I had quite a productive morning as far as writing poems this morning, squeezed out 4 short ones shortly after waking up, and when I phrase it like that it makes it sound like bowel movements, which is not my intention at all. Each poem is a thought directly from my own head, it’s like with the pensieve, when Dumbledore holds the wand up to his head and voila, a memory is stored. Some people do this with photography, and I generally enjoy looking at pictures, but I’m a bit slack about taking them, and my kids don’t want me taking pictures of them and certainly not sharing them on Facebook, but this is my method, except it’s a record of thoughts and ideas rather than so much where I was and what I was wearing.
There was one that I thought was kind of innocuous and mildly humorous, but one person didn’t think so. Here’s the poem:
What every poor, white person sees
is that white privilege has its degrees
I suppose it could be read a couple of different ways, like maybe I’m talking about college degrees, and how they’re needed to get by, but no, I meant that some people have more privileges than others, that a white person working at a blue collar job, or unemployed, does not have the same amount of privilege as a white person who has a million dollars, which I did not expect to be a controversial position, but the next thing you know, there’s a comment in the thread saying “Fuck off.”
I guess maybe she thought I was being racially flippant, like it’s only my white privilege which would allow me to write a poem like that. Anyway, you can’t please everybody, they say, so I guess my goal in future is to try and please everybody but Dana St. Mary.
Wish me luck.
My recent favorite writer, Caitlin Johnstone, recently wrote a column called “23 Thoughts about Charlottesville.” As is all her work, it was chock full of thought provoking material.
I want to talk specifically about #14. She pointed out that this rally, and the rise in number and membership of extreme right wing groups, is due to social media. True, I’m sure. In the old days, a socially challenged young closet Nazi might make it through high school, even all his life, without linking up with people quite at that equal level of craziness, and would just wind up being a kind of weird guy, with a collection on Nazi memorabilia which he doesn’t show to very many people.
Cat lovers found cat lovers, and the world was stunned to find out how many of them there really were. Poets found poets, artists found artists. That’s what social media does, for good or for bad. It was a major force, I’m convinced, in the Bernie Sanders phenomenon.
That is the superpower of social media. Sure, there will be Nazis, but people of all different persuasions will continue to find each other, which makes the world a more interconnected, more social place, and that’s good.
As far as the evil ones are concerned, probably just as well they’ve come out into the open. It’s like a disease. You can’t find the cure until you’ve actually admitted it exists.
(Whatever else I suggest in this blog, the truth is this: Heather Heyer was killed by a Nazi driving a car. He is the one to blame, and he is the one who must do the time.)
There are a lot of people casting blame every which way, and Trump started it with his ‘violence on both sides’ comment. Some people blame antifa for engaging in violence. I don’t approve of violence, as a general rule, but it’s pretty clear that antifa didn’t actually start any of the street skirmishes. They were also much less heavily armed than the Nazis.
We may disagree on methods, but they are still people I could be friends with.
Some people blame the police. They stood back and let the violence happen. That’s true. They were useless. But, that’s almost always true. Often, they are worse than that.
One Facebook friend was holding forth today that the authorities of the good city of Charlotte were to blame, for granting the Nazis a permit. Well, they tried to deny the permit but the ACLU took them to court, and won.
So, you could blame the ACLU if you’re so inclined, but I’m not. The ACLU was absolutely correct. Nazis should have the right to assemble, and speak. However, it would not have been wrong for the city to attach a couple of conditions to that permit, such as: 1. Don’t bring guns. I’ve been to left wing rallies, peaceful rallies, where police confiscated people’s signs because ‘the sticks could be used as weapons.’ 2. Don’t kill anybody.
That second one is really important.
I see another party to blame here. It was the car. Sure, it was that loser what’sisname from Ohio, but if he hadn’t had a car, Heather Heyer would still be alive today. Once you’ve identified the culprit, the solution is clear: driverless cars.
They will also eliminate automobile accidents, traffic jams, road rage, and the frustration of trying to find a parking place. Just a win-win all around.
Not infrequently, someone in the public eye will say something, and someone with a sharp eye and a long memory (sometimes a journalist, sometimes just an amateur with a social media account) will locate an old video of them saying the exact opposite. There are actually compilations of Hillary doing that. With Trump, it’s not hard to find them at all.
But I’ve never seen it happen faster than it has with Chris Cantwell, one of the Nazis who was at the riots in Charlottesville. I watched this video earlier this afternoon: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/08/vice-news-just-released-chilling-must-watch-footage-from-behind-charlottesvilles-battle-lines/
In it, he brags that his side had no casualties as opposed to the one dead on the counter-protesters side, said there were going to be more fatalities in the future, and shows off all his guns. He comes across as a scary guy, one you wouldn’t want to meet. I was very impressed with the journalist, Elle Reeve, who managed to keep her cool while surrounded by bloodthirsty, racist Nazis.
Then there is this one: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2017/08/watch-neo-nazi-leader-cries-like-baby-hes-wanted-arrest/ of the same character whining and actually sniffling and crying like a scared toddler who’s lost his mother on the subway. He heard that there was an arrest warrant out for him (good) and said he’s terrified and doesn’t know what to do.
It’s the complete lack of self-awareness that surprises me. I mean, he must have known that the tearful video would not make him look good. Not manly. Not tough.
But, he posted it anyway. What a dope.
The first video is about 20 minutes long, but it’s worth watching. The second one is standard Facebook meme length, about 2 or 3 minutes.
I highly recommend watching both.
And yes, Chris, we are laughing at you. Not with you.
Very often, I see my liberal Facebook friends posting about Trump’s latest outrage and I click over to see, and think “Well, they were exaggerating that one a bit.” Partly that’s because we all tend to exaggerate to make our point and partly it’s because we are almost immune to Trump doing and saying stupid things. He is a stupid man, after all.
Well, I thought it would be like that when I saw people posting “Trump totally LOSES it at press conference,” especially as that’s one phrase I think is overused. I see ‘totally loses it’ in the teaser and think ‘eh, maybe said something uncool.’
But, no, he kind of lost it. Lost the thread, gave up on any semblance of human decency. Said there were some fine people at the Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Said they weren’t all white supremacists, and they were viciously attacked by left wingers who didn’t have a permit.
I know that you can’t trust TV footage 100%, but there sure were a lot of Nazi flags there, and the Nazis are most famous for sending 8 million people to their deaths in concentration camps, and starting a war that killed 18 million. They were not nice people, and anyone trying to revive their ideology is not a nice person.
Now, Trump has basically come out on their side. The Nazi side. If that’s not grounds for impeachment, we should make it so.
He also talked a lot about infrastructure, and seemed to think the way to repair it is to remove all regulation. Yeah, think about that next time you drive across a bridge.
If you are one of those reading my blog who prefers not to see bad language, skip to paragraph 2 and you’ll still get the gist of what I’m saying, but Trae Crowder (google him if you don’t know who I mean, or YouTube), the Liberal Redneck, is a seriously funny guy. “Saying you’re a patriotic American while you’re carrying a Nazi flag, or a Confederate flag, is like arguing against gay marriage with a dick in your mouth.”
Now, that’s a funny line. Especially when delivered with an Appalachian accent.
Trae Crowder is a rarity among political comedians – he’s actually funny. Unlike Jimmy Dore and Lee Camp, who I like and listen to, but it’s mostly because I agree with their political views. They seldom make me laugh out loud.
Looking back a few decades, they remind me a lot of George Carlin. Not the early George Carlin, where he did stand up on a variety of subjects and was great, like his Hippy-dippy weatherman routine, but the ones of the older, more bitter Carlin, which get posted to Facebook again and again. Those are just political rants, and devoid of heartfelt belly laughs. My Bernie friends all love him. The best I can say is I usually agree with him.
The world needs more laughs, and just reciting a litany of how messed up the world is and how ridiculous the opposition’s policies are is not humor. There’s got to be a joke in there somewhere. Trae Crowder’s got that.
There are 3 ways in which I think the mainstream media is missing the mark on the events in Charlottesville. First, they are basically just talking about what happened and not talking nearly enough about the people involved. I first glanced at Facebook at about 9 a.m. (Prague time, but it doesn’t matter.) That’s where I learned the victim’s name. Heather Heyer. Anti-racist. Paralegal. 32. Quite pretty. Last Facebook post “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
I turned on the T.V. Alternating between BBC and CNN, it was about 3 in the afternoon (Prague time) before I heard them mention it. Maybe they did, I don’t have proof of a blackout (or reason to think there was one, except for general distrust of the media), but it definitely was not their emphasis.
Second, their conflation of her death with those of the two cops who died in a helicopter crash, hours later, while observing the area. Unless somebody shot the helicopter down, the two incidents are completely unrelated, yet I heard one poor announcer on CNN, who was undoubtedly reading from a script, start a sentence with the car and end the very same sentence with ‘in the helicopter crash.’ I got the feeling even she was embarrassed.
But both of those can be put down to sloppy editing, being in a hurry to get the story out, and the inherent confusion of an ongoing, violent situation.
Where I really take exception is the way people are lambasting Trump’s statement. Not that it doesn’t deserve to be lambasted. What he said was “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”
All of the pundits are angry with him for not specifically condemning the racist neo-Nazis who were responsible for the violence. Eh. He probably should have, but that’s one thing that bothered me about so many of the criticisms of Obama. The Republicans just kept shrieking that he didn’t use the word ‘terrorist’ enough, that his statements lacked the bellicosity she craved.
What bothered me was not what he didn’t say, but what he did. “On many sides, on many sides.” Bullshit. The white supremacists showed up with guns, pepper spray and shields. It was one of them driving the car. Except for a few fistfights here and there, which require two participants and are very seldom fatal, 100% of the violence came from the racist’s side.
His statement was wrong, and it was designed to muddy the waters, and change the argument. “Both sides do it.” That’s what he was saying.
But both sides don’t. That’s the reality. I wish at least one of them would point that out.