Our Convenient Amnesia

Posted by Fe Bongolan

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Between the Paris attacks last month and last week’s San Bernardino shooting, all the usual suspects latent in America’s xenophobic subconscious have emerged like ugly flowers. With them has sprouted our collective tendency to forget how scapegoating and attacking (rather than enlisting reasoned calm) simply causes a bigger mess for everyone. Now someone go explain this to the Republican Presidential candidates.

Its been a difficult few weeks in America since the Paris attacks of mid-November. With the responsibility for the attacks claimed by ISIS, all the usual suspects latent in America’s post-911 xenophobic subconscious have emerged like ugly flowers.

Now, given the sunlight of the San Bernardino shooting — where a young couple purportedly claimed their support for the ISIS cause (though ISIS claims no responsibility) and killed 14 people in a public services office — these flowers are in full bloom.

Of course the nightly news isn’t helping. Once again, we revisit late 2001, reborn in Donald Trump’s and Ted Cruz’s demagoguery. And their supporters love it. No need for facts right now. Just plain, raw emotion, suspicion, xenophobia and a desire for vengeance. All the national uncertainty surrounding why this young immigrant couple with a six-month old baby took to opening fire on civilians in a government building is essentially a powder keg — one we’re sitting on squarely.

Because of that public uncertainty, the once-diminishing Trump campaign gained new life in the wake of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Once again grabbing hold of the national id, Mr. Trump’s declarations of going after not only terrorists but their families on national news has helped him regain further traction, building into a sizable lead over his fellow challengers for the nomination.

I don’t even recall George W. Bush being so blatantly anti-immigrant in the aftermath of 9-11. Yet, with Trump’s entire party in fear of a Black president, and never one to let a moment for opportunism slip, Donald — the alpha demagogue, Mr. Branding himself — dove to even lower lows. He was followed by Ted Cruz, the beta demagogue, who gave his anti-Muslim xenophobia its own flair. Not surprisingly, recent polls among Republican voters place Trump and Cruz as first and second, respectively, and Ben Carson’s once appallingly pleasing campaign has faded.

It is under these circumstances that President Obama spoke to the nation in an unusual Sunday evening address, asking for calm, attempting to reassure a highly wary and trigger-happy America that the government plans to get to the bottom of the San Bernardino attacks, and asking us to remember what we are as a nation. Even though all the right words seem to have been written and said, the general atmosphere on both sides of the political sphere is division and mistrust. Will he or won’t he pull the trigger and send boots on the ground in Syria? Will he go to war to keep us safe?

It is here where, among other words spoken by the President, I ask today for calm as he did. Yet I want to take that one step further and ask not for calm as in complacency, but for the reasoned calm of one insistent on investigating who did what to whom and why in San Bernardino. Getting to the bottom of it. All of it. I mean, not doing this lead to the Iraq Invasion in 2003 which started all of this in the first place.

Here is where we find that gap in the memory tape, our convenient amnesia that eclipses what should be the lessons of history whenever we’re frightened and insecure. We’re scared for the continuance of our privileged way of life, our dominance, and our sense of superiority and exceptionalism in the world. That is a lot of baggage to unload.

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Are you the political black sheep in your family? Welcome to the most sane forum for discussing politics on the Internet. You can now get access to articles posted on this website through Planet Waves’ new reader-level membership? So if you have friends who’ve reached their click-limit, pass it along. Our Core Community membership still gets you email delivery, plus other perks.

But, this is unfinished business looking us in the face, and we’re grasping for answers that we already know exist but are afraid to admit. This is where our failure to remember always gets us in trouble.

Fifteen years after 9-11, if we haven’t been paying attention, is plenty of time for cells and insurgencies to be reborn, die off, reconstitute and carry on. We’ve known that. That is why we’ve had the acronym GWOT (Global War on Terror) tattooed on our psyches. The issues created by a country we destroyed, namely Iraq, remain — from Al-Qaida to the Islamic State and whoever comes next.

Because we are in a race for a White House that climate change deniers and neocons are spending billions to claim (and who stand to gain from the chaos of war in the Middle East), the general atmosphere in the country is volatile. And the current political dialogue is a lit match. Are we forgetting that, with all the scapegoating and demonization of immigrants from wars we caused, we are still sitting in that room loaded full with powder kegs and playing with fire?

With this in mind, I’m posting this reminder from On The Media.org for our readers, which I found through Daily Kos over a week ago:

BREAKING NEWS CONSUMER’S HANDBOOK — Terrorism Edition

1. Remember, in the immediate aftermath almost everyone will get it wrong.
2. As always, local, non-anonymous, and verified sources offer better info.
3. Amid all the contradictory statements,focus on consistent reports.
4. The more emotional the commentary, the less reliable the information.
5. Really don’t pay attention to politicians.
6. In fact, examine the credentials of all putative “experts.”
7. Pay attention to the language the media uses:
“Mastermind” — endows terrorists with more power than they have
“Sophisticated” — overestimates crudely planned mayhem.
“Unprecedented” — there is little “new” in terrorist methods.
8. Inevitably, whole populations and religions are scapegoated. Ignore this.
9. Resist reflexive retweeting. Number of shares belies accuracy.
10. Be patient.

This list is relevant today and will be in the tomorrows to come. Please cut it out and paste it by your keyboard, television or on your refrigerator for reference. Just in case we forget.

Posted in Welcome on | 8 comments
Fe Bongolan

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

8 thoughts on “Our Convenient Amnesia

  1. LizzyLizzy

    Thank you for this great, sane piece, Fe. “We’re scared for the continuance of our privileged way of life, our dominance, and our sense of superiority and exceptionalism in the world. That is a lot of baggage to unload.” Yes – I agree with you. And thanks for the great Consumer’s handbook. Will put that in a safe place.

  2. ScorpioX3

    Thanks for this, Fe. I read the list when it published back in 2013 and should’ve saved it then. Glad you posted it. I’m printing and taping it to my forehead. As a former member of the media working now in labor union communications, I’m so damn disgusted at news organizations failure to do what they’re supposed to do: stick to the facts and speak truth to power. Any wonder we have a batch of fact-challenged politicians and a clueless populace willing to support them.

  3. Pisces SunPisces Sun

    We reap what we sow, we need to get away from the planting business for now and reflect on what it means to be an “agrarian.” Yes, metaphor and all…
    Thanks Fe, great work here. You nailed this nation’s fear of loosing that which they believe they have the right to have and the expense of so many. Its an en masse effect in so many ways and the Republican politicians are playing it up. I’d like to think that we are not that stupid but a good amount of our consumerism definitely is and that is what those politicians are, showmanship.
    Eventually, values must step in that counters the fervor and any leader, whether it is in the home, church, work, office, education, and the like, should quietly be expressing values to all around them that counters the fear and the craziness.
    We need to calm the monkey mind of this nation. They need to read Sarah’s tarot. :-)
    So enjoyed reading your piece Fe, thank you!

    1. Barbara Koehler

      Sorry I’m so late to the Fair Fe, but some of your words, and Pisces Sun’s as well, have conjured up thoughts. So here we are again, trying to make sense out of the senseless. But at least we are trying. It is a choice between trying to figure out a way through the fog or fill the moat with alligators and draw up the bridge. I see you are up for the challenge as usual.

      Did you know that Donald Trump’s natal Psyche (the asteroid) at 15+ Cancer is conjunct the U.S. Psyche at 14+ Cancer. . . and that they both conjunct the U.S. Sibly Sun at 13+ Cancer and square the U.S. Sibly Saturn at 14+ Libra? It is happening for a reason. Transiting Pluto is at 14+ Capricorn. Psyche’s everywhere are blowing up. Some more than others of course.

      RE: Values and where they come from. When the U.S. was “born” in July 1776 (per the Sibly chart version), Venus (who symbolizes values) was at 3+ Cancer. Over the years our U.S. Venus has progressed, or at least has kept moving and now she is at 25+ Aries. Transiting Uranus will almost reach that degree next July but will station retrograde at 24+ Aries. Still, he will be close enough to be shaking up the U.S. Values goddess. He will reach 25-26 Aries in May 2017, the very same time transiting Saturn will be in Sagittarius at 25-27 degrees retrograde, and at the same time the transiting North Node will be at 29-27 degrees of Leo. That’s a grand trine girlfriend! Our country’s progressed Venus/Values will be trine transiting Uranus (big-time change) and the North Node (opportunities for change). Mark your calendar.

      And get this, transiting Jupiter will also be conjunct the U.S. Sibly Saturn in May, 2017, a sign of expanding rules, although trans. Jupiter will be retrograde at that time, but still… he turns direct and comes back in July to join the U.S. Saturn. That will be when the USA is having another birthday and when transiting Neptune will be trine the U.S. Sibly Sun. This is progress in the War against Values. The old gives way (trans. Neptune) to the new (Uranus.) Trans. Saturn and transiting North Node will still be in orb of a grand trine with the U.S. PROGRESSED Venus. I’ll be counting the days.

      In the meantime we must keep the faith and send out for treats for the alligators.
      be

  4. Fe BongolanFe Bongolan Post author

    “Eventually, values must step in that counters the fervor and any leader, whether it is in the home, church, work, office, education, and the like, should quietly be expressing values to all around them that counters the fear and the craziness.”

    So right, Pisces Sun.

    Right there is the disconnect we need to bridge: the struggle between an economically and socially diverse majority of us and religious extremists who have a stranglehold on the power structure. And their insularity is dangerous.

    At one time, around the Carter presidential campaign, he tapped into that base which sought to include more faith in government. A Moral Majority. As we can see, that movement has morphed, metastasized.

    I think we are still a nation in search of our values, but religion has given us a dangerous detour and not a main highway to it. We have killings at Planned Parenthood clinics, the war on women in Congress, and Islamophobia. Strange how it all becomes militarized, racist, sexist and xenophobic. A cartoon of values: Who would Jesus terrorize and hold hostage at gunpoint? Who would Jesus allow to be raped? Where would Jesus pour the concrete to build a wall between us and those pesky foreigners?

    Not all Christians are like this, but a very vocal cache in league with the power cabal of the moneyed and the militarized formed an unholy trinity in the late 90s which we see in all its horrible glory. This is the Beast, the obstacle that has to go.

  5. Pisces SunPisces Sun

    Fe, it’s interesting, I was also thinking and discussing the “moral majority” with a friend earlier tonight on this same topic. The silent majority of today must have morals that are appalled by what we see in the politicians and media that gives them a platform. The same media, who rush to judgment without the facts, as you so aptly described above, desiring to give cliffhangers while instilling hysteria in the masses. Of course, all under the code of journalism and in the name of increased viewership!

    When people take a higher ground they raise the bar, when more people take the higher ground, the bar gets raised higher still, eventually, the bar is high enough that others take notice and strive towards it. A tipping point happened. This tipping point can happen more quickly when those among the silent majority take more of a leadership role among the moral majority by helping to raise the bar. It shouldn’t be too hard unfortunately for the bar is pretty damn low!

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