I’m a Twitter addict, as I’ve mentioned here several times. I’m on the site way more than I should be, and it usually provokes all kinds of feelings in me, both good and bad.
But I texted this to a few friends late Saturday night, after 20 minutes of scrolling through my feed:
“I’ve never ever felt more depressed and hopeless about America than I do right now. Just awful.”
What I saw was what I’m sure all of you saw over the last 72 hours: So many of our major cities under siege. Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix.
Police officers spraying tear gas, firing rubber bullets, and using an incredible amount of excessive force on protesters. Buildings and businesses being destroyed, cars being set on fire. So, so much rage.
That rage comes from African-Americans sick and tired of being sick and tired, seeing so many dark-skinned men being killed by police, completely unnecessarily.
The rage is also coming, and don’t you doubt it for a second, from white supremacy groups eager to take advantage of the chance to sow chaos and destruction. Take a look at the videos from so many of these burning cities, and you’ll see a ton of white agitators. The governor of Minnesota said the arrests there last week were 99 percent of people from out of state, coming to stir shit up.
I feel helpless, like so many of us. I know that violence is not the answer, and that there are millions of people in the streets right now who are trying to protest peacefully, and their words and images are being overwhelmed and overshadowed by the small number of violent antagonists.
It is a horrendous time in America right now, with 40 million people out of work, a deadly virus that’s killed more than 100,000 of us, and systemic police racism and brutality that does not seem able or interested in changing.
Just so damn depressing. Some more thoughts as I try to process all this…
— From a Twitter user named Andi Zeisler: I’m old enough to remember two weeks ago when mobs of white people armed themselves to the teeth and stormed state capitals to cough on cops because they wanted haircuts and apparently that was fine???”
Exactly. How come when all those white folks in Michigan, armed with guns, stormed the state capitol, and literally forced the legislature to shut down its session, the police didn’t do a damn thing? How come nobody drove police vehicles into crowds of THEM, and they weren’t attacked or sprayed with anything?
Oh yeah, right. They were white.
— Look, I don’t want it to sound like I’m bashing ALL law enforcement. Police have as hard a job as anyone, and 90 percent of them do it so well, and with honor. So many of them are doing the best they can in an impossible situation.
But everywhere I looked this weekend, I saw police officers using way, way more excessive force than is needed.
— The rapper and activist Killer Mike gave a moving speech in Atlanta the other night, that I wanted to share with you. It’s eight minutes long, and it’s fantastic. The pain on his face, and in his words, are real. But so is the hope.
— Also very disturbing to me were all the reports of the media being targeted by police. From a Kentucky reporter live on air getting sprayed with pepper bullets, to other journalists being manhandled, to protesters attacking broadcasters… just awful. Sunday night a CNN reporter was allegedly struck with a baton by a D.C. police officer, even while holding up his credential to the officer.
This is what happens when the President and his minions spend four years telling you the press is the enemy of the people.
An excellent summary of all the attacks on media are in this story here.
— As for our President, who as usual has shown ZERO interest in being a national leader in a crisis, who could give two shits about anybody but his voting base, and who spent last week Tweeting insane and libelous allegations against Joe Scarborough and our former President, this paragraph from the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker pretty much sums up his entire tenure:
“Trump and advisers calculated that he shouldn’t speak to the nation because he had nothing to say, no tangible policy or action to announce, nor did he feel an urgent motivation to try to bring people together. So he let his tweets speak for themselves.”
That should be the epitaph of these four years: “He had nothing to say, so he let his tweets speak for themselves.”
Stay safe, everybody. I don’t know when any of this will get better.
**Next up, I feel like we all need a palatte-cleanser, and a reminder that despite all the awfulness of the past few days, there is still so much good in the world.
From the Twitter feed of a man named Travis Akers, two boys, of different races, coming together as friends for a hug.
Racism is taught. You’re not born hating others. This is a beautiful video.
**And finally today, a story I found amusing: To help contain coronavirus and encourage social distancing, an airline in Europe will now require passengers to raise their hands if they have to use the bathroom.
Ryanair announced the new measure on Tuesday, listing it as one way they plan to keep crew and passengers safe once they return to the skies after having grounded much of their fleet during the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline suggests that requiring passengers to ask before heading to the onboard bathrooms will help with maintaining a safe social distance between passengers during flights. “Queuing for toilets will also be prohibited on board, although toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request,” the press release reads.
So many questions: First, what if I really have to go pee and the flight attendant doesn’t see my hand? Used to happen all the time in third grade.
Also, I’m someone who goes to the bathroom two or three times during a flight, am I going to be denied permission like I used to be in third grade, because Mrs. Ross didn’t believe I really had to pee again, and I wasn’t just trying to get out of class?
Also, if my hand isn’t seen, can I impatiently squirm in my seat and stomp my feet like I used to do in school?
Getting permission to pee, on an airplane. We live in a strange new world.