I’m back and I’m political

It’s been awhile, months even, since I’ve posted. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, and a lot of talking (face-to-face) with people particularly skilled in the art of communication. I’ve come to terms with many things about myself, my life . . . . Introspection, I believe, is the term. It’s been rough. But it’s been real. In the 39 years I’ve been alive I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve done some things I regret. I’ve misunderstood the way the world works. I’ve always thought I was enlightened but I was wrong. And now I can no longer stay silent in my safe white male privilege about the situations arising everywhere. Better late than never, right?

Anyway.

Here’s what I got.

To those marching, I support you and though I was not able to make it out last weekend, I’m sure there will be more. When there are, I will go and be a white male shield if that’s what I need to be. To those protesting, I support you and will join you as well. Hell, to those rioting, I can find reasons to support you too, for it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Much like him, I don’t like violence. That said, much like him, I get it . . . and the future isn’t written so who knows . . . someday I may join you too. I may not have grown up a minority, but I spent the first 10 years of my life bouncing from trailer park to trailer park. My children both benefited from Iowa’s WIC program. I’ve been poor. Because of that, I’ve felt unheard. True, my white male privilege has prevented me from feeling it as keenly as minorities, immigrants, women, the LGBTQIA community, and many many others, but I’ve felt it.

Anyway.

While Trump and his cronies have duped many like me into believing someone with power is finally listening to the little people, they haven’t duped all of us. The size of the marches says this. The overwhelming anti-Trump content on social media says this. The underwhelming size of the crowds at the inaugural parade and festivities says this. The fact that many of us are noticing that Trump’s inaugural speech was (among other things we won’t speak of) about giving America back to the people, while his first official act made it slightly more difficult for the poor to get and maintain homes, says this. The fact that Trump’s press secretary’s first official press conference was a vitriolic lie parade says this. The fact that Trump’s advisor went on Meet the Press and used the phrase “alternative facts” to describe Spicer’s (the press secretary) lies and was summarily destroyed by Chuck Todd . . . and the internet says this.

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I don’t know who made this, but the person is a satirical genius.

Anyway.

It also says something else, something better.

It says that Trump’s presidency, Brexit, and the rest, are not symbolic of the end of an era of Change. Rather, they are the petulant and ignorant dying gasps of an outdated mode of thought. As I observe this moribund shift, I’m reminded of Denethor from JRR Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Denethor fears Change too. Denethor blames others for his woes. He cries foul at his friends and falls victim to the whims of his enemy. While outside his fortress, his people fight actual evil invaders, Denethor, because of his fear, succumbs to the Eye of Sauron. As he succumbs, he tries to murder his son and eventually kills himself on a brutal pyre. Trump, and those who follow/agree with him, are Denethor. If left unchecked, their fear will lead to policies that will destroy the world and the society we’ve built, and in that destruction, so too will they fall. But that is something they refuse to see, for they are blinded by fear. It is not so much that they are all racists or that they are all homophobes or bigots. Many of them are simply afraid of Change. They are afraid because their ideals have no place in our ever progressing world. They are fading fast. Unfortunately, much like a dying animal, that is when they are most dangerous.

We progressives, however, are not afraid of those afraid of Change. We are also not afraid of White Nationalists (Nazis). We are not afraid of racists, homophobes, and those who mock wisdom, intelligence, and education. We are not afraid of the climate change deniers and those who hide hate behind religious rhetoric. We are not afraid of the super rich and remarkably unqualified who will make up the next presidential cabinet. We are not afraid of the politicians (on both sides of the aisle) who have lied and lied and lied and hoarded wealth like hundreds of Scrooge McDucks. We are not afraid of their talking heads, any of them.

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Here is where Scrooge McDuck keeps his money… I wonder where your senator keeps his… probably right next to his all-inclusive healthcare.

Instead, we pity them and the impending end of their rule, of their ideals, and their selfishness. We pity them and their inability to Change.

Truth be told though, we probably shouldn’t. They have worn blinders and willfully ignored History which is all about Change. In case you’ve missed it, this fear of Change has been and always will be their downfall. I’ll admit, with Trump and Brexit, it looks like they’re going out with a bombastic bang. But Change, much like her brother Time, cannot be stopped. Virtually any history book not published by a massive Texas-based text-book company shows the truth of this statement.

As a middle-aged white man in middle America, I may look like many of those blinder wearing conservatives, but while they gaze longingly at an imagined past with nostalgic (hallucinogenic?) eyes, I, much like Peter Leyden, look to the future with hopeful ones.

 

 

Recognize

I happened upon this video the other day:

The guy in it, Akala, makes some good points. I am particularly taken with the phrase “normalized insanity.”

Also saw this guy:

When I watched it, I was like, “Whoa, Tim Wise is pretty smart too.” He quotes W.E.B Dubois, by referencing ‘the psychological wage of whiteness,’ that rich whites gave to poor whites years ago so they could better control them. Having spent the first 10 years of my life in various trailer parks on the bank of the Mississippi River (as a poor white), I can tell you the truth of this ‘wage of whiteness.’ I’ve seen it in action.

Neither of these men speak in hyperbole or romantic prose. They speak in facts. Put what they say together and it’s hard to deny.

Our society is racist and afraid of difference. It is. There’s no two ways around it. I could cite example after example that starts with European immigrants and explorers’ treatment of indigenous people and goes right on up through to today and the way many people view transgendered individuals. True, it’s not as bad as it has been. However, we’ve reached a point when many of us are waking up to the systemic issues that have plagued society since before any of us were here. Look, Ma, social media isn’t all bad! Racism, of course, is one of those issues. Many of us are seeing that those with power have not only let racism grow in strange, eerie, monstrous ways, but have, to some degree–intentional or otherwise–enforced its growth.

Does all of this mean those of us who point it out are anti-police? Or that I, or anyone who recognizes this racism, place black lives on a higher level than any other lives? No. There are several analogies out there explaining why #blacklivesmatter does not mean all other lives are worthless (I’ll link you to a few if you still need the explanation). I will also offer you this meme:

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It is basically a simplification of points made in Wise‘s speech. In order for things to change we must, as an entire people, work together and recognize that things need changing. We must see through the curtain of controlled racism that has divided and conquered us for ages, and we must, ourselves, change.

When the people change, society does.

It’s kind of how it works . . . .

These are hard truths for some. I know. But when I can regularly walk down the street in the middle of the night, in an area of town some consider ‘bad’ (they’re wrong but whatever), and have little to no fear of police harassment, while a black man my age can’t, there’s a problem. When a man running for president can get cheers from thousands of people when he blames his country’s problems on Mexicans or Muslims, there is a problem. When prisons, schools, and medicine, are corporatized, there is a problem.

When the few control the many (as has been the way since the beginning of our great oligarchy), there is a problem.

The problem is there. The best way to solve it is to first recognize it exists.