Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why "Prepping" Gets a Bad Name, and Why It Deserves It

I'm a big believer in survival knowledge (aka self-sufficiency) and disaster preparedness. Because of that, I call myself a "prepper."

But sometimes I am ashamed of those words and ideas. Not because of the ideas, but because of the people who profess to share those ideals.

There are a lot of people who use preparation and survivalism as an outlet for their racism, conspiracy theories, and/or angry politics. I don't understand what white supremacy, anti-Semitism, or whether Obama is a secret Muslim has anything to do with prepping. Ok, maybe if you believe Obama is out to destroy American and impose Sharia law, crazy as that is, I suppose I can understand the connection even if I think you need a mental examination.

Today, I was upset by what I consider taking it too far even in this already-angry genre. By the Survivalist Blog, of all people. One of the most respected sources in the prepping community; a resource that is repeatedly and unnecessarily polluted by extremist politics that have nothing to do with survivalism or prepping. Of course, the author would disagree with me about their relevance.

But this? Really now?

I originally tried to be somewhat diplomatic (as much as I can be while dealing with a stressful family emergency), asking what this article has to do with prepping or survivalism, but my comment was deleted by the page's moderator within a few minutes. I think that's a fair question when you post off-topic things to a specialized Facebook page. Then I remembered that this IS on-topic according to his page and many of his supporters. I put up this new comment to directly address the post since an indirect method was rejected, and it's still there as of an hour later.

Do you know why this story is related to survivalism and prepping? Because poor people and black people (those are the same thing, right?) will never be prepared for TEOTWAWKI, and thus, they will be our #1 enemy who will hunt us down to steal food and water from our families. From the very hands of our children! And probably kill them just because! You will often hear the code words "looters," "the mob," or "rioters" used to describe racial minorities and other poor people. Except white poor people. There's dignity in being poor and white. (Just ask my dad! He grew up poor and white in Appalachia; he says it was great and builds character!) White people just don't loot or riot, folks.

Here is the post's link, if you'd like to see the original coverage: No Jail Time For Florida Students Who Beat Younger White Kid. Note the source, named the Reagan Coalition. My guess is that this is a conservative news source (conservative even for the "Republican" label it espouses), but even it doesn't allege any grounds for a hate crime, other than the unnecessary emphasis on the race of the kids involved. Yet the Survivalist Blog Facebook page takes it to the extreme, calling it a hate crime.

Even coming from a very conservative, racist-looking article, the only reasonable interpretation of the case is that one child tattled and the other two boys retaliated. That happens in every classroom in America every day, and race is irrelevant. Heck, this happened to me a couple of times in school, though not quite as violently. This "commentary" on the story smacks of white supremacy in a really un-subtle way. Black kids harm a white kid; obviously it's a hate crime. But Zimmerman? He's a hero - that's the subject of a follow-up post on the Facebook page. (For the record, I have no opinion on Zimmerman other than his stupid refusal to follow the instructions of police that were intended for his own safety. I don't think any of us will ever know what really happened during that altercation, like any bar fight or marital dispute - only the people involved can know.)

Things like this are what make me ashamed of the prepping community and why I think so many people are turned off from prepping. Knowing full well how useful and important this information is, people are (rightfully) disgusted by the behavior they see from their teachers and mentors. So they stop reading. Stop learning. And eventually, forget to continue prepping.

There is a psychological idea that people won't touch "clean" things that they believe are "dirty" even when they know the item isn't dirty yet. (I wish I could figure out how to Google this and get a meaningful source.) The example I always remember is cat litter: People know clean cat litter is just that: clean. But few people are willing to touch it more than they have to because we can't disconnect the idea of urine and feces in it.

In short, that's what I think these extremists do to prepping and survivalism. Rather than welcoming everyone to the community and sharing our knowledge, the community withdraws within itself and builds walls to preemptively keep out "undesirables" for some post-apocalyptic society. I also suspect that it provides a convenient "I'm not racist, I'm just concerned about my family's safety" excuse for behavior that is clearly racist and totally disconnected from fact and reality. If you helped everyone prepare for a disaster, there'd be no one left to kill you for your water jugs! Every extra person who prepares is one less person to fear. But that's not how the prepping community thinks most of the time: never tell people you prep. You'll just make yourself a target. Hoard your knowledge just as closely as you hoard your supplies.

Rather than helping everyone to survive, we push others away from the knowledge, hoping they'll die quickly during the apocalypse. Just as long as they die before they try to steal our Precious. Oh wait, I mean, our supplies. Of course, they never say it that openly. But what else do they want to happen? Is there another way for those people to survive in this worldview? I haven't seen one.

Newsflash, "Patriots," you're not the only people watching those videos, reading your articles, and learning your techniques for survival. If I'm still kicking after the apocalypse, you're going to have one hell of a fight to establish that white Christian America you dream of and idealize. I can't help but cackle when I watch videos like this: 37 Food Items You Can't Get in the Coming Disaster and May Not Survive Without.

It's worth watching every minute of, not just for comedic value, but also because it's a fantastically made video and the voice guy (the author?) should record audiobooks for a living. (FYI: it's a 27 minute long video selling his product, and the sexism inherent in it is a different topic altogether. Misogyny and sexism is rampant in the prepping community as well, much like it is in the homeschooling community - this same worldview is incredibly vocal in both venues.)

He hopes his materials and techniques will "attract like-minded Americans... To rebuild our nation, based on the constitution... Without all the liberal crap..." [sic and sick all over the place] Ellipses are original in the writing in the video; nothing has been removed from this quote.

"Coddled," "clueless freeloader" liberal scum can be and are preppers too. But I don't think they mean Democrats when they say liberals. It would seem that even moderate conservatives would fall into this category of being lazy and complacent until the apocalypse. In short: go Tea Party or go home. Average Americans, you will not alone if you want to join the fight against the "Patriots" when the SHTF.

Of course, I don't think that fight will ever happen except in our voting booths and our public schools.

No one probably will read this anytime soon, since this blog is so young, but it'll be here, and hopefully the people who need to see this will find it. And they'll know that they're not alone. If I stop blogging on prepping, this will be why: I worry that I'll lose the mental and emotional energy to speak against such poor and misguided behavior in the prepping community. It's exhausting to fight crazy loud people (see, for example, my other blog, which has descended into attempts to bring some sanity to the orthodox Jewish community - the similarities to the dark side of prepping are disheartening).

But you know who I do really like in the prepping community? The Survival Mom. A strong female role model providing for her family in a really practical (and fun!) way without being preachy, alienating, or hateful. Maybe I haven't been following her long enough to see worrisome things, I admit, but so far she is the kind of prepper I want to be. Prepping is a positive and meaningful use of your time and resources, not a preemptive strike against your enemies in some unknown future crisis. From that perspective, life is always about "more ammo." That's not how I want to live, and I guess that's probably not how many of you want to live either.

If you let fear rule you and your actions, you'll never truly appreciate the gift of life.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with this article and your comment on that post. Watching footage of Wrigleyville after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup is a perfect example of how "the mob","rioters", and "looters" are not exclusively black or even poor.