protests

Antipodean


That was a new word to me, too. From Dictionary.com:

Antipodian – adjective: 1. of, relating to, or originating from places on the opposite side of the globe, especially Australia and New Zealand

That sounds suspiciously similar to “the Orient” – meaning the East. Like Antipodean, it’s an area defined by its location relative to the West, specifically, Great Britain. Defining places relative to the Brits is so very 19th century. Seems rather self-important of them. But it’s the antipode that is the focus for us today.

The Economist reports that

Antipodean anti-vaxxers are learning from America’s far right
.

More than 85% of Australians and New Zealanders are vaccinated and some of the strictest pandemic prevention efforts have combined with that to make for pretty good COVID statistics relative to the rest of the world. But, of course, not even all Kiwis and Aussies can tolerate such good news for long and instead they balk at restrictions and being told what to do, just like Americans. Clearly, that visceral, primitive reaction isn’t continent limited. The worse news is how Australians and New Zealanders are learning from our very own anti-vaccine extremists.

The death threat spewers, those calling for reform via rifle and shotgun, the hystericals over imagined theft of their freedom are in the minority but they are loud and vocal. Reports The Economist,

“‘Protesters are taking inspiration from America’s far right,’ says Mr Spoonley. Some wave flags featuring Donald Trump, wear red hats and threaten journalists. They have started calling politicians ‘traitors’ and calling for lynchings. Placards mentioning QAnon, an incoherent conspiracy theory which is taking off in the Antipodes, are increasingly common.”

The red hat on the guy with the bullhorn in the pic to the left reads “Make Adelaide Great Again” – MAGA. I’m sure the power trip he appears to be on helps him to feel more in control; same for the sign carriers and those just yelling.

Protesters in New Zealand on November 9 chanted and carried signs reading, “Kiwis are not lab rats.” That’s a valiant effort to characterize their protest, but it’s more than a bit upside down. What they seem to be missing is that refusing vaccinations and rebelling against public health safety restrictions essentially puts everyone into a lab experiment – rats in a box with infection stalking them at all times. Indeed, the resistors are making themselves into those lab rats by openly sharing the dangerous variants of the virus. So, those Kiwis really are lab rats. They volunteered for the experiment and their rage will not protect them from sickness or death.

That’s what we Americans do in our spreader and super-spreader events, like the Harley Davidson mash up last summer in South Dakota and our football games and going unmasked indoors among strangers.

What’s at stake is life and death and our pandemic problem is made much worse by the human “You can’t tell me what to do!” riddle.  Who do you suppose has a good idea how to solve that riddle?

And That’s Related To

Hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. People who want to hate will find both a way and a target.

The example above is, on the surface at least, a tantrum over individual liberty and rage over imagined victimization. That it casts aside any vestige of good sense or duty to others is quite beside the point. People have found a way to feel wronged and they are venting their rage, hating whatever phantom bad guy they can conjure, like vaccine mandating politicians, the media, imaginary fascists or socialists or communists and more. It’s very little different than burning at the stake women imagined to be witches, this in order to cast away evil spirits or those believed to be summoning them. For some, it’s just hatred and rage for the feeling of power that their rage gives them.

So, it will come as no surprise that hatred based on race and religion is pretty much the same as any other. In America we have a multi-centuries long trail of duplicity, subjugation and violence against anyone whose ancestors were not from northern European countries or England and who were not Christian.

That has continued most proudly in what has passed as the Republican Party since the Voting Rights Bill became law in 1964. It carries on today in voting restrictions and other efforts to maintain minority control of power and money. You saw it in Charlottesville, on January 6 at the Capitol Building and in hateful, incoherent blogs and brainless attacks on people and on reality in Congress and from the twice-impeached, disgraced former president and his sycophants.

This is not new, but it has reached a critical point in this country. For clarity about this, today’s required reading is from Thom Hartmann in his piece, Revealed: The Racist Plot To Tear America Apart.

Finally

Ten Republican controlled states have successfully prohibited the President’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.

Eleven Republican controlled states have filed suit against the President’s vaccine mandate for employees of private companies with over 100 employees.

Nine Republican controlled states have banned school mask mandates.

An uncountable number of Republican legislators, operatives, pundits and TV, cable and radio blabbers have had tirades of faux patriotism against masks and vaccinations. With false propaganda – lies – they have exhorted the public to rage and to refuse to comply. Never mind the risk to health and even survival.

These are the very same people who are publicly criticizing President Biden for poor performance in combating the pandemic and, in consequence, the economy. Indeed, if their lies can maximize the pandemic suffering and death for another 11 months, that should keep inflation high and the economy doing poorly. Then perhaps Republicans can retake power in Congress.

It’s nearly all unvaccinated people who listen to that propaganda and are dying from COVID at the rate of about 1,000 per day. There are 342 days until the 2022 election, and that leads to the key question:

Is it okay for over 300,000 more Americans to die so that Republicans can rule?

Like I said, hatred is hatred, no matter its origin or excuse or self-righteousness or self-satisfying justification. And it takes a lot of Republican hatred to view 300,000 additional deaths as just collateral damage in their selfish, diabolical quest for power and money.

Here’s a question I heard posed not long ago: Are you okay with the way things are now? If not, what needs to be changed and in what way?

I’ll be posing those questions periodically, hoping to trigger your critical thinking.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
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  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
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JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Arc


Reading time – 4:43; Viewing time – 8:05  .  .  .

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., paraphrasing 19th century clergyman Theodore Parker.

He was right, of course, but that bending isn’t guaranteed and it doesn’t happen accidentally. The moral arc will only bend toward justice if we make it bend that way.

There is nothing pre-destined about justice. Bad guys sometimes win. Despots sometimes create dynasties that oppress people for centuries. Evil has terrorized people throughout recorded history. Justice doesn’t just happen. Ask any person in the U.S. of any color other than white for confirmation of that.

The only way that justice prevails is when good people bear down and do what is necessary, especially in perilous times. It happens when they demand justice. It happens when they refuse to condemn their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the cruel slavery of injustice.

George Floyd memorial, Minneapolis. Notice how many protesters aren’t Black. Across the country this is a people’s protest. Perhaps our young ones will save us from ourselves.

This is the time to demand justice. And I don’t mean only because of what’s happening in our streets now, triggered by the murder of George Floyd. There is an even bigger picture that we must focus on and it bears heavily on the Floyd tragedy. If we don’t do that, all the protesting in the world will fail to make the changes we need and things will become far worse. Besides, we largely know what to do about racial injustice. It’s been studied again and again. It’s the take-action part that we haven’t done.

The President of the United States doesn’t want his job. He wants something far bigger, like the despots he admires, Putin, Xi, Duerte, Kim and Erdoğan. He wants to be an autocrat with absolute power. A dictator. A monarch. A god. He’s told us that plainly.

There is nothing too low for Trump, including holding up a Bible in front of a church for a hypocritical photo-op after having the U.S. military attack peaceful protesters. Here’s why.

We decided in 1775 that such an arrangement just doesn’t work for us. We said that we would be peasants to no one and we threw off the tyrannical rule of King George III and set out on an audacious journey of self-government. To be sure, the road has not always been easy nor has it always been just, but it has become better over time.

Now, though, we are standing face-to-face with that president who wants to be a god. If we don’t stop him now, he will grab absolute power, because grabbing everything for himself is what he always does. We will be peasants once again and that glorious journey of self-government will end. There will no longer be a path toward a more perfect union.

Nameless, badge-less, unidentified cops/military threatened peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park. Then they attacked.

Trump has already deployed the U.S. military to DC in a brutal act of martial law and is threatening to do the same in our states. Is that okay with you? It isn’t okay with George Will. It isn’t okay with Gen. James Mattis. It isn’t okay with Gen. John Kelly or with Gen. John Allen. It isn’t okay with Adm. James Stavridis or with Steve Schmidt or with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) or with Gen. Martin Dempsey or with Gen. Douglas Lute or with Gen. Tony Thomas or with Adm. Mike Mullin or with Adm. William McRaven. And it surely isn’t okay with the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park who were beaten, gassed, shot and flash-banged by anonymous thugs in anonymous police and military uniforms. That injustice stands in perfect perverse harmony with the fact that slaves were once sold in that very park.

Minutes after the picture to the left.

With one moronic, corrupt declaration after another this president is stealing all that you hold dear, all that you believe in and he will get away with it if we are passive toward his thievery. Look up and you’ll see that this isn’t the flag to which you pledged allegiance in elementary school. That flag has been hijacked and the president and his flunkies are wiping their dirty Gucci loafers on it for a power grab and a photo-op. They’re self-justified by a tyrannical tear everything down mantra and they want you to salute their flag of fear, obedience and powerlessness.

We all have our private lives and we ordinarily focus on our own personal issues, but these times aren’t ordinary. These times are ringing an alarm and it is we who must answer the call.

New fence in Lafayette Square Park to isolate demonstrators – not unlike the Berlin Wall. So, we paraphrase Pres. Reagan’s words: “Mr. Trump. tear down this wall.”

The First Amendment tells us that we have the right to petition our government for redress of grievances, which, of course, is exactly what the demonstrators in Lafayette Square Park were doing. You and I better exercise that right while we still have it, because we surely have grievances: our country is being stolen from us. And this president is being aided and abetted by Republican invertebrates in the Cabinet, the Senate and the Justice Department. They don’t have the spine to stop him.

Our own senators and congressmen are the very ones for us to petition. So go to Senate.gov and House.gov, find the contact information for your legislators and call them. Demand that they stop this mad tyrant wannabee before military boots hit your streets and the tear gas fogs your park and the intimidating Black Hawk helicopters hover low over your town square as they did over Lafayette Square Park. Those actions are what this president has threatened to do to you.

Do those calls to your legislators seem like a futile gesture amid Trump’s crushing avalanche of lies, his calls to hatred and violence and Trump’s vile power grabs? Consider this.

Howard Reich’s book, The Art of Inventing Hope: Intimate Conversations with Elie Wiesel, is a very personal and complex narrative that speaks to us in a way perhaps not intended by the author. Nevertheless, Reich wrote,

“Taking action even when you think it may be futile – especially if you think it will be futile – was not only Wiesel’s definition of active pessimism but also, I believe, his statement of hope amid sorrow. When the quest is failing, he seemed to be saying, we need to work that much harder, not only to try to effect change but also as a statement of who we are.”

“In effect, we create hope by pushing forward in the face of failure.”

If we are to have hope that the arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice, we have to take action especially if we think it will be futile. We must try that much harder and say clearly, unequivocally that this who we are.

Do you need inspiration?

Download this piece that I recently received as an email from the Chicago Urban Prep Academies. Tim King is working miracles there, inventing hope and changing lives for the better every day. Download and read the Urban Prep Creed. These high school students recite it every day and they make every word of it ring true, right there on Chicago’s dangerous south side. Perhaps those kids have something to teach us.

When you question whether you can make a difference, repeat Tim King’s words in his emailed message: Either WE do or WE don’t. It’s up to us. And BTW, feel free to help keep the Urban Prep magic going by kicking in a few bucks.

Finally, inspired by the song Teach Your Children, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by  .  .  .

It’s time to sing your code. It is your own personal guide and this is the time to sing the words out loud and fully live them to bend that long arc of the moral universe toward justice.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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