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Monday, July 22, 2019

Are you ready for the riots?

The protests in Hong Kong  demonstrated the power that people can assert even over a totalitarian government like China's, which took control of Hong Kong in 1997.  Beijing proposed a law through which people arrested in Hong Kong could be extradited to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist party.  Hong Kong residents saw this law as a way to impose politically motivated persecutions against those who might criticize the government.  People in Hong Kong took to the streets in demonstrations that sometimes turned into riots.  While the governing representatives tried various offers of appeasement, the demonstrators refused to accept anything but total withdrawal of the bill, and they continue to demonstrate for that end.  The people of Hong Kong want that law and any chance of resurrecting it killed.  They won't stop protesting until they get what they want.

A photo from Puerto Rico this weekend.

The people of Puerto Rico have also decided it is time to demand a cleaning-up of their government and that the government won't do anything unless it is threatened with threats backed up by action.

Such intransigence on the part of the people is a part of 
American history.  When Lyndon Johnson realized that the protesters against the Vietnam War were not going away, he chose not to run for president.  The growing resistance to the war was an unavoidable force that was affecting Johnson's domestic programs.  As some of the protests grew violent, he saw his power and influence diminish. So, he withdrew from political life and set up the conditions that produced Watergate.  The election of Nixon was a paradox.  He ended the war, ended the draft, established the Environmental Protection Agency, but used ruthless corruption to get and keep power.  About half of the voters desire a godfather, not a president, a fact which keeps democracy on the brink of failure.

During Trump's presidency, there have been massive protest demonstrations for specific ends, but they have all been largely peaceful.  Violence has been minimal up to this time.  However, there are political scholars who track protest demonstrations for acts of violence.  And there are people trained in actual rhetoric, which is not propaganda but the skillful use of persuasive speech, who keep note of when reasoned argument fails and the emotions are approaching violence.  With Trump's attacks on four congressional women of color and the campaign chant of "Send her back," American politics have reached the point where established facts and reasoned argument have no effect.  Trump's rallies are rituals of mindless rage, during which he conducts his followers in Orwellian sessions of hate.  As has been noted before by advocates of peaceful demonstration, most people do not seem inclined to pay attention to words but do get more thoughtful when confronted with violence.  Trump has pushed  the nation to the point where violence seems inevitable when the state of our political discourse is examined.

When literate people realize that language is being subverted and destroyed to the point that it is useless in the transactions of life, they have to make a choice.  They can submit to the destructive forces and accept existence under totalitarian circumstances, or they can actively resist such forces, knowing that words will have no effect.  Physical action and force become the communication forms.

The betrayal through the subversion of language is as prominent a part of American history as the documents--the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, etc.--we claim to revere.  That betrayal is engraved in the Indian treaties we never honored but used to defraud and subjugate the American Indians.  To a people who depended upon the integrity of the word as an essential basis of their culture, being deliberately lied to was devastating and demoralizing to their culture.  The cancerous words were as deadly as the biological warfare of dispensing smallpox-infected blankets to them.  Although the reservations on to which they were herded bear the signs of poverty and genocide inflicted on the people, they are also the places where the sanctity of the spirit and honor of the word is quietly  often secretly, revered.

Americans are horrified at riots in which people burn down their neighborhoods and unleash a general violence that defies law and order.  But those riots come when people have been betrayed with false promises and assailed by malicious language.  People realize that nothing frightens other people into a conciliatory frame of mind like a raging mob.  And members of raging mobs have reached the conclusion that they have nothing to lose; they might lose everything they possess, but also what oppresses them.  One has to be particularly insentient not to realize many Americans have reached that point.  And they can point out exactly what has pushed them to that point.

It is essentially the same pernicious and malicious devices that  were used to betray and subjugate the American Indian.  But this time they are being used against a broad swath of the American people, and the Trump administration has accrued a record of daily offenses.  The basic fact is that not a word coming out of Trump can be believed or trusted.  the has eliminated language as the primary tool of democratic governance.  Almost every noise that comes out of his mouth is malicious.

In his attacks against the four Congresswomen of color, he rages that they should apologize for the things they say.  But multiple fact-checkers have provided verified evidence that they have never said the things he accuses them of saying.  While they have the First Amendment right to speak out, he denies that they have the right to exercise.  And his representations of their words are simply malicious lies or defamations.  Trump's record of business dealings is one of fraud, malice, and vicious dishonesty.  When he announced his candidacy, conservative publications denounced his history of grifting, bur now that he holds power, the Republican Party cowers behind him as their lord and savior.  And they issue threats against those who oppose him.

What the Trumps supporters fail to recognize is that people throughout the world, in places such as Hong Kong and Puerto Rico, are not willing to live under the rule of  malice and oppression.  The next massive demonstrations that take to the streets in protest of Trump will not issue gentle words of disapproval.  They know that language, good will, and reason have been destroyed as part of the American political apparatus.

I join those who believe that Trump will never serve another term.  Even if he is elected, there will be no country to rule over.  Because if he is elected, that means the utter failure of the great American experiment and time to junk that failure.  But for those who track political demonstrations, they generally agree that the populace has reached the explosion point.  Many think the country will erupt in flames before we the next presidential election, because the opposition to Trump understands that the GOP which supports Trump is a large part of what the United States have become.

The divisions within the nation are not about how to run a republic.  They are between those who want a country od liberty, equality, and justice and those who want to exercise fascistic power over other people.  The division is between those who want to perfect democracy and those who want to exercise Nazi-like discriminations on the basis of race and class.  It is time to plan for the dissolution  of a country that is spiraling toward democratic failure.

So, what do you plan to do when the riots come to your town?

Monday, July 8, 2019

How the Fourth of July was ruined as a patriotic holiday

Nike's Betsy Ross shoes withdrawn from sale

Tanks rumble in the Capitol

Donald Trump was so impressed by a military parade he saw in Paris that he wanted one with his name attached to it.  He appropriated the Fourth of July as an occasion for such a spectacle and he ordered that military hardware--jet fighters and tanks, etc.--be brought out to a party over which he would preside.  He ordered tanks, which caused logistics problems.  They are so heavy that they break down the roads on which they travel, so they have to be hauled on special trailers.  Even then, if one of the trailers happens to roll over a sidewalk while making a tight turn, it will crush the sidewalk.  The National Park Service had to divert $2.5 million that it collected in fees to maintain and upgrade its parks to help fund Trump's obsessive whim.  Cost estimates place the total at $92 million.  Most people, including Republicans such as former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, see the occasion as about Trump, not the American Declaration of Independence.  Everything Trump does is a denial of the process which led to the Declaration of Independence.

Steele points out that the streets of Washington, D.C., are not built to withstand trampling  by heavy armor,  because we never were or intended to be a nation that needed displays of militaristic power.  President Eisenhower said that shows of military force were a sign of weakness, not a display of confidence in our democracy.    So, Trump took over the national day to recognize the birth of our independence and tried to make it a display of the military.  He gave a speech which an Ivy League professor likened to  an "angry grandpa reading a 5th graders' book report on American Military History."

The most memorable part of Trump's speech was this line about the Revolutionary War:  "Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory."  That reference to airports  130 years before there was one or any purpose in having one reduced the day into an absurdity.  It was much more than a gaffe.  While the White House defended it as a malfunction cause by Trump reading the speech off of a rain-obscured teleprompter, the fact is the words that were uttered, and if any mind were present at the speaking of those words, it would have made some effort to correct the absurdity.  It may be be the most apt expression of the state to which Trump and his pompous inanity has reduced the nation.  And it must be stressed that Trump has speech writers, so those incoherent words had some planning.

Another event involved Nike's plans to issue a shoe that featured the Betsy Ross flag.  The plan was canceled when Colin Kaepernick, a consultant for the company, told it that the "Betsy Ross flag had been co-opted by groups espousing racist ideologies."  Kaepernick has been accused of being anti-patriotic because he chose to kneel during the national anthem before football games to mourn the unarmed black men who had been shot down in the streets during an epidemic of police killings.  The withdrawal of the Betsy Ross shoes also inspired those who participate in the resurgent racism to condemn Nike and Kaepernick.

Trump and his supporters turned the Fourth into an occasion marked by the malice and the incoherence that marks the Trump regime.  The Fourth of July is no longer a celebration of the beginning of a nation devoted to freedom, equality, and justice, but is now a reminder of the malignant forces that want to possess America.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States