A girl’s story

This story in four parts is wonderful and terrible, almost a tragedy, though the epilog redeems it. It is a story that America needs to hear, one that reflects realities many wish to deny. Whatever our own story, or that of our loved ones, we can be happy and consoled that we haven’t had to suffer through this.

If you don’t understand what’s going on with trans people, this is a very good place to start. A place that will take you to the heart of it, and open up your heart just a bit.

Allison’s story.

Stifling dissent

Six journalists were arrested in DC last Friday during inauguration unrest, and the charges sound like the prelude to a repressive authoritarian regime.

The charges are vague, and were applied to a fairly large group of people who were all swept up in a mass arrest. The Guardian:

An arrest report for Engel provided by Washington DC’s metropolitan police department said he was arrested after hundreds of people gathered at the intersection and “numerous crimes were occurring in police presence”.

“The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organizing, promoting, encouraging, and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot,” the police narrative said. “The crowd was observed braking [sic] windows, lighting fires, vandalizing police vehicles, burned a limousine, and other acts of violence. The damage was determined to excess $5,000.00.”

An arrest report for Rubinstein stated only that “numerous individual [sic] were arrested” for violating the district’s laws against rioting.

Jack Keller, a producer for the web documentary series Story of America, said he was charged and detained for about 36 hours after being kettled by police at 12th and L streets on Friday morning and arrested despite telling officers that he was covering the demonstrations as a journalist.

Some 200 people were arrested, and the National Lawyers’ Guild said the police had “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone”. That’s pretty clearly just designed to suppress dissent and discourage reporting on any resistance. Being in an area where crimes are being committed should not be grounds for arrest and detention.


The Guardian report on the first two – and then four more.

Emma Lindsay on the mess in DC… the best case for optimism yet

Emma Lindsay – Thought she starts with the Manning pardon, it gets wider and takes a very open-minded look at the whole issue of what the Dems have done, what the Repugs have done, and how it all may hold some promise for positive development… at least her commentary is well worth reading. She’s one of the best, clearest, most honest bloggers I’ve read.

As I struggle through the Trump election, the specter of growing normalization and acceptance of the representatives of hatred and racist/classist that seem destined to populate our government, and all the rising signs of fascism, it is increasingly hard to maintain the even-minded approach that I would like to think I believe in.

I am committed to the idea that an approach of inclusiveness and moderation, rejecting us/them dichotomies and divisiveness, will bring us greater freedom, justice and understanding as a nation. But sometimes…. I just want to blast them. So it’s helpful to read those folks, like Emma Lindsay, who are able to see the positives and find optimism in spite of seeing the realities as starkly as I do.

I am also finding it helpful to return – once again, as I have many times before! – to the practice of tonglen and the lojong. A fellow practitioner mentioned to me recently that the teachings say that difficulties are things to be grateful for, and I remembered, yes, Lojong #13, Be grateful to everyone! It certainly applies in the current circumstances.

Chogyam says it deals with ‘conventional reality’ and that ‘without this world we cannot attain enlightenment’ for there would be no path. As long as we have an understanding that we are on the path, all the things that seem like obstacles are actually essential parts of the path.

So let’s be grateful to the horribleness, because it’s certainly giving me an opportunity to practice like nothing before!

The Indian example

I am reading Arundati Roy’s introduction to the new compilation of her essays, The End of Imagination, and am chilled to the bone by the story of what’s happening there. I have read several of her essays, speeches, and interviews in the past few years describing the ascent of Modi and the Hindutva – Hindu nationalism – movement powered by Sangh Parivar, including her account of the horrid pograms in Gujarat and Kashmir, but the ongoing violence and harassment of dissidents is reaching frightening levels.

Essentially a phoney movement created by politicians and ideologs, Hindu nationalism is mostly composed of hatred of Muslims, Christians, and other non-Hindu groups. Though on the surface it sounds religious, it is not. It is nearly entirely secular, with the religious labels used only to incite mobs and other violence. It’s India, so it’s very complex. But it boils down to politicians creating identity politics and then whipping people into a frenzy over imagined insults, sometimes even staged events, people being captured, murdered, dressed in clothing to make them appear other than they are, and then put on public display to generate mob retaliation.

Modi and his party, the BJP, came to power by such techniques, promoting super nationalism, Hindu identity, hatred and violence against minorities, and using the military against Indian citizens as well as inciting supporters to attack dissidents.

Incidents of media manipulation, video from one incident being mixed with audio from another to make targeted dissidents say incriminating things, and other such activities have been documented. Of course, all of it is in service of exploitation of resources, vile profit, and pursuit of Empire.

But what’s really chilling is the similarity to our situation, and the portent of things to come in the wake of the US election. Early last year, Muslims in India were warned of a ‘final battle’. Roy says:

A fired-up, five-thousand-strong crowd chanted: … “Any Hindu whose blood isn’t boiling has water in the veins, not blood.” Regardless of who wins elections in the years to come, can this sort of venom be counteracted once it has entered the bloodstream? Can any society mend itself after having its fabric slashed and rent apart in this way?

What is happening right now is actually a systematic effort to create chaos, an attempt to arrive at a situation in which the civil rights enshrined in the constitution can be suspended…. We might well be witnessing preparations for a coup — not a military coup, but a coup nevertheless. It could be only a matter of time before India will officially cease to be a secular, democratic republic. We may find ourselves looking back fondly on the era of doctored videos and parody Twitter handles.

We have only just begun to see what the rhetoric of hatred can produce in this country. We would do well to heed India’s example and eschew this path.