Cultists

You really are never too old to learn.

I’m 60 and experiencing something new.  For the first time in my life, I’ve started to hate a whole class of people.

I’ve hated individuals before.  Institutions as well.

But a class of people..well, that is new.  I go to bed at night hating them, and I wake up in the morning despising them.

They are the Trump voters.  I don’t care about their religion or race or politics, even. I hate them because they revel in being wrong, in lies, in hatred for “the Other”, because they reject even the tiniest bit of basic human decency.

The Trump lovers looked past the sexual harassment, the disparagement of people with disabilities, the lie after lie after lie.  They look past the fact that this individual inherited millions of dollars, lives in a gilt-lined world, and thinks there are very fine people who happen to be Nazis.

The Trump lovers like the lies.  They believe he is an outsider who is non politically correct.  They think that diplomacy and tact are signs of weakness.

They reject any objective reality outside of their understanding.

In other words, they are stupid.  And proud of it.  They hate education because it makes them feel inadequate.  It apparently does not motivate them to educate themselves.  Ignorance can be fixed, but they are not interested in that.  They want to be respected because they are stupid.  They want the rest of us to be as stupid as they are.  In my district, only 85% of people have graduated from high school, and way fewer than that, from college.

Watching the Senate confirmation hearings of Trump nominees is painful.  Men have been nominated to life time appointments to the bench that have never tried a case and have no understanding of the law.  The very, very few females that have been nominated are just as bad.  Betsy DeVos would be hilarious if she wasn’t so freaking dangerous.

The Republican party is all in.  Just witness the Roy Moore debacle in Alabama.  A man who was kicked off of the bench twice for violating the law was supported by the Republican National Committee.  The child molestation claims were icing on the cake.  Some Republicans found the claims credible and still supported the guy.

There is no line they will not cross.  There is no standard of quality.  The only thing Trump lovers want or need is loyalty to Trump.  They are prepared and willing to trash the constitution (especially the Bill of Rights), the separation between church and state, the rule of law…everything that this country was ostensibly founded upon to prop up their awful selection.

The Trump lovers in Congress are willing and maybe even eager for another Civil War.  They are constantly demonizing anyone who questions President Bone Spur.*

They live in a world without nuance.  Without logic.  They live in a faith-based world that demonizes any non-believer.  There is no room for compassion or love or empathy or learning.  They attack everyone and everything that is different.  They believe everything they see and hear from Trump and nothing that anyone else has to offer.  And they don’t see that as dangerous or ill advised in the least.

Which makes them a cult.  Look up that word and it describes, perfectly, the phenomena existing today in the US.

So, I hate them.  I hate them with abiding rage.  And I hate them because I hate them.  Hate feels energizing for a little while, but eventually, it just eats the person up from the inside.  I know this.  I can feel it.  I don’t enjoy hatred, actually.  I would much prefer a world and a country based upon fairness, empathy, justice.

If we survive this administration (and I put the odds at 50/50), we are going to have to deal with the surviving cult members.  When the first Civil War ended, the losing side didn’t go to jail for treason.  They weren’t even tried for treason.

Let’s not make that mistake again.  If we survive this administration, there should be consequences in store for the cultists.

 

*Not my invention.  H/T to Jim Wright.

 

 

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Aarrgghhh

I usually do a year end review, just to check and see how I did on my predictions this year.

But I don’t need to do that, because I know I was pretty right on the money, and that just depresses the hell out of me.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how on earth I’m going to survive another year.  Clearly, something needs to change and it’s going to have to be me.

I want to show you.

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What I want for Christmas is a bunch of indictments.  Failing that, tons of heroin.  I can’t stay informed, stay sober and stay sane for much longer.  The cognitive dissonance is too great.  And the idea that this could go on for years makes me so heartsick I can hardly stand it.

Being right makes me sick.  Where this country is headed will make us all suffer.  Well, except for the one percent.

While the memes have been funny and insightful, the pain of watching this country descend into fascism with the help of people who have sworn to defend and protect the constitution is high.

I guess that makes me a snowflake and a libtard, according to my duly elected “representative.”  According to my moral guidelines, that makes me a patriot.

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American Mourning

Another day, another mass shooting. This time in Las Vegas, with 59 dead at this writing.

I wrote about two other mass shootings, in 2012 and then I stopped.  What is the point, after all?  Money is all that matters.

It’s heartbreaking.

Thoughts and prayers are offered. Because they don’t cost anything.

All of the treasure in lives and money that has been spent on this “war on terror” and I feel more terrified today than ever before. Like the “war on drugs”, this endless war is more about profits than safety. The military/industrial complex has a healthy bottom line and that is all that matters.

At this same time, Congress has gun laws before it. The SHARE act, and two others. Since the US Congress is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA, I expect all of the bills to pass, none of which will make anyone any safer, but will add profits to the gun manufacturers.

The NRA, with a membership of somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 million has the clout to buy legislation.  It’s not the membership that our congress fears, it’s the financiers, aka, gun manufacturers.

Regular citizens have no clout.

The bullshit about calling and writing your “representative” only applies to people living in an area that still has a relatively independent thinker, someone who puts country before party. Those are rare and they are leaving because the money backs ideology. Whether it’s Soros or the Koch Brothers, money is all that matters. The amount of money it takes to run for office these days is just obscene.

We’re expendable.

Meanwhile, American citizens are still suffering in Houston, Florida and it really sucks to be in Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, what with being surrounded by an ocean and all.

The denial of climate change and the denial that guns kill people are coming from pretty much the same people. You know, the people in charge. The people that don’t want us to have an efficient health care system that covers everybody. Those people, who are 100% “pro-life”.  Liars, all.

Every time I hear about rebuilding, I want to vomit. Yeah, rebuild all the same crap and watch the same thing happen all over again. Einstein was right.

And people eat it up! The flag is at half-mast over the Capitol building, so it shows that they care! Because it doesn’t cost anything.

This is what collapse looks like. This isn’t accidental, or even coincidental. All of the damage being done by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and humans cannot be fixed. There isn’t enough money in the world to cover everything that is happening all over the world right now. It’s ludicrous.

We elect people who will not change a thing, because it feels better than having to make hard choices.  We are selfish, destructive morons.  I don’t want to live here anymore.

 

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Turtle Love

I keep seeing turtles.  Specifically, three toed box turtles.  They are a land based turtle that is a sub-species of the Eastern Box Turtle.

I’m seeing them so often now that I can differentiate between them.

DSCN2766I named this guy Mitch.  I was wrong, though.  As you shall see.  These markings on the shell are very different than other of the three toed box turtles.  I wonder why.

DSCN2844This is Mildred.  I’ve seen her most.  She hangs out in the paddock, where the garden is, and around in the bird room, where we have elderberry bushes.  Here, she’s on the pool deck, having just had a poop.  Because of Mildred, I can now identify turtle poop from other kinds.  When I see turtle poop now, I’ll say, “all right, which one of you did this?”

DSCN2884Mildred likes cantaloupe, too.  I saw her nestled into the side of one of the beds, and decided to conduct an experiment.  The cantaloupe had been mostly eaten by some other critter, so I put it on the ground to see if turtles would eat it.  Yup.  Using this same method, I’ve determined that she won’t eat green beans, carrots, or cucumbers.  Loves lettuce and cantaloupe and elderberries.  They don’t have teeth, but they do have strong jaws.

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DSCN2880I’m calling this one Margaret.  She’s smaller than Mildred, but just walked up this morning to have some berries.

DSCN2861This is Milton.  He hangs out near the little orchard on the east side of our house.  He is much shyer than Mildred, who seems to be the most outgoing three toed box turtle on the property.

Although, not all that shy.  I saw him approach her, and sort of spin her around.  She would try to walk away, and he wasn’t about to let that happen.

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I’ve been reading a bit about turtles, since stumbling over them so much.  They are omnivores.  They are very attuned to their environment and are constantly needing to adapt to temperature changes.  They need moisture.  So now I water various piles of leaves around the house, since I see them nestled under a pile of leaves so often. These turtles seem to have adopted certain areas around the house.  It’s been pretty dry.  This is the first time in three years here that I’m seeing 3 to 4 different turtles every day.  It’s cool.  But it worries me.

DSCN2817While eating breakfast the other day, we spotted this couple just outside the window.  Apparently, turtle breeding season goes on all summer long.  Since turtles are sparse, they kinda gotta grab the opportunity to mate whenever they come across one another.

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This is how I found out that Mitch was female.  So now, her name is Michelle.

I really don’t mean to be a turtle sex voyeur, but they are doing it right in front of me.  This guy had a style all his own, and he looked to be having such a great time, I took video.  This encounter took over an hour, and I didn’t see the dismount, but she dragged him around a little, and his head would go back and I could just see the thought bubble (Oh Baby!  Yeah!).  The males hook their clawed back feet into the females shell and ride them, literally.

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Mildred gets around.

Females can apparently decide when to fertilize the eggs.  So maybe she’s selecting the best of the bunch.  They lay eggs at night in sandy soil, according to the experts.  We’ve only seen one baby turtle in the three years we’ve been here.

According to what I’ve read, box turtles are most active right before or right after a rain.  I’ve seen them after a rain, for sure, but there are at least four different turtles wandering around our house at the moment and we haven’t had rain for days and aren’t forecasted to have any for days.  It’s strange.  I’ve looked in the various books I have and online, and people really don’t know shit.  Some sources say they don’t travel widely at all, others say they can travel 5 to 6 miles a day and that females, in particular, move around to look for the perfect place to lay her 3 to 8 eggs.  Some sources say they can live for over 100 years, others say 50 to 60 years.

Turtles are reptiles and have been on this earth for over 250 million years.  Sorry, creationists.  Box turtles are hinged, which means that they can close up their shells very tightly.  They aren’t born with that, though.  Their shells are soft and unhinged which makes them very vulnerable to predators.

These guys are under threat due to shrinking habitat.  And cars.  And idiots that use them for target practice (which is illegal, but idiots don’t care).

All of the turtles in Missouri are protected, with only two of the aquatic species considered game.  Those can be taken for food only under certain circumstances.

Supposedly, turtles mate and lay eggs in spring.  But all of these matings took place in September.  Maybe this is a last party before they dig themselves a space beneath the frost-line and go to sleep for a few months.

Most of September was hot and dry.  We’ve cooled off the past few days, with highs in the 70s.  I haven’t seen a turtle since.  I miss them.

 

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Mainlining Books

I’m a book addict.

When events overwhelm me, I reach for a book. Losing myself in a story is the best way I know to cope with the disappointments in life.

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Increasingly, here in America, reading feels like a revolutionary act.

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Not to brag, but I can and have read a book a day. Not real thin ones, either. I sort of inhale without chewing that first time through. If it’s a good one, I’ll re-read it. Sometimes right away. Other times, not.

I’ve missed some things that way, but I can’t help it. A compelling story grabs me and I’ve got to find out what happens next.

All of which is kind of preamble to confessing that I’ve joined a book club.

I’m not real big on joining anything, ever. But I’ve admitted to being a bit lonely here in the deeply red state of Missouri, and I love books so much that I’m willing to gamble that other people who love books will not be total assholes.

And so far, it’s going okay.  The club meets once a month, for one hour. It’s all white, all women over the age of 50, about 10 or 11 of us. The list is selected in advance. It’s generated by the club members, each one recommending one or two books. I’ve read everything I’m interested in reading from their lists of last year and this year.

I’m already obsessing over how the hell I’m going to recommend one book. One book! That’s torture! There are so many!

And I take the act of recommending a book or an author extremely seriously. To admit to loving a book is a revealing act. It tells what moves you, what makes you think. And there is a jealousy in it as well, because when I read a great book, or a great sentence, I’m jealous of that skill/talent. I only recommend books (or authors) I really love. And, I try to match a book to the reader, if possible.

I was recently introduced to Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Series. Book one was on my book club’s list for last year. Book two is this month’s read. Well, there is no way in hell that an obsessive compulsive like myself can read this year’s without reading last year’s first. And I found the books sufficiently compelling that I ordered the whole thing. It’s ferocious story telling. Not for the faint of heart, and not because of the violence, of which there is some, but because of the truth telling about women’s friendships, and humanity in general.  The series covers a friendship over five or six decades, and everything that is life is in there.  It was disappointing, but not surprising, that none of the other book club members were sufficiently interested in reading the series, and that most didn’t like the second book.  I don’t fit in anywhere anymore.

The pressure of selecting one book sends me down to my library. The library is arranged so that the non-fiction is on one side of the room, and my fiction is on the other, alphabetically by author. The non-fiction is grouped by subject matter. So, for instance, all American history is on one shelf, despite being by different authors. A Sorrow in our Heart, the story of Tecumseh, is near Washington, for instance.

I’ve got a raft of books about Katrina, all by different authors. A section on plagues and viruses. I get into a subject and read to satiation, I guess. Another large section on the “war on drugs.” More on evolution and the paleolithic. Nature is another big section.  Then there are memoirs, biographies and autobiographies.

Decision number one, then, is fiction or non-fiction? I have no idea how to decide that. Although, it does seem that the non-fiction tends to be weightier, thicker, more pages than fiction. And I don’t want people to hate me for “making” them read a big ass book. Because, as I’ve learned, not everyone reads or wants to read a book a day. I’m weird and I know it.

If I just focus on fiction, it’s worse. There are certain authors I love, just love everything they’ve written. How to select one? I love them for different reasons, none more important than another.

Maybe what I should do is to count how many books I have by one author and pick my favorite book by that writer. That would make Larry McMurtry the winner (21),* and that would make Lonesome Dove my pick for the club. But jeez, Lonesome Dove is 945 pages. I’m trying to make a friend, not enemies.

Genre comes up in our club discussions. Several of us have said that we don’t like science fiction or fantasy. Few of us, even those with grandkids, have read any of the Harry Potter books. I read Tolkien in my teens and never felt the need to re-visit. Comic books I left behind even earlier. Frankenstein is on our list. I’ve never read it, don’t really want to, and haven’t decided if I will or not.

I used to read lots of mysteries, but I get bored with formulaic writing. That happens faster with some authors than others, and hasn’t happened yet with a few (Minette Walters, I’m talking about you).

I’ve read romances, but again, the formulaic conventions get old. Never got into westerns, except for Larry McMurtry.

Though reading needs to be encouraged, it is surprising that some people essentially read the same book, over and over again.   That’s how formulaic some of these genres can get, and is a very good reason to expand beyond genre.

Authors that surprise me are the ones I go back to again and again. Not just with plot, but with insight or humor or a concept or a character; something that stays with me after I’ve finished a book. Most of the writers in my fiction library are white, probably mostly male, but I enjoy the hell out of writers who take me inside of another culture, time, or place.  Maybe that’s why I don’t feel an urge to travel.  A good book can take me to a place, share it’s history, it’s culture, it’s people, with a depth and insight no tourist could approach.

But as I’ve said previously, I learned that I’m a middle brow from Susan Jacoby’s book, The Age of American Unreason. So while my reading tastes may not be mass market, I’m hardly an intellectual. There are a whole bunch of dead white guys I’ve never read, and probably never will.

When I’m between books, I get kinda like an addict needing a fix…restless, short tempered, bitchy.  I’m between books, right now.  Just finished Sherman Alexie’s new one, called You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.  It was beautiful.

You’d think, with my impatience, that ebooks would be right up my alley.  You would be wrong about that, and I can’t even tell you why, exactly.  I have a Kindle, and just didn’t like it…didn’t like having to charge it, didn’t like how it felt in my hands…it felt so wrong.  Fortunately, the plastic casing over the wiring disintegrated, and now I have an excuse to not use it anymore.

So, as a reader, I’m still stunned to find myself living in a country that is actively devaluing knowledge, education, learning, and where alternative facts, fake news, science denial, and ignorance of history is preferable to reality.  The Dark Ages were awful enough that I’m amazed people want to repeat them.

Dictators share at least one characteristic in common:  They want to control what people know, what they think, and what they say.  There is a good reason that Mao Tse Tung and his regime burned books by the thousands, closed universities, and otherwise discouraged independent thought.  He said, “the more books you read, the more stupid you become.”

I will take that as a compliment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Not everything he’s written, just what I own.

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Gravity Grateful

The rocket was beautiful. In conception it had been shaped by an artist to break a chain that had bound the human race ever since we first gained consciousness of earth’s gravity and all its analogs in suffering, failure, and pain. It was at once a prayer sent heavenward and the answer to that prayer: Bear me away from this awful place.
Michael Chabon, Moonglow

 

 

You might have heard that there is a solar eclipse coming on August 21, 2017.

Our area is in a tizzy of excitement. We are smack dab in the middle of the swath for visibility, assuming the weather cooperates.

I now have a new brag….my totality is longer than yours. Here in the bible belt, where denial of science is pretty strong, we will have 2 minutes and 41 seconds of totality. I don’t think there are too many areas that are gonna be blacked out longer than we are. I hope no witches get burned.

We’ve got our handy dandy solar eclipse glasses and I’ll set up a camera on a tripod to take some photos, but other than that, I can’t get too excited. When I look at the stars at night, it’s never occurred to me to want to be anywhere else but right here on Earth.

Unlike many, I have never once experienced the feeling that I’m a “lonely slave to gravity”, as Michael Chabon notes in his latest book, Moonglow. I loved the book, actually, even if I don’t share the idea that it’s Earth that causes suffering, failure and pain. I believe it’s humanity that causes all of that, and one can’t escape humanity in space.

There are a lot of really smart people who think we are going to colonize Mars once we’ve completely trashed the Earth. Elon Musk is gonna save us! Go Space X!

That sounds like a fabulous existence. To never breathe air, to have no trees, no insects, no birds, no sunlight, no oceans, lakes or streams, living underground to escape our complete and total destruction of a world of plenty. If you really want to live on Mars, just wait. Earth will be a lot like it soon enough.

Underground bunkers, completely dependent upon a 4 year travel time span from Earth to Mars…boy, that sounds great! But if you ever say anything like that out loud, immediately you get accused of being anti-science.

If you ever question the wisdom of exporting humanity into space, holy moly, stand back and be told that we must follow our brains wherever they will lead us. Homo Sapiens will not be denied our right to infect the universe with our brilliance!

All of which explains why I’ve never been into science fiction or fantasy as a genre. It’s the height of hubris to think that aliens would come here. If there are aliens, I suspect they are avoiding us with everything in their power. We are trashing a perfectly beautiful planet with our wanton reproduction and consumption and now, with so little left to consume, we look outward for more.

Now, that is a species to keep quarantined. I hope we never make it, for the good of the rest of the universe.

Imagine strip-mining other planets. Won’t that be great? Mountain top removal, drilling, polluting in zero gravity must be a capitalists wet dream. We can export our willingness to kill anything that gets in our way.

Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re on track to burn up or flood pretty much the entire earth within a decade or so. Not enough time to build whatever we will need to build and then transport it to another planet (and Mars seems to be the one we’ve decided upon. Poor Mars). Gonna be difficult to re-supply Mars from Earth when the Earth is depleted. It’s interesting how smart people ignore that reality.

I admit I haven’t been following the mass delusion surrounding Space X, so I’m unsure of what the plan(s) may be for the size of the first colony, but I think we should have a worldwide betting pool on when the first murder happens. I can see someone killing someone else over a can of peaches, can’t you?

The first group would be so carefully selected and vetted and stress tested before being launched out into the void. Four years in a spaceship together and then at least another four underground or in some kind of enclosed space with no possibility of relief in the near term. To be in a human generated human echo chamber for years. That is a prescription for madness.

But, no, I’m not against space exploration. It’s the idea of colonization that seems to me to be a very, very bad idea. We have zero evidence that humans can behave better on another planet. We’ve got about 45,000 years here on earth of evidence to the contrary.

From homo Neanderthalis and the wooly mammoths, extirpation and destruction follow in our wake.

I could get nervous about this, except for the fact that I’m pretty confident it won’t happen. I just don’t think there is enough time left. Especially now, when we have a “leader” as ignorant and hateful as Money Boo Boo.

For me, Earth is beautiful. Existence and life are not the same thing, and life includes water and air, sun, warmth, wildlife, flora and fauna and all that is not man made.  I’m grateful for gravity.

 

 

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Race

It’s always been hard for me to tell the difference between denial and what used to be known as hope.    – Michael Chabon, The Wonder Boys

 

 

I’ve written several shitty first drafts on the subject of race and racism in America. I haven’t posted them. I keep asking myself what I have to add to the subject, since I’m a middle class white woman.

The answer, of course, is my own experiences.

One of the most revolutionary moments I’ve experienced is drenched in irony.  I was working in a corporation at the time, in human resources, and one of the training materials we used were videos by a guy by the name of Morris Massey, a professor of marketing and sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

His thesis was and is that our values are formed by where we lived and what was going on there when we grew up. Our values are formed by the age of 10 or so. He went on to say that he was born and raised in Waco, Texas, so “of course, I’m a racist.”

That just floored me! A white man admitting to being a racist? I was in my 30s by then and that was the first time I had ever seen a white person admit to being racist.

That has stayed in my mind for 30 years now.

I’ve lived in all-white suburbs and gone to all white schools. I learned about history from textbooks written by white people, taught by white people. Of course I’m a racist.

I could expand this and say that I’m American so of course I’m a racist. I’m not saying this is something to be proud of, you know. I’m saying this because, if we never admit this to ourselves, we will never grow, never learn, and just keep repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again and I’m bored with the same stupid mistakes. I would like us to make some new ones before we go extinct.

Science is quite clear about race: there is only one, the human race. Modern humans walked out of Africa and skin color, eye shape and color, etc., are evolutionary strategies, nothing more. We are all related to one another and we are all related to most everything here on earth.

But America is particularly fucked up. This country was founded on genocide and built with slavery and we have never, and probably will never, acknowledge that past. It’s been, excuse the pun, whitewashed in our history books. George Washington, the richest man in America, the one who lusted after land and was a large slave owner, was the father of our country.  Native Americans called him Town Destroyer. And he was among the enlightened class.

That was just the beginning. It has never ended.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his book, Between the World and Me, notes “My experience in this world has been that the people who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of personal exoneration. And the word racist, to them, conjures, if not a tobacco spitting oaf, then something just as fantastic – an orc, troll, or gorgon…….There are no racists in America, or at least none that the people who need to be white know personally.”

“Need to be white”…now there’s a phrase that’s made me stop and think. Do I need to be white? Or do I count myself as such because that’s what I’ve been trained to think?

Racism, it strikes me, is a spectrum of beliefs and opinions.

If the tobacco spitting oaf (and the KKK) is on one end of the spectrum, the smooth and likable CEO of any company anywhere might be on the other. These people don’t hate blacks. They just don’t want to live anywhere around them, have their children go to schools with black or brown kids, and only hire them because of those pesky government regulations. They are “the other”. And it is all about comfort level.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, of Bickmore West Virginia, after the election, posted this on Facebook: “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an Ape in heels.” And Beverly Whaling, the mayor of Clay, WV, posted this: “Just made my day, Pam.”

Both lost their jobs in the shit storm that followed. Both women said exactly what every white person has ever said after something like this…..”I’m not a racist.”

Melania Trump is an illegal immigrant, a woman who has posed nude, who may or may not have worked as a high class call girl, and has had so much plastic surgery that she looks weird. She’s lied about having a college degree. And she plagiarizes.

She is white. The “ape in heels”, who possesses two college degrees and was a wonderful first lady, is not.  Michelle Obama, objectively, showed kindness, graciousness, class, but strength, too. If black can’t be admired under any circumstances, isn’t that racism?

Donald Trump’s father was a member of the KKK. He was a slumlord in NYC. What do you think Donald grew up hearing?

And to think I was excited about Barack Obama’s election to the presidency.

I wasn’t so naive to think that racism in America was dead, or even on the run. But I did think it was a huge leap forward, for a country that codified slavery in our Constitution, and counted black men as 3/5th a human being.

I thought we would finally have some real conversations about race and perhaps even become a bit more enlightened.

Wrong again.

The backlash to Black Lives Matter tell that tale.  It seems to be perfectly legal and okay to murder unarmed black men.  Juries refuse to convict cops.

The struggles of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota further illustrate this. None of the police who are protecting the pipeline are racists. It has nothing to do with “the merciless Indian Savages” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and everything to do with enforcing the law, right?

How can it be that we can have racism without racists?

I was born in 1957, so I became aware of the world in 1967-68. A lot was going on then. The Vietnam war predominated, but Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated around that time, as well.

Right around then, I became aware of the Holocaust.

I was waking up to human’s propensity for needing a scapegoat, for needing violence, for exclusion and all of our other less than stellar behaviors. That was not the way I framed it to myself, of course. I believed for decades that people were basically good and that evil existed in only a few.

Live and learn. I’ve done both, and yet, I’m still so surprised, still so stunned that the same shit happens over and over again.

The travel ban and fear and loathing of Muslims….been there, done that. Someone actually asked me (on social media) what was wrong with killing Muslims, since they want to kill us. I responded with common sense: You are more likely to be killed by cancer, an auto accident, or a home grown white guy with an AR-15 than you are by a Muslim.

And I hate religion! Homo sapiens are hardwired to need to tell stories. Religion is just an outgrowth of that. And it’s been used ever since to kill people. It’s strange to defend one set of believers to another set of believers when I think they are all delusional.

Every “ism” is founded in fear.

Today, here in America, it tends to cluster around the Obama’s. People are not rational. It can’t be explained. Objectively, Obama was not the worst president ever. I voted for him the first time and not the second, because I had and have real reservations over drone killing, targeted assassination, and the Patriot Act. Objectively, the ACA came from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, that Mitt Romney used for the Massachusetts miracle. That is one of those stone cold facts. But the reaction to “ObamaCare” is not based upon anything other than race. And simply by reading what republicans say to one another on social media has convinced me beyond doubt that Trump is white backlash. That white hatred is so virulent that they are literally cutting off the country’s nose to spite it for electing a black man.

Slavery was the foundation of western civilization. The slaves changed nationalities, color, religion, sometimes, but slaves did the work so Aristotle and Plato and all those white guys could sit around and think and ask questions. Would the Roman Empire have existed without slavery? Most of us are too damn tired from the fight to survive in this world to do a whole lot of thinking, we’ve just accepted what we saw and heard around us for the first decades of our life. From what I’ve seen of the world in my 60 years, damn few people do much thinking about anything, especially these days. Fewer yet have enough moral courage to examine themselves deeply and find themselves wanting. Fewer still to then make changes.

I have no hope for humanity. That I can be surprised by how awful it is tells me I still have some work to do on the whole denial thing. Apparently, that desire to believe that we are better than our actions is deeply, deeply embedded.

 

 

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