Tuesday, January 2, 2024

And We're Back

Been a while, no?

Let's get to it with a hearty rant.

Here we are in the 21st century, supposedly living in the freest nation in the world, backed by the biggest, most diverse economy the world has ever seen, and with a history of being a beacon of hope and refuge for those who are persecuted abroad, yet we are being besieged by censorship on the right and left, are living in the most unequal era in our history, and are seriously knotted when it comes to immigration policy that many want to use to insulate us from a world we did much to create, while starving our workforce of the workers we need to grow and thrive. And all the while we fantasize about a warming world whose problems can be mitagted without much sacrifice from, well, anyone. 

This is where we find ourselves under the full weighted blanket of conservative political and social influence. Did you really believe that control over your own body would extend to your pregnancy? Don't be so foolish. Woman are merley vessels who carry the more important life. The assumption is that any woman who wants control over their body must have done something wrong. Or is selfish. Or wants to live. Or is immoral. The assumption on the right is that there is always something more important than you. And in Texas, your neighbor can arrest you and the Uber driver you rode in with if you dare to express your opposition.

What about parental rights? Evidently, parental rights only means that you support banning books from all libraries because you're afraid that your child might read something that makes them think differently or that leads to questions you'd rather not answer. Parental rights don't extend to that sweet child who has known since birth that they are not going to confrom to your reality and is gay. Or knows that they are not in the correct body. Or knows that they are not on a spectrum, they are on a continuum that enables them to express their individuality in a way that, wait for it...makes them happy. And seen. And heard. But if you want to support your child, the state will stop you.

And, oh Israel and free speech. Here is where the left joins the ugly shouting match. The speech codes that rule the modern college campus are the product of fear and the inability of the adults to impart the most important lessons of a college education; that you will find opposition to your ideas, that you need to find the intelligence and moral clarity to argue from a set of evidence-based ideas, and that you need to be tolerant, understanding, and sympathetic to someone who is on the other side of an issue from you. 

On the right is perhaps the greater hypocrisy. The very movement that tolerates and encourages antisemitism and racism in its ranks is in no position to lecture anyone about antisemitism in other parts of society. And the right wing has been utterly devoid of humanity when it comes to Palestinians who want self-determination. I watched the horrors of October 7 from a Jewish perspective and cursed the Hamas terrorists for their utter depravity and inhumanity. But as a world citizen, an unabashed supporter of human rights, and someone who has followed Middle Eastern politics and society since the Six Day War, I also looked at how Palestinians were forced to live and I asked the most relevant question:

What did you expect? 

You simply cannot treat people with such disdain and expect them to accept that treatment decade after decade and not expect an explosion. We propogated that type of treatment of marginalized people in the United States, then ignored their pleas. And what did we get? An explosion. 

What did you expect?

No, there is no room for racism, sexism, elitism or any other manner of thinking or speaking that denigrates another human being. There is not room for marginalizing or silencing or ridiculing another person for whatever reason. None. Ever. The problem is that we've tolerated and even encouraged those behaviors over the course of our history. We've taught that it's fine to see another person as inferior because of an attribute that we've assigned to them that is less than acceptable. If there is good news on this, it's that the younger people, you know, the ones who get ridiculed because of all the avocado toast they eat, are leading us through the difficult process of recognizing our demons, confronting them, and perhaps becoming a more equitable, accepting country. We can, and will, do better.

I still have enough optimism to believe that we can overcome our differences and create a more equal and just society. It looks bleak now, what with a country that has more guns than people, but things will turn because there are enough people who believe that it will turn and will do what they need to make that happen. Many states, even conservtive ones, have seen their citizens reject limits on abortion. Libraries and librarians are fighting back against censorship. And new laws that are planting the seeds of a new, cleaner, more resourceful energy system will take root. It's been slow and uneven, but like all new technology, we will reach a tipping point that will see an acceleration of the new. It happened with cras, radios, televisions, computers, and phones. It will happen with new technologies that will make this country, and the world, a greener place.

I do have hope. I do have energy. I do smile when I think about the future. How about you?

Thank you for reading. It's good to be back.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Back to School 2021

This is one of those years when the public school system has been singled out as a bastion of liberal teachers who are corrupting the minds of youngsters by telling them that they are indeed responsible for protecting our democratic institutions, ensuring that all citizens get justice, and reminding the country that we have a horrible racist past that continues to infect housing, education, employment, athletics, politics, economics, social interaction, religion, police departments, the military, and the media. 

Please remind me if I've left anyone out.

But we also need to be particularly careful that we make sure students know, and are given the tools to address, how we can overcome these historical patterns and ensure that we break this cycle of ignorance and fear that those who see a danger in the changing American demographic landscape continue to promote. 

Yes, my friends and colleagues, teaching is, has always been, and will always be a political act, a subversive act, an act that challenges the foundations of society while also reinforcing the idea that questioning our basic beliefs and putting them to the test is in the best interests of the system. Teaching is based on the idea that in order to create a just system, we must conserve ideas that support all Americans while introducing new ideas that move us forward. Teaching requires that we truly challenge our students by asking them to question what they know, rather than repeating anodyne phrases and tenets that have long since lost their relevance and resonance. Education is not safe. It is stressful for the teacher and the learner. 

If certain segments of society are going to push against teachers, then we must push back with the certainty that facts and data provide us. The United States does not have one historical story. It has many, and we must tell all of them. We need to demand that textbook companies and those who produce content for schools provide perspectives that reflect the experiences of those who were previously unheard, unrecognized, and marginalized. And we need to go to Board of Education meetings to counter those people who promote misinformation and fear. 

Perhaps you went into teaching because it seemed safe, predictable, assured, and reflective of a point of view with which you agreed. Things have now changed. Are you ready to change with them?

Have a marvelous year.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

In Which I Say Farewell to Donald Trump


Donald Trump will not be a major force in Republican politics for the next four years. He still has his fans, and they number in the tens of millions, but he's done. The rest of the country has moved on to solving some of our most pressing problems. 

The Biden Administration will be focusing on cleaning up the environment and transitioning the country from one based on fossil fuels to one that increasingly uses renewable energy. It will create programs that address the terrible consequences of poverty, especially on children. The Affordable Care Act will get major upgrades, most of which will focus on affordability, access, and preventive care. Taxes on the wealthy will increase, mostly to fund infrastructure projects including making sure that all Americans have access to affordable broadband Internet service, reliable public transportation, and bridges, tunnels and roads that, well, function appropriately. Our allies will begin to trust us again, though that will take some time. Joe Biden will not proclaim his love for dictators.

Donald Trump would run against every one of those policies. He's done.

And, of course, we haven't even mentioned the insurrection at the Capitol, which was predicated on a lie. Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. By a lot. But, of course, he couldn't lose, so he created a lie and millions of people believe it still.

Americans, including police officers, died because of the lie. Some were injured. Others were traumatized. But it was a lie. Told by a liar. Whose political career is over.

Donald Trump might still have some influence in conservative and fringe-right circles, and we know he's uber-popular with the white supremacists, fascists, racists, and anti-Semites. This might translate into victories in Senate and House races in some states, but Democrats will run commercials using the attack on the Capitol to remind Americans that it was all the result of the lie that Donald Trump just cannot let go. 

Yes, he was acquitted in the Senate, but the fact that ten Republican Representatives and seven Republican Senators voted against him is a beginning. The trial laid bare what President Trump did as the mob began its attack. Nothing, for almost two hours. Yes, he did mention that he wanted his followers to be peaceful, but a responsible president would have said it immediately and would have repeated it. He did not do that. And did I mention that it was all based on a lie? I want to make sure I mention that.

I'm sure the press will continue to publish stories about Donald Trump's influence in the GOP and how he will support candidates who support his lie, and who label the Russia investigation a witch hunt and fake news (Have you noticed that we haven't heard these words much lately? Refreshing.), and I'm not against reporters and others having jobs and being paid, but Donald Trump's political career is over.

And I am done writing about him.

Here's to better days ahead.