Meteor!

A meteor was seen by many in the Upper Midwest. Or, as the American Meteor Society calls it, a “bright green fireball,” which is way cooler.

Several friends on social media noted a bright flash and a loud bang. I slept through it – I neither heard a bang, nor saw a flash 🙁

 

 

Leave Kellyanne alone

I’m going to give Kellyanne Conway the benefit of the doubt on misspeaking “one word.” Because who could be intellectually dishonest enough to allege a nonexistent massacre and subsequently claim her mistake was no big deal? Who among us hasn’t said “massacre” while intending to say “terrorists?” It’s an easy mistake.

But maybe, due to lamestream media bullying and SJW ridicule, she’s too ashamed to admit she misplaced her massacre by roughly 200 miles and 235 years. Indeed, there was a massacre near present day Bowling Green. The perpetrators, however were not Muslim immigrants or refugees, but American militiamen (almost certainly Christians, all). The victims were pacifist Christianized Native Americans living outside of the boundaries of the nascent United States of America:

In early March 1782, the Lenape were surprised by a raiding party of 160 Pennsylvania militia led by Lieutenant Colonel David Williamson. The militia rounded up the Christian Lenape and accused them of taking part in raids into Pennsylvania. Although the Lenape denied the charges, the militia held a council and voted to kill them.

After the Lenape were told of the militia’s vote, they requested time to prepare for death and spent the night praying and singing hymns. They were held in two buildings, one for men and one for women and children.

The next morning on 8 March, the militia brought the Lenape to one of two “killing houses”, one for men and the other for women and children. The militia tied the Indians, stunned them with mallet blows to the head, and killed them with fatal scalping cuts. In all, the militia murdered and scalped 28 men, 29 women, and 39 children. Two Indian boys, one of whom had been scalped, survived to tell of the massacre. The bodies were piled in the mission buildings and burned the village down. They also burned the other abandoned Moravian villages.

The militia looted the villages prior to their burning. The plunder, which needed 80 horses to carry included everything which the people had held: furs for trade, pewter, tea sets, and clothing.

In 1810, Tecumseh reminded future President William Henry Harrison, “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?”

Maybe Conway will find the courage to clarify her initial comments and educate the masses about their heritage. I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath.

 

 

 

 

Do what you’re told

The stories are trickling in regarding Trump’s immigration restrictions. It’s almost startling how fast these restrictions were implemented, or at least it would be if we had any reason to expect things to not be shitty. The president gives the order and immediately his demands are carried out. He says jump, and the federal, state, and local authorities comply, from office workers to the security officers on the front lines – spineless cowards, all of them. It’s something important to keep in mind.

A culture that deifies [1] authority figures gives unwarranted truth to the lie that they can do no wrong. They’re just following orders after all, whether they agree with it or not. For every terrible thing Trump orders there are underlings who have to decide whether or not to carry it out, as it filters through the institutional hierarchy. I have nothing but contempt for those that do, even if they have reservations or concerns. I guess it’s easy for me to say, since I generally don’t work at places I consider ethically compromising (though I was in debt collection for a minute and it was exceptionally soul destroying).  If you won’t quit because you need the job or can’t find a new one, well, I just don’t really care. With the ubiquity of horrors in this world, my empathy rations are running thin and don’t extend to such people. I hesitate to reference “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” by Hannah Arendt, but fuck it:

[T]he murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did. The troops of the Einsatzgruppen had been drafted from the Armed S.S., a military unit with hardly more crimes in its record than any ordinary unit of the German Army, and their commanders had been chosen by Heydrich from the S.S. élite with academic degrees. Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!


[1]. “Whites have consistently been shown to appear in a “hero” role on television news, being overrepresented as both officers and victims. In the past, authors have produced multiple alternative explanations for distorted race and crime portrayals. Three specific perspectives should be highlighted: (1) ethnic blame discourse, (2) incognizant racism, and (3) structural limitations and economic interests.”

 

Pipelines

To my shame, I’ve never had much more than a tenuous grasp on what presidents can or can’t do. Which is why I was confused about the executive orders signed by Trump regarding the Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines. Can he just make these projects happen with the stroke of a pen? Thankfully, at this point, the answer is no.

For the Dakota pipeline he’s merely requesting the Army Corps of Engineers to hurry the fuck up and approve it. From The Atlantic

[T]he executive orders seemed to be written in a typical way. Instead of commanding agencies to ignore congressionally passed law, the orders request that they expedite or reconsider previous judgments. “Executive orders are legal orders—they’re law—but they can’t contravene legislative enactments. So an executive order can’t say, ‘Ignore the (National Environmental Policy Act) and give me a pipeline,’” [Sarah Krakoff, a professor of tribal and resources law at the University of Colorado Boulder] told me.

“If the federal law gives decision-making authority to a particular official, that official has to make the decision,” said John Leshy, a professor of real property law and a former general counsel to the U.S. Department of the Interior. “But there’s some murkiness about what the president can do. The decision maker can say no, and then the president can fire them and replace them with someone who would. But that takes time.”

Krakoff added that it would attract judicial suspicion if the Army Corps of Engineers suddenly decided that it didn’t have to make an environmental-impact statement for the Dakota Access pipeline after saying that it did just weeks ago.

“It would be hard for them to turn around on a dime and say, ‘We got this piece of paper from the president and now we don’t think that’s necessary,’” she said. “If the agency were to take a different route, legally, now, I would strongly suspect that that would be subject to litigation.”

There is less in the way of getting the Keystone XL pipeline off the ground. Ominously, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (isn’t he supposed to be a totally cool and awesome liberal heartthrob???) is welcoming the opportunity for TransCanada to re-submit its application:

Canadian diplomats had spent years attempting to convince Obama to let Keystone proceed. Trump’s decision was applauded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“I’ve been on the record for many years supporting it because it means economic growth and good jobs for Albertans,” Trudeau said at a Liberal cabinet retreat in Calgary.

To sum up where we are now in regards to the pipelines, (again, from The Atlantic article):

Experts seemed to think the Keystone XL pipeline would be easier to restart, at least from a legal perspective. The obstacles to that pipeline originated in the federal government and not an ongoing legal challenge. But in a way, that highlights the paradox of the two pipelines: While it may be easier to restart Keystone XL legally, none of that project is built, and there’s no guarantee that it ever will be. The Dakota Access pipeline, meanwhile, sits idle at 80-percent completion. It is closer to being done. It also has, legally, much further to go.

Our primary hope appears to be sweet, sweet labyrinthine bureaucracy, as well as the fact that not all executive orders yield their desired results. The Atlantic article notes this and concludes with an outline of Obama’s inability to follow through on his 2009 executive order to close Guantanamo. It would be obscene and demoralizing if Trump’s authoritarian bullying succeeds in attaining environmentally destructive goals, while Obama’s eloquence and diplomacy failed to achieve his comparatively noble mission to close an ongoing human rights disaster.

On badly named college papers, state violence, and resistance

1984: Satire or Reality?

This is the cringeworthy title of a paper I wrote for an English 101 class in 1999, at the age of 18. I came across it a couple years back, though was too embarrassed to read the contents. It was likely naive and alarmist, as only a college freshmen English paper on the topic of totalitarianism could be. Basically, it could’ve been the subject of an Onion article.

This past weekend I, and doubtless many others, couldn’t help but think about 1984 as Sean Spicer spewed a bunch of nonsense that was obviously and demonstrably false, and be scared. Politicians lie. They’ve always lied. [1] But this just feels different, an ominous harbinger of what’s to come. It’s one thing to blatantly lie and fly off the handle about unimportant minutia during a campaign that was more akin to a surreal reality show, but this was the second fucking day of actually being president. Just wait until they start to lie about things that actually matter. Of course they’ve been lying for months, but now they’ll have the whole weight of the federal government behind them, and all that that entails.

I think it gives the Trump administration too much credit to suggest Spicer’s inauguration crowd related briefing was done to deflect attention from Saturday’s protests. Why deflect that attention to a topic that makes him look petty and delusional? Any shift in awareness would have been an unintentionally happy byproduct – there’s no reason to believe that Trump didn’t want his version of the truth about this very important matter to be completely accepted.

If I can take solace in anything, it’s that the millions who participated in the Women’s March showed that there are a large amount of people that aren’t ignorant enough to believe the facile lies coming from Trump and his mouthpieces. He should now know to expect resistance. If (probably when) he starts doing terrible things (starting a war, rounding up Muslims, punishing the media (whatever that will entail), etc.), people will again take to the streets. Trump is a man who does not take criticism well, and he openly encouraged violence against dissenters during his campaign. He is now in charge of a dangerous, powerful, multifaceted security apparatus. If he gives the order for violence against civilians, how will the foot soldiers of the state respond?

In 1789, during the waning days of the Kingdom of France, women, angered over bread prices and food shortages, fucked shit up. Juxtaposing women’s roles in the French Revolution and the Saturday marches, Micah White at The Guardian writes

The lesson here is that protesting grandmothers, daughters and mothers have the unique power to do what male protesters cannot – such as break through a line of national guard bayonets without being fired upon. And for this reason, women will always play a foundational role in the great revolutions to come, but only when they take matters into their own hands, act unexpectedly and viscerally, and focus their collective energy on the only target that matters: concretely establishing the power of the people over their governments.

I don’t know how much I buy that, as it rests on powerful men (well, mostly men) backed by state power being too squeamish to react violently towards a large crowd of women. God knows men haven’t been shy about perpetrating violence against women for, I dunno, the past 10,000 years? [2] But perhaps they’ll be more apt to show reluctance, whether that’s out of enlightenment, guilt, or the fear of being filmed. And while Saturday was, by all accounts peaceful – with smiling faces, boundless positivity, and selfies galore – it’s unclear how peaceful subsequent protests will be in the future. Also very unclear is to what extent peaceful street protest in the modern era will actually achieve its intended goals, as vague and open to interpretation as those goals may be.

On the other side of the spectrum, more than 60 million people are more than happy to consume oceans of bullshit from their hero. While many of them are too far gone, the younger generation needs to know that Trump’s terrible beliefs, worn like badges of honor by him and his claque, are not okay. We have our work cut out for us:

When it comes to explicit prejudice against blacks, non-Hispanic white millennials are not much different than whites belonging to Generation X (born 1965-1980) or Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). White millennials (using a definition of being born after 1980) express the least prejudice on 4 out of 5 measures in the survey, but only by a matter of 1 to 3 percentage points, not a meaningful difference. On work ethic, 31 percent of millennials rate blacks as lazier than whites, compared to 32 percent of Generation X whites and 35 percent of Baby Boomers.

One might even go so far as to say that 1984 is already a reality for the aforementioned 60+ million bootlickers [3] (please know that my tongue couldn’t be further inside my cheek). Whether their numbers increase or decrease is going to be pretty important.


[1] To pick one, GWB was obviously lying about the official rationale for attacking Iraq, framing it as a war for liberation against a despot. That should have made one wonder why we were cool with, for one example among many, Turkmenistan’s recently deceased dictator boiling people alive. But a fuckload of people probably never even heard of Turkmenistan, or constructively thought about or sought information about why GWB’s noble warmongering propaganda was on faulty ground. What I’m saying is, fine, I can see why people swallowed lies from that asshole. His lies were at least plausible. Then again, I’m probably just misremembering the relative innocence of the early to mid aughts. At any rate, as mentioned by Aziz Ansari on SNL, Trump might be the best thing that happened to GWB.

[2] On the origins of gender role disparity:

Mark Dyble, an anthropologist who led the study at University College London, said: “There is still this wider perception that hunter-gatherers are more macho or male-dominated. We’d argue it was only with the emergence of agriculture, when people could start to accumulate resources, that inequality emerged.”

The study suggests that it was only with the dawn of agriculture, when people were able to accumulate resources for the first time, that an imbalance emerged. “Men can start to have several wives and they can have more children than women,” said Dyble. “It pays more for men to start accumulating resources and becomes favourable to form alliances with male kin.”

Soon enough, early agriculturalist men begin to see women as wholly subservient, and humanity started down the path towards institutionalized patriarchy.

[3] “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

 

 

Don’t worry, the murder of Hussain Alnahdi was not race-related

Hussain Alnahdi was beaten to death on 10/31 by Cullen Osburn in Menomonie, WI. The police interviewed Osburn’s friends and family on 11/2 . Osburn even called the investigator that same day. From that point until his arrest on 1/12, he remained free while the investigators took their sweet time to locate and arrest him.

His Facebook profile is still available. He didn’t post anything from 10/8-12/25. After 12/25, he began again as if the unfortunate storm had passed – on 1/6 he even checked in at his son’s basketball game. This would have been around 6 days before his arrest. I’m very interested why the police waited so long. Or if they were actively seeking him, which isn’t clear if that’s the case (detailed below), how he was able to evade the police for so long.

Given that Alnahdi was a Saudi Arabian living in white ass western Wisconsin, many thought there could be a racial component to the murder. [1] But fortunately, White America can rest assured that one of our own apparently pummeled someone to death without the scourge of bigotry in his heart. For the second time in two weeks, I feel the need to highlight the words of a university chancellor, this time at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where Alnahdi was attending:

I also think it is worth mentioning that the criminal complaint issued in this case said the suspect was adamant that the altercation was not a result of anybody’s race.

Nope, it is NOT worth mentioning. The criminal complaint only notes the different witness accounts of an unintelligible argument that began after Alnahdi was approached by Osburn. The details of that argument are now only known to Osburn, and whomever he told (which I don’t know how it could be regarded as reliable and/or unbiased). Certainly he and his attorney will come up with some reason to justify his attack, and that reason will not be related to any protected characteristics under hate crime laws. Moreover, he’s had two and a half months to generate a plausible story that will paint him in the best possible light. We’ll likely never know the truth. But sure, let’s take at face value the statement he made to the police before disappearing as well as anything alleged by his obviously biased friends and family.

Osburn has a long history of violence including making terroristic threats, domestic abuse [2], and violating no contact orders with victims. Given this, I can concede that he seems violent enough to not need any race-based motivation to beat the hell out of someone. But it seems weird that Osburn would, out of all the other individuals at the scene of the crime, confront someone with a Middle-Eastern look just standing around.

The recent spate of news stories regarding the situation haven’t brought up something that bothers me. In mid-November the authorities announced they had zeroed in on a suspect, but were unsure whether or not to charge him. Given the fact that he beat someone to death (regardless of motivation), and the aforementioned criminal history, he wasn’t placed in custody because the

police do not believe he is a threat to the public. Police say they have no evidence indicating the assault was racially motivated and are withholding the suspect’s name pending charges. (emphasis added)

This has, to my knowledge, not been commented on since the arrest. I may be a delicate flower, but given the facts that are, and were known all along by the police, he seems kind of threatening. This would seem to contradict the idea that the police were actively pursuing him.

The only unknown all along has been intent – within a few days of the murder the police knew the suspect’s name, his family, and, unless they were comically inept, his extensive criminal history in Minnesota. [3] And yet they apparently waited over two months to do anything about it. Perhaps there’s a good reason. But I can’t help but wonder how fast he would’ve been in custody had the victim been, say, an off duty police officer. Or someone who came from a family with a sufficient amount of social capital to warrant a quicker decision.


[1] The Daily Caller has a post about the story, crowing about how Osburn is not a Trump supporter. I find it hard to believe that many thought the perpetrator was a Trump supporter rather than a bigot (though it’s understandably hard not to conflate the two, they are not mutually exclusive). Nevertheless, Osburn does not seem to be a Trump supporter, but the obvious point of this garbage article is to revel in a possible hate crime not being one – though a motive has not been released and appears to be unverifiable. Because the uptick in violence against Muslims is a liberal fantasy, you see.

[2] Shouldn’t more domestic abuse cases be hate crimes? There has to be an element of a general hatred towards women in many of these cases. At any rate, Osburn’s Facebook page indicates he’s misogynistic as fuck.

[3] Not to mention his social media presence. In one Facebook post from July he posts “Anger management i hate this shit …”

Putting a tunnel through a tree is stupid

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/pioneer-cabin-tree-sequoia.html

Pioneer Cabin tree, a tree that was tunneled through in the name of tourism, recently fell. I found out on social media, and people really seemed to be bummed out about it. I had never heard of it, and didn’t even know tunneled trees were a thing. My first thought, when looking at a picture, was one of revulsion. My second thought was people are the fucking worst.

But is it really so bad, ethically-speaking? In Practical Ethics, Peter Singer argues that we don’t owe any special consideration to the interests of plants because they lack the capacity for sentience/consciousness, however one defines these terms. A human or nonhuman animal with adequate mental capacities has preferences, but the desire for tolerable conditions and the ability to do something about it is not thought to be present in plants:

Once we stop to reflect on the fact that plants are not conscious and cannot engage in any intentional behavior…it is clear that all this language is metaphorical; one might just as well say that a river is pursuing its own good and striving to reach the sea. [1]

Thus, the Pioneer Cabin tree was incapable of having an opinion as to whether or not its mutilation was good and, in terms of ethical consideration is little different than a stalactite.

That just strikes me as intuitively wrong. However, I’m mindful that one’s intuition, without good evidence to support it, is meaningless. Ideally I believe humans should give consideration to the interests of all life, and not just the section that comprises the animal kingdom [2]. Every living organism – sentient or nonsentient, conscious or nonconscious – is an entity comprised of molecules that resist entropy. An entity that continually incorporates, changes and discharges molecules, all in an ultimately futile attempt to rage against the dying of the light. A stalactite has no such internal chemistry that resists the inevitable, with no mechanisms to alter its surrounding physical conditions and maintain homeostasis. It’s that struggle that is sufficient for me to grant that all living entities have an interest in existing, whether an organism is sentient or nonsentient, conscious or nonconscious.

That certainlydoesn’t mean it’s never wrong to take a life, be it animal, plant, fungi, or bacteria. Generally speaking, it’s acceptable to eat plants and animals, regardless of their desires to continue existing. I also have no problem with, in a vacuum, purposefully or mistakenly killing plants and animals for agricultural purposes [3] or if they pose a health threat to oneself. Taking antibiotics to kill harmful bacteria is fine. A deer tick in my navel drinking my blood for 3 days that I inexplicably and foolishly didn’t notice? Fuck you, I’ll kill you. [4] Basically, one should have a good reason for killing or harming another living being.

Humans, ever willing to take on the mantle of God, frequently make decisions that mean life or death to countless organisms. This is from the smallest of scales – killing a spider in your bedroom – to the level of whole ecosystems. It would be nice if such alterations were divorced from anthropocentric desires that do not deal with our health or survival. Obviously, if the tree was left alone and people were unable to drive or walk through it, our health or survival would have been unaffected. So hollowing out a tree for tourism purposes is bad, as the National Park Service admits.

Even if it wasn’t the reason the tree fell, I don’t see how hollowing out a tree can be seen to, at best, have no detrimental effects to the tree itself. Perhaps, though, the experience people had with this tree caused a shift in general viewpoint in terms of the necessity of conservation. If so, I would argue that this is based on a grotesque display of human domination, and wonder how one could quantify any positive real-world consequences (as opposed to mere changes in one’s perspective).

All of this leads to the question of human assigned value: there is no intrinsic difference between a thousand year sequoia, and a ten day old garlic mustard plant. We assign value to the sequoia due to the sense of majesty we feel when we’re in its presence; knowledge of the significant role it plays in its ecological relationships; or, if you suck, the amount of money you can make off its wood. Garlic mustard, on the other hand, is non-native to North America, makes our lawns look like shit, and outcompetes native vegetation. These are human assigned values that are extrinsic to individual organisms – we love well manicured landscapes devoid of unsightly weeds and prefer more visually appealing native flora.

And yet, I feel no sense of grief as I pull individual garlic mustard plants out my yard. This means I’m a dick for doing so, because intrinsically a garlic mustard plant is no better or worse than any other plant in the vicinity. I make a value judgment, and my reasoning does not take into consideration the plant continuing to have the ability to do plant things (regardless of whether or not it can be said to have preferences). Basically, I’m a hypocrite if I prefer a yard that myself and other humans arbitrarily regard as “nice,” because that’s a pretty shitty reason to end a life. Oh well. But fuck putting tunnels in trees.


[1] Practical Ethics, p. 249. The Oxford Dictionary website defines intentional as “Done on purpose.” Left unstated is whether or not doing something on purpose requires a conscious component, though it’s probably implied. David Chamovitz, author of What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, states that while he doesn’t grant plants the ability to think, they “exhibit elements of anoetic consciousness [“the rudimentary state of affective, homeostatic, and sensory-perceptual mental experiences”].” This, coupled with the pretty amazing things plants can do is, to me, enough to differentiate them from a river flowing to its mouth.

[2] Not viruses, which aren’t technically alive. Viruses can fuck right off

[3] Outside of this vacuum, factory farming is cruel and abhorrent.

[4] The thought of getting Lyme Disease again is terrifying.

 

My shitty alma mater

“Journalist” and terrible human Milo Yiannopoulos recently spoke at UW-Milwaukee, one of my alma maters, because it’s essential that higher education institutions allow a platform for every possible viewpoint in the name of free speech. It went about as one would expect, with the possible exception that he outed a trans student in the audience and alleged that she was a sexual predator (I am blessedly ignorant of what typically happens at his talks).

In an attempt at saving face, Chancellor Mark Mone, who was certainly apprised of the possible negative affects of the talk, released an exceptionally pathetic statement saying, among other public relations type nothing-speak, that

I also will not stand silently by when a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked. I am disappointed that this speaker chose to attack a transgender student.

So brave, so courageous to take such a stand of sending out an email to all of UWM’s students and exhorting them to

respond to tonight’s event with positive messages, not anger. Join me on social media in using #UWMstandstogether to tell our city, state and nation about the wonderful things happening on our campus and the valuable contributions of our students, faculty and staff.

Yup, that should do it. A bigotry free utopia should be forthcoming any day now. My eyes are rolling into the back of my head.

All of this is horrible, but the point of this post is to highlight the student’s response which, in lieu of highlighting especially poignant sections, I’m posting in full. It’s well-written, emotionally raw, and enraging that anyone has to experience what she went through.

Chancellor Mark Mone

 GO FUCK YOURSELF.

I am the trans student that was attacked and your email is nothing short of insulting. I wasn’t going to write this email at first, even after Milo attacked me, but then I saw your email and  I’m SO FUCKING SICK of your goddamn lip service. Seriously go fuck yourself.

 Your email? I don’t even know where to begin. Also, I don’t care if you feel “offended” or “harassed”. Welcome to my life. Sue me. I’d be more than happy to defend my free speech in court (since this is what you call it apparently) to lambast your ass for being an ungodly, fucking pathetic “ally.” And quite frankly I don’t care who the fuck reads this email (as you can tell by the CC) or what people think of me. I’m aware of where this email can end up. So be it. My “give a fuck card” was thrown out the window a long time ago. I’m going to write about you and YOUR fucked-up bullshit.

 Your words: “I also will not stand silently by when a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked.” That is probably the biggest piece of goddamn fucking bullshit I’ve ever read. What exactly do you plan to do? OH YEAH, NOTHING, BECAUSE YOU’RE A COWARDLY PIECE OF SHIT. Your “not standing silently” apparently consists of a single email mass-sent to the university. That’s it. You don’t get a fucking cookie for that. What else were you going to go? NOTHING. You were planning on doing jack shit.

 Did you even attempt to reach out to me? NOPE. Not even an email, nothing. Instead it was supposed to suffice to just send a nice little bit of polished hogwash to the general campus. Is that right? Were you trying to head off student protests calling for you to be sacked or something? You’d like nothing better than for this to just blow over. Seriously what the hell ARE you even doing right now? You say you’re not standing by silently? BULL-FUCKING-SHIT YOU POMPOUS ASSHOLE. YES YOU ARE.

 Don’t act like you didn’t know this would happen. You knew goddamn well it would. I lost track of how many people pointed this out to you. And what the hell did you do when students tried to organize and deliver a petition to cancel Milo’s event? YOU FUCKING CALLED THE COPS ON THEM. LIKE WHAT IN THE LIVING FUCK. Your asshole level is off the charts, especially because you feign concern about this with one hand while backhanding all of us with the other. Because there’s nothing like the threat of state violence to keep people in line.

 Seriously, you FUCKING CALLED THE GODDAMN POLICE on students at your office who were raising extremely valid concerns about Milo, you forcibly threw students out, and then you want to turn around and act like you didn’t see this coming? How fucking naïve do you think we are?

 This also isn’t just a case of a speaker going off an a tangent like that, like some random occurrence. It was not a case where you had no way of knowing he would do this. Quite the contrary: Milo has a supremely extensive, highly-documented track record of doing precisely this. As I’ve already said, YOU KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN. WE TOLD YOU IT WOULD. AND WE TOLD YOU AGAIN. AND AGAIN. But you brushed this off under “muh free speech” bullshit.

 Do tell me, if someone invited a fucking modern Hitler to campus, would you allow that? Because that’s what your bullshit argument says. How about David Duke of the KKK, can we invite him? Or how about Andrew Anglin, the self-proclaimed Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer website? (Yes, he is an actual Nazi. That is not hyperbole.) Can we invite him? Genuine question. You’ve already allowed a fascist on campus, so can we invite a full-fledged Nazi? Are there no bounds? Maybe we should invite a radical who advocates burning down Chapman Hall, because speakers like that can be found (and no, me typing that sentence is not a threat to destroy property. “Words don’t hurt anyone” as the fascist you defended last night would say.)

 Free speech does not cover harassment, and that’s exactly what Milo did to me. But hey, do email about hashtagging #UWMstandstogether as if that fucking accomplishes anything. Damn, you fucking liberals really drive me up the wall. Now you can spend all of 10 seconds making some half-assed tweet, give it a cute hashtag, and go about your day feeling like you did something. NO. YOU DON’T GET CREDIT FOR THAT. YOU ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING. You’re as embarrassing as the people who wear a safety pin and think that counts as being an ally—patting yourself on the back for a job well done—all while you stand silent as fascists attack your students. Some ally. Or making a hashtag that virtually nobody in the city will see, and which will do abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Good grief…UWM “stands together”…as you fucking call the police on students who tried to petition you…as you divide and attack marginalized students while saying you want unity…as you allow a fascist to use “free speech” as an pretense to harass and attack. The amount of doublethink here is just incredible.

 And we’re supposed to respond with positive messages, not anger? WHAT FUCKING WORLD DO YOU LIVE IN. Do you have any idea how much fucking privilege you have to even BEGIN saying something like that? WHAT. THE. FUCK. You do NOT get to dictate how we feel. You do NOT get to tell us what our emotions should be. Oh but okay, here’s a positive message: Nobody died! WOO-FUCKING-HOO! Positivity! Go Panthers!

 Fuck no. I am done getting repeatedly abused and shit on, and expected to just take it and not be angry. But don’t worry, I’m not angry. I’m way, way beyond that. I am SO FUCKING DONE having to justify my humanity to shitheads like you all the fucking time. Angry bitches get shit done. You say to not respond with “anger”…goddamn you haven’t the slightest fucking clue what pervasive marginalization is like.

 Do you even know what Milo said about me? Do you, asshole? Here, I’ll type a bit out for you, because I highly doubt you actually know what that fascist said about me from his podium in front of hundreds of people (and live-streamed on Breitbart in front of thousands):

>>> Context: Milo just finished mocking feminists who critique the very harmful phrase ‘man up’ <<<

Milo: “I’ll tell you one UW-Milwaukee student that does not need to man up, and that is (Student’s name).”

>>> Milo puts an image of me, taken from last spring when I was earlier in my transition and appeared significantly more masculine, on the main screen<<<

Milo: “Do you know about (Student’s Name)? Have any of you come into contact with this person? This quote unquote nonbinary trans—you’re not laughing now, are you, you know him—this quote unquote nonbinary trans woman forced his way into the women’s locker rooms this year. Who knows about this story, any of you?”

>>>Milo looks around, people laugh<<<

“I see you don’t even read your own student media. He got into the women’s room the way liberals always operate, using the government and the courts to weasel their way where they don’t belong. In this case he made a Title IX complaint. Title IX is a set of rules to protect women on campus effectively. It’s couched in the language of equality, but it’s really about women, which under normal circumstances would be fine except for how it’s implemented. Now it is used to put men in to women’s bathrooms. I have known some passing trannies in my life. Trannies—you’re not allowed to say that. I’ve known some passing trannies, which is to say transgender people who pass as the gender they would like to be considered.”

>>> Milo directs the audience’s attention to the image of me.<<<

“Well, no.”

>>>Audience laughs. <<<

Milo: “The way that you know he’s failing is I’d almost still bang him.”

>>> Audience begins laughing a lot, keeps laughing <<<

Milo: “It’s just…it’s just a man in a dress, isn’t it? I should reapply my lipstick…”

And all you can say is you’re “disappointed” he attacked me? Disappointed? Are you fucking kidding me? How about ENRAGED or INFURIATED. What the fuck is this use of disappointed? Tranny is the equivalent of faggot, and you’re disappointed? Really? REALLY? YOU FUCKING THINK???? Goddamn. Oh but you condemn it. Okay, that forgives everything. Not.

You: “I would not deprive students or our community of opportunities to hear diverse viewpoints.”

Translation: I would never deprive students of the ability to collectively harass and verbally assault another student, because it’s “free speech.”

I was at Milo’s event. You have NO FUCKING IDEA what that was like. NO. FUCKING. IDEA. I knew this event would bring out all the worst people on campus, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Standing in line was bad enough. Luckily at this point in my life, I look substantially more feminine than I did last spring (when almost everybody perceived me as a “boy in girls’ clothes”), and I’m correctly gendered as a woman probably 90%+ of the time now. Anyway I’m in line waiting, and in front of me two dudes are making hateful comments about trans folk. Yet 10 minutes after that, one of them was looking at my chest and checking me out. In my mind the only thing I’m thinking is, “If this person knew he was sexually attracted to a trans girl…holy shit…” because asshole boys like him tend to get extremely aggressive if they realize a girl they found attractive has a penis.

But that was still bearable and I was prepared in case they realized I’m trans (thankfully they didn’t). I also knew Milo was going to regurgitate a profound amount of racist and transphobic hate. What I did not anticipate was being specifically targeted and called out in the way he did. I hadn’t said anything or made even the slightest disruption: He had his harassment of me planned out well in advance. I’m sitting there and I hear him say “(my name” and I just froze up. I have never, ever, ever been more terrified in my life of being outed. Ever. He put my picture up, which as already stated, was taken from a prior period when my masculine features were significantly more sharp and extremely noticeable. And I am sitting there frozen in total terror that somebody around me would recognize me, point me out, and incite the mob of the room against me. Nobody did point me out, thank god. But do you have ANY idea how much power Milo had and how it feels to pray that your ability to “pass” doesn’t fail you now? That’s what it was like. Fuck, you can’t even appreciate what I’m writing. You say you do but you really don’t. You do NOT have this perspective. I was looking at the stage, consciously aware of trying to not look “suspicious” and reveal I was the person he was talking about (even as I could feel the color draining from my face), but also not looking at Milo directly ‘lest he recognize me and instantly set off dozens of people screaming at me.

I was trapped in fear and went numb. Completely numb. I felt nothing. I was having a severe, emotional, traumatic response to being fucking called out and directly targeted by this transphobic asshole in front of thousands of people, and my body’s main coping mechanism for severe stress is to shut down all emotions. I couldn’t even cry, and that’s probably a good thing because it would’ve outed me. Even after the event, I still felt nothing and was “fine.” It wasn’t until hours later, as my body began to process it, that I broke down sobbing uncontrollably. I can handle transphobia (you’re basically forced to as a trans girl) but Milo went way the fuck beyond that in what he did to me.

Do you have any fucking idea how hurtful this is? Do you know what it’s like to be in a room full of people who are laughing at you as if you’re some sort of perverted freak, and how many of them would have hollered at me (or worse) if I was outed? Do you know what this kind of terror is? No, you don’t, because as a cis person you do not understand. Sorry-not-sorry, but you don’t and you can’t. You don’t understand how misgendering is violence. Yes, VIOLENCE. And did you miss the part where Milo was talking about having sex with me? Aka shoving his dick up my ass, and joking about applying lipstick to seduce me. How the fuck is this acceptable? This is both gender and sexual harassment. What court upholds this as free speech? Answer: NOBODY. THIS WAS SPECIFICALLY TARGETED AT ME. WHAT FUCKING COURT HAS EVER UPHELD THIS SORT OF HARASSMENT DIRECTED SPECIFICALLY AGAINST A STUDENT AS “FREE SPEECH”? Just wait, now an apologist for fascists will find one lonely example, amidst a plethora that protect students from harassment.

If you actually cared about students, you would have blocked this student org from bringing Milo here, and had they fought it in court you would have battled back and prevailed. The difference here is Milo harasses specific people and incites violence against them. That is not protected, and other universities have successfully blocked him because of that. But you’re too busy kissing the ass of trans-hating republicans running the state and letting fascists attack whomever they want.

But whatever, let Milo joke about fucking me (up the ass). Who gives a fuck about sexual violence. It’s not like I’ve been raped or anything before (actually, I have). Universities regularly push that under the rug in order to protect their sorry-ass reputations. I sure as hell wouldn’t put that past UWM either. And Milo is the Dangerous Faggot after all. Let him repeatedly commit violence against me by erasing my identity and painting me as some sort of male sex predator preying on women in the bathroom. Because who cares if a student is slandered? WHO THE FUCK CARES ABOUT THOSE GODDAMN CODDLED STUDENTS? Who cares if they get harassed?

Perhaps this might be an explanation you can somewhat, partially understand on what it’s like to be misgendered and how this is violence, Mark Mone: Pretend you go to a restaurant to order a meal, and when you arrive, you’re given a gendered greeting of, “Hello woman, how may I take your order?” After placing your order, “Thank you ma’am, that will be such and such.” Then when you receive your order, “Oh hey, did you know you’re STILL not a man? Because you’re not. Oh and here’s your food, thank you!” And whenever anybody interacts with you, you’re called she all day, every fucking day. Imagine a similar scene again an hour later at the gas station. Now imagine it CONSTANTLY happening, on a DAILY basis, every week of the year, EVERY GODDAMN YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. You get to a point where it really, really severely fucks with you. The endless invalidation and relentless attack.

Oh who the fuck am I kidding. Why am I bothering even trying to explain what it’s like? It completely escapes your mind the very real violence Milo intentionally committed against me by calling me a man over and over in the name of “free speech” and slandering me as a sex predator.

You will also never know what it’s like wanting to die every day, you don’t know what it’s like attempting suicide multiple times, you don’t know what it’s like looking down 20 stories to a concrete ground and being an inch away from plummeting to death, you don’t know what it’s like putting your neck on a railroad track, only to chicken out right before the train got there and cursing yourself for not going through with it, (to your fucking bullshit police, no I am not suicidal right now but you fucks will try and twist past-tense into present. you pretentious assholes), you don’t know what it’s like to look in the mirror every goddamn morning and see a face you don’t recognize, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE GOING THROUGH PUBERTY FOR THE WRONG FUCKING GENDER. THIS IS A HELL YOU CANNOT, AND WILL NOT, AND ARE UTTERLY FUCKING INCAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING. And then being denied medical access for years and years and years. Do NOT have the audacity and gall to say you “understand” our concerns. NO YOU DO NOT. You don’t know what it’s like being in poverty and unable to pay for physical transitions, and locked in the wrong body. You have NO FUCKING CLUE what it’s like to be in our shoes and having to pretend everything is fine and dandy. And then to have the university defend a speaker that targets you by name and puts up a masculine-looking picture of you to laugh at…regardless if I had been there in person (sitting in terror) or hiding in my home, HOLY FUCKING SHIT. FUCK YOU. JUST FUCK YOU.

Honest to god, if any student said or did that to me, it would be a complete and total violation of university policy on harassment. NO student could say those things and get away with it. NOBODY. BECAUSE FOR THE 100TH FUCKING TIME, HARASSMENT AND VERBALLY ASSAULTING PEOPLE IS NOT FREE SPEECH. But if they bring in an outside speaker who does THE SAME EXACT FUCKING THING, then apparently it’s okay because “free speech.” Seriously, do you not comprehend how contradictory and fucked-up your logic is?

Can I bring in a speaker who goes on a tirade and personally insults, attacks, and makes crude sexual jokes about a student in the Turning Point USA org? And then do it again for the next student, until every student in that organization is thoroughly trashed? Is that free speech?

NO YOU ASSHOLE, IT IS NOT. HARASSMENT IS NOT FREE SPEECH. AND YOU FUCKING KNEW MILO WOULD DO THIS. WE TOLD YOU. YOU REFUSED TO LISTEN.

But you know what, I’m not done ranting against your transphobic ass yet. I’d like to tell anybody who is still reading this email the other bullshit going on in this hellhole. You have rung me around ever since last January with your locker room bullshit. You do realize there are trans and intersex people on campus who 100% avoid the locker room and Klotsche Center because YOU still insist on policing their body parts? And yes, I say YOU personally because YOU approve of the unpublished “interim policy” that does just this and still forbids any nonconforming body part from being exposed for so much as a second. This is where you’re truly a transphobic ass. You are no ally. If a transgender man changes clothing in the men’s locker room, and someone sees his breast, YOU would seek to punish the trans man for the so-called “crime” of changing his clothes. Nevermind how totally fucking inverted this reasoning is.

And you won’t commit to putting a locker room policy on paper either, so instead you have something that’s transphobic as fuck yet only verbal, making it harder to track and challenge. You’re taking ZERO leadership on this and are instead stalling for time, waiting for the issue to be forced and decided in the courts. Yet you’re “proud” of the work the LGBT resource center does? Goddamn if that’s the case (it’s not; you’re a transphobic asshole), then either be an actual trans-inclusive leader or get the fuck out of the way.

I knew when I went public last spring with all the transphobic bullshit YOU were putting me through that trolls would pick up on it. I was ready for that. But what I’m NOT going to gloss over is your contemptible pandering to trans and intersex folk, and your fucking self-righteous email and related bullshit you put forth claiming to stand with marginalized people like me. NO YOU DO NOT.

Your administration never wanted to allow me and other trans and intersex folk locker room access in the first place. You fucks originally tried to force me into the men’s locker room (which ironically, I couldn’t change clothing in there right now either because I have breasts…or are you so incredibly transphobic you don’t recognize that my breast development is indeed female breasts? I can’t change clothing anywhere under your goddamn policy unless I run off and lock myself in a stall), or to force me into a completely segregated, single-user space that lacked a sauna and pool access. It was only—and I repeat, only—because your attorneys advised you that you had to allow access that you ever let me back in to the locker room after originally banning me. And even then, you insisted I follow special restrictions (which by the way, I long, long, long ago disregarded. You’re in another fucking world if you think I’d submit to that bullshit.) And you continue to marginalize other trans and intersex individuals in locker rooms to this very day. If someone who appears trans wants to use the facility, you’ll have them yanked aside and given a body-shaming lecture where they are told they must always cover up in a locker room…a fucking locker room where undressing is expected…fuck you really are backwards. It’s apparent our bodies will never be acceptable to you.

Besides deliberately and purposely preventing a trans-inclusive locker room policy, your list of shit also includes throwing ALL of your trans and intersex employees under the bus by refusing to fight for their right to have medical procedures and treatment covered by insurance. You are PERFECTLY content with the status quo of denying medical service, as much as you may pretend otherwise. In fact, you recently had a prospective hire walk away from a job offer because they were transgender and you refused to provide medical benefits. But do continue blaming your bullshit on third party “outside of your control” crap and doing meaningless shit to change that.

I can keep listing more things but you know what, just go fuck yourself and in all honestly, drop your T from LGBT. Quit pretending. You do not stand for or represent trans folk and you ignore our needs. Asshole. You are LGB at best and a complete transphobic jerk. I’m done with you. Coming to this university was one of the single-most, worst mistakes I have ever made in my life. At the time you were supposedly ranked 5 stars for LGBTQ+ friendliness and sold me a colossal amount of bullshit to that effect. HA! WHAT A FUCKING JOKE. I really do genuinely regret ever coming here. It was a mistake.

Believe me when I say no matter how much you might dislike (or resent) this email, any pain you feel from what I wrote is but a tiny fraction of the pain I felt, and still feel in my chest and throughout my body, when Milo attacked me, and the pain trans folk feel just for existing in this society. You are so, so incredibly blinded by your privilege and place in society. Fuck you.

Sincerely,

(Student’s Name)

Former student at this godforsaken university

P.S. To Mark Mone and your cronies: I’m not going to respond to any phone calls, emails, or attempts to have me speak with anyone. I am never returning to your goddamn campus again. Ever. GOODBYE BITCHES. And very specifically to you Mark Mone and other spineless liberal assholes that fully support bringing a fascist speaker to campus who is EXTRAORDINARILY well-known to harass and target specific students: From the bottom of my heart, truly, FUCK YOU.

Good music!

As I get older, I’m less and less aware of new music. In addition to my increasingly rapid transformation into a grumpy old person that dislikes new things, I heavily blame podcasts. I listen to way more podcasts than music and it’s kinda sad.

Anyways, here are my favorite 10 albums of 2016 in no particular order:

  • The death albums: Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker; David Bowie – Blackstar; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree. I wasn’t too familiar with Cohen, and to a lesser extent Bowie, before the releases of their final albums, something I eagerly rectified. Nick Cave, on the other hand is one of my favorite artists. During the recording of Skeleton Tree, his son died in an accident. While the album was mostly written by this point, parts of it were amended and the result is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.

  • Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder. A welcome return to their iconic black metal sound

  • Anohni – Hopelessness. I don’t think I like this as much as the Antony and the Johnsons material but this is still really good shit.

  • Mizmor (מזמור) – Yodh. This is what I was listening to, entirely coincidentally, as Milwaukee burned 6 blocks away from our house this past summer. Gorgeous album cover.

  • Charles Bradley – Changes. Charles Bradley covering Black Sabbath? Yes plz!

  • Angel Olsen – My Girl. Awesome music from someone under 30!

  • G.L.O.S.S. – Trans Day of Revenge. More people under 30! It’s nice to be reminded that punk’s not dead, even though the band, sadly, is.

  • Ghost – Popestar. This EP has my favorite song of 2016. It’s a cover of a song by the Swedish band Imperiet, better known as their earlier punk incarnation Ebba Grön. I nominate this as the song that plays if and when our glorious empire burns.

Man and woman learned how to make fire
And the kingdom’s walls were extended
By the fourth day the walls were reaching so far
No one knew where they ended

Now no one heard that voice anymore
And metal cities came to ascend
On the fifth day spring turned into fall
And a rain fell over the land

But no walls can stop such a rain
That keeps on falling forevermore
I was told that by the sixth day
The world was like an open sore

Now who will pray for Babylon
Sing a song to Babylon
On your knees before Babylon
Beat that drum because Babylon is falling

*****

Other shit that is good, but slightly less good than the aforementioned:

  • Sumac – What One Becomes
  • World Be Free – The Anti-Circle
  • Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
  • Alcest – Kodama
  • Direct Hit! – Wasted Mind
  • Open Mike Eagle & Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival
  • Dinosaur Jr. – Give A Glimpse of What You’re Not
  • Bob Mould – Patch The Sky
  • A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
  • Brujeria – Pocho Aztlan
  • Panopticon – Revisions of the Past
  • Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

Police officer indicted in the shooting of Sylville Smith

Against all odds, Dominique Heaggan-Brown will be charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of Sylville Smith on August 13th. In the immediate aftermath, the police and mayor claimed there was unequivocal video evidence that Sylville was armed and pointing a gun at the officer. Later, once the unrest had died down, it was admitted that the footage wouldn’t “answer every question.” And now, Heaggan-Brown is charged, which is in addition to the unrelated charges of 2nd Degree Sexual Assault and Solicitation. It’s impossible to know how much the latter charges factored in the decision to indict on the murder charges. A cynic might wonder if the authorities decided he was an acceptable sacrificial lamb due to his other alleged transgressions. A different police shooting, that of Jay Anderson, with questionable video evidence resulted in no charges, and for some reason, far less notoriety. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include another local story from last week about an officer involved death in which there’s clear video evidence of federal agents hitting a man with a car, and the agency in question claiming the man shot himself.

As welcome of a development as this Heaggan-Brown’s indictment is, it’s almost impossible to be optimistic for a conviction. If Michael Slager, who clearly murdered Walter Scott, can get away with it, what hope is there?

The shooting occurred four blocks from our house. The burned down gas station was seven blocks away. The trashed liquor store is two blocks away. During this, well-meaning but patronizing friends and relatives offered for my wife and I to retreat to the safety of the suburbs. How privileged we were to have even had that option.

Below is what I posted to Facebook the day after the shooting (and only lightly edited). The intended audience was those who were surprised or confused by the events, and any closet bigots I had on my friends list. It was my way of putting into words everything I wanted to express about the situation.


I post so rarely, but I thought an incident like last night warrants something, seeing as we live a mere six blocks from the events. That’s pretty close! We didn’t really notice anything amiss until around 9pm, when we saw redirected city buses on our street. Even then, it didn’t really register aside from absentmindedly noticing sirens, which isn’t uncommon on a Saturday night. At about 9:30pm our local neighborhood app alleged that the gas station was on fire. Standing on the balcony, we couldn’t hear anything. Right before going back in, I heard gunshots and later found out it was from someone firing into the air. Aside from that, and more sirens than usual, our immediate neighborhood was quiet. As a true testament to the, in my mind surreal sense of normalcy of our block, white women were walking their dogs early this morning as if there weren’t riots the previous night. I mowed my lawn in peace listening to a Neil deGrasse Tyson podcast as our cats relaxed contentedly in their catio. So we’re fine, and thanks for your concern.

But none of the above is really the purpose of my first FB post in, I dunno 2 years? I just want people to understand that this did not happen in a vacuum. It’s ridiculously easy for people (some, but not all closet or openly racist) to shake their heads at their perceived social inferiors and lament something to the effect of this not being what MLK wanted (I’ve seen white people say this (please note you shouldn’t say this)).

Did you know that Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the country? (https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/01/25/back-in-time-60-years-americas-most-segregated-city.html).

And that this segregation isn’t entirely accidental – and in addition to its historical legacy is still something that is happening? (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/remember-redlining-its-alive-and-evolving/433065/)

It’s damn near impossible to convince some people that systemic racism is an actual thing, despite the wealth of scholarly research that emphatically confirms how persistent and insidious it is. Moreover, an understanding of this is tied to the founding of America and its abhorrent treatment of black people (among other classes of people, obviously). This isn’t ancient history – the end of the civil rights era didn’t magically usher in an era of pure equality and such thoughts are almost childishly simplistic.

This brings me back to my initial point about how the events of last night did not happen in a vacuum. Solely focusing on specific, discrete situations neglects the overarching systemic issues of historical institutionalized racism and the concomitant associated traumas (i.e. poverty; child abuse & neglect; substance abuse; transient living situations; familial incarceration; domestic violence; nonexistent access to effective schools, etc.). Dealing with any one of them is enough to shatter the hope of any child. Moreover, the aforementioned traumas are additive in nature and largely temporally ongoing events. I hope it sounds like these are exceedingly difficult things to overcome because they really are. Anyone invoking the “bootstraps” myth, or thinking how they’d totally turn out fine growing up poor and black is full of rancid shit. Even being able to move out of the hood to leave such problems behind is exceedingly difficult. I implore everyone who has any connection to Milwaukee to read the profound, heartbreaking book “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist who did the field work for the book in Milwaukee.

(As a brief side-note, I’ve chosen not to bog down this already overlong post with sources, but these are easily found – one can certainly find counter-arguments, but I’d be stunned if they were backed by anything remotely considered peer-reviewed research (Breitbart, Fox News, memes, and your feelings don’t count).

The final topic I’ll address is the relationship between the police and the poor black community mere blocks from my house. It’s unfortunate (aside from the loss of life) that the proximate cause is going to be used by those who think that cops can do no wrong to disparage and dismiss legitimate social concerns. This too is connected to the historical relationship between black communities and police (again events like this don’t happen in a vacuum, yada yada). It turns out police have been pretty rough on black communities since its inception (http://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/brief-history-slavery-and-origins-american-policing). Certainly their relationship can best be described as abysmal up until the civil rights era. Important steps have been made since, but it’s nowhere near sufficient to repair generations of perfectly valid distrust. It’s long been thought that police kill a disproportionate amount of black people, but until recently nothing close to a comprehensive accounting existed. The Ferguson events changed that and its since been definitively confirmed thanks to the monitoring of nongovernmental entities, the ubiquity of social media and cell phone camera technology. The minuscule percentage of police that will even have to go to trial is something also not to be discounted. (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/31/the-counted-police-killings-2015-young-black-men).

Police killings have long been overdue for their spotlight in the national consciousness and it is no longer ignored. Combined with prominent national killings, Milwaukee has had, among others Dontre Hamilton and Jay Anderson, that for whatever reasons didn’t achieve the same level of notoriety. The community that participated in the unrest yesterday is undoubtedly not unaware.

But, but police kill much more white people, you say! This is actually true. I view this primarily as an argument used by those who posit an unearned sense of white stoicism to police violence (“Hey we don’t get mad when they kill us!”). But it’s misleading and reductive to merely state that there are more incidents of police violence against whites than blacks, which is what one should obviously expect with whites comprising 64% of the population, while blacks comprise only 13%. In other words, a blanket statement of the gross amount tells us nothing statistically significant. As the aforementioned Guardian article states: “young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015.”

I prefer not to wade into how often police violence is justified and how that can be determined. To my eyes, it’s philosophically murky. I will say I don’t have too much of an issue with an officer whose life is actually in danger using murder as a last resort. This undoubtedly happens. As for last night, the police claim and the media are reporting that the young man was shot while fleeing and armed – these are the only concrete details known. It hasn’t been disclosed whether or not the police knew who he was beforehand; why he was pulled over; if they knew or had reason to believe he was armed; where on the body he was shot (it’s going to look bad if it’s in the back) and if he pointed a gun at the officers. Hopefully the body cameras can clear this up. If not, there are many reasons for the police to obfuscate what really happened.

So as a thought experiment, and to conclude this long-winded (and no doubt little read) essay, I’m going to attempt to tie everything together. You have a community that’s been historically kept from achieving the American Dream that is sold ubiquitously in our entertainment and media. In Milwaukee, affluent communities are mere minutes away with a level of comfort, safety and material possessions the adjacent poor can only dream of. They are people who have experienced punishing traumas. They, or someone close to them, have experienced police abuse and misconduct that never involves the offending officers receiving consequences. This feeling is reinforced with events from around the country. A young man is shot by police on a hot summer Saturday afternoon in August. A crowd gathers. Friends and family of the victim come and are overwhelmed with emotion. Rumors spread about the manner of death. The veracity of the rumors (which may or may not be true) are irrelevant, as anger spreads through the crowd. The face of the state, the police, are standing right there. Maybe your anger and pain gets the best of you and you throw a brick through a cop car’s window. With that, the fuse is lit and the combination of everything I’ve written about comes to a head, and explodes. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Or, hey, maybe black people are just inherently violent and destructive and stupid. That’s pretty easy to wrap your head around since it involves little to no thought and a complete lack of empathy.

I’m neither intelligent nor arrogant enough to claim I have answers. I don’t. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried – I’m not that naive. But overall, I guess we’re okay.