Strange Days have found us
I just spent a little too much time reading an article on the deliberations of the Supreme Court over a cheerleader who went off online about not making varsity cheer, in a tirade laced with profanity (shock!). One of the varsity cheerleaders (the daughter of the coach…surprise) snuck a quick screen shot of the snapchat post and then it all ended up in the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Although, no one in the court there seemed to know what to do with the dern critter once he trotted into the room. Kavanaugh seemed to think the whole situation too convoluted for a treatise, and I was apt to agree with him. Something that has been happening too much lately.
I read this article twice, both times out of morbid curiosity and disbelief, and then I thought, what in all hell is wrong with this country? This world? That this is what the Supreme Court of the United States is doing right now. Nevermind that variants are spreading around the World Without the Vaccine, India, Brazil and so many other places. Then there are the people who are refusing the vaccine, the only thing that can get them back in the gym and barbequing the fastest way possible, at the same time as protesting the restrictions that protect them. But no, yeah, it is really a conspiracy; all the people that died were false flag deaths. Nevermind that COVID just passed the Spanish flu in terms of global deadliness as a pandemic. Nevermind that a mob of thugs with gallows poles and pitchforks recently took a run at Congress while they sat in session, certifying the new president. Nevermind that Black people are being mocked for even daring to ask the police to stop killing their young people indiscriminately.
Ahh, but such is the way of high empire. Where are you now Hunter Thompson? Now that we need you the most? I’m almost glad you never saw what happened, that you left when you did.
So what then? What do we do with all this? The only answer floating out there says we should do the same thing we have always done in the face of horrid and heinous inherent weirdness — lace the boots and hit the parade again for truth and justice. Let’s do it again, people, and let’s get it right this time.
Yes, it is frustrating that it seems the whole Civil Rights movement must be fought again. It is frustrating because everyone on the outside can see that there is no Trumpian end game for all of this, there is no grand plan on their part no, only the next cycle of absurdist mayhem. The name of the game, since 1970, in some but not all conservative circles in the United States, has been destroying public confidence in the Federal Government through a concerted effort of budgetary and policy related mismanagement. That is why Trump can run on no platform and still be taken seriously by so many, they know the platform. After Obama, the Republicans needed to reach out to the electorate to form the same sort of broad coalition that last supported the Reagan-Bush years. It would not have been all that hard to do, find a personable and bright candidate, maybe a woman, focus on family issues and free markets like Republicans used to when they got elected. I mean, I like Ike.
I mean it was a solid PR approach fifty years ago, at the height of post war Fordism. I am writing about it right now because it worked, and it worked well. It worked so well that the Federal Government is essentially in ruins, or at least it was when Uncle Joe took over. Over the summer Trump and his ilk dropped all pretense that they should care about the well being and safety of all Americans if they weren’t Trump Republicans. Although, it should be plain enough by now that Trump sees all other people as inconsequential when held up against himself (it’s really funny for some one who has never really done anything at all, except bilk and sham marks, and yet he maintains such an enormous ego of his great deeds. Caligula you have been outdone in fine style sir/ Trump will be, for the next thousand years, the fool.) In Trump’s mind, if you are with him, great, but eventually you’ll be fodder. If you are against him, you are simply fodder to begin with and that’s all there is to it.
Over the past summer, Federal Agents under Trump’s authority egged on and exacerbated protests in Portland. Trump then used a mob of his own to attack a Federal Building to kill some of the Federal Agents there. Any libertarian thinking American out there, no matter your political opinions, should have been leery of this.
Aided by Trump the Twit, they sprung upon the lead of the “antifa” activist who shot one of “their side”, was chased down like a stag, and then they ritually murdered him in his car as he sat with his hands up. I would, you know, go off here about state violence, but this is one white guy of how many POC that this happened to. This is the world as it is. Witnesses to his death say it was full on gang land execution style. It was really hard on the little girl that saw it happen, she said he didn’t have a gun out. I guess they didn’t want him making his “self defense” case for shooting a noted neo-Nazi in a public trial. They finally got “one” with him. One of the violent, yet mostly non-existent “antifas” the good ol’ Trump boys were (and still are) always complaining about (yawn). The Republicans need to dump him to move forward as a vital party. There is plenty of dissent over the liberal-globalist perspective out there to go on. Hire real writers with English degrees for a change, re-establish faith in our journalistic institutions through careful engagement and fact checking, acknowledge and counter the points of your debate partners, dwell in reality, not fantasy. And you will have the Republican party you desire, and one that can maybe once again appeal to Black American voters, or other sectors of the population that just do not give you the time of day right now because you have violent crazies in yer party.
One counter headline for all the vicious Trumpheads that wake up one day and shoot up a street or a grocery store. Of course there have been a few others, but violence from the left pales in comparison to what has been done already. Most of the leftists out there are committed firmly to non-violence. Did temperatures boil over last summer on the streets? Yeah…but you do remember why, right?
Thankfully there have been many real (read George Will) conservatives who have noticed Trump for the Catiline-like threat he poses to the ongoing health of the Republic. There have been many who still perform the sometimes difficult social function of taking the negative, careful, time tested approach to human governance. These true Lincoln Republicans must play an important role in both reigning in the impulses of those who would bankrupt the country to make their lives easeful to the point of depression from lack of feeling contributory and useful and question the use of bureaucracy where private or public-private options, carefully managed, may in fact be the best option for everyone. Socialism, if done right, can be a useful tool for getting through a hard time in providing a service that the market does not and will not and does not intend to fairly and competitively supply. Case and point, the Prairie province of Alberta in Canada, which began as a strongly Jeffersonian direct democracy but the harsh conditions of Prairie life also engendered a spirit of co-operation in that democracy. Now the degree to which small freeholders controlled (and control) this system of governance is debatable among social scientists and historians, but there is no mistaking the presence of this actualized ideal in the extant body of work. When telephone technology emerged, the Alberta government, acting for its largely rural, freeholding electorate, installed rural phone lines through its Crown Monopoly “Alberta Government Telephone” or “Allybody Got Telephone” as an old Alberta stand up comic used to call it. But once the population of Alberta had reached a point of saturation in the 1990s, and the emergence of cell phone technology upended the reach of the traditional telecom market, the need for the Crown corporation dissipated and the corporation was rightfully privatized (alongside, thank God, the registries or DMV) and became Telus, headquartered in Vancouver and one of the largest companies in Canada. This is the only, direct, targeted and circumstantial approach of socialism that works, in my opinion. Of course, this is a controversial opinion.
The two sides have not been equally violent and equating the two sides is taking a page right out of Hitler’s early playbook for the radical right. I mean maybe they just watched too much Babylon Berlin and thought “hey guys we should do that too”, but Trump and his sheepish gang of ne’er-do-wells purposefully created and held up the narrative of “equivalent and retaliatory violence between two valid sides” and the idea that these sides were both “good people.” Even this pretense too was finally dropped on January 6, 2021. When it became clear who in Trump’s mind was allowed to use violence to “exercise their rights”, and who had to suffer the violence against them with smiles and “thank you sir” contrition. Real conservatives must also resist the creeping fascism evident on this planet for what it is too, it is out of duty to our fighting ancestors, yes, but also it is because it is what Christ would urge as well. Without consensus upon a “base reality” where we use words (jargon) and rules (protocol) to compete and derive a satisfactory result, a football gridiron for example, between left and right, our Republic will slowly crumble. We must again ritualize our social conflict, on equal terms, in places of open and fair debate amongst citizens, not “consumers”, not “social groups”, but American citizens. We must apply legal equality with Catonian harshness on all fronts, yes, but we also must always remember the neediest among us and treat them with the compassion that Christ showed through his example and teachings.
The problem is, the two “sides”, which are not really sides at all but artificial distinctions created for the very purpose of sowing political and social discord, are not the same. The equivalency stops when one “side” is committed to “exercising their rights” only by denying the full rights they enjoy and take for granted to some group of perceived social “others”. Somehow, in the minds of Trump Republicans, simply by standing up for the written full legal rights of full legal citizens, makes their fellow citizens “violent and radical leftists”. But both “sides” in say the Black Lives Matter slash “Antifa” (which should really just be termed: urban citizens standing up against fascism through civil disobedience) against the “Trumpers”, are in veridical actuality, full and total equals in all matters legal and constitutional if they are citizens of the United States.
Where does it say in the constitution that a rural vote is worth twice an urban vote? Where does it say in the constitution that people who are not white get automatically treated like second class citizens? Where does it say “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others” as Mr. Orwell once quipped through his character “Squealer the pig”. Because if you are a Trump supporter, this is exactly what you are saying, no joke, no exaggeration. Orwell, Bradbury, Atwood — these are the true challengers of dystopia. Trump is dystopia personified (see my other published article).
Just imagine getting up to heaven and being asked “so what have you dedicated your life to?” And you then answered: “Oh, I’ve been doing my moral and patriotic duty by oppressing Black Americans, by making sure that their votes didn’t count, by making sure that the police could have full sway over their life and death.” Are you going to tell him that Black people are inherently bad and violent then? Christ taught every human comes before God as an equal. It is actually one of the most fundamental beliefs of the Christian church. Make no mistake people, this is some medieval ass shit that these Trump people have been trotting out over the past few years. Positively brutal, violent and without a care for the humanity of those who always get the shitty end of the stick. Do you really think God is with you Trumpers? There is no way that God is with all that, not the God of the Beatitudes.
It was the “rights” of the radicals that were given full sway on January 6, 2021, and the rights of Donald Trump. The rights of Trump and his mob, in the eyes of the state that day, superseded all else. I mean the man made sure the defenses were down, that no reinforcements could come, and then proceeded to play out one of the strangest and most embarrassing pieces of political kabuki the world has ever seen. And I mean, the whole world watched it. Then we found out he reveled in it. He was watching it on TV like a six year old boy who shits in the pool and then hides in a bush, snickering over the ensuing mayhem. What’s more? He did the whole damn thing with the world at home, after the holidays, watching to see if democracy would work and Biden would indeed take his rightful place allotted him by the people of the United States. The free world was praying, watching, hoping that humanity and compassion would come back to the Presidency, and what we got was a show of a different ilk.
According to the Constitution, every American citizen is ultimately equal before the eyes of the state. I mean, this was one of the things that made the United States different when it was founded. So there can not be two “legitimate” sides of disagreement when one side has no platform except chaos, turmoil and destruction; a side that cheers on violence against other Americans. A side that has for years relentlessly pursued legislating away the voting and civil rights of legitimate and naturally born American citizens. The police gang shoot down is exactly lynching. Like, do we really have to go through this again? The only thing to do this time is finish the job of Reconstruction, dig the bastards out at the roots (if they haven’t gotten it by now they never will) and force them to respect the shared rights of every single other American. Otherwise there will be no more America and the future will be greasy with autocracy. Do you see how close we just came to it? Are you paying attention?
Justice Kavanaugh’s hearing was another one of those recent embarrassing public scenes that too many people around the world watched. Although at that point Republicans still kind of had a shred of legitimacy, if one accepted that Kavanaugh actually believed he did not assault Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Although it is quite telling(and rather dull and predictable) that these “Republicans”, in the end, took his word over hers and voted him in. Which is what happened, no matter what anyone thinks about the whole sordid affair. There was no reason for Dr. Ford to come forward like that except the desire to tell the truth. She did not profit by the proceedings, no, and it looked very much like it was difficult for her. Not something she wanted to be doing, but doing it, as she said in the proceedings, out of a sense of duty to her country.
The more history one reads, the more one comes to understand that the way things turn out, in the end; the details all get washed away. The exactitude gets fuzzy. The stories of eye-witnesses to significant events change as they re-tell their story again and again over a lifetime, someone else hears that story and puts their own twist on it. So then try to think about the past in terms of ebbs and flows, you can never put your foot in the same river twice, but the river is always there, right? Sometimes rivers move, and eventually they will all dry up if they are not engulfed in the dying sun first, but rivers are pretty predictable things. But the water in them is constantly moving, constantly replenished. Asking what happened in the past is a bit like trying to pin down a cubed section of river at a fixed point and time; its flow, volume, atomic make-up et cetera, and then deciding what that particular part of the river meant to the rest of the river as a whole. Yet that “wholeness” of the river is composed not of stasis but of constant, powerful and sometimes violent movement. Ideologies, thought paradigms and traditions, there is nothing terribly fixed or fundamental about these things in humanity, they are relative abstractions created by humans. I am not saying these are not terribly important things. But ideology can never really govern a country without contradiction. We say it is the world falling short of the words, when in actuality, our words have fallen short of our world.
Humans have always been humans. This means they are contradictory, social, self-loathing, fun-loving, spiritual, artistic, egotistical (add any other adjective, they’re all human in the end!) and very loving animals. Sometimes they do things that are just crazy! Sometimes, humans do things that no one was prescient enough to predict. Surprises happen with an almost regular cycle of randomness. Yes history is very hard to study, and of all the things we humans know about, the human past is something we do not know all that well yet. Just because the past is hard to study, however, does not mean we should not study it, nor does it mean that history is always evil or always written by the victor. There is a back and forth in the academy too, between the younger and more daring, and the older and more comfortable. Indeed, many of the critical frameworks for race theory have come in part from revisionist, gender and decolonial works and philosophies of history.
It is in the present now, right now, when we finally understand, clearly, all the problems of the past? We know better now, right? We finally see now, where before we could not and have all the easy solutions, right?. If only we could go back in time and fix those poor idiots, right? This is called presentism, and it is a false assumption many people proceed from. Human nature is human nature, no matter the technology around the humans. Progressive advance, though an admirable ideal, is not really how we write, think and talk about it. Things move, yes, this way and that, and yes they seem to go somewhere, but it is like a river too when it comes down to it, always flowing, usually more the same than it is different.
So how would you change the world? Do you really think you could do a better job? Do you ever act like you already know everything? Take time to think about what you want to do.
How, if you had the power to change the world, would you go about doing it? What unintended consequences might there be? Would it careen out of control? The problem is, there is nothing so profound or woke about 2020 or 2021, it is just another year. The idea that things are different now than they were and have been getting better since the nineties is just naïve. Social change is a constant battle and there are always defeats and setbacks. In the nineties, we used to say: “this is 1992, how can you still think like that?”
Now it has become: “This is 2021, how can you still think like that?”
The reason is that many of the people are the same people as they were then. These are the people that thought in terms of white flight and racial blindness alongside tacit segregation in 1992 and still think the same way about it now. The anger of these Americans today stems from their essential abandonment by the state over the last fifty years, after they helped win World War Two and the Cold War for the country. Their jobs are gone, their families are falling apart, their towns are drying up and dying. This is directly because of the very same people that they often vote for, but because of the right wing media juggernaut, these people are ever grateful for the prosperity and productive lives that voting Republican has brought them. Of course, the reality is that they were tricked into giving it all away. They believed Trump because they wanted to, and he screwed them again, in a way that they had never been screwed before.
Bringing Trumpers back into the fold of reasonable and open American society, like it was before September 11, 2001, would require exactly the kind of package Biden presented to Congress the other night. Because so many of these Americans for Trump have been stripped of their dignity, livelihoods and sense of identity over the past fifty years. This happened for many reasons, the hollowing out of unions and the turning over of all manufacturing to China by Corporate America being two of the most notable reasons among many. But hey, they had the power, so they did it. This is the result of putting the apple cart before the horse, or of having your cake and eating it too, or of getting into a brand new Tesla and setting it to top speed before going to sleep. So what happens? “Everything crash” as the old Jamaican ska band the Ethiopians sang. Is anyone surprised anymore?
We should also be talking about rural schools, and rural economic opportunity and rural people on the left. We should take up the case of anyone who is currently on the outside in America, looking in. We should fight violence, fearmongering and oppression with love, understanding and compassion. We should be talking about the rust belt, and about the south as well as talking about the rights of largely urban Black and Latinx and Muslim people and Women and LGTBQ+ people.
We need to recognize all oppression, all violence, for what it is. Nothing less, nothing more.
Right now, these “two sides”, the Trumpians and the rest of America, are pitted against each other in an all out battle, but no one can really tell over what. Although ostensibly it is the right to benefit from America and being an American. It is a fight for the American dream. The rural people, the Trumpians, used to have it until it was taken away from them. The urban BIOPIC people, the people that have negative attention drawn to them because of their non-traditional gender, the people who have always been the “American other”, they have never had it. But that isn’t even what movements like BLM are asking for, what they are asking for is the same security of person other Americans enjoy, the same treatment by police. And this is a significant difference.
But if we do not recognize that Trumpers have legitimate complaints, that they are genuine in their feeling of being left behind in the richest country in the history of earth, then we cannot resolve our differences and move past all this. If the Constitution were actually followed as it should have been, neither the attack on the urban Blacks beginning in the 1970s nor the comprehensive and full frontal assault on organized labor and American manufacturing beginning around the same time would have been allowed to happen. The Bill of Rights is unambiguous. The post Civil War amendments are unambiguous.
Until the drug war is ended; Until all addicts are given clean and steady supplies of their drugs; Until there is opportunity for these suffering and diseased people to rehabilitate themselves in holistic treatment facilities where they are both made to feel good about themselves and have full opportunity and time to wean themselves off of the drugs; there will be no Peace in the Americas. Until the illegal markets and gangs have their revenue choked off, there will be no Peace in the Americas. If the state of everyday violence in the United States is crazy, Mexico is a veritable post-apocalyptic battleground. And why? To defend Mexico from some outside invader? No, it is like that because of the ideologically based, anti-human, “war on drugs” policy that the United States upholds to this day on the continent. And why? For no better reason than that’s what we have always done. I do not think drugs are good, but they are a health related problem for the addict. Everything else is because of prohibition and not because of the drugs themselves, and almost everyone involved in either the police and or reform side of things, knows this.
Until the Drug War is over, there can be no Police Reform, there can be no de-militarization of police. The US is awash in guns, gangs and illicit-market cash. It is as though the 1920s have been going on since the 1930s, but because they are drug addicts and gangsters dying and suffering, for the most part, we have let it go on. Trump’s thugs in Portland are the endpoint-outflow of all this, they represent it in toto. Every American pays for this war. Pays to keep it going, profits by it. Profits by the endemic and inherent violence in not only American urban centers but also in Mexico, in Colombia, in Guatemala, in Venezuela, in Brazil… and I can keep going….
We make movies that celebrate this world, this convolution, this war that has claimed, and is claiming, so many lives. There can be no peace until this outrage against humanity, against decency, against Christian morals, is ended completely. I mean this is a disaster that so dwarfs the prohibition of alcohol for that brief period so long ago that the two aren’t even comparable. It has been going on for almost one hundred years now, this war on drugs, with no possible resolution in sight. Time to stop the violence. Time to finally stop this insanity. Time for peace for the gentle people of the Americas.