.
Being a furry is not a flaw, of course, but you can imagine how it will go for you once someone discovers a site such as e621.net and calls you a furvert.
But, many people of various minorities have run for office, been attacked, and won. Public office used to be the domain solely of white, straight (or apparently straight) men. Britain has been a bit ahead of America in terms of accepting minorities into their government. In 1790, Robert Jenkinson (an Anglo-Indian) was elected to Parliament. And there have been quite a few minorities in Parliament since then.
It took longer for a gay man to be accepted in Parliament. Being gay in the UK was illegal until the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, as you probably know (think of poor victims of this law, ranging from Oscar Wilde to Alan Turing). Since then, LGBT people have slowly been gaining ground and offices.
Now, if LGBT people—who were once considered deviants to a criminal degree—can gain acceptance, I believe a furry can, too (and more easily in Britain than in America, where half the population still thinks the Confederacy should have won). Really, it depends upon you and how willing you are to stick up for your furriness. You could, I suppose, hide or abandon that side of you in favor of your political career, or you could not hide it at all and assert your right to be who you are, including the best politician you can be.
There is some good news, too, concerning furries and acceptance. As with the LGBT community, there has been a slow turning around of public opinion about furries that is represented in articles such as this one from the Huffington Post.
I can’t make that decision for you about your career, but I would say that if you have a passion for public service and you abandoned it out of fear of your being a furry, then that would be quite a shame and a loss to your community. I, for one, would be very proud of you if you put aside your fears and won even a small, local election; that could be the start of an amazing future for you.
Thank you reading this letter. After reading your replies to my previous letters, my problems became easier to deal with, and I can't thank you enough for all the help you provided. You're great!
As months passed since I last wrote to you, my O.C.D. symptoms diminished, and I feel ever closer to being cured. My obsession with cleanliness disappeared, as well as my fears of religion, which allowed me to freely assume that I am agnostic. My interest in a male partner vanished completely, and I lost all interest in males. I don't know whether it was a phase, or my O.C.D., though it matters little. To cut a long story short, things are much better now, thanks to your help.
But unfortunately, they are not perfect. As my O.C.D. symptoms became less and less frequent, my colleagues started to mock me more and more. They are aware of my condition (it became obvious when my condition was worse), but they still laugh at me, as well as my teachers and people on general, and it became impossible to put up with.
It can't say it didn't affect me. I think I grew to become a misanthrope. In the future, I plan to move to another country. Both because I want to and because I feel like I need to turn over a new leaf. And here lies the problem.
I am a nationalist, in the good sense of the word, of course. And while I'd rather see my country flourish, it lies in ruins. The economy is bad, unemployment is rising, and I can't live anymore. Not in here.
But I want to do the best I can in the new country I call home. I want to contribute to society to obtain a new citizenship, and to be able to feel like a nationalist in my new country.
My question is the following: Can I become a nationalist in a new country, in a new place that I'll call home? If so, what do you call that? Is there a specific definition for an immigrant who becomes a nationalist and loves his new-found home?
Thank you for your time.
C-Ratchet (age 20)
* * *
Thank you for telling me about your progress with OCD; I’m glad you’re doing better. Remember that, just because the symptoms are getting better, you should stay on top of this to make sure that you don’t regress back to where you were originally.
I am puzzled as to why people would start mocking you more and more as your OCD lessened. What are they mocking you about? It isn’t clear in your letter, but let’s move on to your interest in emigrating to another country.
The first point I must make is that moving is not a solution to escaping people you don’t like, and if you are, indeed, a misanthrope, you will certainly not escape that problem unless you live in a cave or in the wilderness all by yourself. Barring that, you will find that people are people, wherever you may go. Could it be that you are simply more aware of them mocking you because you are not preoccupied with your OCD symptoms and, hence, able to observe others’ behavior more? The question also becomes: are they really mocking you or are you taking offense to some perceived slights on their part? It is difficult for me to say without being more informed of the circumstances.
Let’s say, however, that you simply wish to make a new start. Why another country? Why not just another region of this country? America is quite diverse, and you will find that living in the Midwest is very culturally different from living in Southern California, which is different from living in New England, which is very different from living in Louisiana or Hawaii or Alaska, and so forth. Perhaps you don’t need to go to such an extreme as becoming an expat and could find happiness by discovering a region of the country you aver to love so well that is more suited to your sensibilities.
Barring all that, and asserting that all Americans are inconsiderate ass-wipes who will mock you wherever you go and there is no region of the country where you can escape such abuse, let’s talk emigration.
Is it possible to become a patriot and nationalist of your new country? Certainly! People immigrating to America have done so for centuries, and it works in reverse, too. Depending on which country you go to, you will have to explore their legal processes in becoming a citizen. Also, don’t forget the possibility of holding a dual citizenship in your old and new countries. I would very much recommend this, because you can never know what might happen, and it would be wise to leave your options open and be able to return to the U.S. should the need arise.
Keep in mind the culture shock effect, too. Depending on your tolerance for such, and your skills in learning languages, this will determine whether you might prefer moving to an Anglo-type country like Canada or Australia versus something more extreme, like the Czech Republic or Botswana. Such a drastic move takes a lot of preparation. Research the laws and customs of the country you plan to move to and you will adapt better.
Papabear recommends, still, that before you take such a drastic leap in your life you should reconsider and explore your options right here in the U.S. I am reminded of a dear friend of mine who became very disgruntled with the United States and decided to move to Norway with her husband. While some things were better (she broke an ankle slipping on the ice—because Norway is an ice rink 12 months a year—and it was quickly repaired by the efficient medical system there at no expense to her, thank you very much), but other things were much worse. She found that she and her husband were treated very poorly by some people there and that the living expenses were so high that they could barely get by, so it didn’t work out very well. She's now living in Arizona.
While moving to a new area can, indeed, be a fresh start, do so for the right reasons. Yogi and I moved from Michigan to California to be closer to our parents, because the economy was better, because the weather is MUCH better, and because the community here in the Coachella Valley is accepting of gay couples. Those are good reasons. Other good reasons would be to leave because you are seeking political asylum or you are being oppressed for your religion, which is why so many came to this country. In other words, because people are trying to kill or imprison you, which I don’t think is happening in your case :-P
A bad reason is to move away because you are trying to run away from your problems that lie within. That is, problems that may stem from you more than the environment you are in. If people are taunting you, perhaps instead of running away you should stick up for yourself and prove your mockers that they are wrong. If they are attacking you because of a physical or psychological handicap, for example, you may have reason to consult an attorney and take legal action. You are 20 years old; old enough to assert yourself and tell people like that to (pardon my French) fuck off.
If what upsets you is the current economic and political situation in the United States, maybe instead of running away from it you could become part of the solution by becoming politically active in your community and trying to help your country. That’s something patriots do, doncha know. When Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and the other Founding Fathers got pissed about the situation in the Colonies, they combined the two strategies above, first telling King George, "To be sure, Your Highness, the flaccid organ betwixt your noble legs should thus fit cozily within your anal region," and then, instead of leaving, they carried political activism to extremes.
You ask what do you call someone who moves to another country and adopts that place as his or her home. You can call that person a nationalist or patriot, just as you would here in America. Or you could call that person someone who is trying to hide from life. Which are you?
Think about it.
Hello again Papabear,
Writing you again for a different issue that I'm having. Though I'm pleased to report that I've been feeling better and haven't had as many thoughts of suicide. :)
On to my problem, I've noticed over the many years that I've been a part of this fandom (and the short time I've been in the brony fandom as well) that quite a few people are very active politically. This is great! I love that people in my age group (18-25) are taking politics seriously. However ... it did not take long to notice that most furries/bronies are at the opposite spectrum from me.
Yes, I am a conservative and registered Republican. Though I consider my party affiliation/ideals to be more along the lines of a Libertarian, I usually vote Republican.
This has caused ... rifts between me and the vast majority of furries when politics is brought up. While I consider myself very calm and tolerant of others beliefs/opinions, most furries who engage me spew a surprising amount of hatred my way just because of my party.
I cannot begin to express how much this upsets me. I feel as though the majority of the fandom has decreed that I'm not allowed to have an opinion and if I say anything that goes against them, I'm the target of extreme hatred.
At this juncture I'm at a loss for what to do, I was even hesitant to write to you as I know you also share a differing political views than I. It seems that whenever politics is brought up, I cannot respond, because doing so brings a torrent of angry people leaving nasty comments/DMs. I've tried to explain my position rationally and logically but no one wants to listen. They immediately pass judgment and lump me in with the crazed religious Right. Which couldn't be farther from the truth. I support gay marriage, I'm pro-choice, and yet they all seem to treat me like some vile scum unworthy of respect. It feels like I'm forced to listen to what they have to say but if I try to get in a word edgewise I'm immediately treated like garbage.
Basically, what can I do? I just want other furries/bronies to show my views the same respect I show theirs, am I asking too much?
* * *
Thank you for a very interesting and germane letter in this political season. I’m flattered that you would write to me despite your fears that I might pass judgment on you on this topic. I hope the below will alleviate that fear (and everyone’s fear) that Papabear would do something like that about any subject, no matter how controversial.
As with many issues that Papabear addresses, I feel I can speak with some authority on this one because of my experience. It might surprise many of Papabear’s readers that he was once a registered Republican and voted for Ronald Reagan—twice.
But while I believe in some of the values of the Republicans, such as less government control on states’ rights to manage how they spend their tax money (I used to live in a “donor state” of Michigan that gives the government more money than they receive in aid, and I believe California is the same way). The Republicans used to have “paws off” policies concerning people’s private lives, as well. For example, President Reagan believed that government should have nothing to do with abortion or other things we do in the bedroom.
But then the Christian Right and other conservative extremists took over the Republican Party, and it became the party against a woman’s right to choose and against gay marriage and other issues that are none of their business. Once that happened, they lost me as a supporter. Doubly so when I learned, much to my chagrin, that Republican presidents, despite averring that they were more fiscally responsible and conservative, actually spent MORE money and ran up the deficit MORE than Democrat administrations (Clinton, a Democrat, did the most to balance the budget of any 20th century president). There may be some argument about President Obama’s spending, but a lot of that was to shore up the egregious fiscal irresponsibility of the previous administration (Republican) and with being saddled with two wars (started by a Republican).
The problem in our country today is that both parties still have some good ideas to offer BUT THEY WON’T LISTEN TO EACH OTHER and they won’t compromise. It has all become about political agendas, what to do to stay in power, which is something the great George Orwell correctly predicted, RATHER than helping the PEOPLE of this country! Grrrrr!
*Pant pant* LOL. Okay, Towyn, maybe you see the ol’ bear’s point that politics is a very hot issue. Just as with religion, people have strong opinions and are often unwilling to listen. Papabear is guilty of that sometimes. I have a very VERY conservative uncle in Texas who kept sending me anti-Obama emails. Finally, I got sick of it and stopped reading. I have a furry friend who is a horse who is quite conservative. It’s actually interesting to chat with him, and although I only agree with him once in a while, sometimes he points out things I haven’t thought about and has persuaded me occasionally.
What many in the furry community need to practice is tolerance on this topic. It is interesting that we seem to be cool with other religions, races, sexual identities, etc., but you are correct, Towyn, that on politics we seem to be less tolerant.
It is wrong for other furries to get mad at you just because you have some conservative views, just as it would be wrong for conservative furries to get angry at those who are liberals. Papabear thinks you are running into this problem a lot because you are probably chiming in on various social network discussions rather haphazardly with your opinions. Because there are a LOT of liberal furries out there, you are setting yourself up for an attack.
My suggestion would be that you refrain from such open discussions and, instead, keep such conversations where they are more apt to be listened to and debated intelligently, such as the Political Furs group on Furry4Life: http://furry4life.org/group/politicalfurs. You can also form your own group. You could create a Libertarian Furries group on FB, for instance, and welcome those with more conservative views. OR, you can start a No Drama Political Views group or something like that, where both sides are encouraged to debate intelligently without the fear of being banned because of their views.
I hope your previous experience with political flaming won’t turn you off the fandom and that, instead, you will proceed constructively as suggested above.
Good luck! And big HUGS from a gay liberal bear LOL!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.