Reblog: “The Christian Right is Radicalizing White People I Love”

Years ago, I was very disturbed by things I heard from Tracy, Richard’s wife; her views on politics struck me as lacking in empathy and compassion–and very, very misguided (climate change, for example).  She claimed to be a Christian, but I did not see any evidence of this in fruits of the spirit.  It was a relief to cut off relations with her when her abuse of me, her children, and Richard finally became intolerable.  (If not for her being married to Richard, I wouldn’t have put up with her at all, let alone for two and a half years.)

As for Richard, he was a bit better in some ways–He was compassionate toward immigrants, having seen firsthand what draconian border policies do to people.  But he had extremist views of his own that began to get very disturbing.

When I started seeing a couple I knew in college start making similar comments on Facebook, I decided to cut the cord there, too.  I couldn’t make any political posts without this couple making some snide remark.

Lately, however, I’ve been seeing views like theirs showing up more and more on my Facebook news feed, whether people’s posts or their responses to mine.  I’ve already unfriended a few people and changed my settings so I can block another person from seeing certain posts.  But I can’t unfriend family or people I see all the time.

And it’s not just my imagination.  John Pavlovitz writes in The Christian Right is Radicalizing White People I Love,

 

  

There is much more there about watching your loved ones turn into right-wing extremists.  Since I’ve started making political posts on Facebook again after years of avoiding them, I’ve seen comments that make my hair stand on end–from people I thought were better than that.  I’ve unfriended people I had crushes on in school.  I’ve unfriended the mother of a friend.

I’ve wished I could unfriend relatives and friends who see my posts on the treatment of immigrants and say “I’d vote for Trump again” and make snarky comments that mirror GOP talking points.  I’ve heard people say things that seem to come out of left field–then, sometime later, hear those same wacky comments come from some GOP politician or pundit or other right-winger.

And yes, I wonder if this is what it was like for Germans who kept their sanity but watched their friends/relatives/colleagues fall in love with Hitler.

Again, the article is The Christian Right is Radicalizing White People I Love by John Pavlovitz.  Comments here are turned off so you can put them on his blog.

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When I broke my political silence on Facebook

Last week, I entered bizarro world for a time.  It started shortly after I posted on Facebook about the concentration camps on the border.

For several years now, I’ve been quiet about politics on Facebook.  I used to be more active, sharing everything, stirring the pot a bit to get conversations going.  I got even more active after we kicked Richard and Tracy out of our lives, because Richard had actually argued with me over posting things he didn’t like.  For a long time, it felt like I could say anything I wanted without worrying about him harassing me over it.

But then others of my FB friends started to act like him.  The political situation got worse and worse in the state because of Walker’s crazy totalitarian actions, then in the country as black people began to speak out more on what they go through every day, and white people got offended.  My husband was one of those, and I didn’t want to see him yelling at people or posting something offensive.  He used to be more moderate, but he started listening more to the right-wing.  I had to stop watching the Daily Show with him because he kept yelling at the screen when they said something he didn’t like–but which I agreed with, making it feel like he was criticizing me, too.

Also, more friends and family started friending me, and many were Republican.  My brother-in-law also has a tendency to unfriend his own family when they say things too “liberal” for his taste (he’s a proud Dittohead).

And then members of my church started joining my Facebook, lots and lots of them.  I don’t know how they all feel about politics etc., but I know at least some of them are very conservative about things like LGBT.

So I stopped talking politics on FB.  Or anything controversial.  So I didn’t say much at all on FB, really.  But my blog was safer, so I spoke out over there.  Then got my Twitter account.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I felt like I had to post some things that could stir up trouble.  One, on June 15, was a video of that black family in Phoenix who got abused by cops.  Normally I was too scared even to mention such things, but I felt this, finally, would prove to white nay-sayers that prejudice is real.  Also, on June 14 I posted the Esquire article explaining that the border camps are actually concentration camps.

I thought I might get some pushback on the Esquire article, because people kept denying that migrants are being mistreated, but surprisingly didn’t.  Then on the 17th, I posted a tweet thread by Elizabeth C. McLaughlin and a couple of articles to back up what the thread claimed, one about the dog pounds and one about the freezers.  I posted these because McLaughlin’s thread said “Don’t look away” and “Fascism is here,” and described the conditions in the camps, as well as rumors that

ICE facilities with beds and food are EMPTY, because the Trump administration is moving refugees into military-run concentration camps where they can do ANYTHING THEY CHOOSE without oversight, media scrutiny or advocate access….Unlike ICE facilities, which allow site inspectors inside, there will be no inspection of military-run camps. The military will be able to deny access to anyone it chooses. No media. No oversight.  Lawyers will not be allowed in. Human rights monitors will not be allowed in. The camps will also be protected airspace, meaning that no drones can fly over them to take pictures of what’s going on inside.

I hadn’t found proof of the last one yet, but had already heard about (and written my Congresspeople about) migrant children being moved to Fort Sill, which already got people worried that Fort Sill would become a concentration camp again.  (It held Japanese-Americans in WWII.)  Then I found this article from CBS, which confirmed the lack of oversight in military-run camps:

The Fort Sill site will be the second location out of more than 160 shelters nationwide to be located on federal land, and as a result it will not be subject to state child welfare inspections. The only other site not overseen by state authorities is the nation’s largest such facility, in Homestead, Florida.

McLaughlin kept repeating, “Please share.  Lives are in the balance.”  On June 20, she added,

A lot of folks on this thread have doubted the existence of my “friend.” Please meet my friend — a lawyer, a warrior and a heroine, and who is finally able to be public about the horrors of what she has seen inside US concentration camps.

This was also shortly after reading about a detention center where migrants were standing on toilets just to be able to breathe in the overcrowding.  Then I read a tweet thread describing a Rolling Stone article on guards using racial slurs against migrants, including the Nazi term “subhuman.”

On the 17th, I trolled Trump (who said ICE was about to remove millions of illegal aliens) with the comment,

Removed? To go where, exactly? Concentration camps? Are the death camps next???

McLaughlin’s thread was also the reason why, in the wee hours of June 18, I posted on my blog, Call it what it is: concentration camps.  We are turning into Nazi Germany.

Then on the afternoon of June 18, I read Jonathan Katz’s Call immigration detention centers what they really are: concentration camps.  I had found it on Twitter that day.  So I shared it on Facebook.

I think I vaguely noticed on June 18 that Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) had just said or tweeted something about this.  But you’ll note that I and others were sending up the alarm bells before then, urgently spreading the word that these are concentration camps, to get people to realize the fascist path we’re heading down, and rise up against the camps to get them shut down.

So I was shocked–especially after little but “likes” on my posts all weekend–when the mother of a longtime friend attacked me.  Not just disagreed with–downright attacked me.  First she told me to educate myself on what the Nazis did.

Wait–What?  World War II enthusiast here.  I’ve read Anne Frank twice; seen all sorts of WWII movies, especially ones about POW camps or concentration camps; even watched films made of the Nazi camps in German class.  My German teacher was Polish, lived through the Occupation, and made sure we knew about WWII.  I was obsessed with WWII in high school, and wrote a story about it.  I saw Schindler’s List in the theater, and then again later.  And for the past four years, I’ve been doing in-depth research on WWII for a novel, including books, Google and videos.

I frickin’ know all about the Nazi concentration camps, dang it.

I had just read the articles explaining concentration camps and their history.  I got upset with her attacking me and making me sound ignorant when I was anything but–especially when experts on concentration camps and the Holocaust–and George Takei–were also saying that these are indeed concentration camps.  It was insulting.

AOC is already the subject of a disgusting smear campaign by the GOP, but I didn’t know about the furor over her comments on this until my friend’s mom said, “Oh, so you’ve been listening to AOC, I see!”  Then she dismissed everything I said because AOC had also said it.  I told her this was a logical fallacy, and that I only just heard that AOC said anything at all about it, but she still didn’t listen.

Her insults and dismissals continued.  She said things like, “Have you been there?  I’d like to see pictures if you have.”  I said I hadn’t been there (I didn’t even know where “there” was or have the means to do that), but pics are all over the Net.  She said AOC hasn’t been there either, so she doesn’t actually know what’s there.  So she refused to believe the accounts of people who HAVE been there, or THEIR pictures, just because I hadn’t been there and neither had AOC???!!!

I was about ready to scream.  I decided to stop responding lest I say something that would make my friend, her daughter, angry.  But she kept coming at me.

One friend said that she’s a horrible person so he’s going to block her without even knowing her.

Another friend asked her if SHE had been to the camps.

An old high school classmate posted that he didn’t agree they were bad, that most of the migrants were glad to be there because conditions were much better than where they’d been.  Well, your agreement or disagreement does not affect the facts or the truth.

This infuriated me so much, that the truth would be dismissed just because some right-winger and/or Trump told her not to trust the “fake news,” while kids are suffering and dying–that I started posting more links.

Lots and lots of links, pulling up my sources from the past few days, proving that this is not some fever dream of AOC’s.

They were not posted on her wall, but on my own, for all my friends and family to see, because this is important and they all need to know so they can act.  I also deleted all the responses she and others had made on my share of the Katz article.

But the friend’s mom refused to listen to facts.  She didn’t notice that I had disengaged with her, refusing to respond to anything she wrote.  She’d post ignorant cartoon memes about Nazi camps on my timeline as “proof” that it’s wrong to call them concentration camps.  She’d make snarky comments on my posts.

I shared an Amnesty International article describing horrid treatment some migrants had received, which also laid out the facts of the border situation, immigration laws, and international laws on how refugees and asylum seekers must be treated.  It also described a heartbreaking story of a woman told she had no rights here or to stay with her son.  But my friend’s mom shared it on her wall with the note that no, she has no rights here, and should go back where she came from.

She kept making comments to me.  She’d say I should learn Spanish and tell them not to come here.  She’d say they were committing a crime by coming here (which is false).  I read as much as I could, educating myself on the situation, only to have her dismiss it all and try to shame and harass me into agreeing with her.

Meanwhile, the night of the 18th, I was so upset at what she said that–despite going to bed very late–I could not get to sleep.  I believe I only got a few hours of sleep total.  I was in mental and emotional turmoil.  John Pavlovitz tweeted something about this on the 19th, your anguish and PTSD as you learn the true colors of your Republican friends/family.

Now, several things had been going on when this all happened.  First, for years, people have assumed I feel a certain way about issues, because I avoid politics on Facebook and in person.  I put a gay character in my book; a fellow Writer’s Club member was surprised, because she had made assumptions about me.  Another member posted stuff about abortion on my wall, assuming I’d agree with him, which I did not.  Somebody who barely knew me was shocked that I listen to Rammstein.

Then some blogger called my friend Giacomo Sanfilippo, who writes Orthodoxy in Dialogue, and other like-minded bloggers “wolves in sheep’s clothing” for countering church leaders on such issues as gay rights.  Since I’ve been blogging about this even longer, I was a bit miffed at not being mentioned, but this blogger basically included me in his sweep of liberal-minded people in Orthodoxy.

I’d also been seeing so much right-wing crap on my Facebook wall, overhearing it when visiting family, and burning up inside at things my husband would say about politics, while I tried desperately to avoid engaging.  Just a few days before, I went to my husband’s wall for a photo, and found some disturbing and misleading meme about AOC.

Somebody telling me that the concentration camps are not concentration camps, and that there are no human rights violations there, and that if there are they are deserved because they are criminals who should not be here, was the catalyst.

I was sick of being quiet about how I really feel.  So I finally blew up all over Facebook, basically by sharing links about everything from the concentration camps, to LGBT rights, to Black Lives Matter.

I shared lots of articles from Orthodoxy in Dialogue, the most controversial ones, about abortion and LGBT rights and Nazis in the church.

I wrote, “Please support.  The struggle is real” on my share of BLM.  The friend’s mom wrote, “All lives matter!”  So I deleted that racist dismissal.

I deleted all her snarks, all her comments, all her cartoon memes.

Funny thing–She was the only one making them.

Then she stopped.  I thought she had finally realized my shares were the truth, not make-believe, and was processing it, getting past the cognitive dissonance.

Then a day or two later, she came back.  Started posting snark on my posts again.  I shared a petition about human rights violations in Gitmo; she came back with, “Are you sharing research for a book?”  WTF does that even MEAN?

Hubby tells me that yeah, she’s an extremist, that he sees it on his wall.

I finally unfriended her.  And Facebook is quiet again.  Even though I keep posting how I REALLY feel about everything, even Trump and the Wisconsin GOP.  Still waiting for somebody to complain to my priest, but nothing yet.  Nobody said anything at church, except to ask who was giving me trouble, since I’d deleted all this person’s posts.

Toby Gialluca tweeted on the 24th,

Everyone asks how I cope with the human suffering and abuse I witnessed at the CBP facilities. I struggle to find the words to convey what I have seen. It was a defining event in my life. There was my life before, and my life now. I will never be the same.

But I guess it’s all fake news, right?  They can leave any time they want, right?  It’s great there, right?

WRONG.

 

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Thoughts on the Mueller Report and Amash

Yes, I’ve read the Mueller Report.  I just finished it a few days ago, and now I’m reading some underlying documents published in the Washington Post’s e-book of the report.  It’s quite clear that Trump has committed offenses worthy of impeachment.

This is not the Bible or the Constitution, subject to interpretation based on your conservative or liberal leanings.  This is written literally, with legal analysis.  Mueller clearly lays out a number of incidents and whether or not they are obstruction (usually “yes”).

Also, he makes clear that he found no proof that the Trump campaign actively participated in the Russian hacking and influencing of the election–something which, also, the Mueller Report proves happened.  HOWEVER, some members of the campaign (Trump is up for question as well) tried to benefit from that.  They and the Russians were indeed in contact–and one Trump person even passed over polling data to the Russians.  Usually their efforts failed because of ineptitude etc.

Just as Trump’s attempts to obstruct also failed because people refused to follow his orders.  But you know, under the law, *attempting* to commit a crime and failing is still a crime.

The Trump Tower meeting was a setup by the Russians.  They lured in the Trump campaign with promises of dirt on Hillary, but they really wanted to talk about the Magnitsky Act, which upset Russia and led to their ban on Americans adopting Russian children.  (That’s where that “we just talked about adoption” thing came from.)

Mueller also made clear that his lack of indictment of a sitting President is only because the DOJ has this as a policy.  He also responded to one of the president’s lawyers, who argued that investigating a president is unconstitutional because it affects his ability to govern.  In a long and detailed explanation, Mueller argued that it is indeed constitutional to investigate a president.

Mueller also gave potential motives for Trump to try to obstruct the investigation, especially since he didn’t seem to actually be involved in colluding with the Russians.  Basically, that Trump fears what ELSE will come out, crimes committed by him and his family.

But don’t take my word for it–Read the report for yourself and see.

Trump has been behaving more and more like a guilty man all the time.  The more he fights to keep his finances and other activities under wraps, the more his actions scream that he has something to hide.

Do you really doubt this?  Trump has been a known shyster for DECADES.  This isn’t some figure of sterling character–This is Donald frickin’ Trump.  His malignant narcissism is no surprise.

He’s always been an icon of greed and self-worship.  None of his actions can be presumed to be for anybody’s interest but his own.  None of his promises to his supporters can be trusted.  It’s all for show, to bind them to him.  He weaves a spell over people just like narcissists do, then when their lackeys wake up to the truth and act against his interest, he turns on them like a wolf.

None of this is a surprise to those of us who have studied narcissism for years, so every time the press has acted surprised at his actions, I’ve thought, “You’re kidding, right?”

I’m also curious what Howard Stern, longtime friend of Trump’s, has to say about him now, after kind of defending him in the beginning.  He just came out with a new book, and says,

“Now here he is sitting in the Oval Office and flying around on Air Force One,” Stern writes in the introduction. “Two years into his first term, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. I feel like I’m living in an alternate reality…[B]elieve me, I’m as shocked as you are.” –Quoted in Daily Beast

He told Trump he couldn’t endorse him as President, and hasn’t heard from him since.  In a New York Times interview, he says Trump probably didn’t actually want or intend to be president–that it was probably a publicity stunt.  As most of us have already figured out, Stern traces Trump’s narcissism to his overbearing father.

And in the middle of all this, I discover a TEA Partier who I can actually like and respect, even if I wildly disagree with his policies: Justin Amash.  Here’s a man willing to stand up to everyone in his own party and be condemned by them, so he can tell the truth: that Trump has done actions worthy of impeachment.

Other Republicans and TEA Partiers–even Lindsey Graham, who used to be more of a truth-teller–have been closing ranks and showing no signs of actually reading the Report.  Or if they have, of trying to downplay it and pretend that it says what it doesn’t actually say.

McConnell is obstructing justice by refusing to give even bipartisan bills a hearing, while Graham uses a common tactic of narcissists and abusers: shouting down the whistleblowers.  The closer the Democrats get to the truth and justice, whether about this or Kavanaugh, the louder Graham shouts and screams and berates.

Which makes us wonder if the Russians have something on Graham, too.  McConnell’s home state, Kentucky, is getting a new factory from Oleg Deripaska, one of the oligarchs named in the Mueller Report.

History will not be kind to the Republican Party of our era.

That is, assuming the fascists don’t take over and make the history books say “all praise the GOP.”

But the GOP has been doing a lot to stir anger lately.  They seem to have forgotten that a large part of the country does not agree with them, that angry citizens turn into active voters.

This could tip either way: People keep expecting a “Reichstag Fire,” or fake crisis that Trump/the GOP use to fool the populace so they allow Trump to take ultimate power.  That’s what the Nazis did.  (Something like that also happened with the Patriot Act years ago, though that crisis was real.)

Or the side that sees through the GOP gaslighting and refuses to be fooled, could rise up.  We see signs of that as well, in the justice system, the voting booth, and House Democrats–though some feel they’ve been dragging their feet.

 

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My first post on ClassicPress! –and Wisconsin is doomed

1: Okay, first a quick note registering my upset with the Lame Duck Session.  My assemblyman has not responded to my e-mail (unless it got buried somewhere), but my senator did.  He, at least, has a conscience, and didn’t vote for the stripping of powers from our newly-elected governor/attorney general until he was satisfied that it was no longer immoral.

But I’m not, and neither are lots of us who are upset, dismayed, and angry at this outright, audacious power grab by the Wisconsin GOP.  We elected Evers and Kaul to pull this state out of the hell of corruption–which keeps getting worse all the time–where it’s been lying since Walker took office.  But the state legislature wants to ensure we stay down there.

I keep seeing this lately: GOP complains when Democrats are in power, then when one of their people is in charge and really screwing the people over, tells them to “suck it up” and deal with losing.  Then Democrats get in power again, so GOP takes their power away.

Update 12/7/18: My GOP senator put out a statement that he greatly disagreed with the original bills and did what he could behind the scenes–negotiations and such–to amend them until he was satisfied that they did not overreach, that there are still checks and balances and the new governor’s and AG’s powers would not be stripped.  Of course, whether he went far enough is probably going to depend on who you talk to, but I give him kudos for his extraordinary efforts and listening to his constituents.  We will see what happens in the coming months.

2: But enough of that rant.  Wordpress is updating today to 5.0, which means Gutenberg will now be the default.  I’ve been following this for months, all the controversy, but lots of WP users probably have no idea what’s about to happen when they click the “Update” button today.

To learn what the fuss is about, see here and here.  The controversy is so fierce and people are so concerned that the Gutenberg editor will break older sites, that there’s now a page to help people fix their sites.

The thing is, Gutenberg is not only a huge change from the old editor, making it hard to understand for many, and hard to use for many with accessibility concerns, but it’s only the beginning.  Menus and widgets are slated to be next, converted to “blocks” as the backend of the site is moved to heavy use of Javascript.  I’m concerned about that because it seems like every time a plugin moves to Javascript, it gets buggier.  So now my whole admin screen will be Javascript?

Other concerns are that older sites with lots of modifications to fit the old editor, and with lots of posts written in the old editor, are going to break.  Reports are coming in that such posts–though they are put in a “classic block” to preserve them–are having issues, that converting them to Gutenberg causes issues.  And for those of us who write long posts, the Gutenberg block-based editor is hanging up and interrupting the writing flow.

The official word from Wordpress is that you can use the Classic Editor plugin (or Disable Gutenberg plugin) if you don’t want to use this.  BUT it’s only going to be supported for three years, and before those three years are up, the widgets and menus will be re-structured.  So this isn’t really a solution if you don’t want to ever use Gutenberg; it just puts it off for a few years until you’re forced to use it.

Because of the outcry, a Wordpress fork has been developed: ClassicPress.  At first it seemed like a pipe dream, but lately it seems like a truly viable alternative.  And if it doesn’t work for you–important plugins start supporting only Gutenberg and no longer work, some plugin doesn’t like ClassicPress, or whatever–you can always revert back to Wordpress: The migration plugin has been altered so you can do so, or you can use FTP or backups.  (Always back up your files and database before making changes like this.)  I often use FTP to overwrite my core files when something on my site goes buggy, or an update crashes the site.

I’ve been pondering this for several weeks while watching the controversy.  I believe it’s best for Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole to switch to ClassicPress to preserve my thousands of posts and pages, and all the modifications I’ve done over the years.  It’s also mostly a text-based site which could suffer from the Gutenberg changes.

But my author page should be safe in WP 5.0 and Gutenberg.  (I might turn off Gutenberg for the blog, which I can do with Disable Gutenberg.)  It’s only a couple of years old and has few pages, pages which might actually benefit from the things Gutenberg can do.  But for now I’ll have Disable Gutenberg on (I see it’s working), until I have a chance to play with it.

I’m also disgusted by the response to people who complain about Gutenberg or suggest other ways to add it without forcing people to use the new editor.  Countless people are saying it should be an optional plugin, for example.

But they keep hearing: Can’t stop a moving train, this is how Wordpress is going, this is the decision that was made, and–maybe not from the WP CEO, but from others–Gutenberg is superior while you’re all curmudgeons who hate change, only a tiny minority of developers hate this while bloggers love it, etc. etc.

But people have legitimate concerns, and I know bloggers who refuse to use Gutenberg.

If this is how people will now be treated for their concerns, the arrogance has really put me off.  That’s the other reason that I’ve moved Hobbit Hole to ClassicPress.

So far, so good.  ClassicPress is working with my plugins.  We’ll see how it works, then.  The only drawback is it doesn’t appear to be working with PHP 7.3 yet, and I want 7.3!  (PHP is like an engine driving your site; 7.3 is more powerful than what I have now.)

Update 12-8-18: I just learned that Elementor does the same stuff Gutenberg does, but is easier to understand and use.  Meanwhile, turns out you can write a post in the Classic Editor and then add stuff to it in the Elementor editor–You don’t have to choose all one or the other.  Also, editing a page in Gutenberg was spitting out all sorts of PHP errors.  So my Author Page is also now in ClassicPress.  🙂

 

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