Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College explains what is REALLY happening right now and this information for us all, no matter our political views. Please read.
I don't like to talk about politics on Facebook-- political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends-- but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.
What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night's ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries-- is creating what is known as a "shock event."
Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.
When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.
Last night's Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.
Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.
My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one's interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won't like.
I don't know what Bannon is up to-- although I have some guesses-- but because I know Bannon's ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle-- and my friends range pretty widely-- who will benefit from whatever it is.
If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.
But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.
A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.
If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln's strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.
Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it."
I've been paralyzed recently, unable to decide how to best expend my energy when I see most of my friends and family in emotional turmoil since the inauguration. I have also bounced around from despair, to anger, fear, confusion, etc. I started realizing, after being called a LOT of names online by total strangers and told I should die because I supported the women's march, that the issue that terrifies me more than any other piece of this smoldering toxic garbage pile, is that our division may be irreparable if we don't change the rhetoric online. How we speak to one another (er, scream) online is not helping the chaos, the despair, the rift between people who used to care about each other.
PLEASE NOTE: my next post is a passage from a political history professor who has information about "shock events" and what the real purpose is. This concerns us all. Please consider reading my next post, even if you ignore this one.
If you know history, you know some division is necessary for change. But what happens when we move away from focusing on necessary action (and necessary outrage) and turn into belligerent trolls who hate and abuse the shit out of each other on the internet?
What signals the difference between us destroying our nation from within and a temporarily divisive movement that will strengthen a people in the long run for its having occurred? Hmm.
I say ask the internet! (Or don't, unless you want to be covered in toxic goo that never quite washes off) I'm concerned we are doing some irreparable damage to each other. Are we focusing on dialogue, a message, or are we focused on tuning out and abusing each other to the point of complete chaos? Until anger and rage, from everyone, boils over and results in violence?
I'm actually pretty fond of no violence.
Since we're all fond of not being in an actual war-zone (with guns and everything) and people hating each other is sort of how that whole thing starts, I'd like to talk more about how we talk to each other in private and online rather than the policies at the root of the unrest. ENOUGH people are talking about that. I want to talk about us.
And I'd like to be really silly about it, too, because--
I can't do THIS for you
But I can try to make you laugh, think, and maybe deal with your emotions for a few minutes in a way that doesn't end up in your arrest or disowning by your relatives. Sing! Bad boys, bad boys, whacha gone do....
I hope this piece helps you think more critically about your relationship with your community, particularly online. Which is, we all know, where people really, really like to show their asses.
Ha. Double-meaning, there.
Some people laughed at Rodney King when he said, "Can't we all just get along?"
Rodney King was wise to put advice in the form of a question. I still don't have the answer to that. (That's another essay, too) But I believe we need to use nonviolence and civil debate rather than insults, put-downs, threats, and general ugliness toward each other to get our points across.
This is not to say protests are not necessary or that anger should be buried. Of course it's necessary if you feel passionate about what's happening. Let's just hope you're on the "right" side of history, right? You've read enough to know what's coming but before I run my big hypocritical mouth, first, I want to apologize to my conservative friends who I may have hurt with any of my words. I have been a wee bit testy. I said "screw you" a couple of times. Once to a guy who called liberals bitches and the other time was to pretty much everyone on facebook. Which I deleted after I was able to calm the Hell down.
BUT I didn't call anyone names (at least)! I'm so proud of that!
So, basically, I've kept my mean-girl behavior somewhere in the 7th to 10th grade range rather than 3rd. Which is like, better or whatever.
Na-na-na boo-boo, y'all.
We can't appeal to a lump of evil. You know who you CAN talk to? INDIVIDUALS.
When we disagree politically, we LOVE to forget that individuals make up groups, don't we? We want to hate "them." We want to fear "them." We want to hate this imaginary COLLECTIVE. (Except the Nazis. They were pretty much a collective evil. Different essay)
But I digress, liberals don't like "the conservatives" and conservatives don't like "the liberals."
YES, there are idiots on both "teams" who are vile. Some are violent or cruel or racist or sexist and TOTALLY using the political climate to be a MAJOR dick. The racists and wife beaters and idiots are always dicks. But political upheaval is like Christmas for them! They get to rage and throw their weight around and bully people online and have some people actually BACK them up! Saying stuff like, "GET OVER IT, you little PUSSIES!" and the social media crowd just goes wild. Some say, hey, it's no holds barred, m'fers, this is politics!!!
What a crock of self-serving, rage-aholic bullshit. And maybe it wouldn't be that "big a deal" to call people names on the internet if unprecedented numbers of U.S. citizens weren't marching and protesting, shutting down airports, crying openly in the streets.
You really think it's a productive, helpful idea to be nasty to people right NOW of all times in our history? Giving people who already hate you new reasons to hate you? Before you answer--
Please, take time to think about that.
Me? I refuse to believe every member of the "Red" team are racist, sexist, and basically hate everyone TV evangelists say is bad.
"The pile of money you send us should be this high."
As someone who almost always leans more left, I also refuse to believe all people on the "Blue team" are sane, correct or well-meaning in their actions and beliefs. But WHY would I say some of my teammates may not be great? Because PEOPLE.
Feminists, has anyone who HATES (or thinks they hate) feminism ever said this to you---
"You're a feminist, but I wouldn't lump YOU in with the rest of those nut-jobs! They're man-hating psychos!"
Has anyone ever said something like this to you?
"I know you're a conservative but it isn't YOU I have a problem with, it's THEM---
"You're a friend of mine. I would never lump you in with all those CRAZY racist bastard right-wingers!"
It's hard to hate someone or call them a dumbass or insane or a snowflake or a bigoted right-wing psychopath if you KNOW and LIKE the person, right? Or even if they are a mere pleasant acquaintance on social media who posts really funny things and fuzzy, fuzzy kitty cat pictures!
It's hard to call someone you KNOW loves kitty cats a bigoted piece of shit. (You know, how you called that one stranger on that one thread)
"I voted for Trump but look how cute I am anyway! Squee!" said some people I know.
(And they are correct)
(And they are correct)
Now that I've got your attention with a cute kitten, here's a letter for both teams! YAY!
Dear Red team,
That group of angry feminists you think are completely insane women who hate you because you're a guy and hate their lives because no one loves them except their cat---that group is actually made up of individuals, not 2,000 carbon copies of evil incarnate. I bet some of them don't even want to "indoctrinate your children with anti-Christian philosophies" or force men into slavery so women could rule the world.
I even bet most of them do great things for people they love and even their community. YOUR community.
This group you HATE is a collection of individuals you may even already know and love. INDIVIDUALS you may love if you got to know.
Shit, that's good. I'm gonna write that one down.
Dear Blue Team,
There are many people who love whatshisface that you probably know and love. They are not an Army of Evil. They're individuals who do not agree with you. At all. But I bet some of them would even give you the shirt off their back, no matter your race or gender. I bet most of them DO NOT run over kittens on purpose or exist only to plot crushing your every freedom and your every dream. I'll bet some of them may even understand you if you talked to them honestly. (Without, you know, the cussing and insults, and stuff) There's common ground here outside of species. I promise.
But, then there are the people who DON'T get to talk anymore or be part of the conversation ever.
Like the really, really rotten guy who wrote this.
I don't think this will make our country great again, dude.
Go sit down at the kid's table. And no dessert for you!
But I have zero channels, I would never know if a blizzard was coming if I stopped social media!
And that could be bad.
While I am firmly against this administration for many reasons, I finally realized something more important than my being RIGHT about policy. Our people are in total hysteria. World leaders are criticizing us. There is resistance on an unprecedented level and since the administration is doing nothing to help soothe the unrest of our people, we're going to have to do that ourselves. It is VERY important for New Guy's supporters to also stop and take note of the unrest happening. Do you REALLY care more about being "right"? Or do you care more about your people being one? Because I think the 2nd one is patriotic. Whatever is being done now is not working, evidently.
This hysteria is solid proof that things are going very, very wrong with this new administration. You and I need to work on patching divides anytime it's possible. It isn't always.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in nonviolence, but he said rioting is the language of the unheard. Can't we ALL just practice this ONE lesson the great Dr. King mastered? To UNDERSTAND something even if you don't "agree" with it? For ALL our sakes.
People who feel HEARD, do not riot. So, listen.
There are enough reasonable people on both sides that an honest and productive conversation can take place. I still believe in the goodness of human beings and I'm going to try to behave in such a way as to inspire other people to believe it and BEHAVE like it, too.
well, initially, I had a social media hissy
I miss hearing "Now, let me be clear," when our former president spoke. Out of respect for a guy who never verbally assaulted the "other team", a man who told us to never despair when things looked dark, ESPECIALLY when things grew dark, a guy who, when he spoke, attempted to UNIFY all us crazy asses.ALL of us. In that spirit, I'd like to say to my friends
Let me be clear.
We MUST get back to this.
Be kind to each other, Americans.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
As y'all know, I've posted a letter to Mitch McConnell regarding the Miner's Protection Act (Senate Bill 1714) which would keep our miners and their widows from losing their health insurance if passed in full. Scroll down beneath this post to read that letter. Since then, a 4 month extension was passed. Because of this worthless extension our elected officials passed, our miners will now lose their insurance in April instead of this month.
Way to go, elected officials.
I posted my letter online and in newspapers asking Mitch McConnell to publicly respond to the question: WHY hasn't this bill passed? Senator McConnell thoroughly
[HERE IS THE SPACE WHERE I WILL POST MITCH MCCONNELL'S ANSWER TO MY QUESTION. Obviously, this space will grow with the more words he puts in it]
Inside that empty space there SHOULD be an answer, one of SUPPORT for our miners but instead there's only silence. SILENCE? That silence is a yawning chasm, above it, the hopes of miners and their widows hang as if from a thin, frayed string, swaying above that void born of apathy, indifference, and neglect. I will ask again, WHY hasn't this passed, Senator McConnell?
Here it is in a bright color so you'll be sure to see it:
WHY HASN'T THIS BILL PASSED SENATOR MCCONNELL?
I emailed both Senator Manchin and Senator Capito, the two senators who introduced the bill, asking why it has not yet been passed. Senator Manchin has not responded. Capito responded. Her main point was, "I will continue to work to ensure miners receive their promised benefits." This didn't really satisfy me that day. So, I replied to Captio, writing, "Can you deliver my letter to McConnell? Can you ask him to publicly respond to us?"No response from Capito on that specific question. (yet)
WHAT THE READER CAN DO:
Contact McConnell's office by writing your question "Why hasn't the Miners Protection Act passed?" using this SIMPLE FORM. Or click HERE to see a list of PHONE NUMBERS AND ADDRESSES to mail your letters.
And don't forget to click the facebook icon below to share this online.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
NOTE: feel free to share this online or send it to your friends. Better yet, contact McConnell's office by writing your question "Why hasn't the Miners Protection Act passed?" using this SIMPLE FORM. Or click HERE to see a list of PHONE NUMBERS AND ADDRESSES to mail your letters. Tell him, "Mitch, keep the promise to our miners and see the Protect Our Miners Act passed!"
Dear Senator McConnell,
I'm a writer and adjunct professor (currently on hiatus) who mostly writes about Appalachia. I care for this region and want to see our miners protected. I'm writing because I stand with thousands of miners and their families urging you to immediately take action regarding the “Coal Miner's Protection Act." (Senate Bill 1714)
Without your immediate action, thousands more coal miners will lose their healthcare on December 31, 2016. The Miner's Protection Act will make sure they keep their health insurance and benefits promised to them by the US government in 1946. This promise was made under President Truman's watch and it must be kept. Our miners earned these benefits over decades of back-breaking work.
I was born and raised in Logan County, West Virginia, a child, grandchild, and niece of coal miners, and even I, with my extensive formal and informal education, cannot craft an even-tempered response to my inquisitive students or the children in my family as to precisely how our region ended up one of the poorest in the nation while we have been obscenely rich with two of the most valuable resources: coal and men to mine it. And now, our miners aren't being cared for.
My uncles, Manuel, Marty, Joe, and John Ojeda, mined coal for decades, just as their father, Senon Ojeda did, just as my other grandfather Alex Fekete, my father Terry, and his brother Manuel did.
My family has logged over 150 years in the mines. In West Virginia, family is loyal. In West Virginia, we're all family. You best believe I have a rabid dog in this fight.
My family and thousands of others, have provided this nation with decades and decades of resources. Now they are forgotten? I am livid. Our people are livid. We will not stand for this. Neither should you allow it.
Our widows now live with uncertainty and fear, taking residence inside the cracks of once rock-solid beliefs (and allegiance to) justice and the American Dream.What cruel paradoxes reign here in Appalachia--fading “friends of coal” and “coal keeps the lights on” stickers peeling from the bumpers of trucks, while the reality of being left in the dark grows ever more vivid. Where are our "friends" now that are miners are aged and/or ailing? This bill is a moral response but also economically sound. It costs taxpayers nothing. It is supported from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund.
Appalachia is a poor region, yet still filled with an unusually high number of soldiers and an unmatched work ethic. By the sweat of their brows, our coal miners have fueled this nation, while raising the sons and daughters who would defend it.
By allowing thousands of miners to lose their healthcare on December 31st, what are you saying to them--the foundations of this nation and their offspring who defend it--your constituents? What are telling them with your inaction, Senator McConnell, about their worth, about justice, and the American Dream?
Once I receive your response, I will be happy to include it alongside any online magazines, blogs, Facebook pages, and/or literary journals that may publish this letter.
I thank you for your time and pray you'll do the right thing and take action. MOVE this bill to the floor. Force the coal companies Keep the Promise!
Respectfully and Sincerely,
Call or write his DC office today!
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Happy Birthday to my Big Brother, Johnny
(who is balder and older and will reach senility before me. ha!)
I’m writing this and it may embarrass my brother. He isn’t on Facebook, so won’t see this until later, but you know, tough shit, because he HAS done that to me before.:
< Exhibit A
I shall make many claims here, BUT I will back them all up with evidence.
To begin, I’d like to say, he really is a good man, a species that unfortunately is a rare breed among us. I mean, I am in no way saying he is perfect. Growing up (um, and as an adult, too) he can be goofy at inappropriate times and often enjoys making jokes that should be left back in third grade. (Maybe sixth, tops). Sometimes he thinks he knows it all. Sometimes he’s bitchy and doesn’t listen.
AND you can locate him if you lose him in a store because he makes “dad sounds” he isn’t even aware of: whistling, humming, unnecessary clearing of the throat, singing, etc. Other family members will testify to that.
Actually, now that I think of it, that’s kind of convenient.
He’s all those things but also honest and good. He’s smart. And one of the funniest people I know. Don’t believe me?
Ask him to tell you the true story about when he had an accident by hitting a bear with his motorcycle. One would not think this would be funny. In life it maybe wasn’t at the time. But later on, the story was. It was. Very. Ask him to tell you. Do it.
He’s there for his family. His friends. He serves his community. When he finds a person, place or situation, he leaves them improved. He trusts people because he himself is trustworthy and trusts others because he assumes everyone is that way, too. They’re not. They’re totally not. But it's a virtue, I think, to trust others. We had a special bond as kids, like I know not all siblings do.
I remember as a kids if one of us were punished for something we had done, sometimes we’d sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, bottom lip stuck out like a sad mouse in a cartoon, eyes welled with tears. If it was me in trouble he would console me and vice versa, but without talking because some siblings can do that.
The unspoken conversation was only in looks. It usually went like this: “I’m sad you are in trouble” and the response was always “Me too. Thanks for being on my side.”
Because, I knew, and still do, that he would never NOT be on my side, even if I don’t deserve an ally and I will always be on his. Unless he needs bail money. I’m too broke for that shit. Call Dad.
< Exhibit B There were times he was there when he didn't want to be. Even if I was in a beret, orange-ish pantyhose, and a "pirate shirt" worthy of that Seinfeld episode AND I was about to march down a public street.
He complained but showed up. But of course, later that day at home, after the parade, he did an energetic impression of my crooked ass parade-march. I was what they called “pigeon-toed” back then. Yes, my walk looked like it sounds. He did that impression for at least an hour. Soooooo hilarious, jerkface! (Actually, it was) He was just doing his job as a brother. It’s fine. Speaking of which, tormenting and general picking on me when we were kids was in his job description. Like in all things, he was dedicated to that duty!
For instance, there were those times when he’d hold me down and act like he was going to spit on or fart my head (this happened frequently for some reason) leading to my inevitable screams of “Moooooooom!” and then his, “I didn’t do anything! She started it!” And both of us getting in trouble, each of us blaming the other, naturally. Then, we would retreat to separate parts of the house and NOT talk to each other, because JUDAS!
These times of civil war lasted for at least a very long half an hour and right as it seemed the rift between nations would never be mended, the feelings of betrayal and “I HATE YOU’’s” would pass into thoughts like I am bored and he/she has to be over it because we are siblings and that’s the inborn contract to get over it, so, I’m going to see what my brother/sister is doing. Which leads me to my next point.
He didn’t care to play with me. (at least when his friends weren’t around) He often slung me around the kitchen singing (poorly) a version of “Let’s Dance” forever etching David Bowie into my childhood memories.
< Exhibit C
My fondest memories of us playing were the stupid parts that don’t make sense even now. Remember when Billy Crystal in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” said to Sally, “We’re going to talk like this the rest of the day.” Then, he put his tongue behind his bottom lip, saying, “Waiter, I whoold like to order da pec-haaaan pi-eeeeee.”
The writers must’ve stole this from my brother. Ok, it's probably the other way around but anyway, he would say, “let’s talk like this!” and he’d do the same thing as Billy, while singing nonsensical made-up songs like, “I say may, you say may. Everybody say maaaaay.” He did this with his tongue behind his bottom lip. Try it. Now sing your favorite song. Weird, right? Funny. But weird. And our parents were so happy he did this on the hours-long car ride to the beach. And of course, it was worse, because I had to copy him and do it, too.
This brings me to my next point, sociological research shows when people laugh, they often look at the person in the room who they view as an authority, maybe in humor or wisdom, someone they look up to, to check if they’re laughing too! Because laughing isn’t nearly as fun if your closest friend isn’t laughing with you, right?
Exhibits D, E, & F:
One example of that is Exhibit D < where we are playing “Chopsticks” (badly) and I laugh at us. Our mom sneaks a picture from around the corner. Neither of us are aware, so a genuine moment is captured of a little sister looking up to her brother. Look at him all oblivious. Pfffft. Some things never change.
I was in elementary school in <Exhibit E doing the same thing.
Below, my favorite example. In Exhibit F, I’m high-school-aged, yanking thermal underwear up my butt while wearing heels (because I think I’m hilarious. I am. Don't you judge me) and again, looking at my brother to see if he’s laughing. From his face, we see, he does not always think I’m funny. And even with his disapproval, I laugh my ass off, because, you know, being irritating little sister—it’s my job.
I cared if he was laughing too because I love my brother…see?
< Exhibit G
and H >
Let’s not forget, however, even liking him was not always easy, because….well, < Exhibit I.
Here, he’s standing behind me as I sit with Mrs. Claus. He’s holding Gonzo, whose pants he has purposefully pulled down for the picture. PROOF of his skilled pain in the ass-ering.
But I admit; I’ve been a MAJOR pain in his ass, too, for exactly 38 years now. Yep. Major. Significant. I’m smarter than him, duh, so I’m better at it (among other stuff). I’ve been a horribly annoying, bitchy, moody, aggravating little sister who at times likes to give him unwanted advice, which I mean, clearly, is just because I’m smarter than him (he’s in denial about that). I also have blessed him with many eye-rolling’s, “You’re a dork’s!” and “DERP’S!” when I want to say, in one word: “You’re such a doofus!”
In spite of all that…I know he’ll always be around, no matter what bullshit or sorrow happens in life, to give me that pitiful look of, “I’m sorry you’re in trouble or what BULLSHIT!” and I will reply, “Thank you” without even talking. Because…
he loves his little sister and he’ll never not be on my side. I give you < Exhibit J You can’t fake that smile.
Happy Birthday to my big brother! Love you!
Signed, your little sister, who you nicknamed when she was born….and still refer to as...