Not Just a “Difference of Opinion” or “Politics” #Values #Deplorables

Not Just a “Difference of Opinion” or “Politics” #Values #Deplorables

The first actual Monday of 2020 – I’m not counting the pseudo-Monday of last Tuesday, for those of us who returned to the grind for the longest two-day work week on record – was a chance to catch up and wish everyone a happy year ahead.

After easing into the new year with a short week, 2020 is off and running. I see lots of positivity and kindness resolutions already challenged by social media, especially as government-by-Twitter and the Tweet War of 2020 heat up.

I’d just like to say this, and I hope you’ll read the whole thread:

 

 

International Blog Delurking Week 2020

International Blog Delurking Week? What’s that about? I haven’t been lurking…

Wait! No! You’ve been lurking! Yes, you, Dear Reader. At least I think there are more of you than the few loyal friends and family members who’ve subscribed (ahem, nine of you) and commented (all twenty of you). Anyway, it’s the first full week of January, and it’s your turn to take center stage. During the first full week of January, it’s open mic – leave a comment, please, and let me know that you’re here. Blogging is more fun when it’s a conversation, so don’t be shy – join in. I’d like to get to know you better, and to know what kinds of things you like to read.

It appears that International Blog Delurking Week was started by Melissa on the blog Stirrup Queens, in either 2010 or 2011.  I learned about it from Parul Thakur at Happiness and Food.

Commit to Vote Informed

For me, the issue is not about one Party or another, nor is it about tolerating mere “differences of opinion.” I’ve never voted straight ticket in my life, and the world is big enough to allow you to like green while I prefer purple. Choosing a representative government is about core values; it’s about which candidates have a proven track record of acting and voting in accordance with our most important core values, prioritized. None are perfectly aligned with mine, but some are completely misaligned and some are clearly “all hat, no cattle” and will say whatever nonsense gets them votes.

In a discussion, earlier today, I provided the following links, which mostly date back to 2016 and were, I thought, credible and pretty well publicized at the time, but that seem like surprising news to some people, even today:

We’re not uninformed; we’re just choosing to be misinformed and disinformed by other voices when it’s convenient and seems to fit with our world view. Of course we know this is true of other people, but meanwhile, we refuse to look ourselves in the mirror under such harsh light.

It’s intellectually lazy, to some degree, but to be fair, there are people who are very good at propaganda, very determined to divide and demoralize, or to divide and conquer. Whether their end goal is to conquer the nation or to simply divide the people in it for their own amusement is up for debate, but we should all be wary of falling into that trap.

What Does It Mean to Be “Deplorable”?

Clinton made the original remark at a fundraiser Friday evening, saying: ‘To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.’

By Saturday, she expressed regret that she’d said as many as “half” of Trump’s backers fell into that category,  but she didn’t completely back away from the broader sentiment.

USA Today

People don’t like to be called “deplorables.” I get that. It’s hard enough to swallow, being called out for deplorable behavior, but quite another to be made to own it and wear it like a scarlet letter. To make “deplorable” a noun feels defining. It chafes like rough wool.

I’m pretty sure that many of us, even if we supported Trump, would have immediately shrugged and said, “I’m in the other half, I get what she’s saying, but here’s why I’m voting for him…” But the thing is, I askedrepeatedly – in 2016, “Why are you voting for Trump?” The only answer I ever got was, “He’s not Hillary.” Or, “He’s not a libtard.” Or, “Democrats suck.” I heard a lot of, “He tells it like it is,” especially right after he bragged about how he felt entitled to grab women by the pussy. I guarantee you, if Barack Obama had said that, or if Hillary Clinton had bragged that she could walk down 5th Avenue, shoot someone dead, and still get elected, they’d have been un-electable then and there.

“If you don’t like it, go back where you came from!” Much as I’d love to go hang out on Daytona Beach, that’s not going to solve anything. To suggest that anyone who feels our current administration is unqualified or corrupt and unfit to govern is “unpatriotic” is ridiculous. It’s not unpatriotic to question and criticize our government, especially when we do so with evidence and not mere snark and vitriol; in fact, it’s a right enshrined in our Constitution. It’s one of the main reasons we do pledge allegiance to the flag – not to a piece of cloth on a pole, but to the ideals that formed a nation.

Today it is more important than ever to protect our freedom of speech. Too many people have come to believe that discussion and debate are inadequate; they seek a society that squelches dissent with force. In law, government regulations are censoring speech that is “disparaging,” “immoral,” and “offensive.”

In culture, people attack the speaker rather than engaging their ideas. Opponents vilify speakers as “misogynists,” or “racists,” and then attempt to drive them from the public square, or deprive them of their livelihood. In worst-case scenarios, disagreeable speech is met with violence. These attacks on the tradition of free speech are damaging to a free society and suppress uninhibited, robust, and wide open debate.

Remembering why free speech is important, by Wencong Fa.

So let’s look at the definition of that word, “deplorable.” 

WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. S.v.

First, I’d argue that it didn’t “squelch” free speech at all, nor was it meant to – it was deploring specific, enumerated sorts of attitudes and behaviors. While no one should fear jail time or the wrath of the Internet horde, they should not imagine they’re immune from having their ideas judged and found lacking.

Second, I think that the word applies. The very same people who make crude jokes or bandy about ethnic slurs aimed at minorities, who have no trouble slinging around profanity, calling women “bitch” or “cunt,” or who casually threaten others with bodily harm – these people suddenly get offended at being called “deplorable”? They unironically lash out at liberal “snowflakes”? Joke about drinking “liberal tears” in their morning coffee? Don’t make me laugh. They are deplorable. They have “undesirable” and “negative” qualities, deserving of rebuke and censure. That is, by definition, deplorable. The only questionable part of what Clinton said was “half.” She later expressed regret for making it sound like so many, but hindsight suggests her estimation of 50%  was low.

It’s also possible that even these “deplorables” have some good qualities. Maybe they make some tasty scones, or drive their kids’ carpool and never run a red light. Maybe they mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn when needed, or host a blood drive for a coworker in need of a rare blood type. Does that mean they can’t be criticized? 

Criticism shouldn’t mean wiping out all the good things a person is or does. That’s why using “deplorables” as a noun is so hurtful, so wrong, but so tempting because some of the particular things we find deplorable seem to so readily overshadow all the good things – some of which we may never learn about some people, because we want nothing to do with them now. It’s also convenient shorthand when the alternative is a laundry list of things like, “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic…” 

If you can accept general criticism of men or police officers or white people, recognizing that those dishing it are well aware of the many exceptions – the fact that #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter and #NotAllMen are mansplainers and sexual harassers – if you can  understand that when black people say, “Black Lives Matter” or when LGBTQ folk say things like, “Trans Lives Matter” there’s an unspoken “too” at the end, because that “too” is the part too many people don’t seem to understand and respect, then you can accept that many Trump supporters are, in fact, deplorable, and that if you are truly an exception you can count yourself in the other half. Look in the mirror now and then to be sure you’re not being “triggered” by the truth.

Just realize that who you vote for and how they manifest what you stand for is a choice. Your skin color, birthplace, culture, sexual orientation, disabilities – those are not choices. But you are responsible for your choices and the beliefs and values on which you base them.

What’s “deplorable” is when people reveal their deplorable thoughts, their deplorable attitudes towards their fellow humans, then  elect officials who will translate those thoughts and attitudes into action, without first listening and seeking to understand why others consider the thoughts and attitudes so deeply, morally wrong.

What’s “deplorable” is when people put their basest fears on display and prove their quick willingness to ignore the standards by which they judge others – when they readily act exactly like the people and behaviors they claim to despise. Such stunning hypocrisy!

A friend of mine once said that “politics is religion, manifest.” What’s “deplorable” is watching people you once looked up to and respected twist themselves into pretzels trying to rationalize and justify putting their own professed religious doctrines, their own self-touted morals, the ethical standards and behaviors, laws, and supposed principles of functioning civilization aside to lash out, to bully, and to hurt people who’ve done nothing at all to them, in support of demonstrably poor leaders who act only in furtherance of their own profit. It’s very hard to see that in family and friends. Sometimes, anger is really just grief and sorrow, manifest.

Contemporary Sonnet #010101010101

Contemporary Sonnet #010101010101

Contemporary Sonnet #010101010101

I morfed while speaking ASL (or was that a/s/l?)
Across the keys my fingers moved, in ALL CAPS DID I YELL
Hermaphroditic princess of Marcel Duchamp’s white throne
Nonplussed by nonsense on the screen, the drivel of a drone.
He asked me “Do u wanna chat?” l asked him, “Can you spell?
He asked “Whut R u Waring?” and I muttered, “Go to Hell.”
I judge performance with a pen, its ink as red as blood;
If you say “Insert A in B,’ your name, it will be mud.”
He vowed to be my lackey; and I, his Mistress (“Dork!”)
Dispatched him to a chat room with a jeweled tuna fork
And there did bade him to recite, in front of all and sundry,
A sonnet from atop his head – no limp iambic blund’ring!
He couldn’t get it up to rhyme (his fountain pen, I mean!)
Next thing he did was disconnect, and ne’er again was seen.


Written in 2007, based on an online chat circa 1990 but apparently one of those “evergreen” things that’s relatable, even today. Reposted in answer to

Some things never change.

Asibikaashi #WednesdayVerses

Asibikaashi #WednesdayVerses

Strong threads you weave;
A web of them,
At first, to swaddle and protect –
Softly subtle, safe cocoon,
Where only pleasant dreams reside.

Bright sunlight flickers,
warm, upon the glass, and I
Can’t move. Can’t breathe.
Your sticky net catches everything
Grows tighter as I struggle,
Wiggling free.
Where once I fed on you,
You feed on me.

Night terror, you,
Your breath tickling my cheek.
Does it still breathe? I hardly dare.
Half-dreaming, I reach out,
Slap you. Slap me.

So long ago, a truce – you
Retreated to the shadows,
Present, still.
Those graying wisps
Hang tattered, torn, defeated.
I learned to deal with nightmares
On my own.

But there! Just now,
Upon the dew-kissed window-pane,
I see you! Sunning yourself.
Smiling at the rounded belly
Beneath my hand, as we
In our own ways, our own time –
Begin to weave.


Happy New Year. And welcome to #WednesdayVerses. Vinay and Reema are offering a prompt each Wednesday to inspire you to write a poem. If it does, write it as a post on your blog, then come link up with them. If it doesn’t, then browse the links to read what others have written, and share the posts with your poetry-loving friends. The linky is open from Wednesday till the following Tuesday night! Please add your post to the link only if it is a post written for #WednesdayVerses. All are welcome and invited to participate.

The prompt for this week is the picture of a lovely dream-catcher, which finds its origins in Ojibwe legends. A link to the image is here.


Author’s note: I wanted to learn more about the real history of the Native American dreamcatcher – not just the commercialized motif so popular since the 1990s or so and more likely made in China, now, than by Native American hands. I hope that my own reading and interpretation of the story does it justice. What I saw, in reading the legends, was mothers and sisters and grandmothers standing in as proxies for the protective Spider Woman, Asibikaashi, whose web hangs over children’s cradles and beds and “catches” all the nightmares and only lets good thoughts and dreams come through the center. But children grow up; part of becoming an adult is struggling against the protection and safety of their elders’ “webs” and learning to take care of themselves, so that they can one day take care of others. As a mother, myself, I know that it’s only after we’ve broken free of the “constraints” of what we see as “overprotectiveness” that we’re ready to accept help from the old “spider women” whose webs once chafed and annoyed us.

Observant: My #OneWord365 for 2020

Observant: My #OneWord365 for 2020

My parents were the first to observe just how unobservant I am.  There’s a reasonable chance that, when my mom said, “Look quick! Did you see the [bear, deer, flying monkeys, velociraptor]?” it was just a feeble attempt to startle my nose out of a good book, so that I would not miss the endless mile markers as they raced backwards through the tempered glass windows of our VW. I imagined the slow respiration of stalwart trees pumping oxygen into the shimmering air as it rose in heat waves from the asphalt. Jarred so abruptly from the pages of other worlds as they took solid form in my head, it’s hard not to notice the sudden nausea brought on from reading in the car. “You’ll get carsick if you keep reading that, you know.” I did notice things, but I may have missed a beady-eyed crow as it flew faster to our destination than vulcanized rubber tires could carry us.

I think I’d had one or two dates with my husband before I noticed whether or not he wore glasses, or sported a mustache. I did notice his intelligence, his kindness, his trustworthiness – those things that matter most, but would hardly count at all in a police line-up. My mother laughed at me, perhaps relieved that I could not mentally reconstruct the tickle of hair against my upper lip. I doubt that I will ever put Sherlock Holmes to shame, but I think I have done, and can do, better than that.

It’s not just that writers need to be able to pick the purloiners of letters from a line-up; writers need to restock the bits and bobs that build imaginary worlds and all the actors in them. They don’t spring up from the void, fully formed; they are lovingly crafted from snippets of conversation; flashes of memory; wiggly things found under rocks; wisps of nightmares. The imagination must be restocked through keen observation and refilled like a muddy trout pond after years of drought and neglect. Laser focus on particular and pragmatic projects can lead to lack of energetic interest and observation when it comes to everything else.

There is another sense of the word observant: that of being diligently attentive to principles. In a sense, that brings me full circle to 2015, when I first discovered this insidious concept of choosing a single word to guide me in the coming year. In “Just ONE Word? You’re Kidding, Right?” I chose the word, “commit.” Last year’s word was, “limitless.” Did I observe time slipping, stealthy, from year to year, while commitment wavered and limits were, more often than not, self-imposed?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

from Macbeth, William Shakespeare

Corinne Rodrigues writes, in “Is The Word Of The Year Practice Stressful?” that it’s meant to be “a visualization of what you want to be during the year. No pressure. No guilt.”  In my mind’s eye, I am hiding behind winter coats in a closet, clutching a dictionary to my chest, silently rocking back and forth. I want it all, I whisper. I don’t want a word. I want a paragraph. Then another, and another. If we’re talking about aspirational goals, and if I could choose more than one word, I’d keep both of those and add a new one: “observant.”

Life is short, and I want to live it, observant; I want to drink in the details, and wrestle loose from ordinary experience the elusive, recalcitrant words. At the end, I don’t want a tombstone with a handful of clichés carved into stone; some day, I want to fly – a billion dust motes sparkling like snow in sunshine, drifting onto the warm waves of the Atlantic Ocean as laughter rains up from a sandy beach into the endless blue sky. There are no words.

Meanwhile, in the interstices between that inevitable “some day” and the experiences of tomorrow and today, there are all the words.

 

Culmination of the Quest (Part Two)

Culmination of the Quest (Part Two)

Oh, my sweet Lord, that’s good. I couldn’t wait till Saturday – I swiped two cups’ worth of broth to experiment on before subjecting my husband to the finished hot and sour soup this Saturday. My first attempt is not flaming-surface-of-the-sun hot, like I remember that first bowl being, something that’s bound to bring a sigh of relief to my husband’s lips. It may not cure the common cold, but it would sure bring some comfort to the sick.  it’s as close to “the perfect hot and sour soup” as I’ve been able to find in 40 years. I intend to practice this until I can whip up a batch of it in my sleep, it’s that good.  What more can I say? My long quest has finally come to an end, I’ve found a new grocery store to love, and all that’s left is to perfect my execution of the recipe.