America over the brink…

Shred from Facebook. Please read this.

Hieronymus Bosch

optnsSroedgcydaihim 1a7Mh5 s41t2ft eg25rY9f0ia0At411095:meml  ·

My favorite expert on “when nations fall apart” has written another BAM essay, and I think this is one we ALL need to read and remember — he is pointing out that we are IN THE MIDST of efforts to destroy everything the American Constitution and way of life has been, is, and is rapidly being destroyed by the GOP and it’s army of MAGAts. The message is that this is NOT our country any more — we are IN a perpetual series of mass killings with NO response from the GOP in red states, nearly constant low-level civil conflict – a type of conflict where one side always prefers violence, and the other side rejects violence. The “freedom” these people are imposing is the freedom to consistently demonstrate their power over everyone else and their intentions to force everyone to adopt the MAGAt way of thinking that only white Christians have any rights and no way to change any restrictions will be tolerated.

The GOP and MAGAts first remove “personhood” from existence – ultimately that you cannot even leave your state without permission. Sound familiar? They’re going to have to destroy the middle class first — we are the class “invented” to keep “the masses” thinking that they will eventually have better lives. “Soft targets” are identified and hit hard — public spaces, bars, clubs, libraries, schools — easy to “control out of existence”. The GOP/MAGAts are quite advanced in terms of ignoring threats while carrying out threats.

Parts of our nation have become a war zone – targeting the least powerful people in our nation with the most outrageous of claims about the damage those people are doing to everyone else — rapidly becoming messages of “you do NOT deserve to exist” while, at the same time, encouraging those locally-created fascist groups to act as “God” wants them to and get rid of all of these people claiming rights that God never gave them, along with the political party that insists every human has these rights.

Wake up — prepare yourself, and demand DEMS fully address ALL of these anti-human and inhumane thoughts, claims, actions, and laws.


If America Feels Like a Warzone, That’s Because…It Is

If You Ever Wondered What You’d Do When the Nazis Showed Up, You’re Doing It

umair haque


Take a hard look at the numbers above (I put it in the first comment box). Shocking, no? Yet somehow unsurprising. How do we make sense of what’s happening in, and to, America? The eruption of ultraviolence as an everyday affair? Two massacres happened in 24 hours this weekend. It’s Tuesday. They’re already being forgotten. That’s…profoundly abnormal. There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there?

So how do we make sense of all this?

Imagine I told you that there was a country where all the following was true. Massacres, sectarian ones, carried out by militants, were becoming commonplace. They had political motivations — to cleanse the promised, the homeland, of the impure, the invaders, the subhumans. The President had led a bloody coup against the seat of government, which had — through sheer chance, almost — failed, marching an army of said militants down the streets of the Capitol. His party was focused on annihilating people politically — taking away the rights of whole social groups, and goaded, encouraged, and incited militants to take matters into their own hands.

You’d say something like — at least if you were into social science — “that country’s in a state of low level civil conflict.” And then, reflecting, you might add: “and things are escalating, fast.”

In other words: if America feels like a warzone today, that’s because…it is.

Now. All this is hard for Americans to think about well. I don’t mean that in the way of an insult. It just is, for a whole lot of reasons. Americans are taught that America’s exceptional, that it’s above the rules of politics and economics and society, beyond history’s lessons. Furthermore, there’s the long shadow of the civil war — which makes people think that “civil conflict” means armies raging against one another. So seeing through those warped lenses, it’s become hard for Americans to really understand what’s happening to their society.

It is now in a low-level civil conflict. One which is escalating rapidly.

When figures like me say things like that — and we don’t like to, because, sigh, it provokes every kind of fanatic and lunatic under the sun — there’s another misinterpretation which springs to mind. “Sides can’t settle their differences peacefully, so they’ve take to violence instead.” That’s not really what civil conflicts are. Maybe in rare cases, sure — but what’s far more common is this.

One side revels in violence. It doesn’t “use” violence as some kind of means. Violence is the end in itself. Think about the kinds of fanatics that like to behead people on video — or maybe strangle them to death in subways. Am I making an unfair comparison? Umm… Normal people don’t do things like this. What happens in most civil conflicts is that one side is violent, and the other one isn’t.

This is what’s happening in America. It’s not “two sides unable to resolve their differences.” That’s a completely, almost pathetically, inaccurate description. The accurate one is: one side does not want democracy to exist. Not just as in “voting,” but as in a set of values, that people enact. It does not want equality. Truth. Justice. Freedom, right down to the basic ones of expression, association, speech, privacy, movement, intimacy. And it isn’t just “using” violence to make those politics real — those politics are fundamentally about replacing each and every one of those democratic values with violence.

Does that make sense? Let me put it even more clearly. The violence is the point. When societies begin to grow consumed by civil conflict, it’s usually because one side grows openly annihilationist. Think of genocides from Asia to Africa to Europe and beyond. That side begins to openly say that there are those among us who don’t deserve to exist.

And then its levels work in tandem. From the top, demagogues begin the job of political annihilation — they remove personhood from hated outgroups, one right at a time. Sorry, you can’t leave the state. Can’t read those books, or write them. Nope, you can’t associate with that kind of nonperson. This is dehumanization.

With a wink wink and a nudge nudge, the demagogues imply: it’d sure be a shame if someone just finished this job. This job of annihilation. Sure would be a shame if someone just got down to business and did the dirty work once and for all. From the bottom-up, militants hear the message. They organize themselves into paramilitaries — the Army of the Pure, the Soldiers of Faith, the Sons of Truth — and…

Then the violence begins.

Think about what’s happened in America over the last few years. Doesn’t that describe it almost perfectly? And yet what I’m detailing for you is a textbook way that societies collapse.

I talk about “social collapse” a lot. Some people think I mean it as some kind of sci-fi hyperbole. I don’t. I mean it in a technical, formal way. Economic collapse: America’s once-vaunted middle class doesn’t really exist anymore. Downward mobility’s now the norm. Etcetera. There are many facets of social collapse, many forms of it. The one we’re discussing here? It’s social collapse from the democratic politics of peace…to civil conflict.

In that way, we aren’t overusing the term collapse. We’re talking about it almost literally. A democracy implodes into a thing of conflict, brutality. How does that happen?

Let’s go back to the top-down and bottom-up groups working in tandem. The demagogues preach hate. Those subhumans mustn’t exist! They’re corrupting us! They’re taking our jobs, women, families, land! We’ve got to annihilate them politically!! And then hate becomes violence.

Isn’t that what’s happened in America over the last few years? Think about how much hate is now normalized in America. It’s perfectly normal for Members of Congress — the fanatical ones — to get up there and send death threats to their colleagues. They walk it back as a joke. But the lunatics have gotten the message. Hate has been legitimized by the GOP — and I don’t just mean that normatively, I mean it politically: think of how so many bills have been filed and passed against everyone from women to the LGBTQ to kids to teachers that it can only be described as a blitzkrieg.

This is a process of sociopolitical collapse. Norms shatter — hey, it’s not OK to just…hate people. To smear them as groomers and pedophiles and child molesters and so forth. Then politics shatters, too, and becomes consumed by hate, and legislation is purely about that.

Now think of the GOP. It has no agenda — none — whatsoever for America. Beyond hate. No economic plan. No plan for insfrastructure. Climate change? LOL. Nothing to resuscitate the middle class. Nothing on inflation, stagnation, falling real incomes. It offers nothing. Nothing but hate.

That’s not a jeremiad — a moral condemnation. It’s an observation, one which should chill you. How do societies plunge into civil conflict? When do you know a society’s in a civil conflict? When one side offers nothing — nothing — but hate. Over and over again. In more and more vitriolic, open, abusive, crazy forms, every single day.

When a political side does that, what follows is obvious. Militants pick up the message. Hate has been legitimized. Hey, our leaders want us to go out there and annihilate these people! They might say it’s just a joke, but come on — we all know nobody’s kidding. Why else are they legislating to take all those hated peoples’ rights away? LOL — not a joke at all. We’ve got a social license now, from the very top. Hate becomes violence.

In civil conflicts, hate becomes violence in a certain pattern, too, in a predictable way. What’s targeted? “Soft targets,” in military-speak. Public spaces and public places. Bars. Clubs. Shopping malls. Restaurants. Schools. Why? Because that’s precisely where all those hated people are exercising those very freedoms that the demagogues are trying to take away. And so the militants get the message — hey, sure would be a shame if someone just took matters into their own hands, and finished the job!

If you take one thing away from all this, let it be that. Because you need to understand what’s coming. What should we expect to happen to America over the coming years and months? Something like the following.

Now that hate has been legitimized by the GOP, its militants will escalate in violence. There will be more attacks on public spaces and institutions, to terrorize people, to kill them for enacting the very basic freedoms the GOP’s demagogues are trying to take away politically — expression, association, speech, privacy — to send the message: don’t every try to enact this kind of freedom. Nobody’s safe. We can end your life for it, anywhere we choose. Societies need to be taught lessons, in this way of thinking, with blood and death.

As those attacks escalate — as massacres become even more commonplace — America’s leaders are likely to do…LOL…more of nothing. The GOP’s goading all this on for a reason, because it accomplishes their political objective of ending democracy. The Democrats, though, think about it. What should they be doing? In a sane country? They’d be leading a general strike, some kind of action that brought society to a standstill, until the violence stopped, and the weapons of war were off the streets. The GOP offers thoughts and prayers — and the Democrats offer tepid frustration. It’s not good enough. It tells us that escalation will happen, almost inevitably.

As we approach the next election, this civil conflict America’s already now in is going to into overdrive. Fascist massacres — let’s just call them what they are — are going to become even more commonplace. Public space after public space will be targeted — gay bars, libraries, LGBTQ havens, women’s healthcare centers, seats of government. To send the message: this isn’t your country anymore. Now it’s ours. We rule it, with bullets and bombs, with chokeholds and rage. None of this belongs to you anymore. Voting? LOL. Don’t even try it. Forget about it.

Sadly, much of that is likely to work. You see, like I said, it’s profoundly unhealthy for a society to do what Americans do. Are forced to do. Forget. Forget about this week’s massacre, because, well, you’ve got to go back to your bullshit job, and pay the “bills,” meaning, the made-up numbers that billionaires demand from you for food, water, energy, housing. But that’s what Americans have to do, and it’s made them a silent majority. Yes, the majority of Americans abjure this violence — but at the same time, they are largely powerless to do much about it. At least without leading figures in opposition, well, leading them to. Demanding and creating the space for civil disobedience, to demand real change, to reject the violence and hate and brutality.

Meanwhile, as all this goes on, American media will go on doing the abysmal job it’s been doing. I don’t need to say much about that, do I? Every time there’s violence, mostly, American media, LOL, basically defends the killer. He was crazy, he was a lone wolf, he was mentally ill. The last one has SS tattoos and was a fan of Adolf Hitler. How much does it really take to connect the dots here, to a politics of annihilationism, to the legislation of hate, to the removal of personhood as the only political agenda the GOP has?

And yet America’s media mostly…flatly…refuses to do it, and that leaves too many Americans unsure. Confused. Dazed and baffled. About what’s really happening to their country. But it hardly takes a rocket scientist. To tell you that when fanatics with SS tattoos are massacring people…the very same people…that demagogues are calling unpeople…whose personhood they’re removing and stripping away, legislatively one lost right at a time…that this isn’t an anomaly, it’s a militant politics of violence.

First, the fascists tried a coup. It didn’t work. Then, they tried a hundred coups — taking over local governments and offices. That worked better. Now? They’re down to open civil conflict, meaning, the militants and demagogues are working hand in hand, to destabilize society, with open violence, like massacres. The removal of personhood operates at the legislative level — but not just that one, also, now, at the street level, at the point of a gun, as a bullet rips a kids’ head off. A kid who was never a real person to this side, these lunatics, these fanatics, anyways. The militants are just finishing the job the demagogues started. And the demagogues don’t just have a job in mind — but a crusade, a Reich, a society authoritarian from top to bottom, where every last choice is controlled, and the entire point of social and personal existence is supremacy, the reign of the pure and true over the hated.

If America feels like war zone, that’s because it is. It’s in a violent conflict now. One side is violent, because to it, violence is the point. It’s how you prove you’re pure, strong, true, real. The other one is largely nonviolent, unless you see kids who just want to read books shooting up anyone or anything. The violent side has decided now that it’s open season. The gloves are off. The bullets are in every fanatics’ gun. Stand back and stand by has become: lock, load, and open fire. America’s now in a civil conflict against fascism.

You can pretend, like the New York Times, that’s not the case, when militants with SS tattoos are blowing kids faces’ off. Kids they consider subhuman. Just like the demagogues in the GOP tell them. Just like the GOP’s demagogues do, prove, illustrate, legitimize, when they not just adopt the language of annihilation towards such groups — but literally legislate the politics of it, too. You can pretend none of that’s connected, that it’s not happening, that it can’t happen here. But I think when you do that? You are dishonoring the life of that poor kid who died without a face, because the demagogues said they weren’t really a person, and the militants shot them like they weren’t even an animal.

And sadly? This is all what was predicted, because this is how societies collapse

Putting class-reductionism under a microscope: Adolph Reed Jr., Jacobin, and the George Floyd protests

Imagination Shall Make us Free

Surreal, Death, Desert, Dark, Prison
from 2014, on my old blog

Friday, December 19, 2014
Imagination Shall Make Us Free!

In a Facebook post, Nyle Fort, wrote of the difficulty of seeing past the neoliberal simulacra to find what is real. Maybe it helps to see this, not as binary opposites, but different *kinds* of real. In the way a fictional character is real, *as* a fictional character– which nonetheless has real generative effects.
The spectacle, too, is real, but a reality whose generative effects impair both thought and perception in such a way that we cannot see past the simulacra, or imagine, while in its thrall, another kind of reality. That suggests to me, that the way to another reality–one we can inhabit in the fullness of our human being–is not like breaking through a curtain to something that lies there, already existing, on the other side, but in the very power of imagination on which the illusion depends, that our hope lies in knowing that that power is immeasurably greater than what has been drawn on by the oppressive system holding us hostage. Like in the Faerie Queene–the flames surrounding Busirane’s castle, real enough to burn Scudamore–because he believes they are the wrong kind of real, a reality over which he has no power, while Britomart walks through them unscathed. It’s our collective belief in the simulacra that makes it ‘real’ — that is, gives it power to generate effects–in that way, challenging collective beliefs is the very essence of the work of the imagination.
We do not dance as relief from fighting oppression; we dance, because out of the dance, come the flames of passion that will burn the citadels of our oppressors. We do not sing or paint or rap or create stories to escape from one illusion to another–but TO IMAGINE THE REAL WE DESIRE, THAT WE MIGHT CREATE IT AND MAKE IT SO!

Thinking about being Hard of Hearing

Image result for image of audiograph
I went to an audiologist this afternoon. This is what I’ve been thinking.


Deaf,” and “Hard of Hearing”, are not medical terms. There is no line on the audiogram to mark where one ends and the other begins. 1500 Hz and higher, I fall into the “moderately severe” range. Lower frequencies, mild to moderate loss.

… but how does that translate as experience? Complicting this: deaf, and HoH are not measurments, but places you occupy on different social scales–in effect, Identites.

And Deaf, with a capital ‘D’ designates a culture, as distinguished from just… deaf. Which means, you hear little or nothing… not fluent in Sign… and exist somewhere outside of both worlds: Hearing and Deaf.

Deaf, capital ‘D’ I should add, can include people with normal hearing. CODAs, for instance: Children of Deaf adults. This is not line and symbols on an audiograph.

Oh yes–deaf, or Deaf, is not the absense of sound. There are degrees of sound reception, and very few who are ‘deaf’, measure out at ZERO receptive hearing.

So what then, is HoH? More like… the degree to which you don’t belong?

To which, you don’t belong to the Hearing World, with all the expectations and privilege and bias that go along with that?

About, privilege, isn’t it?

Understanding “privilege,” is so helpful in getting this–getting, that it’s not a measurment on the audiogram, but an experience of exclusion–of being excluded. That’s where so much of the frustration comes from–cause the way Privilege works, is that it’s invisible to those carry it. And if you’re a newby in some Excluded Territory (late deaf, recently wheel-chaired… ) it isn’t always clear who or what is at fault in the frustration and discrimination that follows. Maybe even, if you’re born into that zone. Born black. Queer.  Falling into self-blame… self-hatred… or free floating anger and anxiety … is all too easy. It can kill you.

Same for any form of privilege, isn’t it?

Patriarchy, White suprmacy, homophobia, ableism. You know them by their negative faces. You know them… as their designated outsider, their designated Other. The Privileged don’t see or feel it–and pointing it out to them can provoke enything from passive denial to homocidal rage. The other side of Privilege is a Dangerous Place… it can get you killed … the cop who shoots the driver who couldn’t hear the order to roll down the window. And on and on and on….

Which takes me back to my audiology tests this afternoon. I knew they wouldn’t answer the quetions that had been floating around in my mind, questions I couldn’t quite formulate — but I needed to look at the numbers, at that graph, if only to get what it was that the tests were not going tell me, what it was I’ve been living, how I’ve come to experience myself as Other, in relation to the Hearing World–in relation to that particular form of privilege–so hard to see, because it had once been MY privilege, invisible to me!

I think I get it now… what it means… what I mean, when I say that I’m ‘hard of hearing,’ And I’m beginning to see now the privilege involved in being HoH, and not deaf… which is another degree of Otherness.

I see how, even while I’ve been Othered by the Hearing, I still possess a degee of belonging, a level of participation in the Hearing World, that Deaf/deaf, do not–and THIS is why I’ve been uncomfortable with… why the posiblity of going deaf–losing ALL the privilege of the Hearing, feels (in my imagination), like FREEDOM…. because the relationship of Other to Privileged is parallel to that of Colonized, to Collonizer! It’s THAT complicated!

Saying, “I am hard of hearing,” locates me, places me in one particular place in the broader spectrum of our oppressive social relations. This is no longer, my personal, individual problem. This is why getting a hearing aid– isn’t jut about affordability–but involves so much more! Now … NOW I can begin to sort this out. Now I can begin to THINK about what this means!

Hearing aids: my difficulty with this, has not been primarily about cost and availability–but with what determines that availability. If the solution to ‘fixing’ our hearing, is focused on each individual, each person-it will be limited to seeking  solutions from our individual place in the social and economic order, dependent on that system and that order, the very one which CREATES and MAINTAINS the ‘disability,’ by offering the privilege of normative ability and its privileges only to those who have been ‘fixed,’ that is–made to resemble the normative standard.
When we know, from the Martha’s Vineyard experience, that this distinction is constructed and unnecessary, when EVERYONE,  hearing and deaf, are taught sign language together–a rich and expressive language that adds to the experience and understanding of what it means to be human–beyond the privileged, normativity that creates discrimination and makes borders that create and exclude everything that falls outside as OTHER. Dependence on these technilogical devices, without the revolutionary educational reform that would teach SIGN univerally, is a colonizer solution to maintain power over the colonized.

The question is — what are we trying to fit into? How is it, that our social world is structured around a relationship to power that makes us outsiders. If we are made to feel like we have to search for an identity–it’s because we’ve lost the identity we thought we had–and the privilege it gave us.
Why I think learning ASL is so important–even if we never become fluent. That’s taking power for ourselves, claiming our own identity, rather than begging for fixes to make us function again like the very system that denies us equal status, the Normative system that “Others” us.
Good. Lets make hearing aids affordable for all–but at the same time, raise our awareness of how this ableist system works so we can create our OWN identity, and become good allies and advocates for others, with other kinds of excluding conditions.

Your children don’t have a chance in hell…

Read this. 

July.. yet another warmest ever month.

What are doing about it? What am I doing about it? I don’t know–but neither of us can do shit alone. We have to come together and shut everything down. EVERYTHING. Those in power are out to kill us all.. including themselves, if they weren’t too fucking stupid to see it.

There is no time for measured well thought out incremental actions.

It’s *%$$@ shit up and *&44^ shit down…. there’s nothing to lose. We’ve already lost!

Consider yourself already dead–no–look at your children if you have any–they are going to die miserably before their times. Because you didn’t do shit to stop this.

It will happen. Every second you hesitate to take up full scale revolutionary action–is condemning them to suffer what no generation has ever suffered before.. and never will again. Cause there’ll be no one left.

The End IS coming…


If some great flash of understanding were to come over the whole population of the earth — if however billion humans there are on the planet now–were suddenly to see as clearly as Greta Thunberg what we are facing in the not at all distant future–hundreds of millions would drop what they were doing, leave their jobs, leave their studies and schools, abandon their cars, take up crutches and walkers and stream out of hospitals and nursing homes… take to the streets–not to demonstrate, but to charge the corporate masters–the climate deniers, their political servants– accepting whatever horrendous losses their defenders might unleash, swarming over them, destroying them utterly… in the slim hope that a remnant might survive to begin again…
… it would be their rule and custom, if they should succeed, that anyone who mentioned the word ‘profit,’ who ever again should seek to gain advantage over their neighbor, they would be set upon and torn to pieces and fed to rats as a warning.
That’s what I imagine, when I try to think what a just response to this crisis would look like.
That would be a just end to capitalism.

Ten Years Ago, May Day….

Walking stick.JPG

… in Baltimore, after street theater by Media Mobilizing Project at the inner harbor, I followed the march to City Hall, led by a band with a New Orleans sound, shedding bits of costume and streamers along the way. At some point I picked up some ribbons and feathers, and tied them to the tree branch walking stick I was carrying.

It was magic.

In the days and weeks that followed, I began to add to the stick, things I found on the street: ribbons, strings, can tabs…

It changed my life.

I lost that one, my Shaman Stick… and almost every year since, would lose another one. Reading on the bus or El, lost in my thoughts. Each time–back to Morris Park to find another branch. Dress it in what I would find, or people would give me to hang on it.

This is the one I carry now. The sixth or seventh one… I lose count. I mended it when it broke.. like my own broken leg. Screwed metal strips to hold he break. Wrapped strips of canvas, soaked in Modpodge, around the wound. Like a permanent cast (the orange band in the middle).

At some point, as I add Found Things to each new stick, the magic of the first one–the Shaman Stick–finds it’s way to the new one. I don’t usually take it with me to demonstrations… Cops. But I did today… and on the way home, remembered… that it’s been ten years. May Day.

Magic is real.