Trump Resistance

Building resources in the fight against the extreme policies and lurch to the right that the USA is undergoing under the new President

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by Pete Lawrence
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Created on 31 Jan 2017

We are attempting to build resources in the fight against the extreme policies and lurch to the right that the USA is undergoing under the new President. The world has quickly been turned upside down and the sweep of far-right politics has spread beyond America. We need to be aware, to be informed and to work out ways we can make a difference. 

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Tue, 01/31/2017
Key Interests
Guilds

Do the Sheep Look Up?

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'The Sheep Look Up' is a dystopian British sci fi novel by about how the US falls apart just about now: somehow it matches my mood at the moment

I had a really odd week here in the US, in Tacoma, a city just south of Seattle on the NW coast. It's a funny, slightly characterless town that has had its ups and downs economically, now up because of its proximity to Amazonville (Seattle) and Microsoftland. I was teaching a week-long class to the public utility here, a mix of people from water, sewerage, natural resources (fish!) and power, specifically hydro power generation, and the class was great. Meanwhile a thousand miles and a cheap plane ride away, some white guy with semi-automatic weapons converted to automatic (ie machine guns) decides for some reason to open fire on a big crowd of white country music fans. 

All week I got a lift to and from Tacoma PU from a white woman, Mary, who was staying near to my hotel, and she was very kind - taking me to the store to buy food, milk and beer because the hotel is on a strip nowhere near to anywhere I want to eat. I was not surprised that she wasn't in favour of gun control - I meet quite a few engineers who aren't, though I must say I meet quite a few who are, as well. (The last time one of my colleagues, an Ozzie, got into conversation about gun control, one of the US clients we were with told us he had a gun on him, which still freaks me out; the other clearly had a different view.) What was interesting this week was how quickly Mary just shut down the topic; nothing can be done to control guns because there are already too many of them, and there would just be a large black market to continue the sales. She may be right, but I am afraid I thought: I didn't even say anything, and she had her pat answer ready. 

The next day she said something about Las Vegas, but I responded with how in Britain we were at least as concerned about what's happening in Spain. Her response was, essentially, that Spain is far too far away for Americans to think about; and it's true I didn't see a single mention of the referendum here, just endless speculation about the LV shooter.

The last day of the course we were expecting the latest hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast. I mildly commented that this year seems to have an awful lot of hurricanes/ tropical storms, and this last one is really, shockingly late into autumn. Mary simply said, it's part of the natural cycle, and in the US we only have 200 years' of weather records.. I only had to think 'climate change' and she had her answer, again. I switched the topic to climate over the aeons, which also interests her, although I have to say she had picked up some very strange science there too.

I was not going to pick any fight with her. I was just sad that there was no possibility of debate anyway. She had her Answers.

I might have gone along with all this, until I reposted - in frustration, I am sure - a meme about the LV shooting not being the largest gun massacre in US history, and that it's racist to forget this.  I confess I have unfriended any UKIP and Trump supporters, spouses of friends, since they don't help my blood pressure. But there is one person left that I don't have the heart to strike off as she is an old, dear family friend.  Last weekend she posted a lovely speech by MLK, after earlier posting some dumb things about the Black football players 'disrespecting' veterans (WTF?) by dissing the flag. I thought the MLK quote was a good sign - until my idiot brother* picked a fight, possibly rightly suspecting that she didn't really mean it as an acknowledgement that the US has a problem.  She responded weirdly along the lines that the 1960s are ancient history and no longer relevant; no, I don't know why she posted MLK then.

She responded angrily to my comment that some people are concerned that nothing much has changed since the 1960s. MLK is 'safe' only if he is the past, and we don't apply what he said to now. He is a safe Black radical because he's dead. She actually wrote, if you're going to take notice of what he said, are you going to use the fact that he was anti-gay as well?

But that was as nothing to her response to the Wounded Knee massacre reference, where she bluntly (and patronisingly) told me that was irrelevant to her as it wasn't in her lifetime. It was not her fault. Now, I am pretty sure she does not think the LV massacre is her fault either; I think she meant more about caring because she is a concerned citizen. But the same weird theme again - it's not history, it's prehistory, it's myths and legends. It is nothing to do with me.  (Like a recent video of a guy saying Australian gun control is irrelevant to the US "because if you're going to talk about things that happen on Planet X....") How could she be expected to think of Wounded Knee when it is so long ago? I don't mean she didn't get the reference.

And even after all of that I might have been able to sleep, except that Friday night there were two ads for forthcoming TV programmes one after another. The first, cheerful one was about how it used to be only men who were interested in semi-automatic guns, but now (white) women are getting into them too.  I can't begin to imagine why the programmers thought this was a useful thing to show this this week - that it's not just men who could mow down innocents?? Prurient, perhaps, but not alarmed. The other was for a programme about a young Black man who is selling drugs in some city and using the profits to buy: yes, you've guessed, semi-automatic guns. He had a scary and totally unbelievable mask on, and the tone was, this is the end of the world. If a Black man has a gun.

This week it occurred to me that maybe societies don't change very fast, even when they think they have.  The Spanish government acted a bit like we remember from Franco's regime in trying to prevent people from voting. Friends have views on either side of the issue of whether Catalonia should get independence, but stopping people voting by force is not a good look for anyone. And then there is Rees-Mogg in England... (anyone got a better name for him?) 

Clearly nothing much has really changed from the 1960s in many white Americans' minds - trying to stop Black people from voting was a major theme in the Trump election, and the responses to the NFL protests just sounded like the responses to the Black Power salutes at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, even though they were very different in mood. 

People still respond to other friends' posts that white Americans with guns / the American military are the good guys, and that's why there is no issue with either. I think it is not that they don't remember slavery, Wounded Knee or the Vietnam War, exactly. It's that they learnt perverted lessons from them, and there is no way in to rethink history.

I was so happy when Barack Obama was first elected (my husband drove to my work to tell me in person, and we did a jug around the carpark). I - many of us - thought it meant things had really changed. True, there were more guns sold while he was president than at any other time (I learned that from his own words), and he was not so great about the Middle East. 

Now I fear white America is going to massacre Black Americans, and probably quite a lot of other people as well, with the battlefield weapons they are allowed to buy, the local councils and the paramilitaries who think they are defending the Constitution with guns.  You cannot have that many weapons and people not die.  Black America, and any other 'antifa' resistance, is caught in a terrible quandary that if they protest they may even make it more likely.

Of course white America may just start World War III instead, if it doesn't get washed out to sea first.

It's been a strange week.

REW x

PS I learnt this week that Mt Rainier, that overlooks both Seattle and Tacoma, is a live volcano, considered one of the most dangerous around. The major threat is that if it erupts it will melt the glaciers on top which will cause colossal mudslides to wipe out Tacoma.

*I have two non-idiot brothers, thank goddess

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