Image result for if you can't say something nice

Hey strangers. Been a long time. Crazy doings hereabouts as I get sorted to move house and rethink my career path, all while taking some token stabs at working on a number of neglected writing projects that need attention.

Even with all these distractions, I’ve been bearing witness to some of the insanity that continues the world over. It’s been hard to miss. Especially south of our border.

What is going on down there? Seriously. The inexplicability of it all has had me holding my tongue, somewhat, per advice like that found in that meme up there ^^^^

But I got up this morning with a head full of steam, heightened by a couple of factors: Trevor Noah on the Daily Show last night (I didn’t think I was over Jon Stewart’s departure, but last night I really began to acknowledge that this kid is something else. He could charm the bees from the trees – and is consistently showing some substantial comedy and commentary chops. Consider me won over in toto), and a ‘discussion’ on a group thread on one of the Facebook pages I visit upon occasion.

All prepared to write a rant of epic proportions, I realized that a lot of what was running through my head seemed eerily familiar. So, before putting figurative pen to figurative paper, I checked the drafts folder. And there it was. Three months old and languishing. A post on the topic that is overwhelming my thoughts and every news channel in clicking distance.

That this even needs addressing, still, boggles my mind. Like a whole lot of other people, a big part of me assumed that this insanity was going to max out at some point. I mean really.

So. I have a question:

How is it remotely acceptable that a person who is running for the highest office in a pretty big place (geographically and in a global political sense) can spew hate and fear and still be considered as a contender for that office?

I’m beyond sickened.Especially by the complicity of (much of) the media in the sickening quagmire that reflects the bigotry and xenophobia and dangerous ‘othering’ of specific populations of the world.

I have to say ‘much of’ the media, because I ran across this (in a friend’s fb feed). I didn’t know who Shaun King was (I do now- Google is helpful, sometimes. Seems like he’s made sense in the past, as well), since I don’t regularly read the New York Daily News (though they seem to be leading the charge in speaking out against things that other news groups seem to be addressing only speculative or in the abstract).

And Mr. King’s Op-Ed makes a whole lot of sense. So does this one. And this one.

Othering isn’t only an American phenomenon. Unfortunately. We dealt with more than our share of it under the previous federal government, to be fair.

But, in October, we stood up, as a country, and voted that sort of thinking out of office, heralding a new day that sets us back on the world stage as a country that is proud of its diversity. That choice for change is bearing fruit already. Our new PM is leading with a positive example that makes me proud, once again, to be Canadian. I admit that I had my hesitations about him, and there’s a long road ahead to bring us back to where we should be, but he’s taking us in the right direction, after a too-long period of regression, fueled by fear and the silencing of dissenting voices.

Those neighbours of ours down there… “A man that most Americans saw as a punchline and reality television star soon surged to the top of the polls and has remained there for nearly half a year. Soon he declared that he would “round up” over 400,000 undocumented Mexican immigrants per month for 24 months and drop them off at an undisclosed location in Mexico. With stadiums and crowds coming out to hear Trump all across America, he seemed to find his sweet spot in a new form of white supremacy that degraded Mexicans, stereotyped African Americans and banned Muslims.

And it’s gotten worse in the last three months. Way worse.

In the US, institutionalized racism is being allowed to flourish, while, here in Toronto, we continue to fight about things like taxi cabs. And remain ridiculously concerned about the PM’s childcare.

Priorities are all out of whack. Everywhere.

Today we woke to the news of another horrific attack on a European city at the hands of radical adherents of an ideological system that is medieval (at best) in its thinking and application. I can’t say anything new about the events in Belgium. I can’t do anything but weep for the lives lost in the name of fairy tales and power games and othering.

So, again, I avoided the ‘news’ as best I could and, instead, caught up on some stuff I’ve had bookmarked for later perusal for months.

I was dismayed and heartened, both, to hear a discussion about the borderline-propagandist media coverage of that pernicious racist down south on The Current.

I also saw a story in The Globe that echoed a thought I’ve had many times – that the US sitch is essentially Rob Ford idiocy writ larger- and more dangerously.

“… please, don’t imagine that Mr. Trump will just dry up and blow away. Even if, as seems likely, he fails to win his party’s nomination, he can do great damage. He already has. His remarks about Mexicans and now Muslims have stirred the muddy sediment at the bottom of the pond where hate lies.

It was the same way with Mr. Ford, who encouraged a certain kind of bottom dweller to come out in the open. If he could say it, why couldn’t they? When he boycotted the city’s gay pride parade, homophobes suddenly felt they had licence to say or post all those things they had been feeling. After all, they thought, Rob is on our side.

Looking back, Toronto took far too long to see Mr. Ford for what he was. Perhaps for fear of giving him another chance to say the elites were ganging up on him, leaders of the city’s establishment stood by aghast but mostly silent through much of the Ford era. They couldn’t see the breadth of his appeal. They failed to recognize the very real discontents that drove his rise.

Don’t make Toronto’s mistake. Don’t underestimate Donald Trump.”

Back when we were still in the thick of that four year stretch of self-imposed in(s)anity that was Ford’s tenure as our mayor, I wrote about evil (using the term with all my usual caveats) and the face of banality that it often wears. That little bit of a something was a bit too prophetic for my comfort. Change the names in the post – from Robbie F. to Donny T. – and I could have validly reposted the thing (I actually thought about it). The difference is one of scale – and scope. As the wannabe leader of the US, Donny T. (and that ‘unlikely’ prospect – winning his party’s nomination – draws closer to certainty) has clearly demonstrated that his ignorance and intolerance is something that needs checking. Now. Before it’s too late.

Hard on the heels of such thoughts, and wanting to find out some details about the federal Budget that was presented this afternoon (you know, the small stuff that might, actually, impact my life and the lives of those around me), I happened to catch a snippet that sucked me back to the media offerings. Robbie F. died this morning. While I’m sorry to hear of the passing of any young(ish) father, felled by a horrible disease at an age not far off my own, the mainstream media ’round these parts is demonstrating distressing lack of judgement and focusing all its attention in exactly the wrong places. Again.

On a day that saw horror and death in Europe and our new government’s plan for fiscal forward momentum, the 6:00 news spent most (and I really mean almost all) of its hour-long broadcast on the ‘story’ of the passing of a figure best left unheralded (Note that I don’t say ‘unacknowledged’ – he was a public figure and devoted at least part of his time to his version of public service). ‘Toronto Mourns’, they keep on headlining.

Like HELL it does.

Yet, once again, we the people are willingly drawn to a system of infotainment that persists in presenting the stories that they deem will garner the highest market-share – rather than those of greatest import and long-term impact.

Trevor spoke about it at length on the Daily Show last night – citing the president of one of the major network’s extreme glee that their excessive and unnecessary coverage of Donny T. is netting them a whole pile of cold, hard cash.

The bald admission turned my stomach. As did the sitch on the hometown network(s) – before I turned them off.

Instead of balanced examination, and critical analysis of things like policy and long-term plans, the media (once-upon-a-time the voice of – and for – us regular folks) is leaving such things up to other voices- like George Takei, in performance on Broadway with his own story of being on the receiving end of institutionalized racism (I’d love to see Allegiance – unfortunately I’ve issued a moratorium on all travel to the US until they deal with their racists and their gun nuts. In other words, I’ll be waiting for the touring show to come to town… ). These voices are speaking out against the insidiousness of levels of racism that are, somehow, accepted as some kind of inevitable status quo by media outlets (those that aren’t locked in denial that the racism exists), and supported by political leaders and wannabe political leaders alike.

The ‘Otherers’ are re-gaining momentum. I can see it – in comments sections of social media groups I follow, for example. One such group (a mommy blog, actually. Although I am not a mommy, the originator of the group is a successful blogging friend-of-a-friend, and, I have to admit, that the ‘Merican-ness of the group keeps me morbidly intrigued. TBH, I feel like an anthropologist at times – as the posts and comments are usually so far outside of my ken that I am frequently aghast by the discussions that go on) featured a post about Donny T. and his ‘ideas’.

At first I kept paying attention due to a Schadenfreude of which I’m not entirely proud. There has been some hope that we’ve, just lately, escaped our racist, anti-intellectual, sexist overlord(s) – so it was sort of perversely entertaining to witness the discussions about it happening somewhere other than my own backyard.

Most comments on the page, it should be said, expressed disgust/dismay/anger at the guy’s proposed ‘policies’, but there were more than a few ‘everyone is entitled to their opinions’ that set the conversations down paths of hostility and into unsupported ‘arguments’ that made me want to bite something.

Entitlement is a concept we need to get over. FFS. You can have an opinion. Sure. If that opinion happens to be ignorance, fear and hatred made manifest in ugliness, then I don’t have to sit by and let you express said ‘opinion’. I do not. I will not.

There is no justification – NONE – for supporting a misogynistic, racist, fear-and-violence-mongering reality television performer for POTUS.

Support of the guy is, as Ricky Jones noted, nothing more or less than an acknowledgment that issues of race and class remain an every-day reality in the United States. And, although Trump is a reprehensible human being, to be sure, it is the voting population that supports him that needs to draw our focus.

Supporters of the ideology that drives the inflammatory rhetoric of people like Trump (and most of the other GOP contenders, for that matter) are the both the products and symptoms of a system that discourages progressive development and critical thinking.

THIS is what happens when you cut funding to education programs (especially those in the Humanities), while advertising a faulty ‘dream’ predicated on the drive to acquire meaningless stuff, while squandering individual benefits, without thought to the larger community.

THIS is what happens when history is treated as little more than a footnote in a perspective that is, increasingly, deemed ‘academic’ and, therefore, unimportant.

I’ve seen a fair number of memes and GIFs and such that equate Trump with other despotic leaders from our recent history. While I appreciate that any sort of nod is being paid to the lessons of the past, the reality of the danger in ignoring such parallels is being lost in the superficiality of the media in which they are being transmitted.

The rage that Paul Krugman referenced in his post cannot be understated or misunderstood for what it is. The rage is exemplified by one word associated with Trump’s campaign – that insidious little ‘Again’ that follows ‘Make America Great’.

That one word advocates for a return to something that those of us who know anything about history know wasn’t, in fact, the best of times – as can be determined by any accurate measure. I’ve written about the fallacy of the ‘good ol’ days’ before. That sort of idiocy is being taken to the nth degree by the nutbar seeking to lead the country.

Leaders like Trump (and Hitler) are allowed to rise to power because they legitimize ideologies that are ugly – and promotional of a group psychology that encourages complicity to ever-larger atrocity – by beginning with a mandate that the ‘simple’ can get behind. Trump’s ‘uneducated’ masses want to hear that someone is willing to return them to a mythical time when they held some level of ascendancy over some ‘other’ type of person. The ‘social identity’ of Trump’s followers has been shaken by progressive movements advocating social justice and equity.

The reality is that people like Trump are not ‘making America racist again’ – America never stopped being racist.

If this trajectory of the legitimation of hatred continues I’m concerned that there mightn’t be a wall high enough to keep the infection of such thinking south of the border (regardless of who ends up paying for said wall). We’re seeing it here, writ smaller to be sure, in the outpouring of ‘grief’ for a man who embodied racist, homophobic and misogynistic ignorance – and who impeded the progress of this city that I love for too many years.

 Canadian politesse (and the values taught to me by my parents) warns against things like speaking ill of the dead and suggests that the better course is saying nothing at all if niceties can’t be expressed.

Sorry Mum and Dad. Sitting by while the ‘news’ media spins tales of validity out of ineptitude and supposed-plain-speaking is symptomatic of dangerous complacency that supports epidemics of ignorance and wrong-doing. I’m an historian. I know what that level of complacency, and othering, and the acceptance of banality can do.

Unchecked, it can bring down civilizations.

The discontent that permits the rise of supposed-leaders like Donny T. and Robbie F. needs to be addressed, yes. We need to do so by rewriting the systemic inequities and lack of education that permits the persistence of othering. Our collective NOs – voiced in concert against the self-serving politicians, corporations, and media organizations – need to out-shout the manufacturers of fear and hatred that have become a shameful stock-in-trade of those who purport to lead.



Just no.

20 comments on “No.

  1. LindaGHill says:

    This is beautiful. You’ve summed up eloquently what I wish I could have said in my attempt yesterday. I’m sorry I have nothing to add… the entire thing takes my words and renders them incoherent.
    Also, I need coffee. 😛
    Thank you so much for weighing in, Cole. 🙂

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, Linda. It has taken me some time to be able to get some thoughts down on this bizarre phenomenon- and I’m not sure that it came out all that coherent (haven’t read it through this morning- I might be in for a shock. Especially since the ‘m’ key on my laptop is acting up. I’m sure the typos are myriad). Thankfully, I have seen some people stand up on the side of sense and rationality- so my hope isn’t completely gone.

      I appreciate your visit- and your comment. And now I’m going to get myself some coffee. Good idea!

  2. bethbyrnes says:

    Oh Cole. Where to begin.

    I cannot speak for 330 million people, but I am just as upset as you are. I would boycott us too, until this disgrace has subsided.

    The media in this country are not news organisations. They do not report, they lie and spin and produce click-bate. I am fed up with all of them.

    They are the reason people think H. Clinton is a fraud and that D. Trump is a savior. Both are dead wrong, but all they care about is the cold cash you cite. They trade in lies, year after year.

    Over the weekend my SIL Heidi gave me her emphatic pronouncements about the election, especially the Trump and Sanders phenomena which I see as the same. Anger drive both. Not real ideas or practical solutions or kindness or joy or positivity or any sense of humanity: anger.

    She said, everyone is sick of being “PC”, which I take to mean egalitarian. It is white people, according to her, who are being victimized and both Trump and Sanders are pandering to that. That is why both of them win with the WASP population, overwhelmingly. This is why many people would just as happily vote for Sanders OR Trump — that should not be lost on anyone with a brain.

    That tells you all you need to know about “white” people here. Not all of us, but apparently a full one third. Sickening. Embarrassing. And most of all: stupid!

    • bethbyrnes says:

      Bait not bate. Sigh.

    • colemining says:

      Beth- I cannot understand it. I haven’t been paying as close attention as, perhaps, I should do (banality creeps in when we are distracted- and media, corporate and political leaders are intent on selling us the bread and circuses needed to keep us complacent), but even tapping in on occasion makes me want to resign my humanity, some days.

      I define PC a little differently than your SIL- but I do think that blind tolerance is almost as bad as blind intolerance. I’ve spoken about that before. Being accepting of differences isn’t the same as letting everyone get away with everything- regardless of its impact on others. I think that it has led us to dangerous places- but a reversion back to blatant and institutionalized othering isn’t the response, either.

      I have pretty much had it with the media. Although CBC is covering the events in Brussels and their aftermath, the local news is showing nothing but our supposed mourning. I should have known that would be the case- but, as I really wanted the local weather forecast (the moves start tomorrow and I’m hearing rumours that there is SNOW coming. Not impressed), I gave them a shot. Yeah no. The television is going off- and mightn’t go back on, TBH. We hadn’t made a decision about hooking up cable in the new house- I think, after yesterday, we night have done.

      I hope that the next months still left in the US presidential campaign see things playing out more positively- and rationally- than they have done thus far.

      Thanks for your visit- and your insights into the insanity. Hope to be back around here more consistently soon. xo

  3. quiall says:

    Whew! Well said!

  4. Rick says:

    Where have you been? It’s good to see you back in the blog world.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Rick. I’ve missed you all, too. Been busy up here. Bought a house- so there’s all that moving and unpacking and painting and stuff to attend to, and I’ve been re-evaluating my career path, so all that is taking me away from writing. Hoping that once we are well-ensconced in the new digs I’ll be able to turn that around and get back into the blogging groove.

      Thanks for the visit- hope to see you more in the coming weeks!

  5. It beggars belief, Cole. That’s all I can say on that.
    I hope the move goes well and you might be wise dissing cable. News ain’t what it used to be. BBC included.
    I’m so glad you’re getting all your bits about you again.x

    • colemining says:

      That it does. My neck is sore from all the head-shaking.

      Oh A-M- it’s been lovely saying ‘hello again’ to so many things I haven’t seen in a long time, but boy-oh-boy, I have way more bits than I remembered. The unpacking is going to take some time… All good though. The big move took place yesterday- during an ice storm- so I’m hoping the worst is behind us. Thanks for checking in- have a lovely weekend! xo

  6. Ste J says:

    And this is why WordPress needs you back! The Americans I have spoken to all think Trumo is a joke, so let us hope it is the case of the silent (well on social media at any rate) majority doing something good and preventing such ridiculousness from prevailing.

    The media attention on Brussels was disgusting, it’s like a propaganda video for these deluded fools, showing the aftermath and repeating words like terror and such. It may be get an emotional response but they have no need to speak when the actions speak volumes and the press media just make it worse.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Steve. I miss you all too! And I sincerely hope you’re right- that the silent majority prevail and kick the xenophobic jack-ass into the obscurity he so richly deserves. We have the opposite happening here, as the local media falls all over itself with coverage of the ‘lying in repose’ and up-coming funeral of our city’s late jack-ass.

      Not having a television at the moment (mid-move and all), I haven’t seen a whole lot of the aftermath coverage- but I can imagine that it is in close keeping with every comparable event that has passed- just increased to keep the salacious public entertained enough to keep tuning in to their broadcasts. Gotta make that market share.

      I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your thoughts. Enjoy what’s left of the weekend. xo

  7. Congrats on your new house! Hope you share some snippets of your new abode! Are you still downtown? Near a bookstore I hope. 🙂

    I take special heed of your warning as a historian. I agree, and I would like to see more attention on the complexities of these issues–that racism, violence, etc. is borne not just out of ignorance but real fear and economic uncertainty. How can we not talk about the working class and the economic problems in the US — the outsourcing of jobs to cheap labour and that privileged 1% (to which trump belongs) — when we talk about the rise of Trump? Anyway, that’s what I feel is missing from the public discourse. I’m not so much interested in the extremes on either side, but those who live in between….


    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Booksy! Have a couple of local bookstores in walking distance. Looking forward to checking them out once the dust settles and we’re (mostly) unpacked. Not quite as downtown as we were- still on the subway line, though. Just north of the Danforth in a great neighbourhood. Lots of cool restaurants and small shops around- and parks galore. Not far from where I grew up, and in walking distance of many of the most important peeps in our lives- so it’s like ‘going home’ in many ways.

      It’s true- the fear and economic uncertainty are exacerbated by the media and hypocritical loudmouths like Trump (and Ford) but completely left out of rational discussion. The issues are being spun to suit the wishes of power-mongers looking to preserve a status quo that maxed out its viability long ago (assuming it was ever viable).

      We aren’t hearing much from those in between, to be sure, and I’m afraid of what that bodes. Nothing good, I fear. And on a day that saw yet another terror attack in the name of a backward and self-serving ideology, that is beyond disturbing. I don’t know what to make of the state of things at the moment.

      Many hugs to you. I think spring is upon us here in TO- hope it’s reaching you in the Nation’s Capital, too. xo

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    So very glad to see you back, Cole. WP just sin’t the same without you. If one is to believe the media, one would think that a gazillion people are marching behind Trump. It’s in the numbers. About 32% of the US calls themselves Republican, with about 35% Democrats. The rest are Independents or just don’t care. So, when Trump keeps winning 30% of a primary’s voters, he’s winning, at best, 30% of that 32%. One thing to consider is that in our primaries, it is the most loyal of each parties that vote. In the GOP, that’s the ultra-conservatives and wing-nuts and not at all representative of the party as a whole. I am certainly no Trump supporter nor do I understand his followers. Still, I know that most are not the racists that you see in the photos. Many have lost their jobs to industries that went overseas. WIth no job training, many will remain unemployed and they know it. Why they think that the party that allowed their jobs to depart will help them is beyond me. If the Democrats can get their people to the polls, Trump will limp back to his penthouse where he’ll sue as many precincts as he can for voter fraud.
    What many fail to realize is that the GOP’s second best, Ted Cruz, is every bit as bad, if not worse, than Trump. Before Trump became “huge”, the GOP was looking for ways to dump Cruz. Read a few of his speeches and then watch some of his Dad’s and you’ll see what I mean.
    This is the GOP’s fault. For 7 years, they looked the other way when their attack dogs did all they could to discredit President Obama. Nothing was off limits so long as it prevented the President from implementing his agenda. Well, they let the genie out of the bottle and now it’s turned on them.The very same establishment bigwigs that giggled when Obama was insulted are now wringing their hands. The dissolution of the GOP is a distinct possibility.
    Me? I’m enjoying this. The general population is nothing like the primary wing-nuts Trump is courting. If he thinks that he can run nationally like he has in the primaries, I firmly believe that that it will be a landslide unlike any seen before. In light of this, watching him back pedal may be just as much fun as watching the GOP convulse in their convention this summer.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, John. I miss being around here – just can’t make the time lately… And thank you for your insights into the insanity that is the GOP right now.

      I hear what you’re saying about the Trump followers who are desperately seeking change – due to job loss to overseas interests, or equally-distressing realities – but I really can’t understand that as a justification to support a candidate (or candidates – your points about Cruz are well-taken) who is demonstrably racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and willing to change his messaging according to his benighted perception of what the ‘simple people’ want. That last bit is quite Palin-esque – and we saw how well that worked. They may not be racist themselves, but supporting a ‘leader’ who is basing his run on racist ‘ideals’ is, IMO, collusion to hatred and ugliness. And while the numbers mightn’t be as significant as the media (speaking of those who collude…) makes out, they are proportionally distressing.

      I certainly agree that the GOP has made their collective bed – and, after witnessing their shameful anti-Obama/progress tactics over the past 7+ years, I’d not be unhappy to see that bed go up in flames. The wingnuts need to be put in place firmly and irrevocably.

      I hope you are right that the landslide will happen. It did here. No one expected Justin to get a majority. The fact that he did speaks more about the need to run as far away from his predecessor’s politicking as possible than it does about the country’s confidence in Mr. Trudeau as a potential leader (although he’s doing a great job, thus far. Again, IMO).

      That sort of landslide is necessary to prevent the peculiar martyrdom (for lack of a better word) that we are experiencing with the passing of our former mayor. The faulty memorializing of our local xenophobic, racist, sexist, misogynistic ‘man of the people’ is nauseating to the extreme. After lying in ‘repose’ at City Hall, his funeral is this morning – and the mouthpieces and deluded masses are out in full-force. As one commentator said in a local newsgroup (I’m paraphrasing, here), it seems that you can halt all progress in the city for four years, piss where you want, send municipal workers out to buy you vodka, carry on drunk in public, make overt reference to your wife’s intimate anatomy, grope fellow city employees, smoke crack in a video, pay off the drug dealers that made that video, and etc… but still go down in municipal history as a ‘worthy’ public servant because you take the time to return constituents’ phone calls and throw a big BBQ with free food and beer every year. Seriously. They are talking about renaming a park after the guy. Robbie F is your cautionary tale…

      Anyway… that’s my rant for this morning 🙂 Looking very forward to your crab and morel pasta recipe. Thanks again for stopping by! xo

  9. […] in March I wrote this. Even though it was not my circus, so the behaviour of its clowns shouldn’t have concerned me […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s