Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to survive in Trump's America

Timothy Snyder is a history professor at Yale… and an expert on the Holocaust.
He recently wrote on his Facebook page (quote):
“No one ever thinks it can happen here until it does… Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so."

He says that we can learn from what happened in 20th century Europe. He has written some lessons to be learned that will help you survive in Donald Trump’s America

Snyder’s Lesson #1….

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism." Be alive to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency." Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

Timothy Snyder  writes that we should…

4. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.

5. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

6. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

7. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

8. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

9. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

And, finally Professor Timothy Snyder writes that we should...

10. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Revolution will not be televised... or on your computer!

It has been several weeks now since the November 8th debacle of 60,265,858 million Americans voting for a known, unapologetic racist and bigot. That would be Donald Trump. To me, it was as though they voted for Adolf Hitler, knowing that he would exterminate the Jews, but thinking and rationalizing that Hitler would get them better jobs or health care programs… forget the Jews! The analogy is not that far fetched. The lack of moral and ethical fortitude is the same. Am I being too judgemental? Should an American President be a racist and bigot? Here in Delaware County, where I live, the vote for Trump was more than 2 to 1.  Upstate Delaware County is one of the poorest counties in New York.
Indeed, the globalization economy and the knowledge economy that is sweeping the world right now might be bad for you, but, is the answer to rationalize and make a racist and bigot the leader of the free world? I know it is complicated… but, is it really that complicated? Anthropologist say that deep down we are all tribal and racist to a certain extent. But to have a viable and just society I think each one of us has to give up some of that tribalism or “ innate racism” for the common good.
But, the good news is that the 60,839,922 million Americans who did not drink the various flavors of the Trump Kool Aide but, voted for Hillary Clinton, instead, are pissed off and in a mood to correct that November 8th wrong. Also, note that more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.
Since the Trump election there have been myriad attacks of hate and violence on Muslims, blacks, gays and immigrants across the country.  60.9 million Americans have received a jolting wake up call and are now prepared to fight for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice.
At this point, I think that one half of America is frightened by the other half. So, frightened are progressives and liberals that they feel that dropping out of or ignoring politics is now not an option. Many did not come out to vote on November 8th and regret it. After driving around and talking to people the last few weeks, I get the sense that there is some “buyer’s remorse” after voting for Trump and that many people want to “do something”. For me, having suffered the indignities of segregation and Jim Crow, it feels like the good old “revolutionary” days of the Civil Rights and Vietnam movements.
Protests are on going and in the works: high school kids are walking out of classes, large scale protests are planned for the January Trump inauguration, a Million Women March is planned for January 21st, and, across the world, safety pins are being worn on labels to symbolize support for the vulnerable. Even the thespian community is mobilizing. A few nights ago the Hamilton cast called out Vice President- Elect Mike Pence.
So, what to do? Todd Gitlin from Columbia University recently wrote that the Trump racists just have to be contained and driven underground. He says the rest of the Trumpsters will have to be “intelligently won over” and “out-organized”.
So, let’s get it on. And, as Gil Scott-Heron said back in 1970 “The Revolution will not be televised”... nor, will it be on your computer.
And, as our Hispanic friends tell us “La Lucha Continua!!”


Friday, November 18, 2016

Morning in the Catskills: Friday (November 18, 2016)

Good morning… welcome to another edition of Morning in the Catskills. It is Friday, November 18th. I’m Kent Garrett.

Here is what’s happening:

The Daily Star is reporting…. that Downsville Central School has recently announced that six of its 57 potable water outlets tested above the state allowable maximum for lead contamination..
The newspaper reports that the school has halted the use of the outlets until a remediation plan is put in place to reduce lead levels. Roxbury and Delaware Academy Central Schools were also among those that had detected lead in several fixtures in proactive testing. Roxbury FIXED the problem before the start of  the school year... and Delaware Academy has isolated the flaw and is working toward a solution.
Meanwhile, get ready for deer hunting season…
The regular firearms season for deer and bear hunting in this area… the DEC southern zone... starts at sunrise tomorrow.

The Daily Freeman is reporting that the Mid-Hudson region’s metropolitan areas experienced MODERATE job growth during the 12-month period ending Oct. 31st. Department of Labor figures released yesterday show that the Kingston Metro Area, which is all of Ulster County, ADDED 1,000 nonfarm jobs from October 2015 to October 2016... a gain of 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, things were SO SO in other parts of the area:

• Greene County lost 200 nonfarm jobs, a DROP of 1.3 percent, to close out at 14,800.
• Columbia County’s nonfarm job total was unchanged at 22,000.
• Delaware County’s nonfarm job total ALSO was unchanged, at 15,600.
• Sullivan County GAINED 300 nonfarm jobs, or 1.2 percent, to reach 26,100.

The Albany Times Union…is reporting that the 570- mile New York State Thruway is in trouble. That is because this year Thruway officials will have to... unlike last year... pay for state troopers who patrol the highway. That could cost as much as 60 million dollars.
This is all according to a study by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. He says that the New York Thruway has to (quote): “ develop a better roadmap for the future”

Meanwhile, Eliza Collins and Josh Haftner at USA Today…  are reporting that, a week after winning the election, Donald Trump is WALKING BACK some of his major campaign promises. For example, He’s not concerned with deporting all illegal immigrants, just the criminals. The WALL is now looking more and more like a fence.  As for prosecuting the Clintons?  Donald Trump now says (quote):“They’re good people,”
Historians say that the HASTE of Trump’s backpedaling may be unprecedented.

Thanks for reading, Morning in the Catskills. I’m Kent Garrett. I’ll post again on Monday morning.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Death of a nation?

Although Donald Trump won, the real victor in Tuesday’s Presidential election was good old fashioned American racism… along with a little or perhaps a lot of sexism, as well as hate. One pundit wrote that “to have a black President followed by a woman was too much for the American people.” I think he is right.
But, perhaps, there is good news in the not too distant future. This past election might be one of the last to turn out this way. According to the Pew Research Center, demographics are changing such that by 2055, there will no longer be a single racial or ethnic majority in the United States. The United States will be a majority minority country, with angry, racist white men and women being a smaller percentage of the population. The hope is that the country will survive until then.
Indeed, the condition of this country in 2055 would have been a concern of the late British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. Between 1934 and 1961, he wrote A Study of History, a 12 volume examination of 26 civilizations, depicting why and how they rise and fall. Toynbee found that a civilization’s rise and fall could be determined by how it responded to challenges and solved problems. Those problems could be external, internal or spiritual.
Racism is a problem that this country has not solved and now seems to be headed in the wrong direction. Donald Trump is an unapologetic, indisputable racist who has openly said that he will violate the constitution to discriminate against racial and religious minorities. He ran a campaign fueled by racism. Yet, 59 million Americans voted for him… with full knowledge and little moral compunction.
Toynbee writes that (quote): ‘civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively and the civilization then sank owing to nationalism, militarism and the tyranny of a despotic minority”
If Toynbee were alive today, I think he would say that America has not responded to the the challenge of racism… that, we are in decline now, with the only questions being how long and how soon.

Kent Garrett