From the publisher … Troubling Times

by Joe Courter

This is one of these times where writing this column has so many items of concern in flux. 

The horror show of right wing arrogance that is the Florida legislature is in full swing until March 11. In a state where active and effective gerrymandering has a completely stacked deck against the Democrats, the Republicans are going after abortion rights in such an unempathetic way, not even allowing exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking. And they seem to be getting away with it without large public outcry. 

They are making the job of a teacher impossible when it comes to teaching history in any meaningful way. And the vengeance against LGBTQ youth, very vulnerable at that age as statistics show, made worse by making schools more hostile to their lives, opening them up to bullying and even proposing to have the parents notified if their kids are expressing their true selves (although they pulled that one back). What else they will come up with, and what will actually be signed into law, we will know next month.  

But onward. All I have left of the full paragraph I wrote the day prior to the Feb. 23 invasion is this: “Ukraine is a huge country, stretching from NYC to Chicago and Raleigh to Toronto if overlaid on North America.” 

What I wrote was waxing hopeful Putin was bluffing. I was wrong. So now, my only feeling is this: Disgust at war makers and their arrogant conduct. This will be an ugly mess. As was the Iraq War, the Afghan War, the war in Yemen, the war in Syria, the wars in Central America, and of course, Vietnam. 

As our weapons grow in power, the slaughter and displacement of civilians increases. What can be done? On Feb. 15, 2003, the world demonstrated for peace, gathering all over the globe to stop Bush’s war of choice in Iraq. It was a mere blip on the screen. No effect, the war went ahead. That war had devastating consequences in many nations that still reverberate. This one may, too. This is big and will affect many lives negatively.

Meanwhile here we are. As citizens, the only real power we have through established means is the voting booth, and we need no further confirmation of that than the efforts that are being made to make voting harder. Our power of the vote is not just our one vote, but the level of organizing, educating, inspiring and activating others to vote that we embrace as we live our lives, plus the needed watch dogging that our elections are fairly held and the votes actually counted … that is the essence of the Democratic system. There are the outside-the-system tactics, too – of putting pressure on the system by taking to the streets, of strikes and occupations. 

The Right seems to have embraced this with faux grassroots demos, funding and organizing splashy media events, beginning with the astroturf Tea Party, right through to the current Trucker Freedom from Mandates gatherings that invaded Ottawa a couple weeks ago. All this anti-vax, anti-mandate, anti-science, anti-critical race theory organizing being nurtured by mega donors to defeat Biden and the Democrats is its own sort of virus infecting the body politic. The phrase herd immunity was tossed around a lot. To stretch the analogy, my fear is that there is a stampede of reactionary ignorance rolling across the plains, fed by the wacky weed of unchallenged and false social media and taking us over the cliff into a bleak authoritarian future.  

But wait, we decent folk outnumber them, and the fight is not over. There is a sort of vaccine available, but it must grow within each of us as we reach a point to say yes to fighting back, to facing down their bullshit, be it against our rights and liberties or opposing our misguided foreign policies.

We need to stand up for one another and find that common cause. Covid’s isolation was a real setback in many ways, but as we emerge, we can have those conversations, those meetings, finding and sharing good information sources, and all that needs to take us back from the brink. Do what you can. They want you to be hopeless, but history compels us to fight the good fight. Carry on.

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