Hoisted With Their Own Petard

Mister-Furious-Mystery-Men-Ben-Stiller-b

 

” For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar; and ‘t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet.”

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

I’ve always wanted to understand Shakespeare. All those intelligent people applauding his clever wit and ability to turn a phrase. But I daresay that for the most part there is little written in the English language, aside from the directions for assemble yourself cabinets, that I understand less. And so while others extoll the literary genius of the Bard, I always feel a bit like the little boy in “The Emporer’s New Clothes”. Like most of the passages of Shakespeare that I do understand, my understanding of the above passage is enabled by the subsequent usage of the idiomatic phrase. So, to some extent at least, I understand that when someone is said to have been “hoisted with their own petard”, it means they have been caught in their own devices, which casts some light on Hamlet’s musing on how he had turned the tables on Claudius.

Following the news for the past couple of weeks, and seeing how all the investigation of Russian interference with our elections is yielding scandals in surprising places, not the least of which being the very people that have been driving the narrative, I was reminded of the quote about being hoisted with one’s own petard. I will admit that before researching the phrase for this post I had no idea of exactly what a “petard” was. I assumed it to be a spear, a sword or a pike that someone might by some turn of events have inflicted on themselves; but as perhaps the more learned Shakespeare fans among you are already aware, a “petard” was what the french called a small gunpowder bomb, used to blow holes in walls or gates. So when one is hoisted with their own petard, it means blown up with their own bomb!

With the news of the Uranium One deal, the fake Trump dossier deal, the Donna Brazile revelations… like Wile E. Coyote, the Democrats have found that their “collusion bomb” has landed at their own door. I suppose we can always dream, but despite the obvious corruption apparent to all but the most naive partisans, there is little chance that the chants of “Lock her up” will ever find fruition. The Clintons have always been called “Teflon”, because despite their endlessly suspicious and outright deviant behavior, nothing ever seems to stick. That being said, teflon eventually wears down and must be discarded; it is also unlikely that Hillary will ever be considered for public office again. Shakespeare’s intentional misspelling of the word “petard” by dropping the “d” is a vulgar reference to the french word for flatulence which comes from the same root. And so, Hillary may not have been blown up with her own petard, but with her own “petar”, with such a stink emanating from her that even her friends no longer want her in the room.

I am reminded of the origin of the Jewish feast of Purim; the story of Mordecai, Haman, and Esther. Haman was a noble in the court of the Persian King Ahaseurus, and Mordecai a lowly Jew in the captivity. Mordecai, because of his religious devotion would not bow down to Haman, which enraged the noble. Not content with the the destruction of Mordecai, Haman plotted to annihilate the whole of the jewish people in an ancient holocaust. Unbeknownst to Haman, and even the King himself, the King’s beloved wife Esther was herself a Jew, and the niece of Mordecai. Haman erects what is probably mistranslated as a “gallows” on which to hang Mordecai; but since hanging was not used by the Persians, this was more likely what I once thought a petard was, a long sharpened post on which to impale someone… in this case a very large post, 75 feet high. He also issues a secret decree for every Jew to be killed as well. In the end Esther exposes the plot, risking her own life to do so, Haman is hoisted on his own petard, and the Jews are rescued. The rage of the enemies of President Trump, that like a cancer has metastasized to his supporters, and all things conservative, is a bomb ready to blow… but sometimes bombs return to their creators.

As a prime example of rage clouding good judgement, I submit one of the most despicable campaign ads ever made. Supporters of Ed Gillespie in the Virginia gubernatorial race, as well as Tea Party supporters in general, are represented as a homicidal redneck in a pickup truck with a confederate flag trying to run down children of color with his truck. It was thankfully pulled after the NYC Home Depot truck incident, but likely not before the damage was done; not so much to Gillespie’s chances, but like Hillary’s ridiculous “basket of deplorables” comment, this might be an insult so offensive and without justification that it dooms the very candidate it was trying to support.

Rage is seldom a useful emotion. The lessons we learn from the political, we would do well to extend to the personal. When we are governed by rage, our anger, even if justified, is magnified beyond reason and control. We devise destruction that often results in collateral damage to those undeserving of your rage. Often the bombs you try to hurl explode at your own doorstep. And say you do drop your bomb of rage, you have your vengeance, you strike your target and fly away; how have you yourself been changed by the fruit of your rage? How have those around you, your friends and your enemies, been changed? We would do well to consider the words of Oppenheimer as he considered how the development of the atomic bomb he helped create would change the world; he quoted from the Bhagavad Gita:

 

“I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

 

Is that who we want to be?

 

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Kategoreo

alone in a box

 

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, religion,
in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

 

Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

It has long been held that neither religion nor politics should be discussed in polite conversation. This being the internet, however, let us not delude ourselves into thinking that we are engaging in polite conversation! Given that, I take the liberty to discuss elements of both here, but just the same, I will try to keep the conversation as polite as I can.

Christians will be familiar with the enigmatic vision of the Apocalypse that John experienced while in solitude on the island of Patmos. It is from this cryptic book of “Revelations” that we derive so much of the fear and the hope that the idea of the end of the world conjures. The Anti-Christ, the mark of the Beast, the Resurrection, the Great Tribulation, the final judgements, the Millenial rule… ample fodder for both dreams and nightmares, an occasional movie, or best selling book for writers both weak on eschatology and literary skills… ok, that wasn’t polite! John describes a heavenly battle where Michael and his angels fight against “The Great Dragon” and his angels, and cast them out of their place in heaven down to the earth below. A loud voice is heard saying “The accuser of our brethren is cast down!”. Elsewhere in scripture The Dragon (Satan) is referred to as a thief, a liar, a murderer, all wicked attributes, but here at the end of all things his nature is described as an accuser; an oddly moderate description for the Prince of Darkness. If there is an end such as this, these puzzling descriptions of the Apocalypse will no doubt hold special meaning for those who witness these events, but as with so many writings, there are meanings beneath the surface that make John’s vision pertinent to every generation. Here, humanity’s enemy is termed “The Accuser of the Brethren”, and the greek word used is kategoreo, the same root from which we derive our english word “category”. Kategoreo implies a legal accusation intended to categorize someone as an offender, not worthy of exoneration or association. And so the great enemy of humanity could be rightly called “The Catgorizer of the brethren”, because in categorizing us as offenders of one sort or another he divides us from each other, and eventually from God himself, because as offenders we are in a different category than God, unworthy of his fellowship. Interestingly the name of the angel who casts out the Accuser is “Michael”, the meaning of which is a question: “Who is like God?”. Who is like God? …no one. If God kept to His own category, He would stand alone.

Now that I’ve lost all but some of my most devoted Christian readers by delving too deeply into religion, I will likely lose the rest of you as I make the turn to politics! It is the way of God, or “The Universe” if you prefer a less personal Deity, to create endless diversity, and then to draw that diversity into union without the loss of that diversity. It is the way of death and darkness to accentuate differences as barriers, to categorize and to separate along party lines, religious beliefs, racial divides, and more. “They are not like us, they are a different category of people…” from there it’s a short jump to seeing those other categories as inferior, or even sub-human. The greatest atrocities of history have come with the dividing of humanity into categories deemed inferior or evil, less than human and inconvenient. Division is of course cancerous, and seldom content with just separating “us” from “them”, it will continue to then divide “us” again, into sub-categories of ever finer distinctions… ultimately leaving each one alone in a self constructed box, because no one is like us.

Our country was founded as a nation where distinctions would be embraced, while unity treasured. E Pluribus Unum. That is why it is so sad to see football players expressing their grievances by not standing for the anthem and the flag, which are symbols of our intent and desire. Sad again when one election causes such outrage that people sever relationships, speak openly of secession and even assassination; restaurant owners, rap singers, and entertainers send their patrons packing if they don’t share the same politics… and those who exhibit such vitriol are lauded for their vulgarity. Hatred has become cast as more of a virtue than love or forbearance, as we literally curse each other for our differences. We feel free to exaggerate, assume the worst, cast aspersions and even lie to advance the righteousness of our hatred, so irreproachable is our hate we justify even violence in its pursuit, and the dividers become our heroes. We expand our hatred of our leaders to hatred of our fellow citizens, using words like “libtards” or “Trumptards” at once insulting those who disagree with us, and the disabled among us as well, …and we consider that clever. We create divisions through the use of labels and categories of humanity, that we view as inevitably separated. What was once denounced as stereotyping is now made more palatable by using modifiers such as “systemic”, “cultural” and “typical”, and by this we excuse our slandering of entire groups of people by pointing to the worst examples of their group. This is what Hillary did when she suggested that half of Trump’s supporters were in a basket (a category) of deplorables. Likewise it is unhelpful for the President to refer to citizens as “sons of bitches” despite how misdirected their protest might be. We are so quick to categorize! Insult is a poor substitute for reasoned debate, but in our society we now appreciate it more. Don McCormick and Michael Kahn wrote that critical thinking can better be taught if we use the metaphor of a barn raising, instead of that of a boxing match. A boxing match may be more entertaining, but if you are trying to build something, punching each other is seldom productive. If we achieve our political goals only by beating dissenters into submission, then we succeed only by taking advantage of their weakness, and we lose their needed strength in the dust of the battlefield; civil wars diminish even the victors.

George Washington’s warning against the influence of political parties is well known. There is little doubt that it was informed by these words from one of his favorite authors, Joseph Addison:

“There cannot a greater judgement befall a country than a dreadful spirit of division as rends a government into two distinct people, and makes them greater strangers, and more averse to one another, than if they were actually two different nations. 

The effects of such a division are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those advantages they give the common enemy, but to those private evils which they produce in the heart of almost every particular person.
This influence is very fatal both to men’s morals and their understandings; it sinks the virtue of a nation, and not only so, but destroys even common sense. A furious party spirit, when it rages in full violence, exerts itself in civil war and bloodshed; when it is under its greatest restraints, naturally breaks out in falsehood, detraction, calumny, and a partial administration of justice.
In a word, it fills a nation with spleen and rancor, and extinguishes all the seeds of good nature, compassion and humanity.”

 

 

Sound familiar?

Ruining Everything

empty stadium

“But those with an evil heart seem to have a talent
for destroying anything beautiful which is about to bloom.”

Cynthia Rylant

 

So discouraged and disappointed have I been with the negative, hateful, and juvenile interactions of people in the sphere of politics, entertainment, and even some from my own personal sphere, that I have set aside my writings for quite some time now. Instead I have tended to my other responsibilities, content to become a spectator, or to avert my gaze when the discord became too overbearing. When the news became painful to watch, I’d turn the channel, try to escape the distressing hatred, flee from the outraged invective, close my ears to the bludgeoning arguments. I looked to social media for some uplift, but interspersed with the usual fare of pictures of pets, kids, and dinner, there it was. Liberally scattered across the ever present “poor me”, “lucky me”, and just plain “me” posts, was the same hate-filled diatribes, the same foul mouthed angry insults, and the same vile cartoons and memes which exemplified the dark tantrums I was trying to escape. I looked to the comedy shows for a moment of laughter, but no matter how well crafted the joke, how polished the delivery, there’s nothing funny about hatred. And then I realized it was September… FOOTBALL! Sports, meaningless conflict removed from the real conflict, a place liberals and conservatives could stand side by side to cheer for their team without concern for their differences in the real world. Football, my refuge from so many of life’s disappointments, strifes and stressors… Football, I can always count on you! ….”No,” says Football, “You can’t.”

Worlds are colliding. Athletes using athletics to get political; politicians using politics to control athletics. Entertainers becoming politicians or political pundits, and politicos going all Hollywood and prime time to sell us their agenda. Worlds are colliding. And when worlds collide no place is safe. Those who wanted no part of one world now must endure that world’s impact. Those who follow politics now must talk football; those who love football now must think politics… those who enjoy both, but partitioned, now must consume them both together. And while blurring lines is a bipartisan malady, it is, at least at this point in history, far and away more a progressive cancer. “Open borders” has become more than just a geographical war cry, as progressives seek to inject politics into journalism, entertainment, baking cakes, and now sports. Remember when the closest liberals got to being sports fans was watching the olympics every four years? Not anymore! ESPN led the way, football, basketball, baseball… watch out NASCAR! And as with all things progressive, the institution takes a backseat to the agenda. Everything becomes an avenue for the forwarding of the progressive agenda, and where can you go to escape when worlds collide? As the progressive vision seeks to leave no state of refuge for the conservative minded, it also suffers no institution to ignore its intrusions.

Years ago, a relative we had not seen for years travelled across the country for business, and took advantage of the situation to visit with us. All the family was anxious to catch up with her as to how the years had passed for all of us in our time apart. She was driven by something else though, to convince us to sell Amway products. Now I’m sure Amway is a fine company, but their pyramid marketing structure pushed people to use every opportunity to hard sell the product and the plan. A few days later she left, and we knew far more than we had about Amway, but little more than we did before about her… except that she really, really liked Amway. Progressives are often the Amway salesmen of the political world, infusing everything with their agenda is their mission. If they were not generally so antagonistic to religion they would probably be the Jehovah’s Witnesses of politics, so fond they are of proselytizing, so enamored of their own world view, so dismissive of anyone else’s… knocking on every door… every door.

I like garlic. I like it, but I don’t put it in my pancakes, or on my fruit salad, or in my shoes for that matter. I like politics, but some things are better without that seasoning as well. I never had any illusion that Hollywood, the NFL, or the NBA were bastions of conservative thought… and I didn’t care, as I assume they didn’t care about my political persuasion so long as I bought tickets. It was a great relationship. I’m not one for organized boycotts, as I see them as coercive, but now you’ve put the whole thing in my face and I have to decide if I am willing to appear as though I support your views by supporting you. Frankly, you’ve taken the fun out of it all by adding the strife and contention. I’m not part of a boycott, but neither am I watching. Simply, there’s no enjoyment for me there, and that’s really why I watch. There is nothing so uncomfortable for me than to be in a position where I recognize I am hated, and that the values I hold sacred are despised. Why would I want to experience that under the guise of entertainment? Like the boorish family member that sees holiday gatherings as opportunities to address grievances, we destroy unifying events by insisting on infusing our divisions at every turn. There are 365 days in a year, Thanksgiving is not the day to revisit our family strife, nor is game day in the NFL, or during the monologue of a comedy show, unless you’re trying to become the Limbaugh of the left, but that’s a different kind of show. There is a time for every purpose and a way forward, but appropriating an event or a time slot, or a holiday gathering for your own agenda fixes nothing. In a reversal of King Midas’s golden touch, progressives possess what is sometimes referred to as the the King Sadim (Midas spelled backwards) touch, where everything they touch turns to ashes. Colliding worlds fixes nothing. Airing your grievances and venting your rage in places we could find common ground if only superficially, doesn’t further your cause anymore than ruining Thanksgiving can bring peace to your family. You’ve ruined television. You’ve ruined Hollywood. You’ve ruined the Emmys. You’ve ruined comedy. You’ve ruined football now. …You’ve ruined everything.

One Tin Soldier

wolf-and-lamb

“An empty stomach has no ears.”

                                                       Latin proverb

 

 

Aesop’s fable of the Wolf and the Lamb recounts the tale of a hungry wolf coming upon a lamb by a stream. The wolf, troubled somewhat by the innocence of the lamb and wishing to justify his impending murder, accuses the lamb of various slights and infractions deserving of the wolf’s wrath, all of which the lamb politely refutes. The wolf moves on to transgressions committed the year before, but the lamb explains that he was not old enough to have completed those crimes, whereupon the wolf blames the lamb’s brother. The lamb explains that he has no brother. The wolf, flustered and frustrated, insists that it must have been someone in the lamb’s family, and cuts off the conversation by saying that he won’t delay his meal to debate the matter any further, “You are guilty, and I am hungry”, and promptly ate the lamb. The moral of the story? “The unjust will not listen to the reasoning of the innocent.”

It is of course a stretch to describe anyone in the highest levels of the political world as “innocent”, but the dynamics of searching for guilt to justify hostility is a well worn path through the battleground of party politics. It would seem the impossible dream to imagine the possibility that politicians might forego dirty tricks and needless witch hunts motivated not by a love of truth, but by hatred for the opposition; yet might not we, less consumed by the love of power, pursue truth with more innocence? Might not we, none without sin, lay down our stones, at least when it comes to minor offenses? Is our hatred such that we need to reprimand a woman we don’t know for kneeling on a couch in the oval office? Have we become so bereft of reason that we can justify hospitalizing a faculty member for assisting a controversial speaker in leaving a college campus? When did hatred and hostility become our spiritual center instead of love and forgiveness? We are better than this, or at least we should be.

It has always seemed to me a sad irony that we reserve our greatest antagonism for those we are closest to. Wives reserve their most pointed insults for their husbands, and men feel free to use their ugliest words to assail their wives. We say things to our mates, our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters; that we would never dream of saying to a coworker, a friend from church, or a neighbor. Those who most deserve our forbearance, forgiveness, and civility are often the last on our list to receive it. When love departs, hatred inevitably fills the vacuum left behind, and civil wars are always the bloodiest, as we slay our own countrymen on the battlefield of our disappointments. It requires a heart that forgives for the sake of forgiveness, an intellect that sees beyond passion, values that stand against the winds of hatred, to be the voice of peace and reason. Thankfully, as the tsunami of post election hysteria subsides, we are beginning to see a remnant of reasoned voices coming from the left. These will be the Phoenix that rises from the ashes of the democratic party, if there is to be a Phoenix, and are our one hope to preserve us from an unchallenged single party rule. We are a nation of checks and balances and conservatives need the humility to distrust absolute power even when it is in our hands. Reasoned voices from the left who set aside their most outrageous positions to enter the political mainstream, should be engaged and embraced as friends with slightly different points of view, fellow travelers on the road to the future. As iron sharpens iron, these are brethren who keep us from becoming dull. The haters, the shouters, the crude and hostile warmongers; these do not require that we reciprocate in kind. These are lost souls mired in their hatred, and as George Bernard Shaw pointed out, if you wrestle with a pig you get dirty, and the pig enjoys it. Best to keep ourselves clean, best to respond with kindness and pity. They do not need us as an enemy, they are their own enemy.

As we watch those in the highest levels of celebrity and power engage in the bloodsport of ideological warfare, as we listen to their diatribes, are subjected to their tweets, and are bombarded with their bias; we must resist the temptation to be swept into the aura of their royalty, and the bloodlust of their cannibalism. Kings talk a good game, but they leave the life or death battle to their pawns. Common men need to embrace the commonality of their commonness. By that I mean, we need to see that the animosity that serves those who would enlist us into their armies will only serve to separate us from each other. Likewise, if we surrender ourselves to the even more powerful forces of hatred, anger, and vindictiveness; then we will always eat our own, and forever be divided. A hungry stomach has no ears; the unjust will not listen to the reasoning of the innocent; and the heart at war will not regard the entreaty of peace.

 

 

“One Tin Soldier”

                        by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter

Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago
About a Kingdom on a mountain
And a valley folk down below

On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath a stone
And the valley people swore
They’d have it for their very own

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end

But there won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

So the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill
Asking for the buried treasure
Tons of gold for which they’d kill

Came an answer from the Kingdom
With our brothers, we will share
All the riches of our mountain
All the secrets buried there

Now the valley swore with anger
Mount your horses, draw your swords
And they killed the mountain people
So they won their just rewards

Now they stood beside the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
Peace on Earth, was all it said

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of Heaven
You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven
You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away

The Arena of Coercion

puppet-man

“Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice,
even his freedom to make the wrong choice,
is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet
and not a person.”

Madeline L’Engle

Society itself often acts in much the same way as the people it is composed of. People criticize each other by using adjectives such as “controlling” or “manipulative”, but truth be told it is pretty much basic human nature to try to control the world around us, along with the people in it, and to mold it according to our wishes. Existing at a higher level of our consciousness (or at least some of our consciousnesses) is the ethical consideration involved in coercing another human being to act in a way contrary to their own preferred convictions, and the imposition of our own will to dominate someone else’s. We have all been there, probably on both sides of the equation at one point or another. The parent who forgets that their child is an adult and entitled to make their own decisions, or the child who forgets that their parent was an adult before they were born. The husband who insults his wife to coerce her to lose weight, or the wife who nags her husband incessantly to get him to help her with the housework. The friend or coworker who somehow think they can run your life better than you yourself can. The situation becomes more complicated when the manipulator is right. Maybe that wife should lose a little weight. Certainly that husband should do his share of the housework. Possibly that adult child is making the mistake of a lifetime, or the elder parent is doing the same. Maybe that friend does know what you should do in that life situation. Certainly it is a good thing to talk, cajole, even argue in such situations, but at the point that we suppress free will; at the point we say I don’t care what you think, I will make you…; then we have turned the corner from being passionately helpful to being abusive. Free will is God’s gift to man, admittedly often to the detriment of both; but to take from a man that freedom is to rob the gift of God. Liberty is the extension of this freedom to society itself, and aside from the structure of laws implicit in the social contract, the use of force or manipulative tactics intended to coerce one segment of society to act in a way contrary to their preferences is the societal equivalent of the controlling spouse.

The way we settle differences in a civilized society is in the political arena. When President Obama was elected, and then re-elected, it was a crisis for us conservatives. We knew exactly what he stood for, and he did not fail to fulfill our expectations. It was the more discouraging because it meant that a majority of America wanted his vision for our country. If he had stolen the election, or taken over in a coup, we would have taken up arms to take back our country, but America had chosen him, and to disregard that choice, though we thought it horribly wrong, would have been un-american in itself. What was left to us was to change hearts and minds, and to prepare for the next election, hoping that people would come to their senses, but understanding that in a Democracy, the will of the people sets the course. To force our own will without changing hearts and minds is a kind of tyranny.

I have never been a fan of organized boycotts, sit-ins, blockades, or certainly riots. I suppose there might occasionally be a justification for a peaceful march, or other non-violent protest if the intent is to educate or raise awareness. That used to be the purpose of protests. Increasingly social protest seems to be being used to change behavior instead of hearts and minds. We block highways, boycott stores, hold up votes, not to educate, but to punish or coerce. We have replaced speaking with each other with yelling at each other, cursing at each other, controlling each other. That is not a society, that’s a jungle. With tools of communication beyond any man has known, we yet fail to engage each other in anything but war and insult. We are so intent on shouting down, shutting down, and putting down that we can’t appreciate a diversity of opinion and engage in reasoned debate.

It would be disingenuous to imply that this descent into the arena of coercion is completely one sided, but it would be equally disingenuous to say that it is not mostly one sided. Having lost everything but Obama’s re-election in the last four elections, progressives have apparently given up on playing the role of loyal opposition in favor of becoming the mortal enemy. This includes the liberal media. Everyone has a position, a bias, that they overcome to one extent or another in order to live peacefully with others, or in the case of an honest media, to do their job as impartially as possible. But when your bias tilts to hatred, it becomes the master, and it overcomes you. No longer do you consider how to live peacefully with fellow citizens, but how you can vanquish them. No longer, then, are reporters content to objectively report the news, but instead they crave blood and look to destroy. Hatred is rarely pretty, and it repels both those who are hated and the innocent onlookers. As jarring and over the top as Trump can be, as inaccurate or inept as he sometimes seems, as worthy of criticism as any President is sure to demonstrate, I can’t take my eyes off the haters. They are becoming the face of the left, and it’s a disturbing face to behold. Prudent democrats would be wise to begin looking for separation from them. The world is surprisingly dichotomous. Every story has a hero and a villain. We watch the news and see the anchor, self righteous and self satisfied with the latest bad news for the administration, we see the riots and destruction, the crude demonstrations, the screaming, the swearing, the chanting, the nuisances, the ridiculous costumes… the hate; then we see the Trump rally, opened by Melania with the Lord’s prayer, interrupted by an appearance by an everyman, a guy we probably wouldn’t agree with on everything, but a guy we can understand,  wearing a tee shirt and not a vagina costume. We see crowds cheering America, not criticizing her or anyone else, we see brotherhood, loyalty, support… love. What are we to think? We are Americans; we stand against bullies, we are repelled by the hateful who demand we hate as well, we stand for freedom and if you push us, we push back. We will not be ruled by domination, we won’t be controlled, we are not puppets.  In their vindictive hatred, unhinged coercion, and shot-gun rage, the left has cast themselves in the role of the evil antagonist, and left us with a most unlikely hero, Donald J. Trump.

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Call Me Ishmael…

moby-dick

 

“To the last, I grapple with thee;
From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee;
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

 

 

It’s one thing to plaster your FaceBook wall with lofty inspirational quotes, and quite another to actually live your life by them. How often have we seen the admonition of Martin Luther King Jr. that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”? Yet despite the imploring of Dr. King, the “resistance” to the Trump administration resembles less the teachings of Ghandi as it does the wrath of Khan.

When the concept for this post first came to me I envisioned the self destructive animus of the left with an image of the insanity of Captain Ahab; and so the great whale, naturally, had to be Trump. Upon further consideration though, I saw that the whale was something bigger than the President. The hatred and anger I see is not for Trump alone, neither did it begin with Trump. Consider the treatment in Congress and on the internet for such people as Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Mike Pence, or Jeff Sessions. Trump’s personality makes him easy to hate, but do we really believe that a President Cruz, Huckabee or Fiorina would have been treated more gently? Possibly a more moderate candidate (as long as his name wasn’t Bush) would have been given a slight reprieve, had they been spineless enough to appease the Progressive gods, but any candidate that took a stand to reverse the disasters of the last eight years would have fit the bill as Ahab’s nemesis. The enemy of the left is the right. The great white whale is not Trump himself, but the people and the ideas he represents. Trump only personifies it. The hatred is broad in scope, and cancerous, not restricted to Trump but extended to his cabinet, his wife, his children, his children’s clothing, the stores that sell his children’s clothing, the people who shop at the stores that sell his children’s clothing, the people who don’t reject the people that shop at the stores that sell his children’s clothing…

Haters are always part of the equation when it comes to society, particularly in politics, and I have previously warned against too quickly judging whole groups by the worst segments of that group; but it is troubling when reasoned and measured voices from the left are the exception, the embattled remnant; and when those most disturbing in their level of rage and hatred include friends and family. Aggression is a motivator, and is self-reinforcing. It activates chemicals in our brain in much the same way as sex or drugs. Lab animals exposed to aggression with other subjects, become “addicted” to it, and will actually unnecessarily invite more conflict. Likewise, it is not unusual to find people who thrive on conflict. Men who enjoy a brawl as much as a woman, trolls on social media who enjoy crude insults more than sharing opinions and ideas, demonstrators who derive more pleasure from violently silencing their opponents than reasonably refuting their ideas. It stems from a biological imperative to survive, and to insure survival through aggression. We’re kind of hard-wired that way. Morality, humanity, and civil society are higher constructs that we employ to channel our aggression into less destructive directions; hence we try to follow the law of the land instead of the law of the jungle. When we permit those motivated by their baser instincts to set the course for our interactions with each other, and these are not always stupid people, then, as with any addiction, it will consume us until all that is left is our hatred and rage.

Much has been made lately of the attempt of the left’s resistance movement to mimic the success of the Tea Party, by becoming what has been termed “The Reverse Tea Party”. Unfortunately, the Reverse Tea Party resembles the Tea Party about as much as the Antichrist resembles Christ. Whereas the Tea Party intentionally avoided social issues in order to be more inclusive and focused on Constitutional issues, the resistance of the left is animated and driven almost exclusively by social issues. The strategy of descending on town hall meetings for Tea Party faithful was to engage representatives and call them to account; the “new” strategy of the left seems more in keeping with their tired tactic of shutting people down. The 9/12 project, the Tea Party group that marched on Washington at the height of the movement had in its mission statement a focus on “building and uniting our communities”, not being “obsessed with political parties, the color of your skin, or what religion you practice”. Despite the propaganda you may have heard, the group stressed inclusion, unity, forgiveness and liberty devoid of hatred for leaders or fellow citizens, and the demonstrators were almost universally of the same mind. There was protest, but no violence. There was anger, but not rage. I know; I was there. The Reverse Tea Party group, “Indivisible”, begins its introduction by calling Donald Trump a loser, racist, an authoritarian and a tyrant. The first requirement for inclusion with this group is that chapters resist Trump’s agenda and embrace progressive values, all others are presumably excluded. There is a false assumption that the tactics of peace can be used for war, or that the success of virtue is in strategy, instead of virtue itself.

It seems an odd strategy, and I use the term loosely, to attempt to punish a man with that which he seems to enjoy most. To use conflict as a weapon against a man who has mastered the art, who actually seems to like it and be undeterred when he loses, is reminiscent of Brer Rabbit’s plea not to be thrown into the briar patch. Just by virtue of the unending, unreasoning, often petty, hatred unrelentingly being leveled at Trump, this singularly unliked President is garnering sympathy from independent voters. Regardless, a man who seems to enjoy being hated almost as much as he enjoys being loved, for whom a failure to be reelected would mean having to go back to his billionaire lifestyle and empire, Trump himself is untouched by most of the vitriol aimed at him. His agenda can possibly be slowed, but this shotgun approach of hating all things Trump is already becoming tedious, and likely to result in even more mid term losses for Democrats who are already vulnerable. Rage is intoxicating for its possessor, but repugnant to observers. The protestors see themselves as heroes in their resistance, but come off as the obscure superhero, Mr. Furious, from the movie Mystery Men, whose dubious superpower was excessive anger. (see here if you’re unfamiliar) Rage is actually not a superpower, and rageaholics are not heroes.  Anger can be a motivator for the base, but we will have several months to witness the lawlessness and outrageously unfocused behavior of the protestors. Anger can be contagious, and while the left take to the streets to express theirs, the right takes to the polls. It will likely require the next next election for either side to alter course. My money is on the whale.

 

 

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The New, New Colossus

headless-statue-of-liberty

 

“Give me your lazy, your thieves,
Your huddled criminal gangs yearning to sell drugs,
The wretched terrorists and teeming hordes,
Send these, the murderers,
The lust driven to me.
I lift my skirt beside the broken door.”

With Apologies to Emma Lazarus

 

 
For those of my readers who consider themselves liberal (which is becoming a misnomer), you can probably stop reading now. You, no doubt, have already decided what I think, and have determined your reaction to it. Make your disparaging comments on what I didn’t say, on what I didn’t mean, or on what I never was. Perhaps some exaggerated insults involving fascism, nazis, some mangling of my name, or some unrelated allusion to my hair or the size of my hands. Maybe you just want to punch me in the face. Possibly you have decided that my racist, xenophobic, hateful views are so disgusting that they must be silenced through riots and violence. I live in a rural area, so there aren’t any bicycle racks to throw, or Starbucks to vandalize. We are kind of 2nd amendment folks out here, so you might need more than flags and pepper spray… just sayin’.

There are fringes in every group, and if we judge the whole by the fringe we will be deceived and unjust; our views will be shrill, irrelevant, and disconnected from reality. The antifas anarchists that rioted Berkeley clearly don’t represent the majority of the liberal left, any more than my mangling of Emma Lazarus’s iconic verse is reflective of their suggested immigration policy. What is discouraging is the lack of condemnation for the tactics of such groups because of sympathy with their cause, and the common enemy. Indeed, as I have looked for reasoned objections from the left for these anarchists and their strong arm tactics, I have instead found more insults for the right, pseudo-apologetics instead of genuine apologies, escalations instead of calls for calm. We see your fringe, and when you don’t distance yourself from their tactics, if not their outrage, then your silence becomes disturbing. Never let the fringe define you. The same is true on the right; we can’t condone the actions of mobs of rioting right wing demonstrators should they ever arise, or the actions of the few unhinged individuals who violently break the law or express true racism.

Immigration policy has always been a contentious issue. There are those who would prefer that Mr. Trump’s wall had no gates at all, just as there are those who would prefer that there not only be no wall, but no fence, no border security, no borders at all. Do these groups define us? They don’t define me, or the vast majority of people I hear. Most Americans treasure immigration as the bedrock of our nation. Most Americans want that immigration to be legally sanctioned, with some mechanism for vetting to lessen the possibility of inviting criminals, terrorists and other negative influences from entering our home. The differences arise from the emphasis we place on compassion versus security. Compelling arguments can be made from both sides, but once the debate descends into exaggeration to the point of dishonesty, and insult to the point of unbridled hatred, then we have become children shouting at each other with our hands over our ears.

I have always had a big heart, often to the exclusion of my brain, and were the decision mine to make I would probably welcome more refugees than would be wise to take. I’m a risk taker, and honestly, I would be more than willing to allow for a little bit of risk for the sake of compassion for those from war torn nations. All that being said, I recognize I do not live in this nation alone. There are reasons for fear and there are other citizens whose concerns and thoughts are as valid as my own. The decision is not mine to make alone. I liken it to a man wishing to adopt a family of kids who were victims of abuse. His wife is less sure, and says no, or at least that she would like more time to think about it. The husband can make his case, cajole, encourage her sympathy, make a deal with his wife, but how effective do you think it will be for him to start insulting her, “You heartless bitch! You call yourself a Christian!”   Maybe he throws a rock through the window, threatens to punch her in the face. If he becomes unhinged enough, maybe she will even succumb to his coercion. Has he done well? He has not. It is perhaps sad that the wife allowed fear to overcome her compassion, but it is tragic that the husband decided that his will, even if righteous, entitled him to forcefully impose that will. Likewise, the wife needs to understand that her reticence can quickly turn to belligerence, and in her adamant refusal she is imposing her own will on the household. Do we hear anybody, anybody at all, talking compromise, or talking to each other at all? More each day we embrace coercion over consensus.

There’s a danger that Lady Liberty will lose her head. Mindless devotion to your nation’s leader is indeed the path to totalitarianism. The existence of a “loyal opposition”, a reasoned resistance is just one more check and balance crucial to our liberty. Bear in mind though, the counterbalance for mindless devotion is not mindless opposition. During the tenure of Barack Obama, there were some who resorted to crude insult, conspiracy theory, and outrageous hyperbole… these were the mindless opposition, and their existence only bolstered the mindlessly devoted. Those who rather spoke with reason and balance were the real resistance that slowed the onslaught of executive tyranny, as they should be now. Instead, most of the left have left their minds aside, and are being played by President Trump, the Lord of Chaos. He has taken the idea of distraction by shiny object to a whole new level, with pyrotechnics, explosions, and Twitter. His mind works in a distinctly non-linear fashion, and while you are guarding the barn, he’ll be robbing the hen house. If you jump to the hen house, it’s his chance to break into your house. You need to march on Washington, he needs only tweet. If you use only your heart, he will wear you down, thin you out, and turn you into the fringe (See this upcoming Superbowl commercial!). It isn’t easy to be the reasoned resistance, easier to start a mindless revolution and burn down the house, but that’s a revolution you can’t win. Possibly now the left understands what we on the right meant about the danger of centralized government, the advantages of Federalism, and the removing of the strings of Federal funding as the ties that bind, the defunding of Leviathan. What seems perfectly fine while your guys are in charge, is suddenly a disaster when your guys aren’t. As long as power is so concentrated and precious we will be facing perpetual civil war, and the Hell that war brings. Without rational discussion, peaceful protest, and honest regard for our leaders and fellow citizens, we resort to the kind of mob rule that we saw in Berkeley. Make no mistake, most of us have no desire to respond in kind to hatred, violence or unlawfulness; but neither will we be ruled by mobs. Eventually other mobs will rise, flags and bricks will be replaced with guns and knives, and then eventually troops; and you will have created the tyranny you feared. Anger and hatred are poor substitutes for high mindedness and good will; yielding to darkness leaves you blind and vulnerable. We need people of truth and light from all political persuasions. I know I’ve used this quote before, but it seems apropos to end:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Friedrich Nietzche

“Not My President”, Reconstruction and the Danger of Social Darwinism

lincoln

 

 

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength:
one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”

Booker T. Washington

 
Alright, so the working title for this post was “A House Divided”, which probably would have been a little less daunting than the final title, but it is my intention here to pursue a discussion that goes beyond the problem and toward solutions. Besides that, I had another post called “A House Divided” already about four years ago, and I don’t want to start repeating myself anymore than I already do!

The sidewalks of Washington have endured not a few scuffling feet over the course of the last week. First the inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the throngs of his supporters, only to be followed the next day by the larger than expected Women’s March on Washington where President Trump’s detractors were out in full force. Next came the perennially well attended March for Life whose views, at least on the subject of abortion, are diametrically opposed to the Women’s March faithful. Hundreds of thousands of people making the pilgrimage to the Capitol to demonstrate something we all already knew; we are a house divided.

We are always to one extent or another “a house divided”, but it’s been awhile since we were this fractured. The emotional slogan, slash hashtag, “Not My President” has replaced “Never Trump” as wishful thinking dissolves with the dawn of reality. Donald J. Trump is President of the United States. He was far from my first choice, but neither was the last President; yet in both cases, despite disagreements, disbelief and embarrassment, the President of my country duly elected is my President, just as are my senators and governor who I never voted for. If Trump is not your President, that begs the question… who is? The few anarchists, I suppose, have the political consistency to so declare; but the rest of us who proclaim the nation to be governed by the rule of law are consigned to accept the consequences of that Law, even when we find those consequences repugnant. The last time large segments of the population decided an elected President was too repugnant to be called their President they found a more acceptable substitute, Jefferson Davis.

If today’s Progressives were divided from the Union by the Mason Dixon line, as they were in the Civil War, there would be a very good chance we would be looking at a redux. Instead, the electoral map shows that the nation is divided along isolated county lines, with strong progressive support found in urban centers with their concentrated population. There are a few islands of college counties; but pretty much the rest of the nation is overwhelmingly red. This would make the radical choice of Civil War unlikely from the Progressive side, as it would be even more hopeless than was the Confederate cause, and of course unnecessary from the point of view of the party in power, which has historically been the party that advocates the preservation of the Union anyway.

While we are on the subject, it should be remembered that there was a President who was elected despite 60% of the nation voting against him, whose approval ratings at the time of his inauguration have been estimated at about 25%. His own party reviled him, critics insulted his appearance and lack of political experience, and his chances for re-election were considered impossible until the Democrats nominated a singularly horrible candidate to oppose him, and still he barely won. So hated was he that he had to sneak into Washington for his inauguration in secret, disguised, to avoid assassination, a fate that eventually befell him at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. The press hated Lincoln, “the obscene ape from Illinois”, he was labelled a dictator, a “simple susan”

“As to the politics of Washington, the most striking thing is the absence of personal loyalty to the President. It does not exist. He has no admirers, no enthusiastic supporters, none to bet on his head…”

Richard Henry Dana

 

There were riots against him in New York City, which aside from the Civil War itself were the largest insurgency in our history. Lincoln’s election was never attributed to his own popularity, as it was suggested that people only voted for him while holding their nose, and to keep others out. His unpopularity festered until that Good Friday in 1865 when only his assassination transformed him from pariah to martyr, from tyrant to The Great Emancipator. I’m not saying that Donald J. Trump is Abraham Lincoln, but I am saying that, in many ways, Abraham Lincoln was Donald Trump.

Breaking things is easy, division is in our fallen nature. Union is more difficult, and putting things back together is often a Herculean task. We will never know if Reconstruction would have been successful under the direction of arguably our greatest President; what we do know is that it was doomed without him. Washington lacked the political will to effectively put the nation together again, and Democratic control of the South was cemented for decades through Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. Early political victories for southern Republicans electing black representatives were quickly swept aside with devious strategies by the white Democrats without appreciable interference from Washington. With the coming of the industrial revolution the plight of the southern black man, and for the poor urban whites as well, became not significantly better than the days before the Emancipation. Darwinism was extended to Social Darwinism, where wealthy industrialists justified their impoverishing of whole segments of the population as “survival of the fittest” and part of the evolution of the species; helping the poor and lower classes was going against the laws of nature. The problem is obvious, the impoverished still survive, they have children, they increase, and eventually they rise up to “eat the rich”. Even in nature the most vulnerable are guarded by their herd. Yes, they are sometimes lost, but not willingly sacrificed. We as a nation, in our zeal to push down our conquered enemy, failed to lift up his victims, and we continue to live with the consequences even now.

The electoral map is a road map to the future, and what could be a strategy for war can be turned on its head to become a plan for peace. We are at the end of a battle, and with the proper actions, it could be the end of the war, or at least a turning point. The opposition to conservative government is almost entirely located in well defined, concentrated population centers. And make no mistake, aside from a few ideologues the opposition is more an opposition to poverty and a lack of opportunity than to the demonized conservatives themselves. If a rising tide lifts all ships, then it damn well better lift the more vulnerable as well. If we need to patch a few holes in our less sea worthy vessels, it behooves us to do that. Fix the cities, win the war. Our principles can’t be abandoned to please the opposition, but our values need to find a way to liberate their victims, to use our strength to lift up, to preserve our citizens from the predators of poverty and the poverty of spirit.

For the most part, there was no real reconciliation to be had with the leaders of the Confederacy. Reconstruction did not insinuate a return to the status quo for pro-slavery politicians. Despite some popular devotion to these, they were the vanquished, and finding common ground with those diametrically opposed to you can be an exercise in futility, especially for those devoted to your destruction. Likewise, in today’s climate of polarization in Washington, working across the aisle will be rare, if that is defined by cooperating with those who keep their power and money by opposing you. Their constituents are a different story, and Republicans should be open to finding common ground there. I have of late been called out by a few readers for being uncharacteristically less than gracious in my approach to progressive detractors. It has been said that sarcasm does not always translate well into print, and if wit was sacrificed to meanness, I indeed apologize. As Christ reserved his harshest criticisms for the Scribes and Pharisees, false leaders, the elite of their day, I feel no compunction in leveling criticism at those who use position to mislead. Likewise, we ought not suffer bullies to proceed unchallenged. If the best defense you can make for your own position is to insult the first lady’s accent, criticize Kelly Anne Conway’s attractiveness, or compare Donald Trump to a farting butt; then you have defined the respect you deserve. If you need to resort to hyperbole, allusions to Hitler, fabrications and unjustified recriminations, then you have relegated yourself to the fringe, and take your place along side the most outlandish conspiracy theorists; you have removed yourself from the conversation. You are still welcome to our television screens, our twitter feeds, our FaceBook pages, but we will address ourselves seriously only to those you no longer serve. By all means, though, share your crude insults, don your outrageous costumes, make your fantastic claims; we find you… entertaining. With the demise of the Circus, we will need more clowns.

 

 

On a personal note:  a few of you have done me the honor of sharing my posts with your friends and contacts, and it has resulted in an up tick in readership of late.  Thank-you so much, and for any of the rest of you, if you like or are challenged by these posts, I’d love if you shared them as well!

 

Kevin Cail+

You Can’t Sit With Us!

mean-girls

 

“Regina, you’re wearing sweatpants. It’s Monday.”
“So…?”
“So that’s against the rules, and you can’t sit with us.”
“Whatever. Those rules aren’t real.”
“They were real that day I wore a vest!”
“Because that vest was disgusting!”
“You can’t sit with us!”

Mean Girls
Okay, so I may not have actually ever watched this movie, but I feel like almost anyone who went to high school has pretty much lived the movie. There’s always at least one group of kids who think themselves above their peers, and retain their exalted position by the ridicule and demeaning of their fellow students. If you’re fortunate, you fly beneath their radar and they are unaware of your existence. If you are less fortunate, you become their targets because your hair isn’t perfect, or your clothes aren’t the latest style. Either way, you can’t sit with them.

For years now, we have been at the mercy of the counterparts of these “mean girls” in our society. Repeatedly sacrificed on the altar of political correctness because we didn’t endorse the latest trend of societal change, didn’t use the enigmatic jargon of the academic left, didn’t understand the fantastical paranoia of what seemed like overstated and sometimes fictional crises. We walked on eggshells for fear of their condemnation. We were the geeks and nerds, the gear heads and the pimple faced, the less than best dressed, the fat kids; we were the regular people just trying to get along. But instead we were given all manor of deplorable labels, condemned for our heritage, demeaned for the color of our skin or the persuasion of our politics. We had a President who saw us as bumpkins and imbeciles because we disagreed with his politics; we had the glitterati of Hollywood with their endless lectures and commercials telling us how wrong we were, so un-cool; and we had a sneering slanting media snobbishly mocking us as a minority of pariahs and losers.

Of course such snobbery is like heroin, addictive to the point of self-destruction. So the media continues its bias, the Democratic politicians, for the most part, continue their kamikaze dives, and Hollywood elitists continue to repulse us with their self importance. The first lady was rejected by designers she never requested, and forced to wear Ralph Lauren, she looked hideous, didn’t she?   After death threats, boycotts and social media tirades frightened away many of the so-called “A-listers” from participating in the inauguration, the mean girls of the media jeered Trump for their absence and disparaged the few that did perform. Typical of such, Quartz’s Amy Wang ridiculed Jackie Evancho as a “fair-skinned, light haired… teen-aged game show contestant… who sang the national anthem in a shaky voice…” Wang’s criticism seemed to center around the fact that the girl was white, and wasn’t cool like Beyonce… maybe if Jackie had shown a little more leg? I’m really happy for Beyonce, but with apologies to Kanye West, when Jackie was 9 she was a better singer than Beyonce! Such was the entertainment I saw on Friday, plenty of talent, just not the “right” talent, not cool enough.

So today the mean girls anticlimactically try to close the proverbial barn door after the horse has already escaped by descending on Washington. We are told it is not an anti-Trump rally, just a call for unity; but Trumphobia seems to be the overarching theme and pro-life feminists were rejected from being sponsors (“You can’t sit with us!!). The original name of “The Million Women March” was changed to “Women’s March on Washington” because the original name offended blacks who saw it as coopting their 1997 Philadelphia march. Though pro-lifers have been excluded from sponsorship, apparently sex workers have been welcomed with open arms… let me rephrase that… “the march stands in solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement”. For a moment, someone got confused on the rules, and altered that statement to indicate support for “those exploited for labor and sex.” There was outrage in the liberal activist world over portraying sex workers as victims instead of women working according to their personal circumstances, and the original statement was quickly restored. Jahmalia Lemieux writes for ColorLines explaining why she won’t be attending the march, “I’ve never felt anything resembling sisterhood with White women.” and “A tiny, tiny part of me felt a tiny, tiny bit of satisfaction at seeing how sad many white women were.” She says she’s “really tired of black and brown women being tasked with fixing white folks’ messes… tired of being the moral compass of the United States.” I guess she’s too cool to sit with them! It’s as though they’re in some exclusive club, and they keep kicking even more people out. Just more things us less enlightened cannot understand.

 

 

“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”

Mean Girls

 

Please don’t get lost in my mean girls analogy. When I speak of not being allowed to sit at the table, I am speaking of elitism pushed to the extent of intolerance. Degrading others is often a misguided attempt to exalt ourselves. Of late this degradation has descended into destruction; conservative values have not only been demeaned, but denied the right to exist, and as Israel has found, it’s hard to negotiate with people whose ultimate goal is your utter annihilation. The mean girls need to finally understand that this isn’t their cafeteria anymore, it never really was. We won’t tell you where you can sit, but neither will we let you tell us where we can’t… we’re all free. It’s good to march on Washington, I’ve done it myself, almost everyone does now, but these advocacy causes seem to be dividing the nation into factions; women against men, black against white… as though some of us are heroes and others villains to be vanquished. If the women marching on Washington see themselves as courageous rebels and warriors fighting the good fight against the Orange Tyrant, do they not see us Trump voters as their enemy? But it is not so! We wish them well, pray for their safety, and encourage them to lift their voices to loudly express their misguided ideas. It is a free country and you can march, or sit where you please. While you march this weekend, we will sit at home, watching Fox News on Saturday, and football on Sunday, our work is done for now. If you do get home before the game is over… be an angel and get Daddy a beer.

First, We Dehumanize…

pig-trump

“Dehumanization isn’t a way of talking. It’s a way of thinking—a way of thinking that, sadly, comes all too easily to us. Dehumanization is a scourge, and has been so for millennia. It acts as a psychological lubricant, dissolving our inhibitions and inflaming our destructive passions. As such, it empowers us to perform acts that would, under other circumstances, be unthinkable.”

David Livingstone Smith

 

 

 

With the rare exception of the sociopathic personality, or the somewhat less rare sociopathic excursions of our normally healthy personalities, we are creatures of conscience. We like to believe that we are doing the right thing, and we are troubled to believe that we might be feeling or behaving in a way that is evil or wrong. Reality shows us though that conscience seems to misfire regularly, and that while it keeps us from psychopathic chaos, it has flaws. We are influenced by our conscience, but also by our desires; and while we regularly bend our desires to conform to our conscience, we almost as often bend our conscience to appease our desires. We desire to hate and annihilate those who oppose us, but we understand they have the same rights as we do, created equal, human beings, not just beasts on two legs; and as humans, they should be treated with humanity. So how can we hate, delegitimize, and destroy those who our conscience would say by virtue of their humanity should be loved on some level, and treated with respect despite differences? First, we dehumanize.

When people, and not just white people, wanted to be able to own other people as slaves, those other people needed to be classified as sub-human to make the idea conscionable. A vocabulary developed that removed the enslaved from the the humanity of the group that enslaved them. Normal rules of ethics would not apply, slaves were property, not people. They would not be afforded human dignities like freedom, marriage, family, learning, any more than the other livestock. The masters could not afford an image of humanity to shine on their darkened conscience.

Again, with the eugenics movement here in the US, whole groups of people had their humanity diminished from their racially “superior” overseers, where “science” delved into the dark paths of the idea of elimination of “inferior” races or genetic disability. Nazi Germany went further into darkness by implementing the idea. Again, vocabulary was instrumental. Those destined for the gas chambers had to be dehumanized by the words they were called, and the ways they were treated, so they would be seen as less than human, and their elimination less than murder.

Likewise in every genocide, those doomed to extermination are first dehumanized, usually accompanied by twisted vocabulary. Hutus in Rwanda warned their children of the Tutsi “cockroaches” before the genocide there. Similar circumstances occurred in Cambodia and Yugoslavia, and now again in Iraq and Syria. When we needed to justify our own national genocide, we first needed to dehumanize what had always been referred to as a baby, by relabeling with the cold clinical terms of “fetus”, or “tissue”.

Political resistance is as American as apple pie. Conflict is consistent with the idea of a nation governed by checks and balances. Yet pitchforks and sledgehammers can hardly be considered checks and balances. Possibly the most egregious intolerance in our country is the intolerance of the left for any dissenting opinions. Boycotts are organized because a member of the board of LL Bean contributed to the Trump campaign. Conservative speakers are banished from college campuses under threats of violence. A blind tenor needs to pull out of performing at the inauguration because of the fear of threatened retribution. People are intimidated, belittled, vilified, and assaulted on the basis of how they cast their ballot, and the left seriously believe that they are taking the high ground. How can it be justified? First, they dehumanize.

The process crystalized with Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comments. The message could not have been clearer if she had called us cockroaches. Trump supporters could be viewed as deplorable, unredeemable… sub-human. As such, normal rules of decency and civility did not apply; these were not people the left disagreed with, these were not really people at all, they were monsters, and they needed to be vanquished. Now that Trump has prevailed, the monsters are in charge, and as such normal rules of democracy do not apply, rules of humanity do not apply. Sic semper tyrannis!

Fortunately, few among us are as devoted to our darkness as John Wilkes Booth. The over the top rhetoric, a tirade by Meryl Streep, and a few women marching on Washington are pretty much the extent of the insurgency. Of course there’s always the crazies inspired by the irresponsible. The guy who killed a UPS driver in a Wal-Mart parking lot because he thought he was Donald Trump. The youths in Chicago who kidnapped the kid in a three-for of dehumanization; he was a whitey retard who voted Trump. Cops are depicted as pigs to make them seem inhuman. A President is painted as a deviant, a Russian plant, a megolamaniac, a fascist… illegitimate. The demonization of Trump and those who support him will likely lead to more such atrocities. Dehumanization regularly is linked to projection, as we project the motives we see in ourselves to our nemeses. That which the left warned would come from the right with a Trump defeat, we can now fully expect to see from the left with the Trump victory.

One thing Trump has shown us, is that we no longer need buy into the left’s bulsh*t. We are not deplorable. We are not irredeemable. We are not powerless. We are not the minority. We have the ball; we do not need to play defense. We should assert our humanity, reject the attempts to take it from us, recognize and cherish our authentic value as Americans. The left must be informed that we will no longer be bullied by their elitist demonization. It is a time for restoration and repair, though not for revenge. We cannot become the evil we stand against. The human condition is common to us all, and those living in glass houses should not throw stones. Those who have walked in human skin for more than a few years should have compassion for even our adversaries. How do we forgive those who would have us silenced and neutered? How do we bridge the gap with people who think us fools, haters and monsters? First, we humanize them…