A few months ago I encouraged my fellow Working Families Party Members to get behind Howie Hawkins for Governor. To my knowledge no one from the Hawkins campaign actively sought the Working Families endorsement. I was not at the convention so I have no idea whether or not anyone was stumping for him, if I had been there I would have, because I think he has the right mix of ideas and recognition to have truly made a viable third party run for governor if he had both major progressive parties in New York behind him. Instead the little-known Fordham professor Zephyr Teachout was the name bandied about the convention as the alternative to “Prince” Andrew Cuomo.
Time to roll out an old complaint. This is going to sound horribly arrogant, in no small part because it is, at least a little, but I sometimes wonder if humanity in general and Americans in particular are mature enough for democracy. When push comes to shove I do not actually believe that. Maturity really is not a prerequisite for self determination, at least absolute maturity is not. That is a good thing too, because Americans are really immature about their politics. Going back to my oft used comparison, Americans treat politics like a football game, rooting for their team even when it is clear when their team is not rooting for them. So long as their guys are winning they don’t care what they are doing and when they are losing anything the other guys do is wrong. Continue reading
So yeah, I’d like to see non-violent, civil disobedience as the tool of choice for change. I have read enough history to know I do not want to be in the crosshairs of some wannabee Robespierre when the revolution comes. That said I have tell you it is irksome how many of my fellow White Americans suddenly are in love with the philosophies of King and Gandhi now that their Black neighbors are rightfully standing up in protest and some of the protesters are louder and scarier (because, gee, aren’t angry, unarmed black people so scary?) Not that there is a lot of violence on the ground anywhere but you know what, if there was, I am pretty sure White Americans could not handle five days of being treated like animals without giving in to the urge to say “OK, I guess I am,” much less five centuries. Where were all these calls to sing Kumbaya after 9/11? No, White America is in love with MLK, not because the nobility of his message, but because it gets us off the hook and somehow puts the people already bloodied on it. Continue reading
The pile of dishes rises higher. One after another they come in. A mountain of cheap plastic and stainless utensils that slips into the basin in front of Chelsea. She takes a deep breath, keeps a stiff upper lip and dives in. This is what she is here for, in this claustrophobic basement kitchen of her neighborhood church, to help however she can. There is a nagging uncertainty, though, and she does not want to give it voice, because that would require taking a long hard look at herself. Continue reading
I was going to write my own stuff about this, but I will leave it to my friend Brian, who first posted the idea on FB.
“You are free… to do what we tell you.”
I don’t always agree with the late (has it really been 20 years) Bill Hicks, but I do agree on his assessment of our culture of illusory freedom. We say the words like the mantra will make it true, meanwhile we are, as Neil Postman pointed out “amusing ourselves to death.” We agrue within a very narrow framework of what we consider possible outcomes, never once accepting that there is rot in the foundations of our society. Indeed we are encouraged from the time we are very young to ignore it. Continue reading
So much going on now. I am so sad that Robin Williams has taken his own life. I have written about my depression and suicidal thoughts in the past. In many ways Robin defined my generation. Culturally we were, or are, a lot like his public persona: manic and unable to put down roots. I think it is why so many view Gen Xers as lazy and irresponsible. It took us a long time, at least as a group, to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up, and we all grew up with Robin.
On the other hand there is the news out of Ferguson, which many rightfully fear will be overshadowed by Robin’s passing. We cannot allow that to happen. As events unfold the police there damn themselves more and more, and the lies surrounding Michael Brown’s murder become more apparent we have to keep talking about this. Too many young Men of Color are cut down every year by the police and nary an eye is blinked. Well, I am blinking, at both. Continue reading