Tag Archive: Politics

A Free Train Ride


Yesterday, I woke up to find that my Twitter feed had been inundated with anti-Semitic threats. People using anonymous handles referencing 20th century as well as contemporary neo-Nazi culture flooded my mentions. They let me know that I was being explicitly targeted because I was a Jew. They let me know that I was being explicitly targeted because I spoke out against white supremacist hate speech. Which is all to say, they let me know I was being targeted because I was willing to defend myself and and to mobilize others that were willing to do the same.

I’m going to include the most upsetting of the comments as an image below this sentence. I am warning you ahead of time about anti-semitic hate speech being included in this post.

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[Author’s Note: Once again, I’m sharing something that I originally posted on social media. This is a very brief statement on why more Americans need to be concerned that our government has officially ended its fight against white supremacist/white nationalist terror groups. Only the Antifas can save us.]

A thing we aren’t talking enough about right now is the fact that yesterday our new President removed white supremacist hate groups from the purview of domestic counter-terror surveillance programs. The federal government is giving actual Nazis free reign to commit terror on American soil.

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[Author’s Note: For the second time this week, I’m publishing a post that is a formal response to a comment that someone left on my Facebook wall. I believe these sort of micro-scale interactions with others are a necessary step moving forward in the fight against fascism, and I’m going to include the comment that this person left so that you, the reader, can understand the brief argument I give for why violence — carefully considered and escalated rationally — is justified against actual Nazis. More of us should be punching Nazis.]

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It Has Happened Here


There are two great myths of World War II. The first says that there was something intrinsic to the national characters of Germany and Italy, a flaw that made them uniquely susceptible to the destructive id of fascism. The second myth evangelizes the existence of a unified, democratic resistance to fascism even amongst the nations occupied by the Nazis.

Marcel Ophüls’ 1969 documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity, demolishes both myths and, in the process, serves as a harrowing reminder of the ease with which liberty and human prosperity can fall when they aren’t safeguarded through constant vigilance. Few historical documents of the 20th century offer as intimate a peek into the constant struggle to identify, combat, organize against, and educate others about political oppression.

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“It Requires Revolt”

A family member just accused me of caring too much about politics right now and argued that by caring as much as I do, I’m not helping the political situation in the slightest. I’m simply injuring my own mental health.

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“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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There’s nothing magical that holds American democracy together.

I think that’s something that we take for granted. American democracy works — in the flawed, half-broken sense that it’s ever worked — because competing functions of our civil society implicitly agree to respect the constitutionally described powers of the other branches of our government while also respecting the enumerated limitations of their own branch.

This is basic civics. We have a government with three branches. The executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch has certain powers that can be reduced (perhaps perilously) simply: the legislative branch decides what the laws are, the executive branch is tasked with enforcing/enacting these laws, and the judicial branch is tasked with interpreting these laws. Each branch has ways of keeping the other branches in check. It was one of the most carefully deliberated design elements of the Constitution. The legislative branch can impeach the executive branch and judicial branch. They have confirmation powers for many of the people  appointed to either of those branches. The executive can veto legislative decisions. They appoint the judiciary. The judiciary can decide if the laws or actions of the other two branches are unconstitutional. And if these laws are unconstitutional, it’s the purview of the judiciary to tell the other branches of the government that they have to change their behavior.

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(Author’s Note: I originally posted these thoughts as a series of tweets. I’m posting them here for people who don’t follow me on Twitter or who want these thoughts in a more readable format.)

If anybody needs an explanation for what happened this week, watch Marcel Ophuls’ ‘The Sorrow & the Pity.’ It’s a documentary from the 1960s that decimates the enduring myth of the united French resistance to fascism during the Occupation.

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Four Years


The above photograph is from June of 2011, and it’s a picture of me and my sister at our dad’s place back home in Philippi. I was 22 — I know; it’s hard to believe I’m not a 12 year old in that picture — and my sister was a couple months shy of her first semester of college. This blog was only 3 months old. A lot has happened since then, and I’ll get into all of the opportunities this blog has afforded me in due course, but the biggest change to my life since that photograph was taken is that I can call myself — devoid of any hint of irony or self-effacing humor — a professional writer. This blog saved my life, and I owe the world to any readers who have supported my work over these years. You all have kept me going, and that’s not an exaggeration.

I started this blog on February 7th of 2011. That was the spring semester of what should have been my senior and final year of college at West Virginia University. But I’d spent the two semesters prior to that wandering through a depressed haze. And I don’t mean I was simply sad. I was suffering from depression. I had devolved from being one of the top students in the political science department at WVU — I’d won a major departmental scholarship my freshman year that students at every year level could compete for — to a lost young man quickly entering his mid-20s with no anchor tying his world together.

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Ferguson (8/17/2014)


(I originally posted this entire discourse on my twitter feed, but I felt that I needed to have it all saved in one location. So, if this style seems significantly more truncated than my usual writing style, that’s why. It’s not easy having a complex political conversation in 150 characters.)


So, I’ve been refraining from participating in the conversation about what’s happening tonight in Ferguson for a couple reasons.

I’m ashamed of the first reason. Which is that my stomach is literally in knots and I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack any time I see more footage of what’s happening.

But, that’s me coming from a position of privilege. I can walk away from this when it gets to be too horrifying. As horrible as it is, my immediate life isn’t affected by it. And there’s something decidedly inethical about turning away when it all becomes too real, and I don’t want to do that.

But, the primary substantive reason that I’ve been staying out of this tonight is I’m worried that I’ll become that dude who’s trying “whitesplain” the suffering & indignity faced by PoC when it’s not for me to explain it.

There are people who are more personally and innately affected by this then I am, and their voices are more effectiveat talking about it than I could ever hope to be. It’s why I’ve RT’ed so much lately. That’s a lot more than I could add to the convo.


But, I’ll leave with my observation of the evening.

People are going to try to say that this issue is about the militarization of the police. And, obviously, that’s part of it. But it’s only a small part of it. People are going to try to say that this is about the freedom of the press. Once again, yeah, that’s part of it. But that’s not the whole thing.

What Ferguson is about is racism and class. But, those two issues didn’t just appear out of the ether. Both issues are inextricably linked to structural inequality built into our American system. And that’s not just economic inequality. Although that’s as big a part of this as anything else.

Social capital is as important to the functioning of diverse groups in modern society as financial capital. And a confluence between the everlasting legacy of de jure racial policy in America and de facto racial policy in American economics, the myth of an equal American has never been as demonstrably false in American history as it is in the 21st century.

We can’t solve the tensions of racial animosity in America until equality isn’t just a matter of statutory de jure equity, althoughif you think there’s even de jure racial equality in America, you are sadly deluded.

We have to radically overhaul a system that exists now to protect property and the social order. We have to foster a sense of national fraternity and empathy that is wholly missing from the American political culture. We have to accomplish radical, progressive economic changes that eliminate the constant marginalization of PoC, women, LGBT, etc.


The problem is that American capitalism and American legalism is so utterly entrenched in a philosophy that only succeeded on the back of slave labor for hundreds of years and then neo-colonialism when they couldn’t defend slavery anymore. But, Americans are so unwilling to acknowledge that capitalism has failed that we’ll blame anyone else for its shortcomings and then we will work our absolute hardest to dehumanize those that we’ve painted as our scapegoats.

And I’m not trying to co-opt the tragedy of Michael Brown’s murder and the horrors being inflicted upon the populace of Ferguson to score political points. I’m saying these things because these issues are so intrinsically linked. You can’t talk about race in America without talking about economic inequality. You just can’t.

If you’re a white cishet male and you can’t understand the way that your race/gender/sexual orientation provide you immense social capital and the way that lack of said social capital creates lack of opportunities/income/social standing for others, then you’re willfully walking through modern society with blinders on and there’s no having a conversation with you.

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

And if you question the rights of protesters to be furious right now and especially if you protest their right to be violently furious, you can’t comprehend what the real world is like. I hate to be so dismissive, but it’s not a fucking conversation anymore.

Any sane, empathetic person hopes there’s no violence or looting, but what the fuck would you do if your people had been  systematically oppressed for centuries. If you’re white, you don’t have a point of reference there cause it’s never happened to you.

So, maybe, kindly shut the fuck up and listen to other people’s real suffering instead of hiding away in your sheltered existence.And, I’m a cis white male. I recognize my own privilege. But I’m also capable of basic human fucking empathy and basic ratiocination. And, on that note, I’ve said my piece.


R.I.P. Mike Brown