It isn’t that I have anything personal against the young couple whose parents erected a huge house for them right across the street from me – I just don’t see the point of it. Too, our town has a scarcity of affordable houses for people who don’t have millions to build or buy one. Here’s my take on how that problem spreads out across America.
Since 2016, those of us who love justice and fairness have been floundering in a gloom-inducing mire of injustice and inequity, for which almost none of the principal perpetrators have been held accountable. This apparent failure of our country’s social contract has left us dizzily boundaryless. If moral harm involves being psychologically damaged by seeing social wrongs which are loathsome to our sense of what is right and good continuously going unpunished, we have become the walking wounded.
Now, just in time for our battered spirits, here comes the Rule of Law in the form of 30 points of indictment decided upon by a Grand Jury of 23 of former President Trump’s New York City peers.
One of the elements of the moral swamp we have being lost in for the last 7 years is the relentless flogging of everything that is unjust and loathsome by the progressive media we like to watch – MSNBC, in my case, but also CNN and, sometimes, Public Television itself. It doesn’t matter how scornful the pundits’ tone in reporting it: continuous streaming of morally disturbing speech and acts rattles our minds almost as badly as watching Fox News.
For example, on the Friday when the former president announced that he would be indicted the following Tuesday (he wasn’t), MSNBC spun a relentless loop, all weekend long, of his accumulated misbehaviors, unaccountably illustrated by one exceptionally dignified Presidential photograph after another. Just as we thought that the Rule of Law had guided us to the safe edges of the moral swamp, the (liberal) media’s relentless footage went right on immersing us in moral miasmas of reminiscence.
During the coming months (perhaps years?) as indictments come down and trials drag on for all four offenses, we must find ways to protect ourselves from media driven moral harm. Some of my friends have turned off their television sets and canceled their newspaper subscriptions. Convinced that a democratic citizenry must be an informed one, I am keeping up with my New York Times and my cable news, skipping Trumpy articles and muting every fulmination from the far right that MSNBC gives space to. I will only pay attention to news of accountability in analyses and commentary about the heartening workings of our Rule of Law.
Have you found firm paths out of the swamp for yourself? Tell us about them!
Like a lot of my friends, I read newspapers and magazines and listen to TV a lot, and I find myself making piles of clippings and notes around a given subject. Every now and then, I figure out a way to amalgamate these into a column for Impakter.Com.
Here is the latest, about the way that progressive environmental interests and businesses are beginning to work together.
I am usually positive and forward-looking about the political scene in America; even in the worst of the Trump years I found that taking action mitigated my dread of the evident fascist evils stalking our land. But, this year, everything is up for grabs: both democracy and the fate of our beloved planet.
With two weeks before the midterm election, here is a little civics lesson and a diary about how my days are going during this particularly perilous political season.
Here’s Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer celebrating one of the many pieces of Democratic Party legislation that have gone through Congress during Biden’s first term. And there we all were in the middle of a very good political summer, flushed with triumph from getting the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law. Why were our newspapers and media full of doom and gloom about Biden’s low popularity and about huge setbacks expected for the November midterms? So, I hauled myself out of the river once again, setting my swim noodle aside to write an Impakter.com column about this odd discrepancy. Here’s what I came up with:
What did I do this summer? Although I was determined to lollygag as much as possible, Washington went into high gear on climate change legislation, which I have been working on with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby for years. Now, it all came to a head! As folks in Europe seem to want to know what is going on in American politics, here was my blow by blow description of this exciting summer rush to save our beloved planet that I wrote for Impakter.com.
It is so hard to pick up my newspaper in the morning and read nothing but horror stories! Here is my suggestion about making a silk purse of constructive action out of the sow’s ear of Replacement Theory: https://bit.ly/3y5QUsY
My New Impakter Article on the CRT Controversy
There is a right way and a wrong way to teach the history and literature of peoples of color in America. Here is my take about how to develop affirmative and empowering curricula:
“We may not have wings or leaves” like our fellow created beings, writes Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braided Sweetgrass, ” but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and our responsibility. I’ve come to think of writing as an act of reciprocity with the living land.”
This is a great motto for me when I wonder about my purpose in life since I morphed from a writer of Eco Fiction to a political/environmental columnist for a world-wide publication and a contributor to a newspaper out of Frankfort. Michigan.
So, here we go! For those of you interested in a collection of my columns on the Trump Horrors, the Rise of Republican Fascism, the Nitty-Gritty of Political Organizing, How to Handle Climate Grief, and some of the alternative ways to redeem our good green world that we yearn for in these troubled times, check out my updates to The Worlds We Long For . Then, to cheer yourself up, you can see what my zany family and I have been up to at our Betsie River cabin now that, after long pandemic absence, we are together again!
I wrote this article earlier this month just before the Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre was widely publicized: Meritocracy: The Tyranny of Merit and the Dilemma of the Disinherited – Impakter
A reader asked me “how can Black people be disinherited if they didn’t have anything in the first place?” This denies the long record of Black achievement since Emancipation, even in the face of Jim Crow and (now) White Supremacist constraints. The “talented tenth,” as the college-educated Black professional class used to call itself, made significant progress under Reconstruction policies enacted for their advancement: “Black Wall Street,” the Tulsa neighborhood that was destroyed while hundreds of African Americans were massacred, was a well-off urban community chockablock with businesses, banks, and substantial homes – all Black owned and Black administered. That was why it was so offensive to white people.
This morning I came across a review called “Upwardly Minded” in which Lawrence Otis Graham looks at how Elizabeth Dowling Taylor describes historic Black mobility in The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era: “Dowling Taylor recounts the rise of African-Americans during the time of Reconstruction and their fall during the subsequent decades, when legislation was advanced in order to again segregate, impoverish and humiliate a population that many whites believed had gained too much.” (italics mine). The point is, the minute Reconstruction policies provided opportunities, Black citizens like Daniel Murray took advantage of them and advanced significantly. Then, as now, Black achievement stirred racial animus and gave rise to the laws and intimidations – especially the hundreds of hideous lynchings-of the Jim Crow era.
White Supremacists have not changed their minds in all these years. Now they are attacking CRT (Critical Race Theory) using the term as a dog whistle to rally around banning the history of the Reconstruction era, along with the slavery that preceded it, from American educational curricula. Besides their fierce need to see somebody else’s face than theirs “at the bottom of the well” (see my Impakter article, they seem to be afraid that, as a “majority minority ” Black citizens will treat whites the way we whites have treated them. This ignores African American culture’s powerfully pragmatic non-violent ethic and the paradigm shift from power/over to power/with (or, from either/or to both/ and) impacting our quest for the common good in the multi-racial America of the 21st century.
One effective way to familiarize students with Black history is to teach Black literature. After never being assigned any works by Black writers during my entire education at Smith College (B.A. English), The University of Wisconsin (M.A., English), and Columbia University (Ph.D, Comparative Literature), it was a heady experience to be introduced to excellent but marginalized poems, novels, and plays while teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, an historically Black college for women.
How you include African American materials in standard courses must be carefully considered: first, a teacher needs thorough scholarly grounding in the material. Secondly, syllabuses must be constructed to “Mainstream” content. You want to avoid the condescension of “wagging the tail,” by sticking your one Black example like an afterthought at the end of your syllabus; nor do you want to “mix and stir” by plopping it in without comparative analysis. You need to avoid the “just like us!” attitude of facile inclusion, privileging Euro-American aspects as normative by praising the similarities between marginalized materials and the traditional canon. In order to avoid modelling racial superiority and racial ignorance you want to intersperse the previously marginalized materials throughout and in dialogue with other course offerings – I taught Winnebago cosmological myths , for example alongside the Book of Genesis; or you could let Frederick Douglas dialogue with Henry David Thoreau by teaching the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: and “Civil Disobedience” side by side.
I asked my students at the University of Wisconsin, who were almost entirely white, to figure out what strengths of character Vyry drew upon in Margaret Walkers’s Jubilee, how Indigo survived racial and other life obstacles in Ntozake Shange’s Sassafras, Cypress, and Indigo and why Pecola in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye was beaten down by her life circumstances.
Students come out of reading such literature with empathy for the characters and a grasp of what life has been like for African-Americans over the generations.