Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.
As civilian casualties mounted on Monday in the Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military reminded the world that it had warned people living in targeted areas to leave. The response from Palestinians here was unanimous: Where should we go?
United Nations shelters are already brimming, and some Palestinians fear they are not safe; one shelter was bombed by Israel in a previous conflict. Many Gaza residents have sought refuge with relatives, but with large extended families commonly consisting of dozens of relatives, many homes in the shrinking areas considered safe are already packed.
Perhaps most important, the vast majority of Gazans cannot leave Gaza. They live under restrictions that make this narrow coastal strip, which the United Nations considers occupied by Israel, unlike anywhere else.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain in 2010 called Gaza “an open-air prison,” drawing criticism from Israel. But in reality, the vast majority of Gazans are effectively trapped, unable to seek refugee status across an international border. (Most are already refugees, those who fled from what is now Israel and their descendants.)
A 25-mile-long rectangle just a few miles wide, and one of the most densely populated places in the world, Gaza is surrounded by concrete walls and fences along its northern and eastern boundaries with Israel and its southern border with Egypt.
Even in what pass for ordinary times here, Israel permits very few Gazans to enter its territory, citing security concerns because suicide bombers and other militants from Gaza have killed Israeli civilians. The restrictions over the years have cost Palestinians jobs, scholarships and travel.
Egypt has also severely curtailed Gazans’ ability to travel, opening its border crossing with the territory for only 17 days this year. During the current fighting between Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza, only those with Egyptian or foreign passports or special permission were allowed to exit.
Even the Mediterranean Sea to the west provides no escape. Israel restricts boats from Gaza to three nautical miles offshore. And Gaza, its airspace controlled by Israel, has no airport.
So while three million Syrians have fled their country during the war there, more and more of Gaza’s 1.7 million people have been moving away from the edges of the strip and crowding into the already-packed center of Gaza City.
I have a ‘to-read’ pile as massive as my existential crisis.
Because they are, to use one of their favorite adjectives, problematic; they are an obstruction to real change, make legitimate discourse and dialog impossible, and harbor the same poisonous attitudes as the bigots and institutions they claim to be fighting against, repackaged as radicalism.
Because they go off of the feels instead of the facts; they respond to things in a reactionary, hyper-sensitive, knee-jerk way—and very loudly, at that—without adequate research or clear comprehension of the issues they talk with such authority about. Slogans and unwavering, rage-fueled tirades take place of any knowledgeable understanding of history, context, or the systems themselves that allow for and/or necessitate the injustices so commonplace in this world. Their personal anecdotes and emotions weigh more to them than reality as a whole, and they have little yearning to educate themselves when they can just politicize their angst and feed their own confirmation biases.
Because they see the world in a black and white manner, literally and figuratively: you’re either with them or against them, a blogging crusader of justice more enlightened than the rest, or a minion of the socioeconomic bogeyman they’ve created; you’re part of the privileged few, or the oppressed majority. They’re the Alex Jones conspiracy theorists of social justice, in the way they are ready and willing to make any stretch to turn anything into something it’s not: they can turn an animated Disney film or a single quote from a meaningless celebrity into institutionalized racism or whaever the same way Alex Jones can turn the same exact things into evidence of the Illuminati.
Because they marginalize and compare human suffering and treat oppression and injustice into things you must earn. All human suffering is important and any form of oppression, prejudice, or injustice is unacceptable, no matter how small, infrequent, or relatively tame. They’ve turned Tumblr into the Oppression Olympics, where human suffering and the impacts of being imprisoned in this system are carefully measured. Between privilege policing and redefining words to better suit their agendas, they can and do decide that some suffering, prejudice, and oppression is acceptable or simply not as important or tragic as when it happens to the particular groups they have deemed worthy of sympathy and protection. The fact that they condone in or turn a blind eye to any form or instance of human suffering, injustice, oppression, generalization, or prejudice is disgusting and inexcusable.
Because they offensively try to babysit those they consider oppressed and marginalized; people who have no history of mental illness outside of their fleeting self-diagnoses fighting to have “trigger warnings” added to everything, white people at their laptops in their suburban neighborhoods speaking for impoverished people of other races, women deciding for other women whether or not they’ve been abused or exploited or objectified, people who have never been poor in their lives stating what people in poverty should do or have done for them. Empathy is important, but these people oftentimes come off as the “white savior” they complain about, and because they try to dictate what is best for these groups they aren’t even members of, they wind up ignorantly generalizing them or accidentally making a mockery of their predicaments.
Because they are petty, lack humility, are incapable of rational discourse, reject new information and perspective, and never admit they are wrong or apologize for how terribly offensive and hazardous most of their rhetoric is—and they do so under the guise of social justice. They scare people away from radicalism and derail and disorient discussions in such a way that most people will prefer to, at best, remain in their equally as problematic liberal bubble. These people are the reason why people think anarchists, vegans, feminists, and the like are totally fucking crazy.
Because they reinforce the generalizations, binaries, and stereotypes that keep us as people incapable of uniting against the systems that oppress us all. Most of their discussions are like a bad comedian’s tired old gender and race jokes: “White people/men be like _____________, and black people/women be like _____________.” They embrace generalizations and the “us versus them” mentality because it helps maintain the convenient, simple dichotomy they’ve created. It’s men versus women, rich versus poor, white people versus every other non-white race; the system either chews you up and spits you out or it rolls out a red carpet for you from birth and hands you everything. To them, all people of color are in poverty, all men are rapists, and all women are inevitable victims. The needless binaries that I believed we were at one point trying to destroy are essential to their “us versus them” mindset, though, so they fully embrace them even when supposedly railing against them. They love binaries so much that they needed to invent a new one antonymous to “transgender” just to even it out!
Because they fight fire with fire; it seems they’ve actively tried to replace the many forms of discrimination that are most historically prevalent with their opposites, as if breeding more hate will ever solve hate, as if putting more emphasis on social constructs like race and gender and sexual orientation will ever lead to us overcoming them and acknowledging their irrelevance. To combat slavery and a system that allows for racism, even people who are white and middle-class talk about “white people” the same way members of the Nation of Islam do; to combat the ongoing war on women and the alleged estimation that most rape and sexual assault is man-on-woman, they talk about “straight males” like closet misogynists ready to strike every woman they come across; to combat the systematic oppression of “homosexuals” and people of varying sexual orientations and gender identities, they now talk about “heterosexuality” the same way republicans talk about people who are gay. This of course solves nothing, furthers the divide between us all, reinforces prejudices, generalizations, and discrimination based on race/gender/orientation, and alienates allies.
Because very few of them are vegan, straightedge, actual anarchists, or active activists; their politics begin and end with issues that they don’t have to actively address outside of complaining on their blogs—any issue that can be addressed through individual change is disregarded and very few of these people walk the walk. It’s easy to rant against bigotry and capitalism online, but any actual activism or life changes that could address these issues are disregarded. You’d think they’d do everything they can to remove themselves from the institutions that facilitate the issues they go on and on about, but most of them are benefiting from these institutions and simply won’t inconvenience themselves. Go vegan to boycott animal exploitation and murder, environmental devastation, misallocation of natural resources, and slavery of undocumented people and migrant workers? Nah. Get sober to stop funding industries that rely on the addiction and suffering of their customers, reinforce gender roles, play a huge role in what they would call “rape culture”, and historically have been used to keep poor people and especially people of color immobilized and oppressed? Nah. Stop working and going to colleges to protest the classist systems they’re aspects of? Nah. Stop buying clothes from companies that utilize the labor of enslaved and abused women and children in impoverished countries abroad? Nah. Participate in volunteer work, become involved in your communities, and actually form relationships with the oppressed people you’re constantly speaking for? Nah. Stop giving your money and attention to the media that perpetuates racist stereotypes, the normalization of violence and sexual conquest, the spread of lies and misinformation, the importance of looks, the objectification of the human body, and the drive for consumerism? Nah.
Generally, people who I and others would write off as “social justice warriors” are online poison to legitimate discourse. Sometimes, I honestly fear they’re a conspiracy by the FBI to thwart radicalism spreading through social media. Based on their rhetoric, it seems they want more segregation than solidarity, and they are more argumentative and emotional than social and intellectual. Thankfully, they more or less only exist online and most of them are young and bandwagon-hopping, but their existence, no matter how small and short-lived, is detrimental to progress.
As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t want intersectionality and solidarity, you’re a problem; if you harbor even the slightest amount of prejudice towards another person over something they have no control over being born as/with, you’re a problem; if you support violence for any reason outside of immediate self-defense, you are a problem; if you in any way believe that some people, social issues, and injustices are more important than others, you are a problem; if you speak on something you don’t actually know about, you are a problem.
The sad thing is this will lose me followers. In the past when I’ve expressed disdain for “social justice warriors”, no actual discussion was had and I was just shoved out of the way for being what they considered another whining “straight white cis male” whose tears they subsisted off of. I beg of you all to think for yourselves, be objective, think long and hard before speaking out loud about any issue, and talk to me if you feel a certain way about this reply or have any questions about my specific opinions regarding the topics commonly monopolized by “social justice warriors” on this site.
(For the record, I am “white”, do not like identifying with a gender, am pansexual, and have lived significantly below the poverty line my entire life. I suffer from severe mental illness and am overweight. Sorry if I’m disqualified.)