Ah! it was easy when the world was young
To keep one’s life free and inviolate,
From our sad lips another song is rung,
By our own hands our heads are desecrate,
Wanderers in drear exile, and dispossessed
Of what should be our own, we can but feed on wild unrest.
Somehow the grace, the bloom of things has flown,
And of all men we are most wretched who
Must live each other’s lives and not our own
For very pity’s sake and then undo
All that we lived for – it was otherwise
When soul and body seemed to blend in mystic symphonies.
Oscar Wilde, from Humanitad
Angelica Dass is a photographer born in Brazil who has a most interesting project: she takes portraits, then finds the predominant Pantone color of her subject’s face, and makes that the portrait’s background color. She gave one of the most interesting TED talks about her project and its ramifications.
If you follow her talk with one by Nina Jablonski on human evolution, latitudes, and UV radiation you might find yourself thinking in new ways. I did.
Stephen Colbert described Trump’s positions on abortion as having: “flipped-flopped, then flapped, flooped, and flupped.” Well, so have I: about moving.
After writing my previous post, I talked to M in California, who had spoken to her sister about my apparent decision to go to Hungary. M’s sister mentioned how brave I was and she referenced two of my past actions in support of her statement, two actions which I feel were two of the worst mistakes of my life (one of the actions had to be taken nevertheless), but as they say “nothing ventured, nothing lost.” I immediately started back-pedaling as my adventure began to look more and more like yet another misadventure with my biggest fear being trapped in a land of cigarette smoke. The move just seemed to be a long disappointment in the waiting. I also have real numbers for living in Hungary, which I compared to the cost of living in Mexico, and the perceived monetary and comfort risks seemed greater than the potential rewards.
Since writing the above paragraph, there was news from the U.S. that caused me to flip once more.
‘fraidy cat meme
The American South and Midwest seem terrified of trans people, while the West and Northeast seem to have few problems with the concept of transness. New laws enabling discrimination against LGBT individuals further took the wind from my sails, especially as the laws are passed under the presumption of religious freedom. What if the movement for black civil rights had been negated by discrimination enabled by “religious freedom?”
I don’t see laws such as those passed in North Carolina and Mississippi for what they are at the time of their passing: I see them as harbingers of further retractions to individuals’ freedoms. These laws seem to me to be passed by people with very great fears of things they believe, but haven’t experienced, and stoked by people with hate in their souls.
As Nico Lang wrote on Salon, ”
It’s difficult to underestimate the potential impact of hate and fear.
Groups which the Southern Poverty Law Center categorize as hate groups, such as the Family Research Council, sometimes led the drive to introduce legislation. Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington all have some form of legislation or ballot initiative in process. I suspect this might be part of a get-out-the-vote drive by conservatives to help their candidates in the general election. According to CBS exit polls, 22 percent of Republican voters are “values voters” and issues such as gay marriage or trans rights get them to the polling place. In 2004 anti-gay marriage initiatives on state ballots caused the highest turnout since the 1968 Nixon-Humphrey presidential contest. [When Trump supporters complain about the outsourcing of jobs, they might want to remember that Nixon opened trade relations with China, responsible for 39 percent of the U.S. trade deficit over the past 10 years.]
There are states where governors see beyond the ‘fraidy cat meme and do the right thing. Sometimes it’s due to economic pressures, as when Georgia governor Nathan Deal vetoed a “religious freedom” bill due to business fears that Atlanta would lose a potential Super Bowl in either 2019 or 2020 if that state’s bill became law. But sometimes it’s because the governor just does the right thing, as did South Dakota’s Dennis Daugaard, who actually learned how that state’s bill would have negatively impacted people’s lives. Governor Nikki Haley has come out against the bill presented in the South Carolina legislature, saying it’s “unnecessary.”
One of the memes espoused is that transwomen in women’s restrooms might attack a woman (or men pretending to be trans will attack a woman). The reported number of instances of a trans person ever attacking anyone in a restroom is zero. Here are a few quotes from states that have allowed trans people’s to access appropriate restrooms through legislation.
- Las Vegas police Department: No problems since passage of 2011 law.
- Vermont Human Rights Commission: “Not aware” of any problems from 2001 law.
- Executive Director, Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights: “No increase in sex crimes” as a result of 2001 law.
- Executive Director, Maine Human Rights Commission: “No factual basis” for sexual assault fears.
- Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries: “Zero allegations” of bathroom assault.
There’s a very interesting story available via PBS that tries to make sense of the Trump candidacy and his supporters. Titled What does your bubble quiz score say about you?, the piece is written by libertarian Charles Murray, the guy who wrote The Bell Curve. He thinks a division exists not only between people of color and whites, but also between whites in economic and political power (the Elites) and whites outside the realms of power (such as many Trump supporters).
The bubble quiz measures how close or distant one is to the Trump supporters (and therefore how little understanding one might have of them due to their insulating bubble). Like Murray’s other work it seems a convoluted way of stating the obvious. One typically has only to look within a family to see divisions take hold between siblings as was the case in my family, as education and economic opportunity reached some, but not all. If one wanted a TV show to illustrate Murray’s long-winded hypothesis, just look to All In The Family.
The Elites, as Murray calls them, have, rightly or wrongly in the view of many, shattered the life dreams of many people such as Trump’s followers, have taken away hope by sending jobs overseas, have driven university tuitions out of sight, and have made near everyone a renter. One could make a long list of things which people long for and have lost hope of achieving. And people think the words of a political campaign can bring those rosy conditions back.