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Feb 10, 2017

The Revolution Will Be Digitized (Because F**k This Guy)

Every generation needs to find a way to come to terms with its own dark years. Slavery, Chinese encampment, Japanese persecution. Here is what people have been asking themselves for generations: "If I were alive during [mass persecution of any one group] and saw what was happening, what would I have done?" Three weeks into this administration, you no longer have to wonder what you would have done. What you are doing right now is what you would have done.

Mankind reels with every reign of ruthless fear-mongers and their followers, then we study the events for decades so that we can figure out what went so horribly wrong. Statesmen debate and scholars write stentorian tomes about what critical path led to so many wrong choices that it seemed like a good idea to enable and support the Hitlers, the Mussolinis, the Stalins of the world. How do we keep crowning these pompous, deadly would-be kings?

And then there's America. What happened? Who looks at a Donald Trump and says hey, yeah, THIS is our leader, for sure. The unqualified buffoon was elected on a platform of anti-everything except his own interests. Donald Trump is just some tacky real estate quasi-millionaire that has more money than class, and knows exactly squat about the job he's been "elected" to do. Donald Trump chooses to be a crude, loudmouth braggart over being a decent person, because that's what he thinks it means to be a man. He's no leader. He is without honor. All he has ever wanted is the world's largest audience to know his name. He's gotten that, for all the wrong reasons. Wow.

One might think that certain Americans fail to make the connection between "then" and "now" in any meaningful way. Why is that? All that most Americans want is for our darkest years to be behind us. From "America the Beautiful" to the "shining city on a hill," we strive as a people to lead by example in civil rights, freedom and due process.The intention is so sincere, but how we make that happen is a big mystery. Only it's really not. It starts in first grade.

Education: We're Doing It Wrong 

Early childhood education has done, and is still doing, a gargantuan disservice to Americans, and nobody seems to care. What a shame. We need to do better. We should teach American history to kids in an accurate way, including the harder facts. In fact, these facts, when learned and discussed, will make it even easier to teach all of the greatness that followed: if you connect HISTORY with ART HISTORY and literature, poetry and music, then we'll be turning out some better-adjusted, level-headed kids who have a chance at developing critical thinking. What we're doing is the opposite of that.

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Thanksgiving is Bullshit

Here's a message from Generation X: Our history books were ridiculous, and we've got something to say.

Teaching American children an entirely fictionalized Thanksgiving story as though it were actual history for hundreds of years is the sort of casual propagandizing that poses problems. Instead of teaching the real history to its kids, the American education system went a whole other way. They all got together and came up with these ridiculous fairy-tales instead, and those tales were repeated and perpetuated. How come we don't call it what it was...a massive disinformation campaign.

The Thanksgiving we learned is nothing but myth, sold to us as fact, and it is a perfect example of how we were steered entirely wrong on some major, important stuff. What tales were told, what facts we were graded upon, we had to spend the rest of our lives figuring out how to "un-know." It's been exhausting. We're exhausted, just so you know.
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Even the Brady Bunch got involved.

Instead of corn and turkeys, that history lesson should go like this:

"Disgruntled religious fanatics sailed ashore from Europe, some bragging that they'd found India. Even when that claim was found to be wholly incorrect, later colonists still insisted upon calling the natives "Indians" and "savages." This would later be written about by historians as an early harbinger of a new kind of American "identity politics" that carried forward and continues today, wherein whole groups of people would be systematically dehumanized by those in power, in order to justify murder and call it a good deed. In the century that followed, the colonists spoke of noble ideas, but the newcomers played dirty. For example, a gift of warm blankets were deliberately disease-ridden, meant to kill off many natives. Whoever survived, they slaughtered or drove off, then called their land "real estate" and that's why we have Donald Trump.

The colonists built churches in which to congregate and praise themselves for being such good people. At times they were good people...in addition to all that bloodshed, also they invented democracy, started many libraries, colleges and universities and wrote the Bill of Rights." 

My generation got the same short-shrift in history of slavery, women's rights and a whole host of other fraught topics. Stop teaching cutesy fables about American history, because we tried that and it is not working out.

North and South

Why does Bubba not know that the biggest affront to the American flag is his Confederate flag? Bubba doesn't know that he's flying the wrong flag. No one taught him that Robert E Lee was a traitor to America. Not a hero. Bubba's history book was ridiculous, and NOW WE HAVE DONALD TRUMP.

American History is largely horrifying but we need to be teaching the truth about it, as atrocious as our forebears acted a great deal of the time. But think of what gets opened up, then, once the atrocity is taught and discussed. That's when teachers have the opportunity to teach ideas, not rote memorization of dates. Teach great ideas of evolving civilization, not rote memorization of state and country capitals. Teach history in such a way that people will understand how repeating the unjust parts will affect the country and the world. All of it,  from the first Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock to the War of 1812 to the American Revolution to the 60s up through today. Teach when the gears of progress attempted to atone for past atrocities, and what we learned as a people. 

Image result for muslim ban sign bostonHope in the Golden Age of Content

Up to Generation X, the nation's leaders decided what was taught and that became our textbook, end of story. But now, more than at any time in our history, we all have access to literally everything and it's right in our pockets. We have all the books. We have all the music. We have all the art. "Knowing" is here to stay, and this is the first time "knowing" is democratic. At one time, only wealthy people had access. But now "knowing" has been democratized, to the point where a wrong fact can be instantly Googled and refuted. It's a whole new age, and isn't it wonderful?

Not only do we have the whole of history in our pockets, but we can tell each other about it, and talk about it real-time. We can unpack current events with lightning speed now.  We have this 24/7, cross-generational, income-agnostic way to communicate real-time. As much as it can suck living our lives tethered to the digital omnisphere, technology connects us to each other as individuals, and connects modern civilization to our fraught past. Social media amplifies the great numbers saying "Not today, motherfucker." Twitter, Facebook, Podcasts and Youtube give us this cloud-based babel fish. [Related: tba]

Boston Then


How hard must it have been to generate a resistance in Boston over two centuries ago. Wow. Even sending coded messages at the speed of a strong horse-and-rider, they would have used extreme caution, never knowing friend or foe since that kind of backtalk could get you shot for treason.

The Boston Tea Party is a pretty big feature in the American timeline. That's when a different kind of first shot was fired back, at tyranny of the elite. Enough people got together that were finally sick enough of the king's shit that they didn't care anymore about his man-baby reaction. Did those rebels know what would happen the next day, or the next century? Did you know that the tea party numbered only 144 people who were all "fuck this guy"?

Boston Now

Did you see how fast that January 21 Women's March got rolling? It boggles, the insane logistics that must have gone into pulling together a march so global. There was the building and promoting of a responsive website, Twitter and Facebook pages. They needed city permits, awareness-building on a nationwide level. People made travel plans, carpooled to DC. And what began in DC spread to the nation's cities. Then it went global right down to the pussyhats. People from Boston to Belgrade knitted their asses off. Stores sold out of poster board and pink yarn. People who have never marched for anything in their lives, linked up and made themselves known. Strength, courage. In numbers. All in about five weeks' time from idea to the biggest global rally in the history of the world.

This means something. This means everything.

This time, in Boston we were 120,000 to 150,00 strong, because fuck this guy.

The Revolution Will Be Digitized

If you've been paying attention, not just now but this whole time you've been alive, you'll recognize that the situation in America has reached grave proportions. As a nation we are in serious, historical trouble here. We are in the next-level kind of trouble that will take centuries to resolve should we continue to make the wrong choices. Choice as individuals, as our family values, and choice as a united nation.

When you learned about Hitler, you may not have caught that if Czechoslovakia had not given Hitler the Sudetenland, the dark years that followed might have been avoided. Good people believed Hitler when he promised that he would go no further. The lesson "Liars are always the wrong choice" still hasn't sunk in AND NOW WE HAVE DONALD TRUMP.

He's got to go. Because, seriously, fuck that guy. ∎

"The revolution will be digitized." - Goddamn Glenn (Photo by Honey Pie)