Xenophobic Nonsense   (2017Feb07)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017                                             6:47 PM

Okay, time to slow things down. Trump’s blitzkrieg of incompetence has the overall effect of forcing us to play his game, on his timetable. He does and says so many inflammatory, imprudent, borderline-illegal things that we simple folk are spurred into instant response—there’s never time for sober discussion—his stupidity is faster than light.

And while it may seem impossible to justify ignoring Trump and his minions for even one second—I sense that pulling back from his shit-storm of non-ideas, and taking the time to laugh at him and them—and to remind ourselves that life goes on, madness in the White House be damned—is the correct course. When caught in an inane conversation with a drunk, we don’t try to win the argument—we try to move away from the drunk—and this seems the sensible course in the case of Trump’s fascist Justice League of Losers and their obsession with media-storms.

Granted, Trump’s Electoral College win is a huge blow—in spite of the majority voting against him, he holds the presidency for the next four years—and that’s a lot of power for a crazy egotist. But the sub-set of Americans identifying as Trump supporters is still, in many ways, a far more ominous threat in the long term. These people are trapped within the echo-chamber of ‘alternative’, resentful, paranoid fantasies about how the world works, outside of their town.

Where their existence was once threatened by the ubiquity of information, the rise of biased information sources has now strengthened their grip on such self-excusing delusions. Bigotry is back in fashion. As long as Trump (and their portion of the Internet) reinforces their balky refusal to open their minds, they’ll feel infinitely justified in maintaining even the craziest notions.

These people have even been convinced to vote against Health Care, for themselves and their families. Think about that. It’s not far different from offering someone a juicy steak dinner—and them punching you in the mouth, like you’d insulted their mother.

You tell them the globe is warming, sea levels are rising, untold disaster awaits—and when their boss at the oil company, or the coal mine, sez, ‘No, it isn’t’, they dutifully jeer at the scientists. Scientists! People who make a career out of sweating the details—and who, more to the point, have no dog in this race—unlike their deniers.

I’ve seen regular people—not rich business owners or anything, just regular folks—who actually oppose the Minimum Wage. The sole purpose of a minimum wage is to make it hard for employers to pay you less than you deserve. Do these people think that the rule will only apply to immigrants—and even if it did, do they hate immigrants that much? How will they feel when their own kids can’t find work that pays their rent? Minimum Wage might start to look a little more attractive then.

So, in my humble opinion, there are some tragically, self-defeatingly, self-destructively stupid people out there—and a lot of them vote. For the most part, they don’t really oppose the changes that the Left promotes—they simply fear change—and that is their only real point of agreement with their leaders, especially Trump. Imagine a 21st-century American putting billions of taxpayer dollars into a wall—a big, stupid wall. Hasn’t he read Clausewitz?

A wall can be swum around, tunneled under, and flown over—if Trump’s idea was to stop immigrants, he’s a failure—if he merely wants to inconvenience them—good work, Donald, spend away. Although it should be noted that immigrants are no strangers to inconvenience. The act of building a big wall can be seen as less of a practical exercise and more of a desire for the world to be so simple. It is a statement more than an achievement—and those familiar with Trump’s pre-presidency resume will recognize this theme.

The sad truth is that rich people raise lazy kids—and rich countries raise lazy citizens—America maintains its preeminence by constantly blending in fresh blood. And if the newcomers are not creamy white, that is beside the point—they are eager—even desperate, for a chance to make something of their lives, and their families’ lives. They work like dogs. They take everything seriously. They listen to what’s going on around them. Basically, all the stuff that you and I are too ‘over’ being Americans to bother with.

These people prevent the rest of us from drowning in our own toxins of apathy and entitlement, selfishness and irresponsibility. They recharge the battery of America and they always have—our own ancestors were part of the process. Deciding to stop now, to shut it all down, to ban travel and build a big honking wall—suicide—sheer suicide for our country and ourselves.

Don’t take my word for it—look at Europe. A lot of those countries are accepting refugees, not simply out of the goodness of their hearts, but also because their populations are becoming too small and too aged to maintain their economies. They need immigrants—and the only reason we don’t is because we’ve always had them. We’ve never known what lack of change, lack of growth is really like—stagnation is foreign to us—but not for long, if we keep up this xenophobic nonsense.

ttfn

It’s No Fun If You Can’t Share   (2016Sep16)

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Friday, September 16, 2016                                              10:04 PM

When one group fights against another, someone wins and someone loses. We see this in the trouble-spots of the world—two sides which will fight until one or the other of them wins—beyond reason, beyond humanity, the absolutism of one group against another seems basic enough to overcome civility.

I’ve been thinking today of our strength as a nation—the melting pot that makes any one group a part of the larger whole—whether they like it or not. Immigrants to the United States know that the rules are different here—feuds from the old country don’t count here; authoritarian prerogatives once enjoyed by men over women, or one class over another—in their homeland—are forever null and void, here in the land of the free.

America has never fought for conquest or territory—only for the Right as we saw it (and a few mistakes, undeniably). And indeed, who could we attack? Where is there a country that isn’t already a part of ourselves? Reel off the role of the United Nations’ 193 countries—not a one of them fails to be represented by a segment of our population. Even those whose governments are seen as ‘bad actors’—their people, too, are a part of who we are—the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Syrians—you name the place, and chances are high that the United States contains the largest number of any country’s population, outside of that country.

So, as we recognize that inclusion must be part of our domestic social policies, we also recognize that all nations are siblings—and that our nation is the glaring proof of that truth. We attract immigrants for many reasons—but I believe that most come here because, in the USA, you own yourself. Nobody tells us what to do. Nobody says we have to ask permission to try a new idea. We say whatever we want, and if you don’t like it, you say whatever you want back.

We take personal freedom very seriously here in America—sometimes, some of us even get a little crazy, pushing the bounds of propriety and safety merely to demonstrate the fullness of our liberty. In its own way, it’s pretty rough and tumble. But the acme of the ideal is not merely to have freedom—it is to accord it to everyone else, even when you don’t like it—even when it gets in your way.

And we certainly see abuse of the concept—many people are only too glad to take freedom, and less enthusiastic about giving it to others. Liberty isn’t always obvious—it doesn’t shout, it waits for you to notice it. Some people willfully turn away, and use ‘Liberty’ cynically, hypocritically, as a cudgel attempting to carve out their freedoms at the expense of others’ rights. But they will run out of hot air before America runs out of people who treasure its ideals.

In the end, our immigrant heritage not only strengthens us as a nation, it bonds us to all nations—not as a competitor, not as a threat—but as a family of humanity, all collected together in the great experiment of America. While our capitalists and generals may sometimes lose their perspective, and get lost in the struggle for power, remember this—all most of us want is to share our freedom with the rest of the world. We don’t want other countries to belong to us, we just don’t want to hog all the good stuff for ourselves—it’s no fun to be happy if you can’t share it with everyone else.

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