Scientists working with the Big Bang Theory have revised their causation: the residual and omnipresent static left over from the creation of the universe is not in fact due to the explosion which created matter, but rather, Robert Mueller.
If Target wants to play Xmas music now, you should rejoice. That means that big business thinks that Trump won’t have effed-up the entire country by then. That’s optimism, the fundamental spirit of Xmas.
You’re one of two people: the man shouting or the man covering his ears.
Everything we’ve achieved in this country resulted from those shouting and seldom from those who seek silence or conformity.
The status quo favors those in the majority, those holding the reins of power, and those with the gold.
Shouts and powerful whispers threaten all three. The shouts aren’t simply demanding more. They demand equality in every respect – and not simply in the material realm, but in the spiritual, and in the minds of men as all of us conduct our daily affairs.
That such an action would threaten democratic ideals instead of reinforcing them is one of the most quixotic and incomprehensible lines of reasoning I’ve ever encountered.
That the majority grumbles in response is one of the most viable signals that words or actions of protest committed peacefully are striking at the heart of their discomfort.
It is only through discomfort that we might collectively agree that we have stepped off the path that should guide us. Democracy is always an uneasy alliance of interests. We should beware of anyone who falsely claims that those who seek change are lesser citizens. These allegations tarnish those making them.
This country belongs to all of us, not just those displaying a glib grasp of patriotism. Those who are shouting are doing us and democracy a great service, even if we find ourselves in a position of discomfort.
We are a nation of better ideas. Let’s hear them and those who aren’t satisfied with where we are.
Despite my fair skin and privileged life, I tend to find myself leaning to hear the words of those who are kneeling, shouting, or trying to tell us something. It’s the least I can do, literally. Learning and growth only occur through challenging all our supposed truths.
I take exception to the idea that the racists in Virginia were an anomaly. They are not unusual examples of ignorance – they are typical. These are our fellow citizens. They listen and watch, waiting for the moment which allows them to vent their anger on others. They often are garbage workers, but they are equally likely to be police, teachers, nurses, lawyers, or writers. People don’t answer the call to racism through logic. Likewise, condemnation of their beliefs often serves to galvanize their legitimacy.
We can look to Virginia and shake our heads, wondering what stupidity brought them to that place. While we are doing that, though, there are people around us secretly wishing they could be there in solidarity, shouting out their agreement. Even if it seems odd to some, there are people who think that being white somehow is a matter of pride, as if skin color is a determinate of anything substantive as a human being.
You don’t want to believe that people you know harbor such hatred in their hearts. They do, though, even as they continue to beguile you into complacency after you see a symptom of their ignorance and raise a red flag. Those who subversively conceal their true feelings of superiority toward minorities, other religions and races surround you, waiting. They’re disgusted that they can’t be true to their anger. The internal monologue in their heads has played so long that they can’t distinguish their prejudice from reality. If they live in a place where there is a cluster of like-minded small-minded people, they learn to push the boundaries of acceptability more often. If you are playing the banjo in a room full of banjos, you don’t look so unusual, but if you are playing the only banjo in a room full of cellos, you are the only person getting attention.
Sometimes racists gather in groups and act out. Mostly, they lash out in a million small ways, often indirectly observed. They gaslight you, innocently insisting, “I’m not a racist.” After repeated protests, they get angrier, turning the accusations against you. What they really want is to say, “So what? I am better than those people.” They know they can’t, though. Many use their intelligence to change the nature of truth, often at risk of your sanity. They have lengthy and complicated arguments they repeat endlessly. The signs are there; they grumble about foreigners, language, or convolute the nature of the Civil War, drop small comments about the real story of the Jews, or simply defend their ignorance as tradition or heritage. They point to Chicago as proof of inferiority or refuse to see the difference between Black Lives Matter and hate groups. They say they don’t have a problem with interracial marriage, but… Many have blacks or minorities in their social and business circles which camouflage them. If you are tuned in, your instincts invariably give you pause with most of them.
I grew up around a lot of racists. The dangerous ones aren’t the ones who distract you by gathering in noisy groups in other states. This isn’t a “there” problem. The dangerous ones are the ones you see at the supermarket, at your kid’s Friday night football game, or posting vaguely disconcerting insinuations on social media. They excuse away their particular racism by implying that everyone is a racist or that their version is indeed rooted in truth. They smile, year after year, falsely believing that much of the world reflects how they think. They know that hissing the “N” word will immediately identify their ignorance, so they artfully step around it, learning the nuances of language and presentation which will continue to allow them to live among us without being outed.
So, as time passes, you drop your guard, never imagining that the racism you’ve incrementally witnessed belies a deep vein of actual hatred in your friend or family member’s heart. Most of the time, you give them the benefit of the doubt simply because they haven’t overtly acted out.
People proudly look in the mirror, admiring the skin color they didn’t choose. They go to religious services their parents chose and tend to live in the same places. Their success or failure in life is based on privilege that’s invisible to them. Most get truly angry even at the mention of the word “privilege.” Many focus on what they feel is being “taken” from them as if their claim to anything is greater than anyone else in this country.
Only racists will read my words and get angry.
Only people who know that my words apply to them will recoil in protest. I’m simply inexpertly pointing out that racists aren’t solely a problem outside of our orbit. It’s possible for someone to trigger your instincts toward identifying them as prejudiced and yet be in complete disagreement with racist attitudes. It’s possible to be a Trump voter and not condone racism or violence. You can have issues with Black Lives Matter and not be a racist, too. Or want immigration control and seek to have English be a required language in public commerce. I’m not saying otherwise, though racists will focus on small perceived discrepancies and exaggerate what I’ve said. It’s what they do, instead of honestly admitting their prejudices.
Racists despise the people among them who recognize the signs of what truly echoes in their minds and hearts.
Those people in Virginia aren’t an isolated example: they are us.
It gives you comfort to believe in the best in people – and it should. But never doubt that for every racist holding a sign and grimacing in anger at a protest, there are several sitting at home, nodding their head in agreement. The ones shouting are doing us a favor by identifying their prejudice. The quiet ones, though, they are an almost insurmountable battle. They are the breeding ground for racism’s ongoing prominence.
Many of us share moments, some sublime, some perplexing.
Recently, a respected member of the community invited me to his house for lunch and a bit of jawing. (I know what you’re thinking – he couldn’t be illustrious if he were having me over at his house unless a lost bet was involved.)
One of the great stories he told me was about one of his neighbors. My friend told me that this neighbor knew how to build a car from scratch, plumb a house, wire an entire building, and seemed to know a little about every subject on the planet. My friend had always thought of him as a very smart, capable person.
…Until one fateful day when his neighbor extemporaneously deviated off the normal course of conversation and insisted that the world was only a few thousand years old. My friend is an elder statesman with a wide education, has traveled all over the world, served in the military and worked in a career helping people his entire life – so he’s been around the widest assortment of humans you can imagine. To say that he was flummoxed insufficiently describes the shock of the revelation that his neighbor is a “Dinosaurian,” one of the people who ascribe to the variety of nonsense that humans roamed the earth with Dinosaurs or that the planet is actually very young. Most of the people who believe such things are religious fundamentalists, but some are simply like the Flat-Earthers, cherry-picking whatever conspiracy theory fits their ideas.
Afterward, it seemed as if everything were about his neighbor’s insistence that the planet wasn’t ancient. No matter what the subject might be, my friend either couldn’t get the nonsense of his neighbor’s belief out of his head or his neighbor, previously silent on the issue, seemed to harp on and on about nothing else, as if mentioning it just once opened an invisible floodgate to his nonsensical ideas.
My friend told me that story to underscore the continuing amazement he has toward those who chose Trump as their president- or who continue to defend his actions now that he’s assaulted facts, news organizations, religions, and rational public discourse. Keep in mind, my friend is decades older than me. He also voted Republican all his life, even though he was more progressive than the party itself. He, of course, didn’t vote for Trump in the last election. He couldn’t have imagined voting for Clinton, but he knew a vote for anyone but the major candidates was a vote for Trump, having lived through several election cycles which were disrupted by left-field contenders.
Until this election, he could imagine that the choice wasn’t so grotesque as to be an apocalyptic choice either way. When he thinks of intelligent people voting for Trump, he imagines an army comprised of people like his neighbor, snidely ignoring the mountain of evidence at their disposal. He knows that reason didn’t bring most of them to their decision, even though they’ll insist otherwise. He watches as those who should know better fan the flame of prejudice toward other religions, something he’s observed go terribly wrong in other places all over the world. He’s seen how effective such fear mongering can be in a population. Watching people lose their insurance in the midst of so much concentrated wealth also should be sending a red flag to those in power, in his opinion.
For my friend, he holds out hope that the younger generation will continue to advance the progress we’ve made as a society, one dedicated to helping one another; being smarter, more compassionate and better human beings. He knows that people who voted Trump are either a bump in the road and soon to be passed over by time – or the warning bell for civilized, rational society. He’s not at all confident that we won’t descend into authoritarianism or some hybrid religious state.
Even though I have a flowing river of words to give voice, I thought I would instead use a picture to describe my consternation toward politics today.
Today was an historic day for our government and certainly for politics.
I can’t shake the feeling that it was a watershed declaration of apathy.
Speak Up, Mr. Ex-President or forever will hold your peace.
In my opinion, Obama was the embodiment of intelligence and professionalism as president. Many have expressed displeasure toward those supporters who see reason to criticize him for not putting on his cape, ignoring tradition, and wading into the current political mess swirling around Trump and congress.
The point of this commentary isn’t whether I liked Obama or not – and certainly not whether you did. (I listened to 8 years of mostly nonsense about why many of you hated Obama.) It’s about the disagreement of what a respected opinion should do in the face of strange and exotic circumstances, despite tradition.
I’ve seen some complicated verbal slap fights on social media, with some bellowing that others “shouldn’t” judge Obama for staying out of the fray. I agree with the spirit of those arguments. It’s Obama’s life to do exactly as he sees fit, especially since part of the gentleman’s agreement with ex-presidents is that they refrain from immersion in politics following their terms. There are benefits to our republic from doing so. But…
The truth, though, is that an ex-president never really has complete autonomy after serving: his life becomes entwined with the persona and duties of a figurehead. It’s part of the reason we provide immediate retirement benefits to our presidents. Traditions that served us well sometimes still continue to serve us, while others, including the expectations of diminished public interaction following a term, do not. Your voice is most useful when you’ve got the most to say.
Even though I agree that it is his life to do as he sees fit and that there are benefits to an ex-president giving a grace period to his voice in society, I strongly disagree that Obama is doing us any favors by being mostly silent on current events. If you have a respected voice and intimate working knowledge of the government, this is a skill that has real value on a day-to-day basis. Obama was president for 8 years and strictly speaking, knows more about the job that any other living person. His words – and silence – carry weight.
Obama does tweet, but carefully avoids public displays of criticism. His silence about current events is a disservice to us. If he sees that things are being done which violate the principles of the office of the presidency, he should confidently explain to us why. If he feels that the current president is wrongly stepping into affairs, he should say so. It is everyone’s choice to either heed his voice or ignore it. He has the right to use his pulpit in the manner he sees fit. His ability to exercise his right should be no more diminished than any other private citizen. He should wield his voice precisely because it is his to yield.
Trump placed dynamite on the old political establishment. Regardless of his term of office, Trump has voided many of the previous expectations of the presidency. If Obama is concerned, he needs to voice those concerns. Playing the game under an out-dated set of rules doesn’t help anyone.
It’s easy to believe that our republic will withstand the onslaught recently brought to it, in part because so far, it has done so. We compare Trump to Nixon, as if Nixon had so violently turned politics on its head. This is a foolish argument, given that Trump’s rise was considered a laughable impossibility until recently. Trump usurped both the GOP and Christians evangelicals, rejecting the traditional path and behaviors of both. The form that the presidency will take after Trump is seriously in question. Democrats quibble over who the party leader should be while their most respected voice sits mostly in silence, surrounded by incredulous people eagerly waiting to pass him the ball.
If Obama ever had a cape, he needs to fling it capriciously around his shoulders and start using his voice in the wilderness. His power rests in his skill as a trusted voice. Regardless of history, when people see silence in the wake of DJ Trump, it tends to dishearten those waiting for someone of stature to join them in condemnation of what Trump is doing to the country and to our collective intelligence.
We don’t need a grace period of silence in this country. We need Obama to put on his cape and grab the microphone now, as events unfold. Waiting until something has broken is a violation of our trust. I don’t want to know Obama’s opinion on smaller events if he isn’t going to share his experience, ideas and opinions on those things most on our mind as progressives. It’s his right to do exactly what he pleases. But if our places were switched, I would use each minute of my day to shout to all those people like me.
All of us collectively look at Trump and know that we are seeing something different, with wildly new unspoken rules. We need to stop thinking of these changes as temporary. We need new ways of keeping our country on course. Silence, even from ex-presidents with well-deserved vacation time in their pockets, is worse than nothing. Thanks, and my apologies for any poorly-executed explanations.
Edit: Oops. NSFW. This gif image is satire, over-the-top absolute stupidity, designed to exaggerate the absurdity of Trump’s image makeover. I know that DJ Trump isn’t Hitler: Hitler’s dead. But I noticed that only 2 little bars need to be moved in the #45 to make the most well-known of hate symbols in the history of man. (I will probably get a call from Pence, angry to be left out.)
Notwithstanding reality, just as the 45 can be easily morphed into a hate symbol, the ease into which we can slide into anarchy or worse becomes more apparent. People tire of all the arguing and shouting; many fail to appreciate that this shouting is what protects us from forgetting our shared goals and to ensure we are checking the direction of our boat. We’re going to always bicker and argue, sometimes at great volume. With Trump, he plays the role of teenager, arguing with great bellicosity at each imagined slight. We can’t tell how serious he is being until after he demonstrates it through action. Like last night, he can be calm. Some of us, however, are assuming he’s about to send us a text message to kiss his ass again, once we’ve angered him. On a sidenote, when people stop voicing their disagreement or anger, you probably have a much worse problem on your hands – you haven’t obtained agreement, you’ve obtained a rattlesnake in your bed, one which no longer gives a warning by way of rattle.
One of Trump’s biggest millstones is his prejudice problem. For his fans, there isn’t a problem: most see his speech as vaguely echoing their own ideas, or being grossly exaggerated by some. (This is a disparity for another day and another argument.) His hiring and appointing of people with serious issues regarding racism and prejudice doesn’t deter his followers from feeling vindicated. For them, it is a change both long-anticipated and worthy of celebration. It falsely seems as if most of Trump’s followers truly wish to echo words of hatred – and I do not believe this to be true. Most are centrist in attitude and compassionate toward other people, otherwise, our country would already be a loss to us all. I know personally so few people who would express hatred toward Muslims or wish to kick out all Latinos, no matter what their immigration status. I do know, some, I admit, but I hate it when I lose focus on the actual slim quantity of such people. Just as some conservatives see only lefties shouting into their granola bags, I sometimes let my eyeballs get the better of me despite working hard to consume a wide array of media.
Only Trump truly knows what it is in his heart. The accumulation of what he has said and done speaks to his innermost self, in my opinion. I would enjoy no greater pleasure than to witness him coming to the realization that courting such anger and racism has generated more of the same. I was raised in a cauldron of hate speech – and each person involved had convinced themselves that such prejudice was both earned and factual – or that it didn’t really mean anything. Everyone on the giving end of such racism tends to fail to appreciate the consequences of exclusion. I, of course, often found myself at the end of the stick if I challenged prejudice even in its mildest forms.
As president, Trump could use his power to speak frankly while unilaterally avoiding stoking the crazies into falsely believing that most of America wishes to calmly allow an ongoing slide into outright and direct racism. He will fail to make America great if he fails to get out of this racism and prejudice pit, real or imagined. Of what point is a country with economic expansion if we turn away from being better? The ideals we claim as a nation cannot be reconciled with the perception of exclusion that much of Trump’s actions have generated. If George W. Bush has some words of admonition for you, there is a great chance that you might be doing some things wrong and some wrong things in the process.
So many people are simply sick of seeing Trump on the news, reading about him on social media, and discussing him across the walls of their cubicles. All of us, regardless of politics, want to see an absence of allegations of hate and insult.
To date, the resistance has done a passable job of shouting back at Trump. I still find it difficult to believe that Trump himself can be as aggravatingly prejudiced as he sometimes seems. On the other hand, I was completely wrong about so many people I grew up with too, people who were otherwise rational and giving but who turned into venom-spewing adults who could find no fault with their attitudes about any combination of LGBTQ, Latinos, Jews, or any other group with less political power.
If you’ll forgive me for shocking your eyeballs with an absurd swastika, I’ll forget that you wanted me to listen to Trump’s speech last night and then ignore the totality of everything he had done.
PS: As with so many of political posts, this one will be reported to FB as hate speech, which would be ironic; expected, but ironic. I didn’t use the swastika lightly or with malice, although it might seem to be the case. Satire demands an ember in the eye sometimes.
As you read these words, please remember that I’m a liberal, the kind that Tom Cotton would like to invite to Guantanamo Bay for an unplanned vacation.
Several days ago, I wrote about progressives failing to understand the fight about the Department of Education. Northwest Arkansas residents heard first-hand from Senator Tom Cotton last night that he still strongly desires to break the Dept. of Education. I’m certain that this will happen, absent a huge change in government in the next year.(Although, as one of my friends told Tom Cotton in the Town Hall last night, it’s difficult to trust the State of Arkansas to do the right thing, given we had to have the federal government come in with troops simply to integrate our schools.)
Today, I’d like to offer a few words about immigration, ones which will be music to conservative ears.
Tom Cotton has positioned himself to take over the work of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Tom is staunchly conservative and will continue to carry the torch for conservatism in the senate. He has already sponsored immigration legislation under the Trump administration. I’m certain he will insist on strong immigration action in the next few years. He has connections in the military, congress, the intelligence community, and the new administration. He’s been clear about his views on almost all the immigration arguments. For him, they boil down to security and economy, which are two of the GOP’s most important themes.
Absent a miraculous bolt of lightning from the heavens, those who disagree with the GOP and Senator Cotton have a painful road of incremental losses ahead of them. Cotton wants to reduce legal immigration and to remove all undocumented foreigners, including Dreamers/DACA. He’s got a Harvard education and a head for logistics. He artfully argues away the statistics showing the benefits of a foreign workforce. In his mind, his views are justified and supported by his voters. Senator Cotton does not hold his views on immigration loosely or lightly – they define his worldview. Being reasonable won’t work to change his mind – but then again, neither will shouting at him.
I predict that some of the attempts to implement immigration action will be stymied by cost and the courts. Much of it, however, will pass scrutiny and occur to varying degrees. The courts will step out of the way once the administration sharpens its overly-broad attempts to shape policy.
Given that NWA has a large population of Latinos, I predict that Senator Cotton will use his pull in the administration to orchestrate one of the first waves of ICE sweeps in our corner of the state. It will not only serve his penchant for retribution for the ocean of protest he was handed last night, but it will be a cost-effective publicity-fueled way to kick off the effort.
In short, Senator Tom Cotton will use his considerable intelligence and pull to target the Springdale area first. Having observed him, I see that he knows trying to ease into such an effort will cause a greater resistance effort than simply striking hard and first where much of the resistance has grown.
As satisfying as it was last night to see Senator Cotton be told the harsh realities of those he disagrees with, I can see the coming backlash already forming.
We can’t rely on public sentiment to dissuade such an effort. The truth is that many citizens want absolute control of our borders and of who is allowed to stay here. We have underestimated the sentiment of branding undocumented foreigners as criminals who should suffer the consequences of being here without permission. Most will not join the shouts of protest as people we know are dragged away. It’s a hard thing to say, but I can see it coming.
Tom Cotton is going to be that firebrand who will not be afraid to step into the fight and deliver action. We can angrily thank Donald Trump for liberating people like Senator Cotton.
I can see all these things because although I disagree with much of Tom Cotton’s agenda, he has consistently held firm to his ideals as the country has shifted to meet him in the middle. Just as we looked away for a moment as the country elected Donald John Trump, I am certain that we’ve also looked away just long enough to miss the subtle change in commitment from the GOP to finally take decisive immigration action.
We are going to suffer and it is best if we prepare for it.
In honesty, I made this with great care, not even intending to insult or ridicule. It’s a portent and omen of our misguided belief that we can use anger and fear to change anything, no matter how broken, into something positive.
If you look in the center, you can see another face apart from Trump, representing the untamed thing that Trump birthed during his campaign. He is merely the figurehead, having tapped into an ancient fear of the ‘other.’ It’s not Trump nor Trump ‘the man’ per se which will be our challenge – it is the valve he opened into people’s hearts. We can only hope that we can navigate the murkiness that could envelop all of us.
Populists are dangerous for specific reasons, tending to overtake the ideas they originally espouse.
Rising rivers seldom take heed of what’s in their paths – and collectively, we are capable of much harm to one another.