180 Days: Day 100–Hard Questions from Scared Kids

One of my students asked me today how I felt about being armed in the classroom. I felt in light of the ever-growing number of mass shootings in this country, particularly in classrooms, he deserved a thoughtful answer. It was clear that he favored the idea and that it would make him feel safer. So I wanted him to know that I valued his opinion even though it differed from my own. I explained that there were pros and cons, but that felt there would be more cons. The reasons I outlined included:

Putting a gun into potentially volatile situations, what if a student overpowered me, took the gun and used it, what if I hit a student instead of a perpetrator, I would not own a gun unless I had countless hours of training and could use it comfortably and safely, and even then having a gun in the classroom is asking me to be willing to take another’s life.,I did not become a teacher to also be a police officer or a military member, why are we adding more money and certification requirements that come out of teachers pockets, and the list can go on and on…

Luckily, the student understood my fears and concerns. I have to hope that the uptick in conversation over teachers having guns in school is temporary. And that my students’ and their questions and fears get addressed by our government.

Lawrence O’Donnell, the MSNBC host of The Last Word, has reported on the role of the teacher in a mass shooting situation with such passion and frankness. He has been channeling my inner feelings and personal conflict on this issue so eloquently. Tonight he ran a piece featuring two teachers who survived mass school shootings, one from Columbine and the other from Stoneman Douglas. They explored the pros and cons so well.

“Why Arming Teachers Is a Fantasy War Game” from Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word on February 21, 2018.

 

“I’d Die for You” by Bon Jovi from 1986’s Slippery When Wet

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180 Days: Day 99–When Tuesday Is Monday v2.0

Today was a marathon 15 hour day. Long, grueling, filled with meetings and about 30 total minutes of downtime to choke down meals. And as usual, the kids were the best part of the day. And as has become increasingly usual, the school board was the worst.

After a morning of collaboration meetings followed by a day of inching through Shakespeare in our shortened 40-minute classes, my after school “off hours” started with a meeting with our district’s Chief Academic Officer and Director of Secondary Schools. This meeting was intended for us teachers to take a quick look at incomplete, complex data and offer ways for us to fix the problems in our district because, you know, it’s all our fault. Isn’t it always the teachers’ faults when the lone Native American gets suspended making our Native American suspension rate a whopping 100%? Nevermind that we don’t know who this student is or what he/she may have been suspended for, but we still have to come up with a plan to show we are addressing that unacceptably high suspension rate among Native Americans in our school. Needless to say, I asked a lot of questions, but I didn’t get too many answers other than that maybe to do what’s right by kids doesn’t mean playing these numbers games all the time. Maybe keeping kids safe and learning means our California Dashboard doesn’t always look pretty.

Every teacher in my school is always looking for a new way to reach a struggling kid–and we have more and more struggling kids. One of my questions: how can we tell you, CAO & Director, how we will help homeless students at our school when privacy laws prevent us from even knowing who they are? The incongruity of what is required of us is sometimes staggering.

I left after school meeting number one to rush to meeting number two fashionably late. As a union representative, I sit on our district’s insurance committee, as we are self-insured. We were interviewing third party administrators today to determine whether to remain with our current company or move to a new company. Health benefits and the services offered and used, and costs associated therewith, are an issue in every American’s life, but seeing the back side, the business side, the profit off of people’s health side, shows me just how complex our system is. Luckily, this meeting ends only 15 minutes later than it usually does. That extra 15 minutes gives me just enough time to pick up a takeout order as I head to the Board of Education meeting.

Tonight’s Board of Education meeting was bittersweet at best, a $h!tshow at worst. The audience was filled with students who were giving “good news” reports, as well as teachers who worked on a union-recommended committee to place parameters and protocols for students taking online coursework toward graduation. Also in the audience were a host of parents disgruntled with the district’s plans to excess school property relied upon in this part of the community. Thankfully students saved the night. They were super troopers who sat through an unnecessarily long, tedious, and superfluous hour-long budget presentation. The Board of Education is using its public forum to try to make its case for pushing the teachers to an impasse in contract negotiations. These kids gave fantastic, funny speeches that gave me hope for our future and reaffirmed that we are doing a good job for these kids. They weathered getting stuck in an excessively redundant political budget show and then stole the evening.

Besides the students, we teachers also scored a win in that our recommendations on the committee were adopted by the board. The students and teachers were the sweet of the evening that was filled with unwarranted political plays. The Board of Education made it easy for us to cheer from the overflow room when a parent threatened to organize voters to oust them in elections this fall. They remain unwavering in their dug-in obstinance. Oh, well…at least I was home by 10 p.m.

“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton

 

180 Days: Day 88–A Crisis of Adequacy

I spent half of today at the District office in a meeting with stakeholder groups and representatives from our state assemblyman. This meeting was to discuss legislation sponsored by our district and other members of our state’s education coalition to add to base funding for all schools under our state’s fledgling Local Control Funding Formula, a formula built primarily on equity and not the adequacy of funding.

The need for such a meeting speaks to the crisis that public education finds itself in across the nation. Decades of attacks from those who wish to privatize education have born fruit. Enrollment in teacher education courses is down nationwide. Many of our best and brightest students do not consider teaching a viable occupation–there’s too little incentive to join the profession in the current climate of teacher bashing, steep budget and job cuts, increased data collection and workload, and decreased pay, benefits, prestige, autonomy, and academic freedom.

My adoptive state (I moved here 20 years ago) currently ranks near the bottom in per pupil funding, so the assemblyman’s upcoming bill to attempt to bring us closer to the middle of the pack is welcome news. I know that I will be working with him and his office to pass this key piece of funding legislation this spring. And we are a state that is considered friendly to public education, so that should be a signal as to the dire state of public education funding in our nation.

I can only hope that the discussion on the need to adequately fund public education can work its way back to the forefront of our national dialogue. I’m not hopeful with anti-public school folks like Betsy De Vos at the helm in the Department of Education, but I do have hope for statehouses across the country to address the issue. My home state of Oklahoma has been especially hard hit with funding and teacher shortages due to years of trickle-down policies coupled with austerity budgets. Last year’s state teacher of the year famously left the state for better pay. Oklahoma, one of the reddest and most poverty stricken states in the union, has a long way to go to address their funding issues that leave many districts with four-day school weeks and high teacher turnover. But the revolution of teachers running for public office and forcing the dialogue will hopefully bear fruit in the long run even if it hasn’t worked in the short run.

Thomas Jefferson supported the notion of locally controlled public education in its infancy. He and his fellow intellectuals from the Enlightenment believed that knowledge was essential to maintaining a free society. He even founded the University of Virginia on a parcel of land owned by President James Monroe (along with help from President James Madison and a few others) to develop the “illimitable freedom of the human mind.” It’s time we started living up to the lofty ideals of our founding fathers.

“Be True to Your School” by The Beach Boys

 

180 Days: Day 87–Balancing Act

Anytime politics comes up in the classroom, I have a balancing act on my hands. Students are a captive audience and they need to have a safe space to feel differently than I do. But students always ask me what I think. I struggled for years with whether to answer and how to answer. But I finally arrived at the notion that honesty is the best policy.

In order to effectively create a safe space in my room, I feel I must own my biases up front–and I label them as biases. I encourage students to disagree with me and each other, as we can learn from dissension if we do not double down in a quagmire of cognitive dissonance. So these conversations deal just as much with psychology as they do with the content of nonfiction works like the State of the Union Address that we spent the day examining for use of rhetorical devices.

Needless to say, after assigning my students to watch the president’s address and be ready to discuss, they wanted to know what I thought. Before I could answer them, I had to ask a few questions in return. What did they think? What issues stood out to them? The president’s four pillars made the top of their list–along with comments about the overabundance of clapping, especially on the Republican side of the room. My students were curious about why the Democrats didn’t clap. That’s where I felt I could shed some light and help fill in the gaps in their background knowledge with as little bias as possible. After about 5-10 minutes of debriefing, I gave each table one page from the president’s speech. Each group had a different page from the speech (which printed out at 11 pages of 11pt. Times). They were assigned to read it, identify any use of ethos, pathos, and/or logos used by the president. I gave the groups about 10 minutes to work, then we shared out and found some commonalities–ethos and pathos with the personalized stories of the president’s guests, logos with the statistics on the economy, etc. The students were surprised that all three showed up on just about every page of the speech. And yes, I did give a few thoughts of my own but also acknowledged viewpoints that may not align with mine as well.

One last task the groups worked on with their page was to fact check the information found on their page of the speech. I showed them via the ELMO some great fact-checking websites. And they worked diligently until the end of the period on this piece that I gave them the opportunity to finish up at home that night.

I also assigned for students to “Chart the News” as we begin our examination of whether the media is doing a good job of informing the public or just part of the propaganda machine. I gave them a few days to watch two different news programs listing the segments/stories in the program for further analysis in class later in the week. If they thought they would dislike watching the president giving a speech, they knew that watching the news–something most of them had never done–would be even more of a challenge. If this is the only time in their high school career that they ever watch an entire news program, at least I will have exposed them to it.

“American Idiot” by Green Day

 

180 Days: Day 86–Defining the State of Our Persuasive Union

As my sophomores are moving into a new unit on persuasion/argument, it seemed almost too serendipitous that tonight is @POTUS’s first State of the Union Address. So we spent the day learning about Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle featuring ethos, pathos, and logos. Since it was a short class period today, we focused primarily on looking at examples of each and defining each fully. I wanted students to show me that they did indeed understand these three concepts.

pillars of persuasion

Found at https://www.tes.com/lessons/XzmT4a4PyXxVQw/resources-for-understanding-ethos-pathos-and-logos

After we spent the bulk of period defining these three pillars and examining examples, we discussed the evening’s homework–to watch the State of the Union Address and be ready to discuss it tomorrow–as we will analyze the president’s speech for these three elements. We will put these definitions and our understanding of them to work, actually apply them.

I’m quickly learning that assigning things to watch on TV is not as easy as it used to be either. Many students no longer have cable in their homes, not just because of affordability, but because they pay for streaming services in lieu of cable. So we had to make an exhaustive list of where students could access the SOTU via the web, network TV, cable, etc. Since so many plan to livestream the speech from their computers–so we looked at the 24-hour news channels along with the likes of CSPAN, PBS, and others that might be providing live internet feeds. Ensuring access is key to this exercise. I certainly hope the students do their homework tonight. It may be more enlightening than they expect it to be.

“Pretty Persuasion” by REM

 

180 Days: Day 31–Monday, Monday…Long Day, Empowering Day

I had a hard time getting up this morning. Not just because it’s Monday, but because I spent the weekend in meetings at a conference in windowless rooms. I’m tired before the week even begins. And I know that today is a long, long day–a full day of teaching (we scored essays and discussed writing and then started discussions on Unbroken and Hamlet), an evening full of union and school board meetings.

Good things coming out of this long day are that I witnessed kids taking responsibility for their learning–being very interested in reading each other’s stories and providing feedback, and I observed teachers feeling validated in bringing their concerns forward–regardless of whether these concerns will be satisfactorily resolved, these teachers felt empowered to stand up for themselves and support each other (over 20 teachers crowded the Board of Education meeting when typically its only four or five of us–the Board is starting to see new faces and hear new voices, and it’s getting their attention).

Since it was a long day after a long weekend, my brain is tired. So I don’t have too much to say tonight other than I found something to smile about both in the classroom and out.

“Respect” by Aretha Franklin

 

180 Days: Day 24–BLUE THURSDAY on the State Level

Last Thursday, I wrote of how Thursdays evenings after school are typically dedicated to my participation as a local union leader. After I posted last Thursday, a person who had come across my blog attempted to shame me for my union advocacy. This person accused me of hurting children because I am a union leader. This person’s misplaced anger–and many more like her with far deeper pockets– seem to be winning the policy battles in this country though. So I have to wonder, as children are left behind in for-profit charter schemes, why a person would attack me for fighting for equity and access to a quality education for all. I have to wonder how I’m hurting children by fighting to ensure that every child has a qualified teacher in their classroom. I have to wonder how fighting for the majority of funds to go the classroom is harming kids. Of course, I know I’m not harming kids. My students may not always like what we are studying and they may not always agree with me. But they know that I am fair and will give them a safe space to explore and take risks.

Tonight, I spent five hours at a state level union meeting (yes, I arrived home after 9:30 p.m.) where we discussed the Supreme Court’s impending repeal of union rights this session. We also discussed what we see happening in our state, other states, and territories in the aftermath of catastrophic storms, fires, and massacres. We honored our fellow educators who lost their lives, were injured, or are facing post-traumatic stress after the Las Vegas mass shooting. We shared information on how to help them, as well as help our colleagues being affected by fires in both northern and southern California. We reiterated how to help fellow educators and students in hurricane-torn states and territories. And we discussed the legislation and policy issues our State Council will work on next weekend–including looking at statewide-office primary elections.

I am not ashamed to say I work to keep education a field for professionals. Just ask states where the shortages are so bad they are having to hire people without credentials to put in classrooms with our children whether they feel their education and expertise is valued in their communities (I started my teaching career in a deeply red state that has cut education to the bone–but I have family and friends who both teach and have their children in the school system there). K-12 education is a field dominated by women–except in the administrative ranks (nearly 80% are women). So I consider my work a fight for gender and pay equity as well. Fields that require education, expertise, and skills should be paid commensurately. Yet, we continue to be painted as overpaid babysitters by those who have never spent time in the pressure cooker that is the American education system. According to a 2014 report, between 40 and 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Nearly half a million of our nation’s 3 million teachers move or leave the profession each year.  This is a systemic problem in which I have worked long, hard, and against the odds to help solve. I hold the philosophy that I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I want to work for the change that I seek. I do not want to stand on the sideline and just accept whatever injustice–to just acquiesce. I will work; I will organize; I will fight for my students, for my colleagues, for my profession, for my community, for the future of our country. Access to quality public education for every child is that important to me.

Nevertheless, I do not always agree with my union. But I do value the democratic process followed by my union. And if I feel union leaders are getting out of line, it is my duty to call them out on it. At my union’s state level, we have organized groups within the State Council that launch efforts to remind our elected leaders who they work for–they support opposition candidates and pull items for discussion and placing substitute motions on the floor regularly. They question. They vet. They ensure we do not rubber stamp. This is democracy in action–the kind of action that I also wish to see in my local community, Sacramento, and in Washington, DC.

Next week, I will probably continue to reserve at least part of my Thursday piece for my union work, because I will not shy away from a naysayer or two who would rather hurl “shame” my way rather than engage with me and learn about what I believe and why. I still refuse to believe we are so fractured in this country that we can’t even have a conversation anymore. I see my students wade through conflict and figure out how to resolve issues or seek mediation. They typically cut through all the political BS because they can see the simplicity of the bottom line. My students continue to give me hope. And they are why I continue to fight for a professional, well-paid workforce committed to effectively educating them and helping them develop into the creative thinkers we need in today’s world.

“Solidarity Forever” led by Utah Phillips

 

180 Days: Day 21–BLUE THURSDAYS

I am in my 15th year of union leadership in my current school district. I’ve come full circle in the roles I’ve served in on the board of directors: local rep to state affiliate’s council, local association treasurer, local association president, and now back to local rep to state affiliate and treasurer. I am the bargaining chair and active on our organizing team and political action team as well. My personal philosophy of working to be part of solutions rather than part of the problems has formed the bedrock of my service to my colleagues and my profession.

To honor union history, we focus our union meetings and activities mostly on Thursdays. We wear our union color, blue, to show our solidarity with one another in our message, our goals, our defense of our profession. So today I wore my blue Rosie, the Riveter shirt. And I attended our board of directors meeting after teaching narrative writing and Renaissance poetry all day. Our meeting lasted over two hours, and a small group of us continued to work on board business for an additional two hours. Our bargaining team just reached a tentative contract agreement with our district managers. We knew there wasn’t much to get other than language and small token raise that doesn’t even approach the annual increase in the cost of living, but we got something. Convincing our membership to ratify the agreement in the next task at hand.

With unions under constant attack and scrutiny, my fellow local leaders and I struggle to understand how people would rather complain than act to make their work lives and students’ class lives better. We struggle to understand how they would rather be given a fish rather than taught to fish. We struggle to understand how much discomfort has to be suffered by our peers before they will act in their own better interest. As much as I believe in the Iron Rule of Organizing (do not do for others what they can do for themselves), I acknowledge that we may be at least a generation away from people who are hurting enough to act on it. But that won’t keep me from soldiering on.

“Soldier On” by Oasis from their 2008 album Dig Out Your Soul

 

180 Days: Day 9–A Normal School Day, A Not So Normal World Day

Today was our second PLC Late Start Day of the school year. Teachers meet from 7:45 a.m. until 8:35 and students start class at 8:50–a full 50 minutes later than the other four days of the week. Last week, on our first PLC Late Start, 183 of 1813 students (yes, 10%), showed up late to their first-period class. I almost cringe to see today’s numbers in the morning when I print the report because even if it is a better number, it’s not by much. Mercifully, classes are shorter on Tuesdays because we teachers are freaking exhausted at the end of every Tuesday. We are running hard all day long. So in that regard, it was a normal day. I put my nose to the grindstone and enjoyed my time with my students. My sophomores wrote vignettes and my seniors analyzed apocalyptic symbolism in Yeat’s “The Second Coming.” The poem, part of which is used as an epigraph and the title of Chinua Achebe’s classic Things Fall Apart, compares the turmoil in our world to the End of Times with imagery of the Anti-Christ/the Beast. So it was a typical school day–except the themes of today’s work resounded on the world stage today.

POTUS gave a bellicose speech to the United Nations in which he threatened to destroy the entirety of North Korea and its 25 million people and continued his childish name calling tradition by mocking its leader, Kim Jong Un, with the title of “Rocket Man” in an official speech on the world stage. I’m too stunned and fear-filled by DJT’s warmongering to be embarrassed by him anymore. Frankly, Red America, you broke it, you bought it. And we just might face a calamity the likes we’ve never seen. And that says a lot with the 20th Century’s horrific war record in our rearview mirror. Yet, our congressional majority party leaders do nothing to check DJT’s ugly cataclysmic rhetoric. The lessons of history stare us in the face only to be ignored in favor of a short-term power grab and the umpteenth chance to strip health coverage from millions of hardworking Americans. In the end, it’s hard to let a dead man eat cake, even that fancy Mar-a-Lago chocolate kind.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean is hunkered down in misery under the thumb of yet another Category 5 hurricane. Lady Maria has been just as merciless as Harvey and Irma before her. To make matters worse, Mexico suffered a second catastrophic earthquake in as many weeks earlier today–an 8.1 hit the nation on September 8th, but today’s 7.1 hit the heart of the nation’s capital and the death toll has topped 149 with the latest reports.

Today felt like Yeat’s poem outside the classroom. Let’s hope that Things Do Not Fall Apart in our world. And let’s hope our pugnacious POTUS doesn’t spawn WW3 by taunting an isolated, defiant, trigger-happy North Korean leader while our people and our neighbors are consumed by the widening gyre of natural and political disasters.

“The Second Coming”
by W.B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Kasabian’s song “Where Did All the Love Go?” somehow seems appropriate in all this Trumpian chaos as well.

 

“Where Did All the Love Go” by Kasabian, from their 2009 album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Never took a punch in the ribcage, sonny
Never met a soul who had no shrine
Keep this all in your mind and get it inside my window
What do we become trying to kill each other?
You’re faking it son, gonna get you tonight
I suck another breath to the hearts of the revolution
Because you still ain’t right
Where did all the love go?
I don’t know, I don’t know
(I bet you can’t see it)
Where did all the love go?
I don’t know, I don’t know
(I bet you can’t see it)
Can’t see the signs of a real change a-comin’?
Take another sip from your hobo’s wine
Get yourself a million miles from the concrete jungle
This is a time full of fear, full of anger
A hero’s exchange for a telephone line
Whatever happened to the youth of this generation
Because it still ain’t right
Where did all the love go?
I don’t know, I don’t know
(I bet you can’t see it)
Where did all the love go?
Now I don’t know why, oh why
The rivers of the pavement are flowing now with blood
The children of the future are drowning in the flood
Where did all the love go?
Now I don’t know why, oh why
In this social chaos, there’s violence in the air
Gotta keep your wits about you, be careful not to stare
Where did all the love go?
I don’t know, I don’t know
(I bet you can’t see it)
Where did all the love go?
Now I don’t know why, oh why
(I bet you can’t see it)
Lyrics by Sergio Pizzorno

 

Hell in a Handbasket: Charlottesville Proves We Haven’t Learned History’s Lessons

I grew up in a state that many consider part of the Midwest, but most of my neighbors would argue that we are a Southern state. The US Census Bureau agrees only because Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union, is south of Mason-Dixon Line. But Indian Territory, as Oklahoma was known in the 1860s, wasn’t legally open to white settlers until 1889. Oklahoma Territory didn’t become the 46th state until 1907. Nevertheless, many Confederates settled in Oklahoma in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Some of those Confederates were my ancestors–moving from North Carolina through to Arkansas and on to Oklahoma. I’m not proud of this fact, but it is a fact with which I have to live and face. This knowledge is the context of my childhood.

With Confederates on both sides of my family and a paternal grandfather that openly used the “n” word while I was growing up in the Sooner State, I’ve long been amazed that I turned out as I did–a politically active progressive liberal who believes in social justice and fights for equity for minorities, for women, for all. I remember all the racist, sexist, ethnic “truly tasteless jokes” (that were eventually collected into a series of books in 1982) that we all told as grade schoolers as we giggled thinking we were getting one past the grown-ups around us. So much of what I grew up with in the 1970s would not pass in today’s society–rightly so or wrongly so, we have lost our ability as a nation to laugh at the expense of any group, much less ourselves. In many ways, this is indeed progress, but in other ways, we have become a nation at war with itself because we are constantly offended with each other. I have been searching my experiences in my mind trying to trace the path from growing up with tasteless jokes to being trolled by acquaintances and strangers alike in social media for being an intolerant snowflake libtard (among other names).

I considered the humor of Mel Brooks, for example. I can remember laughing at early scenes from Blazing Saddles as a youngster in the back seat of the car at the drive-in theater as my parents tried to enjoy a date night of sorts. My younger brother and I both hee-hawed at the bean farting scene. Then we started arguing over who got the red and blue M&Ms, ate some popcorn, and fell asleep (I was 5 1/2; my brother was 4) before the new sheriff came to town. But as adolescents, we were re-introduced to the entire film. And we both loved the brilliant satire. We still do. I often quote “Mongo only pawn in game of life” when people look to me to solve their problems for them (I’m a firm believer in the Alinsky’s Iron Rule of Organizing–Never do for others what they can do for themselves). Mel Brooks knew that even back in 1974 he was broaching taboo racial, ethnic, and sexist subjects as he parodied Hollywood Westerns, but he did so deftly and with such satiric skill and wit that the classic film still works today.

The closest a film has come to this level of line-crossing satiric genius in the past decade would have to be Ben Stiller’s 2008  Tropic Thunder, which also put Hollywood in the crosshairs while using taboo racist, ethnic, and sexist humor to fantastic effect just like his predecessor Brooks. Tropic Thunder opened the month before my 40th birthday, but I remember thinking as I sat virtually alone at a weekday matinee of the film that it was a brilliant piece of satire that actually pulled off the unthinkable in the post-millennial world–having an Academy Award nominee in blackface for virtually the entire film. I have to wonder if Stiller would have been able to get the green light for the film today, in a post-Trayvon Martin/Michael Brown/Eric Garner/Philando Castile/et al world. Part of me hopes yes, but another part of me hesitates to think so. We are a society that is hurting and not healing. The wounds of our Civil War and its resulting segregation are festering and poisoning the body of our nation. And our national “leaders” do not lead with the courage to do what is right, but instead look for expediency and to curry favor with a chosen few.

 

Today’s horrifying spectacle of the President of the United States openly defending alt-right protestors who were yelling Nazi chants at this last weekend’s “Unite the Right” rally, of him openly defending Confederate General Robert E. Lee by falsely equating him to President George Washington and President Thomas Jefferson (neither of whom betrayed this country to raise arms against it) while denouncing the alt-left as violent offenders was stunning to watch (here’s a guide to the terms). The simmering hatred against America’s first black president, Barack Obama, has in short order boiled over in a very public defiance and a rage egged on by DJT/45 (I still refuse to type his name). The alt-right men and women who descended upon Charlottesville this last weekend were open and proud to wear their White Nationalist symbols. Gone were the KKK face-hiding hoods. The brazen marchers knew the terrifying history behind carrying torches and marching at night–KKK rallies and lynch mobs. They knew that this action steeped in the traditions of the White Supremacists and Segregationists would bring these actions symbolic of the violent old into the now and the future. They also knew that counter protesters would show up–that those in opposition to their extremist views would not stand in fear in the shadows like in days past. America’s wounds are splitting open and bleeding for the world to see.

And all my acquaintances and friends in my birth state of Oklahoma can talk about is how libtards like me are writing a revisionist history erasing their heritage. That is what saddens me the most. How did we arrive at this point in time where extremism is ruling the day and the majority stands by acquiescing? Did we learn nothing from our fathers and grandfathers who fought in WW2? Did we learn nothing from Hitler’s Final Solution and Master Race rhetoric? I can’t help but think of Mark Antony’s stirring the Roman people: “O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,/ And men have lost their reason.”