Just curious…

Have you ever noticed how many people start off arguments with “Just curious…?” or “I’m just asking questions!” This is known as “Just Asking Questions,” a way to derail a conversation, especially if you know you’re on the losing side of an argument.

For example, this…

Screenshot 2017-08-18 11.29.07

Both are from the same author. The first is her original “Just curious” set of questions. The second is the edited version, adding on more questions. This person backs off and claims to not want to discuss things anymore if people respond to her questions, only to come back with even more questions. Much like her beloved emperor president, she doubles down when she’s backed against a corner.

Personally, I didn’t care if Obama called it “Islamic terrorism” or not. It still terrorism. The difference with what is going on right now is that Trump has stated in no unequivocal terms that “both sides” of what happened in Charlottesville were at fault for the violence that broke out. The evidence shows that it was the Nazis who showed up with guns and shields and clubs, and they had threatened in no uncertain terms that they would be violent.

Is Donald Trump racist? Yes. Yes, he is. He is racist in that he assigns to certain races negative traits that are inherent in all races. Mexicans are rapists. He appointed White Supremacist Steve Bannon as an advisor. His company would not rent apartments to Blacks, Puerto Ricans and other racial minorities.

That last part addresses the statement that Trump “is now and has in the past done things to make life better for minorities.” Even today, his coddling of Nazis doesn’t really make life better for people of color and other minorities (e.g. LGBTQ). His continued vilification of Muslims doesn’t make life better for Muslims or people from a Middle Eastern background. (Surprise! Not all Middle Easterners are Muslims, or vice-versa.)

Now, has anything improved for minorities through what “the left” has done? Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that “leftist” policies (some even passed by politicians on the right) have actually helped me. It was affirmative action and grants that got me into college. It was affirmative action and more grants that got me my master’s degree in public health. And I am now finishing up the doctorate in a very leftist, liberal, multicultural university.

It is also the “leftist” policy of tax credits at the federal level for the local property taxes that we pay that have made owning a home affordable. The equal distribution of those property taxes (income redistribution, yes) has allowed public schools in Appalachia to benefit from suburbanites’ property taxes. And the very “leftist” policies of Medicaid and Medicare have allowed countless people to not go absolutely broke over a medical emergency.

And do you really want me to tell you about Social Security? (Social-ism… Social… Security. Get it?)

Now for the fun part. Does Trump do all this for free? No, he doesn’t. The minute he settled some disputes with China and started talking nice about them (after all the bombastic statements about “Shyna” during the campaign), the Chinese granted him several trademarks:

“President Trump is poised to add six new trademarks to his expanding portfolio in China, in sectors including veterinary services and construction, potentially renewing concerns about his possible conflicts of interest.

The latest trademarks expand Mr. Trump’s business interests in China, the world’s second-largest economy and a country he frequently blamed during the election campaign for the decline in American industrial jobs. Since taking office, he has softened that rhetoric.

He has nevertheless continued to receive approval in China for new trademarks. The country’s trademark office gave the president preliminary approval for six trademarks on June 6, according to the agency’s website.

Under Chinese law, a trademark with preliminary approval is formally registered after three months if the agency receives no objections. If granted, the trademarks could allow Mr. Trump to expand his business interests in scientific and technological services, construction projects and medical and veterinary services.

Mr. Trump applied for the trademarks in April 2016, the same month that, as a presidential candidate, he accused Beijing of launching an “economic assault” against the United States. Since then, Mr. Trump has eased up, particularly after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April of this year.”

No money there, I’m sure. There are also several lawsuits over the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution. Basically, foreign governments are paying into Trump properties around the world for different services, and that all is going into his coffers. Or, what, he won’t have access to that money when his term is up?

Right.

The rest of the screed above is the usual stuff I hear all the time from so-called conservatives. (I write “so-called” because conservatives wouldn’t give the president so much power. If anything, they would want him to be restrained and have all that power vested in the people and their representatives in Congress.) They are now equating Nazis who march down the streets calling for the extermination of Jews and non-Whites with people who oppose Nazis. Think about that for a second… If you oppose Nazis, you’re just as bad as the Nazis.

WTF, right?

But this is all par for the course when it comes to discussions about politics. Both sides, the left and the right, engage in this fallacious arguments instead of addressing the issues head-on. This is why Hillary Clinton lost. There was a huge segment of the population who were forgotten when the left-of-center policies of the Obama Administration came about. Environmentally friendly energy sources were pushed while completely forgetting about people whose lives depended on coal mining. Instead of laying out the case for why universal healthcare coverage is not a bad thing, the Democratic Party focused on demonizing those who opposed Obamacare in the beginning and those who were reasonable about fixing its shortcomings later in the Obama years.

We’re all screaming past each other when we need to sit down and talk. The person above doesn’t listen to reason and proclaims that they will not engage anymore because they’ve been pointed out as being wrong. So what does that get us?

It gets us the comments you see above, and the kinds of discussions where people ask the same question over and over and over… That is, nowhere.

Screenshot 2017-08-16 23.17.19

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

One thought on “Just curious…

  1. Cute. The New York Times has a daily podcast during the work week. The one the other day had a discussion on the social networks the alt-right use for organizing. It included the phone conversation by the reporter with one of the members. That guy kept asking the reporter if he was white, the reporter replied that this guy had seen his picture, to which the guy said “You look Hispanic.” Um, yeah, see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/18/podcasts/the-daily/alt-right-social-media.html

    My dad likes to call anyone or anything he does not like “communist”. I think that is annoying, and clueless. The last time he did that to me on the phone I interrupted him by saying it was a failed economic model and not a character trait, even the Russians abandoned communism. That made him stop… for a second. Then he went on to another tirade.

    My dad is 90 years old, hard of hearing and watches too much Fox News. He is not at all what he was like forty years ago. I cringe when he calls. Fortunately he does not go online, so I write him old fashioned letters. That gives him something to pick up at the post office instead of the right wing pleas from donations (which include Oliver North and Joe Arpaio).

    Add another reason I don’t go on twitter. I don’t have to with a dad like mine. Who I love. I used to admire him, now not so much.

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