Notes On Maureen Dowd’s “Trump, Neo-Nazis and the Klan”

Last summer, at the RNC Convention as I drew a group of young men with Trump Vanguard flags – and heavy wooden poles – that I titled “The New Hitler Youth,” I got interviewed by at least 7 major news outlets, from NPR to The Financial Times of London, and some folks shooting documentary footage. I doubt a damn bit of it was used or ever will be. C’est la vie.

Soon, Roger Stone was standing about two feet to my left (pacing) and that fruit loop from Infowars came, stood 5 feet in front of me and stoked up the all-white crowd with a stirring speech about: “globalist conspiracy” of “Illuminati” (i.e. the Jews and Freemasons); taking “our” country back (from whom, other Americans? to where – 1860? for what – another Civil War?); and other home-spun fascist/Nazi bullshit.

In all my interviews, in the first minute of talking, I made my only important point: Donald J. Trump is a nihilist. Empty, devoid of any real ethical values or belief in any, he is a simultaneously a black hole sucking in attention and “fame” at any cost and a blank screen onto which various groups of people are projecting their fantasies, wishes, and fears – him offering vague calls and dog whistles to each group, even opposed groups, and seeming to promise them all the impossible fulfillment of their prejudices and darkest desires.

Because he was using them and they him, a deal among scam artists all waiting to stab one another right after they wreck everything in sight.

If there were cutting room floors anymore, all my words would be there in the debris. My diagnosis was too cerebral(?), not vernacular enough, not filled with insults or interesting stuff for a camera. Just some random bearded old idiot sitting on the sidewalk in Cleveland drawing a cartoon of soon-to-be little brainwashed Nazis who menaced people with their wooden sticks while actual extremist authoritarians wandered the sidewalks and gave rabble-rousing speeches.

Now, that latter bit was good for screen and radio; me, not so much.

But before that day, I swear I never heard anyone diagnose the “Trump phenomena” as nihilistic in constitution.

Now, it’s “the thing.” Because I was correct, to that degree. Others would see it later, as in this column in the New York Times by Maureen Dowd: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/19/opinion/sunday/trump-neo-nazis-and-the-klan.html

Read it. It’s good, But Dowd, being optimistic and from another generation (Boomer) than my own (front-end “X”), is just a bit too sanguine. She thinks this era will pass and ‘all this” racism and hatred will go with it. Ironically, she says this right after talking about, after the end of WWII, Klansmen doing the same shit as the Nazis in her hometown.

Just as they keep doing now, just as they taught their kids and grand kids and great-grand kids and people who have never worn a sheet or use their crude speech… yet believe the same things, nonetheless. And might even be insulted if you brought that to their attention and called it by name.

Bad beliefs and old lies, once brought into the world, do not die – they await resurrection when people fear or are uneducated or mis-educated and live on tall-tales and deadly myths instead of history and humility of some sort, desire for truthfulness and have an habitual self-doubt. They practice mercy. Practice justice… strive for a life in the service of these and are satisfied with nothing less.

That is a tall order at this moment just as it always was.

Whole states or regions with churches that openly discriminate and preach coded messages that are racist misinterpretations, making God responsible for justifying and approving their idiocy and hatred of other human beings….

Ms. Dowd, that is not going away. Not automatically. We never got past it, even after 1864, WWII, the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, laws… it lived on, vampire-like, hidden in the darkness of our culture’s soul, our souls, our language, stereotypes, images.  We never owned up to this darkness invented by white people and used as a bludgeon against anyone defined as not “white” enough.  And with this bludgeon powerful men and women lorded over all of us, white and darker than white, not-Christian or not-the-right-kind-of-Christian for centuries, some enslaved in chains, some enslaved by fear and awe of “power.”

And now it’s wholly alive again, resurrected by living people, white people, fearful and propagandized, terrified, full of foolishness led by a fool who is headed… nowhere.

Germany’s Dritte Reich didn’t arise or go away automatically… and, in some sense, never died even after it, too, was led by a fool Nowhere. Its spirit just migrated here to the USA, attached to those moronic, already existing Klan-ish beliefs, vampiric, now alive again in its walking dead state. When it was driven out of Germany at the end of World War II, it took millions atop millions with it in blood, fire, fury, and absurdity.

We will be fortunate indeed to throw this set of undead beliefs back into a graveyard hole for awhile without a similar destruction here and around the world again.

20 August 2017
Richard Van Ingram

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No Political Cartoonists Need Apply

[Personal nonsense – with broader implications in the USA. Maybe.

Charlotte, Virginia, USA witnessed the iceberg tip of the neo-Nazi/Fascist/KKK  movement today and last night, the one Donald Trump played to get into office and paid off by giving important positions to its adherents: Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, Bannon, Gorka, etc.. Trump, of course, had nothing to say specifically condemning these terrorist White Nationalists and their rampage.  What he said was open-ended enough, the “Alt-Right” (i.e. Nazis) openly says on Twitter “he loves us.”  

I expected nothing better.

Anyway, I make political cartoons and underground comix.  I teach philosophy… when there’s work.  I’m controversial because I believe in liberal democracy, neo-Stoicism, am a sort of existentialist in the Ortega y Gasset vein… which, in the USA, now, is enough to make one so out of (goose) step with people that run things, I have a difficult time finding a teaching position.  52 years-old, excellent teaching record, excellent work record, no criminal record, better educated than many that I compete with… but, no thank you.

Misfortune?  Could be. Fate goes as it will.  Fortuna’s wheel spins.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, I send out political cartoons… hard to get published in the States, now.  Newspapers are dying, they’ve shrunk, space is at a premium.  Most get their cartoons from a syndicate — and getting syndication is not easily done, no matter how good one is.

But I popped one over to my hometown in Georgia – why?  I’m an idiot.  Nostalgia. Curiosity.  Who knows… just to see.  In the end,
I even offered the damn thing for free.  So, this is what happened thus far:]

As a friend said the other day, “Didn’t you leave Dahlonega?” Dahlonega being where I was born, raised, and after university, trapped within for an extra 16-17 years.

My response, in part, was, “It didn’t leave me…” as in, it haunts me. For a plethora of reasons, few worth mentioning, all personal. When I talk about Dahlonega, I speak with a broad brush – mainly about its worst elements, its racism, hatreds, parochialism, escapism, false history. I rarely talk about the good people, the nurturing and encouraging people – there are many and many were very good to me and for me.

Many good examples of living well and caring. Many good changes. And NGC, then NGCSU, now NGU really kept me alive, opened the world to me. That place and the professors and friends were the mercy of HaShem, the Divinity on me.

Yes, I used to write editorials in the local paper – 2001-2006 when I was banned for making about 23-25 vociferous right-wingers angry.

It doesn’t matter. Really. I got away with editorial murder – I wrote essays, not editorials. I pushed the limit every time as I figured each editorial would be my last. Until it was, to the relief of the weak and angry.

This year, from Texas, I have now submitted 2 editorial cartoons – one about Roberta Green using a pro-Klan billboard on an historical building to blackmail the city council into letting her demolish it and create an eyesore. That one did not fly as it was too “mean.”

I submitted the Stephen Miller one this past week – as I knew what would erupt in Charlottesville, VA this weekend days ago. I got a “heads-up” message.

Nope – that didn’t make it either, this time for a completely non sequitur “reason.”

Hell, it doesn’t matter my stuff won’t go in The Dahlonega Nugget. I don’t matter – I’m just a guy who thinks and makes things that are hard to see and read. Unpleasant. The part of truth I see is unpleasant. It’s my gift.

Unfortunately, no one wants to risk anything on spreading “unpleasant” around. Maybe we’ll lose customers! Maybe we’ll get angry calls! Maybe we don’t agree with this!

The First Amendment gives me no right to be published in a private paper… or anything else if the editor doesn’t approve, care, or give a damn. Or perhaps I’m just no good. I’m unsure. Them’s the breaks.

So, this is what i wrote instead – the editor did say i could write a letter to the editor. This is well under the 500 words.

So, if you’d like to follow the mini-drama of a nobody who accomplishes not much, start at the bottom, work your way up. This is the e-mail exchange. Really, just for my personal records and memory.

I’ll stick the cartoon on at the bottom as a reminder.

***
On Saturday, August 12, 2017, 6:28:24 PM MDT, Richard Van Ingram wrote:

[If you won’t run the political cartoon, run this as my letter to the editor. Thanks.]
Dear Editor,

I submitted a political cartoon of Stephen Miller, 31 year-old White Nationalist, racist working as a White House “adviser,” pretending the immigration policy which he helped design is not racist in effect and origin.

I dressed him in a Gestapo uniform with SS Nazi and Klan symbols – both for irony and to openly display what he believes.

Yet, you chose not to run it or any other political cartoonist aside from the water-thin stuff from “Powell” that holds a monopoly on the editorial page. I’m certain you have to pay him. I offered to let you run my carton free of charge. You may even run a disclaimer – I don’t care. I speak for myself, not the paper; I always did.

It’s not as if you cannot run two cartoons and even shrink mine down. It is a matter of choice on your part.

Instead, you said I may write a letter to the editor (as anyone else). Your choice – you are the editor.

So, this is the letter. My request is a response, in the paper, detailing your policy and rules for submissions of political art. If such is completely forbidden, tell us why – what’s the standard? Is there one? Is it reasonable? Ad hoc? Consistent?

In light of the Nazi terrorist riot in Virginia Friday and Saturday (11-12 August), my carton is relevant. That was on purpose. I keep up with these groups, what they plan. I knew that the rally in Charottesville, VA was going to happen – they advertized it.

The cartoon spoke directly to the occupation of our White House by fascist and Nazi advisors. Sycophants. Miller is likely to become Communications Director within the next week or so. If people had cared or paid attention well before this violence, we may have minimized the influence of these groups or slowed it.

Pretending this shift beyond far-right into racist fascism, pure immorality, is not actually happening gives it power. Satirizing and calling out its idiotic beliefs might help others think twice before drinking the Nazi-flavored Kool Aid, no matter what it calls itself.

Or not.

But if no one sees the message, that vague opportunity never occurs. If it doesn’t come from me, it should come from someone. No, I’m no one special, but I do stand up against things I am sure, by reasoning and history, are wrong. Maybe others will send you even better cartoons. If you don’t recognize this as speech, just like a letter, explain why.

Thank you,
Richard Van Ingram
***

On Thursday, August 10, 2017, 8:29:44 PM MDT, Richard Van Ingram wrote:

You’re welcome for the congratulations. You earned it.

As for writing a letter: Perhaps.
Jim Powell has had that spot in the company’s papers for quite a few years. Is he someone’s nephew? His work certainly has nothing about it to challenge or annoy… which I suppose is the point.

This is a different answer than what you told me last time when you said you’d be happy to consider running political cartoons by someone not named “Jim Powell” — and, yes, he already had that “slot” filled at that time. Logically inconsistent, but doubtless effective in delaying any possible second attempt on my (or anyone else’s) part.

Your paper, your decision.

My cartoon will shrink – easily – to fit an area of a column of 500 words. You may use it free, copyright remains mine. But I imagine space isn’t the actual issue. I really can’t waste much energy imagining what that issue might be: beyond my control.

Pictures are far more powerful and visceral than words… this kind of drawing, at any rate.

And, presently, I’m unsure I have words, 500 or less, for readers in Dahlonega. I’ll let you know tomorrow. You’ll run ’em or not if I write ’em. Them’s the breaks.

Thanks for the time.

Richard

***
On Thursday, August 10, 2017, 3:20:44 PM MDT, Matt Aiken <maiken@thedahloneganugget.com> wrote:

Hey Richard,
Good to hear from you and thanks for the congrats. I appreciate the submission but when it comes to editorial cartoons we’ve filled that slot with Jim Powell. Would you consider a letter to the editor instead? You’d have 500 words to play with if so. If interested feel free to send it my way and we’ll save you a spot.
Matt Aiken
****
On Aug 9, 2017, at 4:28 AM, Richard Van Ingram wrote:

Matt,

Congratulations on having the editorial page recognized. That page is the heart of a newspaper – any of them. That the quality has returned under your leadership speaks volumes.

Yes, I was skeptical when last you told me you were running the paper differently; I am happy to have that skepticism put to bed. A rare occurrence in this age.

Having said that, I asked last go ’round (during the Roberta Green fiasco) whether I might submit other editorial comics for consideration. You said to do so. I understand at the outset what I do may not be… acceptable. It never was. But I am of the belief my “hometown” could do with a message from its red-headed stepchild once in a while, the philosopher who also draws, is published elsewhere, and lives in a wider world both in terms of ideas and familiarity with a variety of humans.

At least, when I draw political cartoons and comix, they’re funny and brief (unlike my essays). Yes, i am vicious, but the pain passes quickly.

So, here’s a submission. You can reduce the thing and it will still look good in print, but I work large (as is usual) and send the large versions.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Richard Van Ingram
#antiTrump #antiNazi #antiFascist #rejection #fuckme#TheDahlonegaNugget #Dahlonega #Georgia #fear #Amerika

 

 

11-12 August 2017

Richard Van Ingram

Stephen Miller – neo-fascist, racist follower of Jeff Sessions, AG, architect of the racist immigration policies, likely to run the White House Press Office soon.

 

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“Follow The Leader”

Stephen Miller – neo-fascist, racist follower of Jeff Sessions, AG, architect of the racist immigration policies, likely to run the White House Press Office soon.

“Trump TV” as a thing is actually up and running – state sponsored propaganda for The Leader, our Big Brother. Don’t know German? “Führer” means “The Leader,” “The Guide,” the only person with “the real truth” – anything to the contrary is a lie, aka “fake news,” even if absolutely true. Because “real truth” is what The Leader says and expects and demands – and you’d best conform to.

If this traitorous bastard is not standing at that narrow bridge over the Rubicon, he has already crossed it, leading probably half or more of U.S. Americans with him by belief, fear, apathy, or inertia.

A propaganda arm of any government turned openly and with full force against its own people to keep the Leader in power, to bypass free media inspection and reporting, is, by definition, an active symptom of tyranny – at least in the making.

You thought I was joking when I wrote my parts of “GOP NAZIS” and all the essays over the years before Trump and afterwards. Or you didn’t look and see what I said at all. Which is fine – I’m not the best messenger. Certainly, I’m no one, and not famous so why would you, in this age of celebrity, have known what I said or given a damn if you’d heard it?

But I am one messenger and one last vestige of an American citizenry that had faith in that Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and their expansion and protection – the protection of actual human beings, all of us.  I’m what a “regular” U.S. Citizen used to sound like.

This present “tissue of bullshit,” to quote William S. Burroughs, is not that (protection of our rights and liberties) at all. And it deserves no better than utter contempt and condemnation. The use of the values of liberal democracy to undercut and destroy liberal democracy and its values always was the weak spot in our form of government and society if enough people lost faith in our form of government and could care less about “society.”

Postscript:

“Enough,” more than enough people in the USA and Europe have lost faith in liberal democracy and civil society; it hasn’t ever been a stable thing in the US.  We went through a Civil War over it; a hundred years of Jim Crow “laws” and lynchings, bombings, the KKK, an American Nazi Party, various white nationalist/separatist organizations, domestic terrorism, mass xenophobia before and after 9/11… all alongside small steps in the direction of a genuine and humane civilization: universal suffrage for men and women from any and all backgrounds, public education, free speech and privacy expansion, LGBTQ rights, the recognition of black and Latino people as actual human beings, open borders, refuge against tyranny and violence, a decline in anti-semitism, destruction of “laws” against “race mixing,” and so on.

We almost had a public health care system for a moment.  Just a moment.

For every advance, a reaction in the opposite direction until, now, a major attempt to roll it ALL back, even the notion of liberal democracy and a republic itself, res publica, the “public thing” that benefits all as an ideal, even when not fully a reality.

THAT decline did not happen in a vacuum.  That happened because enough people lost faith in such – and don’t even understand what these things are, how precious, how delicate, how easily ruined from within.

In fact, I don’t doubt 9/10ths of Americans reading these words (if they bother to read anything) even give a damn to find out what they mean.  They (we) are angry and emotional, passionate, enthusiastic people and such people as that do not think; they act. And when they act, they destroy.  Because creation and preservation can only arise from a calm, thoughtful, care-full consideration as a pre-occupation, pre-activity, a guide for reasonable, self-restrained action later.

If I am doing anything, as I’ve often observed, it is this: Watching and commenting and theorizing for people who are not yet here.  People who may find something, anything of worth in the debris of my thoughts as I have little hope for the people presently in the grip of self-imposed or self-accepted delusions. And none of this will survive if you do not remember it and repeat it to others later, by word of mouth, and discuss these ideas.  My words will go away soon and my name is written on wind.

These, my countrymen, are not a people who will turn inward and doubt themselves and their beliefs for one moment as that requires effort and results in wonder and not a little fear and humility and a search for solid, rational answers, not the ready-made answers floating in the culture or subcultures that misguided them to begin with.  That fed them lies and tribal, parochial myths in place of truth… which is always cosmopolitan in character… that makes one a citizen of the world.

I don’t live in such a place and time.  I’m just leaving fragments of a map that might allow others, one day, to go search for that place and moment themselves.

6-7 August 2017
Richard Van Ingram

Links to some evidence:

“Trump TV” on YouTube

Keith Olbermann Predicts Trump TV, 11/3/2016

Sinclair Broadcasting Becomes Trump TV

Stephen Miller In Running For White House Communications Director

#Trump #TrumpTV #propaganda #authoritarianism #fascism#WelcometoAbsurdistan #Putin #media

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At the Core of the Contemporary American Problem

[This is a continuation of the preliminary set of notes called “Trump and Bannon Alone Are NOT the Problem” – if you wish to read that, it is here: http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=473
However, there is no necessity in doing so to understand what I will say here.  Clarity will be my aim.]

“You know we got to sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many live
To see it really end
‘Cause the fire in the street
Ain’t like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don’t you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now’s the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain’t no Great Society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn’t free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Just won’t amount to nothin’ more
Than watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor…”
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
from “Trouble Every Day,” 1966

I.

How did Donald J. Trump wind up in office?

The American voters put him there.

Yes, he lost the popular vote by 3 million; but our system is not a direct democracy.  Because he won the states with the most Electoral College votes,
he wound up in the White House.

Never mind the Russian espionage that greased the tracks and slid him in.  Never mind he and his administration and untold numbers interacted with and collaborated with Putin and his mobster oligarchy to achieve this end.  Never mind that US Americans were bombarded with literally unbelievable propaganda across social media and through actual, legitimate news services that did not perform due diligence concerning the truth of the information and stories they spread.

No, shift your attention to the very people who read, saw, and believed the unbelievable: The voting public.  And of that public, only 25% or so bothered to go to the polls; some gave up on the process; some refused to vote for Trump but would not vote for Clinton – meaning, they did not see Trump as any sort of genuine threat.  And plenty believed and continue to believe whatever, whichever story — wholly fictional — that appealed to their gut beliefs and unexamined prejudices.

How is this situation a new thing in the world? — in the USA, at any rate.

It isn’t.  It is not new, simply qualitatively worse.

Historically, as time and human affairs are a continuum, more akin to a river than a string of pearls, each isolated and distinct, it is a difficult thing to point to any particular region of events and say, “Ah!  There.  It began there.”  It is possible to unravel strands of events back to momentous changes, though usually small and unnoticed at the moment they occur.  “There,” we say, “is the cause.”

Yet this is problematic.   It seems that human affairs (if not all affairs in this world) are the outcome of multiple causes — some more important, perhaps, than others, but all play some role; and which perspective one chooses, what questions one asks will tend to reveal a cause or cluster of causes while obscuring or hiding the others… allowing us to pretend “as if” they are not there.

(But that is another, epistemological and ontological, tale.   I mention it simply to put the reader on guard against overly simplified explanations of this and any  phenomenon.)

II.

Where did the public, the citizenry of the USA go wrong?  They did go wrong — I take this as given seeing what is running this country now and how it got into power.  There was no coup, no military takeover, nothing akin to these.  Instead, liberal democracy was employed to defeat the very idea of liberal democracy.

When Stephen Bannon says, in his pseudo-intellectual way, that he is up to “dismantling the administrative state,” he means: “destroying liberal democracy” – our republic, the res publica, the “public thing” of law, of civil liberties and civil rights, of protection of the minority against the unbridled will of the majority, whatever that “minority” may be: intellectual; non-European ethnic; non-fundamentalist Christian religious; non-wealthy white male; non-Eurocentric cultural.

He and the Trumpists are up to wrecking the notion of responsibility, social and political.  And every other virtue… which, oddly enough, are the heart of the good inheritances preserved within Western culture.

Trump himself (more on this later) could probably care less one way or another about this.  Playing on the prejudices of the white population got him power.  Being a cheap nihilist who values nothing except self-aggrandizement by any means necessary, Trump was happy to appeal to neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, neo-Klan, and other “alt right” groups as represented by Bannon.  He also appealed to as many other groups and their particular hopes and fears as well, some (if not many) diametrically opposed to one anther.

The people bought it.  They each heard what they wished to hear, ignored everything else.

One can and should see Trump as a sort of screen upon which each group projected whatever they wished for most fervently.  In return, he and his spokespeople reinforced the diverse and opposed wishes by speaking vaguely, lying outright, and by reinterpreting what was said and claimed to match each groups’ desires.

In return, each group paid attention to whichever messenger told them what they wished to hear and blocked out the messengers and interpreters who presented an opposed message to a differing group.  Everyone was promised whatever they wanted, no matter how impossible, within very few limits.

That was the activity; I think it is well-established now and noticed even by traditional political commentators from both American right and left.

How, then, did the public become disoriented in this fashion, to the point they put the most incompetent, careless candidate possible into office?

1975.

Could be that the set of moments we are looking for as a starting place (but not origin) occurred a bit before or after ’75, but 1975 will do.

By 1975, the Baby Boom came of age and the Boom outnumbered their earliest children, Generation X, tremendously; and Gen X was still underage, in control of nothing.

Those in control were mainly of the now so-called Greatest Generation which, at the time, the Boom could not hold in lower esteem.  This changed, but at that moment, the Boom lost all faith in most things the WWII Generation valued, good or bad.

Among these things was government in general and the Federal Government in particular, and not without reason.

I could talk about domestic spying by the FBI and CIA in the 1960s and early ’70s.  I could talk about the Vietnam War and the lies that escalated it and were tied up in keeping it running… for what, in the end, turned out to be no real purpose whatsoever.  When Vietnam fell to the NVA, no other “dominoes” followed.  Except in the ruins of Cambodia, which were ruins because of our illegalities in Vietnam, opening a vacuum to be filled by the insanities of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and their “Year Zero” which we conveniently ignored.

No, the obvious place to look is Richard Milhous Nixon, the paranoid bully, and his administration that rigged the 1972 election, among other things.  Chased from office under an inevitable impeachment and prosecution, his vice-president, Ford, immediately pardoned him, placing him simultaneously in the category of guilty by admission and untouchable by law.

Now, here the people, the majority of whom still supported Nixon even as he left, saw their “hero” brought low ostensibly by leaks, the legitimate media (which began to be called “liberal,” as in politically slanted to the left), and “radicals.”  So the right wing went further right and saw that even the conservatives in Congress turned on their hero, in the end — there came the loss of faith in Congress.

The left and liberals lost faith in government down the line — governmental power was used, illegitimately , to lie to the people, oppress protesters and minorities, and send an entire generation off to die for no good reason.

As a whole, the Boomers “dropped out” again.  Became egocentric.  Stopped caring for the country in general, taking responsibility for it.  Every evil or failure was the failure of someone or something else — usually called “government.”  The hippies became the Me Generation devoted to the Hustle (in every sense) and an extreme sort of hedonism and consumerism.

By 1980, they voted Ronald Reagan into office.  Reagan who, as governor of California, hammered away at “hippies.” How strange!

But not really — Reagan told them what they wished to hear: “Government is not the solution to our problem government IS the problem.” He announced this as his administration began dismantling all the governmental programs and regulations that made the Boom the most privileged, healthy, and educated in our history.  The Boom, in turn, was more than happy to give up on the future of anyone besides themselves.

The Me Generation became Yuppies and began chasing the almighty buck.  They moved into management.  As a group, they became the “I got mine, fuck you” generation — the children of Ayn Rand and other pop-philosophy, pop-psychology, fundamentalist religious movements.  With the advent of the commercial internet, the Californian Ideology emerged, again, heavily influenced by Ayn Rand.  The belief was that, using the web, atomistic egos, each motivated by her own utterly selfish interests would cause order to spontaneously erupt, making government obsolete.

This was “The Invisible Hand” of Adam Smith and laissez-faire capitalism turned into an absolute principle of human and political reality, not simply economics (where it isn’t true, either, in any case).

2001, 11 September, New York.

On this day, after America watched a terrorist attack live on television, complete with unedited footage of desperate human beings hurling themselves out windows of the World Trade Center and exploding on the concrete below.  Then the things collapsed — something that they were allegedly designed against.

This gave rise to several things:

1.  The USA abandoned its commitment to civil liberties and rights in the name of “safety,” which is a myth of the worst sort.
2. Right-wing hate radio began spreading rumors about 9/11 being an “inside job” of some sort; “Truthers,” as they became called, spread baseless rumors that the government blew up the World Trade Center, not the jets and terrorists.  Further, they began saying no Jews died — they were warned not to show up to work that day, which is factually untrue and ridiculous.  The intention of this latter lie being to spread the neo-Nazi paranoid message that “The Jews” control world history and power — a conspiracy theory contained in the Czarist Russian forgery, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”,  a booklet from about 1900 that has been proven many times to be utterly false but which always has an audience with the fearful, prejudiced, and propagandized.
This was the beginning of a new era of conspiracy theorists and propagandists such as Infowars and Breitbart… but the internet was soon swarming with lesser known neo-fascist, Klan, and Nazi speakers smelling their moment for a power grab.
3. It was declared by the American right-wing that history had changed — that we are in a “new world” calling for a “new approach” that includes declaring wars before the fact of threat, kidnapping, illegal indefinite imprisonment, torture, murder, spying on US citizens with or without legal permission, and other acts contrary to the spirit and letter of The Constitution, Bill of Rights, Common Law, and over 200 years of interpretation and application of law in our country.

“Safety” not law, not effort, not responsibility, and never virtue.  The ends justify any means.

The majority of the people enthusiastically and angrily went right along.  They threw away their liberties, protections, and those of others without a second thought and attacked and marginalized anyone who spoke out to the contrary.

“You are either for us or against us.”

About 72% of Americans supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, 23% opposed it, according to some polls.  Of that 72%, about 52% now claim they were part of the 23% in 2003, oddly.  Americans, it seems, cannot even own a mistake, even a massive one — they rewrite their own personal histories.  Example:
http://reason.com/poll/2014/10/16/poll-reveals-americans-supported-iraq-wa

2008

The “housing crash,” which was the outcome of 37 years of market deregulation, Ayn Rand/libertarian belief in an infinitely expanding, self-regulating market, and fraudulent banking practices on a nigh universal scale.

Common people were left holding the bag, including ownership of houses beyond their means to afford without credit, loss of employment, and being stuck with paying off multi-billionaires and millionaires on Wall Street with tax money to keep the banks solvent and market running.  No real conditions to help homeowners or people who lost everything in the stock market crash (after decades of being forced to place retirement funds in 401K stock investment schemes) were placed on the bail-out.  So no help was forthcoming.

This was the conservative farewell of the Bush Administration… yet people largely blamed the next president, Barack Obama as the racist reaction to the election of a “black man to the White House” began.

Donald Trump jumped on this bandwagon, fueling the “Birther” conspiracy movement — the groundless assertion that President Obama was not born in America, not an American, and so Constitutionally, an illegitimate president.  All nonsense, proven to be so again and again.

But plenty of people, white people, Boomer white people, preferred that tall tale to the prosaic reality and their elected officials on the right and harder-right got into office feeding the overt and covert racism.  Pure, hateful fiction replaced reality — and the people, having lost all faith in liberal democracy, government, law, helping one another, and half-terrified of nigh everything put the most ridiculous collection of politicians into office in 2010, 2012, and 2016.  The unifying theme: We will destroy the federal government and give the power to the states.  Pure Klan-secessionist nonsense we fought a Civil War over in the 1860s and definitively settled… for awhile.

The capstone was the election of Trump.  The ultimate representative of the nihilistic, xenophobic, immigrant-hating, ultra-nationalistic, white racist streak that feels free to walk about in public again in all states, not just the Deep South.  Some think this is the “last gasp” of the old disorder, the end of the rule of a majority white, European, nominally Christian upper class.  I think this judgment is premature in the extreme.

III.

Beginning in the 1980s, our public education system was slowly dismantled.  The general education required to raise a minimally responsible set of citizens to, at the very least, vote responsibly and informed was wrecked.  Vocational, overly specialized education for “useful employment” became the order of the day, not an education geared for historical background knowledge, clear thinking, judgment, and distinguishing false from true, doubtful from trustworthy.

It is no wonder to me that the vast majority of students who come to even good colleges and universities have absolutely no knowledge of history, even recent history.  Math, yes.  Some science, maybe.  But plenty of them are functionally illiterate — they can read a page out loud perfectly well, but as for interpreting it meaningfully, not so much.  Nor do they care or believe such is important.  The function of their hoped-for degree is an entrance ticket to a good, high-paying job, and that is all.

And the average attention span is next to nonexistent if the classroom is not kept as entertained as possible and everything broken down into bits than can be regurgitated on a test… preferably multiple choice.

The rest of the citizenry cannot get into college; hardly anyone can afford it with the destruction of the Federal Grant programs.  So they pick up their education off mass media — whatever mass media repeats the rumors that square up with their ingrained prejudices and never challenges them to doubt themselves and their beliefs.

A “self-organizing” populace, indeed:

…Otherwise known as a “mob.”  And all a mob can do is go along in the general direction everyone else is going because “they” say to do so.  Who are “they”?  No one in particular.  Common opinion.  Yesterday “they” loved the Iraq War; today “they” hate it and even lie about their support for it.  Because it’s “the thing to do.”

Not following along makes one seen as an “outsider,” even an “outlaw,”  Dangerous.  Perhaps such a person is a threat to our safety, is the general thoughtless thought.  Isolate them, ignore them; eventually, doubtless, attack them.  Direct action — violence, the “solutions” of fascism — not indirect action and tolerance, which are the values of civil society and liberal democracy… which are quaint, delicate things we can no longer afford in this new, muscular age of action and destruction.

Donald J. Trump and Company are simply the utterly common, vulgar, valueless destructive mob writ large.  “He speaks his mind!” — as if he has a mind or clear thoughts.  “He sounds like one of us!” — which is absolutely true — and the sure sign we are as deep in trouble as a society and people as we have ever been.  He and they (the GOP and the people who support them) are here to destroy, not create, not preserve, and certainly not to learn.

IV.

Do not look to me for answers beyond this point.

Not that I don’t have suggestions or some understanding.  But no one is listening. People do plenty of talking and hearing; but there is precious little consideration and listening,   My voice, added to that cacophony, will be just one more noise added to the din at this moment.

“People say,” “they say.”  This is an age of gossip and lies and the cheapest of fictions substituted for truth.  And of a populace unequipped to preserve or even value a constitutional republic, a liberal democracy:  the default preference is for action based on gossip and lies that sound pleasant, for cashing everything in right now; not for the effort required to truly be a citizen, an individual apart from, yet a part of and  responsible for her community both now and for a future she will never see.

Nothing I say will matter in the face of that.  So, I do more showing than telling.

25-25 July 2017
Richard Van Ingram

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An Open Letter to Andrew Lack, Chairman NBC News and MSNBC

[Who is Andrew Lack? He runs NBC News and MSNBC for Comcast.  Powerful position – he decides what gets shown and what gets cancelled, regardless of ratings.  The problem: Lack will likely not renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s (of The Last Word on MSNBC) contract which is up at the end of May 2017 – two weeks, as of this writing.  Not due to low ratings – The Last Word has been finishing at #2 right behind Rachel Maddow who is now #1.  

Why, then?  Only Lack knows for certain, but the outcome would be: Donald Trump, who has a running feud with O’Donnell for calling him out for promotion of racist birtherism beginning in 2011.  

Additionally, Lack seems, consistently, to be pushing more and more right-wing personalities onto MSNBC and pressuring the liberal points of view off. A fair report can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lawrence-odonnell-msnbc-future_us_59162d8ce4b00f308cf5534a?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004 .

What’s the point?! I am a citizen of the USA and the freedom of the press and independent, meaningful commentary is the main outside check we have on government, politicians, and the wealthy who influence policy – in short, power.  Putting O’Donnell  off the air is a sign of a trend and not a good one, one in the direction of “adjusting” to the rule of a man and sis followers who are destroying liberal democracy; not simply here in the USA, but in Europe and elsewhere.  What citizens do, what are our responsibilities and right is to speak out, by voting, by writing our representatives, by peaceful protest, activism, by educating ourselves, and by writing those powerful people who control our media.  

Not a US Citizen?  In this case, it does not matter.  You can tell someone who runs a network what you think as well.  You are a client of such as much as I am and that is what matters.  If you wish to write Andrew Lack. do so here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10285339/t/contact-nbc-news/ ]

Andrew Lack:

You were awarded Peabody awards, among other things, in your long career. Those are indeed something to live up to, not rest upon — for us who depend, in part, on television for news and meaningful commentary, the networks and cable news you control are of vital importance.

Especially now.

With the open attacks on First Amendment rights and an independent media we heard from this administration and controlling party, the task of a free media is to push back, not back down.

One way to do this is to continue to support your reporters and commentators who do this daily and have done so, especially in the past two years.

No, you are not “the opposition party.” Neither are you the “give the people what they want to hear” party nor the “appear less threatening to opponents of civil liberties” party.

One understands: in part, you are in it for the money. The news division is alleged to be separate and distinct from the entertainment division; but that was already a difficulty in the age of Murrow and only became murkier. The news division is in it for the truth, or ought to be, and the commentary section is as well — to offer perspectives on the truth. Whether or not this angers those in power, including investors.

Otherwise, such doesn’t serve the function of an independent public check on power in a liberal democracy. Hence, advertising and entertainment pay for the news, ideally. That, or we wind up with “infotainment.” Which is worse than worthless as such is a weak alloy of provocative fictions and some facts, difficult to disentangle and encourages the viewer to NOT even attempt to tell reality from a story, an imaginary narrative.

We have plenty of that on the radio; and that is the raison d’etre of FOX News.

It is bad enough that you have brought over personalities such as Greta van Susteren who are tainted by the FOX model and who certainly go out of the way to invent excuses for the inexcusable based wholly on a right-wing ideology.

Worse is you seem to be considering not renewing Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract.

Just assume such a decision would run clean contrary to every positive thing just stated about the function of a free media in a liberal democracy.

Including you living up to those Peabody awards.

Renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract. Period. This is not the time to cut the teeth and claws off MSNBC or any other form of news and commentary. Otherwise, just rename what you do FOX-esque “infotainment” and we will tune in elsewhere or spend even more time with good papers and other sources of actual news and free, responsible perspectives.

Thank you,
Richard Van Ingram
15 May 2017

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Trump and Bannon Alone Are NOT the Problem

ICE STATION ZERO SURFACING FOR TRANSMISSION

16 APRIL 2017

I.

In the months and weeks leading to the 2016 Republican National Convention, I found a nagging suspicion – a number of them, really, all related – that far more was at work within and behind the phenomenon of Trump and his rise to power than could be grasped through the constant public “show”.

On the streets of Cleveland, OH, covering the convention as a political cartoonist, these suspicions began to reveal themselves as useful, accurate intuitions from which to construct interpretive theories.

My first public essay — neither technical nor complete – I shared, for what it’s worth without hope it would made any difference; it was more an exercise in bearing witness and sounding a small alarm that, eventually, might have a hearing by someone who could employ it, flesh it out, expand it.

The essay was The Living Rorschach Test which you may read here:

http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=401

My second, more thorough pass at providing an historical background and orientation to the Trump phenomenon in its wider context was It Has Happened Here, leading to this passage in particular:

Donald Trump as nihilistic, empty Rorschach Test gaining supporters from varied groups.
Donald Trump as nihilistic, empty Rorschach Test gaining supporters from varied groups.

and this:

(You may read the previous essay in its entirety here:

http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=433 )

Of course, at the convention and writing these two essays I had no notion of the Russian involvement behind “false news stories” (aka propaganda designed to misinform and mislead American voters and the involvement of the Multi-billionaire Mercer family.  The Mercers, represented by daughter, Rebekah, intend to disrupt the Republican Party – already in a shambles – and, perhaps, oppose the very institutions of liberal democracy.

(The best written and researched article on the Mercers is here: http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/mercers/ ).

All of this could be guessed at, vaguely, but only guessed at without the information now leaking out from American and international intelligence services.  Not that, had we known, the election would have turned out differently: How many of Trump’s supporters supported and support him because of his values (he has none)?  No, he was their vehicle to invade government and destroy it — weaken its ability to enforce the laws that keep the peace, establish a minimal tolerance, and suppress our extremist right-wing neo-Nazis and fascists repackaged for the Millennials as the hipster “Alt-Right.”

So, you got Trump – who lost the popular vote by 3 million.  And every far-right extremist group now feel emboldened to begin planning a future that doesn’t include may of us: non-white immigrants; Muslims; Jews; anyone wearing a turban; black people; Native Americans; and, yes, generationally poor whites… who are always the ill-educated cannon-fodder used to attack the enemies of the wealthy and the racists, even to the point of death on battlefields and the streets.

Happy deaths on battlefields and streets as they have, for all their lives, been sold the myth that their place is to work for nothing until dead, expect nothing better for their children, and that they are descendants of some false nobility passed down through “the blood” – Anglo-Saxons, Celts, sometimes Norse; and their god/genetically-ordained task is to stand between the race-mixing hordes, the leveling liberals, and democratic ideals in rights and economics to protect “the pure aristocracy” at top.

All this never understanding there is, ontologically, no such thing as “race.”  It’s a story told to subjugate our brothers and sisters while elevating ourselves, just as no one is born of a “certain class” it is their destiny to remain within.  Race and class are myths with which we culturally enslave one another, reduce one another to beings “less-than” human.

This will be the starting point for part two of this essay.

(((Richard Van Ingram)))

16 April 2017

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A Stranger in a Strange Land

You can’t go home again… nor ought you try.

Thomas Wolfe, dear brother, lost and gone, but never far from my ear, I remember reading your wild books the first time, raging around that mountain college campus, no one giving a damn, you and I silently trading stories in the catacombs of my soul.

But the trade was mostly one way as you had lived and I was just a cheap 1980s version of a half-drunk Childe Harold and Eugene Gant filled with great sorrows at the ruins of humanity, but equally grandiose visions, hopes, for a future rebuilt on that wreckage.

There was no way back. I had no business where I was, no life, the marrow had been taken from the cracked bones of that place a century before my wayward birth. Wasted. Gold and copper gouged out of the earth, the miners’ families scattered to make do at… whatever.

What was there to remain for?

But I thought “home” lay off and far away, a “someday” as much as “somewhere.”

Thirty-something years would pass before I discovered there is no home here to be found or made, exactly, nothing permanent or even aeviternal. All is flux and fire in this world and this is the world in which I was made to live, to make a life, to share, travel within, to receive. To leave behind.

I am Gershon, a stranger in a strange land, the wanderer, the one who prepares.

Thirty-something years wrong as I could be before that stupidity in me, the haunting ghost of optimism that lingered from childhood, was buried with the whispering corpse of pessimism. Life is here and to be cared for, cherished in all its imperfection — what it amounts to, we’ll see. Neither good or bad, but what can be made of it or endured; what lies beyond is not my business.

My suspicions are that there will be an age of more ruination before anyone cares to build something better again on the wreckage I began to glimpse 33, 34 years back — I will not live to see that. That is my fate; perhaps yours as well, whoever you are. There is no going back — what lies forward may be an even more ridiculous form of ruination.

A petty, greedy, cheap age this turned out to be; gaudy, all surface and shallow as a mirror. Ages such as this come about… they can be the end of civilizations. We’ll see, in this case.

I’m a stranger here, sent to witness and wander. What it will or won’t end up mattering is as much beyond me as HaShem. And in my case, I must become who I must be.

Sleep well, Thomas Wolfe, Byron, Goya, Hogarth, Voltaire, Swift. and so many others close and far — we each play our roles. None small but most unnoticed. How well we pull it off, we’ll see in the long stretch of time and fiery change.

Richard Van Ingram
22 January 2017

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It HAS Happened Here.

It HAS Happened Here – free pdf

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31 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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Trump the Woman-Hating Racist, Neo-Nazi, White Trash, Klan Suck-Up.

Has Trump screwed the pooch,finally? It appears he’s screwed everything and everyone else with just as little care.
Yes, this version [link below] has all the “dirty words.” You didn’t care about him summoning up every white trash supremacist piece of shit in the country; you did not care he summoned up every neo-Nazi in America AND Europe; you don’t care he hates Muslims; you do not care he hates Latinos; you do not care he hates black people; you do not care he is the most openly racist candidate since Strom Thurmond, if not more so and casually.

He is an authoritarian.

He is in love with dictators, including Putin.

He has elevated conspiracy “theorists” — liars and mythologists –to high levels in his party.

He has destroyed the RNC and converted it nearly completely into a party of White Nationalism.

Mike Pence, the ultra right-wing Conservative Evangelical theocrat, pretends he doesn’t say or do things that are on video and taped — probably so he can run next go ’round, being as opportunistic as Trump. And you were STILL going to vote for this shithead.

But “dirty words” and obvious misogyny — as if we haven’t seen 16 tons of misogyny out of him for 40 years — that’s going to be the “last straw”? I doubt it. I don’t have that much faith in humanity or “white” Americans, to be honest or them who suck up to them.

He’ll fake an apology and you’ll say, “but Bill Clinton” — as if Bill Clinton is up for office in this election, and you’ll say “Hillary is horrible” — as if that’s not the outcome of 35 years of right-wing propaganda mixed with Hillary’s occasional fuck-up… even though, morally and in terms of character and judgment, she’s STILL a paragon of virtue and intelligence when compared with the bully boy in the 70 year-old body.

I hope he doesn’t drop out. I hope he and your worthless white trash party loses, goes on the junk-heap of history, and you conservatives come to your senses. Reform your party. Purge the Tea Party, the nihilists, the Nazis, and go back pre-Goldwater and start all over looking to Eisenhower for something like guidance. Or maybe Lincoln, but, of course, he’s too damn liberal for you, so let’s take it slow.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/donald-trump-access-hollywood-vulgar-comments-hot-mic

7 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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So, I got interviewed…

Well, there it is, kids. The one and only interview with me that got published from the RNC Convention in Cleveland. Go see what dozens of major news outlets that interviewed me missed out on and an excellent high school paper in Michigan, The Blaze, chose to notice. Not too shabby if I do have to say it myself. To be absolutely truthful, I’m happier I reached young people than adults — USA adults these days strike me, largely, as a lost cause.
“If I am not for myself, who will be? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
#art #politicalcartoons #protest art #Cleveland #FlushingHighSchool
#Trump #Election2016 #ComixCast #RichardVanIngram #TheBlaze
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