Darker Thoughts

Let’s take a moment to review history, shall we?

Hitler-Hindenberg-Tannenberg-1933The violence in Germany exploded after years of being fueled by hate-mongering government officials and military leaders, as well as those who had the ear of Herr Hitler. Watching this video on the History website, one cannot be unmoved by similarities: http://www.history.com/topics/kristallnacht/videos/rise-of-the-nazis. Are the conditions the same, with extreme poverty and unemployment? No. But, if you take an apathetic educated class of people, who do not oppose these seemingly small incidents, you get the same effect.

What happened, four years later? Yes, it took four years for Hitler to be in power before this…

On November 9 to November 10, 1938, in an incident known as “Kristallnacht”, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, also called the “Night of Broken Glass,” some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. German Jews had been subjected to repressive policies since 1933, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) became chancellor of Germany. However, prior to Kristallnacht, these Nazi policies had been primarily nonviolent. After Kristallnacht, conditions for German Jews grew increasingly worse. (http://www.history.com/topics/kristallnacht)

fascismOn May 27, 1941, President Roosevelt conveyed a radio address to the nation, citing an “Unlimited National Emergency.” This emergency was brought about by acts of aggression by the Nazi Party within Europe. Prior to this, more than a year, the Nazis and Hitler had invaded Denmark and Norway (April 1940.) FDR knew that the Nazi Party was hell bent on global domination and that we needed to act to protect the world because, in his words, it was in our best interests to do so. Waiting to act until the Nazis were on our shores would be tantamount to suicide. He begged isolationists to crack the shell, get involved, and above all things, care.

In 1956, the American Nazi party was created. Over the years, it has changed its name and is now the New Order. Remember that the name of this party is the  “National Socialist Party” – something that feels very left-of-center. A variety of divisions within the group have caused it to decline and now, far more conservative, white supremacist, hate-based groups have risen to the fore – The KKK, Aryan Nation, The Order, New Order, and White Patriot Party have filled the vacuum the German Nazi party have left behind. I write this here because it’s important to note that the term “Nazi” isn’t necessarily applicable to the kind of violence that we are seeing in our nation today. White supremacists have picked up the iconography of the National Socialists and made it their own.

On November 4, 1988, President Ronald Reagan made the following Statement, on the 50th Anniversary of Kristallnacht:

Fifty years ago, on the night of November 9-10, 1938, German Nazis committed a nationwide pogrom against Jewish people. By the next morning, scores of Jews were dead, hundreds were injured, and many synagogues, shops, and homes lay in ruins. This vicious attack became known around the globe as “Kristallnacht“—”crystal night” or “the night of broken glass” from the mute evidence of shattered window glass it left in so many streets. Half a century later, we mourn every victim of this pogrom and we rededicate ourselves to preventing repetitions of such brutality anywhere and everywhere.

The world had been ignoring many warning signs in Germany and elsewhere of increasing anti-Semitism, disregard for human rights, and eugenically motivated assaults on individual dignity and worth. Kristallnacht surely should have alerted everyone that time had run out—that the “peace in our time” proclaimed hopefully by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain only a few weeks before was not to be. It took World War II to eliminate the Nazi threat to humanity and to our most sacred values.

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/PERSONALITIESKristallnacht was the opening salvo in violence across Europe and really was an orchestrated attempt to fan the flames of chaos and domination. Americans entered the war only once our personal interests were attacked, mainly because most Americans could not fathom how a war in Europe, the rise of hate-based ideologies, and fascism could affect the cozy American shores. Indeed, even FDR called these people “smug” and full of “smugness.”

And what do we have today? Do we have a similar nation of people who are smug and confident that “Nazism” could never happen in America? In a recent post on Facebook, God posted a picture with this caption: “You don’t get to be a Nazi and a proud American. We literally fought a war about this. The whole world was involved.” People who hate are counting on the ones who don’t to wave the banner of free speech and the First Amendment and give them their “right” to speak and protest and rally. They, and every American, have the right to do so. Thank god. However, should those same people be allowed to actively inflame the other side by carrying guns, equating their right to speak to not letting others speak? Carrying a gun to a rally you are protesting is inviting killing. It is begging for it. In the end, it wasn’t even a gun that killed – it was a man with a car and raging hate in his head.

CVAOne death. It’s hard to believe it was only one death. Yet, one death is all it took for Kristallnacht to happen.

In the fall of 1938, Herschel Grynszpan (1921-45), a 17-year-old ethnically Polish Jew who had been living in France for several years, learned that the Nazis had exiled his parents to Poland from Hanover, Germany, where Herschel had been born and his family had lived for years. As retaliation, on November 7, 1938, the agitated teenager shot Ernst vom Rath (1909-38), a German diplomat in Paris. Rath died two days later from his wounds, and Hitler attended his funeral. Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), the Nazi minister for public enlightenment and propaganda, immediately seized on the assassination to rile Hitler’s supporters into an anti-Semitic frenzy.

If you do not believe that Steve Bannon has not already looked at this incident as an opportunity, you are most likely mistaken. In the book, “The Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” and in more than a few public interviews, this type of situation is an opportunity for chaos and upheaval. It is an opportunity to turn the world on its collective ass and upend the way the government works. He, in turn, has a President who is not exactly devoid of hate. A few of his quotes:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”

“Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”

“If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.”

devil'sbargainAnd we have a public who still supports this president or is, at least, tired and wanting to tune him out. It’s tiring to deal with children. Think… “The Omen.” Perhaps this child isn’t being a cranky 2-year-old on his own, perhaps he has help, encouragement even. Perhaps he has a master manipulator at his side, in his head, driving him to do crazy things because he’s truly weak. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Far from it. I’m skeptical more times than not. The rise of fear-mongering and staggering displays of outright violence have shaken my skepticism.

So, please, let’s do a summation:

  • A President who is indifferent at best and hateful at worst to wide swaths of people, including women, blacks, immigrants, and Mexicans, who lacks conviction to follow through on policies and is not well loved by global leaders;
  • Supported and encouraged, driven by an aide who wants to see the entire world burn in a fire of chaos; a man dismissed by many Washington insiders and administration officials as “unclean, uncouth, and lacking any sense of the world around him;”
  • A fairly apathetic American public who believes “this can’t happen to us, we’re too smart|diverse|educated|rich for the Holocaust to happen here.”

Trump is not Hitler. Trump is Hindenburg.

I am not happy with the American Public. I want in my soul to hide, to get away, to just go away from the hatred. And that is just what these people are counting on. Which pisses me off even more.

Let me reach down, pick up that gauntlet, dust it off, and cram it down their throats.

~TDD

Complacency

Are you comfortable? Are you warm, well-fed, dry, have enough to drink? Warm showers? Bathroom indoors? Excellent. This isn’t judgement. You, like me, are a benefactor of decades and centuries of prosperity, war, genocide, environmental support and ruin, negotiations, smart men and women, and incredibly ignorant men and women. Our life here in the United States is far more fortunate than most of the world. And for all this fortune and well-being, shouldn’t we be an example? A role model, if you will?

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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

lies3For the most part, I have turned off the radio, the TV, the incoming news feeds, etc. With few exceptions, I am limiting the amount of crappy media that is coming into my brain. I open it up for select topics of interest, to keep a finger on the pulse of a schizophrenic U.S.A., such as the Women’s March on Washington. Such as, the amount of visible support or lack there of that this new administration is getting. Continue reading

The Wider View

hopeI was reminded this morning, by one of my dearest friends, that the popular artists of the world die and the world mourns; the neglected and war-impoverished hundreds of thousands die, and the world barely sighs. If we believe the data in Wikipedia (yes, I know…), we can say that somewhere between 315,326,595 and 754,762,571 have died in ALL wars in recorded history. Syria, by contrast with 470,000, is a blip on the map. Hardly a scratch. The difference is, we see all our wars now with faces – on the TV, in the papers, in our Social Media feeds. War is not something far away. Humans may have found ways to kill lesser numbers of people, but they are still killing people regardless. Is this our nature?  Continue reading

Policy, Personality, and the Pussy Divide

the-fight-for-womens-suffrage-hAs we wind up this most exciting and titillating election year (said with as much sarcasm as I am able to deliver in WordPress…) I cannot help but focus on the activities and personality that have come out of the mouths of candidates: specifically, Mr. Trump (Warning: Language!) As Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show, it’s not about the language – it’s about admitting to sexual assault. Trump supporters call the people offended by the video as whiners or, as his surrogates have said, “locker room talk.” If we take a step back and look at the facts, it is admission of his support of sexual assault, and an admission of sexual assault. From the DOJ website, we have this definition: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.” The facts of the tape are not that he did it – that he talked about doing it and that it was okay with him and for him. In essence, he’s condoning illegal activities.

Any of us who have listened to Mr. Trump in the last 30 years knows this is not surprising. His statements are, at the very least, disrespectful of many segments of American society, and at the worst, hypocritical, demeaning, racist, and divisive. He is laser focused on, it appears, segments of society that either love his personality or hate it. There is no in-between, there is no subtle nature; perhaps there is calculation in this maneuvering but it is unclear to me what the end game is.

I have tried to not listen to the personality. I’ve been seeking policy. And this is where I run into issues. Because OF his personality, I can’t keep straight what the actual policies are. Policy is a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, or individual.When discussing this with his supporters, I don’t hear many of them really espousing his policies. What are his policies? Is he in lidonald-trump-splitne with his party? Does he have a set of core values that he can articulate clearly and consistently? I’ve heard him say he’s pro-choice. The Republican party generally is not. I’ve heard him say he’s going to be tough on “border” issues. Yet, I don’t know what that means except build a wall and deport all the “Muslims.” Having worked out so well for China and Hadrian, I don’t know what that will accomplish. Kick out all Muslims? How does that translate into a policy? What is the principle behind it? Is it racism? Or is it something else? Yes, seriously – I want to know.

I admit, I was one who supported Obama because I wanted someone in the White House who was articulate, educated, professional, confident, prudent, and could engender agreement. The Republican Congress made short work of the compromise and agreement, but for the most part, I feel like we got what we asked to get. Pushing aside the other candidates for a moment – this, this “election” is something I do not get. Is the pendulum swinging the other way too far? Because this election has brought out such ugliness, perhaps it needed to happen. However, are we really going to let ugliness rule us in totality for at least four more years?

Oddly enough, the retort to questions about policy is “Well, what has Hillary done? Nothing.” Or, it’s countered with a like story about Hillary’s foibles, or oddly enough, Bill’s. I am dumbfounded by the lack of logical arguments, clear rhetoric, or even understandable debate points. I have heard some of the craziest things from the mouths of other human beings in this country that have, frankly, shocked the hell out of me. Is our country REALLY that bad? This is no Bush Vs. Gore or Romney Vs. Obama. Weirdly enough, this is Trump Vs. Trump. Forget all of the personality – maybe even forget the policy – and just stand in wonder of the logic of the people. Or, as one friend calls them, Sheeple.

I do truly believe that women, though, have to make a stand for a candidate and be clear which one is better for our gender. If we can finally get down to true policy, perhaps we can find out. I doubt it. If Trump’s comments are his policy towards women’s equality, rights, and freedoms, then we all have some hard decisions to make. I cannot believe the women of the U.S.A. would be so asleep as to let HIM happen to us. I don’t know – maybe it really will come down to men versus women. I’d like to hope not but there it is.

I’m truly not advocating for or against any single candidate – make up your own damn mind. What I care about is trying to understand the issues that face us as national community and how we can find people to make that better. There are people among us who we know would be good leaders, and they are – in their community. Maybe that is enough. Maybe that’s where it starts. If our top leadership does go backwards, maybe it’s time for the bottom leadership to start pushing us all forward. ballot-box-facebook

My ballot came yesterday and it sits on my dining room table, waiting to be opened. I need to sit down and think through the issues, re-read the information provided, and try to make a judgement based on what I know and what I see we need. I think back to Madison who believed the majority of the American populace would not know how to choose what is right for themselves. Self-governance is a fallacy, in his estimation. I hope I do not prove him right. I hope we all don’t prove him right.

-TDD

I am Ignorance Teaching Herself

RacismI’m lost. I am feeling as if I am, on the one hand, very thick and dense and clueless, and on the other hand, knowing I am ignorant as hell and in need of a very deep and intense education. I know that this post is going to possibly inflame emotions even more. I’m not trying to do that. I’m trying to light a candle and to understand. I’m trying to figure my way though.

I’m talking about racism. I’m talking about race, about black men being gunned down in the streets by white men (police or otherwise), about profiling hispanic men and women in routine traffic stops to deport them, and about senseless ignorance running rampant. I’m talking about the horror I see every day in the news, as a white woman, and feel powerless to change.

But, I am not powerless, am I? I am ignorant; there is some possibility I can never know how ignorant I really am – simply because I am white. I don’t believe I’ve buried my head in the sand but I haven’t exactly stood up and put my body between ignorant violence / hate and anyone of color, either. I have read history of all sorts: American, British, black, white, Hispanic, indigenous peoples of all kinds. Growing up in California, you learn to speak psuedo-spanish and learn where the Spanish names of your towns come from. There was a time I believed, as a child, I must have been of Hispanic descent simply because I was born in California. You live in a true mixture of culture, color, and identity. I learned from families of all races and nations around me. In some ways, you think the entire world is colorful, like California or New York City.

What you don’t learn as a child, or at least when I was a child, was the cruel conditions that both Native Americans and Mexicans have had to endure to bolster our economy in California. I learned all of this much later, as a very ignorant adult. You don’t see and understand the Southern California and San Jose gang violence until you understand how racism has created a great deal of the underlying issues in the state. When you grow up in the idyllic suburbia, you don’t hear racial slurs and see frightened faces walking down streets at night. You are spoon-fed what the city-state wants you to know and you effectively learn nothing about what it is like to grow up black, brown, red, yellow, or any shade in between. You have no idea about the white-bread news you’ve been getting and how it is so far from the reality that some people live day to day. You grow up ignorant and are shocked when the world smacks you in the face with its ugly, racist self.

Growing up ignorant is no excuse and I have spent years correcting that. I have learned to seek out the less-heard history of minorities and women, to better understand how we racism-today-holding-us-back-from-moving-forward-power-point-5-638became the way we are. I’ve taken classes, read books, listened to speakers, and talked with friends who are not white. I’m still feeling my way through all of this. I hear from all sides that I should not be insulting and say “I don’t see color.” It’s demeaning to say I’m an ally of a movement, and it’s shameful that white mothers say “I’m teaching my children to see beyond color.” Intellectually, I understand that it means that I am discounting a racial history when I say that. I am ignoring someone’s racial culture and the events that lead up to this cruel moment in time. It means I am not seeing the past and ignoring the present.

I then turn my brain to the idea that I have to remember everyone’s history because everyone, with the exception of the white male, has been through “something.” Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Women, Muslims, Christians (Yes, even them) have been through some sort of past trauma and are still going through trauma, hatred, and inexcusable violence. Misogyny stirs in the hearts of even the most visible political candidates and celebrities. Racial and Gender profiling are rampant – politically and in our law enforcement. I am not ignorant to that. I am not ignorant to the fact that slavery is “recent” memory (and not simply gone as we want to believe…), that Jim Crow is alive and well and living in prisons, and that the horror stories that people tell, of living in fear and seclusion for just the color of their skin are real. Of course they are real. All of the blood of black men on the sidewalks, shed by white men, proves it. There is no denying it. It’s not global warming people; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

What am I not getting? I’m not getting how treating everyone equally is wrong, or insulting. What I want to understand is that when I say “I don’t see color,” I’m not saying I don’t see your blackness or redness or gayness or browness; what I’m saying is that I want to treat you like a human being that deserves love, kindness, freedom to do what you want. You deserve my open mind, my laughter, my tears, my thoughts, my compassion, my trust, my forgiveness, and my attention. I know that others do not and I acknowledge that. I will fight for it if I see it happen in front of me, in print, and when I can. I will fight, as I would for any human being that is being oppressed. I will ask, what can I do? Not assume that I know what needs to be done. I would do that for anyone – regardless of color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. And that is what I don’t understand – how, if I do this, it’s insulting. What am I missing? Maybe the difference is personal one to one interaction versus cultural interaction. Maybe my problem is to think that these simple words will overcome an entire cultural problem.

I feel like I am lacking something key, some light, some enlightenment and then I will understand and find a voice. I am lost when I cannot communicate clearly and this… this issue… Racism and Discrimination… it needs, requires, demands clear and thoughtful communication.

I will continue to educate myself. I do not expect anyone who is fighting racial injustices to teach me. If I teach myself, I will own the light bulb that goes off. I will continue to stand up for the wrongs I see happen and ask, what can I do? I do not expect to sit idly by and let others do the heavy lifting. I will listen. And today, I will listen hard. Today, when yet another black man has been shot by a white police officer, in front of his girlfriend and a child, is not the day to have a dialogue about helping. Maybe. Maybe not. We have to mourn the dead and the stupidity before we can find the strength to combat it.

Right now, I am simply sad for the entire human race.

-TDD

Open Letter to My Congressman

Dear Congressman/Senator/Governor/other Elected official,

First off, I would like to point out to you right on the onset I consider you mine. You are my representative, my voice, my conscience, my will when it comes to the law, rules, and regulations of this country. You speak for me. You bear my vote and my witness. Clearly we must establish this up front because, as so often appears the case, you rarely invoke “me.” You tell me about what YOU will do quite often but what will you do in my name? How will you use my name? Remember that you speak for me and as such, I have a thing or two to tell you.

Thomas Paine said “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” You are fast becoming an intolerable evil. Let us begin with the volume of waste that has arrived at my doorstep in the past few weeks. I could paper and entire living room in the sheer junk that has arrived for you or any number of your opponents. Yes, I understand that in many cases, you had nothing to do with it. Yet, you did. You created the environment that allowed this kind of waste and ridiculous spending to occur. Millions upon millions of dollars were spent in this country to elect you – to sway my vote one way or another with splashy campaign ads and mailers.

I didn’t read one.

Would that your money, or the money of those who would elect you could have gone to do something better for the world. That would have swayed my vote. Would that you had spent it philanthropical groups, on public works, on libraries or schools, on roads and homelessness. That would have surely bought my vote. Would that you had spent it by giving jobs to people, rather than to volunteers who mail these things or place them on doorsteps. I would have cast a YES vote for you in a heartbeat.

Stop calling me at all hours of the day to ask me to vote for you. I hang up, as do thousands, if not millions, of others. Stop sending people in your name to court me, to buy me, to seduce me. I am not so easily led. Instead, call me personally. Talk with me, not at me. Find out what my life is like and what I have to say. Find out what is important to me as a person, as a wife, as a homeowner, as an employee, as a business owner. Find out what it’s like to live where I live and deal with what I do, day in, day out. Learn me and you learn how to speak for me.

“Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians. ” Charles Krauthammer

Don’t be surprised at my disillusionment with politics and government. I am a libertarian, pure and simple. I believe there does need to be a government but minimal, and with my voice in the lead. We are a republic, which Webster’s says is “b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government.”

Do you want my vote next time? Do you want what I have to say? Then work for it. Don’t WORK in Washington – work for me. Ask me what I want, listen to what I have to say, then do what I ask you to do. THAT is why I vote for you. Work for me, and I will provide you that one little check mark you want, the one that might put you over the top. Find some values – ones that are real. Find some ethics – ones that I would live by. Find some heart – remember what it’s like to be a person in this world, in this country. Take a moment and breathe the air I breathe, walk in my shoes.

You might actually find that soul that you lost so long ago.

I am a realist enough to know that tonight, election night, I will lose once again. We all will. And the Democratic Republic of the United States of America gasps, another death rattle in all our chests. Tonight, we again lose our choice under the guise of democracy. Again, we lose our right to be a nation of individual thinkers, bound to the lowest common denominator: the politician.

Gods help us all.

-TDD