Furious and done being polite

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Midwestern sunset, via Pixabay

Most of you who are reading this don’t know me, but I want you to know I am furious that my daughter-in-law should be unwelcome or even feel unwelcome anywhere in this country.

I’ll extend that to her wonderful sisters and parents, and to my new granddaughter, who is too young to know about any of this, and to the rest of my diverse, extended family.

The discomfort, the fear described on her Brown Noise blog have heightened significantly since the victory of our new president-elect.

They are not entirely new feelings. I know this for a fact, because I heard about them long before the election, long before the latest campaign for president. They go back decades.

They don’t come out only in the rural Midwest, where the young family encountered the MAGA-themed McDonald’s ad described in that blog post. They can and do turn up anywhere.

The difference now is obvious and stark. Things are worse since the Republicans won. Bigots are out in the open, unashamed, and unafraid of the light.

I’m done being polite.

Damn the people who elected our soon to be pseudo-president, thereby emboldening his bigoted followers, and directly or indirectly contributing to this extra-toxic culture we now live in.

That is some harsh talk, coming from me. The people who elected him include some of my friends, acquaintances, and even family members.

They have disappointed me, and they need to know it.


First published on Medium, December 20, 2016

I support law enforcement, but maybe not the way you do

A friend of mine, a fellow Navy veteran, shared this black-and-blue image the other day from a Facebook page called Police Lives Matter. 2016-10-03_1757

I didn’t share it.

Does that mean I’m afraid to share those four words? Does it mean I don’t believe police lives matter?

Not at all. I might actually share something akin to “I support law enforcement” under certain conditions:

  1. If I knew exactly what it meant.
  2. If the message didn’t insinuate that neglecting to share it marked me and other non-sharers as anti-cop America-haters.
  3. If it didn’t come from a page whose existence is so obviously in-your-face backlash against #BlackLivesMatter, as if police being held accountable were in some way equivalent to the oppression experienced by descendants of slaves.

“I support law enforcement” is so vague as to be meaningless unless you recognize it as shorthand for “the cops are always right.” If that’s not what you mean, you have to clarify and qualify before I will share it.

Here are some statements that  I will share:

I support law enforcement by paying my taxes.

I support the enforcement of just laws by honorable, competent public servants.

I respect individual law enforcement officers who treat me and other people with respect.

I’m sorry that took more than four words.

Feel free to share.

Listen up, white guy

You would think that a guy like me, having been a white guy for, let’s say, 40+* years, would know a lot about being a white guy. You would probably be right.

Still, it is good to learn more. One huge new thing that I have learned in the past several years has been reinforced many times over through reading the work of writers who are nothing like me and have strong feelings about white guys. This example caught my attention just this morning.

The thing: Sometimes it’s best to shut up and listen.

If you care, you can learn why people feel the way they do about white guys.

*True, yet imprecise. So what?

Gateway Arch a poor choice to symbolize this stark divide

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The Gateway Arch in 1965.

A family trip to St. Louis in the mid-1960s was the first thing that came to mind when I saw Meredith Talusan’s post about the December 8 cover of The New Yorker.

The Gateway Arch was not quite finished. Two graceful arcs of gleaming stainless steel reached into the muggy summer air toward a single point in the sky.

We may still be back there in 1965 in some sense, hoping for an end to division.

While the magazine cover works on one superficial level, though, the artist could have done better. As we all know, the two sides of the arch did meet 630 feet above the riverside.

The gap that has yet to close is far from unique to St. Louis and has nothing to do with the iconic arch.