Tuesday, November 3, 2020

"Teach your children well"...(Crosby Stills & Nash)...a song trump never learned!

We hear trump supporters touting the “business-man” approach and the market growth potential of a re-elected trump presidency. A ‘man of action’ and a ‘doer’ not merely a talked like other politicians…are other epithets being applied to the incumbent. 

Nevertheless, those of us just on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, saturated with political advertisements from all candidates, and especially from The Lincoln Project, a group of former Republicans who have turned diametrically opposed to this administration and especially its ‘leader’, perhaps have an ‘owl’s-nest’ view, without having to take on the direct result of our personal vote in the American election today.

One of the eight founding members of The Lincoln Project, Jennifer Heard, head of the GOP in New Hampshire, appearing on Morning Joe on MSNBC today, articulated the sycophancy of Republican senators, and the racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and the ‘caging’ of immigrant children on the border as just some of the features of the administration that erase many of the honourable traits of the  Republican Party before trump.

While the American media turns a laser-beam on the two candidates (and their running mates) there is another aspect of this moment in time that begs notice, amplification, and even neighbourly advocacy.

While those ‘caged’ children are a tragic testament to a failed presidency, it is the long-term impact of the trump administration’s failures, including those “actions” to which some cult members refer. The long-term impact on the American children, the anecdotal, unconscious and even conscious messages, learnings, fears and even mis-directed and mis-applied ambition, like sand pellets in a desert wind-storm, will impact the psyches of millions of kids for generations. And that impact does not even begin to address the direct impact of lost, permanently ill family members, all of this resulting from the negligence of the trump administration in its refusal to address the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From a ‘lay’ perspective as opposed to a clinical, research view, (although scholars will conduct graduate research for decades) to reflect on the language, the attitudes, the ennobling of the attitudes, beliefs and actions of those whose sole ambition is to sew terror in the homeland, one easily uncocvers many reasons to  endorse wholeheartedly, Noam Chomsky’s judgement that this president in the worst criminal in human history. There may have been no missiles fired into the homeland, by the administration, (although American missiles took out one of Iran’s top military leaders in Baghdad), the body language, the rhetorical language, and the individual images of both of those aspects of this presidency, can and will only culminate in a social and cultural residue of toxicity whose stain on the psyche of many already struggling young men and women.

And, just as the administration is dead-set against scientific testing for COVID-19, ‘because testing will result in higher numbers’ of cases, so to the administration is profoundly aware that deaths associated with the pandemic cannot and will not be criminally assigned to the president, (the legal argument of causation precludes such a process). Yet it is those collective, and deliberate and conscious words and actions that poison the public discourse, based as they are on vengeance, reprisals, character assassinations, dismissals, merely tentative and impermanent hirings and supervision of all major executive positions that are brewing in the collective consciousness and the collective unconscious of the American psyche. And these ‘flags’ are also linked inextricably to the obvious self-serving narcissism,  disclosure more recently publicly disclosed by courageous defectors from the administration (the anonymous author of the editorial, the former assistant to pence on the pandemic advisory task force, the former national security official.)

Earlier this year, Jason Wilson, writing in The Guardian, March 18, 2020, under the headline, ‘The Far Right--White nationalist hate groups have grown 55% in trump era, report finds…Southern Poverty Law Center warns of growing movement driven by ‘fear of demographic change’…’White nationalist hate groups in the US have increased 55% throughout the trump era, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and a ‘surging’ racist movement continues to be driven by ‘a deep fear of demographic change’. (The report continues) Nationally, there were 155 such groups counted last year, and they were present in most states. These groups were counted separately from Ku Klux Klan groups, racist skinheads, Christian Identity, groups, and neo-Confederate groups, all of which also express some version of white supremacist beliefs…The report notes that the perpetrator of a massacre on 3 August 2019 in El Paso, Texas, where 26 were killed, and another man who attacked  a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one woman and wounding three more, claimed to be motivated by the idea that white people were being replaced. The increase in hate groups includes many which openly advocate violence, terrorism, and murder, and ‘accelerationist’ groups ‘who believe mass violence is necessary to bring about the collapse of our pluralistic society’, including organizations like the Base, Atomwaffern Division, and Feuerkrieg Division, according to the report. Seven members of the Base, six members of Atomwaffen Division, and one man, Richard Tobin, who is allegedly a member of both groups, have been arrested since last October on charges including firearms offenses, conspiring to vandalize synagogues and conspiracy to murder….According to the SPLC report, the arrests are evidence that federal agencies are finally ‘hearing the alarm bells’ regarding violent white nationalism. It points out that in the last year, ‘the FBI upgraded its assessment of the threat posed by racially motivated extremists to a ‘national threat priority’, and the ‘Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a strategic shift toward countering racial hatred.’ But the report says that those efforts are hampered by senior members of the Donald Trump administration like Trump aide Stephen Miller, ‘who has long been allied with anti-immigrant hate groups’. Miller’s attempts to insert white nationalist talking points into rightwing news website Breitbart’s coverage of the 2016 election were exposed last year, but the administration has retained him in his senior role….Along with the increase in white nationalist groups, there was an increase in homophobic and transphobic organizations, with anti-LGBTQ groups increasing 43% in 2019. Many of those highlighted in the SPLC report are religious fundamentalists. The report calls for a ‘national movement against hate violence in America’ in defense of ‘inclusive  democracy.

There is no reason to conclude from such reports that all or even most young people will fall into the trap of insidious, nefarious and hate-mongering speech or activity. Indeed, thousands of young people have volunteered as poll-workers in the national election, and many others have become much more conscious of their opportunity to engage in the political process, in a positive way. However, there is a serious risk to those young people already living on the margins, especially given that those numbers have grown exponentially with the impact of the pandemic. Life on the margins, including food shortages, blocked access to health care, impeded access to educational and employment opportunities, (literally thousands of businesses, many employing young people in the service sector have shuttered permanently) carries with it an extra burden of psychic desperation. And, in lay language, psychic desperation is just another word for feelings of “powerlessness”. And, when we are feeling powerless, we are also often experiencing walls closing in on us, thereby foreclosing on what may have been options in our past.

Without options, and blocked from what are considered normal opportunities, desperate young people do and will turn to illegitimate quick fixes. And we all know that there are a plethora of others willing to take advantage of young people in such a state. Preying like vultures on the vulnerable, the weak, the lonely, and the desperate is deeply ingrained in many cultures, including the United States. However, just as nine million cases, and 230,000 deaths from the pandemic cannot and will not be formally laid at the feet of the president, nor will the ravages among young people long after his departure from the White House (hopefully today!)

Listening to the vacuity of the explanations of ‘trump voters’s attempting to justify their decision tragically lays bare a devastation or perhaps more accurately, a depletion of the reservoir of critical thinking, based on reflective sorting through the vacuous propaganda, the lies, the deceptions and the false promises by tjhose voters. Clinging to cliches, slogans, ‘pro-life’ and faux-righteous sanctimony, anti-socialist fears, gun rights, caricatures of Biden and Harrris and their allegedly frightening plans, that have been manufactured and delivered by the master-hoax himself hardly displays an adult maturity so deeply needed by the vacuum of confidence and trust that trump has literally sucked out of the public square.

Enabling bullying at the highest levels of the nation’s most cherished and formerly trusted offices, deploying power for the sake of personal self-aggrandizement by the administration and the Senate leadership, confirming judges to put their whole bodies on the scales of justice for generations, defying allies while consorting with terrorists and saboteurs, raping environmental protections, while abdicating the Paris Climate Accord, appealing for the overturning of the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court while publicly lying about protecting pre-existing conditions….it is not only that these individual and heinous measures are detestable…taken together, they comprise a landfill of self-impugned superiority, mis-guided mentorship of the adults as well as the young.  trump’s sowing of the national cultural garden with spiteful, toxic, even radioactive seeds that will continue to grow and fester among the various endangers not only the current young generation, but also injects new and threatening warning signs on the horizons of those public agencies entrusted with protecting the public and preserving the peace.

While Obama tells audiences that ‘you would not put up with such behaviour from a school principal, or a co-worker, it might be even more to the point to suggest that were a teacher to perform in the manner, in the vernacular, and with the philosophic disposition of this president, the parents of the children in his classroom would be howling for his dismissal in the first week. And yet, after four years, during each and every hour of which we are fed despicable morsels of hate, contempt, vengeance and venom from a twitter-verse whose investors must be drunk on the champagne they continue to devour as their Twitter stock climbs exponentially and their dividends mount, (all of it resulting from the president’s absolute dominance of the social media), there are still some 42-45% of the American electorate who refuse to see the fires that area burning through, not only the forests in California and Colorado, but also through the culture forests of  tradition, honour, respect, rule of law, judicial fairness and especially the truth.

It is those latter ‘trees’ that have sustained the nation for well over two centuries, just as the redwoods have sustained the forests on the west coast for even longer. And given the president’s contempt for the forest management (no raking of the forest floor) and his declaring global warming and climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, we cannot and must not be surprised that he cares so little for those sustaining trees in the forest and the metaphoric trees of the political and social culture.

“Contempt for ‘the other’” is the engraving on the prospective tombstone of this man who can and will see only those aspects of the universe that directly inflate his hollow and empty and starving ego.

And that is a mantra from which the nation and the world desperately must escape!

Will it? 

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