Cal Thomas … Disrespecting “People of Age”

Don’t think older people are often considered inferior?  Try staying in a hospital where you either grit your teeth, or scream every time some young thing calls you “sweetie” or “honey”.  Grrrr….  This stereotype of the “dear, demented elderly” is often apparent in society as a whole.

Many might not believe it, but I DO read widely on all sides of political and social issues.  I know I am a “bleeding heart” liberal … but I have SOME conservative viewpoints.  I was even quite prepared to vote for a …. gasp!…. Republican this year, if that Republican had been Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich.  Looks pretty sure that I am out of luck there.

Anyway … yesterday I forced myself to read Cal Thomas.  I read Charles Krauthammer and Michael Gerson quite frequently.  I disagree with them for the most part, but I find their opinions to be thoughtful and well reasoned.  And they keep my brain from bulging out too far on the left side. However,  I CANNOT STAND CAL THOMAS.  I force myself to read his column once in awhile when the headline is not terribly off-putting.

Yesterday….. Ugh!  The man thinks in stereotypes.  I might have to vote for Hillary just to spite him.  No wonder the Republican party has lost so many women voters.  In his column, Can’t We Do Better?,  Cal referred  to the Democratic candidates in terms dismissive of women and senior citizens.  He called Hillary a “tired old warhorse” and also criticized her for staying with her husband.  Nobody knows the dynamics of a marriage…and (for the most part)  it should not matter politically.  It is a private matter.  And, let’s face it, with the most conservative Christian voters, she would be damned if she did and damned if she didn’t .  If she stays with him, she is condoning adultery.  If she does leaves him, well.. never mind forgiveness and the sanctity of marriage.

Next he called Bernie a “dinosaur”.  Yet another slam on “old people”.  Never mind that Saint Ronald Reagan was 70 when he took office.  Glad to see at least that Cal is using the age card on BOTH Hillary and Bernie.  Equal opportunity age discrimination!  A bit of a double whammy for Hillary.  Despite what anyone might say…women are judged on their appearance more than men, and “tired old war horse” hits her for both age and appearance.

The political discourse is at lts lowest these days…between agist, racist, and  sexist remarks…not to mention tacky “manhood” comparisons. Ugh!

Can’t we do better?  Can’t YOU do better, Cal Thomas?!

Has Social Media Eaten Our Brains?

I read Esther Cepeda’s column today in my morning newspaper...A deliciously revolting takedown of our Internet-obsessed way of life”. 

In her column, Cepeda reviews the book I hate the Internet: A Useful Novel Against Man, Money and the Filth of Instagram.

I must read this book. Her review reminds me of a much-panned book I read a few years ago … Killing Time by Caleb Carr.  I wrote a blog post quoting passages from the book. Is it real..or is it Spark Notes? expressed my concern about the negative potential of a media where anyone..even me….can be a published author, and where information is being summarized and deep reading is discouraged.

To our students, information all pretty much looks the same.  As a matter of fact, garbage posted in a pretty package actually looks better than the most profound literature posted in plain, old-fashioned html.  I see so much mis-information being thrown around on FB et al.  If that is what you depend on for your news…you will never understand what is real and what is fake.  Recently I have blocked all political posts from my FB feed.  I have made a conscious decision that I will NOT get my information from a platform that is perfect for having a social conversation, and terrible for finding accurate “just the facts” news, let alone measured, informed opinions.

I confess. I HAVE made an exception for Donald Trump.  I search for the most balanced and accurate reports that I can find and post links.  Why the exception? Because people did not do enough to stop Hitler and look what happened there!!  I feel it is my moral obligation to reveal the danger of Trump.  But part of his amazing rise to prominence has to do with the fact that he talks in the outrageous sound bytes that passes for intelligent discourse these days.  In the words of Caleb Carr:

The human brain adores it [Information] – it plays with the bits of information it receives, arranging them and storing them like a delighted child. But it loathes examining them deeply, doing the hard work of assembling them into integrated systems of understanding. Yet that work is what produces knowledge… The rest is simply – recreation. (Killing Time, p. 235)

And in the words of Esther Cepeda:

As a result, social media and participatory journalism sites became “a place where complex systems gave the mentally ill the same platforms of expression as sane members of society, with no regard to the damage they caused to themselves or others.” And this had the effect of making Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Gawker, BuzzFeed and so many other sites where people have so-called conversations an environment that “preyed on the gullible, asking them to create content based on inflamed emotion for the sake of serving advertisements.”

 Sound like anyone we know?

1930s Germany Redux?

Good reading in this morning’s newspaper.  First was an excellent letter to the editor comparing the mood in our country right now to the atmosphere in Germany that led to Hitler.  I am SO afraid that we are going down that path.

The second reading was an editorial by Leonard Pitts.  I know.  Many think of Pitts as a flaming liberal, but please read what he has to say.  I read the conservative viewpoints regularly.  Many of them have very valid points.  I have even been able to agree with a few (very few) statements made by – ugh – Cal Thomas. It takes effort for me to force myself to read what he says – but I do it just so I don’t lean so far left that I collapse.

Both these readings help me understand …a little…why so many people are supporting Trump. It has been inexplicable to me thus far. I cannot understand how anyone can support this travesty of a human being.  Today, Leonard Pitts described him as a “vulgar, narcissistic bigot with the impulse control of a sleep-deprived toddler”.  That pretty well sums up my mental image of the man. However, Pitts went on to examine why so many support him, and how the country needs to respond to those very real problems, which they somehow think only Trump can fix.  He really helped me understand.

Much to think about in these two articles.  I cannot find a link to the letter, but below is a link to the essay by Leonard Pitts.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: What to do after Donald Trump

How Do We Solve A Problem Like The Donald??

I admit it.  I have been stumped by Trump.  Why has this joke not gone away?  My reading came together this morning with an editorial by Charles Krauthammer, and a Psychology Today article posted by a former teacher colleague of mine I greatly respect.  The disregard for thinking deeply, along with the rise of bullies who shout the loudest on social media goes a long way to explain the Trump phenomenon.

The solution to the Donald Problem is education.  It is NOT a quick fix, and apparently it is too late to save us from Trump.  Only Hillary or Bernie can do that right now. Ultimately our saviours will be our teachers.  If we can stop burdening them with senseless testing requirements, there will be time to teach students the deep reading and analytical skills they will need in this complex world.  We will have time to teach them how to debate with their intellect and not the volume of their voices.

The article by Charles Krauthammer  supports the ideas expressed in the Psychology Today article.  In the editorial Krauthammer explains why so many Evangelical conservatives support Trump, even though it is obvious to ANYONE who has EVER attended a Christian church regularly, that Trump is NOT an Evangelical….or even a serious Christian.  What he IS, is a loud-mouthed bully who gets his way by being the most aggressive.  People are scared and think this is the only way to be safe in a world increasingly run by bullies. It is easier to have a bodyguard than to find a way for people with differing opinions to live together in peace, treating each other with respect.

 We DO have a choice.  We can resist the Trumps of this world, or we can bow down and pay them the protection money and power they are trying to extort. Which will it be?

A Joke That Has Gone Viral In Every Sense Of The Word

Many of you know that I have taken a vow of Facebook silence with regards to political and social opinions. It has made my FB page a much happier place to be. However, I realized this morning that I cannot remain silent about Trump. Treating him as a joke is no longer an option. After the David Duke debacle, I realized that the man is dangerous.

I saw this picture this morning and realized that there are parallels with Adolph Hitler. Because of that, I can NOT, in good conscience, remain silent. We are in danger folks. This is no longer funny. The quote in the picture paraphrases a very powerful quote about Hitler. It opened my eyes.

TrumpHitlerQuote

The above quotation should sound ominously familiar.  It is based on one of the most powerful quotes ever written about Hitler and Naziism. 

From the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Martin Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392