RSS

Tag Archives: current events

Epilogue Day has come and gone

Last Friday came and went and I nearly didn’t notice. I had a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I was missing something – I’d noticed that it was September 1 and something seemed significant about that, but didn’t quite put my finger on what it was until afterward. September 1, 2017 was, in fact, the date on which the awful ‘Nineteen Years Later’ epilogue would have taken place and I almost let it pass by without noticing (and without comment). I may well be less attuned to Potterverse things than I used to be, but then on top of that it’s also the bloody awful epilogue we’re talking about so it may not be as surprising it didn’t immediately come to mind, but even so, you’d think I’d have thought about this and prepared a post in advance. I feel rather guilty about not having done so.

Here’s a link to a relevant Twitter thread, the sentiments expressed amused me greatly.

Also, Tor.com had an article.

Apparently this was a big deal to some people. Loten tells me it was all over the news and people actually gathered at King’s Cross, among other things. I’ll admit a part of me likes that idea, and almost wishes I’d been able to go and/or had the inclination to do cosplay of some kind (in the back of my mind there are fantasies of mocking the epilogue via live-action subversive fanfic – I could probably pass for Harry, unfortunately – but I know I would never actually do something like that). Or, I don’t know, call in a satirical tip to the British police about Ron Weasley’s fraudulently obtained driver’s licence.

Then, too, on some level I wonder if it will change how people think about the series to realise that even the distant-future epilogue is now in the past (or if they will even notice that; thinking about it, I’m not actually sure any explicit dates are actually mentioned in the text). There’s always that hint of surreality when reading a text like Nineteen Eighty-Four or 2001: A Space Odyssey or the like which is clearly written as if set in the future, but given a date that we have now passed. And maybe it will aid the books’ fade into eventual cultural irrelevance, though that does not necessarily excite me as someone who is invested in criticising them.

So in ‘honour’ of this ‘significant’ moment, shall we utterly pick apart a bit of the text?

‘He’ll be all right,’ murmured Ginny.
As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absent-mindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.
‘I know he will.’
The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.

“All was well” is the part that most people poke fun at here, and rightly so. I remember Rowling saying for years in interviews (before the final book) that she’d had the ending written from the beginning and the last word was going to be ‘scar’, but in the end she did this instead. Looking at it now, I actually think changing that was a mistake: I assume that means the final sentence was originally some reworked variant of the previous one (e.g. ‘It had been nineteen years since Harry last felt any pain in his scar’), which is a functional enough way of implying ‘Voldemort was gone for good and the core conflict on which these books focused has been resolved; rest easy, reader’. It becomes problematic when the next sentence comes along and says ‘all was well’, which even when charitably read falsely implies ‘all of the societal problems in these books have been fixed’ and that’s laughably not in evidence (and, frankly, factually contradicted) even just taking the epilogue in a vacuum. For fuck’s sake, the epilogue includes Ron confessing to having used illegal magic on a Muggle driving instructor, and nobody present notices or cares beyond a vague ‘ha ha isn’t he silly’.

What I also notice is that Harry’s behaviour here is bizarrely superstitious. He’s worried about his child, so he reassures himself that nothing bad could possibly happen to him because there’s no Voldemort? This really does not follow, Harry. There are lots of other things that can go wrong for a child at school; even plenty of Harry’s schoolboy misfortunes had nothing to do with Voldemort! (This is also pretty hilarious in light of Cursed Child being a thing, admittedly. We know quite well that all was not, in fact, well, even in the fictional universe of Harry Potter and ignoring how everything’s been going to shit in the actual 2017.)

In a way, I suppose it could be argued that all of this is ridiculously uncharitable and obviously ‘all was well’ is only being used as shorthand for ‘the story is over now’, much like ‘they lived happily ever after’ and such. But as I said earlier, the previous sentence already accomplished that, so I think we have to conclude it’s doing additional work. ‘All was well’ is not merely saying ‘the conflict has been resolved’, it is also saying ‘and what remains is a good and proper state of affairs’. The deviation from Status Quo has been corrected, Our Side Won, and everything is now the way it should be, there’s no more work to do! Oh wait, I’m not talking about Harry Potter any more, now am I? That sounds a lot like something else that’s awfully relevant in this year of 2017. (And in case you think I’m talking only about Twitler and his zombies, I’m not, though that does describe them: some of the responsibility for their movement’s virulent rise has to go back to leftist complacency after Obama was elected, and our failure to recognise the extent of the racist backlash and take it as seriously as we needed.)

It’s kind of interesting how that dovetails, isn’t it? Especially since I’ve barely begun to address the hilarity of the ‘all was well’ scene occurring in 2017 of all years. And that is because the problem is an underlying attitude and mode of thinking, moreso than any particular sequence of events (never mind that, again, 2016-2017 is especially egregious, that’s not the point). The epilogue’s attempt at a pat ending just lays bare the fact that, in reality, ‘all was well’ is a statement that can probably never be true and there will always be more issues that need addressing. What the person saying it inevitably means is ‘I’ve decided this is good enough’, or, more bluntly, ‘I’ve got mine so fuck you’: it is fundamentally a statement of willful ignorance or complacency.

And to be complacent in the face of systemic oppression and societal inequality is to be complicit in the harm it does.

I’m not always the best about this myself, I have to admit – if nothing else I have a tendency to just observe and try to be well-informed (and to call out bad behaviour when I see it around me), I’m not great at actually taking action on anything, and I’ve been overwhelmed enough that I’ve not managed to do much by way of writing either – but that’s something I’m aware of and something I’m trying to work on.

I’m not sure if I have a greater point here, but this is where my thoughts on that scene took me. Happy belated Epilogue Day.

[Loten here. I have no input. As far as I’m concerned the epilogue doesn’t exist, after all.]

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 5, 2017 in mitchell

 

Tags: , , , ,

Some disorganised thoughts after the Women’s March(es)

So yesterday (21 January 2017), for anyone who doesn’t already know, the day after the tragic inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the (not-so-) United States (I will not give him the dignity of the office and refer to him as President Trump, he’s a loathsome despotic buffoon #notmypresident), was also the day of the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches in major (and not-so-major!) cities throughout the US and beyond.

Here’s the official Women’s March site and the Sister Marches page.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 22, 2017 in mitchell

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recommended Reading: “Let the Record Show”

I second everything John Pavlovitz says in this incredible piece. Just read it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 20, 2017 in mitchell

 

Tags: , , , ,

Happy New Year

I’ve been saving this.

f2016_zpsw7j0gkr5

Thank you, John Oliver.

Let’s hope the new year doesn’t suck as overwhelmingly as the last one, eh?

See you soon for Chamber of Secrets and whatever else we decide to babble about. Happy new year from both of us.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2017 in loten, mitchell

 

Tags: , ,

The view from the brink (or: on the Electoral College)

I have been struggling with writer’s block for quite some time, so it may not be surprising I’ve not had much to say recently. That said, I think the recent version is something a bit different: I keep feeling like I need to say something about politics (what I have called and will continue to call the US national disaster) but can’t get through the shock and horror and disbelief well enough to actually say something coherent. Lots of people have already been saying the things I want to say better than I could say them, which doesn’t help either (I’m not sure if anyone has noticed my continued linkspam in the comments over here but that’s the best I’ve been able to manage thus far).

At the same time, I haven’t been able to look away. I keep reading news stories in horror as they come out. It certainly isn’t good for my mental health, but I can’t stop doing it, and at the same time I can’t imagine it would be better to stop paying attention and bury my head in the sand. I’ve been wrestling with that since 11/9, as I’d been fully expecting the horrorshow to be over (or at least to change forms; I’ve said before that prior to the election I’d naively thought the worst case scenarios involved disappointed deplorables lashing out). (As an aside, I do love that people are referring to this as 11/9; while slower acting, I really do think this is a catastrophe of similar scale to 9/11.)

I can pretty safely say that I do not think I have ever felt such hatred and contempt for anyone as I do now for Donald Trump, his stooges, and the Republican party for abetting them. These people are fucking terrifying. These feelings make me very uncomfortable, but I think in the end they are rational feelings to have, and they’ve more than earned it by this point.

I should say again that while I currently exist in a constant state of anxiety and terror, it’s not really for myself; it may be my depression talking, but I honestly don’t particularly care what happens to me (and at the same time, I belong to enough privileged demographics that the worst consequences aren’t going to fall on me; a lot of my fear is fear for what is going to happen to other people and groups of people). This is bigger than any one person. Rather, I’m concerned about the drastic consequences that will inevitably ensue from having such an incompetent, foolish, narcissistic arsehole in power and from the destructive cabinet appointments he is making. And that’s even disregarding the Russian interference, and the Trump campaign’s possibly-treasonous collusion with it; between this emboldening of Russia and what is looking something like a resumption of the Cold War, and Trump’s irresponsible actions with respect to China and the Middle East, I am beginning to seriously think this might be leading up to a World War Three. The odds of humanity surviving such an event do not seem favourable.

In a time where everyone should be seriously concerned with trying to curtail climate change in any way possible (if it is not already too late) instead Trump and stooges seem to be threatening to remove anyone who agrees with the scientific consensus from their positions in the EPA, promoting climate-change deniers and oil executives to high positions and encouraging more environmentally destructive drilling and reliance on fossil fuels. There are multiple ways in which the worldwide consequences of a Trump presidency might be irrecoverable. This is not histrionics; it is brute fact. We cannot afford to play games.

And that is disregarding the smaller effects that a Trump (and Pence) administration will have on the everyday lives of people, especially people with marginalised identities. I am not the biggest fan of ‘Obamacare’, but it is undeniable that many people will suffer and die if it is repealed.

To frame things a bit flippantly: I do not ever want to see another fiction story about time-travellers trying to prevent the rise of Hitler, when people in our time couldn’t even do anything to prevent Trump and at best looked the other way while it happened. Let’s note the parallels in how journalists downplayed that threat too. While I don’t want to make excuses for ignorance, in the case of Hitler it could at least be argued that such a thing had not happened before; today we have the benefit of history, the benefit of hindsight, and the parallels are all too obvious. Americans like to think that our national ideals and supposed values make us immune to facism, but it has become all too clear over the past two years that if anything it makes us more vulnerable, because that very tendency to think ourselves immune caused us to stop looking for the warning signs. We elected (for some definition of that word at least) a candidate whose only noteworthy newspaper endorsement came from the Ku Klux Klan. We cannot afford to minimise that either.

I could go on. I could try to list off every single thing Trump, his children (who thanks to nepotism and corruption will have outsized influence in his administration), and his cabinet appointees have said which makes it utterly obvious what a disaster they will be for America and the world, but if you are reading this post you probably already know.

The Electoral College meet tomorrow to cast their votes. This may well be the last opportunity we have as a nation to legally put the brakes on this tragedy, though I’m afraid I don’t think the odds of the electors miraculously opting to spare us are very high. Nevertheless, I can’t help hoping they will do something (even without the intelligence briefing they’ve requested and been denied). It’s unfortunate that many of them have received harassment and threats (and from both sides of the issue; so much for the moral high ground. I really do not envy the electors their position, as they may well feel unsafe no matter what they do), but I hope some of them will find their consciences in spite of that. It may sound melodramatic, but our future really is in their hands right now. If I were a praying person (or even thought there were the slightest possibility of benevolent supernatural entities), I would fucking pray. But that won’t help us, so instead let us pray to the potential better nature of the electors.

I should add, because I’ve just been reminded: this is not about “poor sportsmanship” and Democrats being “sore losers”. This is not about “sour grapes”. Donald Trump is the single most unqualified person ever “elected” to the presidency (in point of fact negatively qualified, nearly everything about him should have been disqualifying), and beyond that the election was “won” by suspiciously slim margins in a few “swing states” while having the largest gap between popular and (projected) electoral vote we have ever had. When we consider this is also in the context of interference by a hostile foreign power (via propaganda there is no doubt; whether voting machines and vote counts were actually meddled with seems an open question but is unproven at best), it becomes even more troubling (and I find it troubling even to discuss), because so much of this sounds like conspiracist nonsense. I should like to think that Democrats would be equally troubled if it was our own favoured candidate who “won” an election under such circumstances (I am not sure this is true, sadly, but at the very least I think they/we would be more troubled than the gloating deplorable Republican “sore winners”). This is about an international crisis and preventing catastrophe. Don’t be blindsided by accusations of partisanship. This is a crisis that should transcend party affiliation.

Honestly, we don’t even know how long it will take us to find out if they’ve done anything, and I suspect that will cause a great deal of anxiety for quite some time.

I don’t expect it to accomplish much, but there will be protests outside every state capitol tomorrow and I will be participating. It took me a long time to make up my mind, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t go; I’m not at all optimistic that it will make a difference (especially in Pennsylvania) but I feel like I have to do something more than just signing petitions…

I don’t know that I’ve made any coherent point here, but I’ve been quiet for too long and I needed to say something.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2016 in mitchell

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Recommended (?) Reading About the US National Tragedy

I may out myself as some kind of masochist by doing this, but ever since the election went how it did, I’ve been unable to stop myself reading about it everywhere. So here are a bunch of things I thought were worth reading (feel free to share more in the comments as well).

In no particular order:

Yemisi Ilesanmi: Donald Trump’s America: A Win for Sexism, Racism, and Misogyny

Mano Singham: The revolution was televised after all, Let the Post-Mortems Begin

Dana Hunter: You Wanted to Know How Fascism Wins? Look in the Mirror , Regrouping

Alyssa Gonzalez: Compañero, We’re Done

Hank Fox: Well… Wow.

Kathleen Johnson: The King of America and the Killing of Hope

Martin Hughes: How to Grieve Trump: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance

Iris at Perry Street Palace: no title

Amy Roth: I Didn’t Vote For Him

Melissa McEwan: This Is Why We Supported Her, We Will Be Light

Peter Daou: News Media rush to whitewash their role in savaging Clinton’s character , More Americans voted for Hillary’s values than Trump’s

Matthew Facciani: Trump’s America is Already Terrifying

Peter Beinart: After Trump, a Call for Political Correctness From the Right

Joshua Benton: The forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse

Amanda Marcotte: The Misogyny Apocalypse

PZ Myers: What happened?

I’m sure there’s more, I’ve definitely read a lot more things but these were the ones I saved up to post. Feel free to link more below. I don’t know, let’s wallow in despair or something. What am I even supposed to say?

(Edit: 11/12/16) Here are some more things to read.

Kaveh Mousavi: The US Has Elected its Ahmadinejad

John Scalzi: The Cinemax Theory of Racism

Martin Hughes: Don’t Tell Us to Hug the Smirking Deplorables

And here is a Change.org Petition to ask the electors of the Electoral College to be “faithless” and elect Hillary Clinton in agreement with the popular vote. It’s already at over 3.3 million signatures, though it could do with a lot more. I have signed it. While I understand if people are uncomfortable with this sort of thing – and if successful, probably would lead to some problems with Trump supporters shouting about “rigged elections” among other things – this is technically permitted by the system and, frankly, things are desperate. I don’t know if it will do any good, but please consider signing if you are comfortable with it.

(Edit: 11/14/16) In case you may not have seen them, I have been posting more links in the comments, and will no doubt continue to do so.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2016 in mitchell

 

Tags: , , , ,

WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED

Well, fuck, America. I don’t even know what to say. I certainly wasn’t expecting to have to write about THIS. FUCK.

As I begin to write this, the results aren’t quite in yet – mainstream news networks are holding off on calling the result but a Clinton victory is looking more and more impossible. Including in Pennsylvania, where I am from, and where I honestly was shocked to see the level of Trump support but still was not expecting him to win the state (right now they’re still saying it’s too close to call, but Trump is leading).

Never mind that, Hillary Clinton has apparently conceded. Goddamn it. We’re officially in Brexit Mark Two.

(By the time the post was finished he’d won outright anyway. Fuck.)

I’ve been refraining from writing about politics for a long time, despite being somewhat tempted, because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I started trying to draft a piece on what watching the Trump phenomenon was like, as a male person who has been sexually assaulted (I don’t call myself ‘survivor’ because it was comparatively minor and I was never in danger), but couldn’t finish it. I am also ethnically Jewish – which doesn’t often mean a lot to me, as I’m an atheist, but is starting to feel more and more like it is going to matter (and not in a good way) thanks to all of the anti-Semitic dogwhistling that Trump has been promoting and voicing himself. Let us not forget that of the very few newspaper endorsements Trump received, one was from the Crusader, the official paper of the Ku Klux Klan (because apparently that is still a real thing that exists). This man is a fucking terror. He is a racist, misogynist bully and has already established himself as the sort of person who enjoys taking advantage of his (perceived? actual?) power as a celebrity to do things he would not otherwise get away with. He is also demonstrably a pathological liar. America has just decided to give that person a hell of a lot more power.

Plus the power to make Supreme Court appointments, given to a man who has already promised to find “another Scalia” and claimed he knows of 20 such people (which is almost certainly an exaggeration and a lie, but still, that is the intent he expressed). This is a sad day for anyone who has any kind of marginalised identity whatsoever, and for any white person with the barest modicum of self-awareness. And let’s not forget that the entire Republican party made that happen, by declaring by fiat that President Obama’s final year in office didn’t really count and that therefore they could block him from making any such appointment at all.

Now it’s true that the presidency is not a dictatorship. All the evidence you need for that is to look at President Obama, who was rendered ineffectual by Republican stonewalling in the House and in the Senate. But again, Americans have fucked ourselves, because both legislative houses are also under Republican majority control. I will acknowledge this: it is true that many Republicans claim not to have wanted Trump, and came out publicly to repudiate him, but it is also true that many of those who did also turned around and voted for him because EMAILS!!!! or something similarly stupid. I have no confidence in House or Senate Republicans’ not being on board with a Trump administration, because these are the people who created him, were unable to stop him, and eventually just went belly-up like the dogs they are (all due apologies to our actual canine friends). We have given this man power, and we are going to feel the effects of it.

Let’s look at some other scenarios – if any of the upcoming trials against Trump (including the child rape case, and the Trump University scam – don’t forget about these, America!) don’t go his way, and this somehow leads to an impeachment, we’ll be left with Mike Pence. A Christian fundamentalist theocrat who, in Indiana, has had women thrown in prison for having miscarriages. I am genuinely unsure whether a Pence presidency would be any improvement; as some people have already pointed out, he is less likely to start a nuclear war, but that’s about the only thing that can be said in his favour. Trump is stupid, self-serving and evil; Pence is just self-serving and evil, and has the skills to actually enact policy.

Is this what the Romans felt like, when they elected Caesar? The Germans, Hitler? How long does it take before it is obvious whether the democratic system will survive the election of a would-be tyrant? And will we like the answer once we know? It will probably be too late by then.

So let’s also remember who is to blame for this. People are going to blame Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for various reasons, and I suppose in a technical sense there are ways in which, had they acted a bit differently, some numbers might have tilted a little and the outcome could have been changed (because let’s face it, this is one of the closest elections we have ever had). People might blame the Electoral College, and there might be a bit of something to that too. But let’s not forget that half of voting America VOTED FOR TRUMP. Even if Trump had lost, that would still be true. I saw a lot of think pieces in the run-up to this election of people musing about how we’re going to deal with the angry mob Trump fomented once Trump lost, because once the explicit bigotry is out from under the rock it’s very hard to shove it back under again, and yes, that was something I worried about. I didn’t quite manage to worry about what would happen if there were just enough of them to tip the scales the other way; none of the polling data made it seem like that was at all likely, and I suspect it could be interesting to see the statisticians try to work out what it was they overlooked. But we have a bigger problem, because there are a lot of these people and they are angry AND THEY ARE IN POWER.

If you voted for Trump, I have no sympathy for you. I don’t care why you voted for him, nor how distasteful you thought Hillary Clinton was or for what reasons. This is on you. If you don’t like what he does to this country, BLAME YOURSELF BECAUSE IT IS YOUR FAULT. If you were watching mainstream media go on about EMAILS and supposed Clinton scandals that were (certainly comparatively and, I would argue, absolutely) of a severity level comparable to a tempest in a teapot, and parroting and promoting these narratives, THIS IS YOUR FAULT. If you were one of those reporters who thought Trump made such good TV it was okay to promote him over other candidates, THIS IS YOUR FAULT. If you, at any point, justified the false equivalency narratives between Clinton and Trump, THIS IS YOUR FAULT. FUCK YOU. As far as we’re concerned, if you voted for him you are also a sexist racist piece of shit.

If you didn’t vote, I have to seriously wonder what’s wrong with your priorities (obviously excluding people who were disenfranchised by ‘voter ID’ laws, ran afoul of voter intimidation, and the like; if that’s the case you have my sincerest sympathies). Could you not tell the difference? Do you just not care? I honestly think ignorance cannot be an excuse here, despite the absurd levels of ignorance I’ve found myself confronted by when talking to people about this election. THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN HARD.

And then there’s the FBI, whose baseless and partisan intervention the week before the election may well have thrown it to Trump. FUCK YOU. I don’t know what is even happening any more, but that does not bode well for the future either.

I live in Pennsylvania, which is one of the more difficult states to do early voting in (the only early voting in PA is by absentee ballot, and they don’t send the ballots in time to vote early) and in which absentee ballots are not guaranteed. I am currently in Wales, visiting Loten [hi guys; we expected our joint posts to be about wizards, not this shit]; we’d been planning this trip for a long time, and it was perhaps foolish of me not to factor election day in, but there was literally no other time we could make this work and it had been far too long since we’d seen each other. I applied for absentee ballot and – this was the mistake – because I expected it to arrive in time to vote early, I had it sent to my US address. It arrived an hour after my plane left, because the universe hates me and wants me to suffer.

So I didn’t get to vote. I didn’t get to vote for Hillary Clinton, who I enthusiastically supported and think would have made a fantastic president. I didn’t get to vote for Katie McGinty, either, who I thought looked quite promising (and now we are stuck with Pat Toomey). And Pennsylvania ended up being a very close race, one of the last states they called and, possibly, the state which pushed Trump over the 270 threshold. I’ll be wrestling with guilt over that for a while, I think. [Emotions are irrational and I’m not letting him explicitly blame himself.]

I can barely process this.

We’re all fucked.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on November 9, 2016 in mitchell

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,