Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Reading

Conscientious Objector — Charles M. Blow in the New York Times.

Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported, Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an “open mind” on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can’t simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never — never — forget that.

As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio, the slime factor was overwhelming.

After a campaign of bashing The Times relentlessly, in the face of the actual journalists, he tempered his whining with flattery.

At one point he said:

“I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.”

He ended the meeting by saying:

“I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along well.”

I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.

You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.

I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty.

You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies “destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.” You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushrooms in a marsh.

You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes.

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth.

It’s not that I don’t believe that people can change and grow. They can. But real growth comes from the accepting of responsibility and repenting of culpability. Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.

I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.

“Tu día llegó” — Jennine Capó Crucet on Miami’s reaction to the death of Fidel Castro.

The first time Fidel Castro died was around my birthday in 2006. I was in Miami when the announcement went out that Castro had had an operation and was temporarily ceding power to his brother. This being the first time Castro had voluntarily stepped away from his dictatorship, speculation ran wild. Miami Cubans took to the streets to celebrate the death of a tyrant, a symbol of death and loss for Cubans of all races and faiths.

This morning, my sister texted, “Fidel is dead… again,” one of 26 messages from friends and relatives sharing the news.

I’d already heard: around midnight, Cubans of every age again poured into the streets of Miami to celebrate the death of a dictator who’d had a profound effect on our lives — who was, in many ways, the reason we were all here in the first place. I was in Westchester, a south Miami neighborhood that’s arguably the heart of Miami’s Cuban community (and as a Hialeah native, I’d be the first one to argue).

On Bird Road, where the lane closest to the sidewalk had been blocked off to allow for overflowing crowds, police lights bathed people in swirls of blue and red light. A father had his arm around his adolescent daughter, who was draped in a Cuban flag, the two of them watching the celebration around them. A woman about my age, there with her girlfriend, wore a T-shirt she seemed to be saving for this day: it read, Tu dia llego (meaning, “your day has come,” though the accents were missing from both día and llegó). A crew of fraternity brothers, none of them Cuban, said they’d “come down from Broward to see this.” “Hialeah must be on fire right now,” one of them said.

I am always somehow back in Miami when something monumental happens in our community. Celia Cruz’s death. Obama’s 2015 visit to Cuba. Even the Elian Gonzalez chaos in 1999 and 2000 coincided with my college breaks. I turned that saga into a novel in order to write through the media’s inaccurate and incomplete portrayal of frenzied Cubans throwing themselves at the feet of a young boy-turned-symbol.

The news out of Miami today will show you loud Cubans parading through the streets. It will show us hitting pots and pans and making much noise and yelling and crying and honking horns. It will give you familiar, rehashed images of old men sipping café out of tiny cups outside Versailles, the famous Cuban restaurant in Miami. That’s all part of it, yes.

But what is more important, yet difficult to show, are other prevalent scenes: People just outside the camera frame, leaning against a restaurant wall, silent and stunned and worried about those still on the island; the tearful conversations happening this morning between generations, families sitting around café con leche and remembering those who Castro’s regime executed.

At a dinner with Miami-based Latino writers a couple nights after the Miami Book Fair last week, we joked that Castro would never die because he is protected by powerful santería — the joke being that the news would take such a statement from us as fact because of our heritage. We are already anticipating the inevitable question: Now that Castro is dead, will we visit Cuba? As if those visits would legitimize something about our identities as American-born Cubans, as if the choice to visit the island would be worth bragging about — as if our answer to that question is anyone’s business but our own.

Those conversations are more nuanced and don’t have the same dramatic effect as banging on pots and pans. They are complex and harder to fit into whatever you write within hours of learning that the dictator who has literally and symbolically represented oppression your entire life is finally gone: Tu día llegó – your day has come – and yes, the shirt fits, but each of us knows there is so much more behind those words that is impossible to distill.

Many of us out on the streets last night and this morning are here as witnesses, as bearers of memory, as symbols ourselves. Many of us are out because we have family that can’t be here — mothers, abuelos, cousins who died at the hands of the Castro regime. We are here to comfort each other and to honor the sacrifices these family members made. This morning in Miami, in the house in Westchester, we were calling each other around the city and the country and saying, “I am thinking of you.”

In one call, ten minutes into the play-by-play of where we all were when we heard the news, my partner’s grandfather, who was born in Cuba but now lives in Puerto Rico, asked us over speaker phone, “Now are you gonna get married?” I lifted a mug to my mouth and began chugging coffee with sudden intensity, and in the laughter around the moment, someone chimed in that we’d stick to the day’s plan of getting a Christmas tree. But his response is proof that there is hope and optimism and excitement at the base of many of these new conversations.

Today I awoke to stories we’d heard a thousand times, stories about the family left behind in Cuba, about survival and exile, about first weeks in the United States, stories honoring those who did not live to see this moment — all being told with more verve and energy than they’ve been told for a long time. I cannot speak for every Cuban and have never embraced the chance to do so. This was my immediate reaction to hearing about Fidel Castro’s death: That’s impossible, he will never die. Turns out even I’d fallen for the hype.

Broadway Recommendations for Mike Pence — Michael Schulman at The New Yorker has his picks.

Dear Vice-President-elect Pence,

Congratulations on scoring tickets for “Hamilton”! Not an easy task. Hopefully you enjoyed the title performance by Javier Muñoz, a gay, H.I.V.-positive Puerto Rican.

Here are some suggestions for other Broadway shows to check out—or avoid, for your own safety. As you know, the theatre is a “safe place,” except if you’re a virulent homophobe or texting in the presence of Patti LuPone.

So get on that TKTS line and remember: if you’re molested by a Times Square Elmo, you have Rudy Giuliani to thank.

“Aladdin”

A stage version of the Disney classic about an Arab street criminal who infiltrates the government under a false identity and employs black magic to bring down the wise Royal Vizir. Skip.

“The Book of Mormon”

An inspirational drama about two white Christians spreading God’s word to deepest, darkest Africa. The showstopper is about young men using religion to repress their homosexual thoughts. No wonder audiences are smiling!

“The Phantom of the Opera”

A psychopathic troll terrorizes the cosmopolitan élite. Donald Trump called it “great”!

“Wicked”

A well-intentioned and intelligent woman is smeared with false accusations until the public is convinced that she’s a malevolent witch. A+

“Falsettos”

A musical about gay Jewish New Yorkers who have lesbian neighbors and sing songs like “Four Jews in a Room Bitching.” At the end, one of them gets AIDS and dies. AVOID.

“Chicago”

An eye-opening portrait of crime and corruption in Barack Obama’s home city. The hero is the brilliant defense attorney Billy Flynn, who bamboozles the public with sensationalist lies and sings, “How can they hear the truth above the roar?” Bonus: jailed women.

“Holiday Inn”

A throwback to when America was truly great, 1942. Men were men, women were women, and barns were red. Includes the greatest song ever written by a Jew, “White Christmas.”

“Fiddler on the Roof”

A musical about members of a despised minority who are forced to leave their homes after being targeted by violent hate groups under a repressive czar. A heart-warmer!

“The Color Purple”

A wistful portrait of being a poor black woman in the Jim Crow South, a.k.a. the good old days.

“The Front Page”

An exposé of the corrupt mainstream media as it distorts the truth and undermines law and order. Needless to say, Nathan Lane is a hoot!

“Waitress”

This portrait of working-class women in America’s heartland starts off O.K., when the title character chooses to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. But she winds up committing adultery and taking control of her own life choices. Recommendation: leave at intermission.

“Kinky Boots”

A black drag queen helps the white working class bring back manufacturing jobs by producing bedazzled red footwear. This musical must be stopped.

“Cats”

The Donald Trump of musicals: it’s tacky, it’s nonsensical, and it’s from the eighties. The cats live in the streets without a social safety net. And, since they’re competing for a chance at reincarnation, all the characters are potentially unborn. Go!

Doonesbury — It’s an honor.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Theatre Is Not A Safe Place

Quoth Donald Trump: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” he continued. “The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”

To quote Mr. Trump again: “Wrong.”

Theatre, in its long history and purpose, has never been a “safe place.” It has always been, since the days of Socrates and Aeschylus and William Shakespeare and Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Aphra Behn and Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg and Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw and Sean O’Casey and Elmer L. Rice and Clifford Odets and Bertolt Brecht and Arthur Miller and William Inge and Maria Irene Fornes and Lorraine Hansberry and Robert Anderson and Lanford Wilson and Edward Albee and Sam Shepard and Robert Patrick and August Wilson and Terrance McNalley and Marsha Norman and Paula Vogel and every playwright in the Official Playwrights of Facebook page, its duty to challenge, frighten, discomfort, tweak, bullyrag, provoke, infuriate, piss off; to make uncomfortable, to squirm and cringe, and at the same time force everyone inside the theatre and outside of it to think. We may do it with laughter and music and lights and sets and costumes, but a play that does not change the audience, that does not make it see the world and themselves in a different way when the lights come up and the curtain comes down, has fallen short.

That is the solemn promise we in theatre make when we take up the profession and the art, and while we may do it in as many different ways as there are plays, stages, playwrights, and places to hear and see our work, we will never accede, concede, or give up our obligation to challenge the status quo and make a difference. What other power have we? We are not politicians, we just pillory them. We cannot make laws, we just decry the bad ones. We cannot erase bigotry with the wave of our hand but we can make us aware of it and torture it into submission.

Theatre is a powerful weapon against tyranny and bullshit. It has always been a threat to the intolerant, which is why it is always the first to be suppressed by the dictators. Many writers and playwrights have been imprisoned, banished and executed because they proved the pen is more a threat to a tyrant than armed rebels in the streets. Nothing wounds more than mockery and ridicule. This is a lesson that must not be forgotten.

So no, Mr. Trump, the theatre must never be a safe place. That is what makes it special.

(PS: It’s a tad ironic that someone from the “Party of Lincoln” would think that being booed is the worst thing that could happen to a politician in a theatre.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

What’s Next

Well, I’m back.  I needed some time to gather my thoughts about the election and what it means for us as a people, as a country, and for the world.

To say I was disappointed would be stating the obvious; disappointed on levels beyond a political loss.  I’m disappointed that this country chose to take the path that it did, and chose it not out of considered long-term consequences but out of a knee-jerk, lizard-brain reaction to fear and loathing.  I’m disappointed that more people that I agree with politically and morally chose to see their opponents in stark contrast to themselves rather than people frightened by fables and fear of the unknown that we could reach out to.  We missed a lot of opportunities to bring comfort and security to them even if they didn’t act like they wanted it.  We said we wanted to listen, but we only heard the outbursts, not the insecurities that makes people vulnerable to predators promising easy answers and nostrums in ten words or less.  And despite the fact that our economy is improving, crime rates are falling, our children are learning, even our defenses are stronger, we allowed them to tell us the opposite and they believed it because for all the optimism that we say is part of human nature — if not, we’d eat our young — it is easier to believe in the bad things and demand simple solutions than it is to acknowledge the good and build upon it.

So, what’s next?  What do we do now?  I’ll get to that, but I can assure you of some things I won’t do.

I won’t deny the results of the election and go around with banners flying proclaiming #NotMyPresident or signing a petition demanding the Electoral College elect Hillary Clinton anyway.  I will not join in the current anti-Trump protests on the street.  That doesn’t preclude other protests in the future; just those fits of rage, especially the ones with property damage.  Those actions are tantrums, not progress, and when people who objected to the election of Barack Obama said the same thing, we rightfully scorned them.  I won’t even argue that just because Hillary Clinton won more popular votes than Mr. Trump she was somehow cheated out of the election.  This is not the first time in our history that it has happened and it won’t be the last.  It does not advance our cause by grasping at straws.  We are supposed to be the grown-ups.

I will not call Mr. Trump by silly and insulting names.  I didn’t do it with George W. Bush or any other president since I’ve had this blog, and all it does is perpetuate the perception that we’re juvenile and cannot be trusted to act like adults.  All it does is prove that you have lost the argument and are lashing out.

Here’s what we will do: we stand up and fight back.  We work at every level to elect people who are progressives and get our policies enacted into law starting at the city council and school board and work our way up.  That’s how the right wing and the evangelicals did it starting forty years ago and look where it’s got them: a lock on state legislatures from coast to coast and a majority of governors.  They’re the ones who control the districts for Congress and the next redistricting will come about after the next census in 2020.  We have to have our people in place by then.

We stand up to bullying and bullshit and push back.  If the Republicans could govern by refusing to consider anything proposed by a Democratic president, then it’s time to bring out the gander sauce and let them have a taste.  Yes, they’re in the majority, but at least we will be heard and our principles are not defeated by being outvoted.  That does not mean that we will not consider compromising on policies where there is common ground, but it will not be capitulation.  If we go down, we go down with our principles intact.

We will use every legal means we can to bear witness to our beliefs and we will not be moved, intimidated, or oppressed for fighting back.  We will remind everyone at every turn that there are those who not only oppose what may come, but we will offer better answers.  We can’t just complain and snivel about what’s wrong; we have to have solutions.

It’s been a tough week.  It’s going to be a tough four years, and we should do everything we can to make sure it is only four years.  Not by hoping Donald Trump fails, but by making our country realize that his policies and views of America are dark, dangerous, and that there’s more to running a country than running for office.  We have been down for the count before: 1972, 1984, 1988, but we’ve always come back.  And we will again… assuming there’s a country to come back for.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Short Takes

Two court bailiffs were shot and killed by a prisoner trying to escape in St. Joseph, Michigan.

The U.S. will deploy 560 more troops to Iraq.

Changing of the guard: Theresa May will become the U.K.’s new prime minister on Wednesday.

Failure to launch: North Korea’s attempt to launch a missile from a submarine didn’t go.

Gitmo’s population continues to dwindle.

All-Star Tiger: Miggy’s going to San Diego.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Test of Character

I sometimes think the Bill of Rights is a test of character for the country.  It’s as if the Founding Fathers said, “Okay, America, we’re going to give you all of these rights; let’s see how you handle them.”

There have been times when we have risen to them and proven ourselves worthy: when equal rights for all truly does mean real equality, not separate but equal or equal only for white Christians.  And there have been times when we have failed them: internment for citizens who immigrated from a place we’re currently hating or the idea that because some see one amendment as thoroughly inviolable we have to accede to their fetishism as the way things must be.

It is serendipitous that as we recover from the shock and horror of the massacre in Orlando we saw a celebration of a musical that honored Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers.  It’s a civics lesson through hip-hop, and while some may find it incongruous to see 18th century characters rapping about starting a country, it reminds us that we are forever being challenged on how we answer to those who set us on our way.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Next Thing You Know, They’ll Win Elections

Buck Newton, A North Carolina state senator is very upset that gay people are actually voting.

“We all know that the folks that wave the rainbow flags and things like that are politically very upset about the way things are today. They’re upsets about the way things have always been in this state,” he said earlier in his remarks. “And they’re bound and determined to try to change it, whether it’s by winning elections in the city of Charlotte on their city council or whether it’s wining [sic] elections in November in the General Assembly or whether it’s winning elections in November for our governor.”

It kind of reminds me of how a group of like-minded people banded together to vote for people who supported their causes.  Y’know, black people.  Or the elderly.  Or even, more’s the pity, cranky white people in the Tea Party.  It’s called “democracy.”  Funny how that works.

Might want to try it, Buck.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Monday, December 14, 2015

Too Far Right For The Far Right

You know Donald Trump is way off track with his nativist noise when even Marine Le Pen, the head of the National (FN) of France, which has been in the forefront of anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe for decades, says he’s going too far.

Mr. Trump on Monday evoked comparisons to Ms. Le Pen and her European counterparts with his call to close American borders to all Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Ms. Le Pen said that was too much for her, perhaps in part because she feared jeopardizing the progress she had made in shedding her party’s previous image as racist and anti-Semitic.

“Seriously, have you ever heard me say something like that?” she asked on Thursday when questioned about Mr. Trump’s comments during a television interview. “I defend all the French people in France, regardless of their origin, regardless of their religion.”

And now the French voters think Ms. Le Pen is a little too much for them.  In elections over the weekend, the National Front came in third.

France’s far-right National Front (FN) has failed to win a single region in the second round of municipal polls.

The party was beaten into third place, despite leading in six of 13 regions in the first round of voting a week ago.

The centre-right Republicans finished ahead of President Francois Hollande’s governing Socialist Party.

FN leader Marine Le Pen said that mainstream parties had colluded to keep it from power and vowed to keep on fighting.

“Nothing can stop us now,” she told supporters. “By tripling our number of councillors, we will be the main opposition force in most of the regions of France.”

Ms Le Pen said the party had been “disenfranchised in the most indecent of ways by a campaign of lies and disinformation”.

They dodged that bullet.  Can we?  Ted Cruz is just as odious as Donald Trump, and he stands to win in Iowa.

HT to CLW.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Short Takes

Trump calls for complete ban on Muslims entering America.

F.B.I. talking to man who bought the guns used in the San Bernardino massacre.

Supreme Court refuses to hear assault weapons ban case.

Opposition wins big victory in Venezuela.

Global emissions of greenhouse gases were down slightly last year.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Election Results

As noted below, Matt Bevin (R) won the Kentucky governor race.  He’s vowed to dismantle the state’s version of Obamacare, so roughly 9% of the people who have insurance through the exchange called Kynect are in jeopardy of losing it.

In Houston, the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance was repealed thank to the usual freak-out tactics of the far right.

Ohio rejected the referendum on recreational marijuana, and Toledo elected Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson to a full term.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election Day

In Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas, they’re holding elections.  Kentucky will choose a new governor; the choice is between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin.  If Mr. Bevin’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he is the Teabagger who tried to primary Mitch McConnell in 2014.  Although Kentucky is mostly a red state, they have a tradition of electing Democrats to the governorship, and Mr. Conway might pull it off.

Ohio has a bunch of state-wide ballot issues plus a mayoral election in Toledo.  That election is interesting only in that it’s pitting the city’s first black woman mayor, Paula Hicks-Hudson, against a large field, including former mayors Carty Finkbeiner and Mike Bell.  Ms. Hicks-Hudson became mayor by appointment when Mayor D. Michael Collins died in February 2015.

One of the other issues on the ballot in Ohio is the legalization of marijuana.  So maybe the state will become Ohigho.

In Texas, Houston will vote on an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance.  As you can probably imagine, this is bringing out some of the more vocal nutsery against it, including Gov. Greg Abbott who is — spoiler alert — against it.  He seems overly concerned about the toilet habits of people.

If that’s not enough to keep you entertained, cheer up: we only have a year and five days until the one in 2016.  I can’t wait.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wow, Canada

Canada tosses the Conservatives out.  Via the Toronto Star:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

That title, which seemed improbable a mere 11 weeks ago, is now set to become a reality after the Liberals’ historic, come-from-behind election result, besting incumbent Conservatives and hopeful New Democrats in one of the country’s longest and costliest elections.

“Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight. It’s time for change in this country my friends, real change,” Trudeau said in Montreal.

“A positive, optimistic hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream. It can be a powerful force for change.”

The election ushers in a new era for Canada as Trudeau was swept to power on a vow to change how Canadians were governed and a commitment to end what he branded as the Conservatives’ divisive style of politics.

Preliminary results had the Liberals at 185 seats, comfortably more than the 170 seats needed for a majority government in the expanded 338-seat House of Commons. It’s a stunning rebound for a party that had been knocked down to 34 seats in the 2011 election and left for dead.

The Conservatives won 101 seats, the New Democrats 41, the Bloc Québécois 10 and the Green Party had one seat, won by leader Elizabeth May.

The day was a humiliating loss for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who has served as prime minister since 2006, and a crushing night for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Harper, who had led his Conservatives to three successive victories, immediately signalled he would be stepping down as leader and instructed the Conservative party to appoint an interim leader and launch a process to select a new leader, according to a party statement.

Let’s hope that this sets an example for their neighbor that’s planning on an election in the near future.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

And Again

Here we are again with another mass shooting.

This time it’s a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  I’ve already provided links for the details.  Now comes the inevitable introspection, the ready-for-soundbite releases from the gun lobby and the politicians who keep them happy and the guns on the street.  Now comes the “now is not the time to talk about gun control” and the excuses that it’s too soon.  It’s always too soon until it’s too late.

Look, there I go, launching into my own cliches.  All right then, here’s Charlie Pierce who outdoes me and most other people armed with a keyboard.

What happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unthinkable.” Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.

What happened in a Charleston church on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unspeakable.” We should speak of it often. We should speak of it loudly. We should speak of it as terrorism, which is what it was. We should speak of it as racial violence, which is what it was.

We should speak of it as an attack on history, which it was. This was the church founded by Denmark Vesey, who planned a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey was convicted in a secret trial in which many of the witnesses testified after being tortured. After they hung him, a mob burned down the church he built. His sons rebuilt it. On Wednesday night, someone turned it into a slaughter pen.

[…]

This was not an unspeakable act. Sylvia Johnson, one of only three survivors of the massacre, is speaking about it.

“She said that he had reloaded five different times… and he just said ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.'”

There is a timidity that the country can no longer afford. This was not an unthinkable act. A man may have had a rat’s nest for a mind, but it was well thought out. It was a cool, considered crime, as well planned as any bank robbery or any computer fraud. If people do not want to speak of it, or think about it, it’s because they do not want to follow the story where it inevitably leads. It’s because they do not want to follow this crime all the way back to the mother of all American crimes, the one that Denmark Vesey gave his life to avenge. What happened on Wednesday night was a lot of things. A massacre was only one of them.

And they will keep happening.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Short Takes

Tories win close to a majority in the British election.

Drone kills al-Qaeda leader who claimed credit for Charlie Hebdo attack.

The U.S. is arming and paying moderate Syrian rebels.

Senate passes Iran nuclear deal review bill.

Another for-profit college hits the hard times.

The Tigers finally win one off the Chicago White Sox 4-1.