Monday, July 11, 2016

Tear Down That Wall.

Drip, drip. Drip, drip. Eroding the stones. Drip, drip. Altering the mind. Little by little.
We keep getting signals, messages, dog-whistles from mainstream and fringestream media, from right wing echo chambers, from leftie universes, from Washington’s bubble… all speaking to, no, stoking the Aggrieved Mind. And then we wonder (not really) why Dallas happens, why Orlando happens, why Tucson happens, why Colorado Springs happens, even why San Bernardino happens. All them shooters with a grievance in search of a ready-made cause, a social excuse for their mayhem. Drip, drip, talking heads drip poison into the foundation, stain, ultimately rip the fabric of our nation, our world, separating the parts and building walls between all.
Build that wall is the rally cry. Unfriend, delete, ban, keep us all separate and (un)equal. A tribal and ghettoized state of mind that makes sure no common ground is allowed, because it compromises the purity of ideals, be they an interpretation of the constitution or of class or social or political identity. Purity is what matters. It is always the other one at fault, rarely a glance inwards allowing a broader view based on a crazy notion that everyone is created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.
I write these lines of apparent despair and hopelessness after a week of tragedies and head spinning events. Independence Day weekend was eventful in its own right. While the world was reeling from mass murders of Westerners in Dhaka, Shia in Baghdad and a (probable) response to that last one by multiple bombings in Sunni Saudi Arabia we all were tense, thinking of the unthinkable during America’s party.
Amidst the tension, Secretary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI on Saturday 7/2 to culminate their probe into those (damned) emails. On Tuesday 7/5, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI had not found sufficient evidence to prove a crime had been committed. He characterized Clinton’s actions as “extremely careless” but not “gross misconduct” which could have been indictable. To be so, her (110 out of nearly 40,000) emails would have to have been shared with people who had no security clearance, and she would have had to willfully and knowingly lie and obstruct the investigation (like, for instance, Gen. Petreus did). Unfortunately we have no true judicial comparables because the server maintained by the RNC in the White House --and from which twenty two million emails by Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and others were deleted when the inquiries into CIA agent Valerie Plame’s outing were being carried out -- was never subject to a public scrutiny such as the one on Clinton’s server.
Director Comey also mentioned that there was a possibility that the server installed by a former President in his fortified house and guarded by the Secret Service theoretically could have been hacked, but there was no indication or proof regarding such hacking (as there was for the White House, the State Department the FBI and the DoD – even the NSA). She also used her blackberry in foreign countries and that can be dangerous to National Security.
Director Comey got promptly hauled in by Republicans to testify before the House Oversight Committee of Congress, where this man, a career prosecutor involved in investigating Whitewater under Kenneth Starr, who as Acting Attorney General stood up to President Bush’s acolytes against illegal wiretapping under the Patriot Act (and had to eventually leave the Bush government because of it), and a well-known Republican, had his ethics, methods, thoroughness and motives questioned.
The same day as Director Comey read his statement asserting there was no criminal case to be made against Secretary Clinton was the last day in the life of Alton Sterling. This was a brutal killing of a black man while being held to the ground by two police officers and shot four or five times point blank. No congressional action, investigation or statement on this one.
The next day, Wednesday, the day Comey testified before congress and the Attorney General decided to follow his recommendation, another gruesome video was posted on social media: a young black man, Philando Castile, bleeds to death next to his fiancée, with his four year old step daughter-to-be strapped in the back seat, as a police officer points a gun at him. Again to Congress this life, and so, so many others not caught on tape, does not seem to matter.
With Clinton Derangement Syndrome (and here) fully in bloom both within the Republican right and the Democratic left, and with Trumpism firing up passions from all sides of the spectrum and everyone ignoring large portions of alienated America, the aggrieved mind finds itself ready to hit the destroy button. This time it was in Dallas.
“This is not just a black issue. This is not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue,” said President Obama referring to the factual gross disparities in incidents involving African-Americans and police stops with unpredictable consequences under the same circumstances as white people. “Would this have happened if those passengers would have been white? I don’t think it would have.” That was Governor Mark Dayton from Minnesota. “I’m going to be talking to white people. I think we’re the ones who have to start listening to the legitimate cries that are coming from our African-American fellow citizens.” That was Secretary Clinton (full speech), maybe referring to Congress? They have hearings all the time, but do not listen.
“Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children.” That was Donald Trump, reaching out to our better instincts for a change, but not calling for any other action except “We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.” Another wall; this time, a Blue Wall.
We are in a ghettoized nation with factions demanding bigger walls to contain themselves in and keep the Others out, lashing out to those on the other side. The poison drip coming from all sides needs to stop; a stop to the endless water torture affecting minds, even artificially intelligent ones. Partisan politics does not seem to get it -- not even to hold a (probably pointless) hearing.
America’s original sin of slavery still has not been washed away. We are not living in a post racial America, despite unquestionable strides by African-Americans and other minorities in our society. There are still remnants, throwbacks, back steps in the process of building a nation for all its citizens. Our country and the world needs leadership with a vision that recognizes the tribal instincts, that recognizes the disruption of a world filled with Others and recognizes the need to reach out to that Aggrieved Mind behind the wall, beyond the bubble, in the other universe. A vision to lead towards building a future, not looking backwards. Not stoking petty divisiveness, not inciting hateful acrimony, not building bigger walls. Are we not better than that?

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