Monday, February 27th - No Media = Dictatorship, and Having Hope in the Face of Anguish

Shut Out the Media, Dismantle Democracy

It was only three months ago when Sean Spicer told Jake Sherman of Politico rather ineloquently that, "We have a respect for the press when it comes to the government, that that is something you can’t ban an entity from... I think that is what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” Taking a fork and knife to his words, on Friday morning he shut out CNN, the New York Times, Politico, and many foreign news outlets of the White House daily press briefing. All of the major networks were allowed in, and in a move shocking everyone everywhere, so was Breitbart. Apparently, Associated Press and Time boycotted the off-camera "gaggle" (which, what? geese? the world's gone mad), as they should have. Which brings us to the point: THEY ALL SHOULD HAVE. Every single media outlet needs to stand as a single unit in defense of itself on behalf of freedom everywhere. Let's remind the local affiliates of the network news orgs that they need to stand united in the face of 45's dictatorial attempts or we will decide to stop watching them altogether. 

You can call or email them here:

And while you're at it, give Mr Spicer a call and remind him that cutting out the media is not what democracy looks like: (202) 456-1111. 

On Hope in the Face of Anguish

Maybe it's just me, but I'm guessing not. My phone and I--we used to be friends, but now all it brings me is bad news, endless addicting but gut-wrenching drama, and heart palpitations. And it's true, we could all afford to look up now and again and get back into the physical world. It's great, I recommend it, 4 stars. But whether you download an app on your phone that blocks you from using, um, your phone, or you double down on your gluttony for this punishment, it might be useful to take a step back and note the bigger picture.

Despite setbacks, despite losses, we often forget that we are part of a history far larger than we may feel at any moment. To push further the idea of Dr. King's renowned quote, we continually exist at cusp of time where the present becomes the arc of history. The struggles of those who came before us give the arc its length. And it is the weight of their actions and our own that force the arc to bend toward justice. 

Author Rebecca Solnit points out that "what lies ahead seems unlikely; when it becomes past, it seems inevitable." Remember Will & Grace, the TV show? It ran from 1998 to 2006, and was arguably the most important driver for bringing gay folks into mainstream American culture. And yet, it took until 2015 for the U.S. Supreme Court to hold state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Remember how long, how totally absurdly long that felt? How for at least a decade you and most of the people you knew were okay with being gay (or at least quickly forgetting that you might have ever not been okay with it)? And yet for the LGBTQIA+ community, that acceptance was decades in the making, from the Stonewall riots in 1969 through the AIDS crisis in the 80's and right through Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 1994. (And, really, LGBT history goes back much further than that even, which only serves my point. There's many examples like this throughout history. This blog is too short to get into them all, but you know the major players: African Americans, women, migrant workers, Jews, there are so many choices... Even in the 1850's, the future of slavery looked pretty good.) But few people would have bet that within a decade of DADT, many Americans would be quite comfortable with LGBT rights, and that within two decades same-sex marriage would be deemed a right guaranteed by our constitution.  

But during these trying days, we open the news, or our Facebook or Twitter feeds, and our heart rates spike. We read about utterly inhumane deportations or the legalization of the destruction of streams and our stomaches turn. We shut down. Don't shut down. Remember: despair is easy. It feeds into, or maybe is fed from, our brain's built in negativity bias. Solnit notes that despair is "often premature; it's a form of impatience as well as of certainty." (My emphasis, not hers.)

We must remember that we are on the edge. That we know not what comes, but that to take a realistic view of history, we must recognize the power of hope. Hope is not the foolish certainty of optimism, but the possibility that resides in the unknown. Hope is the knowledge "that you possess the power to change the world to some degree or just that the world is going to change again, and uncertainty and instability thereby become grounds for hope."

Read Ms Solnit in her own words here; it's wonderfully encouraging. Then send it to your friends, and talk about it over a beer. But just one beer, okay? Because we gotta keep fit for this revolution. 

Melanie Hoekstra