Today I am boiling over with anger. I feel like I’m constantly fighting. I recently read a blog post from a comrade WordPressor about “fighting the good fight,” that spoke to me so strongly, even though the issues she was sick of having to defend constantly were different than the ones I’m usually fighting for. In truth she opened me up to a world of discrimination that I only knew a little about. You can read her work here. I recommend it.
But today I’ve completely exhausted myself battling comments on the interwebs. Friends and loved ones have warned me against such behavior. In fact there is a whole tumblr dedicated to what originated as a comic strip poking fun at this kind of late night, pale-glow crusading. But I believe that the comment section of the internet is the arena in which participation in politics happens for the laymen like myself. I’m not part of the elite intellectual class, writing and responding to scholarly dissertations on society. Nor am I a politician, lobbyist, or businessman—pulling monetary strings to influence the public tide.
No, I’m afraid the entire sphere of my influence is limited to my small group of friends and acquaintances–who I never cease to engage—and my internet presence, which for now is stronger in my comments on popular news articles than it is in blogs of my own.
But I do believe there is a kind of power in engaging in these constant comment battles. By addressing just one or two people at a time—respectfully, of course—and presenting them with facts and resources to counter their remarks (if they’re not making valid, fact-based arguments), then you have a greater chance of changing just that one person’s mind. It’s more effective, if done right, than broadly distributed articles, which people who already think they don’t agree with you are usually unwilling to click on anyway.
I’m not saying these articles are not important—of course they are. They are the basis for the political discussion that takes place. But after spending hours reading them to keep myself educated and updated, and then spending hours more battling comments (I only take on the ones that seem to be from more intelligent, but perhaps misinformed, individuals), I’m too exhausted to sit down and write my own article to add to the narrative. Not always, but usually.
So right now, I’d just like to say a couple things that I’ve been combating all day. Not in too much detail, because I am exhausted.
1. Nelson Mandela was not a terrorist. He fought for the rights of people oppressed by apartheid in his own country of South Africa, and continued to fight for the rights of oppressed people around the world—including in occupied Palestine—up until his death. If you consider him a terrorist, you should probably look at our countries own history of oppression—look at historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington (and the other founders of the United States) before you place yourself on the wrong side of history. Additionally, consider that many around the world consider the United States to be a terrorist nation, for the damage we do with our economical power and our military force. It may be helpful to think of the term “terrorism” in terms of propaganda—think of who is saying it, and what they want you to believe about the people they are labeling as “terrorists.”
2. We should raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. For this, I will simply copy and post what I have already posted on facebook, including the comments that ensued.
“Why you should support an increase to the national minimum wage–ESPECIALLY IF you’re financially well off:
“…no one with a family working full-time at the minimum wage can possibly survive without major assistance. Keep in mind that if one works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at $7.25 an hour, that means an annual income of $15,080—assuming no time off and no sick days.”
THAT MEANS that these people will have to apply for aid in the form of welfare, subsidized housing, food-stamps, affordable care, etc., all of which come out of tax-payer money.
If we raise the minimum wage, then these already hard-working individuals will be able to starting taking care of themselves and their families, and no longer be dependent on social welfare programs.”
Then I included a link…
Then an acquaintance from high school commented the following:
As if that explained it. He followed up with:
“there needs to be another way”
The fact is that as it stands, wages have not been adjusted to account for the inflation that’s already occurred. The argument that “prices would increase around the board” really hold no water, because back in the 1950, a worker at a restaurant like McDonalds was making what would be the equivalent today of $20 dollars an hour. Companies have justified not increasing wages accordingly, because new technology now means that less workers can do the same job. But the profits from increased productivity did not transfer to the workers–they transferred to the CEOs who are ranking in an increasingly disparate profit margin here in the US–more so than other developed nations. I have an article by scholar Noam Chomsky on this phenomenon if you’d like to read it
so basicially what you are saying is these individuals (ceo’s) have stockpiled all this cash, creating such a wealth gap that we are now entitled to compensation.that might be right but by playing with delicate economic variables such as minimum wage idk i feel its like trying to fill a bucket with holes in it. You cant just add more water you gotta change the bucket your using.
you should post a link to those articles though i’d like to read them later
I think that increasing the minimum wage is changing the bucket…it’s the only way to insure that the wealth is redistributed back to the bottom without imposing higher taxes or investing more in social welfare–it puts the money directly in the pockets of people who are already working.
I posted this article the other day–here Chomsky talks about the delegitimization of Unions and the Labor party in the US, by what he refers to as “The Business Party” which functions regardless of whatever party is in office. The illusion of the two-party system is something he talks about a lot actually.
So far, no counter argument from him, but then again, it’s only been a day, and I understand not everyone spends as much time reading the news as I do. I can only hope that by this kind of patient articulation of ideas, and a polite engagement in dialogue, I’m “winning hearts and minds,” one interaction at a time.