the witch hunt

@realDonaldTrump

“…..the call with the Ukrainian President was a totally appropriate one. As he said, “No Pressure.” This Impeachment nonsense is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax, which has been going on since before I even got elected. Rupublicans, go with Substance and close it out!” [spelling all his my friends]

Did he cry Witch Hunt? Again? A term he has tweeted close to 300 times like rapid fire at all of us? Of course he did, because if there is one thing this president knows about lies, is the power of repeating them. “Calling himself the victim of a witch hunt allows Trump to label charges against him as not just inaccurate but fundamentally impossible. Witch hunts, by definition, are illegitimate, their victims innocent, their judgments always wrong” (Markham- Cantor). Is there anyone who believes he is innocent? Not even Trump claims that verdict. He boasts his lies like a prankster proclaims laughs.

Having just finished Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with my Advanced Placement English Literature students, who, due to the large number of theater kiddos in the room, read with passion and gusto, it was as if John Proctor and Abigail Williams and the rest of those iconic characters peopled my class. When Abigail, in all her initial seductive coyness said, “A wild thing may say wild things” they predicted that Proctor’s sin of adultery would unravel around him, and that she had indeed “an endless capacity for dissembling”. In Act Three John lets loose his shame, “I have know her, sir. I have known her.” “You–you are a lecher?” The crux of the Salem Witch trials fought over land tracks and false blame and stifling fear all come to a “pointy reckoning” when the innocent hanged “high over the town.” My students were hooked on every word like greedy fair-goers, ready to watch as lies replaced fact and insanity trumped reason.

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lost with the ghosts

While most Americans are reeling in disbelief over the most recent mass shootings, I can only wonder how these senseless murders will ever end. “A trio of new reports by the Small Arms Survey finds that 85% of the world’s one billion guns are in the hands of its citizens who far outgun the militaries and police responsible for their protection” (Big Think, Berman). I just want to hear everyone say it: guns are the problem. Loudly. Anyone who thinks they’re not has forgotten the world before Columbine, before April 20, 1999, when two boys killed 13 people and wounded more than 20 others before turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide, and even thought that horrific event became a tipping point in our country, “The Columbine shooting was, at the time, the worst high school shooting in U.S. history and prompted a national debate on gun control and school safety” that conversation has stalled time and time again, year after year, mass shooting after mass shooting, stalled to a faint whisper while politicians send good thoughts (History). Can we remember when Congress took the lead to solving this gun violence epidemic? Not even after Sandy Hook when 20 children between six and seven years old were gunned down by a white American male did they do anything. As in nothing. Not even then.

Flying from east to west over this mighty landmass reveals how expansive and diverse our country is, with all the complexity that mountain chains and sandy deserts and bustling metropolises add to our rainbow lifestyles. Down here, we are all in our own here. Doing our own thing. Working and paying bills. Mothering and fathering and building community in whatever community we find for ourselves. We dream of climbing higher or soaring longer or diving deeper while we commute to our day in and day out jobs. We frequent the same markets and barbers and stadiums and bars and churches and schools and beaches while we live out all the days in all our years.

Only now we are frightened because we might die in any one of those places. Because we are not straight or not white or actually nowadays for any reason whatsoever. Die by an American male with a gun. A gun that has the capacity to kill the most people with the smallest effort. So, now what? Are we helpless to stop this? Yeah in my mind, we are. These white males in their 20’s are so firmly indoctrinated in hate it is difficult to imagine pulling them back to a civil reality.

Maybe they would have just been labeled assholes a few decades ago, spouting off at the family barbecue about their latest beef with someone, but now they can creep into the dark web, or even hit up the 8chan message boards right in the light, and suddenly, these former assholes become sufficiently empowered to carry out their evil manifestos. Allow for easy access to military style weapons and you have a home-grown terrorist in your backyard. Your basement. Your mall. Your America. Take a look down from 35,000. Can you spot the guy with the arsenal to kill more of us? They are here. Residing among us. Proceeding with a rising trajectory that should alarm everyone of us, yet, those alarm bells are being silenced.

I want to believe that we can turn the gun violence epidemic around. That people will say, yes, it is the guns that are killing us. That we, in our respective communities declare collectively that we have had enough, that no amount of weapontry in the hands of civilians will prevent another disgruntled asshole from gunning us down, that we decide instead to recreate this land of the free without guns but with safety for citizens. I can hardly even write these words, for they are so naive, even outlandish.

While we might have had the nerve to tell that one asshole at the barbecue to pipe down when he started with his racist rant, those guys just banded together and elected Trump. They fiddled with the voting act and manipulated districts to flood Washington with complicit politicians beholden to special interests, from the NRA to pharmaceutical and insurance companies pouring billions of dollars into said pockets, so that you and I don’t stand a chance to change any of that hate. Our kids might, if they still have an earth to inhabit. Oh man, this is a dismal view, one that could use a ray of hope if only we had leadership that espoused inspiration instead of division. If only…

This week, I’m getting lost with the ghosts. Those who marched arm in arm between walls of hate speech and absolute peril, yet did so regardless. Those who fill my memory as I try to untangle the horrific news of more mass murders. What would they make of our united states now? What would they demand from our impotent politicians? How would they right this stalled course?

It is too easy to blame, to name call, to call out. Easy because there is blame to be made. Instead, I say we echo the words crying out from from Ohio and Texas, that collectively we do something. We fucking do something.

 

Vote

One of Vermont’s biggest strengths, in my view, is that it’s a place of tradition and a place of change: from legendary apple pies to snappy hard cider. A place with morals that allow for an expanse on the definition: Christian ministers perform same-sex marriage here. A state with an elected Republican Governor, Democratic Senators and Independents sprinkled throughout. People vote for people here, not party. People listen to debates or town hall meetings or their neighbors to get a full picture of the candidates. Political advertisements are a rarity, because  Vermonters aren’t dazzled by sound bites. Maybe you feel the same about your community?

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What did you say?

Remember the last time you said something, had it taken as far from your intended meaning as possible, succeeded in horrifying and alienating your audience, and was subsequently shamed and humiliated? In a very public forum? Well, if you have, you never forgot it, right? My shinning moment of misspeaking is now seared into my infernal list of wrongs. As much as I wanted to justify my comment, to explain my choice of words, it was for naught. Deaf ears. And I get it. You screw up, you get what you get. For the subsequent hours, I felt like a politician whose latest sound bite got twisted in the hands of the opposing but very savvy wordsmith into a half truth. Ruha Benjamin, the Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, said at a recent conference, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will stay with you for a lifetime. I can attest to that truth. Even your own.

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Anniversary

Perhaps it is the sea of fake news we find ourselves drowning in, or perhaps the spew of lies that click so easily off Trump’s digits, whatever the reason, I am drawn more and more to reading the “confessional poets” of yesteryear. Those original ones, who cared little for the moniker but much for “focusing on extreme moments of individual experience, the psyche, and personal trauma, including previously and occasionally still taboo matters” (Confessional poetry). Plath, Lowell, Sexton. They broke repression and oppression. Wove the atrocities of the Nazis into autobiographical poetry. Created verse from what we denied, with the stuff left under the rug. As their ashtrays overflowed and they pounded typewriter keys, their truth loosened onto the page and heralded a revolution of honesty.

We need those crazy fragile ones back on the center shelf. Enough with fiction for a while. Enough with thinking it isn’t the obscene power of the AR-15 that is slaughtering us. Enough with thinking that Trump isn’t motivated solely to further fatten his paunch. Enough with thinking these moral right-wingers have morals, or at least the same ones that you and I share. You know, like caring that babies are murdered at school or church or anywhere a deranged angry white man with an assault weapon cuts them down. If you still read Facebook “news” with conviction or scroll down your Twitter feed believing those 140 or now 280 characters, then wake up, you are being made the fool.

Hate breeds hate, right? Remember that one from kindergarten? We have been lead into a labyrinth of falsehoods from the naked emperor to those scurry to do his bidding. Time to taste the bitter pill. Face the hard facts. We have violated our selves. Our women. Our poor. Our neighbors. Our small towns and big cities. Our planet. Continue reading

Republicans, This Is Your President

Headlines from coast to coast state the current crisis in our leadership better than I could…of course you might want to dig a bit and read past the headlines, but if you’re pressed for time, these statements might be all you need to gauge the American opinion of who exactly is at our helm.

Trump Gives White Supremacists an Unequivocal Boost (New York Times)

Trump Loses Corporate America (Wall Street Journal)

Seagull flying over Lake Champlain

Trump administration wants to praise the county mayor in Miami. He just slammed Trump (Miami Herald)

David Duke and Donald Trump and the long ties of history (Chicago Tribune)

Former presidents Bush rebuke Trump’s neo-Nazi stance (Dallas News)

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