February 6, 1993 — see The Complete Peanuts 1991-1994
When Picture Post published “Back to the Middle Ages” November 26th 1938, the magazine was less than two months old. Launched on October 1st, it was from the very beginning staunchly anti-fascist, thanks to the editorship of Stefan Lorant, an Hungarian refugee who had been previously imprisoned by the Nazis in Munich.
Situations had gotten worse in Germany that November. An assassination of a German diplomat in Paris provided the Nazis with the pretext for the Kristallnacht, an antisemitic pogrom. To cover the event, Lorant thought he should juxtaposed the faces of the Nazi leadership alongside those of the writers, actors and scientists they were persecuting.
Four central figures loomed large above the headlines, three still well-known, one less so. Alongside Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering was Julius Streicher whose newspaper Der Stürmer was the centerpiece of the Nazi propaganda. A former schoolmaster who was expelled from his profession, Streicher was anti-Semitic, almost to a comical degree: he wrote anti-Semitic books for children, and frequently repeated the medieval accusation that Jews killed Christian children to make matzoh. An early practitioner of what you would today call ‘Fake News’, Streicher argued that since his articles were based on race, not religion, they were protected by the German constitution.
When Picture Post went to press, Streicher was at the height of his noxious power: at Nuremberg, where he was the local Nazi party chief, he was treated almost as an absolute monarch. During Kristallnacht, he ordered his followers to sack the Great Synagogue of the city. But Kristallnacht also proved to be his downfall: he was accused of keeping Jewish property seized after Kristallnacht in November 1938, and his enemies within the Nazi party hierarchy — especially Goering whose daughter he once accused of being conceived by artificial insemination — were all to glad to denounce him. Hitler also grew tired of Streicher’s hysterical tirades, and would travel to Nuremberg only in secret, in order to avoid having to dine with Streicher.
In 1940, Streicher was finally stripped of his party offices, although his paper continued publishing until the war’s end. But Der Stürmer, like its publisher, itself limped into the 1940s. Once its pages were full of denunciations of Germans who were friendly to Jews or patrons of Jewish businesses, and exaggerated stories about misconduct and crimes by Jews, but as deportation of Jews intensified and Jewish life all but disappeared across Germany, there was little material for the paper. After 1940, this was literally true as paper restrictions were imposed on Der Stürmer.
The photo on page 19 read: Humanity at its Lowest. Young Nazis look on smiling while Elderly Jews are forced to scrub Vienna streets. On the back of this picture, the agency circulating it had felt it necessary to print: “Under no circumstances whatsoever may the source from which this picture was obtained, be revealed.”
Better late than never.
LGBT Valentine’s Day Cards
One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state. Unlike human beings – particularly of the modern variety – they do not spend their days in laborious pursuit of a fantasy of happiness. They are comfortable with themselves and their lives, and remain in that condition for as long as they are not threatened. When they are not eating or sleeping, they pass the time exploring and playing, never asking for reasons to live. Life itself is enough for them.
If there are people who can’t stand cats – and it seems there are many – one reason may be envy.
Gray, a renowned cultural and historical pessimist, also offers a critique of those thinkers who promote mass feline genocide, so at this point you may be wondering why he titled his book Straw Dogs. Here is the review. Here is Abigail Tucker’s very good cat book, The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World.
Among its other improbabilities, 2016-2017 offers John Gray writing a positive review of Ross Douthat’s wife’s cat book. What will be next?
Near where I live, the fans of conspiracies and demagogues have put stickers on the guard rails of our highway off-ramps. That inspired me to design these stickers.
I’m putting this design in the public domain – no copyright. I trust you to use them to reference things that are verified lies. I wouldn’t put them on someone elses car, because that’s not respectful, but I do think it’d be funny to get a Trump bumper sticker for your own car and put this next to it. (Please send photos!)
More than a year ago, before the Iowa caucuses, the story of folk singer/songwriter/activist Woody Guthrie’s hatred for his landlord, Fred Trump (father of Donald) started to circulate. (I believe the first piece was this nicely done essay at The Conversation, by Will Kaufman.)
The story goes like this: Between 1950 and 1952, Guthrie lived in a Federal Housing Administration-funded low-income apartment building in Brooklyn’s Coney Island built by Fred Trump. But Trump (who already had a history of bigotry, including an arrest at a Klan parade that turned into a riot in 1927), quickly worked to segregate even his federal developments, prohibiting black tenants from renting in majority-white complexes or neighborhoods.
Guthrie moved out of the Trump building when his two-year-lease was up, but wrote a song about it called “Old Man Trump”:
I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project
Beach Haven ain’t my home!
No, I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain,
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam,
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!
And in fact, Donald and his father Fred would eventually be sued for housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act of 1968; this was 1973, and was the first time Donald Trump ever appeared in the New York Times (“Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City”). They settled the lawsuit in 1975.
But that’s not the end of the story. The present-day Trump slogan “America First” is a direct callback to the America First Committee, an isolationist antiwar group that formed after the outbreak of World War 2 in Europe. It included pacifists and farmers and students and socialists and businessmen and a lot of wealthy, anti-Semitic, pro-German, pro-fascist Americans, notably its main spokesman Charles Lindbergh.
As it happens, one of Woody Guthrie’s best protest songs, “Lindbergh” (or “Mister Charlie Lindbergh”) is about America First. It criticizes Lindbergh and the group, but also the devil’s bargain socialist and other workers’ groups across the midwest had made in partnering up with pro-Nazi capitalists:
Hitler said to Lindy: “Stall ‘em all you can,
Gonna bomb Pearl Harbor with the help of old Japan.”
In Washington, Washington.
Then on a December mornin’, the bombs come from Japan,
Wake Island and Pearl Harbor, kill fifteen hundred men.
In Washington, Washington
Now Lindy tried to join the army, but they wouldn’t let him in,
Afraid he’d sell to Hitler a few more million men.
In Washington, Washington
So I’m a-gonna tell you people, if Hitler’s gonna be beat,
The common workin’ people has got to take the seat
In Washington, Washington.
And I’m gonna tell you workers, ‘fore you cash in your checks:
They say “America First,” but they mean “America Next!”
In Washington, Washington.
Easy enough to remember.Tags: Donald Trump music politics Woody Guthrie
This looks really fun.
Interactive installation project from INITI can turn spaces into a computer game using motion and projection mapping. Below is a video of their game ‘Demonz’, where the aim is to physically throw balls at the animated devils lurking in the area:
Basically this system allows to make multitouch area on every flat surfaces. Technically it’s combination of motion-tracking and projection-mapping. Main benefits are that there are no limits in a scale of game-stage (it could be 1km long if you want) and no limit how many people can be involved in one moment.
Here is a video from our test installation for handball tournament PHC 2016 in Prague. We developed kind of computer game but projected in real scenery. It is mainly dedicated to kids but also adults were involved as players. I have to say they really enjoyed it too! :)
The Demonz is a large-area virtual reality game projected in to reality. The goal is similarly as in the classic czech ball game from childhood “dodgeball“ but instead of hitting live opponents you will try to hit virtual targets in the shape of animated figures or other moving objects. Due to combination of art and programming work was created a unique game pushing you to move and cooperate with the others.
Ouch. But also, this accurately describes all my actual break ups.
It’s up against some stiff competition, but there’s a runaway front-runner in the “wrongest idea of 2016” derby. It’s the aphorism, once fashionable on the morning-talk show circuit, that the media mistakenly took Donald Trump “literally but not seriously,” when they should have taken him “seriously but not literally,” as Trump’s supporters did.
If the idea is that the media should have taken Trump more seriously, then I’d emphatically agree. But it turns out that they probably ought to have taken him literally too. It’s been an exceptionally busy first 10 days in office for President Trump, culminating in an executive order on Friday that banned immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and banned all new refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days. (Over the weekend, several courts issued rulings temporarily blocking parts of Trump’s order.)
Almost all of the actions that Trump has undertaken, however, are consistent with statements and policy positions he issued repeatedly on the campaign trail and during the presidential transition. It was more than a year ago that Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” for instance. (Friday’s executive order stops short of that, but Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani have spoken of the order as a legal workaround that seeks to accomplish the same objectives as a Muslim immigration ban.) Another executive order called for building a border wall with Mexico, which was perhaps the signature policy position of Trump’s campaign. And Trump might even try to “make Mexico pay for it” by imposing a tariff on Mexican imports — although most economists argue such a tariff would really make American consumers pay for the wall, via higher prices.
Trump and Congress have taken initial steps toward dismantling Obamacare. He promised that too, although he also promised to replace the Affordable Care Act with “something terrific,” which should give pause to Republicans hoping to repeal the plan without a replacement in place. Investigating (highly dubious accounts of) voter fraud? Trump talked about that plenty of times on the campaign trail.
There’s been no “pivot,” and there have been no half-measures. Trump is doing pretty much what he said he’d do. Literally.
Why, then, does Trump’s first week and a half in office seem so surprising, even to those of us who weren’t expecting a kindler, gentler Trump? One could wryly remark that it’s a surprise whenever presidents actually keep their promises. But a longstanding body of research from political scientists suggests that this shouldn’t be a surprise. Presidents actually do make a good-faith effort to keep most of their promises.
Instead, the sense of surprise may reflect the dissonance between the sweeping nature of the changes Trump has brought about so far and his narrow and tenuous mandate from American voters. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, of course, in what turned out to be the biggest discrepancy between the popular vote and the Electoral College since 1876. The 46 percent of the popular vote he received was on the low end also, ranking 23rd of the past 25 election winners, ahead of only Richard Nixon in 1968 and Bill Clinton in 1992. His electoral vote total was slightly more impressive, but also well below average for a winning candidate, ranking 20th out of the past 25 elections. So by pretty much any measure, Trump entered office with one of the three narrowest mandates of the past century, along with Nixon in 1968 and George W. Bush in 2000.
|ELECTORAL COLLEGE SHARE||POPULAR VOTE SHARE||POPULAR VOTE MARGIN||OVERALL|
Sources: Dave Leip, Statistical Abstract of the United States, David Wasserman, Wikipedia
Both Nixon and Bush, however — although they’d later become polarizing presidents — adopted conciliatory tones during their transitions into office. Hardly a partisan word can be found in Nixon’s 1969 inaugural address or Bush’s in 2001. They began their presidencies as relatively popular presidents, therefore. Gallup’s first approval rating poll on Nixon had 59 percent of the public approving of him, against just 5 percent disapproving. For Bush, the numbers were 57 percent approving and 25 percent disapproving. Trump? He started out with 45 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving in the Gallup poll, and his numbers have already gotten worse since last week (although we’ll need more data to confirm whether that’s a meaningful trend).
So Trump’s governing like he’s Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 or Ronald Reagan in 1985, presidents who won via record-breaking landslides. But Trump’s popularity measures are more like those of an embattled president a couple of years into his tenure — think Bill Clinton in 1995, for example. Those low moments don’t necessarily doom a presidency; they didn’t doom Clinton’s, and Reagan and Barack Obama also endured bouts of unpopularity before being re-elected. But we’re in uncharted waters to see a president who is so unpopular so early in his term — and yet who is plowing ahead so stubbornly (or so resolutely, if you prefer) with his agenda.
Then again, this was the agenda Trump promised the country, more or less. So here’s my question: Was Trump elected because of his agenda, or despite it?
That is to say, were his supporters taking him literally, or not?
I don’t have a good answer to this question yet, but it could be the one that Trump’s presidency turns upon. If his supporters took him literally, they’ll presumably see a lot to like so far. But many of these policies have tenuous public support beyond Trump’s base. If this is the framework, then Trump is just continuing with the strategy he’s bet upon all along — doubling down on support from his base — and his approval ratings will probably oscillate within a relatively narrow band of 40 percent to 45 percent support. With Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress and having a geographic advantage in the way their votes are distributed, that mediocre rating wouldn’t necessarily do much to constrain Trump in the near term, although ratings toward the lower end of that range might be enough to make the House of Representatives competitive in 2018.
If Trump’s supporters didn’t take him literally, however, the downside might be greater. There are quite a few Trump policies, including greater restrictions on immigration, that are fairly popular in spirit but became unpopular when taken to the extreme that Trump takes them. Other voters may have felt they were in on the joke when Trump was running against the staid, politically correct establishment, but will hold him to a higher standard of responsibility now that he is implementing policies rather than just talking about them. Perhaps they’ll give Trump some credit for keeping his promises, but those promises weren’t very popular ones.
If nothing else, the few naive elites who expected Trump to turn into some sort of moderate, Arnold Schwarzenegger clone are likely to be disappointed. They should have taken Trump at his word — literally.
floozys: what stopping girl hate is about: ending internalised misogyny and the prioritisation of...
what stopping girl hate is about:
ending internalised misogyny and the prioritisation of men over each other
what stopping girl hate is not about:
expecting women of colour, disabled women and LGBTQA+ women to excuse racism, ableism, homophobia and transmisogyny simply because it’s coming from other women
Russian activists leading the way
The Monument to the Soviet Army is quite large as military memorials go. Built in 1954, the monument is centered by a 120-ft-tall stone plinth supporting a statue of a Soviet soldier surrounded by admiring Bulgarian women. The monument also features large bronze sculptural compositions on all four sides at ground level. One of these secondary compositions was “artistically vandalized” on June 17th of 2011 by Destructive Creation, a group of street artists who for a variety of reasons have chosen to remain anonymous.
Destructive Creation descended on the monument at night and were able to paint every figure in the pantheon of attacking soldiers without interruption. The result was breathtaking no matter what one’s political bent, as the onrushing platoon of Soviet troops was transformed into a bizarre version of the Justice League: from left to right there’s The Mask, The Joker, Wolverine, Santa Claus, Superman, Ronald McDonald, Captain America, Robin, and Wonder Woman.
Spray-painted black text below the figures translates to “In Step With The Times”. Activists embellished the monument the next day, during the Fourth Annual Sofia Pride Parade, before city workers power-washed the monument.
The initial vandalizing of the Monument to the Soviet Army resulted in an explosion of international publicity, mainly due to the skill and content of the artwork. In general the reaction was one of bemused admiration, especially from the global geek community, but Russia’s Foreign Ministry was of a different mind. Not only did Russia vocally condemn the vandalism, they pressed the Bulgarian government to find, arrest and punish the artists. This only served to embolden a host of copycat graffiti artists and make the monument the focus of repeated street art protests.
The next such incident occurred on February 10th, 2012 when the monument’s soldiers were fitted with Anonymous masks of Guy Fawkes in conjunction with anti-ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) protests being held all over Europe. Not certain if the perpetrators were anonymous or Anonymous.
Pussy Riot Act
On August 17th of 2012, three previously arrested members of Russian feminist protest punk rock band Pussy Riot were convicted by a Russian court of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment each.
The sentencing was widely criticized outside Russia and on the same day of the conviction, activists placed colorful knit balaclavas (Pussy Riot members’ trademark costume) over the heads of figures at the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia.
Bulgar Not Vulgar
Observed initially in 2010, the first day of February is officially the Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime in Bulgaria. Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 Bulgarians lost their lives due to state-ordered repression between 1946 and 1990.
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Makeup Not War Soviet Army Monuments Many Makeovers
Nobody could ever accuse the Soviets of being too modest in the scale of their monuments and colossal sculptures, and they left no shortage of absolutely bonkers concrete and stone creations all ...
If you can't get to China to see the astonishing terracotta warriors in their pits, seeing this whimsical tribute to them might be almost as good. It was part of a street art festival in ...
The single most divisive architectural movement, Brutalism is harsh, jagged and geometric, calling to mind massive concrete spaceships - and nobody did it better (or stranger) than the Soviets. ...
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Ah, I have a few strictly vegetarian friends and number 5! (It's always that dash of fish sauce.)
Dedicated to schadenfreude and fremdschämen
1. The form of disappointment that accompanies realizing that the snowy egret that you have fleetingly but passionately admired from your Volvo on the highway is really a plastic bag snagged on a tree, which appears to be dying.
2. The specific frustration experienced when a tattoo of a punctuation mark that one got years ago becomes a trendy tattoo to get as part of an Awareness Campaign, and the Awareness Campaign is about so sensitive a topic that one feels it would be callous to dismiss association with it out of hand, and therefore one ends up sort of letting people think that one, too, has suffered to a greater extent than one really has out of something like solidarity, but it’s also accompanied by frustration that one’s own tattoo has become less defining and singular to the extent that one starts wearing shirts that always cover it, rather that just wearing shirts that cover it most of the time.
3. That wistful wondering that occurs when one’s social media feed offers a crowdsourcing request for a man who one once made out with in Chicago on Presidents’ Day but decided not to go all the way with, who has been in a boating accident, and one wonders whether, had one gone all the way, one would now be in the position to own a boat, and also whether the accident would have happened at all if one had been there, oneself, instead of the woman in the picture.
4. The form of regret that one has when one’s dog participates in a skirmish with another dog at the dog park, and one does not get the opportunity to apologize to the other dog’s owner because they just immediately leave, looking huffy, and one feels unsettled even though the other dog kind of started it.
5. Not exactly guilt but more of like a “what do I do now” feeling when the neighbor who has the Tibetan prayer flags on his porch and spearheads the sustainable block party every year and has all kinds of other markers of his commitment to social justice and environmental responsibility invites you to his potluck and you bring a lovely pureed cauliflower soup about which he says, “this is vegetarian, right?” and you say “of course!” and he’s really enjoying it when it occurs to you that your having added chicken stock to thin it at the end makes it really not vegetarian — what purpose would telling him now serve?
6. The lingering sense of personal failure that descends when you wash the towels with the washer set on “hot”, which is really the one situation for which you reserve the “hot” setting, and you get distracted by contemporary politics and forget to transfer the towels to the dryer before they get mildewy, and you have to wash them a second time, also on “hot” because now mildew, and then you forget to transfer them a second time.
7. When the dog bites; when the bee stings; when I’m feeling sad.
8. The sense of spiritual homelessness that happens when you have looked forward all day to a calming, relaxing bath with a good book, and the book ends up having a fascinating premise but poor execution and the bath is somewhat calming but insufficiently relaxing.
9. Two steps forward, one step back.
10. When I have gazed at you lovingly between five and seven times over a period of two days, or perhaps over a three-day holiday weekend, and you have only gazed back one time out of all of those times, keeping in mind that per the nature and limitations of adoring gazes, it is entirely possible that you also did some gazing that went unnoticed, and so there’s not really full self-righteous energy behind the resentment but more of a broader questioning about what constitutes a successful long-term relationship.
11. You suspect that you could have been a better parent, but you also know from experience that you could have been a far, far, far worse parent, as in you really did okay with your handling of early-onset puberty, specifically, when you went along with your pre-adolescent daughter’s story that it was a spider bite and not acne and didn’t adopt the time-honored family tradition of mining puberty for comic gold in front of friends, family, and also strangers. Yay, you!
12. The type of creative project that provides a modicum of personal satisfaction but cannot be really presented to others, such as washing clothes of just one color and drying them to see what the lint filter looks like at the end; the word isn’t for the project, but for the uncanny mix of pleasure and dismay as you privately admire and question what you have done.
Let's all just look at the stars for a while
I'm a few days late, but yes.
Well, maybe not all of us exactly, but certainly many of us feel this way. What you’re looking is the Middle Finger Candle by Cool Material.
The “Middle Finger Candle” sounds too nice and polite to me. I prefer to...
This is really accurate advice about moving to Australia.
Let me just say in advance, welcome to Australia! Although I’m a true-blue Melbournian, Sydney is a beautiful city with a lot to offer (you will soon learn that Melbourne and Sydney have a fierce rivalry for the title of BEST CITY). Some tips that I have learned to be important from my time spent with foreigners adjusting to life in Australia:
- Most people perceive Australia to be a hot, hot country, and expect they’ll spend all year in t-shirts. This may be true in the North, but in Sydney, you will get cold in Winter. The average temperature in Winter rarely drops below 5 degrees Celcius, but what you need to know about Australians is that we are absolutely SHIT at insulating our houses. Shopping centres and businesses will be warm, but unless you are renting/buying quite a modern house with central heating, you will find that your house gets very cold, and doesn’t hold heat well. Pack some of your warm clothes and don’t be surprised if you have to wear warm jumpers inside (I only say this because I have spent time with Europeans who are ADAMANT that one should be able to comfortably hang out in a t-shirt inside all Winter).
- That being said, Summer is HOT. We have the worst UV radiation of any country, and our rate of skin cancer is the worst in the world. Play it safe in the sun - Slip Slop Slap (slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat) and stay in the shade between 10am and 4pm during Summer.
- Whilst the coffee culture is really based in Melbourne, Sydney has its cafe pride too. In Australia we DO NOT drink drip coffee. We drink espresso, thanks to an influx of European immigrants in the middle of the last century (for which we are very, very thankful). How to order a coffee in Australian:
I just want plain black coffee - long black
I want plain coffee with milk - flat white
I want my milky all frothy and chocolate dusting on the top - cappuccino
Actually, I only want a little froth on my white coffee - latte
I just want a coffee shot - espresso
I want a coffee shot but with a tiny blob of foam on top - short macchiato
Make it two blobs of foam - long macchiato
Maybe I’ll take a coffee shot with just a tiny swish of milk - piccolo
Give me a big fat coffee with cocoa in it so it tastes like my coffee had sex with a hot chocolate but I can still pretend I’m a grown up while drinking it - mocha
(Fair disclosure: I have never been a barista, but I have drunk a lot of coffee, so this is my own personal interpretation of what each of those coffees actually means).
- Sydney’s public transport is pretty good, but unlike New York’s, it doesn’t run all night. Be prepared for your train services to cut off at midnight (maybe 1am on weekends if you’re lucky). Also, the trains (last time I checked) are not very clean, so think twice about sitting down. When walking the streets of Sydney, watch out for busses, because they will run you down.
- No matter where you end up living in Sydney, get into the city at dusk at least once and watch the sunset over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House from Mrs Macquarie’s Point.
- If you like going to the beach, do some reading about RIPS. Every beach season we lose a handful of tourists because they don’t know what to look for in the water and end up drowning. When you see a break of calm water between breaking waves, forming an apparent channel of calm sea that runs perpendicular to the beach, that is a rip - a section of sea with a strong undertow, which, if you are caught in it, will drag you out to sea. If you are caught in a rip, don’t panic - swim parallel to the beach until you reach the waves again, then swim in to shore. But the safest thing to do is always swim on a patrolled beach and swim between the flags - you will never encounter a rip if you stay between the flags.
- Possums in Australia are very different to possums in the USA. Our possums are sweet little babies that we love dearly. Well, sort of. The kind of possums you will generally find in cities and suburbs can be sorted into two sub-species:
- Ring-tailed possums - small, curled up tail, feeds of fruit and flowers, will never bother you, makes a sound like a baby chicken, so adorable, perfect A+ marsupial.
- Brush-tailed possums - super cute, but bigger than a cat and capable of being pretty nasty if you cross them. Sometimes like to jump on tourists in the search of treats. Claws are incredibly sharp. Tail looks like a black toilet brush. Makes a screeching sound that sounds like gollum is being murdered. Not particularly well-liked in some places. I still think they are super rad, but the subject of brush-tailed possums is a divisive one.
If you have any specific questions about life in Aus, feel free to send me another message. Don’t worry, we have the internet. Our Prime Minister is a dick. You will (unfortunately) learn about Pauline Hanson. But mostly we are about beautiful scenery and kick-ass animals.
All my love,
I am surprised and glad I went to the Women’s Marches in Oakland and San Francisco on Saturday, the day after Trump was inaugurated. The Friday night march in San Francisco was also worth going to, though more predictable and less inspiring than the surprisingly gigantic turnouts for the Women’s March, not just here in the Bay Area but across the U.S.
San Francisco at Jones and Market after 2 hours, the dense crowds continued… a friend counted over 220,000 standing not far from where I was, and he missed a bunch.
In general I have grown to dislike the mass demonstration because of its utter predictability, its function as a zone of narcissistic self-congratulation, its exclusionary dynamics that often depend on a high tolerance for having speakers barking their slogans at you, or monitors scolding you for walking too far out of bounds, etc., or in any case an assumption of shared ideas and values where they barely exist. The fact that so many demos are organized by groups that I disdain or actively oppose only adds to the problem.
I’ve seen a few facebook friends going off in various ways about the Women’s Marches. Why didn’t these people protest earlier? Aren’t they all just a bunch of liberals and democrats? Why aren’t they more radical? Why didn’t they show up for all the other issues that smaller numbers of people have tried to mobilize around during the past decade? etc. etc. I’m sure there is plenty of truth to these complaints, but it really misses the point.
How many was this true of? A lot!
For the huge swath of the country that has been resolutely unresponsive to radical critiques of this society, their world has shattered. The idea that we are basically a decent place with good people doing the best we can in a world where the neoliberal consensus has convinced most that there is no alternative to markets and meritocracy and capitalism has been impossible to shake with leftist chanting, anti-racist organizing, gender liberation struggles, etc. We might think the problem is with the folks who accept the anodyne platitudes of normalcy who we think should be more critical, more engaged, more thoughtful, and show more solidarity and compassion. Sure, I can see that. But it doesn’t matter. The left has grown smaller and more marginal over the past decades. Whatever we’ve been doing in whatever corner of the left we are in (gender, racial, labor, etc.) has not been working very well.
The Women’s March did not change all that. But to blame the people who turned out for all the failures of left organizing is just bitter and weird. I was really moved by the energy and earnestness of the tens of thousands of people (90,000+) I saw on the streets of Oakland during the morning and midday sunshine and then even more amazed by the over 200,000 people who doggedly stayed to march for hours from the Civic Center to the Ferry Building in the pouring rain. Sure, I know there’s a long way to go from one day of vocal repudiation and assertion to a developed movement that can impose its hegemony on government and the economy. But given the fear and panic and depression that so many people had fallen into since the election (or earlier), this was a huge morale booster for good people. To take the streets in such numbers is a powerful experience, even if the sign had it right: “I can’t believe we still have to protest this fucking shit!”
uh.. yeah! from Oakland.
I congratulate everyone who turned out, the wonderful creativity that went into the thousands of homemade, heartfelt signs, and I’m glad we opened a space for dialogue and critical thought. Now we can argue about how to fill that space, and to develop those muscles and skills in the time ahead. It’s going to take a mighty effort to wrest control of this society from the kleptocrats and militarists and ideological purity is a useless tool for this project. We all have to get better at talking to people we disagree with, and to accept the usefulness of argument and debate, and to learn to live with not being right, and not getting our way, and not always feeling “safe.”
And now a long gallery of images:
Lake Merritt BART overwhelmed by demonstrators for hours.
© ryue nishizawa - garden & house - tokyo, japan - 2006
Also: looking at the news
a drawing about trying to look at stuff you’ve made or written or done or another verb
I love this song.