Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bedfellows

I don't know, guys, I don't know.

The good and beautiful people of my good and beautiful city are walking around like survivors in a blast zone. Strangers embrace. The detonation has happened and now the concussion and devastation will ripple on for a long time. I find I'm not interested in food. That's never good.

We can all see each other now. The really, really bad people are lit up like flares. They're celebrating in their white robes and waving their Confederate flags and terrorizing their fellow citizens in the street. Their unwitting partners--almost half the country--are not really bad people, probably. They're just full of shit.

I don't mean that in the normal disparaging way. I mean that a systematic propaganda apparatus has been cranking away for decades now, and its architects have concocted a poisonous stew of lies and distractions, and seasoned it with honey, and people have tipped their heads back and allowed the funnel to be placed in their mouths, and all that shit got pumped in. A party devoted only to increasing the wealth of the wealthy was rebranded as the champion of the middle class. A good, smart, hard-working woman was recast as a devil. Sound science became fantasy. Demonstrable falsehoods were propagated with glee. But folks on the left as well as the right sucked on that funnel and accepted the particular load of shit that was curated just for them. Truth is the first victim, but there are so many more. When you've been pumped full of shit, you actually begin to believe certain of your compatriots threaten you, when clearly those people have much more to fear from you.

Muslim citizens do not like to be mischaracterized as terrorists, nor Hispanics as criminals, and so too, Trump voters are outraged to be called racists and xenophobes. That's not who they are! That stuff is peripheral. They had other concerns. And you know what? They're probably telling the truth.

But the ability to filter out and discard as irrelevant the flagrant racism metastasizing all around them, and the demagogue at its epicenter, the Igniter-In-Chief, does not speak well of their capacity for empathy. To them I say: these are the people you have cast your lot with. To discount them is to reveal yourselves to be comfortably cocooned and unwilling to take a step outside your own experience and imagine someone else's: your neighbor now afraid to wear her head-scarf to the grocery store. The gay man now second-guessing his usual route home in the dark. The Latina betrayed by her own facial features and subject to derision and terror. The black man assumed to be a gangster, and subject to execution. This is what's happening in America today. We marginalize and dehumanize people who frighten us. Every single time we generalize about people, we're wrong. We're wrong, and we're lazy, and we're also less safe, if that is the point of the exercise. We are all far, far less safe now.



So what do we do? Deliberately, we do not have all the options embraced by some of our political foes: most of us are not armed. That's not the way we roll. One thing we do is band together for peace. We keep our eyes and ears open, and when any of us is under attack, we stand with that person. Literally. Physically. We stand together and we give each other strength. And we reject violence.

And we mobilize. There is so much to defend: our civil rights, our health care, our environment, our standing in the world. Everything we've ever cared about is under attack. Everything that actually does make America great is to be dismantled. It has not escaped us that international terrorists will take this opportunity to goad our new president, an insecure, easily-bruised, childish bully, into the all-out holy war they have yearned for. They've got their man, now. As bad as that is, we don't need an external enemy if we're rotting from within.

And with all that, there are even worse things.  We are many years too late to undo the damage we've already done to our planet. But we must keep things from getting worse. We have to at least try. We are out of time to waste. And we can't do it by pulling out the rest of the fossil fuel and burning it up. We have an international climate change agreement signed now--baby steps, far from adequate--but even at that, our new president wants to rip it up and drill, baby, drill. He wants to shovel ever more coal into the boiler of a runaway train. He is a simple, uninformed man: he thinks he's creating jobs. He wants to give us full employment--as grave diggers. When we're done we can all jump in.

We can't let him. We need to stand, march, and holler. We need to fill the streets with our good and beautiful selves and hold each other up. Someone talked about building a wall. We need to be that wall.

60 comments:

  1. Good morning. That is all I can manage in response today.

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  2. Bernie Sanders was on Tavis Smiley Monday - he has good ideas. You can watch the show on PBS.com.

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  3. Maya Angelou once said this: "You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it." I am counting on you, dear Murr, to keep talking it.

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    1. I'll at least keep writing it. I'm always up for anything I can do whilst sitting in a chair!

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  4. Perhaps understandably, I read 'flagrant racism' as 'flag rant racism'. And I do wholeheartedly apologise for Nigel Farage, as you guys didn't deserve that. Illegitimi non carborundum.

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    1. Extra points to you for making me look up both Nigel Farage and Illegitimi non carborundum. (Yes, I'm embarrassed.) I do love finding out that the "Latin" phrase is made up. Now I want to make up fake Latin phrases. Hmm: future blog post?

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  5. When I go out into my city I find little in common with the people around me. To think that the vast majority of evangelical Christians supported this monster is beyond comprehension. Who Would Jesus Vote For? ... bizarre
    I had to experience this last horrible week (the inside of me) while being on vacation but with no one to talk to about it in person. PESS - Post Election Stress Syndrome
    I have heard people say, "They complain because Hillary won the popular vote but not the Electoral College, that popular vote doesn't matter!!!" - that coming from an elderly resident in South Dakota, a state that has a disproportionate advantage in the ElecColl.

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    1. This isn't the first time the popular vote winner didn't get the prize. I think this is important, although I have yet to research why there's an Electoral College in the first place (or whether you can get scholarships for it). To my mind the most insidious thing about this aspect of our system is not that you might get the kind of result we got, but that most people's presidential votes don't count at all, and they know it. Just the swing state voters.

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    2. Murr, I believe that the founding fathers started the electoral college because the east coast was so populous, and the middle of the country was rather sparsely populated. They didn't want all us uppity Easterners with our edjucayshun getting more of a say than the rural segment who -- at that time -- had little formal education and worked with their hands. Just another example of how checks and balances really don't seem to working very well, as the education gap has now bit us all on the ass -- and not in a fun way.

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    3. I think that particular concern has been nicely addressed by the Senate. Two per state, same number for Wyoming as California. So...maybe goodbye to the Electoral College?

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  6. Once again you have covered it very well with bitter humor. That is a talent. I would sit down and drink beer with you...even though I don't drink beer. I am taking on another immigrant student...that is the way we roll.

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    1. You go. And yes, I would force you to drink beer. It's my communion.

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    2. Ginger beer okay? The non-alcoholic kind? I'd drink that.
      Cheers mate *clink*

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    3. You got me--I wouldn't force you to drink anything. I'm all talk.

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  7. Who would have expected Glenn Beck (Glenn Beck!) to come across as the republican "voice of reason"?
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/15/politics/glenn-beck-bannon-appointment-white-nationalists-anderson-cooper/index.html

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    1. He's said something sensible at least twice in the last week.

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    2. Well, you must admit, after the election of Trump, the bar for sensibility has been set too low to limbo under.

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  8. "...a systematic propaganda apparatus has been cranking away for decades now, and its architects have concocted a poisonous stew of lies and distractions, and seasoned it with honey, and people have tipped their heads back and allowed the funnel to be placed in their mouths..." I am exhausted trying to explain this to HillaryHaters.

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    1. My friend Zach just linked to this remarkable story and it might be helpful to you in your endeavors. Especially if you preface it with the fact that the Left does it too, which is true, although I think it's worse on the right. Here it is.

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  9. Illigitimi non carborundum is a phrase I've used for years in the Navy. Totally appropriate there. And now.

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    1. Oh yes! I was not disparaging it. I was charmed that it was made-up.

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    2. My daughter has it tattooed on her arm. It has gotten har through some rough times.

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  10. And this country (Australia) thinks we (the nice people) will applaud the removal of refugees from grubby wire-enclosed camps in a tropical swamp.Those poor refugees are now to be sent to...AMERICA.

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    1. I have no idea what you're talking about. Enlighten us!

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    2. There exists in a ratified treaty or agreement, the legal obligation for USA to take in refugees (other than the near-local Cubans and Mexicans who can swim ).
      So...while fiercely adamant that the mostly central Asian refugees coming here are not allowed to set foot on our mainland, they're shunted off to nasty camps on Nauru or Papua New Guinea to be processed (some sort of bureaucratic blender that grinds them into tiny bits that might make them more acceptable in the base mix). But now the USA is going to take some under the Refugee treaty.I'm just using plain words, but I'm pretty sure Google will know all the legal jargon.
      Point is - out of one unwanted basket to a country that's just elected the sort of brute they were running away from in the first place.

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  11. May I print this and pass it out to everyone I care about and maybe to a few that just need to read it?

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    1. Plus there is a teeny tiny green "share" button at the bottom of the post, should you be on the social media, with a handy email share option also.

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  12. I can't post on my Facebook page--I could, but you do understand where I live, right? Deep red part of Georgia. This would be an undercover operation. Stealthy and all.

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    1. It's hard enough for me to get through these times in a bright blue city. I feel for you.

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  13. My understanding is that the Electoral College was created, in part, to protect the country from electing an unqualified maniac. According to Reference.com/government-politics, "Although the Founding Fathers wanted the people to have a say, there was concern that a charismatic tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come into power. Alexander Hamilton briefly addressed these concerns in the Federalist Papers. The idea was that the electors would be a group of people who would ensure that a qualified person would become president." Now here we have the most singularly UNQUALIFIED, UNVETTED person to ever run for office apparently elected. No tax returns, apparent Russia connections, zero government experience or military experience, zero days serving this country and 50 years of ripping it off. Isn't this the exact moment for the Electoral College to protect us?

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    1. Well how about that. It's to save us from...oh dear. Was it, by the way, Steven Colbert who just said Trump was so privileged that the first job he ever applied for was President of the United States?

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    2. My God, I think that's right!!

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  14. Especially glad that you refer to climate change in this post. Gravediggers indeed. My son works for the Union of Concerned Scientists, now under siege by right wingers, who dislike the fact that UCS has evidence implicating oil companies as guilty parties (the oil industry knew decades ago that fossil fuels could have warming effects. The case is similar to tobacco companies knowing that smoking causes cancer. Duh, this isn't even surprising info, but UCS personnel may have to go to prison for contempt of court, not sharing their emails and other records)

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    1. If you hang out here often enough, you'll know that I can hardly go a week or two without writing about poop, underwear, or global warming. If you're interested in other posts I've written about that, you can go to that teeny printing under the post that says "labels" and click on climate change, climate change denial, or whatever, and you'll get all the other posts I've used that label with. IT'S QUITE A STRING.

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  15. Your country, heck the whole world, needs more people who think the way you do. Just keep doing what you are doing and hope others follow.
    "We marginalise and dehumanise people who frighten us"
    I see a bit of that here in Aus. too, from a couple of close friends even and I keep telling them, "they're people just like us."
    I think the only time I need fear anyone is when they are coming at me with guns or machetes. Everyone else is fine. I don't care what they wear or where they came from.

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    1. Every time you hear someone (or yourself) say "they..." pay attention. This includes me and my distaste for Trump voters. Once you start lumpin', you're gonna be wrong. Ish.

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  16. I do not disagree with a single thing you said, but I wonder if you may have missed something significant - the voters who flipped the swing states from blue to red, those in the so-called Rust Belt, who have had no jobs for quite some time now and didn't see how electing an establishment candidate was going to change that. It's hard to think altruistically when you aren't sure how you're going to feed yourself and your children. Maslow's hierarchy of needs and stuff.

    If that's wrong, feel free to educate me. I'm just a hoser from Canada, eh! And not a particularly political animal, at that.

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    1. Not wrong at all. Of course my argument to them would be the engine of their discontent, which is real, is somewhere else...with the party that first began to dismantle the middle class with anti-union efforts and pension grabs and the relaxing of regulation that led to the dominant financial sector. But the urge to (as some other essayist said, perfectly) "throw a Molotov cocktail" into the establishment is palpable. I believe Hillary Clinton would have espoused much more progressive change in this department if she had thought anyone had her back--if she thought it was even possible. But she didn't, and maybe now it will be possible to blow up the system that serves the wealthy at all costs (the little people, the environment). It will be up to us to see that this moment goes our way.

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  17. What I don't get, at all, is how he sold himself as a populist when he's the most reeking elitist, exclusionary, entitled brat imaginable; how the 75 open lawsuits against him count for nothing; how accusers of sexual assault running in the double digits all somehow were lying, or at least beneath consideration; how all that festering pile around him was somehow OK with evangelicals who simply what? Dropped all their principles for this election? Never had them? Hated her that much more? I've been mansplained by two total strangers attempting to set me straight and "comfort" me. I remain uncomforted, and incredulous. I reject their blandishments. There is no explaining what happened here, without invoking a certain bit of very unfortunate world history as its obvious precedent. Much as I miss funny Murr, I'm glad you're here, saying this. xoxoxo jz

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    1. Upon sober reflection, I believe it's a combination of a whole lot of people feeling left behind (but not knowing whom to blame for it) and agitated about the pace of change they don't understand, PLUS a seriously successful effort to demonize the opposition by means of lying. And then after all that they have to persuade themselves he doesn't mean anything he says, so can't be held to account for it. In fact, that is my only hope now: that the pig doesn't mean anything he says.

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    2. There is precedent that he doesn't mean what he says. The three times he took marriage vows. The contracts he made with people/businesses and reneged on (hence the lawsuits)... and that he was a liberal democrat until he changed his party affiliation a few years ago. He knew the Dems would never let him run as a candidate, but the Reps will let the devil himself run, if they think he can win.

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    3. Ya'll haven't mentioned the 81 percent of evangelical Christians that voted for this sub-human. ALL of my overtly Trump-voting friends on Facebook have told me he is anointed by God (yes using those very words) or his election is God's will. They have excuses for every single one of his ginormous crimes and sins, and feel that getting neo-cons on the Supreme Court is worth any nastiness we have to live with for the next four to eight years (or maybe forever.) Don't overlook the power of religion to brainwash the masses in the name of Christ.

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    4. Oh, and none of them were left-behind working class folk. They are all well-heeled financially.

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