Sunday, October 8, 2017

F#$% “Civility”

From the Desk of Slats MacCune: Professional Dreamweaver.

Done clutching the pearls yet?  We live in times that are too brutal for more genteel phrases such as “de-select civility.” 

Civility should not be an excuse for pusillanimity in the face of fascism, or authoritarianism of any stripe.  Sometimes, direct action is the only way to roll.

Stripping ideology aside, bullies take comfort in the expectation of measured responses.  When I was in the 7th grade, a cul-de-sac tormentor named Frank put me in a head-lock and would not let go.  He thought that I would not react strongly to his aggression.  When I wheeled around and punched him in the face, the dynamic shifted immediately.  From that point on, I earned the wide berth I was given.  It wasn’t a time for a polite debating society.

Shifting to far more serious and systemic matters, Brittany “Bree” Newsome was a hero for climbing that flagpole in South Carolina and removing that evil Confederate flag.  The protestors were right to pull down the “Confederate Soldiers Monument” in Durham, NC recently. Those who call for moderation for the sake of moderation in word and deed are abdicating their moral responsibility to speak out against the hate mongers who have a) always plagued America and b) are re-asserting themselves quite vigorously in the Trump era.         

I know you folks in Howard County put a premium on (some might say fetishize) the concept of civility as an end in-and-of itself.  Civility should not be exercised automatically. Not everyone deserves it.  Nazis certainly don’t.  The “alt-Right” doesn’t.  Frankly, these fascists and their fellow travelers rely on “reasonable” people who choose to act “civilly” as opposed to taking a stand and fighting back. 

As Dante wrote about those who “in a time of moral crisis” opted to “preserve their neutrality,” there are people “who made, through cowardice, the great refusal.”  Now is not the time for equivocation or vacillation in the face of those who embrace the dogmas of hatred.  And if that means not turning the other cheek, then so be it.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

2016: Let Us Smash this Rehash

Frankly, the Republicans are the only ones who benefit from the constant re-articulation of a narrative that puts the blame on Secretary Clinton’s loss on the 12% of Sanders primary voters who went with Trump in the General Election.* 

What is particularly tiresome about this line of argumentation, although it possesses a kernel of truth to it, is that there absolutely would have been a significant number of Clinton primary voters that would not have cast their ballots for Bernie-as-D-nominee (and gone as far as voting for Trump) in November.  Would it have been 12%, probably more like 6%-8%, but I would argue that 1) Bernie would likely have not have turned out as many white Democratic women as Clinton, 2) the GOP corporatist machine (functionally aided by many New Democratic-inclined well-heeled fundraisers who would have sat at home) would have decimated Sanders with a predictable (read: socialist-baiting) and brutal line of attack in the Fall campaign, and 3) many of those Sanders primary voters-Trump general election voters possessed an anti-neo-liberal worldview (which, at times, seemed to be closer to where Trump stood on trade, if you believed what he said).  Without Sanders or a similarly situated candidate, most probably would have sat out the primary election entirely.

The current-day finger-pointing and blame-shifting is painful to witness when the threat to our Republic is so abundantly clear. Outside of personal ego trips, it does the Democratic Party (no matter where one resides within this noble faction) little good to criticize a substantial percentage of the Party’s 2016 electorate.    

Frankly, with high-profile Democrats, including potential 2020’ers like Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren, announcing their support for Medicate-for-All legislation, those who belong to the Party of the People should be overjoyed that we might be able to run on a coherent and compelling platform against what is likely to be a weak GOP nominee.

Yes, Virginia, the ’20 Democratic nominee is likely to be someone with backing from Establishment players.  Yes, this person will probably not be a social democrat.  But, given what our nation has experienced since 1/20/17, I for one would gladly take a half-loaf for stable, moderately progressive governance in the Executive Branch.  Right now, given the President we have, he makes Congressman Delaney and Governor McAuliffe look like very appealing options.    

In short, let us bury the unproductive arguments of 2016.  The stakes for the 99% are too high to worry about the past actions of the 12% of one sub-set of voters.  The right candidate, with the right message, can bring them into the fold.

In solidarity.

*For the record, I voted for Senator Sanders in the primary.  It was not an easy decision but ultimately, he was closer to where I stood on a variety of issues.  And yes, I “came home” for the general election and voted for Secretary Clinton, as she was, at the very least, qualified to hold the office, sufficiently progressive on enough issues, and not demonstrably insane like the GOP nominee.  So don’t refer to me “Bernie Bro.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Monumental Lunacy

The Howard County Times, taking the concept of "on-the-other-hand-ism" to its illogical apogee, penned a horrendously ill-thought out and terribly crafted editorial, which can be found here.

Choosing to conflate a repository of knowledge (a library) with a celebration of traitors who fought for the Confederacy (the monument on the courthouse grounds in Ellicott City), the scribbler who penned that piece appears to have lost the thread immediately after the byline.

The call for a "modulated" response is nonsensical.  The Civil War ended (spoiler: The South lost) 152 years ago, why is additional time needed to ponder the fate of something which should never have been installed in the first place?

Employing the same kind of reflexive anti-reasoning that calls for "bipartisanship," even when one side is clearly in the right while the other is demonstrably wrong, the HoCo Times has embarrassed itself with an editorial that appears to claim that opponents of this marker are attempting to "rewrite history."  Rubbish.  The people on the monument simply do not deserve to be remembered, on public grounds, as those who "fought for their beliefs in a vastly different era." This phrasing almost sounds romantic and the rest of the sentence, which almost grudgingly acknowledges that they were on "the wrong side of history by allowing and condoning slavery" is not nearly damning enough.  They turned their back on country and picked up arms to preserve the abomination of slavery, and all of the suffering that came with that evil institution.

The only proper response is for the marker's immediate removal.  Anything else is unacceptable.  For the Times to not recognize this is not a sign of a struggle against "political correctness," it is a sign of their failure to perceive moral correctness.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

In These Times

With today’s tragedy in Charlottesville, and the continuing abdication of moral leadership on technicolor display in Bedminster, it is, as always, important to reflect upon first principles and consider historical patterns.

This President, and his failure to condemn white nationalist terrorism by name, once again demonstrates his unfitness to serve.  While he has, at least on a metaphorical level, already “lost Cronkite,” the question remains: when, if at all, will Congress decide that enough is already far too much and take action? 

The Political Left, as it did in the Civil Rights Movement and during Vietnam, is standing front and center in defense of American principles and our moral center.  Members of the Democratic Socialists of America were hit by the driver who rammed his car through the crowd of counter-protestors.  Leaders in the progressive faith community, such as Reverend William Barber, have been visible in their denunciations of the moral turpitude coming out of this White House in general and the Poltroon by the Potomac specifically.  Liberal-minded policymakers and activists, as well as every-day centrist or apolitical but outraged Americans, and even some (albeit few) conservatives, have taken to the streets to voice their opposition to this Administration.  Organizations that are not inherently ideological in a strict right/left sense, but who advocate on behalf of causes that are viewed as progressive, such as Black Lives Matter, are advocating for social change.  Analogues from the ‘60s for all of these individuals and groups (with varying degrees of similarity) can be found, from Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to SNCC, to the many “New Left” groups that mobilized against the Vietnam War and for civil rights at home.     

This is not to say that the American Left is the sole repository of virtue.  Most Americans, from across the political spectrum, stand foursquare opposed to the latest incarnation of the Klan/Nazi plague, the alt-right.  The challenge rests in ridding this hate from our land; and in demanding that this Administration immediately remove from itself those who identify with the alt-right.  Of course, if the Administration were to simply remove itself, that would be a good start.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.