Posts tagged ‘Trump’

November 10, 2016

#120) What do we tell the children: why Harry Edwards matters

Like many I’m still grappling with my feelings about the presidential election; in my case disappointment that Gary Johnson didn’t reach the threshold of votes necessary to secure federal funding for the Libertarian party (despite having more than three times as many votes as last time) and a sense that America, while justifiably weary of the status quo, has committed to a massive roll of the dice. Also like many, I’ve been staring at my social media feed (note to self: disabling the Facebook app on your cell phone doesn’t have any net effect when you can’t stop looking at the damn thing in your browser) and simultaneously absorbing the interesting insights folks have about our unique situation and the shit show. (I believe there’s a place for both in life.) Several common themes pop up: screen shots of the crashed Canadian immigration website; pictures of Katniss; memes with clever variations on the theme “Orange is the new black” and articles addressing the question, “What do we tell the children?”

Well, if there’s one thing that parents love, it’s getting advice from people without kids, so here goes. What do we tell the children? We tell them about Dr. Harry Edwards. Nearly 30 years ago Edwards made a move that had minimal impact outside of its immediate context but nevertheless provides an example of a way to move forward in these contentious times.

In April of 1987, to mark the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier, Los Angeles Dodgers vice president Al Campanis, a former teammate of Robinson, was interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline. Koppel asked Campanis why there were still so few minorities in upper level positions across baseball. Campanis, then age 70, who by various accounts had recently suffered a stroke and was exhausted from traveling said, “I don’t believe it’s prejudice. I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager.” A surprised Koppel tried to give Campanis a chance to walk it back, to which Campanis rambled about his former black teammates who were “[O]utstanding athletes, very God-gifted, and they’re wonderful people, and that’s all that I can tell you about them.”

Within 48 hours, Campanis was gone by firing or resignation; sources vary. By the summer, he was back. Campanis’s replacement was African-American sociology professor Harry Edwards, who re-hired Campanis. “We are going to have to deal with the Campanises in baseball and it’s good to have one in-house who knows how they think,” he said. Another Edwards comment has been echoed in analyses of Trump’s campaign. “[Campanis] represents millions of Americans in terms of the views he articulated. We can’t just consign him to the trash can without consigning millions of our fellow citizens to the trash can as well.”

What do Edwards and Campanis have to do with what we tell the children? Depending on the age of the children in question, the message may be articulated differently – never argue with a fool because bystanders might not be able to tell the difference; play nicely with the other kids in the sandbox, even the one who defecates in it – but it still boils down to basically the same thing. Many people will do and say things that will cause you to scratch your head, but avoiding them or pretending they don’t exist is like trying to hide your lousy report card (not that I would know anything about that.) Living in a society where everyone agrees all the time is at best boring, at worst dangerous.

Will Edwards’s reaching across enemy lines be a model? Like everything else with the pending Trump presidency, we’ll just have to wait and see, but at least it’s an idea for one of many things that we can tell the children.

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February 26, 2016

#107) Why Marilyn Manson matters to the presidential race

Mitt Romney has come out of the woodwork with some dirt about Donald Trump’s taxes and I think I speak for those of all political leanings when I say, “Yaaaaawwnn.”

The fact that taxes proved the undoing of Al Capone notwithstanding, does Romney or anyone else really think that THIS will stop Trump? Haven’t we figured out by now that Republican tongue-clucking and Democrat Hitler comparisons only fuel the Trump juggernaut?

Clutch your pearls at his latest outrageous soundbite; Trump and his supporters will laugh you all the way to the fainting couch. Lecture ‘Murca all you want; they’ll just make a drinking game out of the number of times you say the words “hateful rhetoric.” Sure, many Trump fans are incorrigible rednecks who like hearing what they themselves are afraid to say, but not all of his voter base wears the white sheet. The best way to reach those behind enemy lines is to understand exactly how they came to back The Donald. It is in that spirit that I present  Marilyn Manson.

A friend of mine who grew up in a suburban Ohio community commented that the area is so white-bread, middle-of-the-road and cookie cutter that he understood how someone like Marilyn Manson could germinate from there. As Manson himself said, his Christian education made him fall in love with “what [I] wasn’t supposed to do.” The allure of the forbidden is powerful and it doesn’t get much more forbidden than Trump, whether you are a liberal or an establishment Republican.

Just as Marilyn Manson spoke to people who felt trapped by the sterility of the Lower Midwest, many see Trump as an alternative to an out of touch political machine and a hypersensitive social climate. In an article entitled “I am a socially liberal, millennial immigrant-and here’s why Donald Trump has my vote” author Eugene Spektor writes, “[M]y interests [are] no longer represented by either party…I am part of a generation that is facing stagnant salaries, rising debts and government programs that may not sustain us. I want a president with the business acumen to rectify these issues.” As an “immigrant who legally immigrated to this country”, Spektor believes that illegal immigration “has an unfair effect on legal immigration and the pursuit of the American dream.” A.J. Delgado writes in this article for Breitbart, “We have politicians who will throw us meaningless bones, corny platitudes…[a]t the end of the day, all do…the bidding of Big Business rather than ours.” On Trump’s political incorrectness, she says, “Where you see a lack of filter, I see transparency…Do we wish to be led by a politician who waits to see how the polls emerge on a subject before issuing an opinion?”

Even those who have concerns about Trump’s qualifications can see his appeal. In this piece for the Blaze, military wife and mother of eight Kimberly Fletcher expresses doubt about voting for Trump but also writes, “I love how Donald Trump puts the media in their place….I am so fed up with the media’s holier than thou attitude, shoving their agenda down my throat and flooding the airways with useless nonsense.”

It may all be academic at this point; the Trump train has long since left the station and Romney’s tax “bombshell” won’t stop it. People had their reasons for listening to “Some children died the other day, we fed machines and then we prayed, puked up and down in morbid faith, you should’ve seen the ratings that day“; they have their reasons for supporting a candidate who declared that he could “shoot someone and not lose voters.” Who knows; in keeping with his sense of showmanship and love of shock value, Trump may even pick Manson as his running mate.