Tag Archives: hate

When Three Losers Meet for Dinner

What do a failed president, a disoriented rapper and a White separatist have in common?  They’re all losers!  And, as news reports have revealed, they all met for dinner just before Thanksgiving.  Former President Donald Trump hosted hip-hop singer Kanye West (now known as Ye) and right-wing extremist media personality Nick Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida a few weeks ago.

If I ever host a dinner party with some of the most interesting and intellectual people in the world, the three aforementioned clowns wouldn’t get past my front door.  (Disclaimer: no offense meant to professional clowns.)

We’ve all had those ‘what-were-they-thinking’ reactions to certain people’s bizarre behavior.  But Trump, West and Fuentes bring a new level of absurdity into the public forum.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a walking embodiment of incompetence (Trump) would invite two other dopers to his estate.

I’ve never been a fan of Trump.  When he announced his bid for the U.S. presidency in 2015, I pointed out that he’d technically been running for president for some 30 years.  In a 1980s interview with Barbara Walters, she queried Trump about whether or not he would seek the Oval Office.  Many scoffed at the notion that a New York real estate tycoon should run for the presidency simply because he was incredibly wealthy and well-known.

Those of us old enough to remember the excesses of the 1980s – especially here in the U.S. – know that wealth and fame suddenly became requisites for political office or any kind of leadership position.

Regardless of his status, Trump isn’t a realist.  Consider his relentless – and undeniably refuted – claims that the 2020 elections were fraudulent.  He still refuses to accept defeat; thus proving he’s the proverbial sore loser.  In my own analysis, the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections were blatantly fraudulent, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

But West and Fuentes are also denialists.  West denies observations that he has no real talent, and Fuentes denies the Nazi Holocaust occurred.  I’m certain they all deny other realities, but I don’t want to spend that much time on them.

Trump, West and Fuentes are perfect companions for each other.  While Trump made a name for himself in the 1980s as a successful real estate magnate, West made a name for himself in the violence-prone world of hip-hop.  I have to admit I can’t identify any of his “songs” and I wouldn’t care to either.

Fuentes’ arrival in the public arena is recent.  At barely 24 years old, he’s become an icon of right-wing extremists; a youthful vial of hate and bigotry.  He represents a new generation of Christo-fascist warriors who believe, for example, that Christopher Columbus discovered America and African slaves were actually indentured servants.

Further proving his detachment from reality, Trump denied knowing who Fuentes is.  He’d allegedly invited only West for dinner, and West invited Fuentes.  Of course that’s what happened!

No matter who invited who for dinner, Trump brought out the worst in humanity: the hatred, the putrid, the disgusting and the violent.  Along with West and Fuentes, he represents everything that’s wrong with this nation – and everything a civilized society shouldn’t be.

But let them dine together!  They deserve one another.

The rest of us deserve better.

Image: Kelli R. Grant/Yahoo News; photos: Jean-Baptiste Lacroix/AFP via Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Rainmaker Photos/MediaPunch /IPX via AP)

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Worst Quotes of the Week – May 21, 2022

“Because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That’s what they’re telling you.”

Tucker Carlson, responding to the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York grocery store on May 14

Carlson also stated that “hate speech” is just speech that other people hate.  He and other right-wing pundits have been criticized for propagating “replacement” theory, which claims that native-born (White) Americans are being replaced by immigrants from other (non-Western European) countries.

“Abortion is not the way to help single Black mothers.”

Sen. Tim Scott, in an editorial criticizing a speech by Janet Yellen, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, about the impact overturning abortion rights could have on many working women

Yellen had stated, “I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy.”  She went on to say how abortion affects “particularly low-income and often Black” mothers and how a lack of access to abortion “deprives them of the ability often to continue their education to later participate in the workforce.”

Scott declared, “To me, this was stunning. I thought I had misheard her.  Was Yellen making the case for how abortion is good for America’s labor force?  But when questioned, Yellen doubled down on what I believe is a callous, inhumane reason for ending innocent life.”

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Best Quotes of the Week – May 21, 2022

People gather outside a grocery store in Buffalo, NY where an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 10 people on May 14, 2022.

“I would like to see sensible gun control.  I would like to see ending hate speech on the internet, on social media.  It is not free speech. It is not the American way.”

Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, New York, after a mass shooting at a local grocery store on May 14

Brown also declared, “We are not a nation of haters. We are not a nation of hate. We need to send the message that there is no place on the internet for hate speech, for hate indoctrination, for spreading hate manifestos.  I will be a stronger voice for that.  I believe that what happened in Buffalo, New York, yesterday is going to be a turning point.  I think it’s going to be different after this, in terms of the energy and the activity that we see.”

“Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait.  They need our support now.  This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, with these funds, FDA will be able to help prevent this issue from occurring again.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, after passage of a bill in the U.S. Congress that would help to alleviate the current baby formula crisis

One of the bills provides $28 million in emergency funding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the shortage. The money would also be used to increase staff at the FDA, such as inspectors who could help the agency accelerate the approval process for formula manufacturers.

It has to be noted that an overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted against the bill, even though a majority have been complaining about the ongoing baby formula shortage.

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Worst Quote of the Week – March 5, 2022

“Can we give a round of applause for Russia?”

Nick Fuentes, podcaster and admitted White nationalist, during the 2022 America First Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida

Fuentes has previously praised Putin, along with other political extremists, such as Benito Mussolini.

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Book Less

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [‘hard-core pornography’], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964

You know the old puzzle: if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound?  Using that logic, if a book is published, and no one finds its content offensive, is it obscene?

Obscenity seems to be subjective.  Right-wing extremists certainly feel that way, as they have (once again) assumed the role of moral overseer and decided they have the authority to determine what books are and are not appropriate for others to read.  To we writers and other artists, the term censorship is like holy water to a devil worshiper: it’s terrifying!  Whenever we learn that some people are challenging the presence of certain materials in a public venue, such as a library, we bristle.  But, instead of running and hiding, we’ve been known to stand and fight.

In the latest battle, the school board in McMinn County, Tennessee decided to ban the 1986 Art Spiegelman book “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” from its library.  The illustrated tome is Spiegelman’s recounting of his parents’ experiences as prisoners of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.  It won Spiegelman a Pulitzer Prize and, in 1992, the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition displaying his original panels for the story“Maus” had been party of the school district’s lessons on the Nazi Holocaust.  The McMinn school board’s complaints about “Maus” are the usual gripes: language and nudity (animal nudity in this case).

It’s worth noting McMinn County, Tennessee is near the location of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, where the concept of evolution became intensely controversial.  In 1925 the state of Tennessee passed the Butler Act, a bill banning the teaching of evolution in its schools.  Evolution, declared legislators, contradicted the Christian Bible as the single standard of truth in public arenas, such as schools.  The move astonished – and frightened – many across the country.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded immediately by vowing to support any educator in the U.S. who dared to teach evolution.  A popular young high school teacher in – of all places, Tennessee – named John Scopes offered to be the defendant, if the state decided to make good on its promise.  They did.  On May 7, 1925, Tennessee authorities arrested Scopes and charged him with violating the Butler Act.

The ensuing legal battle made headlines across the country and the world.  The judge in the case showed his deference to the state by opening each session with a prayer and refusing to let Scopes’ defense call any scientific witnesses.  Ultimately Scopes was found guilty and fined $100.  The ACLU hoped the case would make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Tennessee State Supreme Court reversed the decision on a technicality.  Still, the repercussions were widespread.  The Butler Act was never enforced in Tennessee again, and similar measures in other parts of the U.S. met with failure.  But progressives realized they could never relax in the face of extremist ideology.

So, here we are in the third decade of the 21st century, where the U.S. has come out of two brutal Middle East wars and is now facing an onslaught of urban violence.  We experienced 36 mass shootings in the month of January, resulting in 101 injuries and 42 deaths.  That’s just in the month of January 2022 alone!

But, as usual, social and religious conservatives are more upset with books.  In October of 2021, Texas State Representative Matt Krause asked the Texas Education Agency for information about 850 books in school libraries.  He wanted to know how many copies of these books were in each library.  It didn’t surprise observers that the majority of the books are by women, non-Whites and/or LGBT authors.  The imperial Krause is concerned that taxpayers are funding the presence of these books in school libraries.  Yet, my tax dollars are wasted if those books are removed because he and other like-minded folks find them unacceptable.

Some disputes have become hostile.  Police in Leander, Texas got involved in a controversy over one book, “Lawn Boy” in 2021.  Author Jonathan Evison says he received death threats because of it.  Texas – where any restrictions on guns is considered anathema – isn’t the only state under siege by moral zealots.  Similar attempts at censorship and assaults on free speech have played out in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“If I had a statement, it would be ‘Read the book or sit down,’” says Evison. “I feel like these people are frightened because they’re losing the culture wars.”

Yeah!  Sit down and read – more than the Bible or the TV guide.

I will concede parents have the right to be concerned by what their children view and read.  But I feel banning books from a school library is just one step away from banning books in any library or elsewhere.  It’s truly not an unrealistic stretch to envision such a scenario.  The world has witnessed such activities in totalitarian societies, and the results are often sanguineous.

Once again, though, what is obscene?

The 1920s was a decade of both progress and excess, particularly for the growing film industry.  Although silent and in black-and-white, movies had begun to show a variety of mature content – mainly heavy alcohol consumption and sexual behavior.  Concern over the material became so intense that, in 1934, Will H. Hays – then head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – introduced his personally developed “Hays Code”, a standard production guide for what is and what is not acceptable content for motion pictures.  The code remained until 1968, when the MPAA introduced its film rating system: G (General Audiences), PG (Parental Guidance recommended), R (Restricted) and X (mainly for sex, but also for violence).

By the 1960s, films were presenting increasingly controversial subject matter – and headaches for the MPAA.  The 1966 film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” shocked audiences with its blatant use of foul language and served as one catalyst for the rating system.  The 1968 film “Vixen” became the first movie branded with an X rating.  The following year John Schlesinger released “Midnight Cowboy” with Jon Voight in the titular role.  It, too, was branded with an X rating.  Despite that, it went on to win the 1969 Academy Award for Best Picture – the first and (to date) the only X-rated film to win such an honor.  Viewing both “Vixen” and “Midnight Cowboy” now might make somebody wonder what the fuss was all about.

The film rating system took an odd turn in 1983 when a remake of the classic film “Scarface” came out.  The MPAA initially granted the movie an X rating because of its excessive violence.  Director Brian DePalma reluctantly trimmed some of the footage, and the film was rebranded with an R.  If it had gone out with the X label, “Scarface” would have been the first movie released as such because of violence.

Another X controversy arose six years later with “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover”.  The film’s gratuitous sexual content garnered an X rating from the MPAA.  As with DePalma and “Scarface”, director Peter Greenaway reluctantly agreed to edit out a small portion of the sexual matter – small as in some 5 minutes – and the film was upgraded to R.  The fiasco upset many in the entertainment community – not just in the U.S. but across the globe.  If the difference between an R and an X rating is a paltry 5 minutes, then how valid is a film rating system?

What is obscene?

In the 1950s, the Hays Code was applied to a growing new medium: television.  In motion pictures, the code, for example, dictated that people of the opposite sex could not be filmed in bed together, unless one of the duo (usually the man) had at least one foot on the floor.  In TV, however, even married couples couldn’t be shown in the same bed.  The rule went into effect after a 1947 episode of “Mary Kay and Johnny” showed the title characters hopping into the same bed.  But that taboo dissolved completely in 1969 with “The Brady Bunch”.  Bathrooms also were generally off-limits in television.  One exceptional first was a 1957 episode of “Leave It to Beaver”, when the boys tried to hide a pet alligator in the tank of a toilet.  An early episode of “All in the Family” produced another first: the sound of a toilet being flushed.

As mundane as all of these events are today, they each sparked a ruckus at the time.

Personally, I find excessive violence offensive.  I never laughed when I saw men and boys get struck in the groin in slap-stick comedy scenes in films and on television.  I grimace at bloody acts in similar venues, while others react as if nothing more than a sharp wind blew past them.  Conversely, many of these same individuals are horrified by the sight of blatant nudity, especially if the nudeness is that of a male.  It’s difficult to imagine now, but even as recently as the late 1960s words like pregnant and diarrhea were forbidden on television.

The word “bitch” is used frequently on TV today.  But, in 1983, a musical group called Laid Back released a song entitled “White Horse”, which features the line: ‘If you wanna be rich, you got to be a bitch.’  MTV played the video, but bleeped out the term “bitch”.  In 1994, Tom Petty released “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, which contains the line: ‘But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint.’  Music video networks deemed the ‘roll another joint’ verbiage unacceptable and bleeped it out whenever they played the video.

In 1989, rap group 2 Live Crew released two versions of their song “Me So Horny”: what they dubbed the G-rated version and the R-rated version.  Radio stations played the G-rated version frequently, but the R-rated version generated the most strife.  At the start of 1990 a federal judge in the state of Florida considered the group and their music obscene and in violation of community standards – whatever that’s supposed to mean – and forbid local radio stations from playing any of their music.  Consequently, 2 Live Crew’s reputation and music sales skyrocketed.

I remember the controversy that erupted with the video to Madonna’s 1990 song “Justify My Love”.  Once again, music video networks assumed the role of moral protectorate and either refused to play the video or played it late at night, when children and other fragile souls – such as moral crusaders – were asleep.  Undeterred by the skirmish, Madonna packaged the video and sold it independently.

In 1965, The Rolling Stones made their debut appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, during which they performed a sanitized version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together”.  Producers convinced the group to sing ‘Let’s spend some time together’ instead.  Lead singer Mick Jagger leered at the camera – in the way only Mick Jagger can – when he spat out the words.

Two years later The Doors were presented with a similar option when they made their appearance on the show and performed their already popular and now seminal hit “Light My Fire”.  Sullivan’s son-in-law, Robert Precht, suggested they alter the line ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much higher’ to ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much better.  The group refused and performed the song as it was.  Their act of defiance resulted in their permanent ban from the show – a move I know upset them to no end.

I’ve noticed social conservatives haven’t raised concerns about inappropriate material in books like “The Anarchist Cookbook” and “The Turner Diaries”.  The latter served as a blueprint for Oklahoma City bomber (domestic terrorist) Timothy McVeigh.  If conservatives really want to ban books with sexual references and violence, they should start with the Christian Bible, which is rife with salacious and unsavory behavior.

Meanwhile, “Maus” has experienced a surge in sales as a result of the squabble surrounding it.  If there’s one way to ensure something’s popularity or success, it’s to try to ban it.  In other words, censorship always backfires.

Yet, censorship will always remain a threat to freedom of speech, expression and the press.  The war will never be won – by either side.  But those of us on the side of true freedom can win individual battles by standing up to self-righteous demagogues.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – February 5, 2022

“Here’s a quick thought experiment: If AOC was fat and in her 60s, would anyone listen to another thing she ever said?”

TV personality Adam Carolla, about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to FOX News commentator Sean Hannity

Carolla, creator and co-host of the now-defunct “Man Show”, argued that while the 32-year-old politician is “young, vibrant and beautiful,” and “everyone’s always putting a camera and a mike in her face,” her “opinions are idiotic 95 percent of the time.”

“If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn’t about race.  It’s not about race.  It’s about man’s inhumanity to man. That’s what it’s about.”

Whoopi Goldberg, on The View

Goldberg made the comments during a discussion of how the Nazi Holocaust-centered graphic novel “Maus” was banned by a Tennessee school board.  That school board banned the book, Goldberg said, because there were complaints about the novel containing nudity and bad language.  “The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley.  Let’s talk about it for what it is – it’s how people treat each other.  It’s a problem.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or white because Black, white, Jews – everybody.”

Goldberg apologized the next day for her comments, but ABC announced immediately they had decided to suspend her for two weeks.

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Best Quotes of the Week – January 29, 2022

“If we can do a better job to remember that we’re all created in God’s image, ‘b’tzelem Elohim.’ If we could all do more to tone down the rhetoric in politics and on talk shows and remember that we can debate ideas.  We don’t have to agree.  We also don’t have to attack one another personally to get our point across.”

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was taken hostage at gunpoint for 11 hours along with three other congregants at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on January 15

The phrase ‘b’tzelem elohim,’ means “in the image of God”.

“We depend upon one another whether we know it or not and we are made better when more of us are seen and heard and helped. So many tiny-tribe people have been fooled into believing that someone else’s gain is their loss; that this existence is competitive when it is actually supposed to collaborative, that we take care of our own. That is a sad way to spend the brief time here that we have. I want something better.”

John Pavlovitz, in “Yes, This Is All About Tribalism”

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In Remembrance: 1921 Tulsa Massacre

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. If you go out and make good things happen, you fill the world with hope. And in doing so, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Barack Obama

These next two days mark the centennial of one of the worst racial massacres in U.S. history.  The cataclysm began with a story that played out several times throughout the 20th century: a young White woman claimed a Black man had assaulted her.  That launched an angry White mob in the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 2021.  And the result was a bloodbath that swept up an entire community; taking more than 300 lives; leaving a legacy of trauma, animosity and pain.

Only within recent years have the details of those events seen the light of truth.  The world of 1921 is considerably different than the world of 2021.

Despite the horrors of those days, we really have come a long way in race relations; that is the understanding of what it means to be human and what it means to be a community.  And we can only move forward.  The angry White gangs of 1921 Tulsa obliterated hundreds of innocent lives.  They destroyed an entire community.  But they couldn’t destroy an entire people.

Tulsa Race Massacre

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Best Quotes of the Week – March 27, 2021

Protestors in Atlanta earlier this week

“If racism and acts of violence are prevalent, we need to bring that to the forefront and not sweep it under the rug.”

Margaret Ann Kercher, a lawyer in Austin, Texas, on recent attacks on Asian-Americans

“We live here. We pay taxes. We work here. This is our life.  This is a country of immigrants, all of the immigrants, so there is nothing we can do better than love each other, than work together.”

Xiaoxu Zheng, a 36-year-old medical researcher at Georgia State University, commenting on the rise in anti-Asian violence over the past year

Zheng who has been in the U.S. for 10 years and lives in suburban Atlanta with his wife and two children, said the protest was his first political event.

“They had lived through an unprecedented planetary pandemic, but they could not survive this: they could not outlive America’s gun epidemic. That proved more fatal than the virus.”

John Pavlovitz, in an essay on the recent gun violence in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado

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Worst Quotes of the Week – February 27, 2021

“I’ve got to say, Orlando is awesome!  It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida

“If you’re reading the room and you’re intelligent, you realize that Donald Trump is still the future of the Republican Party.  Those people who are being displaced by illegals, those people who are being swept aside by the Democrat Party, who has just flagrantly ignored them for decades, Donald Trump is all over that.”

Donald Trump Jr., on Fox News

“So, they had this whole big narrative going right after January 6, and that narrative has completely collapsed.  There was no insurrection, there was no coup.  As you mention, the only shot fired in the Capitol on January 6 was the shot fired by a policeman into Ashli Babbitt’s neck.  They tried very hard the New York Times was the chief culprit in making up the story about Brian Sicknick, now they knew that the story was a lie from the beginning, and the reason is that there is plenty of video of what was happening all over the Capitol.  And yet you will notice there never was any video of Brian Sicknick being hit on the head with a fire extinguisher.  The New York Times made that up, attributed to unnamed sources and never published a correction, they just later said, ‘well the story has been updated because there’s been new facts that have come in.’ The truth of it is they tried to construct a false narrative and now that that false narrative has imploded they’re moving to the, let’s call it the White supremacy narrative, which is equally bogus.”

Dinesh D’Souza, refuting that the January 6 Capitol Hill rioters were insurrectionists

Brian Sicknick was the Capitol Hill police officer who succumbed to injuries after the chaos, and Ashli Babbitt was the former U.S. Air Force servicewoman who was shot and killed as she tried to enter a hallway.

“We spent all day trying to locate the famous QAnon, which, in the end, we learned is not even a website.  If it’s out there, we could not find it.  Then, we checked Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter feed because we have heard she traffics in disinformation, CNN told us, but nothing there.  Next, we called our many friends in the tight-knit intel community.  Could Vladimir Putin be putting this stuff out there?  The Proud Boys? Alex Jones?  Who is lying to America in ways that are certain to make us hate each other and certain to destroy our core institutions?  Well, none of the above, actually.  It wasn’t Marjorie Taylor Greene.  It was cable news.  It was politicians talking on TV.  They’re the ones spreading disinformation to Americans.  Maybe they are from QAnon.”

Tucker Carlson, claiming there is no evidence of a conspiracy group known as QAnon

On a side note, I’ve said before that Carlson resembles an adult film actor who went by the name T.T. Boy, c. 1990.

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