First Amendment Under Attack

Donald Trump is a danger to democracy. I remember the scenes in this video from the nightly news folks. They formed my strongly held beliefs in civil rights. If somehow the plight of the protesters in the 60s civil rights era does not move you – please broaden the message of this video. Trump would do everything possible to silence ANYONE who disagrees with him. It is our first amendment rights we need to defend. Can we say “Nazi Germany”?

Trump’s violent rhetoric and bigotry aren’t new to America…

Michelle Obama comments at the DNC showed pride

Mostly I like to keep my blood pressure in check by not responding to comments online or in the print media. However – sometimes I just can’t stop myself.

In a letter to the editor in our Sunday paper, a writer said:

Michelle Obama’s comment was ignorant

For being a smart and educated woman I was surprised at the stupid comment that came out of Michelle Obama’s mouth.
Basically that she “had to sleep in a place that was built by slaves.”. Really?

Considering that slavery has been around for centuries dating back to Rome and Europe, and Africans sold other Africans. Obviously she didn’t have a problem moving into “that house” eight years ago. Poor Michelle. What a martyr.

Not sure my response will be printed, but here is my letter:

Michelle Obama’s comment showed pride not ignorance

When people quote another person, they should be sure to get the quote and its context correct. Michelle Obama did NOT say that she “had to sleep in a place that was built by slaves.” as one writer quoted in today’s paper.

Michelle actually talked about “generations of people …. who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

These are the words of a person who is proud of her heritage AND proud of America for evolving beyond slavery. This quote is entirely different in both content and meaning than the misquote from today’s letter writer.

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