I ran the NYC marathon last weekend. It was amazing. My fourth marathon, and although it was my second best time, it was my favorite race in so many ways. My family came for the trip, and jumped from subway to subway to follow me along the course, and it was the perfect day for a marathon: bright and sunny, cool temps (low 50s), and no wind at all. Of course, my mind always comes back to the topics of Hitting Bregma, and my time in NYC was no different.
I’ve been neglecting this outlet in favor of Facebook and Twitter these days. I think it’s mostly because I’m spread so thin on my outrage about things, that I can’t decide which of the many things bothering me deserves a whole entry here. Like before, it’s deserving of a Grab Bag kind of post, just to get it all out there.
A Migrant Caravan Is Coming For Your Children!!!
Honduras sounds like a frightening place to live. The State Department has a travel advisory that recommends not travelling (at all) to Gracias a Dios Department (the Honduran equivalent of a state) due to crime. Needless to say, people from Honduras who aren’t criminals, want out. Thus, a group of migrants, mostly on foot, has started the slow march from Honduras to the United States, with the hope of being taken in as refugees/asylum-seekers. Reporters from various outlets are traveling with them (likely sleeping in better hotels, and riding in comfort instead of walking the whole way). Interviews with them are heartbreaking. They talk about needing to travel in a large group like this to avoid kidnappings that they fear if travelling alone.
When it’s thought of that way (which is how I see it), my reaction isn’t just to let them in, but to send some blankets and maybe an army of busses to give them rides. In the spirit of being a Bartlet Democrat, it reminds me of the first episode of the West Wing, when Cubans are thought to be floating on makeshift rafts on their way to the shores of the United States. The staff members are looking for ways to help them, going as far as saying that if we “suspected” (with a wink) they had drugs, “wouldn’t we have to to out there and search those rafts with, you know, guns and blankets?”
But, instead, in Fox News world, led by the President of the United States, they are something to be feared. Trump Jr tweeted, “The caravan thing is an obvious political stunt, but what better way to get terrorists into the country than imbed them in the flood?”
And the President tweeted:
“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy [sic]. Must change laws!”
The President doesn’t have to alert Border Patrol and the Military that there’s an emergency, those groups, and the intelligence community inform the President that there’s an emergency. It’s not like he was out there on his own learning about this group of people, and tipped off the rest of the country that they were coming.
Tree Of Life Synagogue
The rhetoric and fear-mongering over the caravan of migrants did not stop, and the conspiracy that they are funded by Soros and by leftist organizations was meaningful enough to Robert Bowers, a 46-year old truck driver. He listened to the stories, stories perpetuated by Trump and his supporters, that George Soros (the new “Rothschild” boogeyman for antisemites). Stories that Soros is funding the caravan, and stories that the caravan represents a threat. His response to this was to kill Jews, while they were at Temple.
Many on the right have worked hard to distance Trump from the shooting, and have raised the comparison between the Sanders supporter, James Hodgkinson, who shot Congressman Scalise. The interwebs were flooded with statements that Trump is no more responsible for the deaths at the Tree of Life Synagogue than Sanders was responsible for the shooting of Scalise. Although I completely agree that Robert Bowers, and Robert Bowers alone, is responsible for the shooting in Pittsburg, I also think that if Trump had any sense of caring and compassion, he would worry that his words were part of what inspired the shooting. Trump specifically said that he won’t turn down the rhetoric, but instead will ramp it up. That’s not how a kind caring person responds to a murder event targeting people that kind caring person blamed for our problems. Contrast Trump’s response with that of Sanders. Sanders was clearly upset that anybody supporting him would do something like Hodgkinson did. He gave a floor speech condemning it. Watch here.
In other statements he showed remorse that any of his positions could have fueled the shooting. There was a sense of caring and concern.
That is not what we saw from Trump.
Pipe Bombs In The Mail
In the days before the Tree of Life Shooting, a man name Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending pipe bombs in the mail to high profile democrats and to the office of CNN. Nobody was hurt, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, James Clapper, John Brennan, Robert De Niro, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Eric Holder were all targeted.
Trump blamed the media.
We’re pretty good at recognizing explicit racism and bigotry when certain groups are targeted. We are pretty good at seeing racism against people of color, especially African-American/Black people. We see it pretty well when it’s pointed at Jews also. But sometimes it’s harder to see. A way to check is to change the subject of the discussion to a black man, or a Jew, and see if it sounds any alarm bells. Here’s one that I posted on Facebook yesterday:
I really do not like President Trump. I don’t know him personally, but I don’t like what I see on TV and on Twitter. I don’t like what I read, and I don’t like what I hear. He doesn’t seem like somebody I would want to spend much or any time with, and I’m sure if he worked in my department I would want little or nothing to do with him. I find him very self-centered, with a narcissistic personality disorder vibe. I don’t like his speech pattern, and an article from Vox in October 2016 sheds some light on how unusual it is. I don’t like many of his policies, but I am even more bothered by his unpredictability and the lack of clarity that he thrives on related to what his policies actually are. He generates a real visceral disgust in me, and I am looking forward to the day his presidency is over, whenever that may be. People clearly felt a similar disgust over Obama. It makes me think about the differences.
In the early days of this blog/diary/outlet (whatever it is), I wrote something about implicit bias. The post was titled “Am I biased?” and that serves as the basis for the title of today’s thoughts. My morning ride isn’t very long. I work about six miles from home and don’t hit much traffic on the way. In the past, my morning radio routine was remarkably predictable: NPR’s Morning Edition. Although I haven’t reduced my obsession with politics in the past year, it has taken a toll on me in ways that it hadn’t before, so I’ve spent more of my mornings listening to music, or even listening to the banter of morning radio on top 40 or rock stations. It’s a bit lighter (usually), and gets my day started on a better note. This morning was an NPR morning, and a story about the Cleveland Indians got me thinking.
Immigration is a hot topic today. The blending with racism and nationalism is hard for me to ignore, and it’s interesting to watch the rationalization that people use to avoid confronting their own racist views and implicit xenophobia. This kind of thing takes several forms, each revealing. On the whole, I’m pleased that people struggle to rationalize this, because it shows me that they see racism/xenophobia as a bad thing, and don’t want to think of themselves that way. I wrote about this earlier; the relevant quote was “I know that most people don’t want to be racist. I know that most people get angry when somebody calls them a racist. That’s good. It tells me that they and I share the belief that racism is bad. That makes me happy, and I’m glad we agree that being a racist is not a good thing to be.” But that doesn’t make it go away. We need more. We need to see it out in the open, so we can end it in ourselves if we truly do not want to be racist. Immigration and our views on this is a good place for this exercise, so let’s spend some time looking at a couple of issues, and what people have said about immigration policy that may reveal some not-so-kind, but correctable, views.
Trump said an awful thing. Although he denies it, several sources have confirmed that, in a closed-door meeting about immigration policy, he asked, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” People went nuts, with good reason, but I think the focus has been wrong. This is cross-posted from my FaceBook, word for word (except this paragraph of introduction).