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Friday, August 10, 2018

Zero Sum


Tradition has it that whenever a group of people has tasted the lovely fruits of wealth, security, and prestige, it begins to find it more comfortable to believe in the obvious lie and accept that it alone is entitled to privilege.
-- Bantu Stephen Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist


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And we've circled back 'round to this.

He’s so predictable. This is Trump’s go-to move when he’s cornered or stressed or feeling unloved.

This is Trump’s fan-tribute. Like those songs fading music groups do, a closing feel-good number, with lyrics of tired clichés about roadies and the cheap seats and hotel rooms and the lonely road and how it’s all worth it when they get up on the stage and see the faces of the fans. You people, you’re why we do it. And the fans cheer. It’s us! Us! Oh, they’re singing about us! They love us! And the easy applause swells over the music. And a bunch of old has-beens get to feel like they did back in the days when they filled stadiums with a 100,000 fans. Listen to ‘em cheer. We still got it.

That’s what this is.

Trump’s feeling down, feeling blue, feelin’ old and unloved.

So he throws this out. Those darn black people. Always with the protesting. Why, they don’t even know what they’re mad about! The fans, man, the poor football fans. You people go to the game for fun and these ungrateful types wanna protest? They’re practically stealing from you, what with all the money it costs you for the tickets. Why can’t they just be cool? Just be happy? Look at all that money they’re making! You, White People, you’re the real victims here.

Easy cheers.

Easy applause.

Oh, he’s talking about us! He’s loves us! And the crowd cheers. And it makes him feel good. Important. Loved. Righteous. He’s still got it.

The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love. Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!

Take that apart though.

Look at what he’s actually saying.

"unable to define"

Woof woof! There’s a dog whistle for you.

There it is, right there. Unable to define. That's what he said.

Numerous players (i.e. black players)…

…want to show their "outrage" (in quote marks, to delineate that their concerns are fake. Not valid. Not real. Not like white people’s outrage, not like his own supporters’ rage. Black people, you see, they don’t feel things like you and I do, they don’t love their own kids, their families, their friends, their community or nation, not like we do. That’s what the plantation owners used to say when they sold off black children to other slavers. They’re not like us. That’s why their outrage is in quotes, because it’s not like ours)…

…at something most of them are unable to define (they don’t even know what they’re mad at, man! Silly negroes).

There it is.

Right there.

Right. There.

The whitest of white privilege.

Their outrage, it's not real! Why, they don't even know what they're mad about! I mean, look at how well off they are, what are they complaining about anyway?

That ignorance, that attitude, that dismissal, that is exactly what those players are protesting. The centuries of bigotry and racism and oppression that leads directly to that privileged blindness, that right there. That’s the thing. That’s the root of it. That’s the very essence, right there.

Talk about irony.

You could describe every Trump supporter at every Trump rally in the same manner, only you'd actually be accurate instead of wrong.

These white conservatives, they're all mad, pissed off, they have no idea why and they don't care. Pissed off is an identity, the identity, of modern conservatives. They're always mad about something, always certain they are being attacked, diminished, made lesser somehow, under assault, being invaded and violated. 

It’s who they are.

Trump says unemployment is the lowest in history? The only jobs that are unfilled are the ones nobody wants? They're still mad about jobs. Immigrants, yeah, they’re taking our jobs! Those filthy bastards!

Trump tells you the GDP is the highest in history, the economy is booming like never before, the stock market is at an all time high, taxes are low, wages are up and companies are handing out bonuses! That’s what he says. His supporters are mad. They’re taking our money! Impose those tariffs! It’s those bad trade deals! Screw Europe! Screw China! They’re bleeding us dry, man! It’s so unfair! So unfair!

The vast majority of the country is of their religion. We've never had a president who wasn't a Christian. Members of our government loudly declare their faith every day, publicly, from their government offices while in the performance of their government jobs. They don’t have to hide it, they’re proud of their faith, they shove it in your face, they brag about it. Christian prayers are offered up at every public event, every government function, sporting contests, and flood dozens of TV channels and hundreds radio stations across the country. The various fetishes of that religion are on every corner, crosses sprout like weeds, and the symbols of Christianity are displayed openly and proudly by its adherents. Christianity rakes in billions, tax free, and builds itself massive monuments of gold and steel ten stories high. Our religious holidays are Christian holidays. Still, they're mad, our religion is under attack! We’re oppressed, persecuted, they angrily shout!

They’re white and Christian and straight, this entire country is built around them. They have never, not once walked into a place and wondered if they’ll be served or asked to leave instead, if they’ll get refused a room, or a loan, or a decent education. They don’t have to straighten their hair or worry if they sound “American” enough. And every national hero, every Hollywood star, looks just like them.  They never have to fear if their kids will get shot down on the street because some cop confused a toy for a gun. They never have to worry if they’ll be thrown in jail for “resisting arrest” when they’re pulled over for no reason. Nobody is demanding that they show a picture ID to vote – and then closing down DMV offices in their neighborhoods to make it impossible to get that ID. No one is purging them from voter records. Nobody calls the police on them when they have a barbeque in the park, or their kids set up a lemonade stand, or they’re waiting for a friend in a coffee shop, or if they fall asleep in their dorm’s study room, or they’re a fireman trying to save lives and property, or they’re a 12-year-old kid running a lawn mowing business. They never had to march for their civil rights, for freedom, for justice. They get a boost, an advantage, in everything, every single facet of our society, just for being who they are. And yet they’re still mad, Trump tells them that they are oppressed and put upon and they believe it. They’re mad. Angry at the idea that somebody else, somebody not like them, should get that same privilege.

Hey, don’t take my word for it.

Go to to a Trump rally. Listen to his speeches. Look at his actions. That’s how he got elected. That’s exactly what he tells his supporters. You’re the victims. “They” are taking your money, your jobs, your religion, your freedom, and your country away from you. I’m gonna give it back to you. That was his whole campaign. Take back America for real Americans, right? Real Americans just like them.

But the people who are actually oppressed?

The Americans who daily face actual discrimination and disadvantage?

The refugees desperately fleeing actual horror and persecution? Screw ‘em.

He’s got nothing but contempt for them.

He’s got nothing but dismissal.

…wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define.

Woof woof.

Those players who take a knee, they have articulated the reasons for their protest at length. Repeatedly. Over and over.

They’ve written hundreds of thousands of words on the subject.

They’ve given hundreds of interviews.

They’ve spoken out in every venue this country has.

The reason for their protest, for their statement, has been detailed in every major paper in this country, and on nearly every major media channel.

If you don’t know why they take a knee, if Trump doesn’t know by now, well then it’s because you refuse to listen.


If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."
-- Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States of America


What really confuses Trump is the money.

They make a fortune doing what they love. Be happy, be cool!

You're making money, so what's the problem?

You’re getting paid. So why are you bellyaching about stuff? Be cool, man!

People protest police abuse? What’s the problem? The GDP is at an all time high! Be Happy!

Nazis on the march in America’s cities? What are you complaining about? The stock market is roaring!

Why do you care about black men being shot down in the street? What’s that to you? You’re rich, man!

Other people denied their civil rights and due process? Injustice? Inequality? Racism? Violence and oppression? So what? Business profits are great! If you're making money, what do you have to complain about? To hell with everybody else, you’re making money, right? You’re rich, aren't you? So what’s the problem?

Because Trump and conservatives like him can't conceive of anything more important than money.

This is Trump. This is Trump every day, you’re making money, man, what’s the problem?

No matter how many times Colin Kaepernick explained himself, no matter how many interviews Malcolm Jenkins gives, no matter how many times the players explain the reasons for their protest, no matter how detailed, no matter how specific, Trump can't hear it. He won't hear it. Because he simply cannot fathom putting the welfare of others over money.

This is the philosophy of modern conservatism: I got mine, fuck you.

This is the core of their horrible selfish religion: I'm saved, you can burn in hell.

You’ve heard me say this many times before: It’s not heaven if everybody gets to go.  The best part about Conservative Heaven isn’t being up there with Jesus, no, it’s gloating at the poor saps burning forever down below. Ha ha HAH. We’re Saved, fuck you, losers! And that horrible selfish religion shapes everything else. We got ours, our healthcare, our food, our clean water, our homes, our jobs, our retirement, our stock options, our savings, our opportunity, our salvation, so fuck you. The best part of America is that everybody doesn’t get to go. There’s no point in privilege if everybody is privileged. You can’t think of yourself as exceptional if everybody is exceptional. There’s no point in being rich if everybody else is rich too. They see liberty and justice and freedom as a zero sum game. If others get more, they are somehow diminished, lessened, cheated of their exalted status and made average.

This is how Trump and his supporters think. You've got yours, why are you protesting? Fuck them, you got yours!

This is the very core of modern Republicanism where everything is for profit, prisons, healthcare, education, religion, civil rights, equality, justice, liberty, all of it for money. And so long as you get yours, well, then to hell with everybody else because there’s not enough to go around and heaven isn’t heaven if everybody gets to go.

These people are almost literally the rich sons of bitches who rowed away from the Titanic in half empty lifeboats as 1500 people drowned in freezing water behind them. Fuck you, losers! I got mine.

This literally defines the very platform of the Republican Party. It’s become their entire ideology, from civil rights to foreign policy, fuck you, so long as I got mine.

And if you didn’t get yours, well, that’s your fault. If the playing field isn’t level, if society is rigged against you, if others are working night and day to marginalize you, too bad, that’s your fault, loser. If you worked your whole life, you saved and you sacrificed, and then one day a bunch of rich assholes implode the economy and they wipe out your savings, your kid’s college fund, your retirement, your job, your home, everything, well, too bad for you, Loser. You should have planned better, you should have worked harder. You should have been born privileged. Pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps, and then pulled the ladder up after yourself.

This ideology, this religion, is nothing but selfishness. It’s a complete lack of empathy shamelessly writ large.

It’s Trump’s go-to move, his fan tribute, because it always gets a cheer from the suckers.

And the more things change, well, you know the rest…

Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.”
-- Mwai Kibaki, 3rd President of Kenya

103 comments:

  1. Struck that note perfectly, Jim. I got mine and you're nothing but scum because you're not in my league. I don't have a lot. I do have a lot more than some and I'm thankful everyday that I'm still able to contribute to those who are struggling. I don't do it because of god. I do it because it's the right thing to do. Why can't these ultra-rich bastards realize who put them where they are and give back. Not just money but empathy and respect.

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    1. Very well said, Desert Bill. It seems to me that the noisiest rich bastards are the least charitable.

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    2. Quite a few years ago I worked for the local United Way and I was stunned and saddened to discover that the highest per capita giving was among the lowest economic levels. The more people made the less they gave.
      Sadly I have had this backed up consistently since then in every non-profit I have had the privilege of working for as either paid or volunteer staff.

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    3. Well said Desert Bill. Thanks.

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    4. @lynne killgore, I know exactly what you mean. Every year the Letter Carriers have a food drive and I help pick up in a local town. By far the main contributors are those that can least afford it. Wealthier neighborhoods leave almost nothing.

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    5. Well said Desert Bill; it's not because of God, it's because it's the right thing to do...something we all were taught in kindergarten and amplified by JFK in his speech.

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    6. America is on sale to the highest bidder. Any billionaire can buy an American media outlet and start their own Goverment coup. Or foreign goverment trough intermediaries. Our the Murdoch’s working with Putin?

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  2. A couple small typos, Chief:

    "If you worked you whole life, you saved and you sacrificed, and then one day a bunch of rich assholes implode the economy and they wipe out your savings, your kid’s college fund, your retirement, your job, your home, everything, well, too bad for you, Loser. You should have planned better, you should have worked harder. You should have been born privileged. Pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps, and then pulled the ladder up after yourself."

    Excellent essay regardless.

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    1. Also a typo: “If you worked -your- whole life”

      Excellent essay!

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    2. That's kind of the point. People who are really good at getting rich are usually really bad at other things, like competence or morality. It's all about more cash. It's fine to ruin public education and healthcare for a tax break, since they have their own anyway. Welfare? Job training? No. Organized, well-paid employees with options cost more.

      Seriously. If I had a million cats you'd call me a menace to society and lock me up. But if I have a billion dollars the odds are that I really am a bona fide menace to society (Watch as I buy Congress on the cheap for a tax cut), I get called a capitalist hero.

      I don't think we are going to have a real shot at reclaiming the high moral ground in this country until we manage to contain the lopsided influence of just 1% of our people.

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  3. "...with liberty and all, for just us."

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    1. If they were to rewrite the Constitution it would read "We, the rich privileged elite," and not "We the people." They seem to think it reads that way anyway.

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  4. Even a true hedonist has more of a grasp of what life means than Trump. At least the hedonist has an outlet for his money. People as mentally limited as Trump are incapable of finding a moral argument that involves compassion.

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  5. I must tell you that in my view you are exceptional.

    You're a privileged white guy. A white American living in Florida. A former Navy Intelligence officer. A veteran.
    I would not expect this level of emotional intelligence and empathy from someone with your background.

    You are not someone that I would expect to be sympatico with the plight of the poor, oppressed, black citizens of America.

    I am constantly surprised by your logic, excellent writing, and compassionate world view.

    I watch with dismay the rhetoric that oozes from your government, and the mindless way that your media puts it on repeat in a 24 hour loop.
    I am horrified by the sensationalism, the vitriol and the viciousness, and the march towards totalitarianism.

    Your writing gives me hope that there are still sane people in America.

    I know from your postings that you receive a lot of negative feedback.

    Please know that your writing is appreciated.

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    1. You wrote:

      You're a privileged white guy. A white American living in Florida. A former Navy Intelligence officer. A veteran.
      I would not expect this level of emotional intelligence and empathy from someone with your background.

      That always surprises me when someone says or writes that. I am also a Navy veteran (but enlisted, not an officer such as Mr. Wright, but I was a Navy Recruiter at one time in my career).

      "Military" or "veteran" does not equal "robot" or "unsympathetic to others." There are plenty of active-duty military personnel and military veterans who are sympathetic to the plight of others . . . we come from all walks of life, and from all corners of the nation.

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    2. James, it sounds as if Mr. Becker is not from the US, and I am assuming he his going on (mostly) the public representations of our military. That said, I believe that you (and Jim) are as representative of “the military” as I am of “law enforcement”, that is to say, sadly, a distinct minority.

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    3. James, while you are correct, of course, stereotypes exist for a reason. I find it a little extra impactful when the perceived stereotype gets broken; not necessary for the point to be made, but a nice accent when it exists.

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    4. Veterans DO come from all walks of life. I am not a veteran, but in my small way, I do support a group of them called "Common Defense". They are pissed that Trump is trying to use them as his window dressing in that stupid parade he insists on, for example. They want good for all the people, not just themselves. I am happy to kick a little their way whenever I can.

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  6. Well said, Jim.

    At nearly 67, I don't have a lot and my "golden years" are probably not going to be so "golden", but I have a small home, a bed to sleep in and food when I need it, so I am ahead of many.

    I still can't grasp why these people are so greedy. How much is enough? What does one man have to make $20 MIILION, one woman have 12 yachts, etc., yet they are not satisfied. Why?

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    1. Because the more people have the more they want.

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    2. And the more they get, and discover it still doesn’t fill the gaping emptiness inside, they keep thinking they still must not have enough. They don’t understand that the feeling of emptiness can never be filled up from the outside. It only gets filled up from within. And the real shocker that they just don’t seem to understand is, the more you give away and the more you help others, the more that empty hole fills up.

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    3. DeAnn, so beautifully stated! Giving, and being a good and generous person, is its own reward, a thousand times over.

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    4. "the feeling of emptiness can never be filled up from the outside. It only gets filled up from within."

      Very well said DeAnn. I will use those words. Thanks.

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    5. Because the people who want more and constantly more are empty inside. They are trying deeperately to fill the void with stuff instead of dealing with the source(s) of their pain.

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  7. Wonderful essay, Jim. It's almost uncanny with it's timing as well. I was having a discussion with my boss at work this morning, and he began the usual 45 supporter rhetoric about how the trade agreements were non existent and how the U.S. was getting royally screwed. When I offered to go and get non biased reports that proved that sentiment was not correct, he just sort of waived with disregard and told me not to bother. I then just sort of blurted out that I couldn't understand how he could be so callous about everything that was occurring in this country, and he looked me right in the eye and said that he really didn't give a fuck about what was going on and he didn't care about what Congress or the President was doing, as long as the stock market was doing well and he was making money. So what you say in this essay is really striking a nerve with me. I got mine so fuck you is exactly what he was saying.

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    1. To our shame, that type of thinking (I got mine screw everyone else) is not only allowable these days, but encouraged rather than something to be embarrassed about. People who think otherwise get mocked and worse.

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    2. Daniel, you just might want to look for another job. Because that guy will fuck you over royally sooner or later.

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  8. Thank you sir for another well spoken word of Truth. Truth is not always, in fact seldom, pretty; but it must stand for all to see. In the glaring light of Truth we may see our own shortcomings, and humbly work to correct them.

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  9. Gawd Almighty. This is a masterpiece among masterpieces, Mr W.

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  10. I was raised Catholic but no longer follow any formal religion. However, I work at a low-paying job so I can help inner city children with disabilities have a better shot at success. I volunteer with programs that help kids, and regularly donate to several charities. Even though I haven't had a paycheck since the end of June and won't get another one until the middle of September, I just copied down the name and address of a local food bank that's running low so I can send a small check.

    I don't consider myself to be any kind of hero or expect any praise because I help my fellow human beings. I do these things because THAT'S WHAT YOU DO when you care about other people. I can look at myself in the mirror every night and know that I tried to make this world just a little better. How sad a life it must be to think it's okay, and even admirable, to hurt others so you can get more.

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  11. I've been on the financial bottom most of my life, but I'm doing okay. Not great, but that's all right. I have the basics. From time to time, I've asked myself why I didn't do what THOSE people did. You know, the ones who cheat and steal and manipulate others to get what they want, and the answer is simple: I wasn't raised that way. I know right from wrong. I'm honest and have a strong sense of ethics. In this country, those traits/qualities don't get you anywhere. Isn't that amazing? And so very, very sad. :(

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    1. IKR? I could easily start up a church or hawk snake oil and make bank, but my moral destruction is just not worth it to me.

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  12. At least the Titanic led to some maritime reforms. Men did give up seats and it was for most women and children first. Although the lower decks were treated as lower deck. Will our ship of state learn from this aberration we call Trumpland. I will do all I can. I know you and your community of followers will. We have been in shitty straits before. Sedition act in WW I. KKK rallies. George Wallace time and other senators almost as bad. But the we had JFK and RFK and a renewed LBJ who stood for something. And a Congress that would not truckle to the C in C. Where we go from here I know not, but it is still my country as well as Trumps. More, cause I had no bone spurs nor pussy grabbing weakness. Good piece Jim. Real good.

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  13. I cannot tell you how often I have had this conversation, starting with my older sister who informed me that the minute I owned a home I would give up this foolish being for the people crap and start to protect my own "stuff". I thank my lucky stars every day that I never "arrived". You said it better than I ever could. Thank you.

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    1. I own my home and do pretty well. I have never had an "I got mine" attitude. It sickens and bewilders me how anyone can. Having "stuff" isn't the issue. Being a selfish asshole is.

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    2. ^^That. I'm the same--I grew up poor, but I make a decent middle/upper middle class living now (and we just paid off our mortgage last month). And I do not understand people who have that attitude at all. I've got enough for my needs and then some and I'm happy to share whatever extra I have with those who may need it more than me.

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  14. And the outrage at NFL players taking a knee during the anthem begins again.

    But just like last year, many of those shrieking the loudest will become silent as the grave about this later in the season when "their" teams become eligible for the playoffs. ��

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  15. thank you. when i looked at the oregonian website today, i saw franklin graham praying for our governor so god will save her (she
    says she is spiritual, meditates and practices yoga). it made my skin crawl. trump always reminds me of someone picking at a scab.... he just can't leave it alone.

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    1. I saw that too. Don’t forget she also identifies as bisexual. I’m proud she’s our governor!

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  16. This might be the best of Mr. Wright's work, but I'm about to nitpick as I differ with this intrepretation of being selfish. As used, it's suggesting morality. For me, I know "selfish" as being concerned with one's interests, and that's all. What those interests are...that's where ethics come in, and judgment is valid. For me, I'm completely selfish. I want to live in a world where no one demands anything of me, and I don't demand anything of others. But people are quick to judge that sort of statement, suggesting I'm willing to let people die/suffer who haven't had equal access to a safe life. I'm not. That's where my ethics come in separate from being selfish; the world in which I want to live has equality and true justice; has people working together to develop strong communities; has those of "privilege" working with those without to balance the equation. We should all be selfish, because we want what's best for us. It's just too easy to say "selfish" when the real problem are the ethics/morality of these people.

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  17. Fantastic piece of writing!You hit the nail right on the head.The only thing Trump and most congressional Republicans care about is what will advance big business and the super wealthy!Unbelievable greed is what’s driving this country to ruin and totalitarianism if its not stopped.Of course,scapegoats are needed to accomplish this. I think that’s what your article superbly articulates! Thank you

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  18. Excellent essay Jim. You couldn't be more right. I enjoy every essay

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  19. "Find another way to protest" is also an example of white privilege writ large. This admonishment dictates that the way in which "THOSE people" are to protest is in a smiling, reticent manner so as not to make the (white) people dictating that admonishment feel uncomfortable.

    Simply put, it's not really a protest if it doesn't make the people in power uncomfortable.

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  20. This philosophy can truly be seen in the Key Largo scene in which Edward G Robinson plays Johnnie Rocco. Bogart knows what he wants (and Johnnie will never have). Classic. Some things will probably always be with us.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wIxnW_nB4Lk


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  21. Your elucidation of "white privilege" is fantastic. It's not about some guy waving a confederate flag, or someone with "88" or swastika tattoos, or a bunch of guys wearing bedsheets. It's the everyday feelings, beliefs, and actions of people who have never known fear because of the color of their skin. 50+ years ago MLK spoke of his children and grandchildren being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. We aren't there yet.

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    1. I would like to quote you from this comment, but would never do so without your permission.

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  22. Wow.

    Kept looking for my "pull quote," the words I would put at the top of my Facebook link to this essay that would get other people to read it. And every paragraph I thought, "This is it!" And then I'd the next paragraph, and I'd think "This is it!" All the way to the last line. Great piece, Jim, one of your finest. I've often said that the US was founded on two diametrically opposed principles. One is, "We're all in this together," and the other is, "Every man for himself." I know which America I want to live in.

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    1. My feelings too about finding a "pull quote"

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  23. Damn. You've outdone yourself with this one.

    proofreading:

    Those players who take a knee, they have articulated the reasons for their protest at length.

    They've given hundreds of interviews.

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  24. Joe Bageant nailed the mindset of a lot of tRump's fans. The GOP elite is just not quite as blunt about it but their position is the same.

    https://www.joebageant.org/2005/12/19/what_the_left_b/

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  25. Very nice piece; possibly my favorite of yours to date.

    That song you're talking about, of course, was Jackson Browne's "Loadout/Stay".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scsJZ67ssDY

    Born in '48, Browne was 29 when he recorded the song; his life and career may not support your thesis as well as you'd like. :-}

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackson_Browne

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    1. Also, Bob Seger's 'Turn the Page'. He was also pretty young when he recorded it in '73. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQW2Lq5pA5k That' the live '76 version.

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  26. Thank you, Jim. Your voice is a smooth respite from the storm-tossed seas upon which we now live.

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  27. DAMN Jim. Just DAMN!! One of my professors always used to say, "Sin is the only theological concept for which we have empirical proof." There seems to be a movement that claims empathy over the abortion issue, or other "horrors" of American life, but I believe that is a self con-job as it includes the moral judgement that "those women" are morally inferior to those who judge them. The catch phrase, "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" is another self con-job as well. I hope you will do more thinking about this false empathy and give us an essay on your thoughts about that in the future. Until then, all I can say is "DAMN!!!!!!!!"

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  28. >> "It’s not heaven if everybody gets to go. The best part about Conservative Heaven isn’t being up there with Jesus, no, it’s gloating at the poor saps burning forever down below. Ha ha HAH. We’re Saved, fuck you, losers!"

    I just spit out a mouthful of good beer.
    Thanks for the memorable quote Jim; it was worth the beer.

    What a miserable, pathetic and hateful soul it takes for a person of such power to constantly attack those less fortunate (non-rich, non-white). Is it possible to have negative empathy?

    When the pressure is on President* Trump lashes out with a WMD (Weapon of Mass Distraction). He doesn't seem to realize that all but his cult are on to his game.

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    1. WMD...shouldn't that be "Words of Mindless Distraction"?

      Delete
  29. I think we need to remember the words of the surprisingly forgotten economist of the 60s, John Kenneth Galbraith:

    ""The modern conservative...is engaged... in one of man’s oldest, best financed, most applauded, and, on the whole, least successful exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness..."

    There was a time when Democrats were willing to stand up and call it out for what it is. Those days vanished for a few decades; I'm hoping against hope that these gathering tides are its return, or we're doomed to lose our Republic.

    (http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/07/this-is-as-true-now-as-it-was-half-a-century-ago-when-galbraith-first-began-saying-it-john-kenneth-galbraith-1963-_w.html)

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  30. Erm, hang on. "We've never had a president who wasn't a Christian"? Isn't it a well known and popular fact that nearly all the founding fathers, who basically took turns being president at the very beginning of the republic, were themselves not Christians? Deists at most? Jefferson, the third president, even edited the Bible to take out all the icky religious bits. That's *why* the US is not a Christian country.

    It's a minor point, only a throwaway line supporting a proposition which is probably true for certain values of, but I couldn't let it slide. Sorry.

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    1. That's a common myth often used in arguments over the nature of America's founding, easily disproved. Washington was a Christian, an Episcopalian. He wan't particularly devout, though Martha Washington was. Visit Mount Vernon and look at their tombs. John Adams was a Unitarian, and a very devout Christian. While Jefferson did not openly profess a religion in his later life, the urban legends that he was an atheist are unfounded. He was raised in the Anglican Church and served on the church committee as a vestryman before the Revolution. He was most certainly a deist, whose beliefs and ideology, while not formally Christian, followed the basic Christian theology and mostly closely resembled those of a Unitarian. Madison was an Episcopalian, so was Monroe. John Quincy Adams, though not technically a Founder, was a Unitarian.

      The only other president besides Jefferson not to declare a religion was Lincoln. And in point of fact, your argument would be a lot stronger if you'd included him -- given that his official biography makes a reasonable case for atheism in his later life.

      That said, while my phrasing could have been more careful so as not to trigger the pendants, all of these men were raised in the Christian tradition and at least went through the motions of that religion while in office. No president has ever professed a religion that was not in that tradition. We have never had a Muslim or a Jew or a Wiccan or someone who was openly and unabashedly an atheist. The closest we've come was Barack Obama who studied in an Islamic Madrasa as a youth -- and look at the outrage that caused -- but is an avowed and practicing Christian.

      //Jim

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    2. The school Barack Obama attended as a child in Indonesia was a secular one not a religious one. Yeah it had Islamic studies and the like, but it didn't have ONLY Islamic studies and the students there were sure as hell not only of the Islamic religion either.

      In fact, the term "Madrasah" is a loaded term that Trumpians have used since long ago in order to "otherize" Obama (look! Madrasah! He's not one of us!!!).

      This was first seen in Dana Loesch's article at Beritbrats where she deceitfully coined this term and then when called out for it because the school Obama attended was clearly not a religious school let alone an ISLAMIC one, she artfully replied that "Madrasah" was the Arabic term for "school" so technically she was right! Artful dodge!

      This is a fucking stupid reply meant to fool the fucking stupid because, like in most discussions, Trumpians disappear the appropriate context that would show how fucking stupid what they are saying is.

      Why this is fucking stupid (and I can't say this enough), is that Arabic is NOT the mainstream language in Indonesia and never has been. In fact, outside of Islam and studies/issues related to it (because like with Christianity, English was NOT the original language of that faith. Shocker I know. :)), Arabic as a language is barely spoken there. That's why the term "Madrasah" is used exclusively for Islamic schools and not just any school, because schools are known as "schools" or whatever they are called in their mainstream language (I don't know this), but schools in general are most certainly not called "Madrasahs" in Indonesia.

      To claim what she did and "explain" it in that way shows the lengths Trumpians would go in their desperation to lie about and otherize those they hate.

      Delete
  31. Another outstanding, well-reasoned, well-articulated essay.

    I have difficulty understanding the socialization that must have taken place to raise the "I got mine, fuck you" crowd. Are they so warped that they never examine their view of the world? So isolated and intellectually challenged that they never consider that they might find themselves on the wrong end of the line at some point? So callous that they don't empathize with their fellow human beings? So ignorant of history that they don't understand that civil strife is borne of such an ethos?

    I hope that essayists, such as you, serve to help people examine their world and become "better citizens" in future elections but I have been accused of being overly optimistic in that regard. For my own part, however, I am far more politically active that I have been in the past (to my shame) and intend to continue on that path in the future.

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  32. Jim,
    They are not Christians. They are using Christianity to further their own greed. Some Food for Thought.

    Power is often best demonstrated when you choose not to use
    it.

    – Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

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    1. This is a cop out.

      They are Christians. They say they are Christians. Moreover, Christianity says they are Christians. They may not be your kind of Christians, but they are Christians nonetheless.

      Pretending that they aren't part of your religion is a very large part of the problem with your religion.

      //Jim

      Delete
    2. Jim - Best piece you've done, IMNSHO. I went back and reread my favorites to make sure, and this is the one in which the fire burns brightest.

      Anyway, replying here because I wanted to agree with Mr. Anon up there: they're not Christians, at least not by the identification parameters indicated in the original Operations Manual. At best, they're Christianists. Or Christianish.

      Then again, I'm not a Christian, so I'm sure to be suspect.

      But my wife, dedicated Catholic that she is, gives this advice: "If someone has to tell you they're a Christian? They're not."

      Delete
    3. "I have difficulty understanding the socialization that must have taken place..."
      I think the point here is that they haven't been socialized. They have little or no social consciousness. The whole "I've got mine, fuck you" attitude proves it.
      And they don't want to be socialized. They equate socialism with communism. They either never learned or choose to ignore the difference. Anyone who disagrees with them, in their eyes, is a communist.
      Remember the vitriol thrown at Hillary when she published "It Takes a Village"?

      Delete
    4. Social consciousness, Mike, and socialization aren't the same thing. Socialization is teaching a person the norms, ideals (values), etc. of a group and the rules that teach one how to behave within that group. Eg.: military basic training. Social consciousness is more along the line an awareness of society's mutual dependencies, interconnectedness, and "shared social identity." The two are related, but not quite the same. I reckon we're all pretty well acquainted with well-socialized people who have the social consciousness of a brick and vice versa.

      Delete
  33. Another outstanding yet terrifying essay on the country I had thought I knew...

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  34. Mr. Wright,

    Thank you for another excellent essay.
    Thank you for using your platform to tell the truth about the world as it is.

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  35. I was recently “taken to task” in a post where I shared one of John Pavlovitz’s pieces on angry Trump supporters, to the tune of (if I may paraphrase) “not all of us”. This essay says most eloquently what I could not, in my fumbling way.

    Thank you, again, for putting words to the jumble of thoughts and feelings I have difficulty expressing.

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  36. As usual Jim puts the poorly-defined notions of rage, disappointment, and incredulity we feel into cogent and inescapable truth. The service he is rendering now stands in proud partnership to the service he rendered while in uniform. If only we could get him an even bigger platform so that all Americans could benefit.

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  37. I've been writing essentially the same for years, but not as succinctly. Christianity in this country is a way for losers to join together into an "elite" club that makes them feel special. To proclaim one's Christianity is to announce "I'm a better person than you. God loves me. I'm special. I'm going to Heaven and you're not. Nyah, nyah. You--not me--are the real loser."

    You can imagine how comforting that must be to someone who doesn't have much going for them. They are already angry and feel like victims because they been dismissed, shunned, ignored, victimized their entire lives--because, let's face it...THEY'RE INSUFFERABLE LOSERS.

    How dare those dirty negroes steal their victimhood! It's their very identity. It's the very thing that makes them special. It's why God loves them. Don't you dare take their put-upon martyrdom away from them!

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  38. Thank you, Mr. Wright! Shared this to my much smaller world access.

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  39. But Jackson Browne did a pretty good Maurice Williams.

    EMH

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  40. I've been writing essentially the same for years, but not as succinctly. Christianity in this country is a way for losers to join together into an "elite" club that makes them feel special. To proclaim one's Christianity is to announce "I'm a better person than you. God loves me. I'm special. I'm going to Heaven and you're not. Nyah, nyah. You--not me--are the real loser."

    You can imagine how comforting that must be to someone who doesn't have much going for them. They are already angry and feel like victims because they been dismissed, shunned, ignored, victimized their entire lives--because, let's face it...THEY'RE INSUFFERABLE LOSERS.

    How dare those dirty negroes steal their victimhood! It's their very identity. It's the very thing that makes them special. It's why God loves them. Don't you dare take their put-upon martyrdom away from them!

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  41. It's hard to read this stuff, and even harder to read it and see that at least some of it applies to ones self...but I'm at least smart enough to realize that this kind of introspection can either be depressing, or uplifting....it's a choice. Either way, I'm grateful to you, and your blog... Thank You Sir for what you do

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  42. Jim with what you wrote it also begs to question: How is it that the Trump base and Conservatives at large are so preoccupied by protecting the privileged positions of those with vast wealth at the detriment of their own conditions? The majority of these conservatives are struggling as much as all those in the working class and less advantaged ones too (POOR) but they are mindless on the consequences of the conservative agenda of taking away the safety social net that helps them too and it seems that they are brained washed to accept it but not dare raise any concerns.

    Great essay as all the previous ones.

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    Replies
    1. That's easy - the base is happy as long as they can make someone ELSE more miserable than they are.

      Delete
  43. Nailed it again, Jim. I wish that this were not the case with much of America, but it is. Living in Utah, among the uber-righteous, uber-Conservative I see this all. the. damn. time.

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  44. Another outstanding essay Jim. As always spot on. Should you ever decide to run for public office, you're certainly qualified, you can bet I for one would donate, phone bank and support your campaign any way possible. Ppl.. like you are what we need, and in Florida's case lack, in Gov.

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  45. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    I share everything you write. Keep it up. We need the voices of the sane more than ever.

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  46. "36 U.S. Code § 301 - National Anthem" has some recommendations for military and veterans on how to stand during the singing of the National Anthem.

    The verb used is "should" not "shall". BIG DIFFERENCE!

    And there is no enforcement mechanism or penalty.

    After some extended internet research I have found NO law that says it is illegal to kneel during the Anthem. In fact, several places cited that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that being forced to participate in "patriotic activities" and the burning of the flag are both protected under the 1st Amendment.

    This is the same Amendment that allows the constant tweets....sigh

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  47. You are a gifted writer, and as usual, you clearly presented your point of you. Thank you for your continued service to our country.

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  48. The voice of reason and of truth. Thank you, Mr. Wright.

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  49. Brilliant (as usual). Thank you for everything you write - but this one...is special.

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  50. Let me add my thanks and appreciation for this essay. At a time when all the wrong values seem to be rewarded, it is refreshing to read something that is grounded in principles that are true and undeniable. We cannot succeed as a society if we are torn apart by the divisiveness sown by demagogues, Russian trolls and the likes of Trump. Steadfastly adhering to the principles of justice and fairness that you alluded to in your essay will be what is needed to make America great again.

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  51. Thank you (again) for a spot-on essay. There is so much I would like to say and feel I can never find the words to sufficiently articulate it. I hope someday, a publisher will make you an offer to print 25 or 50 of your best essays - preferably a leather bound collectors edition.

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    1. Here! Here! I’ll be second in line for that leather-bound collector’s edition. Though, how about we push Jim’s publisher for “100 Essays from Jim Wright”!?

      Delete
    2. I'm hoping there will be a day when one of Jim's essays is included in the annual collection of America's Best Essays, edited by Robert Atwan and a guest editor. I'm really hoping.

      Delete
  52. Many years ago I heard a joke

    St. Peter was giving a group of new arrivals a tour of Heaven. He explained that while everyone was welcome to mix and mingle, it was understood that for some it was more comfortable at times to be among those who they were familiar with. He showed them where many of the larger groups liked to gather, Catholics in an area, Methodists in another, Muslims in another...and so on. As the tour was ending they came upon a large set of doors that were firmly shut, something that had not been seen so far in the tour.
    "What is behind that door St. Peter?" asked one of the group...
    "Well, we ask that people be quiet near this door, you see we want everyone to be comfortable and happy, and not everyone believes the same. Behind this door is the area for the Jehovah's Witnesses and they think that they are the only ones up here."

    I would say that the Evangelical Right might need their own section too...

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  53. Thank you! My son turned me on to your blog, and to my way of thinking, he is almost never wrong! President Pinocchio has no clue nor any inckling
    of how most people in our country live or what they believe in.
    He is only bent on remaking our wonderful country in his image. UGLY!


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  54. If someone is bothered by prayers at the beginning of official meetings, join the FFRF and get complaints lodged against the elected body that is violating the Constitution, https://ffrf.org/legal/report I'm not disagreeing with Jim here. There are a lot of violations of the separation of church and state in the US today, but it takes activists and complaints to get things changed. Change starts with you.

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  55. What I don’t necessarily understand is that many of Trump supporters aren’t rich and in fact they also are marginalized financially. I think for some, his attractiveness is more base than just selfishness. I think it is racially inspired and in some cases it is a kind of rebellion to educated people that have often been elected because of their intellect. After 8 years of a black President that was smarter than most people they know, it’s kind of a kick in the face to those qualities they know they can’t have and to people different than themselves. I believe it is a fear of having leaders different than themselves. While the typical Republican selfishness is a driver, jealously and fear play a big role in this guy’s “success”.

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  56. I feel that Jim and I are Probably the only two Naval retires who have this "attitude". Finding Jim and having a similar background has filled my sails. Through the history of our world, the very few dared to do "the right thing" Ignoring popular opinions, laws and stupid religions. I am super proud to to counted among Jim's kind.

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    Replies
    1. Not a retiree but an 8 year Navy sub-vet who is right there with ya!

      Delete
  57. "And when everyone's super, no one will be." - Syndrome, The Incredibles (2004)

    I thought this quote would go well with the piece too.

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  58. New to your page and just want to say thanks for articulating what usually sticks in my throat as all the words fight to come out of my mouth at once.

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  59. Excellent piece.
    Speaking of the difference between "being rich" and "being privileged", a few years ago, I read a news item about, IIRC, some NFL player (so, yeah, rich, by most standards) having the police called on him because the store attendant was worried he and his buddies were "casing the store" for a later heist.
    He was looking for a piece of jewellery for his girlfriend.
    If, as I remember, he was one of NFL's better earners, he's a multimillionaire.
    And I thought of all the times I've looked at jewellery in shop windows, or actually entered them, because I was looking for something that fit both my wallet and my girlfriend . . . and never had police called on me.
    But then, I'm white.

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