Trump spoke out against white supremacy today. He gave a speech calling them “repugnant” and referred to them by name – the KKK, the neo-nazis, white supremacists. Good news, but when I break it down I’m not inclined to believe it was heartfelt. Why?
Well, how much time do you have?
— It was two days late.
— It was delivered with “all the enthusiasm of a hostage video” (this quote from Walter Schaub, Trump’s own former ethics chief).
— It was tele-prompted, which means someone else wrote it for him.
— It came only after enormous pressure from other Republicans.
— It *still* hedged, if you listened to it carefully. “As I said Saturday…” and “As I’ve said before.” Except he’s never made an absolute black-and-white denouncement like this before. Never. Which comes off like a weak dog whistle buried in the noise: “Don’t worry, guys, they’re twisting my arm but I’ve still got your back.”
— It still didn’t directly repudiate their support of him or their use of his name.
— He didn’t tweet it. He’s made 4 tweets today, none of them repudiating white supremacy, and every single human being knows that when he really means something, he tweets it.
— It was sandwiched in between two other appalling actions: a tweeted insult against Ken Frazier (the black man who quit the president’s advisory council over the speech on Saturday), and a threat to pardon Joe Arpaio (the Arizona sheriff who defied a court order instructing him to stop racially profiling people for potential deportation).
There is still some good news here, though. His DoJ is investigating. He was forced to come to the microphone and speak the words they wrote for him, which shows his will can be bent. His approval rating took another shellacking for his sniveling equivocations over the weekend, dropping to 34% in the latest Gallup poll (!!). A campaign to make him prove what he said by firing white supremacists Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka is gaining steam, fueled by Trump’s own speech. Outside of the Trump administration, a social media campaign to identify, doxx, and punish the alt-righters who beat Deandre Harris half to death is working incredibly well, and The Daily Stormer, the Nazi website, was dumped by their host (GoDaddy).
But this isn’t a Grinch story. Trump’s heart is just as shriveled and black as it was on Saturday. Yes, the words passed his lips– a lot of words have passed this guy’s lips–but I’m not fooled by them. I’m not breathing a sigh of relief. I look at his actions, and it’s obvious the words he spoke were exactly that:
We wake up in a new America today. We wake up in an America where violent terrorists roam the streets flying Nazi flags. This is not hyperbole. It is not a drill. It is the literal description of what happened in Charlottesville yesterday.
Any pretense that young members of the alt-right are simply disillusioned hipsters speaking out ironically against overwrought political correctness is now eradicated.
These people gathered in mobs to beat down black people, in the street, in broad daylight. They chanted “Heil Trump” and physically attacked the peaceful protesters who came to peacefully oppose them. One of their number murdered a white woman (who we don’t even know for sure was involved in the protest) with his car, and hit or ran over 19 others. For those playing along at home, this is the LITERAL EXACT SAME TACTIC that ISIS is using in Europe.
These scumbags, these dirt-eaters, these double-talkers with their constant equivocations and slimy insinuations, have shown their true colors. The masks are literally off. We owe them no more excuses and no more consideration, no more delicate tip-toeing around common decency and Godwin’s law. We know their names, every one of them earned and owned:
Racist. Bigot. Terrorist. Nazi.
Let me tell you a little secret about “transgender people.” It’s a two-part term. An adjective and a noun, and I’d like to talk about both of them.
The adjective – “transgender” – can be scary and foreign to a lot of people who have never had occasion to use it in their own lives. I’m a male who was born with the traditional boy parts, I’ve never felt like I was supposed to be something else, so the idea that someone COULD feel that way is quite alien to me. Does it weird me out? Sure, sometimes. It may weird you out sometimes, too, and that’s okay.
There is also a noun. The noun is “people.” This part of the term is just as important, if not more important, than the adjective. “People,” as in human beings. Sentient entities, with consciousnesses and consciences. Emotions. Real people. Actual people. Flesh and blood. People you’ve met. People you live with. People who deserve the same basic common decency, courtesy, consideration and benefits of the doubt that you give to all other people.
Here’s the secret: the adjective in front of the noun doesn’t change any of that. Even with the adjective there, they’re still people. If I get weirded out by that adjective, that is not an excuse to treat them differently. That’s my problem to handle.
I expect people to be able to choose their own bathroom. That doesn’t change if the people are transgender.
I expect people to be able to choose their own sexual and life partners. That doesn’t change if the people are transgender.
I expect people to have the privacy of doing whatever they want in their own bedrooms, and for that privacy to be reciprocated to me. That doesn’t change if the people are transgender.
And, most germane today, I expect people who are interested in serving their country through the military to be allowed to do so. “Transgender” is an adjective, not a physical or mental barrier to military service. If it weirds someone out, then a) it is incumbent upon that person to deal with that, and b) how can we ever expect that to change if transgender people are refused access to certain institutions?
Today’s announcement from the Commander-in-Chief is yet another giant step backward for this country. It is sad, embarrassing, cruel, and frankly primitive. It is founded on a belief that the adjective matters more than the noun; that being “transgender” takes precedence over being “people.” It is an appalling decision, particularly when you consider that many transgender soldiers stopped hiding their adjectives after they were told it would be safe to do so. Now, I assume, all those people will be summarily dismissed from military service – because the Commander-in-Chief is weirded out, and too much of a thin-skinned, bigoted whiner to handle it like a man.
“How did the universe begin?” That’s the question, right? Science tries to answer it. Religion tries to answer it. Where did we come from, what is our purpose—the two ideas are tied together for us. We grow up and live our lives believing the answer is somehow fundamental to the meaning of life.
I had an idea yesterday, though. What if the question itself is flawed? It certainly seems hard to answer—science posits the idea of the Big Bang, but the follow-up of course is, “Where did the Big Bang come from?” Religion says “God” as if that will answer everything, but it, too, is not immune to that follow-up. Where did God come from? The question is endlessly recursive. You can always ask “why?” or “how?” one more time, no matter what response you’re given.
It makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with the question itself. The inherent assumption that there was a beginning. Conservation of energy tells us nothing ever really goes away. There are no beginnings or endings—only transformation. When you throw out your old chair, it doesn’t vanish. It goes to the dump, eventually (hopefully) breaking down into its constituent pieces and becoming food for bacteria. When you eat a carrot, it doesn’t cease to exist. Your body converts it into energy and waste. There is no empirical example of cessation or spontaneous genesis in nature. Everything becomes something else, and sometimes we call this “the end”—for example, when someone dies—or “the beginning”—for example, when a child is born. But they aren’t truly ends or beginnings. They just appear that way, because of how our perception limits us.
What if we are extending this flawed perception to the whole of existence? Using it to formulate a question that is based on a flawed assumption and is therefore meaningless? Like an ant crawling around a basketball asking, “Where is the end?” when in fact there is no end or beginning.
The question itself is flawed: the ball is round.