The invisible victims of Trumpism.

blackupsidedownusflag

[CONTENT NOTE: harassment, abuse, assault.]

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the various online accounts (like this one) of violence, harassment, assault and abuse, after the worst elements of our society were emboldened by the election of perhaps the most despicable human being I have known of in my lifetime. Not all of these stories make it to a hashtag much less a news story, and I have a sickening feeling there are orders of magnitude more of them that don’t than do. Here is one from a dear friend of mine, posted here with permission (names and other identifying details have been altered):

[Read more…]

So sorry, world.

flagdown

We the People suck. The deadly contagion of right-wing conservatism in the US will no longer be restrained, however tenuously and imperfectly. It has been unleashed to destroy the earth like flesh-eating bacteria. It will start, as it always does, with more death and harm to the bodies of the most marginalized among us, and eventually work its way to harming the very people who enable it—which is to say, harming almost everyone.

[Read more…]

Nine Eleven.

I wasn’t going to write anything today about September 11, 2001. I haven’t done so for the last few years, and before that I never said much about it anyway.

But just so you know: I watched the towers burn and then fall that day. I helped my work colleagues evacuate 30 Rockefeller Center that morning, when we still weren’t sure how many hijacked planes were still flying or what landmarks they might still target. I breathed the acrid, yellow air that hung over Manhattan for days. I brought flowers and candles to my local fire station in Hell’s Kitchen, and I wrote sad and grateful messages in a big book they kept there on the sidewalk.

From a high floor at 30 Rock, I heard bagpipes day after day after day after day. The funerals at St. Patrick’s cathedral—so, so many goddamn funerals— could only be seen from the north side of the building, but it seemed no matter where you were, you could always hear those bagpipes. I still recall those days vividly whenever I hear bagpipes.

I find this subject very, very difficult to write about, talk about or think about, and I’m pretty sure I know why. It’s that I am still processing the events of that day, and the wars, opportunistic power grabs and unconscionable greed unleashed over the last fifteen years. It was and still is traumatic.

But it’s a different kind of trauma than any I’ve every experienced, before or since. All of the others were strictly personal. September 11, 2001, and my government’s actions since that day, have profoundly affected not just me, but my city, my country and much of the world. And I have come to realize that the way I am dealing with the grief, the rage, the insights and revelations that come later whether you want them to or not, is much the same: I make art. I make a life. I write.

It is not lost on me that when I write about abortion rights and feminism and rape and abuse, I am also saying something about my own life. And when I write about politics, war, religious conservatives and conservative Democrats, I am also saying something about September 11, 2001.

If I have learned anything on my journey that I can share with you, it’s this: find joy in your day. Today and every day. Bring joy to others where you can. Otherwise, the terrorists really do win.

__________

Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.

Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Robert Green Ingersoll

peacesign

PEACE.

#muschniwogdowis of the day.

Remember that time I invented the exciting new acronym #muschniwogdowis? You know the one: it stands for Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves? Of course you remember. It’s unforgettable! And it just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?*

All right, so it didn’t exactly trend on Twitter as much as I had predicted. Or at all, really—as in, not even a single retweet. But that’s okay! When it comes to humanity’s most breathtakingly brilliant, paradigm-shifting creations (like #muschniwogdowis for example), the inventor is often far, far ahead of her time, and it just takes the rest of the world a while to catch up. Typically after she dies penniless and alone…

:o

Anyway!

[Read more…]

New feature! New acronym! VERY EXCITING.

A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship. –Chalmers Johnson

In the ordinary course of going about my life—you know: tormenting conservatives, torturing faith healers, smashing the patriarchy, extracting $82 billion worth of amusement for readers out of the Religion-Industrial-Complex, sounding the alarm about the deadly squirrel menace, all the usual stuff—I have found myself repeatedly thinking a very specific sentiment: most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves. And to be clear, by “most,” I mean the vast, overwhelming majority.

[Read more…]

Face-punching for social justice: real vs. rhetorical.

[CONTENT NOTE: discussion of violence, violent and bigoted slurs and “jokes”.]

Via my amazing friend Niki at The Orbit comes this news: George Zimmerman punched in face for bragging about killing Trayvon Martin, witnesses allege.

SANFORD, Fla. — The man who said he shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense said he was punched in the face while he was talking to people at a restaurant in Sanford over the weekend.

George Zimmerman and a friend called 911 after a man accusing him of bragging about the fatal shooting punched him in the face, authorities said.

Zimmerman is considered the victim in this case, but witnesses inside Gators Riverside restaurant told authorities that the problem started because Zimmerman was bragging about killing the unarmed teen in 2012.

Witnesses said they overheard Zimmerman say to someone, “I love your tattoos. My name is George Zimmerman, you know, that guy who killed Trayvon Martin?” Witness said Zimmerman also showed his identification card.

I commented at Niki’s (awaiting moderation at the time of this posting), but I wanted to expand on that and clarify a little bit here.

I admit to feeling a certain amount of righteous satisfaction from this incident. If there is anyone who deserves a punch in the face, it’s George fucking Zimmerman. Taking a step back though, I wish it was the rhetorical equivalent of violence, and not actual violence. Neither Trayvon’s murder nor Zimmerman’s acquittal happened in a vacuum; they happened in a culture where violence is normalized, expected, and in the case of “stand your ground” laws, practically encouraged.

For example, I’d love to see bros getting right in Zimmerman’s face and telling him to STFU or GTFO of every. single. place. he ever enters, making it perfectly clear that he is an unwelcome pariah there, and that there are unpleasant consequences for him, in the real world, as a result of his (right-wing) views and violent actions.

The problem is that this almost never happens. And not just with Zimmerman, but with all conservative douches. They feel perfectly entitled to occupy and dominate any and all public spaces, freely spouting barbaric and counterfactual nonsense, with nary a peep to counter them. Ever. And why wouldn’t they? Sure, there may be a few eyerolls and whispers, but never any real, unpleasant consequences. Quite the opposite, actually: HIGH FIVE, BRO. And like every bully and oppressor, they will always interpret the silence of bystanders as agreement, thereby reinforcing the legitimacy of their unconscionable views in a perpetual bubble of support and encouragement. It’s what I call “conservative privilege.”

I want a world where every time some douchebro (or douchesis?) spews something racist, sexist, homophobic, transantagonistic, ableist, rapey, deadly, dehumanizing, etc. etc., some other coolbro (ideally coolbros and coolsisses) shuts that shit down immediately with CBF (Cat Butt Face) and “STFU or GTFO.” And since I’m fantasizing, with a heavy dose of scathing mockery.

__________

DOUCHEBRO: Look at that fucking n*gger.

COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. You sound like a racist piece of shit. Don’t ever say that word around here.

__________

DOUCHEBRO: Look at that fucking d*ke/f*ggot.

COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. You sound like a homophobic piece of shit. Don’t ever say that word around here.

__________

DOUCHEBRO: Look at that fucking r*tard.

COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. You sound like an ableist piece of shit. Don’t ever say that word around here.

__________

DOUCHEBRO: That hot chick looks totally wasted. I’ma drive that home and hit that. Heh.

COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. That’s rape, you disgusting piece of shit. If I see you go anywhere near her I will have you thrown out of here. [BONUS: alerts bartender and checks on woman to ensure she has safe way home.]

__________

That is how culture shifts.

We will probably always have violent bigots of every stripe among us. We cannot afford to legitimize them. That is precisely what makes the Trump candidacy so dangerous. [<- TW for every goddamn thing at that link.]

Korryn Gaines #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter

The following is a post by my friend and Freethought Blogs colleague Nathan Hevenstone. Nate requested that it be reposted far and wide. I am happy to oblige.

__________

Just when I thought I could start posting lighter stuff…

Cops shoot, kill woman barricaded with little boy wounded in Baltimore standoff (I don’t know if the video in the link shows the shooting… I can’t get it to play. I’m sorry. Be wary just in case.)

In a fit of road rage, Anthony Vigilotti pointed a handgun directly at a police officer, but was arrested later that day without incident. From his mugshot, it doesn’t even look like he received a scratch in the process.

Jed Frazier pointed his handgun directly at police, but “officers and medics took shelter and continued to make contact with Frazier. Shortly before 3 a.m. Police say they broke the windows in the truck and extricated Frazier. Frazier was treated for minor injuries before being taken to the Lawrence County Jail.”

In a quick search, I found a dozen similar stories from July alone. White men, be they mass shooters like Dylann Roof (Charleston), James Holmes (Aurora), or Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson) — or men like William Bruce Ray, Anthony Vigilotti, or Jed Frazier — all live to face a jury of their peers.

Korryn Gaines doesn’t have a violent history. She was a cosmetologist and, according to her friends and family, a doting mother. She should’ve received the treatment that all of those armed white men received. Somehow, in each of those cases, police found in their hearts to overcome their fears without unloading their guns on those men.

That’s white privilege.

It should be noted that at least 682 people have been murdered by the police this year.

korryngaines

Korryn Gaines posing with her son over her back. Both look very happy.

I really want to say more. I’d like to say how enraged I am, how every time I post something like this, I do it through tears. And that is 100% true. I’m in tears now.

But so fucking what? What do my rage and my tears accomplish?

For those who are already dead, nothing.

I can support Black Lives Matter, and they are still dead.

I can post about them, and they are still dead.

I can show pictures of them being people, and they are still dead.

I can vote, and they are still dead.

I can donate money, and they are still dead.

I can talk about my white privilege, and they are still dead.

I can get out in the streets, and they are still dead.

These people, whose lives did fucking matter, at least to me, are now dead, never to see their children grow up, never to see or meet their grandchildren, or great grandchildren, never to see how there lives would progress into the future…

Because they were murdered by the damn state. Everything I try to do to make some kind of small change, to support a future where this doesn’t happen, doesn’t help the ones who are already dead.

But it can help those who are still alive, and still in danger. I can at least do something for all of you still breathing because, so far, the cops have seen fit to let you live.

God I’m sorry. It means nothing, but I’m sorry. We white people have to make it stop. Things have to change. And I’ll keep using my privilege and my platform to speak up, for those of you who are still alive, because your lives DO FUCKING MATTER. And until this country accepts that, I won’t stop saying it.

 ________

Thank you, Nate.

blacklivesmatter

Thoughts on Paul Jay interview with Henry Giroux.

Paul Jay of The Real News had an interesting discussion (in two parts) with author and scholar Henry Giroux about a potential Trump presidency and its implications for democracy. In normal times, I would find Giroux laughably hyperbolic when he says, for instance, that under a Trump presidency the world is in serious danger of nuclear war, or that political dissent would be criminalized.

These are not normal times.

[Read more…]

This message is for white people.

policearrestingpeacefulblackprotestorImage via The Love Life Of An Asian Guy.

I am ashamed to admit that in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Alva Braziel and the police shootings in Dallas I have felt so overwhelmed, angry, sad, helpless and unable to concentrate long enough to write coherently about them or the larger context surrounding them. I say “ashamed,” because I am aware that my reaction is a speck of dust compared to the universe of pain, rage, injustice and fear in which black people are forced to dwell in this country 24/7/365. No matter how much I may be reeling, I can always check out, post goofy shit for sale on the Internet, cry into my cocktail and generally go along on my merry way. There is no fucking escape for them.

I felt some measure of relief when I read this post by my friend Dana Hunter. It’s a compilation of practical actions that all of us can take to help turn this sorry state of affairs around—and turn it around we must. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to process grief by doing something specific that is asked of me by those more directly affected, even the smallest action, even if I am pessimistic about it making any difference at all. The fact is, it’s worth doing not only because it makes me feel productive and useful, but because all great movements for change require countless small actions by countless people, most of them unseen and unsung. These things add up. Mere drops in the ocean form the great wave.

With Dana’s kind permission, I am sharing her post here in its entirety.

[Read more…]