Would she be good at the job? Maybe. But the campaign would be a political nightmare...
This week author Tom Bower — who reportedly signed a six-figure book deal to write an unauthorized biography of Meghan Markle — spoke to British tabloid Closer about the Duchess' prospects in American politics.
While her husband Prince Harry would have to get his American citizenship to pursue political office — and could never be eligible for the presidency — as a natural-born American citizen, there would technically be nothing stopping Markle from running for any office, up to and including commander-in-chief. And Bower suspects that's exactly "where she sees herself going."
If she wanted to be president, she would, of course, have to renounce her title as Duchess of Sussex — because the emoluments clause of the US Constitution actually counts if you're a woman, a person of color, a Democrat, or all three in Markle's case. But considering the fact that she and Harry have already stepped back from their royal roles to live as private citizens in America, that doesn't seem like too big a hurdle.
But does Bower even know what he's talking about? In the interview, he claimed that that "the prospect of Meghan running for president is possible and I'd even say likely," but according to The Sun, he has a full year of research ahead of him, which he will spend "speaking to the star and husband Prince Harry's friends, foes and associates."
In short, he might not even have a good sense of Markle yet. And to the extent that he does, he might not be a particularly reliable source.
A Harsh Biographer
Bower is known for his scathing, sometimes questionable portraits of figures from billionaire Richard Branson to former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Ghislaine Maxwell's disgraced father Robert Maxwell. If this is another "hatchet job," Bower may simply be painting Markle in what he considers to be the harshest light possible.
While he suggests that she would have "a good chance of getting into the White House," and could "have tea with the Queen one day as President of the United States," he also seems eager to emphasize an unflattering view of Markle as overly-ambitious and hyper-sensitive.
His assertions that she "masterminded" the so-called Megxit she and Harry made from royal life, and that she would "need to learn to take the heat" of public scrutiny as a politician, reflect a perspective that predominates in much of the British media. And his seeming acceptance of reports that Markle bullied staff — claiming that "she doesn't seem to be able to hold onto her team" despite Markle's insistence that said reports are a "calculated smear campaign" — suggest a willingness to side with her detractors.
Has Meghan Split the Royal Family? | Good Morning Britain www.youtube.com
While Markle is generally viewed in a favorable light in the US, that's not the case in Harry's home country, where the royal family is largely still beloved and Markle's damning Oprah interview was seen as out of bounds. The idea that she is eager for the opportunity to run for president plays neatly into a narrative that is already painting her as a selfish opportunist.
Still, according to a friend speaking to Vanity Fair, Markle might "seriously consider" running. So, just in case there's any truth to Bower's perspective, it's worth noting why a Meghan Markle presidential would be a terrible idea...
A Messy Campaign
At first blush she seems like a great option. A young, attractive, poised, and charismatic Black woman, with plenty of experience in the public eye, and close ties to the leadership of one of our nation's closest global allies, she certainly has what it takes to navigate a political campaign... But that campaign would be so awful.
For a start, Markle's "close ties" to Enlgand would not exactly make for smooth diplomacy. Many Britons see her as something akin to a usurper. Elevating her to the highest office in American politics — only after she discards her UK title — would be more likely to sour relations between the two countries than to improve them.
The British narrative would also be guaranteed to make its way over into the American press, with Conservative outlets all too willing to paint an ambitious Black woman as undeserving of her position. While this tactic is guaranteed to be deployed against basically any woman of color running for high office (see: Kamala Harris), the established narrative in the British press would give them a head start, and they would be brutal.
The fact that Markle's estranged and (possibly) envious white father and step-sister would love to play into that story and criticize Markle for doing more with her life than they think she deserved would make things all the worse.
A Royal Celebrity President?
Markle is no doubt aware of all this, and if she feels up to putting herself through such a grueling process — after being driven nearly to suicide by the British press — all for the opportunity to serve her country, good for her. But do we, as a country, really want to deal with that mess for the sake of putting another celebrity in the White House?
Maybe if the former Suits star starts out with a couple terms in Congress, she'll have a strong enough foothold in American politics to be more than just another famous person using their profile to run for high office. Maybe we'd all find out that she's actually great at navigating policy and politics. But until she's proven that, the whole "outsider president" thing is a bit played out.
While a role in the British monarchy is largely ceremonial, the Presidency requires real governance. And we've seen how poorly an amateur can manage that responsibility.
Okay, there's no way she would be this bad...
Finally, on the topic of the monarchy, the United States was founded with the express intent of severing our ties from that institution. Even so, we already have too much of a tendency to create political dynasties — think the Clintons, the Bushes, the Kennedys.
It may be a superficial objection, but the UK doesn't need a monarchy anymore, and we definitely don't need to get the actual British royal family involved in the presidency of the United States. The idea of Harry — the literal great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of the King George III against whom the founders revolted — moving into the White House as the first gentleman is just too weird to think about.
The K-Pop stars are using their platform to contribute to a broader conversation on the discrimination that breeds hate crimes.
K-Pop sensation BTS have added their voices to the concern around a recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US and elsewhere.
On Tuesday the band — who, along with their management company, donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter last summer — took to Twitter with the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate, sharing a message of unity and anti-discrimination, expressing "grief and anger" over violence and lives lost, and recounting some of their own experiences of anti-Asian racism.
The message refers to times when the group behind hit songs like "Dynamite" and "Black Swan" had "endured expletives without reason," "were mocked for the way [they] look," and "were even asked why Asians spoke in English." They expressed the harm that these experiences had done on a personal level — making them feel powerless — but acknowledged that they were "inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks."
But of course, the past few weeks have only brought to light a trend that has been building since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Since that time, the fact that the virus originated in China has given bigots an excuse to target individuals as representatives of entire racial groups, and the incidents of hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have more than doubled in major American cities.
In an atmosphere reminiscent of the World War II era — when tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were treated as potential spies and forced into inhumane internment camps — American politicians have encouraged conspiratorial and xenophobic framing of the current crisis. Former president Donald Trump has been particularly guilty of this scapegoating, regularly referring to COVID-19 as "the China virus," and — on at least one occasion — as "Kung flu," openly and proudly conflating the deadly pandemic with unrelated aspects of Chinese culture.
In their effort to deflect their constituents' anger and resentment over economic and social conditions brought on by their mismanagement of the pandemic, they have highlighted false associations of the virus with people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent — despite the fact that far more white people have caught and spread the virus at this point. And they have lent credence to unfounded theories that the Chinese government created or intentionally spread the disease.
As a result, thousands have reported being directly affected by incidents of anti-Asian harassment and assault — with many likely going unreported -- and millions more have been living with the fear that they will be targeted next.
While this worrying trend had received some coverage previously — with particular attention to incidents of violence against the elderly — it didn't become major national news until March 16th of this year. That afternoon, a 21-year-old gunman in Atlanta targeted massage parlors staffed primarily by Asian employees, killing eight people — including six Asian women — at three spas, in a deadly spree which he reportedly blamed on "sexual addiction."
Yong Ae Yue Suncha Kim Soon Chung Park Hyun Jung Grant (maiden name Kim) Daoyou Feng Xiaojie Tan Delaina Ashley Yau… https://t.co/c8CpXaxMvT— Eugene Lee Yang (@Eugene Lee Yang)1616179564.0
Despite Georgia officials' reluctance to label the murders as a hate crime — with one police spokesperson being removed from the case after telling press that the shooter had "had a really bad day" — it clearly folds into the ongoing trend and has stoked pushback and protests against anti-Asian hate. But it also points to the fact that the current trend is part of an existing history of racism and hate.
The shooter's sense that Asian women working in massage parlors are necessarily sex workers and that this was more of a "temptation" that he wanted to eliminate than, for instance, the strip club across from one of the spas he attacked, tie into longstanding issues of race, immigration, and fetishization.
Whether or not he invested in the xenophobic framing that all Asian people are somehow to blame for the spread of the coronavirus, he was playing into a notion of Asian women as sex workers that dates back to the 1800s and the first federal immigration law.
Responding to "Yellow Peril" panic, the Page Act of 1875 imposed special restrictions on women trying to immigrate from East Asia, with the belief — as expressed by President Ulysses S. Grant — that "few [Asian women] are brought to our shores to pursue honorable or useful occupations." In case that wasn't clear enough, the law required Asian women intending to immigrate to answer a series of questions about sex work and undergo a medical examination to determine their "character."
Today, despite the fact that there is no evidence any of the women who were killed were sex workers, much of the media has carried on this history — covering the shooter's supposed motives with a credulous narrative of a sex addict killing sex workers. Clearly a broader conversation about anti-Asian racism is necessary.
We Need To Talk About Anti-Asian Hate www.youtube.com
So, while it's true that BTS members have not experienced the most dramatic, violent consequences of that racism, it's vitally important that they're using their popularity and their platform — with around 34 million followers on Twitter — to keep the conversation going and call out all forms of discrimination.
Because as long as our culture makes room for depictions of Asian people as disease vectors, fetish objects, hyper-foreign curiosities, or model minorities to be used as a cudgel against other marginalized groups — as anything less than complex individuals trying to live their lives — there will be room for anti-Asian racism, hate, and violence.
Boycotts and blacklists are tools conservatives perfected — they just don't like it when the tables are turned.
I don't want to alarm anyone, but...THE LEFT IS CANCELING MR. POTATO HEAD THEY'RE CANCELING DR. SEUSS, AND NEXT THEY'RE GOING TO CANCEL YOU!
It turns out that the political Left in the US is actually made up of various literary estates and multi-national toy corporations that are intent on destroying your cultural values by erasing the biological sex of a plastic potato and ending the publication of racist caricatures in some obscure books you were never going to read. But these are just the latest instances of what the Right-wing outrage machine has identified as a violent attack on free speech.
What happened to the era when a governor could get away with years of sexual harassment and assault? Do they hate him because he's not "progressive" enough?
These days it seems like a person can be canceled just for spreading dangerous misinformation and comparing herself to a Jew in Nazi Germany. These days it seems like anyone who disagrees with the liberal, Leftist, Hollywood elite position that trans people deserve rights and respect — and aren't a fundamental threat to womanhood itself — gets relegated to the dustbin of history.
Or, rather, they get to keep their immense wealth and cultural influence, and they win a Russell award for their "bravery" but a lot of people are mean to them on the internet. Which is basically the same thing.
Conservatives are so concerned about this trend that the theme of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was "America Uncanceled." But it may shock you to learn that "cancellation" was not always the refuge of the Left alone. In fact, once upon a time Right-wing Americans were all about cancellation for such heinous crimes as "opposing a war" and "being gay."
Here are nine times that conservatives proved they love "cancel culture."
In the end, it's almost as though we all "cancel" people whose views are offensive to our values. By shunning voices and ideas we find repellent, we make more room for the stuff we like.
It's a tool for affirming and perpetuating values we agree with — whether of inclusion or of bigotry. It's just that conservatives are the ones who perfected that tool, and they don't appreciate it being turned against them.
Critics will always argue whether it's "worth it" to help people in need.
After its precipitous fall in February of 2020, the government took major steps to stabilize it.
By Monday, November 16th, the Dow had surpassed all previous records, closing at 29,950. Meanwhile, the national death rate as a result of COVID-19 was rising toward its horrifying January peak. Meanwhile, working Americans continued to struggle and suffer, wasting their gas money waiting in endless lines for limited supplies of free food.
If you, like nearly half of U.S. adults, don't own any stock at all, the numbers above are essentially meaningless. Even for most of the people who are invested in the stock market, their investment isn't substantial enough to make up for issues like widespread underemployment.
And yet, the Federal Reserve has poured $4 trillion into maintaining the stability of investment markets and ensuring that the Dow, the S&P 500 and various other numbers on charts that seem increasingly disconnected from reality move in the right direction. Why is that?
30 million people in this country are at risk of eviction. Millions of people are unemployed or underemployed from… https://t.co/pWGQY94iJT— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1605753584.0
The answer to that question is complicated, but it is closely linked to the reason why President Joe Biden has been on the receiving end of a lot of scrutiny and pushback on the topic of student loan forgiveness — and why he hasn't already taken steps to cancel some or all of student debt already.
Recently the amount of student loan debt in the United States surpassed $1.7 trillion. That amount has more than tripled in the last 15 years, with around 45 million Americans currently holding some amount of student loan debt, and an average burden in excess of $30,000.
Most of that debt is nearly impossible to discharge through the standard bankruptcy process. And the fact that most of that burden falls on young people — whose careers are less established and who face generational declines in wages and wealth — exacerbates the impact of that debt. It's a major factor in the worrying declines in rates of home ownership, marriage, and birth rate among millennials.
It is widely acknowledged that the cost of higher education has ballooned out of control while it has increasingly been pushed as a necessary step on the path to prosperity. Underlying this problem is the fact that — unlike many developed nations — our federal government doesn't offer affordable public universities or fund education in fields like medicine and engineering where we always need more skilled professionals.
Why Is College So Expensive in America? | Making Cents | NowThis www.youtube.com
Instead we offer government-backed loans and guarantees that incentivize institutions to invest in administrative bloat and in expensive development projects to enhance their prestige and entice prospective students with unnecessary luxuries. Teenagers instilled with little sense of the financial commitments — but an unwavering belief in the necessity of college — have become cash cows.
The system as it stands is clearly broken, and whatever other reforms are called for, the resulting debt crisis is interfering with the spending power and attainment of an entire generation. In the context of a pandemic that has affected the livelihoods of so many, it would seem like an uncontroversial act for the government to alleviate some of that burden of student debt.
And for the most part, it is. Opinion polling shows that the notion of providing some amount of student loan forgiveness is broadly popular across partisan lines.
The exception is among the pundit class — and the wealthy donors they represent. Because, while various political figures — including Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren — have urged Joe Biden to make student loan forgiveness an early focus of his presidency, others in politics and the news media have done their best to push back.
When you say #cancelstudentdebt, you’re saying a minority of people who had the advantage of obtaining a degree sho… https://t.co/BMbhxUHAbK— Dan Crenshaw (@Dan Crenshaw)1561467692.0
At the moment, a forbearance measure laid out in the CARES act has been extended through the remainder of 2020 — allowing those with federal student loans to defer payments for the time being. But further action being proposed would include forgiveness for debt owed to private companies.
Among the wide range of suggestions are legislation to provide $10,000 of debt forgiveness for individuals meeting certain restrictive criteria and $50,000 of automatic forgiveness for all student debt holders — which Joe Biden could theoretically have delivered through an executive order as soon as he took office.
In either case, some would still be left with large burdens of debt, and some would likely be hit with unmanageable tax bills — as debt forgiveness is considered a form of income. But the debate has not largely involved addressing those shortcomings. Rather, many have questioned whether we should be considering these proposals at all.
The objections tend to fall into three categories: It wouldn't help the right people, it wouldn't stimulate the economy as much as other measures, and "I paid off my student loans, so why shouldn't they?"
The last is patently asinine, and should be ignored or mocked as it applies equally to any form of progress — "My face healed after smashing against the dashboard, so why should we add airbags now?" If the people espousing this perspective want to be acknowledged for their fiscal responsibility, here's the entirety of the praise they deserve: Good for you.
The fact remains that many people are not able to pay off their student loan debts, which can have a ruinous effect on their credit rating, affecting everything from interest rates on other loans to — in a cruel twist — their employment prospects. There is a disturbing potential for an accelerating debt cycle that becomes impossible to escape.
“Things were bad for me, so they should stay bad for everyone else” is not a good argument against debt cancellatio… https://t.co/yyC60K5Uyz— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1605569343.0
Even for those who are able to pay off their debts may feel pressured by the monthly payments to accept employment that they otherwise wouldn't — contributing to an imbalance in the employee-employer relationship that could further suppress wages. In short, it's bad.
So while it's valid to point out that there are others in the economy more in need than college graduates, we can't ignore the reality of the student debt crisis. Along with other important measures — further extension and expansion of unemployment benefits, rent subsidies, and direct payments to make it easier for people to stay home — student loan forgiveness should be considered an essential part of COVID relief.
Which leaves only one complaint left: It wouldn't do enough to stimulate the economy.
The basic issue is that the benefit of debt forgiveness is spread out over years or decades of remaining loan payments. And because it would also contribute to recipient's tax burdens, there is a concern that much of the cost of debt relief would not result in short term increases in consumer spending — the kind that spurs quick economic growth.
You know what would be an effective stimulus program? Canceling student debt. President Biden can do it today and I… https://t.co/njh0M5pfOu— Ed Markey (@Ed Markey)1612456122.0
While that's worth being aware of, doesn't this objection have its priorities reversed? Isn't the entire purpose of a strong economy to improve people's lives? So why are we unwilling to improve people's lives unless it primarily contributes to short term economic growth?
Clearly our entire system has embraced this inverted way of thinking. That's why it can pass almost without notice when the Federal Reserve spends $4 trillion to prop up investment markets.
We happily spend that amount on measures that only directly benefit the wealthy, and yet — when it's suggested that we should spend a fraction of that on a popular policy that could improve the lives of 45 million Americans — it becomes a point of great contention.
We all seem to have forgotten the essential truth that the economy is meant to serve us — not the other way around.
AOC and others have shared frightening first-hand details from the attempted coup on January 6th, 2021.
Update 2/2/2021: On Monday night, Representative Ocasio-Cortez once again took to Instagram Live to share her experience of the attack on the Capitol building in more detail.
She talked about the frightening moment when an unknown man made his way into her office shouting, "Where is she?" as she hid behind a bathroom door believing that he was likely there to kill her — "this was the moment where I thought everything was over,"
Even the realization that this man was a Capitol police officer didn't feel like a guarantee that he was looking out for her safety — an uncertainty which friendly interactions between police and attackers would later justify. She described sheltering in Representative Katie Porter's office as they received reports of bombs being found and made contingency plans for escaping out a window or into a safer office.
The intensity and detail of her account are striking, as is her decision to share a personal context for how she processes the experience, relating that she is "a survivor of sexual assault," and noting that "when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other."
But perhaps the most important moment of the stream was her comparison of recent calls for us all to "move on" from the insurrection — often from those who stoked the misinformation that brought it on — to "the tactics of abusers," saying, "this is at a point where it's not about the difference of political opinion. This is about just basic humanity."
On Tuesday night, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York's 14th congressional district took to Instagram Live to share her experience of last week's frightening events at Capitol Hill.
Ocasio-Cortez has made a point of making herself accessible to the public, sharing her cooking, her gaming, and even her struggle to find affordable housing through social media. It's a practice that has contributed to the adoration of her fans as well as the vitriol of her detractors. But she has never shared anything quite as personal and affecting as her experience of the attempted coup on January 6th.
The Nobel Prize committee has the chance to signal a better future for a prize with a fraught past.
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice — Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. "Letter From Birmingham Jail" 1963
Nominations have been announced for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Among notable nominees are Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner, politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Depending on your political biases, you likely find at least one of those nominations offensive, though it should be noted that the list of nominees is long, and anyone can be nominated.
In this case, Black Lives Matter was nominated by Petter Eide, a member of Norway's parliament. As for Jared Kushner, he was nominated along with former Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz — the famed Harvard law professor, Trump sycophant, and defense attorney for O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein. Kushner and Berkowitz played central roles in brokering the Abraham Accords declaring, "Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations" between the US, Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE.
The Abraham Accords: The PR of the 'peace deals' | The Listening Post www.youtube.com
At face value many Americans would no doubt see the negotiation of a peace deal as more legitimate grounds for nomination than a protest movement that sparked violent confrontation with police and counter protesters around the country in 2020. And, if we look at the history of the Peace Prize, there is a sense in which they would be right — the prize has often been awarded for superficial diplomatic theater rather than the real and often messy work of addressing injustice.
The Fraught History of the Nobel Peace Prize
In 1928, Secretary of State Frank Kellogg received the prize for getting all the world's major powers to officially, meaninglessly renounce war...shortly before Hitler took power in Germany. Another Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was selected by the Nobel Committee for negotiating a cease fire with Vietnam in 1973 — the same year it was revealed that he had masterminded a secret carpet bombing campaign in Cambodia, which is credited with giving rise to the genocidal Khmer Rouge.
More recently, in 2009, Barack Obama was given the Peace Prize just for being elected president — in a move Obama acknowledged as premature. And in 2020, Donald Trump's son-in-law and his buddy Avi were nominated for the award for arranging "peace" between nations that were never at war — with a substantial arms deal thrown in for good measure.
To put it bluntly, it would make nearly as much sense for Jared Kushner to win the Nobel Peace Prize as it did for a number of other recipients with dubious claims to peace work. By contrast, in 1948 the Nobel committee chose not to award anyone — rather than acknowledge Mohandas Gandhi's work in pushing for Indian independence from Britain.
Historically the committee has often erred on the side of the powerful — rewarding hollow and hypocritical displays of diplomacy over the controversy that tends to arise around grassroots struggles. So while it may be unlikely that Kushner and Berkowitz will receive the peace prize, neither would it really be surprising.
But with Black History Month kicking off, it's worth articulating not just why their diplomacy is underwhelming, but why the Black Lives Matter movement deserves recognition for advancing the global fight against injustice.
No Justice, No Peace
While extensive efforts have been made to paint the Black Lives Matter movement as violent, anti-White, and at the political fringes, in reality it is the largest and most racially diverse protest movement in American history. And considering the thousands of demonstrations that have taken place, involving many millions of individuals, the relative lack of violence from the protesters is much more worthy of note than a handful of dramatic scenes.
Compared to the January 6th Trump rally, where a crowd of around 30,000 spawned a violent insurrection — which was handled with kid gloves by the police and led to five deaths — the 15 million plus who participated in BLM marches in 2020 were remarkably peaceful. The same cannot be said for far too many of police who patrolled those marches and gave proof to the brutality that inspired them.
A compilation of videos that captures how police officers incite violence. How are they responding to protests ag… https://t.co/7rBOh3OHMP— Simran Jeet Singh (@Simran Jeet Singh)1590893613.0
And though regrettable incidents of arson and violence have undeniably taken place in connection with BLM demonstrations, the alternative was not "peace."
What is often overlooked in discussions of peace is the reality of social and political injustice as among the most prevalent forms of violence on Earth. When millions of people, targeted through no fault of their own, are systemically dehumanized — their lives and their contributions devalued and their opportunities for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness both deliberately and incidentally truncated for centuries — that is violence that destroys lives on another scale altogether.
For Black Americans that obviously means slavery and its aftermath, as well as segregation and the continued legacies of practices like redlining. But it also means a so-called "war on drugs" that treats addiction as a crime rather than an illness and disproportionately targets and locks up Black Americans, depriving too many children of their parents.
It means racist police procedures like Stop and Frisk, as well as the implicit (and often explicit) racial biases of the officers themselves. It means making it nearly impossible for people convicted of felonies within this unjust, racist system to live within the bounds of the law, depriving them — as well as millions of Black Americans who haven't been convicted of anything — of the right to participate in democracy and change the system that treats them so cruelly.
And none of this even covers the immense wealth inequality that makes life harder for almost all Americans — though, again, the harm is leveled disproportionately against Black Americans. All of these ordinary and unacceptable aspects of American life are violence — "the negative peace which is the absence of tension."
They destabilize communities, families, and individual lives. And that violence came to a head in June, following the horrific killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer over a suspected counterfeit $20 bill.
While far from the only evidence of systemic racism in America, the murder of unarmed Black men, women, and children by police and by racist vigilantes who — more often than not — are allowed to walk free, is perhaps its most blatant and disgusting expression.
And the names of the slain — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, too many more to mention — have become rallying cries.
A Black Lives Matter protester carrying a counter protester to safety in London
With all the domestic resistance the protests met from people who insist on spitting "all lives matter!" (as if fighting for the value of Black lives implied otherwise) and "blue lives matter!" (as if the safety of police officers depends on their ability to shoot unarmed Black men, women, and children without consequence), it would be easy to lose sight of how much support the movement has received overseas. While the movement was started in America, the impact has been global.
"Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere"
The reality of living as a dehumanized minority in a bigoted society is sadly all too common in the world. And while not everywhere is as bad in this respect as America, the recognition sparked protests of solidarity and of common cause around the world.
Like the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Black Lives Matter has continued the fight for America to live up to its promise. Because right now "the land of the free" is home to a carceral state where more people are imprisoned than anywhere else on Earth, and citizens are killed by police at a higher rate than in any comparable nation.
Because the systems that were deliberately set up to keep newly freed Black citizens oppressed following the Civil War were never truly purged — have been covertly bolstered and supplemented ever since.
That is not peace. Only a stable form of violence.
A cartoon from the 1960s My father wasn’t beloved by America. In ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail,’ he responded to 8… https://t.co/ygwaqnWoO9— Be A King (@Be A King)1611017549.0
In 1964 the Nobel committee opted not to side with power. It was the same year the FBI sent a harassing letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., urging him to commit suicide.
He was considered by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — and many others in positions of power within the American government — to be an enemy of the state. There is even reason to believe that these forces were directly involved in his 1968 assassination.
His protest movement was disruptive to the normal order of American life that most white Americans were content to maintain. Many balked at the idea that it could be called peaceful. But the Nobel committee selected him for the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize. It was a serious signal that the world was watching how America handled peaceful dissent.
Did that make a difference in passing the voting rights act of 1965? Who can say? But the Nobel committee has a similar opportunity this year.
What Black Lives Matter has been fighting for in recent months is the "positive peace" King spoke of as "the presence of justice." With that in mind — and with some uncertainty remaining as to how a decentralized, leaderless movement of millions can receive an award — the Nobel committee should take seriously the option of selecting Black Lives Matter.
Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech www.youtube.com
There are no doubt many nominees whom the committee could select for the Peace Prize — including Jared Kushner. And some who would even be worthy — including Stacey Abrams.
But the significance of acknowledging a grassroots fight for justice that was centuries in the making (in a nation which — for all its flaws — continues to shape culture around the world) is too powerful to deny.
Erasing the reality of our troubled history — and our divided present — is not true unity.
Back in early September of 2020, when fewer than 200,000 Americans had yet died as a result of COVID-19, reality TV "businessman" Donald Trump was somehow the president of an entire country.
And he wanted everyone to "love" that country as much — and as selectively — as he did. So when Nikole Hannah-Jones' 1619 Project with The New York Times began winning awards and being taught in classrooms, he knew he had to act.
It was bad enough with people protesting in the streets against racialized violence today, but trying to place that injustice in a context of an ongoing pattern of racialized oppression was too much. Establishing an advisory committee to promote "patriotic education," Donald Trump tasked his 1776 commission with combatting the 1619 Project's unflattering focus on chattel slavery and its continued legacy.
The 1619 Project details the legacy of slavery in America www.youtube.com
Four months later, 200,000 more Americans have died of COVID-19, and Joe Biden has been elected to replace Donald Trump. An attempted coup failed to overturn the election, and many of the same political figures who stirred up the sentiments of insurrection — and still refuse to acknowledge Biden's legitimate victory — have been calling for "unity."
Those calls were echoed in Joe Biden's inauguration speech, but there has remained a question of what kind of unity they mean. And in that context, the 1776 Commission — which Biden has pledged to disband — released a report in the lead-up to inauguration day, clarifying what kind of "unity" they mean.
It's a unity not of solidarity, empathy, and shared struggle, but of erasure, appropriation, and myth. The report's primary contention seems to be that a more critical perspective on America's history is necessarily both skewed and harmful. That perspectives like Hannah-Jones' are actively and deliberately destructive of our "united" American spirit, and lead us, somehow — inexplicably — toward tyranny.
The Founding Fathers: Context and Contradictions
The report argues that — given the context of their horrifying and disturbing time period — we should be in awe of the fact that the Founding Fathers could recognize and articulate a concept of universal rights, even if they didn't quite live by their stated principles. And that America eventually achieved a society where universal rights were properly enshrined and should have stopped trying to fix apparent injustices decades ago.
It's clear that the report is referring to the 1619 Project — and similar work centering the experiences of oppressed and ignored groups in America's history — when it talks of "deliberately destructive scholarship." According to the report, this kind of scholarship, "shatters the civic bonds that unite all Americans."
It's better to focus on stories like George Washington's virtuous decision to finally, posthumously free the dozens of human beings he kept enslaved for so many years. Like the parable of the cherry tree, it almost doesn't matter that Washington's decision to grant them their freedom was never truly carried out... almost.
It's taken for granted that looking seriously at the crimes of our nation's past — and noting the continued legacy of those crimes — is divisive. That the only way to unite is to focus narrowly on what inspires "reverence and love" for our history and to refer to that narrow focus as "viewing our history clearly and wholly." To do otherwise "silences the discourse essential to a free society by breeding division, distrust, and hatred among citizens."
It's certainly true that a close look at the enslavement of millions of Black men, women, and children in what may be history's most extensive and systematic project of dehumanization does not tend to inspire the kind of reverence Donald Trump wanted Americans to feel for their country — and for him.
Unearthing Sally Hemings' legacy at Monticello www.youtube.com
The 1776 commission doesn't want you to ask why Washington didn't grant those people their "unalienable" freedom while he was alive. Or why other founding fathers — like Thomas Jefferson, who enslaved hundreds — didn't make even this lukewarm gesture toward emancipation.
Being offered now as a corrective to more serious scholarship, it repeatedly insists that our nation's founders — who drank more beer than water, wore powdered wigs rather than bathing, and enslaved their own children of rape — should be viewed with "reverence" and as "heroes."
According to the report, it is at once necessary to understand them in the context of a time period in which enslaved people were a foundational part of America's economic system — a system which served those founders well — and to ignore what that foundation might say about a country asserting natural rights as the reason for its very existence. Note the context. Ignore the contradictions.
Myths, Fallacies, and Hypocrites
As for its take on that historical context, the report continually perpetuates myths and fallacies that cast a positive light on America's early history. King George III, for instance, is held up as the Declaration of Independence's caricature of "a despotic king who violated the people's rights and overthrew the colonists' longstanding tradition of self-government."
In reality, England had long since adopted a constitutional monarchy in which the bulk of decisions were made by the parliament. Framing those decisions as — in the report's words — "the capricious whims of a tyrant," made for a better story.
In reality, the American colonists — particularly the wealthy merchants and plantation owners among them — resented being governed and taxed by distant politicians elected without their consent. It's a reasonable objection, though it's painful to note that the same objections can now be made by the residents of Puerto Rico and other American territories.
Puerto Ricans voted for statehood. Will it happen? www.youtube.com
If those American citizens — subject to taxation without representation — framed that relationship as tyranny, would the 1776 commission treat calls for liberty or statehood with the same reverence? Based on the report, it seems more likely that the commission would dismiss them as telling a story "of oppression and victimhood."
While it's no doubt true that America's founders were hugely influential in the history of political thought — and that the documents they wrote formed a foundation for the advancement of civil rights both at home and abroad — it would be foolish to treat their ideas and their motivations as pure. They applied their high-minded principles primarily when it served their interests to do so.
Another way to put that would be to say that they were hypocrites. But when the report talks about the blatant contradictions, words apparently speak louder than actions: "What is momentous is that a people that included slaveholders founded their nation on the proposition that 'all men are created equal.'"
We are to take it for granted that this sentiment was simply on a delay when applied to women and particularly to the people who were bought, sold, branded, bred, and worked like livestock.
An understanding of how that same dehumanization was carried forward not just in sharecropping and Jim Crow, but in Confederate memorials, the war on drugs, and predatory loans — in "welfare queens," "superpredators," and "all lives matter" — would be far less flattering.
"Equality of Opportunity" and "Shared Heritage"
Instead, the commission's report consistently conflates efforts at restorative justice with the evils they are intended to address. On the topic of affirmative action and identity politics, the report says, "This new creed creates new hierarchies as unjust as the old hierarchies of the antebellum South, making a mockery of equality with an ever-changing scale of special privileges on the basis of racial and sexual identities."
Better to ignore the ways in which historic injustices persist — the fact, for instance, that white families have nearly eight times the wealth of Black families. Whitewash those details and sell a story of meritocracy and "equality of opportunity," ignoring outcomes that fundamentally imply that Black Americans have less merit.
Better to talk about a "shared heritage." Better to ignore how the progeny of the enslaved have yet to share in the advantages left to the progeny of the wise and noble white thinkers who enslaved them.
Even when addressing the injustices of sharecropping in the reconstruction era, the report avoids the idea that vulnerable people were horribly exploited — as that sort of reasoning could likewise be applied to the dynamics of wage labor today. Instead, the report indicates that the system "enmeshed freedmen in relationships of extreme dependency," echoing conservative attacks on social programs that serve our nation's most disadvantaged.
Co-Opting MLK's Dream
Worse still, for a report released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is the way the commission abuses the message of the civil rights era — and King in particular.
When discussing the concept of identity politics — that oppressed groups must work together to advocate for their interests — the 1776 commission claims that this ethos"values people by characteristics like race, sex, and sexual orientation" and is thus "the opposite of King's hope that his children would 'live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.'"
Of course this is patently absurd. King and other civil rights leaders of his era plainly believed in the importance of people united by a shared struggle fighting for equality. And just as concepts like poll taxes and literacy tests were once used to disenfranchise Black voters — without explicitly mentioning race — there are aspects of our society that selectively disadvantage certain groups without expressly stating that aim.
That means over-policing of Black and Latinx neighborhoods, women receiving less pay for equal work, or school funding being inexplicably tied to property values. There is nothing about the affected groups organizing for their interests that is in conflict with King's values, nor with the principles of America's founding.
Martin Luther King Jr.: 'The Economic Problem Is the Most Serious Problem' www.youtube.com
On the contrary, that struggle is inherent in the "unalienable right" to the pursuit of happiness and enshrined in the first amendment. And pretending that oppressed groups are past the need for this kind of action or the protection it can win only sets us back. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, it brought us right back to the era of poll taxes, with a surge of voter suppression that doesn't mention race, yet manages to target Black voters "with almost surgical precision."
As is so often the case, the report ignores the true history of Martin Luther King's unpopularity among white Americans of his time. They treat him in death as uncontroversially loved, appropriating his message to evoke a false contrast between the current protest movement — which is portrayed as disruptive and divisive — and the movement of the 1960s.
If you were to believe the report, the latter "presented itself, and was understood by the American people, as consistent with the principles of the founding." In reality — the movement's relationship to the principles of the founding aside — Martin Luther King was never particularly popular in America. And in the years before his assassination, one Gallup poll showed that 63% of Americans held an unfavorable view of King, compared to just 33% with a favorable view.
This was due in part to protests which rankled the same type of person offended by Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter — white moderates whom king described as preferring "a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice." But it was also in response to King's harsh criticism of American activity in the Vietnam war and to his advocacy for a multiracial "Poor People's Campaign" uniting working class Americans to correct the injustices of capitalism.
King and Guthrie — This Report Erases Socialists
But of course the 1776 commission would be unlikely to acknowledge that King once described himself as "much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic." They had to erase that aspect of his life in order to appropriate him for their skewed, elitist version of individual liberty.
After all, according to the report, socialism "leads down the same dangerous path of allowing the state to seize private property and redistribute wealth as the governing elite see fit." As opposed to wealth being distributed only as the billionaires see fit…
As foolish as this mischaracterization of King is, it is hardly the commission's most absurd omission. That distinction goes to the report's invocation of Woody Guthrie's classic song "This Land is Your Land," as a song for patriotic Americans to enjoy on the fourth of July.
In reality, that song was first penned as a Marxist critique of the notion of private property — in direct opposition to the narrow notion of freedom the 1776 report venerates. Woodie Guthrie — of "This machine kills fascists" fame — would not only have vehemently opposed the sort of "patriotic education" advocated by the commission, he vocally opposed Donald Trump's father for racist housing discrimination practices in a song he penned called "Old Man Trump."
This Land is Your Land www.youtube.com
It seems there is no Left-wing activity the 1776 commission won't co-opt for their reactionary purposes. Take for example their list of "great reforms" which places "anti-Communism," and "the Pro-Life Movement" alongside abolition, women's suffrage, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Never mind the fact that anti-abortion advocacy treats a pregnant person's sovereignty as secondary to that of a fetus that doesn't even have a central nervous system. What "reforms" have ever been associated with "anti-Communism?" McCarthyism? The erosion of social safety nets?
Throwing Obstacles in the Way of a Complete Education
But of course this report is propaganda. It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a commission established by a billionaire president — who wanted to ban muslims, labelled protestors terrorists, and called undocumented immigrants rapists — is deeply biased against calls for racial and economic justice.
It makes even more sense when you learn that the chair of the commission, Larry Arnn — president of conservative Hillsdale College — once complained that state officials had come looking for "dark ones" after his school was charged with violating the Michigan DOE's standards for diversity. His co-chair, Carol Swain, once compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan.
This is what "patriotism" and "unity" mean to people like Trump, Arnn, and Swain. They mean stop criticizing. Stop finding fault and stop standing up for yourself — just be grateful for the status quo.
It's the kind of "unity" that divides the poor white workers against poor black workers to prevent a working class movement, and it's not remotely surprising that these people would share such a remarkably skewed, incomplete, and ahistorical perspective. That they accuse every social justice movement past the 1960s of seeking special favor and imposing anti-majoritarian bigotry — e.g. affirmative action is the real racism — is likewise to be expected.
What is nonetheless shocking is how fervently they project that fault onto the other side while co-opting and mischaracterizing Left-wing figures and movements. There is, for instance, a bitter irony in the moment when the report cites early feminist icon Elizabeth Cady Stanton as saying "to throw obstacles in the way of a complete education is like putting out the eyes."
This pays off when the report goes on to attack universities for offering anything more than the most simplistic, rose-tinted view of the founders. As with the attack on the Capitol, they want to achieve unity not by embracing a shared understanding of our complex and often deeply painful history, but by agreeing as one to deny it. By moving on.
Nation as System and Myth
They believe that a nation is a myth of pure ideals — a myth of a people unified by principles — more than it is a system that should serve its citizen's sustainable happiness. And that patriotism — rather than pushing the system to improve — means worshipping the myth as dogma.
There is a huge difference between defending and working to improve a flawed system that broadly benefits you and the people you love — in ways that you may take for granted or not even notice — and devoting yourself to a mythic sense of noble community. The latter will always have such a huge advantage in terms of the picture it paints and the passion it invites — it almost doesn't matter that it's make-believe.
But the fact that it isn't real makes it far too malleable. The most gripping myths and stories have villains, and if patriotism is built on a myth of belonging, then our national myth can easily be molded to unite patriots against the "villains" outside our borders.
This form of unity and of patriotism is undoubtedly more exciting — more fun — than the version that focuses on highlighting problems, legislating policy to fix those problems and slowly improving our bureaucracy. But we should all see by now how these myths drift too easily into the dark side of nationalism — into xenophobia, warmongering, and fascist violence.
Even as President Biden signals the end of the 1776 commission, this report will live on. Its sentiments will remain in our national conversation,, and its deception will likely be read in classrooms across the country.
With that in mind, we should come away from this text with one clear message: "Unity" with people who favor myths and lies over difficult truths is not worth pursuing.
Whether as a Pokémon, a Force ghost, or a cable news pundit, we can expect to see a lot more of Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, Donald Trump addressed a gathering of his followers at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for the final speech of his presidency.
Preparing to leave behind the position he called his "greatest honor and privilege," he told his followers that they are "amazing people," and that he will "always fight" for them. He went on to wish Joe Biden's administration "great luck and great success" to a tepid response, but when he told them "we love you, we will be back... in some form," the cheers were raucous.
It was as though he'd announced the return of the McRib, but marinated in Rick and Morty sauce and doused in Shamrock Shake. You could almost hear the salivating for another chance to slurp some processed food-style slurry from Trump's infected teet.
'We will be back in some form': Trump vows return in final speech www.youtube.com
Is it good for them? Hell no. They eat it up anyway. But the question remains, what "form" is Donald Trump likely to take when he returns.
Sadly, like an after-credit scene that teases the sequel to the worst movie ever, that speech whet the appetite's of the MAGA crowd without giving them much to go on. It may be some time before we find out what "form" Donald Trump intends to take.
Until then, the best we can do to prepare ourselves is to look at his options and consider which direction he might choose. With that in mind, these eight scenarios represent the most likely directions for Donald Trump to make a comeback.
The attempted coup that took place at the Capitol building on Wednesday was equal parts terrifying and hilarious.
In times of crisis and chaos, it's important to keep a clear head and stay on top of the facts.
It's important to acknowledge that this was an unprecedented breach of security that could easily have been avoided and that it resulted in the deaths of at least four people.
But once you've processed the horror that entails, it's equally important to allow yourself a break from the tension and anxiety. Now and then it's essential to look at things from a different angle and just laugh at the absurdity.
Wednesday's attack on Capitol Hill was a great reminder of that lesson. Amid images of fascists and white supremacists taking over the Capitol building to disrupt the functioning of the federal government, chase legislators into hiding, and delay the confirmation of Joe Biden's clear victory over Donald Trump — waving the confederate flag, smashing things, stealing things, and generally getting away with it — there was also an abundance of clownish, hilarious behavior.
Some of the absurdity involved people being intentionally funny, while some of it displayed a raw, natural talent for being obliviously laughable. But all of it provided potent relief from the sense of American democracy falling to a movement of delusional bigots led by a petty conman (though that's still a disturbing possibility).
So as we move forward and focus on action to ameliorate the risk of further violence — anti-coup protests, impeachment, the 25th amendment — it's worth looking back at some of the highlights of absurdity that sprouted from Wednesday's waking nightmare.
At any rate, with all this absurdity, you have to laugh...or cry...or both, simultaneously while huddled in your closet.
This week, Larry King was hospitalized with COVID-19. Back in May, he argued with Dave Rubin about the necessity of lockdowns.
Update 1/23/2021: It was announced on Saturday that the 87-year-old broadcasting legend died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given, but the timeline strongly suggests that COVID-19 was a contributing factor.
So sad to hear about the passing of my friend, my mentor and my bonus grandfather. There’s only one true King of in… https://t.co/uiCKljy8Pz— Dave Rubin (@Dave Rubin)1611417207.0
In response, Dave Rubin tweeted what would seem to be a heartfelt memorial to his "mentor" and "bonus grandfather," if not for the fact that Dave Rubin pushed for the lax policies that likely led to Larry King being exposed to COVID-19 in the first place. As such, we can only recall Larry's words: "David, that sounds ridiculous."
Update 1/5/2021: Larry King has been moved out of the ICU, and is reportedly breathing on his own in an LA hospital.
Larry King is a legend of broadcasting.
For more than six decades he has worked in radio and television, developing his signature interview style. His nightly CNN show Larry King Live ran for 25 years — into his late 70s. But even after it ended in 2010, King was far from ready to retire.
At 87 years old, the Emmy and Peabody winner has continued making great TV, and his straightforward, conversational tone has not diminished. Rather, age has refined his skills.
His aversion to researching the subjects of his interviews — which he has touted as making for a more casual and natural flow — is emblematic of the attitude that makes him so compelling. While many people may claim that they "don't give a ****," Larry King lives that ethos as only an old man can.
He will interrupt his guests, contradict them, talk over them, and just generally say what's on his mind. These tendencies come across as rude, and sometimes his musings make it clear how out of touch he is — after decades of wealth and fame.
Larry, I'm on DuckTales. www.youtube.com
But more often than not, King's approach seems to cut through pretense and formality and produce genuinely interesting conversations. This week, as it was reported that Larry King contracted COVID-19, and was subsequently hospitalized, two conversations in particular have remained on my mind.
Both were conversations between King and BlazeTV's resident "former liberal" Dave Rubin. And in both conversations it becomes clear both that Rubin has a sincere admiration for Larry King, and that the feeling is not mutual.
Rubin has made a name for himself out of his one-time tenure at Cenk Uygur's progressive news outlet The Young turks — before he made the move to Glenn Beck's Blaze Media. Branding himself variously as either a "classical liberal," or a "former lefty," Rubin is noted for his rejection of contemporary "regressive Left" politics, and for his willingness to have open discussions with people whom others might find "unsavory" or "Nazis."
The fact that Rubin is married to a man also gives him cover to platform people who believe that same-sex marriage should be outlawed and that "conversion therapy" should be encouraged. But it's all okay, because they're just "talking about ideas" — hateful, ignorant ideas — and because Dave Rubin is making a lot of money as a result.
Still, despite valid criticisms of Rubin as the passive, presentable entrée into the depths of far-Right ideology, he seems to see himself as part of a venerable tradition of impartial interviewers — with Larry King as one of its progenitors. He has referred to King as a mentor, and whenever they get together, the only thing more obvious than Dave Rubin's fawning reverence is King's lack of respect for Rubin.
The two have conversed on a number of occasions, and there are always hints at this dynamic — as when King seems to think that "Rubin" is Dave's first name — but the moment that truly crystallized their sad relationship dynamic came in Larry King's appearance on The Rubin Report back in February of 2020.
Larry King Ruins A Live Interview By Taking A Call www.youtube.com
While in the middle of a live-streamed discussion about moderate politics, an assistant delivered Larry King's cell phone, ostensibly for King to explain something about Samsung and this flip phone in particular. But almost as soon as the phone is in King's hand, it starts ringing, and he briefly makes a face as though he's embarrassed and uncertain of what to do, before flipping it open and answering the call.
Maybe Larry is so used to taking phone calls during live broadcasts that it just felt natural. But the more likely explanation is that he just doesn't think much of Dave Rubin.
On the other end of the call, the voice of King's college athlete son, Cannon, can be made out enthusing over some recent baseball games. Meanwhile, Rubin silently gawps and gestures, whispers to Larry to remind him of the live audience of thousands who were watching it play out, and looks in disbelief at both Larry and the camera.
At some point King explains to his son that he is "doing a podcast," and says, "while talking to you, the audience is watching me talk to you," and somehow that isn't the end of the phone call. For more than three minutes the show is at a standstill while Larry King and his son discuss batting averages, their plans for the week, and the LA Dodgers latest trades.
When the call finally ends, Larry King doesn't even hint at apologizing. Why would he? What has Dave Rubin done to deserve his respect?
To make that point more clear, we need to skip forward to May, when the first wave of the COVID pandemic in the US was just beginning to subside in New York City and a few other hot spots. Dave Rubin was among the conservative commentators who were already arguing that the spotty, insufficient lockdown had gone on long enough, and that it was time to give governors the leeway to reopen their state economies.
Dave Rubin takes on the progressive movement www.youtube.com
During an appearance on Larry King's show PoliticKING to promote his self-victimizing tome Don't Burn This Book, Rubin acknowledged that King "might be right," that people returning to their lives and congregating in public spaces was bound to cause a lot of new cases of COVID. But then he argued that we had to "decide what level of sickness are we willing to live with."
And how else could Larry King respond to an incredulous Rubin but to say, "David, that sounds ridiculous. 'What level of sickness can we live with,' come on! You've got a worldwide pandemic."
What King might have added if Rubin hadn't then interrupted is that at the time — and to this day — the long term consequences of COVID-19 are little understood. Cognitive impairment and lasting damage to heart and lung tissue have been reported long after more obvious symptoms have subsided. And a small but worrying number of children have developed severe and frightening inflammatory symptoms that are not yet understood.
We may not know for years how the novel coronavirus has affected the tens of millions of Americans who have contracted it so far — with hundreds of thousands of new cases reported every day, and hospitals and morgues overflowing. But even the little bit we knew about the highly contagious virus at the time made it obvious what a bad idea it was to rush reopening before even a basic standard for a lockdown had been met.
Dave Rubin believes that trusting scientists is a silly notion: "Have you ever seen a science fiction movie? There… https://t.co/pMxmG52yZK— Dave Rubin Clips (@Dave Rubin Clips)1609214122.0
And while the threat for people like Dave Rubin, 44, may not have looked so serious, for someone of Larry King's age, the situation couldn't be handled lightly. As King sarcastically put it to Rubin at the time, "At whose risk? … It's okay if you die, right?"
But measures like paying people and businesses for a more serious, enforced interruption — which worked beautifully in a number of countries where economies are recovering rapidly — were not even deemed worth discussing by people like Dave Rubin. Which meant that the only question was how long people could be expected to get by with nothing. And with that narrow consideration, it's hardly surprising that most of the country reopened to one extent or another.
Looking back at the conversation now, you can either view Larry King as a prophetic scion who foresaw the chaos and the death that neoliberal intransigence was about to unleash upon the country — the 350,000 dead Americans and counting. Or you can view Dave Rubin as a callous and willfully ignorant tool of wealthy interests, denying reality for his paycheck.
What if people like Dave Rubin had considered the possibility of helping average Americans through a time of unavoidable crisis — without first helping massive corporations and investors a great deal more. How many hundreds of thousands might have been saved?
If Donald Trump hadn't downplayed the virus, refused a mask mandate, pushed to reopen, and used his unparalleled access to advanced and experimental treatments to say "if I can get better, anyone can get better," back in October, would Larry King be in the hospital today?
Perhaps — unlike more than 100,000 Americans who have died miserable, horrific COVID deaths since our soon-to-be-former president made that absurd statement — Larry King will receive some of the same special treatment, and will quickly pull through. He is, after all, a wealthy celebrity, and he has previously survived a heart attack. Maybe it will be enough to save his life...
In either case, the blame for the current horrific state of affairs lies unequivocally with people like Dave Rubin. So if you ever get the chance to talk to him, please remember to show him all the respect he deserves — or at least take a phone call.