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So many of the past blogs and radio shows have focused on politics, we thought we would try to talk about something else, anything else – movies, culture, sports. As a matter of fact, we had both just recently seen the movie, “The Wrath of Khan,” plus the Q&A afterwards with George Takei (aka Mr. Sulu) at the Boch Wang Center.
[Spoiler Alert, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Check out the last blog for a full report!]
In addition to all the retro sci-fi stuff, the space explorers were doing research on something called the Genesis Project, that would totally re-populate a planet with new life when deployed. Or, if it fell into the hands of someone evil, like Khan (played by Ricardo Montalban), it could be used on a planet that was already populated, say, such as Earth, in which case it would decimate any existing life forms. In the words that Spock spoke:
“As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”
As I was sitting in the darkened theater, who did this make me think of again, but Steve Bannon!
Again, we found ourselves immersed back in politics. It’s funny that in the last show, where we explored possible alternative theories for all the chaos in Washington, we thought we had been pretty creative, but we hadn’t even thought of Russia! I wonder if we will ever really know precisely to what degree Russia influenced or interfered with the 2016 election, or whether they acted alone or in cooperation with the Trump campaign.
Meanwhile, we continue to try to make sense of what’s coming out of the White House. Is it all random and unplanned, or are we being played? Did President Trump tweet his allegations that President Obama tapped his phone lines at Trump Tower just to distract and divert us from the chain of news stories linking Trump’s campaign to Russia? It’s so hard to figure out what’s really going on behind the scenes just based on what we see, the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
In the same way, anyone watching a rugby game, not knowing the rules or how the game is played, would have a hard time figuring out what the players were intending to do, based on what they saw the players actually doing on the field, let alone whether or not they had game plan.
The one thing that many journalists and political observers have determined is that the White House probably isn’t working together as a team. For example, see Annie Linskey’s article, “Warring West Wing factions dismay management experts” (The Boston Globe, February 18, 2017).
There is the concept in business of setting up rival teams, which could be beneficial, in terms of gaining multiple varied perspectives, and avoiding uniformity of thought, if they were all working towards the same goal. Theoretically, all of the staff in the White House are highly accomplished, skilled, highly capable, competent professionals. Just as in sports, sometimes a team of all-stars will not perform as well as a team of players having lesser talent individually, but who have chemistry, and perhaps years of experience working together as a team. Given the amount of chaos emanating from the White House on a daily basis, they don’t seem to be working as a team, or at least from the same play book. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re playing the same sport!
If that’s the case, maybe we should look at each individual player to see what their end game might be; what makes them tick; what fundamental motives drive them. I guess this would be the alternative theory that each person individually is doing just what they genuinely believe is right, and what’s best for the nation.
Let’s start with Steve Bannon. Given his penchant for deconstructing things, a la the Genesis Project, maybe he really believes in his heart of hearts that everything in Government has gotten too big and complicated. He wouldn’t be the first to think this. All of this talk of deconstruction made me think of a book I read back in the 90’s, called Demosclerosis, written by Jonathan Rauch, published in 1994. The title is a little bit of a play on words, bouncing off the term for clogged and hardened arteries, atherosclerosis. The concept is that only new laws and agencies get added to Government as time goes on. Things only become increasingly more complex and entrenched, as things are added sequentially in response to new situations and problems, building up like barnacles on a boat. When is the last time you saw a law come off the books, and go away? Or, for that matter, an entire agency?
[Ironic side note: When I pointed this out I was thinking of one of the first Executive Orders that rolled out the first or second week, mandating that for every new regulation, agencies would have to eliminate two existing ones. The very next day after taping the show, the President issued a new Executive Order mandating the re-organization of the Executive Branch, including the elimination of redundant or unneeded agencies. The President’s budget unveiled Thursday March 16, 2017, with its deep cuts to some departments and agencies would effectively cut their legs out from under them. Even if they continued to exist, they would not have the funding to continue their work at the same level as in the past.]
So, perhaps Steve Bannon is just really intent on streamlining Government, but based on the articles I’ve read about him so far, and the extraordinary degree of influence he seems to have within the White House, it seems like there is a lot more going on there. We’ll pick this up another day, another time.
What about Donald Trump? Why did he want to become President? What would he hope to achieve once elected? When did he first ever even remotely consider the idea of running for President? He was a successful businessman. He didn’t need this.
I believe the seeds were sown for his presidency at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. When you watch the tape, you realize how deeply he was mocked, and it cut him right to the core. Someone said they’d heard that if he ran for President, he would run as a Republican, but in fact his run would be as a joke. Everyone laughed, in the classic sense, “at him, not with him,” in an unkind way. Everyone laughed, except for Donald Trump. He was singled out, and his dignity was violated. The concept of “dignity violations” and their impact are a topic of a book by Dr. Donna Hicks, a researcher at Harvard, and expert at international conflict resolution. She literally wrote the book on dignity. Every human has basic needs, to feel valued, to belong, and to be included. When Trump was attacked, he was made to feel a complete outsider.
My theory is that it comes down to the distinction between Different and Differences; the difference between simply having differences and being completely different. I first thought about this after the Columbine tragedy. Not forgiving the perpetrators in any way, but simply seeking to understand. If people simply have differences, we can celebrate diversity, and yet still, share some core commonality. If someone is viewed as completely different, foreign, or ‘the other,’ then we lose the possibility for finding some common ground. We lose the possibility for “Namaste;” the yoga/Buddhist term that loosely translates to “the light in me honors the light in you.” We cannot see the light in others. The two young men who carried out the Columbine shooting were also mocked, and treated as complete outsiders. Their hurt, pain and anger were externalized and manifested into violence against others.
Maybe Trump’s drive to win the White House arose in reaction to being mocked, and he has channeled that anger and pain in lashing out at those who hurt him the most, such as the ‘evil media’ and the liberal elite.
Inclusion and validation matter.
Ironically, there was a study that just came out in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing a link between legalization of same-sex marriage and a drop in teen suicide attempts, specifically in LGBTQ youth. It makes sense that this public validation might give these youth hope, that a full and happy life might be possible. After all, what is suicide, but the loss of hope? In the case of suicide, these feelings of not belonging, not being valued, and being treated as an outsider get internalized and translated into violence against the self.
This is why the inclusion of the OutVets group in today’s Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade matters. Inclusion matters. Everyone wants to belong and feel valued.
And President Trump is no different. He seeks validation, belonging, and attention, just like everyone else. To quote John Turrant:
“Attention is the most basic form of love; through it we bless and we are blessed.”
By this measure, Trump’s presidency is succeeding wildly! He is in the news daily. This leaves us with a horrible dilemma: to give or not to give Trump attention. If attention is what he craves, are we making a mistake by constantly giving it to him, with all our marches and rallies? And blogs and radio shows?
Should we not be giving him all this attention?
Should we stand by and just be silent?
I don’t think so, I don’t think I can do that either.
I can’t keep quiet.
Mark your calendars:April 8 is #ICantKeepQuiet Day. Stay tuned, maybe there will be a flash mob near you.
April 22 is the March for Science in Boston Common.
We opened the show with a few chords on my guitar, an abbreviated and ‘transformative interpretation’ of “I Can’t Keep Quiet,” by Milck. I forgot to even mention that this was the song I had played, and it may not have been very recognizable, the way I played it. We were actually quiet on a number of things we could have talked about, such as International Women’s Day on March 8 and the #DayWithoutWomen movement that encouraged women to take the day off to show the impact of women in the world. I had mixed feelings from the start, as it also spoke of the gap between the privileged women who could afford to take the day off, and those who might risk losing their jobs for not showing up to work. Plus, I think I may have more of an impact when I show up. Democracy is all about showing up, right? As it turned out, I showed everybody. I took not one, not two, but three days off work that week, thanks only to a migraine and a sore throat. By the end of the week, I was just happy to have #ADayWithoutAMigraine!
Thank you once again to George Takei and the Boch Wang Center for the complimentary tickets to the show.
Props to Jumana for bringing the radio show full circle, weaving the question at the end of the show to the song at the intro. Do we let Trump take over our lives and permeate our every waking moment? It’s exhausting. There’s a fatigue factor. And yet, to not stay tuned in doesn’t seem right either. It’s probably okay, and maybe even necessary to take a mental health break now and then. Go to an art museum. Ponder the timeless. Sing. Play a musical instrument. Watch some TV: “This Is Us,” “The Good Place,” or even “The Crown.” And then come back to the present. This is a marathon.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, when the Executive Orders started rolling out, especially the ones regarding immigrants, I remember seeing a particularly poignant tweet: “Remember sitting in High School history class wondering what you would have done as Hitler rose to power. What you are doing now is what you would have done then.” Maybe things aren’t quite that dark yet, but it is a slippery slope.
Here we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and the contributions of another immigrant group to American culture. The Irish Prime Minister delivered a stirring (stinging?) speech during his visit to the White House on Thursday, noting that the Irish immigrants to America also “were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore.”
Happy (Belated) St. Patrick’s Day everybody!
· April 5 – Pacific Overtures opens on Broadway
· April 8 – I Can’t Be Quiet, announced by Milck
· April 22 – March for Science, 2 to 4 PM, Boston Common. Better get started knitting your green and/or blue caps! I have to believe the March for the Arts can’t be far behind, right?
· HUBweek 2017 in Boston, various locations, October 8 – 15, 2017 https://hubweek.org/
· Walk For Education, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), October 14, 2017
About WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston & Schmidt Happens:WBCA is a community radio station sponsored by the Boston Neighborhood Network, and is on the air from 6 PM to 2 AM each night.
Radio Beantown is on the air! Jumana Hashim is a current member of Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, while Rosemary, aka Rosebud, Schmidt has been retired a few years.
Beantown’s season opens soon! Check out www.BeantownRugby.com for more details. First game is at Providence Saturday March 25th, B-side will play Northeastern University.Go Forward, Support!
Song For The Day:“I Can’t Keep Quiet,” of course, by Milck. This is my favorite version of it, taped on the fly, so spontaneous and heartfelt, during the Women’s March in January.
Abrahams, Yvonne. 2017. Our Chance to Write History. The Boston Globe. February 5, 2017.
Begley, Sharon. 2017. How Psychology Makes Sense of Trump’s Conspiracy Theories. Stat News. March 8, 2017.
Caldwell, Christopher. 2017. What Does Steve Bannon Want? The New York Times. February 25, 2017.
Dennis, Brady. 2017. Acting EPA head: Hiring freeze challenges ‘our ability to get the agency’s work done.’ The Washington Post. 15 February 2017.
Fuentes, Jake. 2017. The Immigration Ban is a Headfake, And We’re Falling For It. A Medium Corporation. 30 January 2017.
Guarino, Ben. 2017. Legalizing same-sex marriage was associated with fewer youth suicide attempts, new study finds. The Washington Post. February 21, 2017.
Hess, Amanda. 2017. How a Fractious Women’s Movement Came to Lead the Left. The New York Times Magazine. 7 February 2017.
Hicks, Donna. 2011. Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict. Yale University Press.
Kurtzleben, Danielle. 2017. Just Because a Bill is Long Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad. National Public Radio. March 11, 2017.
Linskey, Annie. 2017. Warring West Wing factions dismay management experts. The Boston Globe. 18 February 2017.
Lizza, Ryan. 2017. Can Steve Bannon Save TrumpCare? The New Yorker. March 17, 2017.
Lopez, German. 2017. Watch Ireland’s prime minister bash Trump’s anti-immigration views just feet away from Trump. Vox. March 17, 2017.
Marano, Hara Estroff. 2017. Shrinks Battle Over Diagnosing Donald Trump. Psychology Today. January 31, 2017.
Packer, George. 2017. Official Duties; or Holding Trump Accountable. The New Yorker. February 27, 2017.
“If Trump were more rational and more competent, he might have a chance of destroying our democracy.”
Pillalamarri, Akhilesh. 2017. Steve Bannon, Dharma Warrior: Hindu Scriptures and the Worldview of Trump’s Chief Ideologue. The Diplomat. February 3, 2017.
Raifman, Julia; Ellen Moscoe, Ellen, and Bryn Austin. 2017. Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts. JAMA Pediatrics, published online February 20, 2017. Doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4529
Radosh, Ronald. 2016. Steve Bannon, Trump’s Top Guy, Told Me He Was ‘A Leninist’ Who Wants to ‘Destroy the State.’ The Daily Beast. 22 August 2016.
Rauch, Jonathan. 1994. Demosclerosis: The Silent Killer of American Government. New York: Perseus Books Group.
Rubin, Jennifer. 2017. Bannon and Trump are out for Revenge. The Washington Post. February 24, 2017.
Rucker, Philip, and Robert Costa. 2017. Bannon vows a daily fight for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state. The Washington Post. February 23, 2017.
Sword, Rosemary K. M., and Philip Zimbardo, PhD. 2017. The Elephant in the Room: It’s Time We Talked Openly about Donald Trump’s Mental Health. Psychology Today. February 28, 2017.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201702/the-elephant-in-the-room
Takei, George. 2017. How ‘America First’ puts many of us last. USA Today. 15 February 2017.
Trump, Donald J. 2017. Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch. March 13, 2017.
Wu, Tim. 2017. How Donald Trump Wins By Losing. The New York Times. March 3, 2017.
© 2017 Rosemary A. SchmidtRose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS
Radio Broadcast © 2017 Jumana Hashim and Rosemary Schmidt. For permission to re-print or re-broadcast the radio shows, please contact the radio hosts and/or WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston for permission. The views expressed in the radio broadcast are those of the hosts, and not any other agency, entity or organization. Every effort has been made to give proper credits and citations for material quoted/cited. Any errors or omissions are not intentional and every effort will be made to make corrections as soon as they are brought to our attention.
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