Current Events and Old Peanuts
One day the CEO of Kroger, the company that owns Smith's grocery stores, asked the board of directors, "Gentlemen, what can we do to make our self-checkouts more annoying? Currently, as we all know, when a person identifies himself and the fact that he has shopped at our store hundreds of times by scanning his shopper's card at a self-checkout, it nonetheless insists on repeating every instruction on its use as if he's never heard them before and can't read. That surely must be annoying, but I think we can do better. Any thoughts?"
The room was silent for a moment. Then one man, who had been waiting his entire life for just such a stroke of genius, raised his hand. "Sir," he said, "What if the machine not only repeated every instruction, but also spoke aloud the price of every single item that was scanned, and the amount of every discount, where applicable, that the shopper was getting with his shopper's card, and the total? Even though we'd still have all those numbers actually on the screen like we used to, but you know, maybe he can only read Roman numerals?"
The room was silent for a moment longer as the CEO stroked his chin. Then he shook his head, not in rejection but in wonderment. "That would be a level of annoyingness seldom achieved outside of a customer support hotline. I'm giving us all raises."
I'm assuming that's more or less what happened, anyway, because no one could possibly do something that annoying unintentionally.
Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe vs. Wade, died a week ago, and in the aftermath I learned more about her. I already knew the basics of her story - that she lied about having been raped, that she was merely a pawn in something larger that would have happened regardless, that the court decision was moot for her because her child was two years old by the time it came out, and that some time later she had a complete change of heart and became "dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name." I didn't know that she was bisexual, that her early adult years were lonely and neurotic and spent on the fringes of society going from one lousy job to another struggling to survive, that her change of heart stemmed from a conversion to Christianity, or that she was alienated from and hated by both sides of the culture wars because she was a pro-life bisexual person. An interesting woman with an interesting life, to be sure.
In other abortion-related news, and this is a bit older but I was preoccupied with the refugee ban and then I forgot because I was tired, Planned Parenthood (which, as a friendly reminder that you probably won't get anywhere else, is still in big trouble with Congress for violating federal law and good taste) has quietly removed mentions of "prenatal care" from several of its websites after Live Action made calls to several clinics around the country who explained that they do not, in fact, offer prenatal care. They don't need to because they offer abortions. It would have been nice of them to not lie about that in the first place, but of course their highly exaggerated reputation as an essential and irreplaceable source for all women's healthcare needs takes priority over little things like "the truth". (It turns out that Snopes, a website that was apparently trustworthy at one point, feels the same way.)
I like "Peanuts" all right - anyone who doesn't love Snoopy or Woodstock or Linus isn't human - but I have to confess that as far as comic strips go I've never found most of it particularly funny. Most of the punchlines don't seem to be actual jokes. As much as I love Charlie Brown closing his eyes and saying "I can't stand it... I just can't stand it!", that's not an actual joke. So when I found one of the first ever "Peanuts" books at work, titled simply "Peanuts" and originally published in 1952, and noted with surprise how funny the first couple comics were, I was fascinated. I was familiar with how the characters looked at this early stage but not how they behaved and interacted. Since it was going to end up in the invalid tote anyway I read it during lunch before putting it there. The only characters at this stage are Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Shermy, Violet, (non-Peppermint) Patty, and Schroeder. And Charlie Brown's mom, I suppose, who at one point is heard yelling offscreen in a normal voice instead of "wah wah wah". Weird stuff.
This incarnation of Charlie Brown, occasionally just "Charlie" to his friends, has self-esteem and a bit of a mischievous streak - he opens the book yelling (paraphrase) "It's morning, mom and dad! Up and at 'em! Let's go! Rise and shine!" and then turns to the reader and says, "Boy, wouldn't you hate to have me around your house in the morning?" (Why, yes. Yes I would. You wouldn't be there for very long, if you catch my drift.) When Patty asks him if he thinks she's beautiful, he says, "Well, it's no secret you're getting on in years... but if I squint and cock my head like this..." As she chases him, he remarks to the reader, "It's risky, but I get my laughs!" That catchphrase is repeated in another comic later on. Apparently his confidence was somehow linked to his ability to break the fourth wall, and he lost them both at the same time. Poor good old Charlie Brown.
Both of the girls vacillate between snubbing, mocking, and idolizing him, depending on their fickle female whims or whatever joke the cartoonist is trying to tell, I suppose. For example, one time Charlie Brown wonders how long it takes to shave, and Shermy says he supposes that depends on the size of one's face, and Violet interjects, "In that case, it would take Charlie Brown three hours!" At another point she also plants the seed for a future running gag (pun intended) when she holds a football and tells Charlie Brown to run up and kick it, though she panics and drops it by accident at the last minute, then wonders why he didn't kick it. In the strangest strip of the book, yet one of my favorites, she complains that he likes Snoopy more than he likes her. He assures her that isn't true. She says, "I bet you don't even have a picture of me in your room anymore." He assures her that he still does. He leads her into his room and shows her the wall where he has a small picture of her... next to an enormous picture of Snoopy.
Ah, Snoopy. He looks different, of course, more like a puppy with his cute little upturned nose, and he demonstrates above-average intelligence but never "speaks" or has fantasies. His biggest claim to fame is the ability to smell and/or hear ice cream. Sometimes he seems to be Charlie Brown's dog but for the most part he seems to be a neighborhood dog of whom the kids share joint ownership. Violet introduces Charlie Brown to Schroeder partway through the book, and then it turns out he's a baby. Charlie Brown remarks, "I always feel so awkward around kids!" Schroeder quickly grows up into a mostly mute toddler, and history is made when Charlie Brown gives him a toy piano to play with. He soon begins to experience the myriad disappointments of life when, for instance, a radio DJ plays an accordion number in lieu of his request for Beethoven, or when his planned 8:30 concert has to be canceled on account of his 6:00 bedtime. It's kind of odd that Schroeder is the only character who ages at all, and I kind of wish he had been left a toddler. He's cute and more compelling as a character that way imho. Of course, that would be weird for Lucy...
Crywolf - The Home We Made Pt. II
So I found this on my computer this week and I don't know how it got there. It says it was put on my computer on December 31 at 8:31:50, but I don't remember that or recognize it at all. I was traveling for most of that day and went to bed as soon as I got home. And on top of that it was in the "Star Wars Breakbeats" folder where it certainly doesn't belong and I certainly wouldn't have put it. Just one of life's little mysteries, I guess. Though not my favorite by a long shot I found it to be decent.
Another Week Checked Off
Still tired. Have you ever felt the urge to barge into someone's room, tear their alarm out of the wall and shove it down their throat? Me neither. I was just curious.
My life kind of revolves around my job these days, which is all right with me as it fulfills my financial, social, and music related needs all quite handily. I had a terrible day this week where everything went wrong and I felt like I was being eaten alive for hours, and it was still better than any day at my previous job other than the Independence Day picnic. In one other day this week I learned that the guy I've thought of as Jason for as long as I've worked there is actually Nick, that Naomi dyed her hair a long time ago even though I just noticed it, and that both of the red-haired girls are the same person. What a day that was. And what a small world it is too. Yesterday at lunch Malone was like, "I'm going to St. George with Mark Bell." And Jess was like, "Oh, I know him." And I was like, "I know him too." And Kailey was like, "Sorry, what are we talking about? Oh, I know him." I don't have much to say besides work stuff but I'm not sure that anyone else would much care about it, so...
I shouldn't need to remind you that we celebrated a very special holiday this week. I am referring, of course, to Darwin Day on the twelfth. Get it? It's funny because you probably thought I was talking about Valentine's Day but then I revealed that I wasn't. The only thing I was going to say about Valentine's Day was that hating Valentine's Day because you're single is like hating Christmas because you're an atheist, but I realized that's a stupid analogy because atheists still get presents on Christmas. At least I assume they do and they can correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, Charles Darwin's birthday has been celebrated off and on and here and there for well over a century, but it only became official for the whole United States a couple years ago. I remember well that it was covered on the front page of the Utah Statesman with a picture of some human ancestor skull fragments, and like always there were free stacks of it in the LDS institute next to the Deseret News and I knew that was probably making a few heads explode.
The institute put on a dance last Friday like they typically do in February, but took a different approach this time. I don't remember what they've done all the way back when but in 2014 they did a ladies' choice dance and advertised it as for "Dates Only", sending the message that if no woman wanted you then neither did they. The next year they did another ladies' choice dance but removed that tagline, though it remained de facto because no one went alone. I know that because I was there because to my great surprise someone asked me to it. The next next year, they did another ladies' choice dance and someone asked me to it again. I know this is all very repetitive for both long-time followers of my blog, but since most people just read an occasional post when it shows up in their news feed, I'm writing for their benefit and you'll just have to be patient.
This year I figured my luck had run out because I'm not in school and virtually everyone at work is taken. But this year they decided to do a Singles' Awareness Dance instead. Get it? It's funny because the acronym spells SAD. Like Students Against Driving. The poster said semi-formal refreshments would be served but I don't know what that was supposed to mean because they just looked normal to me. I always go to dances to absorb energy from the crowd and experience music differently than I usually get to with headphones, and also out of loyalty since I usually help set them up as part of the LDSSA Service Committee. They don't happen very often so they provide a nice change of pace. This time, though, I wasn't really into it. My feet were tired and I couldn't stop yawning and most of the music wasn't really my thing. Someone told me to go ask a lady to dance, but I hid in an alcove so he would leave me alone. After some debate and an hour and a half I left to go grocery shopping and listen to my own superior music at home.
Here's one of the songs I recently discovered, and I can't believe how beautiful it is or that the artist never became popular. It's the B-Side to the M.B.4 single "Ewok Celebration & Star Wars", a disco version of the original "Yub Nub" song that was replaced in the Special Edition of "Return of the Jedi", not to be confused with Meco's better-known disco version that I already posted last July. M.B.4's version is a lot more mellow and trance-y, and I could describe it better if I actually knew any legit music terminology like my friend Scott. But that's irrelevant because it's not what I'm posting. Give this a listen and see if it gets stuck in your head like it does in mine, and if you don't mind that any more than I do. (It's not as long as it looks. This video has like three minutes of silence at the end for some reason.)
Drumpf's immigration/refugee/definitely not Muslim ban has been struck down by federal judge James Robart and an appeals court and is no longer in effect, so hopefully I'll never have to write about it again except for a brief mention of its final defeat by the Supreme Court. Unwilling to take a hint and quit dragging this country through the mud, he wrote on Twitter: "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!" The COURT, however, is unlikely to be duped by his barefaced lie that this ban is in any way necessary for or does anything to improve THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION. In the interest of fostering dialogue, however, before I move on I will share a thoughtful and well-reasoned rebuttal I received to last week's post:
I knew that my snarky and sarcastic tone wouldn't change anyone's mind, but I knew that being as polite and deferential as possible wouldn't change anyone's mind either, so I went with what I felt was the more entertaining route. But this guy thought it was super boring anyway. Ah well, can't please everyone. As for citing my sources, I did so via links embedded in the text because it was a blog post, not a research paper. I didn't feel the need to cite sources for everything. If you weren't aware and didn't believe me that Drumpf called for a ban on all Muslims to the United States, for example, then you really should not be allowed to vote. However, after being prompted to additional research I do retract my claim that America is responsible for saving everyone in the world who is in danger. I can't find that claim in my post, but apparently it's in there somewhere.
So anyway, I went to a protest in Salt Lake City on Saturday. A friend and I were both unable to find a ride so we took the bus. I recognized the driver, having had him before, but I didn't remember him being in such a sour mood as he appeared to be now. Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but I thought it could have something to do with the fact that he's Middle Eastern. So because of the bus scheduling we got there an hour and forty minutes before it started, and my friend wanted to buy some poster board to make signs so we looked around but couldn't find any, and we just went and waited as people trickled in. I tried to go into the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building to use the bathroom. I thought I had seen people going in and out, and I asked my friend and she thought she had seen people going in and out, so I was surprised when the revolving door wouldn't budge. I figured I was just a weakling and needed to be firm with it, so I tried really hard before giving up. Then some federal guy opened another door and snapped, "What do you want?" and rudely got the point across that the building was closed.
They had extra signs to go around, and I got this one which really suits me because it's wordier than most.
There I am with my "terrorist beard", as someone recently called it, meaning really that I look like a Muslim and she associates all Muslims with terrorists. So I brought that up and she didn't want to argue so she was just like "Most girls hate beards like that", but that's fine because they don't have to grow beards like that if they don't want to. Anyway, I had my friend take this picture before the event started, which is why there's still space behind and around me. That was the last time I saw her before it was over and most of the people had left. Even as it got crowded, a space was left for a couple of Native Americans dressed in traditional regalia complete with multi-feet-long headdress feathers that could put an eye out, and they burned some kind of incense and the guy did a traditional jig while the woman played a drum. It was entertaining and became even more so when I realized he was dancing on top of a sheet of cardboard with "Trump" written on it.
The weather was gorgeous, probably fifty degrees or so, with hardly any snow anywhere. Many cars beeped their support as they drove past and we cheered back at them. I couldn't even begin to guess how many people were gathered there because I couldn't see past the first few layers around me. I had heard that some other people would be there to counter-protest our protest, but I didn't see or hear a trace of them at any point. As the start time approached some of the organizers shouted out directions with bullhorns, but I could barely hear, though I figured out that they were trying to have children at the front of the march, and to have them holding hands, Muslim-American, Muslim-American. That bothered me because Muslim and American aren't exclusive categories and it goes to show how even people who love and support Muslims make the mistake of viewing them as "other".
Anyway, we swarmed up the road to Capitol Hill, chanting slogans like "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!" and "No ban, no wall, something something I couldn't make out the entire time!" It was a little awkward for me to join in since I'm accustomed to knee-jerk rejecting anything that smacks of conformity, to the point that I'm automatically not interested in anything that goes viral and probably miss out on some cool stuff that way, but I did my best. People were outside their doors, standing on the roofs of buildings, talking and filming us. Cars continued to beep and we cheered them back. When I reached a certain vantage point on the hill my jaw dropped - I had thought I was near the front of the line, but it stretched as far as the eye could see ahead of me, and just as far behind. People swarmed onto the soaking wet lawn of Capitol Hill, up the massive steps, and into the building itself in lines on each side. There was still a sign about air quality lying on the ground, where it had probably been obscured by snow.
So I was on the steps, chanting along, holding up my sign, which several people wanted to take pictures of. Democratic state Senator Jim Dabakis, who by all accounts is a great guy, came out onto the steps to meet us and say a few words. I'm not sure if that was scheduled or impromptu but we appreciated it. In essence, he supported what we were doing and vowed that we would not back down. Apparently city mayor Jackie Biskupski and county mayor Ben McAdams and representatives Angela Romero and Sandra Hollins also spoke, but I missed them somehow. Several of the speakers were former refugees themselves. Despite being just a few feet away I could again barely hear a word they were saying, but I applauded along with everyone else. They could have said "Death to America" for all I know. But this was a peaceful protest, the kind that our Founding Fathers saw fit to include among our most basic constitutionally protected rights, and it clearly brought together people from a lot of backgrounds and religious and political persuasions.
I walked back behind a dozen or so Somalian Muslim girls and one guy, aged maybe twelve to twenty-something, who were chanting "Hey hey, ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!" and "Show me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like!" The girls were wearing hijabs, because apparently they're too dumb to realize it's a symbol of oppression and they need an American male to explain it to them. (This is sarcasm. I do not actually think they're dumb.) Muslim women, in fact, had most of the best signs, with my favorites being "The only terror Muslims R responsible 4 is algebra" and "I was a stranger and you took me not in - Jesus". I would have pictures of them except I didn't take any pictures because my phone was almost dead. Here are a few pictures taken by other people and here and here are a couple Facebook albums. Knock yourself out.
I went to the City Creek mall and got something to eat, and while I was there I left my sign propped up by the table for all to read, and one guy came over and shook my hand and congratulated me for actually doing something while so many people just talk about it. Then with my remaining time before the bus departure I wanted to see Temple Square. I recognized that the powers-that-be probably wouldn't appreciate me parading a controversial political slogan around, albeit one that ten out of ten General Authorities would agree with, so I turned it around so that the blank side was showing. The weather was still beautiful, there was a wedding going on and I just wandered around and looked at the statues and read the plaques and didn't go into the visitors' centers because I was still carrying food. There were sister missionaries everywhere, maybe a dozen, just targeting the tourists who didn't have that "Mormon glow", I suppose.
Ten or fifteen minutes into it I saw a couple of guys in suits in my peripheral vision. Oh, male missionaries, finally, I thought. I ignored them. Then one of them called out, "Sir?" and I looked again and they weren't missionaries but security guards. One of them hung back and didn't say anything, while the other was unnecessarily curt and vaguely threatening, as if he thought I might pull a gun on him. He began, "We don't allow any -" And I thought, what is it, my food? My laptop? Do they want to search my Styrofoam container or my laptop case? They can be my guests. He continued. "- signs on the property. Even if you're just walking through. We've already received multiple complaints. You'll have to leave through there." And he pointed to the nearest exit. And while he was talking I said "I'm sorry" a couple times and he gave no response or reaction to that at all. I felt like an "It's all right" or at least some sort of acknowledgement would have been a normal person's response to an apology for an honest mistake that didn't affect anyone, but no one asked me.
I have no problem with the Church instituting certain rules on its property. That is not the issue. My problems with the situation as it unfolded are that a.) the rule is not posted anywhere, b.) the security guard was unnecessarily a jerk, and c.) multiple Mormons were so traumatized by the blank side of a sheet of poster board that they bothered to call security. So I retract my apologies. I'm not sorry for not being psychic and I'm not sorry for bothering people who apparently deserved to be bothered. The last time someone called law enforcement on me was a few months ago for having autism. I kid you not. I was swinging in the park on a Saturday afternoon, and some people thought I was acting weird and might have autism and might need help, so instead of asking me if I needed help, they called the police. And the police told me exactly that. They were real nice and cool about it, though. Too bad they can't arrest people for not minding their own business and leaving me alone.
So I wandered around aimlessly for a while and then headed for bus pickup point by the Conference Center. I knew it was the pickup point because it was where they had dropped me off, it was where they had picked me up last time I came to Salt Lake, I double checked the address in the reservation email, and there were already buses waiting there. I went up to the one labeled "Salt Lake Express" but the driver said "This isn't your bus; yours will be along in a few minutes." A couple of really old guys showed up and asked if I was waiting for the bus too and I said yeah and we all waited and then finally I turned on my almost-dead phone to see how freaking late it was and got the voicemail from the driver saying he was going to leave without us. Neither I nor the old men had budged from that spot the entire time. I still don't know how he managed such a feat of incompetence. I called customer service and flipped out and then apologized for flipping out because I should know better, and though I had to wait two hours for the next bus I got a free ticket for next time I want to go to Salt Lake or wherever, which I don't anticipate being anytime soon.
Last week's post may have read like a drunken rant (insert your own quip about all my posts reading like that here) because I was, as I indicated, more sleep-deprived than usual when I wrote it. And I didn't feel the need to go into much actual detail about the contents of Drumpf's executive order because the news was two days old by that point and I figured no one wanted to read a repetition of what they already knew. Since that time, I have seen counterarguments from Drumpf's defenders and counterarguments against the counterarguments, and because I am a reasonably honest person I have considered the embarrassing possibility that after speaking out so emphatically I was, in fact, wrong. But in the end I concluded that I wasn't and that my outrage, whether or not I handled it as gracefully as I ought to have, was fully justified.
You know, last week someone at church suggested that becoming like God includes not getting angry, and I thought, No offense, but have you ever read the Bible, like even a little bit? God doesn't not get angry. Anger is not an inherently bad emotion. Anger stemming from compassion for people you've never met whose lives will never affect yours is, I would argue, a very good emotion, albeit a useless one if it isn't strong enough to drive you to action. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland agrees. A few months ago he told a gathering of global political leaders at Windsor Castle that "governments today are not responding to the refugee problem urgently enough, nor on a large enough scale... The world needs to be more outraged than it is, when we read of the persecution, the violence, the sexual violence, the murder, the rape, the destruction of families and any social structure that these people have had - almost entire cultures being destroyed."
Whelp, I've decided to analyze this thing more closely to prove that I'm not just riding the wave of public backlash. First I think it's worth pointing out an important distinction that most people, whether for or against the ban, seem to have failed to grasp. The ban prohibits all immigration of any kind from the seven targeted countries for 90 days, but it also prohibits all refugees from all countries, anywhere, for 120 days, and from Syria indefinitely, and lowers the quota who will be permitted in 2017 to less than half of the one set by Obama. Now I suppose the best jumping-off point for my analysis would be Drumpf's own damage control statement:
"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave.
We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.
This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.
I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering."
First of all, Mr. Drumpf - I don't harbor any delusions that you'll ever actually read this, of course, but I want to pretend I'm addressing you because it's more fun to write that way - congratulations on making history with your phenomenal new record. Other presidents take hundreds of days to achieve a majority disapproval rating, but you managed it in eight. I'm not even being sarcastic when I say how very impressive that is. It will be very, very difficult for any future presidents to beat. Even if one of them reveals himself to be a Sith Lord immediately after taking the Oath of Office, people will just be like "Whoa, Star Wars in real life!" Secondly, nice opening statement about immigrant heritage and compassion and freedom and stuff. Did you write it yourself? It seems more articulate than your usual, but maybe you just express yourself better in writing. I'm like that too. Oh wait, your Twitter account destroys that hypothesis. Never mind. Anyway, I have my doubts as to whether you actually believe those finely crafted words, but who am I to say? Only God knows your heart. I'm more concerned about your actions.
"My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months." Someone else pointed this out to me as well, apparently unaware that in 2011 I despised Obama so much I would have been opposed to this too simply because he was the one doing it. So you're willing to agree with Obama on something despite being his ideological opponent? That's a sign of rare maturity and I'm proud of you. I suppose you could say with a straight face that his policy was "similar" to yours. Here's a fun fact for you, Mr. Drumpf - a domesticated chihuahua and a rabid wolf share about 98.8% of their DNA. In other words, they're very similar. Anyone who protests against their children petting the latter but not the former is obviously a hypocrite.
Now, let's look at the trivial differences: Obama was acting on the discovery that there was, in fact, something screwy going on with the refugee process. The fact that the FBI and State Department noticed this is an indication that said process works. You, on the other hand, are acting on nothing more than a fearmongering hypothetical of your creation. Also, unlike Obama and any other president ever for that matter, you're targeting green card holders, people of dual citizenship, and people who have already been through most of the process. You're making their lives significantly less pleasant for no justifiable reason. As for Jimmy Carter's ban on Iranian immigration that has also been cited, it was in retaliation for something that country actually did. That was before my time, but if we assume for the sake of argument that it was the same thing as yours, it was equally wrong and that doesn't make yours right. What if I told you this country has made progress (that you're now trying to reverse)? Imagine someone re-instituting segregation in the 1980s and pointing out that no one was outraged over the same thing in the 1940s.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham also pointed out in their joint statement, "It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security. Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.
"Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."
"The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror." Really, it's a sign of rare maturity, and I don't mean just rare for you but for humans in general. Keep it up. And yet the Obama administration saw no need to ban immigration from any of these countries. Now if you say that's because he's just a stupid liberal/Democrat/socialist, I'll have to retract my maturity compliment and replace it with an ad hominem fallacy accusation. I think maybe it's actually because no one from any of those countries has killed an American on American soil in at least forty years. People from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates have, though. I won't pretend to know why the Obama administration didn't put them on the list, but I suppose it is unfair to attribute their continued absence to your business dealings and holdings there as some people have. So I'll grant you that point.
"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order." Well, of course. I could have told you without reading the order that it didn't mention anything about religion. You aren't thoroughly stupid. Obviously you are in some ways if you're not just pandering and are in fact sincere in your assertions that vaccines cause autism and climate change doesn't exist, but humans are complex creatures and technically I suppose you still are one. You were intelligent enough to get yourself elected and you are surely intelligent enough to realize that not even you can target a religion in the first week of your presidency and get away with it.
Now wherever could people have gotten the ridiculous idea that it had anything to do with religion? It's not like you've ever spoken pejoratively about Muslims or called for a, quote, "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", going so far as to approvingly cite FDR's infamous discrimination against Germans, Italians and Japanese who were already U.S. citizens. Republicans would surely have treated your campaign like a joke instead of making you their nominee if you went around saying things like that. Oh wait, actually you did, but it was over a year ago, when you were just a young and foolish 69-year-old. I'm sure you've changed since then and that has nothing at all to do with this. Besides, it was just locker room talk, amiright? Wait - wrong rationalization, but anyway, the point is I'm sure you respect Muslims every bit as much as you respect women, which coincidentally is also how much I respect you.
In any case, we both know that for many of your supporters smugly pointing out that this isn't about religion, it is and always has been about religion. Conservatives who think all of Islam is fundamentally evil and view all Muslims with contempt and suspicion are not at all rare, and usually not at all ashamed to express it. I documented several in this post some time ago and it was the single most consistent and biggest contributing factor to my alienation from dozens of conservative Facebook pages and personalities. But I get it, I really do. I used to be like that too. Few of Islam's defenders even acknowledge the elephants in the room - why are virtually all terrorists nominally Muslim, why are so many Muslim-majority countries crappy dictatorships, why does the Quran say such-and-such? It turns out there are reasonable answers to all of these if you go looking for them (try this article for a starting point), but the simple answer is easier. The simple answer gives us a scapegoat for our fears and a target for our anger. The only problem with it is that it's not true. But many of your supporters don't mind that, and you don't mind that they don't mind, do you?
There's just a couple more anomalies I'd like to clear up before we move on. Why did you tell The Brody File, on the very day your executive order went into effect, that Christian refugees would be given priority? I mean, you explained why - because Obama gave priority to Muslims and two wrongs make a right - but I'm just confused because that seems odd in light of your claim that this has nothing to do with religion. Do you realize that Christianity is a religion? And it also bothers me a little bit that your son Donald Jr., who has been very vocally supportive of your campaign, liked this tweet by John Cardillo a few days ago: "When it's revealed that the #QuebecShooting terrorists are Muslims, #Trump will have a tremendous spike in political capital. #MuslimBan". The lone shooter turned out to be not a Muslim at all (in fact he's strongly anti-Muslim and one of your supporters, though I wouldn't suggest for a moment that you are to blame for his actions), but your son assumed and/or hoped he was because that would help your agenda. Can you see why this bothers me a little bit? Walk in my shoes for a minute here.
"We will again be issuing visas to all countries..." Okay, visas, great. And the refugees, the ones that Americans are most concerned and outraged about in the wake of your ban? What about them? Are you going to remember to mention them at all?
"...once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies..." Okay, look, I just have to assume that none of your defenders on this point have any freaking clue what policies are already in place. They're summarized here by an organization that would know. Frankly, I think they're excessive, but they've worked. They keep the terrorists out, and probably a lot of good people too, so maybe they could stand to be overhauled but that obviously isn't what you're concerned about. Exactly which part do you think is inadequate, and why? What do you have that's better? Inquiring minds want to know. Of course it is conceivable that a very cunning, determined, and patient terrorist could somehow slip through undetected, but the same could be said of whatever you replace it with and any other security policies available to mankind. If you want a hundred percent guaranteed perfect safety then I'm sorry, but you were born on the wrong planet. But perhaps you're well aware that what you're claiming to fix isn't broken? And you're just exploiting the fact that most of your supporters aren't?
"...over the next 90 days." And the refugees from these and all other countries - except for Syria, you know, the one where the worst of the violence and the most desperate part of the humanitarian crisis is located, which is blocked indefinitely - will be able to resume coming here after 90 days as well, yes? What's that? Oh, normal immigration will resume after 90 days, but actual refugees, the ones that Americans are most concerned and outraged about in the wake of your ban, will have to wait 120 days, which is more than 90 days? Or God knows how long if they're from Syria? Interesting. I recommend making that more clear in the final draft of your statement. We wouldn't want the American public to get the crazy idea that you're deliberately misleading them by omitting these facts.
Even if this ban is temporary, except for Syria, you've set a dangerous precedent. You or someone else could lengthen it, do it again and/or expand it to more countries, and wouldn't need any more justification, aka zero, than you have right now. Why shouldn't I expect you to target all Muslims as you publicly stated your intention to do just over a year ago? I won't try to predict the future because the last time I did I predicted that Republicans would treat your campaign like a joke instead of making you their nominee. And that Democrats would pick Bernie Sanders. But regardless, this is alarming. But you know what isn't going to be put on hold for 90 or 120 or any days? The humanitarian crisis and the suffering that these refugees are trying to escape from. They will continue to freeze, starve, be raped, be murdered, and just generally have a miserable time during these 120 days. And maybe disregarding that for the duration of this period would be a necessary evil if you had a legitimate national security reason to do so, but you don't, so...
"I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria." Really? That's funny, because when I have tremendous feeling for someone I don't fabricate a reason to keep them out of my country indefinitely. But I guess we all process our emotions differently. And I'm sure that starving Syrian children are now in just a little bit less pain because you said you have tremendous feeling for them. Actions aside, though, it's hard to take your words of compassion seriously when they have been preceded by words like this from your son.
One problem with this analogy is that three terrorists hiding among the Syrian refugees would be three more than have actually occurred in reality, so "our Syrian refugee problem" described here is a figment of his and your imaginations. The other problem, and the reason I bring it up here, was pointed out by the Skittles company itself:
Well, I didn't need another reason to eat Skittles, which I believe are actually created by God Himself and rain down in a secret location, but there's one anyway and if three of them kill me then at least I'll die doing something I loved. Now I recognize that Donald Drumpf Jr. is not you, despite the similar name, but he's very close to you and he very publicly supported your campaign and he made this statement in defense of your proposed ban, which as far as I know was still geared toward all Muslims at that time. You didn't correct him, did you? Does this analogy reflect how you see the people that you now claim to have "tremendous feeling" for? Only God knows your heart, like I said, but I'm just saying this doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in you.
"My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country..." As it should be.
"...but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering." As the comic relief character in a recent sci-fi blockbuster once said, "I find that answer vague and unconvincing." (Oops, spoiler alert.) Why don't you already have some ways in mind? You've planned on becoming president for a long time, and you've planned on banning Muslims, I mean refugees from certain countries for a long time too. It seems to me that you could have pondered this once or twice during that time and gotten some concrete ideas in mind before you shut them out of the country that was founded as a refuge for those who are suffering. Of course, maybe you have and you just didn't like to discuss them because they wouldn't appeal to the xenophobia that was crucial to your getting elected. I don't expect anything to come of this, but please, prove me wrong. I would love to get on this blog and tell everyone that I was wrong and you actually meant what you said. I don't think you're purely evil and I actually like some of the things you've done and plan to do. I want to like you, I really do, but you make it impossible.
Now, my response to Mr. Drumpf's damage control statement took up a lot more space than I thought it was going to, so I guess I'd better wrap this up, but I want to mention one more thing. A lot of people have come out of the woodwork suddenly claiming to care about homeless veterans and other struggling people in the United States, insisting that we should focus on them and don't have the resources to deal with the refugees anyway. I'm fine with that rationale as long as we extend the ban to all countries and rewrite the plaque on the Statue of Liberty to say something along the lines of "We've got our own problems; go away." Though preferably in a more poetic way. Also, stop sharing this moronic meme:
Why is it moronic, you may ask? Because Starbucks started doing LITERALLY THAT EXACT THING a little over three years ago. I don't drink coffee, but maybe I'll buy some and dump it out.
Okay, one more thing. Weebly, the company that hosts my site, has this announcement to make: "If you’re feeling like we’re feeling, you might be ready to spread some positivity, good news and compassion back into the world. The Weebly entrepreneurs behind Zoë Bands felt compelled to do the same. They turn refugee life vests into bracelets and sell them online to raise money for critical resources like food, clothing and medical supplies for refugees around the world. For every Zoe Band bracelet purchased in the next week, Weebly will match with a donation to Refugee One, a non-profit supporting refugee relocation. Refugee One is a Chicago based non-profit and Weeblycustomer that helps refugee families find homes, jobs and create their slice of the American Dream. Let’s join together as a global community and do our part to #spreadcompassion. Sincerely, The Weebly Team"
In this country we are very blessed, privileged, lucky or whatever you want to call it. Most of us can be grateful that our ancestors, or we ourselves, fled their suffering to come here before someone suddenly decided that was no longer okay. That's how and why the United States came to exist and now Daesh has scared some of us into forgetting that and flipping the bird at other sufferers. As Band-Aid sang, "Tonight thank God it's them, instead of you!" We have enough to share and the freedom to stand up for them in their most desperate hour. If you care about your fellow humans, get angry and do something about it. I went to a huge protest today, but I'll talk about that next week.
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"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.