Wednesday, August 16, 2017

You've Got to Be Carefully Taught

My former publisher is apparently distributing this children's book with "conservative values," featuring a meme from the Anti-Defamation League's list of hate symbols, a secondary character whose nickname mimics that of certain Trumpists, and a villain named Alkah.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Plenty of Good Strong Hating

Driving home from the Chesapeake through Gettysburg on the day after events at Charlottesville, I mused on how the entire Civil War was just a skirmish in the long, long conflict that is race in America. Save for a few months in West Virginia, I have never lived in the South, and what I know of the South I learned from Faulkner, who was a flawed but always interesting lens through which to view the long conflict, the original sin of Native American slaughter and African slavery that underlies and undercuts this nation.

I lived in Chicago when the Nazis marched in Skokie. As a longtime ACLU proponent and a first-amendment lover, I defended their right to march while hating them for marching, and I feel the same way this week about the cretins who marched in Charlottesville. March, but I'm allowed not to acknowledge you in any way. March, but I'm allowed to turn my back, or countermarch, preferably without being killed in the process.

As Faulkner wrote (in Absalom, Absalom!), "When you have plenty of good strong hating you don't need hope because the hating will be enough to nourish you." That's where we're at. It's not that long ago that I could honestly say there was no one in the world whom I hated. No longer. When one of Olivia's former music teachers is on FB spouting European nationalist blather and blaming Soros and Obama for Charlottesville, I have plenty of good strong hating to go around, and I'm remembering how the school put up a Christmas tree and wanted my child to sell Easter candies with crosses on them to raise money for a class trip and belittled her complaints until she won an essay contest with a strong piece about their failure to act on behalf of kids like her. And I recognize, as Faulkner knew in his bones, that the past is not even past, and the hatred that caused my father to have to bypass Irish and Italian neighborhoods on his way to school, because some immigrants were ascendant while others were forever impure, remains bubbling under the surface 80 years later. By stirring the caldera with his hate-speech stick, our president has encouraged the molten crud to erupt and drive furiously right smack over us all, leaving us blinking stupidly in the sunlight and mumbling, "How could this happen?"

Today I'm hating all the people who are talking about Nazis but not about Jews, and all the people who are still convinced that 2016 had nothing to do with racism or misogyny, and all the moms who thought their sons were going to a Trump rally but surely not to a white supremacist rally, and all the Republican leaders who think a tweet is good enough when it comes to standing up to the fascists in the White House. I'm even, a little bit, hating the gentle folks who are opining online that "Hate isn't the answer," and "If we hate, they win."

At the end of Absalom, Absalom! the Canadian Shreve, who has quizzed Quentin Compson many times about his feelings about the Civil War and the postwar South, asks Quentin why he hates the land of his birth.
"I dont hate it," Quentin said, quickly, at once, immediately; "I dont hate it," he said. I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it! 
I get it now.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Who Run the World?

Beyonce notwithstanding, the answer is mostly men in suits. Occasionally mad men in suits and uniforms. Right now we face the unlikely nuclear-powered dyad of Trump v. Kim, with the rest of us mere pawns in their completely nutty chess game.

Nothing new here; Charles VI was crazy as a loon, and Richard II had some kind of unfortunate personality disorder (some have suggested schizophrenia). They faced each other (not directly, but via their combatant soldiers) in the Hundred Years' War, but mostly they enjoyed beheading local enemies, suppressing rebellions, and fending off the treason of close advisers and family members.

The two did manage to negotiate a truce that lasted several years, headlined by Richard's marriage to Charles's seven-year-old daughter, Isabella. Could that work here? Tiffany's single....

Monday, August 7, 2017

Petition Challenges

And we think we have problems. Here in Ithaca, there's a brouhaha over an Independence Party petition filed by a guy who doesn't particularly fit the category of Independence Party, but who has gotten GOP and GOP lite folks to rally around him anyway. I got in a little trouble for saying that it was standard practice to check each other's petitions; around here, it hasn't really been standard practice for a while, because our side learned after a challenge some years ago that went up to the Supreme Court that it was worth getting 1/3 more signatures than we needed just to stave off a challenge. Since that time, the Republican Party in the county has mostly shriveled up and died, and the last challenge they made (unsuccessfully) was to the Certificate of Acceptance in a Dryden village election four or five years back.

But Chuck reminded me today why challenges may prove critical, at least in the Big City. A certain uptown City Council member has a challenger who has mounted a fierce, anti-Semitic campaign. Tenants' Association members in the incumbent's camp gathered signatures from a certain housing project and later were quite surprised to see the same names appear on the petitions for the challenger. Yesterday, Chuck got to go door-to-door with the Tenants' Association folks getting affidavits from tenants stating that their signatures had been forged by someone on the challenger's campaign, presumably by tracing signatures from the voting rolls. There were even signatures from dead folks and people who had moved out. Now it's in the courts. It remains to be seen whether there's enough obvious fraud to toss the challenger off the ballot.  

Being clueless probably shouldn't get you tossed off. But being a crook—an incompetent racist one, at that—surely should.

Keeping the Lights On

My newest TW article, all about how we must rely on local gubmint when the feds no longer represent our interests.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


I had a couple of good conversations today on the petitioning trail. We're trying to get our town and county candidates on a second ballot line (the opposition is going for three this year), the object being to give Republicans and non-Dems a place to vote for our people.

Very few people like to carry petitions; the ones who do tend to be candidates, which I guess is good. It always feels like door-to-door sales, which, in a way, it is. But occasionally you meet new or old like-minded people and have a lively chat. Today's were about solar projects, the east-west divide in Dryden, and our wacky weather.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017