My Blog Week: May 31 to June 6
All the Latest from Torsade!
A Word on the Week
A note to begin: According to the useful charts you can find on the Reuters website, on April 6 of this year the death toll in the United States from COVID-19 rose above 10,000—a milestone for the time. As of June 6, the death toll was 109,945, and as of today has passed 110,000. The media have been preoccupied with other pressing matters, but but let’s not fail to take a sober moment for this new, less heralded milestone, and what it truly represents.
Imagine that antifa were a real organization. Like any group hoping to recruit members and raise funds, the leadership would care about the group’s public face. They would hire a media team and the media team would suggest: “First off, the name. You know, that schwa at the end is going to make people think of Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda. It’s almost like something your enemies would have made up, just to cause a knee-jerk reaction, to make the barely-informed think antifa is a terrorist group. You want everyone having to sound it out…anti...fascist…whenever they refer to you, so the point really gets internalized. How does Heroes of Anti-Fascism strike you?”
[Here is a link to an article on the Willamette Week website with photos showing as many as three or four people gathered in loose configurations, dressed in black, and clashing with right wingers in Portland, Oregon, 2017.]
We’d like to see Fox News hosts having to pronounce “Heroes of Anti-Fascism” every time they wish to mention antifa. But the group’s sheer lack of ambition is likely to stick them below the level of terrorist threat that America’s white supremacists have achieved, and without a lot of organization in their own right…almost as if some well-funded broadcasting concern were making them feel like they belonged to something bigger than themselves…
Now, kneeling. To contend that kneeling during the National Anthem disrespects the flag, would be like claiming that to kneel during the Kentucky state song (“My Old Kentucky Home”) disrespects the plantation. The flag is a narrative device that makes Francis Scott Key’s story’s point. The flag was still there…and what does that mean? That the United States of America was a free nation, still, independent of its colonial oppressor, where the person of the King embodied all sovereignty and power. To oppose this type of protest and dissent on the grounds that it “disrespects the flag” is to miss the point of the song as well as to embrace what lies specifically opposite the founding fathers’ intentions.
Or let Thomas Jefferson tell it to you:
“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
The path of evil.
What do people see in Trump has been the constant question.,,
Part of the answer is, they see Daddy Permission. They see a man who would like to be just such a tyrant, as to embody state power; one who will allow them to do what the people of the United States will not. The firing of rubber bullets into crowds of peaceful marchers is a moral lapse and a serious one. When you’re shooting at people who are exercising their rights and offering no provocation…you are shooting at people. It doesn’t matter what type of projectile you’re using. It doesn’t matter if you can technically claim it’s not lethal. (In the right circumstances, rubber bullets can be maiming and even fatal.) It doesn’t matter if you’re scatter-shooting and not really aiming at anyone. What matters—plenty—is the prevaricating thought process. The path of evil is exactly that. Not the embrace of what you know to be wrong, but the mincing of it into so many special categories, cases, exceptions, that you feel yourself, in the end, to be doing an acceptable necessity. The next step is dehumanizing the target, deciding one person can be less important than another and doesn’t have/need the same rights.
Think of those rules-of-thumb everyone learns in childhood: if you don’t clean your plate, you get no dessert. If you cheat, you can’t play anymore. Light Thought makes this conflation readily, imagining axioms of group conduct with limited application are as valid as the Bill of Rights, the fundamentals of Common Law. It is utterly commonplace to reason that a person who has done a crime no longer deserves human treatment, has even in some way forfeited his constitutional protections.
Lately we’ve seen how easily people can be pressured into committing transgressions, particularly transgressions of convenience, of laws that must exist during emergency periods, such as curfews. We see, then, how easily rights can be stripped away when someone first begins believing the “criminal” isn’t entitled to them.
On Monday, a new Totem-Maker, with the character applying reason to warfare; on Tuesday, The Mirrors (part three), Charmante visiting her aunt, the Dumain connection emerging. Wednesday, a new poem, “friends for years they were not really friends”, on breaking points. Thursday, Frédéric Boutet’s “The Peacock Feathers”, in which an actor dreams of making a splash. Friday, “Men (second)”, Agnes in prison gets a deal and an assignment. Saturday, Eight, “Urgency”, the second Eight on propaganda.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: May 31 to June 6
The Totem-Maker: The Recalcitrant One (part eleven)
The Mirrors (part three)
friends for years they were not really friends (poem)
Poetry Foundation: John Ciardi, “Friends”
Frédéric Boutet: The Peacock Feathers (complete, plus a bonus!)
Men (second): Ninth German Spy
Eight: Urgency (poetry series)