Fizzled Fourth

I don’t know about you but I was dreading this Fourth of July holiday weekend, and not only because my dog and pretty much every dog hates fireworks.

At this point, each dog owner has figured out ways to comfort their pooches, whether it’s with love, food, drugs or a very thick blanket.

Are these humans serious?

And when that doesn’t work, you just hold them and pray, even if you’re an atheist.

No, instead, it was the American culture wars I was dreading and all the talk about and around it.  The endless rhetoric of left vs. right, patriotism vs. treason, all spewed through or at the lens of the pancake made-up person with the loudest bully pulpit in America – our current and very bloated POTUS.

Frankly, he and it has just given me a headache and caused me for the first time in my life to wish illness, death pestilence and/or a bad cause of piles on another human being.

Population: Me

And despite what it might seem like I truly don’t wish bad things on other people.  Ever.

Not only is it not good karma, it’s simply toxic and immature to do so.  To pollute your life with thoughts of destruction and suffering for another life is to deny yourself the pleasures of existing at all.  Our time here is short and there’s loads of crap to deal with.  SO much crap these days and SO much time to deal with it.  Why waste precious moments on HIM or THAT?

Evaluating what constitutes as a “waste” is really difficult

Don’t take this to mean I’m not speaking out, not voting, not doing everything but handing my house over to Joe Biden in the next four months in the spirit of Independence Day.  Or, that I am advising any of you to not to do all of the above.

It’s just too much to go on and on AND ON about this or it right about now.

That is because it’s not the SYMBOLS of America that make it great.  It’s only the progressive actions of truly patriotic Americans that allow us to approach, or get anywhere near the vicinity of greatness.

OK, this might be a bit much #imisshim

Incidentally, the term progressive is not meant to be political here but to merely express the concept of being forward thinking i.e. regarding the future.   The word is literally defined in our dictionaries as proceeding step by step to our greatness.

The way to honor our very American and admittedly very flawed Founding Fathers is not to symbolically clench and squeeze the flag or an eagle or any of our fellow citizens in deference until they break or are torn apart, much as we might enjoy doing so.  It is instead to embrace the legacy of freedom and liberty and justice for all articulated by our 18th century leaders and try to actually make them happen – and grow it.

… and I don’t mean this kind of patriotism

More simply put, the question to really ask on the Fourth of July, and every day, is how do we take what they gave us and do better?  How do we run with those ideas and expand them into the 21st, 22nd and every other upcoming century in a way that meets the needs and the population of the moment?

As we look out through our windows and talk through our masks (Note: If we’re smart) this July think of one way to help make freedom, liberty or justice happen for one cause, one group or one person and take some small step to do so.

This can literally be ANYTHING – a spirited discussion, a cash contribution, a demonstration, a comment or even, perish the thought, a tweet (Note: Try not to rely too heavily on the latter for obvious reasons).

… and absolutely not this nonsense #no

If all else fails, watch Hamilton on Disney Plus.  It encapsulates the ideals and intent of what our framers started while pushing that rock just a little farther up the hill.  Not to mention, it’s chock full of old, new and re-appropriated ideas alike.

Even if it’s not to your taste it will get you thinking, and isn’t THAT what this is all about?

If not, it should be.

Cast of Hamilton – “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” 

Sneer and Loathing

We all have our personal reasons for loathing Donald Trump, those of us who loathe him, that is, of which there are many.

There are so, so many reasons to so, so loathe a man many of us have never met that narrowing it down to a single one is a mind-boggling, mind-numbing task.

And if I didn’t know in my heart of hearts that overwhelming his foes with outrageous, ego-driven, hate-filled actions was his way of neutering them and getting what he wants, I wouldn’t bother writing about him or it.

How many hours do you have?

But that’s not the world we live in.  We live in a world, nee a democracy, where each and every one of us is obliged to speak up and out against a clear and present danger to the freedoms we hold dear and those that threaten to take them away.

This, sadly, brings us back to the overfed, over-oranged and over-indulged temporary occupant of the current White House, as many things do these days.

So let’s play a game.  What is the single reason you choose to loathe him for???

…..Okay, I’ll go first.

It has always been – the racism.

Probably the best place to start

As I’ve said and written many times before, I grew up in the boroughs of New York City in the sixties and seventies and knew more than a few adults who thought like Trump.  They exuded an ugly kind of east coast racism that differed radically from the over-the-top southern lynching and beating form often depicted in the movies or on TV.

Their type promulgated the idea that the Blacks and Puerto Ricans were different, inferior, lazy and not like us.  As a kid I overheard countless times by numerous white adults that they didn’t respect their communities, weren’t educated, couldn’t hold down jobs and, when push came to shove, were generally shiftless and perhaps violent.

where to even begin?

Having attended integrated schools since kindergarten this didn’t compute for me and seemed just plain, well, mean, stupid and misinformed.  It probably helped that my parents didn’t espouse these views but nor were they the kind of people who liked to make waves.  When I’d hear these statements made by a handful of their friends or in the neighborhood they would just shake their heads and say don’t listen or just change the subject.

Their reaction angered me and as a teenager I began to speak up and eventually got into screaming matches with some of their friends, one of whom in particular reminds me of Donald Trump.  This ignoramus claimed to work with the “schvartzas” (a pejorative Yiddish term for Black people) and fancied himself as an authority on the kind of people they were and weren’t.  When I’d bring up examples of famous Black and brown people who didn’t fit his stereotype he’d claim they were exceptions and even went so far as to mention one or two Black people that he liked.

This kind of justification makes me crazy

I can’t tell you how much this reminded me of Trump bringing Kanye and Jim Brown to the White House or the news stories of the last few days where he said to the prime minister of Sweden that he’d be willing to vouch for the black rapper A$AP Rocky, now being detained in that country while assault charges against him are being investigated.

Like they’d be friends.

This, of course, is the same Trump who went on TV in 1989 to campaign for the death penalty for the five teenage boys falsely accused and convicted of raping and beating a woman in Central Park.  The same guy who spent approximately $82,000 for full-page newspaper ads imploring the city to change its laws to kill them.

That stupid effing signature

The same guy who once called Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) a fat little Jew and yet spent the better part of last week lambasting four Democratic Congresswomen of color who criticized him as anti-Semitic, that is, after he initially tweeted they  go back to the countries where they came from.

Never mind that three of the four were born in the United States and the fourth is a naturalized citizen who emigrated here with her parents legally from a war-torn country.

… and said congresswoman has been a citizen longer than the first lady #justthefacts

Filmmaker Ava Duvarney’s searing four part Netflix miniseries, When They See Us brilliantly depicts Trump’s rabid mindset en masse thirty years ago as she unfolds the gut-wrenching story of what can happen to young people and their families when they cross paths with the I know better fast-talking Trump-like racist mindset born and bred through the white privilege of the boroughs I came of age in.

soon to have a lot more emmys than some washed up reality show star

It is a mosaic of injustice for others promulgated by people like our Electoral POTUS, who watched and participated as his very own father presided over his very own real estate empire that for decades redlined most Black and non-white people from his apartments until they were eventually taken to court over it.

It therefore shouldn’t be surprising to any of us how Trump is trying to do the very same thing on a grander scale to the entire country by scapegoating immigrant families, especially young children and babies, and locking them in cages for days and even weeks on end without proper food, water and hygiene.

In turn it might then even be expected that the next up would be duly elected non-white representatives in Congress, or even those on the courts or in public life HE didn’t like.

DO NOT COME FOR CHER

It’s easy enough to brand them all as anti-American, aliens or even murderers, especially when he has at least a handful of public face acquaintances and/or supporters from pretty much every ethnic persuasion at this point.  Yet there are few if any of these people supporting him in Congress, none of them are in his immediate family or small circle of friends and very very, very few are granted membership in any of the Trump-owned country clubs.

I know this double talk, this white speak and this blowhard misogyny of Trump’s cowardly brand of street-fighting because it harkens back to the type of immoral, misinformed racists who inadvertently taught me to fight and argue in the first place back in the day.

Deal with it

What I didn’t know and never expected was that I’d be having this very same argument with so many of them and their spawn five decades later and that they would all have a de facto leader temporarily occupying a Chair in the Oval Office.

So from one Chair about another, here’s how you deal with them and him.

You call them out at every turn and racist trope and challenge them and it over and over again.  Then you bring along other members of your extended families and friends and urge them to do the same.   Then you keep at it, day in and day out, week after week  (Note: Or at least every time you see them) and, eventually, they will be outnumbered, retreat, pipe down and age out.

#over

That’s we how we did it back in the day and they and their hate speech went cowering back under the rocks and into the private residences and chat rooms from which they came.

Sadly, every few decades we need to do it again, and the time for disinfectant is now.

Gil Scott-Heron – “Home is Where The Hatred Is”