The Protest Pot Is on the Boil

 

(NY Times, July 25, 2020) SEATTLE —
Weeks of violent clashes between federal agents
and protesters
in Portland, Ore., galvanized thousands of people to march
through the streets of American cities on Saturday, injecting new life into
protests that had largely waned in recent weeks
.
Galvanized, did it? Interesting word; “to stimulate to
action
.”
And what is the subject of this
dynamic verb?
Aha, now we’re getting somewhere: to stimulate to action
violent clashes between federal agents and protesters.


There are several things worth doing when you read an inflammatory
statement or article. God knows, they’re everywhere today now that social media
has been invited into the national discourse—rather like allowing a wild-eyed,
racist, conspiracy-theorist uncle to sit down at the Thanksgiving table.
Anyway, those several things
include
1)  The
source. Who wrote this and what is their agenda? If an individual, a Google
check usually suffices. If an organization you’re not familiar with, you may
want to see who sits on their Board of Directors.
2)  What’s
their source? Conspiracy theory? Far left or right? Armed militia with an
agenda? Agitators of one kind or another, looking for news coverage?
3)  Are
they your tribe? Do they satisfy your point of view or make you crazy?
That may sound like a lot of work for a casual read and #3
takes no time at all because it fits for you or doesn’t. #1 and #2 are
simply quick mental notes to satisfy what one might call informed reading or
listening
.
Know who’s pulling your chain.
In the case at hand, I see the NY Times as credible because
they’re a reasonably middle-ground, slightly left-leaning source of national
news and been around a long time.
That may not fit your tribal culture, but it almost exactly
reflects where I normally come from as a writer.
So now you know two things. How
to take what I write and whether it’s likely to resonate for you.
And now the fun begins, because the next part gets fuzzy.
If you’re not part of my
tribe (mostly middle, slightly liberal), you’re likely to go elsewhere and
click away.
If you are part of my
like-minded folk, then I’m preaching to the choir and what’s the purpose in
that?
That, it seems to me, is the major reason our opinions,
politics, workplaces and neighborhoods have become so painfully divided.
We no longer listen to one another. A sentence or two in,
our respective jaws clench and we no longer listen, we begin to point fingers
and raise voices.
An example…
…Democrats were flummoxed when Trump
won the presidency. “How could those idiots have voted for him?”
Those idiots were ecstatic.
We’re finally going to break a system that doesn’t work for us.”
The Trump victory in 2016 was a shock, but no surprise to
me.
I had consistently been writing
that, over the past forty years, ever since Ronald Reagan, both national
parties had been co-conspirators in abandoning the American middle-class.
They destroyed the unions. They
privatized every national treasure that wasn’t nailed down—and some that were. They
turned austerity into a national anthem, cutting welfare, offshoring both jobs
and taxes, eviscerating education and driving a gap between wealth and poverty
such as the world has never seen.
Not only during Republican or Democratic administrations, but
consistently throughout both. They did it and then lied to
the American voters about whose fault it was.
You can only get away with that for so long—and it’s both a
miracle and a disaster that it went on for forty years. But then there was
Donald…
…Trump read the tea leaves as only
a wheeler-dealer with limited moral boundaries can and saw where the making
of a deal
lay, flapping like a gasping fish on the deck of a political ship
that had sold off its morals as well.
He lied to the victims and won. He’s
lied since to them 20,000 times (and counting) and the media has become
transfixed by the number of lies, rather than the fact that a President
of the United States treats 2020 America like 1933 Weimar Germany.
And what was the political arc of those times in Germany?
Authoritarian
rhetoric, Black-shirts in the streets, mob rule, Kristallnacht and the takeover
of a democratic nation by a dictator.
How close are we to that today, with a sitting president who
will not say if he will accept the result of the upcoming election?
My point is not to denigrate Trump.
My point is to show how artfully we
have been separated from our common complaint of having been shat-upon by both
political parties. Whether you as a voter chooses one or the other is your
constitutional right—at least so far.
America has come for the unions and
come for the jobs and come for your health, welfare, environment and children’s
futures. Thus far, they have not come for you, but police in Seattle firing
flash grenades, showering protesters with pepper spray and abruptly rushing
into crowds, knocking people to the ground and jailing them, shows how close that may be.
I will not vote for Donald Trump, but you knew that by my
tribe.
If your tribe be Trump, I recognize
that and hope I have not lost you as a reader. But we desperately need to hear
each other.
You are not idiots to my
tribe. We have immense common ground and should not, cannot, allow ourselves to
be divided and conquered by the money in today’s politics.
The 1% do not give a shit who wins
in November. They own both parties. It’s our job to recognize that we are one
in our determination and cannot be divided.
Vote for who you will, but talk
to me and I will talk to you
.
That’s the first thing they took away in 1933
Germany.

 

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