On Tuesday night, something momentous happened: The people of Alabama elected a Democratic senator for the first time in over 25 years. By the tiniest of margins — 49.9 percent to 48.4 percent — voters picked Doug Jones over disgraced judge and accused child molester Roy Moore. So there’s a lot to discuss there.
I was talking with a group of guy friends recently, the sole woman amid a collection of dudes as they stream-of-consciousness workshopped their way to understanding the ongoing storm of sexual harassment accusations. It’s not a pleasant position to be in — I was glad to be able to help them understand things, but thinking about that stuff at that level and having to articulate it that way was exhausting and also made me want to go home and take, like, twelve showers. But they and others have asked what they need to know and what insights they need to have when discussing sexual harassment with women. So here’s some.
On Monday, Donald Trump once again gave it the ol’ college try to not be racist at a special event. He failed, because he is constitutionally unable to not be a racist asshole any time he stands in front of people without a script. This time, it was an event to honor World War II Native American code talkers, which wouldn’t be complete if he didn’t invoke the name of Pocahontas as a slur.
Anyone who ever predicted that we’d have a president who was celebrated for being an equal-opportunity asshole, stop lying, because there’s no way you predicted anything that specific. But that’s what we’ve got. Our president, who’s a fighter! and who’s going to hit back! and the people knew what they were getting into when they voted for him! might be a complete and utter dickhole, but he’s not a bigoted dickhole because he’s a dickhole to everyone.
They aren’t protesting the flag or the anthem. It isn’t about the flag or the anthem. And if you’re more upset about the way they’re protesting than you are about the reason they have to protest, that’s not about them or the flag or the troops or America — that’s about you.
Confederate statue enthusiasts have argued that removal of such statues amounts to an erasure of history, and that they have to remain to remind us of how bad slavery is. But believe it or not, there are ways to memorialize difficult, painful, and contentious parts of history without glorifying, for instance, generals who led the wrong side of a war to perpetuate slavery. Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park provides several examples of different ways to do this with statues and sculptures memorializing the Civil Rights movement. Individually and collectively, they send the message that bigotry is bad, and equality is good, and fighting for freedom is noble, all without putting a single Confederate general on a literal pedestal.
This isn’t how we want America to be. This doesn’t fit into the ideals we have for America. This isn’t how we see America when we squint at it like we’re looking at a Magic Eye painting whenever reality gets scary or disappointing. But it’s America.
They’re going down. Some of them are, anyway. But they’re not going down without a fight from the heritage-not-hate devotees of the tributes to the fight to preserve slavery and white supremacy. New Orleans has taken down statues honoring Confederate generals and leaders, and Charlottesville has voted to do the same. But just as quickly as the statues are falling, city and state governments are proposing protections for such monuments as a matter of “heritage.” Alabama passed theirs on Friday, and Louisiana’s is in the works.
So what’s really behind this desperate protectiveness of Civil War participation trophies, and why do they have no place on taxpayer-owned land? Let’s talk.
On Friday afternoon — International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in fact — Donald Trump signed an executive order essentially banning Muslims from entering the U.S. Because words no longer have meaning, he named it “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and here’s what you need to know about it.
It seems appropriate, in that horrible way that sometimes things seem darkly appropriate, that it’s on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that Donald Trump signed an executive action limiting the flow of refugees into the U.S. It’s called “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” but like so many other duplicitously named bills, it’s less about protecting the country than keeping out Others, banning certain refugees, suspending the refugee program, more than halving the number of refugees who will be allowed into the country, and prioritizing Christian refugees over Muslims.
It’s horrible-appropriate because 80 years ago, those same policies, and those same actions, for those same reasons, turned away thousands of Jewish refugees who were left to die in the concentration camps of Nazi-occupied Europe.
In case the blackening of the skies, shaking of the earth, and disembodied screams of the damned didn’t clue you in, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States one week ago today. (Just kidding; as Trump himself will tell you, there were no blackened skies because the rain stopped and the sun came out the moment he started speaking.)