July 31, 2016

An Open Letter to My Fellow Progressives

 As I type this letter, I find myself disturbed by the ugliness of this election cycle. Not liberals vs conservatives -I'm incredibly used to that- but, left vs left.

Allow me to elaborate.

I joined Twitter in March of 2009, after President Obama was elected. Were the primaries ugly? Probably but, I didn't see it. What I saw was that the Democrats had come together, unified, to achieve an historic accomplishment: the election of the first black president. Everyone was excited. I made a lot of friends.

In 2012, we were all in on re-electing President Obama and fighting back against the obvious racism and obstruction of the Right. Again, there was unity, and I made even more friends. It was a whole lot of kumbaya.

And then, came 2016. The primaries gave Progressives a choice of two candidates; both of whom should be respected. Both of whom had spent decades devoted to public service. Both of whom would make for another historic achievement. Both of whom agreed on 90% of the issues. 

One candidate won the Democratic nomination and the other one lost. In my state primary, I voted for the one that lost. Was I disappointed? Sure. But, I did not fret because I knew the other candidate was highly qualified. Was she perfect? No. She is human. But, the candidate I supported in the primary asked me to, now, throw my support behind the winner, as he was doing, and I did so with enthusiasm and without reservation. I assumed -naively, perhaps- that my fellow Lefties would do the same. We'd be on our way to victory, yet again; this time to elect our first female president!

Then, reality set in.

The acrimony and the viciousness, the unwillingness of many of the people whose candidate had lost to accept the outcome of the primaries, the spreading of lies and distortions about a candidate that we should all respect. The freaking childishness of some people that I have followed for years. The insistence in making the outcome of one of the most important elections of our collective lifetimes about the instant gratification of individual desires instead of the needs and future of everyone in our entire country, including our children, grandchildren and beyond.

Oh, the pouting. Oh, the wailing. Oh, the gnashing of teeth.

I have now been accused, by people I have followed for years, of having "impure morals," of being a "sell-out" and a "fake Progressive" because I have chosen to back the winning candidate and not engage in a tantrum-induced exit of the Democratic party as a show of protest over my primary candidate's loss. Because I refuse to waste my vote on an unqualified, untested third party candidate that has zero chance of winning and will do nothing but, pull much needed votes away from the only candidate that actually has a chance of beating Donald Trump. Because I have chosen not to spend my time vilifying the "establishment" that brought us President Obama -one of the best presidents in history, in my opinion- and accuse the winning candidate of "rigging" the election and calling her hyperbolic names like "criminal," "evil,"  and worse.

Because I will not use my vote to punish America.

What's at stake is the potential election of Donald Trump, a dangerous, lying, fascist, narcissistic demagogue who mocks the disabled, emboldens racists, vilifies immigrants, attacks gold star families & POWs, degrades women, invites foreign powers who wish to do us harm to engage in cyber attacks against our country and interfere in our elections, who promises to roll-back marriage equality and a woman's right to choose and more.

I have been informed, more than once, that if Trump is elected because of the #Demexit, as they're calling it, it won't be their fault; it will be mine for backing the "flawed candidate;" it will be the "establishment's fault" for not giving the candidate who got fewer primary votes the nomination. It will be America's fault for not being "pure" enough. Some have even suggested that if Trump gets elected, all the better, because he'll be so terrible for the country that we will all come crawling back to them - the "pure" Progressives - to be the saviors of us all. Some have even said they will give their vote to him because "it's what America deserves."

You know what? Fuck you. That isn't being a Progressive; that's being an anarchist. 

But, it's your vote and your right. I get it.

If this was a normal election year, I might feel differently. If the GOP candidate was someone like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney or John McCain, I might agree that voting third party would be a great way to show dissatisfaction with the system. But, it's not. It's Donald Trump, and his election as POTUS will cause severe damage to our country and possibly the world in ways that could be felt for generations to come.

So, sadly, I have begun a difficult purge of the people I follow on Twitter; some whom I have followed for years. Why? Because I cannot have the ugliness and negativity in my feed. I will not spend my time reading posts that accuse me and those of us who have chosen to put the country over our personal preferences by working for the change we want within the system that exists of not being Progressive enough, of being corrupt liars & sellouts. 

I choose to use my Twitter feed as a show of protest against your choice in the same way you have chosen to use your vote as a show of protest against mine. The only difference is that my protest won't potentially destroy our country.

May 29, 2015

A Rant About Rape on Television

I'm disturbed by the selective outrage regarding story lines involving rape on TV series. Recently, many viewers were so "disgusted and fed up" with the wedding night quasi-consensual sex involving a 'Game of Thrones' character (while conveniently ignoring previous instances of rough quasi-consensual sexual content on the show - this was apparently "the last straw" according to them) that they publicly cried they would stop watching the series; this group includes Senator Claire McCaskill. The outcry to stop rape as what was called a "television plot device" was heard in every corner of social media. 

However, I have just finished watching 8 out of 15 episodes of season 1 of the Starz series 'Outlander' and the main character was almost raped twice and successfully raped once within those 8 episodes. Actual rape. 

My question is: where is the outrage about that? Where is the social media outcry? 

I am way behind in the season of 'Outlander'; the season finale is scheduled for tomorrow night so, it is long past due for that show if the usage of rape as a plot device was a real issue and not some bandwagon, manufactured, faux-feminist screeching to get noticed on social media. 

If nothing else, the use of rape on television SHOULD get us talking about it. It SHOULD make us uncomfortable, even disgusted. It SHOULD shed light on the real issue...rape is about violence and control, not sex. If we refuse to see and talk about the terrible things that actually happen to (mostly) women in our world, if we, instead, simply sweep it away and pretend it doesn't exist because it makes us feel icky, nothing will ever change. 

End of rant.

August 24, 2013

Washington D.C. in 1963

In 1963 the racially separate and unequal nation's capital more closely resembled a divided southern city than a showplace of democracy. Beyond the gleaming marble facades of Washington's public buildings sprawled slums as appalling as any in the nation. Within the shadow of the Capitol, more than 40 percent of the city's families lived below the poverty level in a ghetto of rat-infested rooming houses. No other American city exceeded the District of Columbia in rates of infant mortality, venereal disease, and arrests for prostitution and drugs.

 And although, as the seat of the federal government, Washington could boast the highest per capita income of any American city, a large portion of its citizens subsisted on welfare. most African-Americans fortunate enough to have jobs in the city held low-paying government jobs or served as the waiters, cooks and maids for the whites in power. Many had no work at all.

It was to the Washington of stately white monuments that civil rights groups planned to march in 1963 to dramatize grass roots support for federal action against racial discrimination and segregation. To improve the chances of the civil-rights bill proposed by President Kennedy, they bypassed the drab streets of the ghetto and rallied on the Mall, the very symbol of American nationhood and democracy.

As the sun rose over Washington on August 28, radio news bulletins predicted that the crowd would fall short of the 100,000 expected. but throughout the morning, a seemingly endless caravan of cars, buses, trains. and planes brought in an estimated quarter-million pilgrims from every part of the country and abroad--powerful evidence of the new consensus in favor of a strong civil-rights act. More than 150,000 blacks mingled with some 75,000 whites on the grassy slopes surrounding the Washington Monument. In the spirit of a church outing, they shared picnic lunches, sang songs of the movement, and then surged toward the Lincoln Memorial, holding aloft banners proclaiming such messages as, "We seek the freedom in 1963 promised in 1863" and "A century-old debt to pay!" Massed along the banks of the reflecting pool, the crowd gloried in its immense size and reveled in the hours of speeches made by African-Americans deploring discrimination and whites confessing guilt over their belated commitment to racial justice.

Finally in the late afternoon, after the wilting Washington heat and humidity had turned their clothes soggy, after many on the fringes of the crowd had withdrawn to the shade of old elms and oaks, the huge assemblage stilled as Martin Luther King, Jr., stood at the lectern in the shadow of the Great Emancipator. In a husky voice, King described the oppression of blacks, promised to continue the struggle until they gained all their civil rights, and in rising tones told the world that African-Americans would never be satisfied as long as they remained victimized by ghettoization and powerlessness. "[We] will not be satisfied," King thundered, "until justice rolls down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." As his followers shouted their approval, King put aside his text and, in the familiar cadence of the southern preacher he was, spoke of a broader vision.

"I have a dream," King chanted again and again (read the full transcript of King's "I Have a Dream" speech here) as the crowd roared amens in response, that someday, in the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and slave owners could sit together at the table of brotherhood...that even Mississippi could become an oasis maof freedom and justice...that boys and girls of both races in Alabama could join hands "and walk together as sisters and brothers"...where his four children could live in a nation where they'd be judge on the basis of their character and not the color of their skin...that freedom could ring throughout America...that "all God's children, black and white, Jew and Gentile, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!' "

King's oratory on that muggy August afternoon in 1963 did not speed the slow progress of the civil-rights bill through Congress. It did not end racism or erase poverty and despair. It did not prevent the ghetto riots that lay ahead, or the racist backlash that would ultimately smother the civil-rights movement and destroy King himself. But, King had turned a political rally into a historic event. In one of the greatest speeches of history, he recalled America to the ideals of justice and inequality, proclaiming that the color of one's skin ought never be a burden or a liability in American life.

In five years, King would be dead, murdered by a white racist. But, today -50 years later- his dream lives on. It is the promise of America, a vial reminder of what the United States could still be.

June 19, 2013

I Tweeted Sarah Palin and the RW Lost It's Mind

     I don't like Sarah Palin. That's no secret. In my opinion, she's an opportunistic, attention-whoring, propaganda-spreading grifter who uses her children as media props at every given opportunity; something she's been doing publicly since she became a VP candidate.  She did it again, recently, when Bill Maher made a tasteless joke about her son, Trig.
     I sent her an admittedly rudely worded tweet regarding my distaste for the practice, and the RW trolls went crazy flooding my feed with hate-filled, misspelling-riddled attacks about my "insensitivity" and "hate" for those with special needs. It doesn't matter that my tweet was clearly a comment about her parenting, not her child.
     Now. Let's clear something up. Bill Maher is a comedian. It's his job to be a dick and say outrageous things that get people's panties in a bunch. It gets him media attention, higher ratings for his show and better ticket sales for his appearances. Bill Maher needs people like Sarah Palin or he has no material.
     That being said, Sarah Palin needs Bill Maher. She might loathe what he says, but she welcomes the accompanying attention and support she gets after he says it, and she milks it for all it's worth. Otherwise, she would take the moral high ground by releasing a gracefully-worded statement to the press condemning his words and ignorance. Instead, Sarah takes to social media like a middle-schooler in a barrage of childish retaliatory tweets and Facebook posts.
     Something her mindless droves of fans are happy to follow in turn.

June 17, 2013

A Thought on Patriotism

     If a permanent peace of the world is ever to be achieved; if mankind is really to rise above the mediocre standards which it has been satisfied with for more than two thousand years; we must bring patriotism down off the pedestal from which some have placed it and humbly offer it as a foundation-stone for larger ideas - something to be built upon rather than an idol to be worshiped.  
     It is as a United States that we led the world in invention, in industry and in the council of freedom. We can have that again.
     If the nation is to fully recover, thrive and reach beyond the circumscribed aims of mere patriotism, we had better get to work. Because it has, for too long, been an unworked-up theme awaiting the attention of idealists.