Archive for the ‘Livin’ in the USA’ Category


The obvious answer is “for good reason.” They have a well deserved reputation as holier-than-thou, uptight pricks more interested in patting themselves on the back (their chiropractic bills must be astronomical) and asserting their moral superiority than in making the world a better place for people or animals. They’ve managed to make a healthy, ecologically sound diet less popular than oral herpes. As the old joke goes, “Don’t worry about whether any of your dinner guests are vegans — they’ll let you know.”

The latest example of vegan scumbaggery comes courtesy of vegan talibaner Phillip Williams who sued Burger King for cooking his Impossible Burger (a veggie burger that tastes exactly like meat) on a grill on which — the horror! the horror! — they also cook meat.

Let’s think about this douchebag move for a moment. It’s more than obvious that for Williams, it’s all about him. Burger King isn’t going to the massive expense of installing separate grills for meat burgers and veggie burgers (for the morally pure). Williams’ lawsuit probably won’t go anywhere, but at best it’ll be a waste of time and money for all involved, and if, god forbid, he wins, it’ll result in more meat consumption and more slaughtered animals, as Burger King would drop the Impossible Burger in a heartbeat rather than go to the massive expense of duplicating the number of grills at their outlets to accommodate vegan puritans. Hence, more meat consumption, more slaughtered animals, more environmental degradation.

Not that that seems to matter to Williams. After all, it’s all about him.

What an asshole.

 


“[E]ven in a world where the facts don’t matter anymore, even in a world where progressive values have been co-opted as corporate speak, even in a world where people with disgusting amounts of wealth can do suspect or even terrible things and face little to no consequences, holding those in power accountable is still a fight worth having.”

–ShutUpWesley in McCovey Chronicles’ “The Zaidi Era is Officially Here

(For non-sci-fi fans, the weird pseudonym refers to the intensely annoying Wesley Crusher character — who you felt like smacking around on general principles — in Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

 


One of the most depressing aspects of what passes for modern political discourse is the tendency on both the left and right to engage in collective guilt tripping. You hear this crap constantly: it’s all the fault of the boomers, men, millennials, women, feminists, blacks, whites, godless atheists (a bit redundant there, eh?), immigrants, Muslims, latinos, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam. (Perhaps even more depressing is the guilt and self-loathing of white liberals who buy into this shit.)

There are several problems with the overly broad assignment of guilt (for damn near anything and everything you can think of). The first is that it’s lazy. It’s a ridiculously easy “analysis.”

The second is that it allows the demonizer to feel superior to the broad class of demonized (whites, blacks, latinos, men, “feminazis,” gay people, Jewish folks, whoever) simply because the demonizer is not a member of the demonized per se evil class. (Never mind what s/he is doing with their own life, never mind that they’re often a pathetic piece of human waste — they’re not a member of the cursed class, so they’re automatically virtuous; at present, this form of mental sickness is most pronounced in the outbreak of white supremacism and its related misogyny/homophobia.)

The third is that collective guilt lets those guilty of real evil off the hook. For instance, if you assign all Germans (including those not even born yet when it occurred) guilt for the Holocaust, it lessens if not eliminates the individual guilt of the murderers. This equal-opportunity guilt/blame places those who fought against and fled the Nazis on the same moral footing as those who perpetrated the horrors. But, gosh, isn’t it convenient to assign the guilt simply to “the Germans”? So easy. (The same of course applies to whites as regards the treatment of black people and Native Americans, and men vis a vis the suppression of women: the one-size-fits-all blame-game lets those guilty of real evil off the hook.)

The fourth is that it sets people against each other. As an example, I’ve spent my entire adult life working to eliminate racism, xenophobia, economic exploitation, religious authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia — all the forms of coercive domination/submission — and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to feel guilty for being a straight white male (things over which I have no control). While I share a lot of the goals of the blame-culture PC left, they’ve made themselves into my — and humanity’s — enemies, unwitting dupes of the powers-that-be in their divide-and-conquer game, in their blaming of me and countless others for things utterly beyond our control.

If we’re ever going to make real progress, we can’t do it by eating each other alive. Improvements in such things as wealth and income distribution must benefit damn near everyone; if for only certain classes of people, that’ll further divide us.

The fifth, and perhaps most major, problem is that the simplistic assignment of guilt based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc., is that it short circuits critical analysis. There are complicated reasons for almost every major problem. Assigning guilt to classes of people allows those (often unwittingly) serving the powers-that-be to avoid looking at the underlying societal/economic mechanisms that produce the various horrors (mass unemployment, environmental despoliation, restriction of reproductive rights, climate catastrophe, etc.). In other words, mass guilt provides convenient scapegoats. If you don’t look at the underlying mechanisms, and then do something to fix or replace them, you’ll never get anywhere: you’ll just arrive at an endless miasma of guilt, blame, and hate while those on top stay on top.

The sixth and most obvious problem is that assignment of collective guilt leads to atrocities. Such things as the Holocaust (for imaginary offenses), internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps (again, for imaginary offenses), the Israeli government’s bulldozing of the homes of thousands of suspected Palestinian militants (thus punishing their entire families), and the caging of immigrant children (yet again for imaginary offenses).

The next time you hear someone say it’s all the fault of the Jews, the whites, immigrants, men, blacks, women, gays, Muslims, etc., etc., please realize that that person is a bullshit artist. Someone trying to distract you with scapegoats. Someone who wants to let those actually guilty off the hook. Someone who doesn’t want you to look at the underlying problems. Someone who’s however unwittingly a servant of the powers that be.


“It’s all American music.”

–Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown

I had a long talk this pm with my pal George, an old-pro and great drummer I still sometimes play with, an Italian guy from New Jersey, who was Frank Sinatra Jr.’s drummer for years; we talked about music, musicians, and racism. (George loved Frank Jr., says he was a great guy.)

He told me a story about one of the first things that happened after he moved here (Tucson) from New Jersey. George has the gift of gab, and he got a job working for one of the local Ford dealerships. On his first day, he all but sold a Lincoln to one of the ranchers from up Route 77 north of town, and the jerk came in the next day, spoke to the manager, and said he wanted the car but didn’t want to buy it from an Italian. The manager saw George, said “stay out of the way, I’ll sell the car, you’ll get the commission, and from now on your last name is Joseph.”

George was shocked by the anti-Italian prejudice, something he’d never run into on the East Coast.

But race prejudice and anti-semitism was something he well understood, from anti-black, anti-white, and anti-semitic prejudice in daily life and the band scene in NJ. (There were white-racist and also all-black clubs where they didn’t want mixed-race bands, which is what George always played in.)

It’s so fucking stupid as to be mind boggling.

But it’s there.

And it breeds in isolation. In isolation from people of different races and ethnicities.

That’s one of the great things about most types of American music, especially blues and jazz: you end up playing, often for long periods, with musicians of other races and ethnicities. And you become friends, you come to understand the brotherhood of man (at least the brotherhood of musicians).

In my case, I’ve for years played with black folks, white folks, Mexicans, Native Americans, and Jewish folks. That’s pretty much par for the course for a blues musician. After a while playing with someone, you simply stop thinking about race or ethnicity. You just take them for who they are: Cliff, my black pal the drummer, becomes simply Cliff, my pal the drummer.

About the only places where you’ll still find race prejudice in the American music scene is in (yes — shocking, I know) country and certain types of hard-core rock and roll.

Other than that, we all tend to get along. We have to. It just works that way.

It works out the same in neighborhoods. I live in the most densely populated, most integrated neighborhood in Tucson, which is the most integrated major city in the country. My neighborhood (Keeling — neighborhood motto, “It’s better than it looks”) is about 65% Mexican, 25% white, and 10% black (almost no Native Americans or Asians). And we mostly get along fine. We’re on top of each other, interact every day. And it’s fine, very relaxed.

As a middle-aged ex-gang banger neighbor from Cleveland (a self-described “retired Crip”), put it, “it’s paradise.” In other words, almost no racial tension and almost no overt race prejudice. I couldn’t agree more. This neighborhood is dirt poor, “hard scrabble” as the local paper put it a decade or two ago, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

If you want to get rid of race prejudice, get rid of race isolation. That’s the way it works in bands, and that’s the way it works in neighborhoods. Isolation breeds fear and hate.

 

 

 


Death Wins All Wars front coverOur new book, Death Wins All Wars: Resisting the Draft in the 1960s, a Memoir, by Daniel Holland, recently received a nice review in the Winona Daily News. The reviewer states, “It’s worth your money. It’s worth your time. It might even change your life.” (Needless to say, we agree.)

Watch for further reviews of this very well written book.

 


(I normally don’t have much good to say about Barack Obama — the Great Disappointment, who saved the banks but abandoned the people who elected him — but he really hit the nail on the head with the following comment about “woke,” PC culture.)

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? . . .'”


(First, apologies for not yet delivering the promised Part 2 of the material on Hillary Clinton — I’ll deliver it eventually. The severe insomnia continues, and I’ve been spending my energy finishing the first edit of Chris Mato Nunpa’s very valuable Great Evil. I hope to finish that tomorrow and get on with the second edit. As an aside, I did the first edit on screen, but will print out the ms. after finishing that edit, as it’s considerably slower to edit a printout, but I tend to spot a lot more than I do when doing all of the editing on screen.)

Anyway, here’s the good news: The Pew Research Center just released a new poll on religious affiliation in the U.S., “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace.” The really good news is that the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as Christian declined by 12% over the last decade, but from 77% to 65%. That’s still far too high for comfort, but it’s a major improvement.

As well, self-identified Catholics declined from 23% to 20% of the population over the last decade, while “nones” (atheists, agnostics, spiritual but no religious, none of the above) increased from 17% to 26% since 2009 — and they (we) now considerably outnumber both Catholics and white evangelicals, who declined from 19% of the population a decade ago to16% today.

This is great news. Today, evangelical and conservative Catholics are doing their best to stifle democracy, prop up their utterly corrupt enabler Trump, and install a theocracy through whatever means at their disposal, no matter how foul (gerrymandering, voter suppression, foreign interference in elections). They probably won’t succeed, and if they don’t Christianity will continue its well-deserved downward spiral.

Once the authoritarian evangelists, Trump cultists, and other authoritarian religious fanatics are defeated (quite probably in 2020), we’ll likely (well, could) make some progress on climate change and other real social and economic problems, and move on to creating a more fair, peaceful, and sustainable world.

If the Christian religio-fascists don’t succeed in destroying democracy next year and cementing their rule, they’re doomed.

(At the risk of sounding like a mean, vindictive s.o.b., I wish we could disarm them, put them all on an island along with all of the Islamist religio-fascists, lace the water with contraceptives, and hand out machetes.)