Demagogue

Here is my take on the recent ban.  To be clear I am talking about the Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorists Entry Into The United States.  

I read it and I call Bullshit.

But here is my take anyhow.  This is the only way I can make sense of this.

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If I wanted to get into some sort of negotiation with somebody or an organization, I would most likely figure out what my bottom line is, start with an opening stance or bid and wait for the counter bid.   I would use my skills of knowing the market and the product, the service and the customers, to get to what I would consider a fair value, price or trade.  I would be able to stand my ground and if the deal was not what I wanted, I would walk.

If I was at an auction and wanted livestock, equipment or land, I would do my homework and know who the seller is before the object came up for bid.   I would weigh the value of the product against the actual cost and again set a bottom line.  A line that I would not go over even if that Ram, or tractor or parcel of land was the sweetest thing since sugar on snow.

If I was less ethical and believed that “by what ever means necessary”  was the way to get stuff done, I might even make the environment less stable by creating a distraction to then close the deal. I would prey on people’s emotional responses and underlying human characteristics and use emotion to help achieve my goals.  I would manipulate the environment.

If I were Trump and I made a whole bunch of outrageous promises that played to a particular group of people, and by some fluke I actually won the Presidency, what better way to get what I want.. power.. by operating the government like a business.  I would have a game plan that  includes a bigger picture.

By distracting the nation with his egregious executive commands, he is playing a shell game .  Of course this executive ban is going to be legally challenged, because it is illegal.

Even I know that the United States constitution protects religious freedoms, including showing preference for one particular religious group. I am referring to section 5 (b). ” to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

Well, perhaps we should start right here at home first.  I digress.

The point is this.  If I wanted to make a power grab that is outside of the constitution;  such as rolling back environmental regulations to help oil companies expand their private business, thought the use of eminent domain (it is coming watch out), or perhaps reverse the laws around marriage equality, or racial equality or even deny health care for women, those with mental illness or addictions, then I might throw a diversion. Kinda like a cluster bomb.

I might just do something so outlandish that everyone is distracted.

Then nobody will press for full tax and business disclosures.  No one will worry about what was said to Putin in the call the other day.  We will be so split and emotionally scattered that a reasonable response will be hard to muster.

He test drove his strategy when he flooded twitter with inauguration twats and then sent his press secretary and Kellyanne out to spin dry the “alternative facts” line.  And guess what.  It worked.  This behavior is so unpresidential, that it is stunning.  However this behavior can be seen with other demagogues.  It is seen with people whose moral compass is unable to find true north.

The thing is, you gotta step away from the center of the emotional response and take a look.  Look for the bigger picture.

I don’t know what he and his cabinet are up to.  I have been reading up on him though and what I read about him is scary.  He is human, like the rest of us and he is bright.  Very savvy when it comes to business.  The biggest problem is that he sees the country as a business and not a democracy.   He understands it as a demagoguery and that is the critical difference.  Perhaps he is hastening his own tyranny, meaning that he will be replaced by Pence. Perhaps the leading party is going to let him continue. But while this unfolds, we must come together.  March and protest but also come together to work this democracy as it is laid out.

Therefore, if we as a nation are to uphold the principles of this great democracy, we must step back and think about his in terms of a marathon, not a short distance sprint.  We must not get caught in the distractions, but come together to shut this thing down.

Tell me why you fear him

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His name is Omran

In 1986 I was a student in London and thought that it would be great fun to travel with a buddy I had met at school.  Susie Morgahni’s family was living in London after immigrating from Beirut.  The cause was war.   Her parents had applied for visas and were planning to immigrate to  Youngstown Ohio when the school year was over.  Susie talked about to heading to back to Lebanon to see her brothers and grandmother one last time.

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The Morganhi’s had opened their London flat to me and it was a home away from home while I was abroad, and so when I heard Susie talking about the plan to travel home to Lebanon I asked if I could go too.  There had been a cease fire, and hostilities had settled. It would be a non-tourist type trip. I would be in the homes of friends and I felt safe about it. I could see the Cedars of Lebanon.  They said I would be an honored guest.

So the plan was that we would fly to Cyprus and then take a ferry over to Lebanon.  I called the states and told my family, who were less enthusiastic and they put up some strong opposition.  But I was 21, so I didn’t listen. I wanted to see the world for myself. I hated the US at that time. I thought that Ronny Ray-gun was going to cause the third world war.

Susie went ahead of me but I was going to meet her at the airport, head to Limassol take the ferry over,  be met by her family and have a fantastic reunion.

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When I arrived in Nicosia I saw armed security guards and instantly felt alarmed.  In customs they took my passport.  It felt like everyone was looking at me. The customs official glared at me angrily, pointed to the chairs and gave me directions in a language I did not know.  He took my passport, pointed at me while talking to other officials then went into an office.  He came back out a few minutes later and started to question my intentions.

Why was I in Cyprus?  Why did I want to go to Lebanon? Did I have a contact number for the people I was going to visit?  What was the relationship I had to them?  Why had I come from London?  Was I really a student?  My name was Alexandra, maybe I was Greek?

I was terrified.  They pulled my passport and I was connected to the American Embassy. I could head back to England or stay.   What ever my choice, I wasn’t going to Lebanon.

The school was closed for the week, so I had nowhere to stay over break .  Being completely naive, I figured I would stay in Cyprus for the week and at lease see the country.

The country was beautiful. I headed to Limassol and found a place to stay.  I found some Canadian troopers who had been assigned by the UN as peacekeepers and they spoke English.  I ended up having a terrific time for the first couple of days.

Then there was news that the United Stated had bombed Libya.  There were protests in the streets, effigies of Reagan being hung and the American Flag being burned.  I had never been so scared to be an American and so thankful that I had associated with Canadians and the Embassy.

Turns out my family, concerned for me before I left London, had contacted the State Department and I had been flagged.  I returned humbled from the experience and I came to love the freedom of this country and the assumed safety I had always felt as a white, privileged citizen.    Susie made her trip to her homeland and returned to London as well.  When she made her trip to the states as an immigrant later that year, we picked her up from the airport and hosted her for a couple of days before she flew off to join her Mother in Youngstown.

I was so very lucky to meet people who  were from different backgrounds than me. I was so very lucky to live in a different country and lucky to be welcomed into homes as a stranger.  As such, I was treated with the utmost hospitality and felt honored.

I have strived to show the same here in this country.    I have made friends with  Jamaican domestic workers on H-2B visas  and have invited them into my home at the holidays to share a meal.  I have hosted Chinese immigrants, who have finagled their way here through a complex network of “marriage”and extended family.  I have celebrated with friends who passed the test and became citizens.  I encourage my daughter to travel in China when she was 16.

My own family is not from here. They finagled their entré as well.  My grandfather immigrated from England and made a couple of attempts, then married my grandmother to get citizenship.  My brother in law has a green card.  Other ancestors came over on boats. From Germany in the 1800’s and from England in the 1600’s.  Every one I am related to is from away.   They came becuase of the myth that here, in this counrty, we are all equal.

His name is Omran. Tell me why you fear him.

He is a refugee and has the rotten luck of being born in the wrong place.  I welcome him.  I welcome those who have gone through all of the visa vettings and green card ques, those that are being detained at our airports. I welcome them.  There are those that wish to do harm to those who have freedom.  But it is not Omran.

We have taken a dangerous turn this week.  Banning people and building walls will only make things worse.  We are to welcome the stranger. We are to give hospitality.  His name is Omran.  He is welcome in my home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope showed up

16142597_421040801560465_7118998267674492025_nI called my friend Desirée yesterday to ask a solid favor from her.   Perhaps.  That was the pretense really.  I called her because I feel a need to hold my breath as this giant wave of discontent approaches and I need to slide down deep under the current to let it pass over me.  I need to be able to hold my breath, to be ready to come back up and to swim strongly out of the rip current.    I am a strong swimmer, but these waves are dark and fast and are crashing down, threatening to take us onto the rocks.

I have been quiet these 6 months, resting and refocusing.  Making ready for what lies ahead. Des and I talked about transition and all that comes with it and what we need to find in it.  Community.  Community is what I left in Vermont.  I knew who I was in my community.  I knew who I was in my life, but all of that changed.  Des and I talked about the inauguration, the Women’s march and the new executive orders that have been signed.  We talked about the feelings and what we experienced on Saturday.

She was in Santa Fe, in her new home and I in Boston.  She spoke of the mass of people and the hope that they carried with them.  She spoke of the community that was all around her.   I spoke of Boston and how it was like Marathon Monday, with opening day at Fenway and the Red Sox playing the Yankees, but add to that a super bowl win. That was the 175 thousand that marched.  But without the bravado. Without the drunk and brawling, over the top, chuckle heads with smeared paint on their faces.  Without the winners and losers.  It was like the best of Boston, the best of the world showed up and said we are here. We haven’t left.  Justice and Equality showed up and with it babies in snugglies, kids holding signs, grandmothers and fathers, some using canes and some just wearing pink hats. The students and the doctors showed up  after their shifts and the police stood witness to democracy in action.  Hope showed up along with Everything is going to be alright.

Des told me that I needed to write this.  I said, I have no idea what I said, you write it.

Then this morning my muse came back.

We know that storms come and that the currents and waves can do damage.  The winds of war seem to be in the air as well.  So we make ready.   We store up our good will and our kindness and our ability to give to others our of our own stock when required.  We batten down the hatches and bring in the boats.  We hunker down and get grounded in our spaces and wait it out.     And with some storms, we go out in the middle of it.   We naturally seek to help others in times of need.  Some people get caught in the storm.  We go out to bring them in.

And with this political storm, we are all in this together.  Not me from my side and you from yours. But all of us, at the same time.  Make ready.  Plan ahead and most importantly don’t lose hope.  This too shall pass.  It might be nasty now, but it will pass and those that can and should venture out into the middle of the mess will.  Of that I am sure.

We are better than what the storm wants us to think.