Don’t Stop The Party
This last Friday, Trump held a rant / rally in Huntsville, Alabama. Supposedly he was there to promote Luther Strange, but he wasn’t really into it. After the fact, they’re saying he never liked Strange much anyway. Albeit, his opponent, Judge Roy Moore — who believes God’s Law (Old-Testament) should supercede US Federal law — makes Strange the safer, more moderate choice. On the other hand this is the era for putting radical madmen into power.
I can’t really say, except that I like that Strange’s name better vindicates those of Hugo and Steven Vincent.
Strange lost the primary to Moore. News agencies are saying it was a foregone conclusion. Trump immediately started burying his prior efforts to rally for Strange, because Trump [retroactively] doesn’t back losers.
Say what you want ’bout me
Trump’s pet peeve of the day was football, how unnecessary roughness is less tolerated than it used to be and how people who protest by kneeling at the national anthem are sons of bitches who should be fired.
The NFL responded in impressive solidarity with the anthem protestors. Team owners locked arms with their teams. Some knelt while the anthem was sung. A few teams went old school and just stayed in the lockers until after the ceremony. (In the case of the Steelers, this time it was not to avoid offense but because they couldn’t decide what unified stand to make.) Trump’s words, and anthem protests have become the topic du jour by the pundits. Some have argued that protest is an expression protected by free speech, where others feel it’s inappropriate for athletes to protest while they’re entertaining, and they should go protest somewhere else. Trevor Noah, of The Daily Show observed violent white nationalists were more easily tolerated by the same voices that now disparage peaceful black protest, and they seem to find black protest anywhere distasteful. Not In My Backyard!*
Know that I’m not sorry
Colin Kaepernick started the (most recent) wave of US national anthem protests in sports, first just sitting out (on a bench), and later by taking a knee. He explained his protest in 2016, soon after he began to sit out the anthem:
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
Regarding anthem protests, our response is actually an improvement from the sixties and seventies, in which players were fired. Teams were often kept in the lockers during the national anthem rather than letting players make a scene. Protests were commonly about racial oppression and police brutality. And objections to such protests were the norm. In the 2010s, acknowledgement and acceptance of protests is much more widespread.
I’ve discussed at length about how selective enforcement, police brutality, lack of oversight and asset seizure are epidemic in the United States. Now that we’re actively tracking slayings by police officers, we seem to be averaging about a thousand killings per year, many of them clearly unjustified. Among these, black deaths and Latin deaths are disproportionately represented in contrast to their respective populations (as it is with stops, detainments, arrests, indictments, convictions and prison time), so Kaepernick’s original point is a legitimate grievance. In fact, it’s one that has started revolutions before.
Do What You Want With My Body
I was particularly stung by Steven Mnuchin’s addition to the protest dialog, This isn’t about Democrats, it’s not about Republicans, it’s not about race, it’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time. That this is about respect for the military and first responders in the country.
Sadly, it is not just Mnuchin expressing these sentiments. If it was I’d find it easier to dismiss them as the ravings of some guy out of touch. As of this posting, several shows have recently shown supercuts of various pundits expressing both, Don’t protest when I’m watching and that protesting disrespects the troops.
Being told to protest somewhere else (e.g. outside of a special ritual or outside the view of people who might be offended) is to disregard their value as human beings. This is the same thing as sexual objectification.** Professional athletes are just as expendable as prostitutes or other professional service persons. The only real difference is their acknowledged role: to perform on the field, rather than in the sack.
This is to say athletes, much like actors or musical performers, or employees are all human beings, and should be acknowledged as such. They have real lives and real tribulations and real joys and real needs, and they are a very real part of our society. And to dismiss the grievances of an athletic star is to imply that their value is only as an athletic star. (In which you might want to consider changing over to one of the various Robotic gladiatorial leagues. Their contestants don’t protest much.)
Regarding disrespect for our troops, that ship has long sailed. It is far more disrespectful to the men and women who have perished in defense of this country that our government has long discarded the notions of liberty and equality on which the nation was founded.
It’s been common practice in the United States to teach our children and instill our soldiers with the sentiment that this nation is worth fighting for, and that the United States is more deserving of duty and sacrifice than any other nation.
But at this point our nation’s government shits on those promises every day.
New recruits are regarded as chumps, and our recruiters are lie to them to get them to sign on. (Allowing military recruiting officers lie to kids so they’ll sign on for combat duty is a centuries old tradition. Anti-recruitment campaigns that reveal the truths of military life to prospective recruits is a new anti-war tactic.)
Kaepernick is drawing attention to the truth that the promises for which our troops fight and our soldiers perish are all false. President Trump is an authoritarian imperialist through and through, and our election allowed us to choose between him and a corporate shill. Kaepernick’s effort to draw attention to how things are very wrong honors our troops more than the rest who toe the line and move in lockstep.
Our troops, living and dead, have already been dishonored, betrayed by their own nation. And yet so many of them still believe the US stands for liberty and justice for all.
World, help me now
Meanwhile, while we rant and pontificate and read / write think-pieces on where protests are appropriate and what Colin Kaepernick is doing, Three-and-a-half million Americans in Puerto Rico are going without electricity, drinking water and medical care. Conspicuously, all that enthusiasm to rush aid to Texas and Florida after their hurricanes is absent. After six days with minimal action, pundits are realizing that Puerto Rico is a region of brown-skinned folk, and our Commander-in-Chief has demonstrated time after time that he likes them much less than he does white-skinned folk. So he’s not really eager to help them out much, despite that they are Americans.
Granted, the ports and landing fields are demolished, so getting materials onto land has been slow while some emergency construction takes place. But the lack of access problem is one we should have been working on days ago. People are dying and disease is beginning to spread. Our administrators are killing Americans by sheer neglect. And some of them are reveling in the silent massacre.
So apparently Kaepernick not only has a point, but the problem is critical. If this is how the US behaves as a nation, it doesn’t deserve respect. Until we are committed to change, until we decide to to except nothing less than true equality and the adhere rule of law without fail, until we decide to fight only just wars, until we stop letting our police kill people with impunity, until we decide to fucking VTOL supplies onto land in Puerto Rico if we have to, ours is going to just be a corporate police state, long ago succumbed to feudalism under corporate lords, where ideals such as unity, liberty and justice are buzzwords used to keep the proles in line.
The first step is admitting we have a problem.
* When I suggest that those who object to black protests are NIMBYs, that actually gives them benefit of doubt, that they might accept oppositional protests (protests to which they disagree) should be allowed to exist, but just don’t want such demonstrations on their street. Some have already expressed that such protests shouldn’t be allowed at all. When Trump suggests an anthem protest should be a fireable offense, he’s arguing against the act of protest itself. (Though he’s just more likely carelessly expressing annoyance without thinking.) Similarly, when Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross praised the absence of protests in Saudi Arabia (where public protests and expression of dissent are criminal) he was advocating against freedom of [political] speech.
** Western society (in general) and US society (specifically) is really hung-up about sexual matters, no small amount of which is thanks to fifteen hundred years of Judeo-Christian religious domination. Curiously, human trafficking is worse when the victims are getting fucked without consent, than (say), if they’re being sent to labor in diamond mines or getting harvested for organs, even when the expected lifespan of any of these victims is about the same. (it is.) In this case, we fixate a lot, and ponder the meaning of sexual objectification. That is, how we will regard others only in terms of how they sexually gratify us. Still, objectification exists in many forms, and it is dehumanizing all the same. The most common form of objectification isn’t sexual, rather it is how common people are regarded as consumers by industrial marketers and company accountants. Consumer has become so common and so casually used that it has entered common parlance, rather than being particular to the lexicon of economics. Consumers are chumps to be separated from their assets for as little value as possible, and are given no further regard except what is necessary bring them back and yield additional revenues.