A flawed defense

By: mesanger

Jan 16 2017

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Category: life

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Focal Length:6.3mm
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Camera:COOLPIX S210

In a universe that I don’t fully inhabit, football is happening. I know because my junk mail is filled with recipe newsletters for the Best Game Time Dips and Spreads. I also know because I can’t talk to my brothers at certain times of the weekend. But I don’t really care enough about that alternate football universe to even know the names of the teams playing…

With my limited knowledge of the sport, I understand that football “defense” is built around keeping the opposing team from scoring points.

Noting with a shake of my head that in an ideal world there would be no opposing teams looking to score points within the citizenry of the US of A, I nonetheless offer a clumsy attempt at footballishness, presenting the flawed defense of Donald J. Trump who, having lashed out against civil rights icon/hero and Representative John Lewis “in his own defense*” — employed what seems to be a faulty strategy.

First, those who understand John Lewis’s role in history, those who respect his hard-won contributions toward advances in civil rights, those who are grateful that he believed in equity enough to put his very life on the line — were not cowed by Donald Trump’s blind swing to defend himself against Lewis’s words. We have seen this before. His actions did nothing to keep anyone from gaining yards.

Second, a man who has stared bigotry in the face has a certain way of looking at things. I challenge Donald Trump to imagine what it was like to face dogs and clubs and tear gas and spit and fire hoses and guns, to stand and march for a cause… to march for fellow Americans in the face of intense prejudice and pressure to back down. John Lewis is not afraid of tweets.

I think John Lewis exists in a universe that Donald Trump cannot fully inhabit. Like me and my limited knowledge of football, Trump knows there is a world out there where people have done stuff, thought things, plenty of things, even big things. But he cannot seem to drum up enough interest to know who is playing. John Lewis is playing. #goodtrouble

Representative Lewis (and his co-authors) might even have gained some yards by the looks of Amazon’s algorithm for rating books, as his supporters pushed “March” up to #1 in multiple categories yesterday (and it is still there today).

On the occasion of the celebration of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. — I heartily recommend reading March in all three volumes. As soon as you can. It goes quickly, though pause is needed for heavy sighs and righteous indignation. The graphic novel relates John Lewis’s own story, including his marches with Dr. King to demand justice and civil rights for blacks denied the right to vote. It is sometimes very difficult to read. It is a story of non-violence that includes a heady dose of personal and psychological violence (of the kind I think we need to be aware).

It may be topical now, to study the work of people who have confronted injustice, and found ways to speak to bigotry and hate without losing their minds, indeed — like John Lewis — even maintaining a whiff of hope.

A quote from President Obama’s Farewell Address:

But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction — Atticus Finch — who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


*Just why the man with “the most powerful position in the world” feels threatened by a congressional representative enough to have to defend himself with such a scold, remains to be debated in another forum.

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