Now, of course today has some important differences. The advance of technology, the impact of the internet, our fragmented media landscape, make it easier than ever to splinter ourselves into echo chambers. We can shut out contrary voices, avoid ever questioning our basic assumptions. Extreme views are given powerful microphones. Leaders willing to exploit fear and skepticism have tools at their disposal that were unimaginable when I graduated. Continue reading “Popular Vote Winner’s Commencement Speech”
The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal – through monuments and through other means – to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.
After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.
This morning Brandi Carlile’s “Beginning to Feel the Years” came to the top of my iTunes shuffled “All Songs” playlist. I instantly knew I wanted to post the song with a few loving words about my husband Danny. So I searched for a video. In the process, I went on a little YouTube sidebar binge, watching other Brandi Carlile videos, including her Late Show with David Letterman performance of “Keep on the Sunny Side” with The Avett Brothers
It happened on a Sunday in early 1997. Because of Bergen County’s blue laws that kept most stores closed, I had driven down to Wayne, NJ, to shop for some new music. I’d been going to Willowbrook Mall and the other area shops around Wayne for as long as I could remember. As a kid, my neighbor’s mom would take her two sons, my brother, Matt, and I—with our pockets full of quarters—to the video game arcade at the mall. Years later, while I attended nearby Montclair State College, I would often go with friends to eat, shop, hangout, or sing karaoke in a basement bar of one of the restaurants (Casey O’Tooles?).
But that Sunday in 1997, I had gone by myself to The Wiz (an electronics and music store near Willowbrook, but not in the mall) to search the rows of CDs for something new. At the end of one of those rows was a special display, a rack of CDs featuring local artists. And that’s when Fountains of Wayne’s self-titled debut album caught my eye.
Is this the kind of disruption people voted for? Sure, some did. (During the campaign, Hillary referred to those folks as a basket of deplorables, and that was being kind.) Others voted for Trump because they were in pain or they felt like they had no voice or they just wanted to shake up the system. While I didn’t vote for Trump, I, too, thought Washington needed a big time jolt. But not like this. If you are still defending this president and his autocratic goons, then you are delusional. You are the problem. Please, take your head out of Sean Hannity’s propaganda-filled ass and get some real facts and fresh air.