They Live, the sequel

There was this movie that came out in the 80s called “They Live”. It was super cheesy. I think the star was Rowdy Rodney Piper. In the movie, Piper’s character is going along, living his life when he comes across a pair of sunglasses. These sunglasses change everything because when he puts them on he can suddenly see, among other things, that there are evil aliens walking around in disguise. He can see their true faces, all mixed in with the human people. When he takes the sunglasses off, everyone looks normal again. But he’s seen the truth now, he’s seen who they really are and he can’t go back to the way he was before.


Is this a big stupid clumsy work up to an analogy to our current situation in America? Yeah, it is. Because I work with people who voted for Trump, people who I never would have guessed would do that. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t hissing with evil. They aren’t saluting cardboard cutouts. And yet they voted for him. And so ever since November, in a way, I feel like the They Live sunglasses have been superglued to my face. This lens that reveals that I don’t know people at all. And even if Trump gets impeached tomorrow, I can’t unsee what I have seen. And I don’t want to. But it still sucks.


It’s gone by many names. This time it goes by FADA

In 1965, Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, started a legal battle against the anti-miscegenation laws of Virginia that declared their marriage illegal. Their first hearing was with Judge Leon Bazile. This was Bazile’s written stance on the matter;


“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay, and red, and placed them on separate continents, and but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix.”


When the Loving vs. Virginia case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, they ruled that;


“Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”


Religion is an amazingly pliant thing. It has been bent and molded and shaped to fit a million different viewpoints for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It can be a sword or a shield, a ladder or an anchor, a shelter or a prison. It can be enlightenment or justification. It can be, it has been, whatever a person or group of people need it to be. It has become, with its swirl of black and white mixing together, a sort of Rorschach test. Look at the Bible and what you see there reveals who you are, in a way.


Back in 1965, religion was used in this instance as a defense against interracial marriage. Replace “race” with “homosexual” in both of these quotes and you have the argument currently being set before us. There is no difference. And maybe I am presuming too much in thinking that most people are disgusted by the idea of anti-miscegenation laws. But for those people who do find them repugnant, for those people who read Judge Bazile and snort in disgust, for those people who nod their heads in agreement with the Supreme Court’s ruling, please know that this is the same fight taking place in front of you right now. And just like that fight, there are people who identify as Christian on both sides of this one, people who look at the Bible and see very different things. It is up to you to decide what it reveals about you.


A moment.

When I was fifteen, the TV movie An Early Frost came out. Maybe some of you remember it. It was a story about a gay man who contracts AIDS and goes home to his family. It was very controversial at the time. Very. The day after the movie came out, I was sitting in math class and these two guys behind me started talking about it. They were loud and brash and threw around words like, “gross” and “fags” and “disgusting”. They made retching noises and said the gay characters deserved to die of AIDS. This kept escalating until one of them, laughing in his righteousness, declared that all gays should be rounded up, put up against a wall and shot.


And I lost it.


I‘d like to say that I turned around calmly in my chair and leveled these guys with a witty yet poignant speech about gay rights, that I was impassioned but intelligent. That afterwards, the two boys looked ashamed and even a little thoughtful. I’d like to say that’s what happened but it didn’t. Instead, I spun around in my seat, eyes narrowed and crazy, and HISSED at them that everything they were saying was stupid, that they were fucking awful and stupid, that there was nothing wrong with being gay and that if anyone should be put up against a wall and shot in the interest of bettering humanity, it should be fucking stupid disgusting losers like them and how would they like THAT, HUH?


Needless to say, it was not eloquent. I’m pretty sure there was spittle. The only embarrassed looks in the vicinity were from nearby students and they were directed at me, full of the kind of uncomfortable pity reserved for someone who has just had an epileptic seizure in class. The guys themselves, after they got over their surprise, laughed louder and harder than before. No one’s mind was changed, no one recanted, no one said “You know what, you’re right!”. I spent the rest of class shaking with rage, glaring at my notebook and trying not to let my tears of frustration and sadness spill out all over the place. It really sucked.


I don’t regret it. I wish I had said things better. I wish I had kept my emotions in check. I wish I had been smart enough or articulate enough to change someone’s mind. But I don’t wish I had stayed silent. I think, if I had, it would be something that would be eating at me to this day.


We graduate from high school. If we’re lucky, we graduate from college. But we are always in the classroom. And the boys in the back are always there, casually spouting off bigotry and hate, mindlessly parroting what they believe to be popular opinion. They hate who they are told to hate. They tell us that we should hate them, too. They won’t always be foaming at the mouth with it. They will be calm. They will have rationalizations, defenses, REASONS. Abraham had slaves. The Jews caused World War I. Segregation is a regional custom. State rights. It says so in the Bible. Marriage is sacred.


This is a Moment, people. Capital M. This is your chance to prove where you would have stood in the 1840s, in 1933, in 1964. If you’ve ever wondered what you would have done then, look to what you are doing now. This is it. This is your moment of truth.


Don’t miss it.


Cupcake madness

Fancy food bloggers, would you do me a favor and start putting your recipe at the top of your post, please? Just lead with how to make the damn gingerbread cupcake. Don’t make me have to scroll through 15 high quality photos of the cupcake to get there. Shots of the cupcake from the front, the side (delineated by use of props because, guess what, cupcakes don’t have fucking sides), aerial views, black and white filters, extreme closeups of frosting. Guys, it’s a cupcake, not your firstborn son.


But maybe I’m being insensitive. Maybe you are trying to compensate for the ephemeralness inherent to being a cupcake by attempting to give it a sort of immortality through the medium of photography? While I admire your intention (not to mention your skill at anthropomorphism), I think it could be better conveyed through a series of action shots. Show the cupcake out there, living its delicious but oh so fleeting life to the fullest. Maybe some photos of the cupcake skydiving or completing its first 5K run. The cupcake sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A tribute to a cupcake who didn’t resign itself to a life of quiet desperation but instead leapt off that Williams&Sonoma cutting board and made the most of the time it had left. Those kind of photos I wouldn’t mind scrolling through.


But the recipe should still be at the top.


Red Flag

There is a thing going around on FB right now, a sort of meme, likening Trump to a pilot, that is bothering me and it’s not because I find it to be a poor analogy, although I think it is. (The whole premise hinges on the pilot being an unknown person and whatever your opinion on the man, Trump is most certainly known.) The origin piece itself is rather mild, but the variations that have followed it are less so. There is a less of a focus on the unknown pilot and more on the behavior of the other people on the plane. The message seems to be this: if we keep questioning the pilot, the plane is going to crash and everybody is going to die.


This is what bothers me. It has, in fact, been bothering me since I saw the first one. Because it strongly implies that dissent is destruction. Some memes even imply that dissent is a DESIRE for destruction. That protesters want the plane to crash out of a spiteful need to be right. That especially worries me because that appears to be equating protest with, at best, schadenfreude on a national level and, at worst, terrorism and I just don’t think that is where the protesters are coming from. I know that’s not my motivation.


The interesting thing about using this analogy though is how very apt it is for the PROTESTING side of things. Here’s why:


For the last twenty years or so, the airplane industry has been using a training program called Crew Resource Management, or CRM for short. A large component of CRM deals with hierarchical structures and the issue of questioning authority. Basically, if the pilot is doing something wrong, it is the responsibility of the co-pilot and crew to point it out, to “wave a red flag”. Speaking out is encouraged and facilitating an environment where people feel safe to do so is essential.


So, if Trump is our pilot, and we Americans are the crew (I choose not to label us as passengers) then according to aviation safety standards, I have a duty to point out possible concerns. I need to watch the gauges that might indicate a problem. I need to make sure we don’t run out of fuel. And maybe other people don’t share my concerns or don’t see things the same way I do. That’s okay. But if I think something’s wrong, I need to say something. Because I really don’t want the plane to crash. I don’t want the pilot to fail. I don’t want us to veer so far off course that we end up in a country we don’t recognize anymore. And until I feel like we’re no longer in danger of that, I have to express my doubts and voice my concerns because it is the only avenue left to me. So, I’m going to keep pointing out warning lights. I’m going to keep an eye out for ice on the wings. I’m going to keep waving that red flag.


Here’s What You Can Do to Beat Trump.

Okay, so I’m going to say some stuff at the start of this post that’s going to be a bit of a drag, but I want you to stick with me. It’ll be worth it, I promise, and there’s no way around what I have to say at the top without going through it. So I’m just going to jump in, and I’ll meet you on the other side. Here we go…

America’s current crisis isn’t one crisis, it’s a hundred.

We’ve got a crisis in access to medical care, and it’s about to get worse. We’re in a deep crisis in mental health care, and again, it’s about to get worse. Ditto access to reproductive healthcare. Two of the last five presidential elections have been won by candidates who lost the popular vote. That’s a crisis. Because of gerrymandering, vote suppression, and voter clustering, elections in the House and…

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