A Tale of Two Turkeys

By most accounts, the Republican National Convention has so far been a bit of a gong show. The party’s elder statesmen have given it a pass, as have most of the next generation, except for those who wanted to make some noise and try to block the advance of the Trump juggernaut. The big story, of course, was the speech. Her speech.

Melania Knauss-Trump.jpg
[Image by Marc Nozell from Merrimack, New Hampshire, USA – 20160208-DSC08093, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46940102%5D

So, what’s the deal here? I see three possibilities:

The speechwriter was paid by GOP insiders to try to embarrass Trump. From the passages lifted verbatim from — of all people — a speech by the Democratic First Lady only 8 years earlier (an irony true Republicans would find too delicious) to the rick-rolling. But ultimately, it’s a move that will have little or no effect on his faithful followers. If anything, many will likely see it as further proof (and rightly so) that their candidate is being victimized by the establishment.

OR

It’s all part of the Trump-Clinton conspiracy to make Hillary look like the only sane candidate. Oversold, maybe? The choir gets it. The decided probably too. But the folks in the pews never will (which is why, if this was true, creating this bizarre straw man was such a grave miscalculation; they seriously underestimated how much this personae and his rhetoric would resonate with the lower middle-class white American).

OR

It’s a most cynical ploy of a man who believes he is unstoppable. He can say and do whatever he wants — even steal the words of his opponents and use them to support his own cause — with impunity.

For a slightly more serious analysis of the rise of Trump and the fall of the GOP, see this excellent piece by Nick Hanauer.


As for the other Turkey, what’s the deal there? Are they one step away from North Korea-style choreographed street performances? Taking some notes here, not deep thinking, but…

I don’t speak Turkish, but listening to the rhetoric being spewed by Erdogan the past few years, it would seem that the Turkish word for “Kurd” is being translated into US English as “terrorist”. And since the recent failed coup, we’re hearing “democracy” and “democratic” being tossed around quite a bit, which I think is being translated from the Turkish for “socially regressive, autocratic, authoritarian regime.”

It’s telling that, so far, they’ve dismissed and/or arrested more people in the education sector (education ministry and teachers) than military personnel. This is a regime that comes down hard on peaceful protesters during peace time, but has no qualms about encouraging its supporters to come out on the streets in numbers and throw themselves in front of tanks. Wow, such courage! Sorry, I don’t buy it. Judging by what I’ve seen in the media, the military showed quite a bit of restraint. I’m sure they realized there was no chance of success if they couldn’t garner popular support, but with a hostile civilian force being egged on by their leader, they really didn’t stand a chance of success…

 

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Heroes

Police are heroes. Soldiers are heroes. If a soldier — who has done his duty serving his country — kills police, does his hero status get revoked?

I’m not here to make friends. There are already enough people who care more about getting likes or up-votes or high-fives than anything else. This is MY team!!! I’m FOR MY TEAM!!! Fuck them. I’m insensitive. Maybe even misanthropic. But hopefully, a person who knows how to read is also capable of reflection. Capable of thought beyond labelling those with a different view “crazy” or “enemy”.

“I know your family’s grieving — FUCK ‘EM!!!!”

A few weeks ago, a man died base jumping from the top of a popular local mountain. Nobody called him a hero. And why would they? Maybe you can admire his courage, risking his life doing something inherently dangerous. But he wasn’t acting to save someone’s life or serving a greater cause. He was an adrenaline junkie.

And the unfortunate truth, more often than people would like to admit, is that many of those serving in the police (and military, as was the case of the base-jumper) are also adrenaline junkies. Indeed, the job requires a certain amount of courage to be effective. (Whether that characteristic is overemphasized can and should be debated, but maybe another time.)

I’d like to see people stop calling every cop a hero. No. They don’t automatically deserve that. While many of them are (or better said, many have acted heroically), it’s by virtue of their actions toward the population they serve, not simply because they’re wearing badges and carrying guns. Running into a dangerous situation doesn’t make you a hero. Even dying in the line of duty doesn’t make you a hero. I’m tired of this word “hero” being attributed collectively to a group of people to preempt criticism of and/or apologize for the terrible acts, both past and future, of some among their ranks. And I want to emphasize “some”, and it’s for the same reason that we should not be painting any group with these broad brushes of “heroes” or “villains”. Collectively attributing heroism or villainy to any group is both unfair and inaccurate, and especially unhelpful in trying to understand the complex issues of violence perpetrated by law enforcement officers, gun violence, and race relations in the United States.

And politicians, enough about “despicable acts” when police are killed, as if the act of killing was more despicable because the victims were police. Because IT’S NOT.

At some point, I might put down a few words on why I think universal, mandatory military service would a good idea. Now, I also wonder if a universal, mandatory stint in law enforcement would also be a good idea. But among other things, I think it would help to break down the barrier between law enforcement and the public they serve, to chisel away at this unfortunate belief that police are — and must be — somehow better (more “heroic”) than the common people. It’s time for everyone to see things from new perspectives, not hide behind the safety of long-held, narrow viewpoints.