Friday, March 4, 2016

This Is NOT "Real Housewives"

“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater,” writes Soren Kierkegaard, “The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.” It’s ironic that FX is airing “The People vs OJ Simpson” right now, as Americans once again face their great Achilles Heel: race. For, despite the gains made in the last 60 years that have made our country more inclusive; despite electing our first African-American president, many in white America continue to harbor deep-seated resentment toward other races. It still remains, as Toni Morrison said, that “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” Until this time in modern history, white Americans have not had a viable political candidate behind whom they could throw their support; no one who clearly articulated their angst regarding their perceived loss of power. Enter Donald Trump. Perusing the comments section of many online articles regarding Trump’s cringe-worthy run for the White House reveals a scathing potpourri of racist sentiments straight out of a 1950’s Klan meeting. In fact, a cursory reading of such comments would give one the impression that white resentment has been simmering there, just under the surface, for quite some time, waiting for the right demagogic mouthpiece to articulate it. In many ways, Donald Trump is the right’s Barack Obama: that one candidate who storms onto the otherwise staid political scene and threatens to shake things up, to bring “hope and change” to the disenfranchised and disillusioned. Yet, while Obama appealed to a large cross-section of American voters and advanced race relations in this country, Trump, although promising to take on the establishment, is also brazenly un-PC, calling out Mexicans and Muslims, mocking the disabled and women. And he is winning. Barack Obama’s election, while it may have advanced our race-stunted society by leaps and bounds, has also served to deepen the angst of the white, male Republican base. For years we have heard them rail against reverse discrimination, affirmative action, and political correctness,” all code words for their terror at losing power in an increasingly inclusive social landscape; and, for years, we have ignored them, believing that they would just go away. But this is America, and in America, race never goes away. According to sociologist Julien Freund, “There is an essence of politics…There are no politics without a real or potential enemy.” Donald Trump is giving a voice to all of the American white male hysteria. The enemy is illegal immigrants, who we need to keep out by building a “yuuuuuuge” wall on our southern border; the enemy is Muslims, who we need to forbid from coming into our country and kill the families of terror suspects; the enemy is China, who we will really piss off with some “yuuuuuuge” tariffs. Basically, our enemies are anyone who doesn’t look like “us,” and by “us,” he means white Americans. At a recent Trump rally, a protestor interrupted Trump and his only question to her, which he repeated into the microphone three times for perfect clarity was, “Are you from Mexico?” It’s very easy, when people are worried about unemployment, to place blame. Hitler famously did this with the Jews. It didn’t matter that the Germans had just lost World War I, and that the Versailles Treaty was a consequence of that; the Germans needed an enemy, someone on whom to pin all their blame. Until now, Hitler’s rise to power was seen as a poignant lesson in what not to do; but Trump seems to use it as a playbook. A former ex-wife even admitted that he kept a copy of Mein Kampf on the bedside table. Guess what? It is working. It’s not the fact that we have spent exorbitant amounts of money fighting an endless war in the Middle East; it’s not that we continue to spend equally exorbitant amounts of money on our military-industrial complex. The reason the economy is down, the reason jobs are down, Trump says, is because of the Muslims and the Mexicans. Since American education became solely focused on memorizing answers to test questions and not on using basic critical thinking and analysis to solve problems, many gullible voters are buying into this. After all, it is always easier to blame someone else than it is to take the blame yourself. It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump can sustain his support through the Republican convention and actually win the nomination. His party is already in panic mode and is pulling out all the stops (and old politicians) to try and derail him; but this only emboldens his fiery base by harkening back to the days of Goldwater or Reagan, both staunch anti-establishment heroes. It’s like that fiery base of hysterical white supporters are so desperate for a mouthpiece for their racism, that they aren’t even paying attention to half of what he is saying. They want their power back; they want to be on top again; and they aren’t going to let anything as inconvenient and boring as the lessons of history stop them. If Donald Trump wins the presidency, we will all be forced to deal with the consequences of his trending global insults, either through wars, terrorist attacks, or tariffs. Trump’s election would actually weaken America’s stance in the world and hurt us economically. (Who’s really going to pay for that $10 billion wall on the Mexican border?) In fact, the only people who would prosper would be the military-industrial complex, because we would be in a perpetual state of war, kind of like we are now, only worse, because ALL of our allies would turn on us. Trump wants to be friends with Vladimir Putin, and we would end up fighting with them in Syria and Ukraine. It’s easy to just laugh it off, as we watch this Republican debacle unfold; it’s easy to reassure ourselves with “It can’t happen here.” This has been one of the least civilized primaries in American history, and as Marco Rubio and Donald Trump engage in veiled insults about each other’s penis size, it’s easy to shake our heads, and turn the channel. But this is not just another episode of “Real Housewives.” This is the future of our country, and this is not just a script. Donald Trump’s words have real, global implications. As we watch this debacle, we can only hope the American people heed the words of Bobby Kennedy and not Donald Trump. Kennedy believed, “The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use -- of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.” Hopefully the American public will realize that life is not a reality show, and that words do have consequences.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hillary Clinton in Hell

Gloria Steinem once famously said that “the personal is political,” and that is exactly why Hillary Clinton does not have my vote. You see, her personal conduct has been at odds with her public declarations of feminism for years. Sure, she uses her appeal to women to get votes when she needs them, but the rest of the time, her conduct has resembled that of the most reprehensible misogynist, the kind who discredits rape victims, and makes any woman who dares to come out and challenge the “Good Ol Boy” establishment into a vile, home wrecking whore. I had to laugh at Madeline Albright’s pathetic attempt to shame women into voting for Hillary by exhorting us that there is a special place in Hell for women who do not help each other. Was she talking to women like me or women like Hillary? Because if the Devil is giving out real estate in Hell to women who don’t help each other, then Hillary must have an executive suite. Through the years, we have heard countless stories from women with whom her husband has had trysts; we’ve also heard from women her husband has supposedly raped or to whom he has exposed himself, and the one thing all these stories have in common is her gutless reaction. She is the one who tried to shame these women into silence. She is the one acting like a man and calling their characters into question. And now she is pleading for the votes of women in America, and beseeching them, as if she were a real feminist, to come together and support each other. Let’s step back in time for a moment and ask ourselves where Feminist Hillary has been all these years? Where was she when her husband was having an affair with Marla Crider, during his first political campaign in 1974? Where was she when he allegedly raped Juanita Broaddrick in a Little Rock hotel room in 1978? Where was she when he was sneaking in the back door to rendezvous with former Miss Arkansas Sally Miller in 1983? Or when he was having a 12 year relationship with Gennifer Flowers? Or when he was exposing himself to Paula Jones in 1991? How about when he was abusing his presidential power and then lying about it under oath when he had “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky in the mid-90s? Where was the feminist Hillary Clinton? She was defending her husband, threatening the women, and painting them as liars, refusing to acknowledge anything they said as truth or that her husband could possibly be capable of such conduct . According to Marla Crider, who found a letter from Hillary to Bill, discussing their future together, the Clintons had a “secret pact” that included both of them becoming president; and even before they were married, Hillary was ready to discount any other woman who got in her way, because even back then, Bill was a cheater. Hillary knew it and she married him anyway, her sights set on more grandiose goals than mere fidelity. “They are not the ones who can help you achieve your goals,” Marla remembers Hillary saying about Bill’s other girlfriends. “If this is about your feelings for [Marla] this, too, shall pass. Let me remind you it always does. Remember what we talked about. Remember the goals we set for ourselves. You keep trying to stray away from the plans we've put together. Take some time, think about it, and call me when you're ready.” Hillary’s bullying tactics went from the more subdued threats leveled at Crider, (showing up to Clinton’s Arkansas campaign office unannounced and making subtle comments), to outright surveillance and harassment. Juanita Broaddrick remembers Hillary grabbing her hand at a campaign event, staring directly into her eyes, and stressing that they appreciated “how much she had done” for Bill (which Broaddrick took to mean keeping her mouth shut). Sally Miller was visited by Clinton’s people in the 1980s, and they offered her a federal job if she kept quiet about her affair. “They said 'if you don't take the job, we know where you go running and we'll break your pretty little legs,'” Miller says. “They said life isn't going to be fun anymore - and they meant it.” According to Ms. Miller, “Nothing happened in the Democratic Party when they were trying to get Bill into the White House that Hillary didn't approve. She was the motivator, his bodyguard, and she continued to target me after the election.” Sally Miller has been followed, threatened, and has even lost a job because of her affair with then-Governor Bill Clinton. She believes that Hillary is the one orchestrating the attacks, and will continue doing so if she gets elected. Marla Crider recalls that Bill said Hillary “gets me started, kicks my butt, and makes me do the things I've got to do,” even way back in 1974, during his first political campaign. Hillary Clinton may be partially responsible for kicking Bill’s butt into the White House, but her motives are suspect. They made a deal. First he would win, then she would, which explains her unwavering commitment to him and the vengeance unleashed on any woman who accuses him of sexual misconduct. Apparently, Hillary sees Bill as her only ticket to the presidency. How feminist is that? Linda Tripp, who was Monica Lewinsky’s confidante back in the Clinton White House days, says of Hillary, “In her mind she would be part of a coronation instead of an election. This has been planned for so many years. I remember one of the quotes in my first week in the Oval Office which was the week after Clinton's first inauguration. Everybody had this little mantra, 'Eight years for Bill. Eight years for Hill.' And when I asked a senior person, 'What does that mean?' He said, 'Well eight years for his administration and eight years for hers. 'So this is a runaway train. Nobody is going to stop it.'” So, Hillary Clinton believes she is entitled to be president. Why? Because she “stood by her man” and defended him from all the women who were speaking up and telling the truth? Because she and her husband made a pact and therefore it has to come true? Neither of these are reasons to vote for her, and as Bernie Sanders continues to stun the nation by capitalizing on the enthusiasm of many women and young people, that realization is finally hitting home for Hillary, and she is getting desperate. Hillary is trying to shame me into voting for her because I am a woman like her; but that’s where our similarities end. See, unlike you, Hillary, I am a feminist; and it’s not just because I have Gloria Steinem or Madeline Albright on my payroll. I am a feminist because I believe that women really do need to support other women, and that rape is real. I believe that men who abuse their power and take advantage of women in inferior positions by using that power dynamic for sex, are not good people and do not deserve to be protected. I believe that a true feminist would have never defended her husband the way you did after all these years, in your blind pursuit of power. Karl Marx likened marriage to legalized prostitution, and you, Mrs. Clinton epitomize that perfectly. You have sacrificed your ideals for power; and you have become so intent on making history that you don’t even see the women you are stepping on to get there. You have prostituted yourself politically, willing to do anything and discredit anyone to make your dream come true. So now, as we watch you beg and plead, shame and cajole, even bark like a dog, to get our votes, I am on the side of karma, and that special place in Hell, where you will have to stare at the faces of Paula Jones, Juanita Broaderick, Monica Lewinsky, Marla Crider, Gennifer Flowers, and Bernie Sanders for eternity. Hope you enjoyed the ride, Hillary. Hope it was worth it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Return of Kings, Donald Trump, and the Fear of the Heterosexual White Male

Fear is a terrible thing. It can cause people to overreact, lash out violently, and respond to hate-fueled ideologues spouting dangerous rhetoric in a quest for what is perceived as diminishing power. Heterosexual white males have been living in fear for the past four decades. As society has become more inclusive, these HWM have responded, in increasing and mind-numbing numbers, to more alarmist calls to action. The violent anti-choice religious movements of the 1980s and 90s, with their bombing of abortion clinics and killing of doctors, gave rise to such “back to the kitchen,” male supremacist movements as the Promise Keepers, which also spawned militia movements and increasingly xenophobic leaders who directed their hatred toward immigrants. The 2016 presidential election has seen an unprecedented level of support for this mainstreaming of hatred, as one of the Republican front-runners, Donald Trump, continues to receive support for his outrageous speeches and policies by an electorate of these HWM who are continuously being told that their power is quickly evaporating because of illegal, “criminal” elements from Mexico and the Middle East. As the frightened HWM take a dose of Pepto Bismol, they have consolidated their support around this candidate, whom they believe will magically cure all their ills by building a wall on our southern border, because, in Trump’s words, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Now, usually American presidential elections, although always combative, have relied on a sense of decorum and fact-based argument; and although the rhetoric can get testy, the more megalomaniacal you are, the less of a chance you have… Until now…. 2016 seems to be the year of “anything goes.” It’s almost as if the American public, and the HWM in particular, have so bought into inflated stories of their impending demise that they are actually finding the most deranged voices around which to rally; and the “neo-masculinist” group Return of Kings is capitalizing on their fear. This group, founded by writer Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh, himself of Muslim heritage, prides itself on bringing back “masculinity,” by calling for a legalization of rape on private property, and fighting a war against feminists, homosexuals, the transgender community, and overweight women. They had planned to hold “tribal meetings” in 43 countries this weekend, where women, transgender, and homosexual men were not allowed to attend. These meetings have since been cancelled due to significant international backlash and Australia threatening to deny Valizadeh a visa, which caused him, in true Donald Trump fashion, to threaten to sneak into the country through its porous borders. What is going on here? When did our dialogue and passion for social progress degenerate into fat-shaming, homophobia, and misogyny? Well, one could argue that it has always been there, lurking in the darkest corners of traditional conservative movements. HWM have been railing against affirmative action for awhile now, even though they continue to represent the CEO’s of most major companies. But every so often, an ideologue like Donald Trump comes along, and makes what used to be hate speech a very real part of the modern political dialogue. It seems that these megalomaniacs get an inflated sense of validation, and invincibility, from any inkling of support they receive. Valizadeh has said, “There is nothing the media can do anymore to hurt me, and even if they paint me as a baby murderer, I will still gain readers because of it.” Compare this to Donald Trump’s comment, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," The similarities in the two men’s speeches don’t end there. Both seem to have a preoccupation with winning. Valizadeh said, “As long as my name exits the mouth of my enemies, I win, and I will continue to win.” Donald Trump said, “We will have so much winning if I get elected, that you may get bored with winning.” Clearly the only people who are “winning,” in this context, are the two men who are benefitting from the increased media exposure that comes with being a firebrand ideologue vilifying feminists as the destroyers of society. A cursory google search of Donald Trump and women will yield a number of shocking statements that the presidential candidate has made, from suggesting that Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly was on her period (because she pushed him too hard on a point at the first Republican presidential debate) to saying that Carly Fiorina shouldn’t get votes because of “her face.” (“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”) Both Valizadeh and Trump seem to have a preoccupation with opinionated women, especially women who sometimes use profanity. The Return of Kings Facebook page (which has 12,866 likes) features an article titled, “Why Do Feminists and Social Justice Warriors Use So Much Profanity?” where they extol the righteous virtues of the “manosphere”: “Ad hominem attacks against people are comparatively rare in disagreements. And perhaps best of all, there is a great amount of social support for people who are embarking on ways to better themselves as men. The manosphere is, by and large, a portal of intelligent Y-chromosome carriers who have at least a decent amount of humility and class. Using massive amounts of profanity for the sake of being ‘edgy’ or ‘cool’ will not win anybody social brownie points.” Donald Trump has a preoccupation with opinionated women as well. He said that Rosie O’Donnell, “is disgusting both inside and out. You take a look at her, she’s a slob. She talks like a truck driver, she doesn’t have her facts. She’ll say anything that comes to her mind.” He also said Arianna Huffington “is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her husband left her for a man—he made a good decision.” Apparently, to Donald, having an unattractive “outside,” is the same as having an unattractive “inside,” which is why he makes such a big deal about women’s appearances. (Apparently this does not also apply to himself.) Similarly, the Return of Kings Facebook page features this Chinese proverb, “We ask four things for a woman—that virtue dwell in her heart, modesty in her forehead, sweetness in her mouth, and labour in her hands.” There is also this from the article “Introduction to Japanese Girls,” on the Return of Kings website, “Conditioned to act girly, almost childish (when they’re happy or content), Japanese girls come from a culture that strongly discourages rudeness and arrogance in women. In short, the exact opposite of America… Coming from a culture where the women are taught to be big-mouthed, rude, and disrespectful, the American visitor to Japan will at once be pleasantly surprised by the poise, demeanor, and courtesy of the Japanese girl.” Not surprisingly, the Return of Kings website also features articles on Donald Trump; although they have not come out and publicly supported him… yet… So, what do we make of all of this? Should we just ignore the ideologues in the hope that common sense will prevail and they will just go away or do we stand up and expose the dangerous hate speech that they are disseminating far and wide? Martin Luther King Jr’s words ring as true in the present day as they did decades ago, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Our collective silence in the face of dangerous people will never be seen as a victory; for the dangerous people take silence to mean complicity, and they will continue to drum up fear amongst their followers. Australia is right to deny Mr. Valizadeh a visa, as international outcry has forced Return of Kings to cancel their planned “Tribal Meetings.” Even though we live in an age of greater equality and greater sociopolitical opportunities for many, Donald Trump and Return of Kings remind us that we can never become complacent; for there will always be those commanders of hate, banking on the fear of the “endangered” heterosexual white males, to sustain them and raise them to undeserved heights. We the people must always be vigilant.