family, illiteracy, politics, Uncategorized

Ain’t We Lucky We Got ‘Em. Good Times.

This won’t be the most coherent post I’ve ever written. I’m too angry for that.
* * *
Remember the WTO protests in Seattle 18 years ago? Whatever the genuine issues were, all you likely saw about the event on television was images of kids throwing rocks and looting stores.
Without the full context of what was being protested, it was easy to conclude who the bad guys were, wasn’t it? Assholes in masks showed up, thinking they’d send a message to someone. All they did was get dismissed.
Remember the police-brutality protests in Ferguson two years ago? Whatever the issues were, all you likely saw about the event on television was riots, looting, and how much an unarmed kid who was shot and killed deserved to get shot and killed. Very little about the atmosphere that Ferguson’s poor citizens live within, every day. It was easy to conclude who the bad guys were. Assholes showed up, either intending to start a violent confrontation to have some fun, or to discredit the entire protest, or thinking they’d send a message to someone.
Three or four weeks ago, I’d never heard the word “antifa.” Now I know it means “a bunch of very different groups that range from peaceful people who have a clear anti-violent message to people with a long list of unrelated grievances, who’ll show up hoping to get a picture of themselves throwing rocks while shouting about nothing relating to American Nazis.” But not to people who feel a need to defend a President they voted for, who has in turn defended those Nazis. That’s not what they believe.
A lot of them—people who should have a longer memory and an awareness of history—have found it easy to conclude that both entire sides are bad, therefore they don’t have to care about either. Their President is looking out for them, isn’t he?
* * *
In many such public confrontations, the ones that the news uses to define an entire category of protester are usually the ones who least represent the central issue. They’re just the handful of assholes who become the visual thumbnail for an entire protest.
But white supremacists and Nazis don’t deserve differentiation. They show up to intimidate, bully, inflict wounds, or kill. It’s people like them who are responsible for the fact that my immediate family is so small. They show up with automatic weapons and riot gear, while advocating genocide of entire races and religions. They want to beat on people they know won’t fight back.
By all means, ridicule anti-fascist protest groups who can’t communicate a clear message, and who indulge themselves with the belief that their incoherent laundry lists of demands, echo-chamber rhetoric, and tunnel-visioned dogma somehow contain the power to persuade the undecided. They’re wasting time and resources, because this problem has already been solved, and some of the many groups they’re protesting already know this.
* * *
Here’s the problem, though. Those assholes who got on the news are the ones who represent the entire issue for the people you might be arguing with on social media. Anyone you’re trying to inform or persuade of what you’re aware of right now is coming back at you with the video of some violent asshole, repeated throughout the day, while a news twinkie repeats the words that ostensibly characterize the entire opposition.
You can say all you like about what Nazis, supremacists, or the Klan believe, represent, or have done. Your friend, acquaintance, or uncle will then What-About you until you realize you’re dealing with someone who feels underserved, frightened, and has undergone some very effective neuro-linguistic programming. They’ve been very effectively distracted by professional scapegoating.
I don’t know how to fight that.
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politics

Coming up next…

The next white-supremacist mass-murderer will have facial swastika tattoos, a Hitler mustache, and be caught wearing a Klan robe, jodphurs, jackboots, and carrying a noose.

CNN & Fox will each hire 12-year-old stand-ins to appear in re-enacted video footage while running “Killer’s Motives Still a Mystery” on the lower-third.

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politics

Happy Memorial Day.

Wars happen because politicians everywhere fail to do their jobs properly. We failed to choose better leaders.

Many young people enlist in the armed services because they have no other prospects. We failed to give them opportunities.

Too many veterans who did great service for the rest of us are living in despair after having been abandoned by leadership that brought them home broken and crippled. We failed to keep promises that were made to them.

Parades and statues aren’t enough.

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politics

May the Fourth be with you.

Kent State Student Reacting to Death of Slain Protester

45 years ago today, unarmed students who’d been protesting Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam War were fired upon by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University. Four students were killed, nine were injured. Two of the dead had been crossing the campus to their next classes, dozens of feet away.

The state’s governor had fearfully compared the protesters to Nazis, Communists, and the Klan, calling them “un-American,” “the worst type of people that we harbor in America,” and declared “we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled.”

Today’s Conservatives are far more skilled at blaming the victim for their cowardly, incompetent behavior.

May the Fourth be with you.

 

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politics, science

We chose to go to the Moon.

I was nine. The space program was a reason for me to have optimism about the crazy, chaotic world I’d been born into. It encouraged my interest in science and the future. A huge national effort of engineering and planning devoted to something other than someone else’s idiotic war.

This was the reason America had been founded. This was what we were supposed to be about: solving enormous technical problems, striving to reach places we’d never seen, hoping to learn things about the universe. Nothing to do with killing millions of people over ancient bullshit land grabs.

I watch “From the Earth to the Moon” every two or three years. For several hours I revel in the memory of a time when I was part of a culture that took pride in accomplishing things that bettered all our lives—not just those of a few billionaires.

And then the final episode’s end title leaves me crying uncontrollably for the end of my wonderful space program, and for the end of my optimism. I grieve for both in a way I never have for any human being.

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