(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

I didn’t post to Rosetta Stones for most of November because America’s election of the least qualified president in our history has me scrambling to assess and mitigate the damage. Much of what he’s done so far doesn’t yet touch on geology, which is what that blog is mainly concerned with – but we will be talking about the threat to our national parks, and there will doubtless be impacts on the USGS and other agencies responsible for essential geological services like volcano monitoring, seismic studies, and similar, which we’ll address.

Trump is already showing which direction he’s taking the country’s public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you’d best gird yourself for a war, because we’re going to have to fight to preserve our children’s right to a strong STEM education.

To begin with, Trump’s Vice President, to whom he plans to delegate most of the actual presidential work, is an evolution-denying Christian extremist who wants creationism taught in public schools. He’s also brought all his political power to bear on overturning the will of Indiana voters while he pushes for expansions of school vouchers and charter schools.

Trump also plans to slash NASA’s earth science division, which would not only cripple our nation’s climate change research, but also have a terrible impact on earth science research.

That rather sets the tenor for what’s to come.

But Pence is merely the beginning. It gets worse. Continue reading “(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education”

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education
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The Nazi Conscience: Introduction

We do ourselves a disservice in the way we talk about atrocities. When I was in school, genocide and totalitarianism were taught as things that happened “long ago” or “far away” (or both). Dictators, we piously pretended, could never rise to power here in America: our robust systems of checks and balances, plus red-blooded freedom-loving citizens, would never allow it. Genocide was presented as something done by very different people than us. Of course Americans would never ever do that! (Never mind what happened to indigenous Americans, that was all war and disease and totally different because reasons.)

Atrocities committed by white people were considered aberrations. Something extraordinary must have caused them to happen. My teachers were very uncomfortable trying to explain the Holocaust. They had to turn the Germans into people strangely hypnotized by an exceptionally evil man. The whole thing was a regrettable freak occurrence. Ordinary Germans weren’t really involved – it was those monsters in the SS. They didn’t actually know the extent of what was happening until after the war, when the camps were liberated. Ordinary people could never do such things, would never condone such things.

Only, they could. And did.

We are not well served by the way history is taught in America. The national myths pounded into our brains are adept at covering up our bloody hands. We did bad things in the past, but it was a different time. We did bad things in the past, but they weren’t that bad. We did bad things in the past, but we fixed them and everything’s fine now. We did bad things in the past, but that was just a few bad apples. We did bad things in the past, but those other people did things that were so much worse, and so we are good and noble. Let us talk about how good and noble and just we are, and how because we are good and noble and just, we fixed the bad things, and liberated the oppressed, and are the best in the world. By no means let us talk about the bad things we are still doing. We are good people, and good people don’t commit atrocities.

Only, they do. We are. And these myths we’ve told ourselves prevent us from seeing that.

We believe that nothing like the rise of Hitler and the horrors of the Holocaust could happen here in America. And because we believe that, we refuse to see the parallels between us and the Germans in the early 20th century. Because we refuse to tell ourselves the truth, we have left systems in place that arose from oppression, and rely on oppression, and those systems have now been utilized by a fascist con man and his white supremacist friends and followers to seize power. Because we refused to be honest with ourselves, admit we are just as fallible and racist and prone to do terrible things as those infamous others, we let the conditions here breed the kinds of beliefs necessary to make people think a bigoted blowhard is just the man this country needs to make it great again.

And now we’re in a situation where survivors and historians of Nazi Germany are experiencing a horrible deja vu.

We like to believe, perhaps need to believe, that only monsters can commit atrocities, and because we don’t see a monster when we look in the mirror, we’re fine.

The Germans who allowed – often helped – the Nazis seize power didn’t see monsters in the mirror, either. Continue reading “The Nazi Conscience: Introduction”

The Nazi Conscience: Introduction

New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!

Between Aunty Flow and trying to read up on Nazis, I’ve been a bit lax on blogging. But in case you missed them, here some spiffy recent Rosetta Stones posts for your reading pleasure: Continue reading “New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!”

New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!

Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now

With white supremacists now waltzing into America’s highest offices to the cheers of neo-Nazis and the KKK, I think it’s time to republish a couple of quotes I’ve used on this blog in the past. Too many in this country seem to have forgotten that America was supposed to stand against fascism. Too many have forgotten the cost of letting fascism gain power. Too many have forgotten that fascism is a monster that must be fought at all costs.

There is already a lot of blood on America’s hands, but the amount of blood and shame will be incalculable if we don’t stop this.

Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection.

Richard von Weizsacker

Especially now, it’s critical to remember the true horrors perpetrated in the name of an ideology. Richard von Weizsacker, President of Germany from 1984 to 1994, gave a speech on the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II that speaks of the importance of that remembrance. Here’s the above quote in context (CN: casual ableism): Continue reading “Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now”

Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now

Remember: They’re the A**holes – How to Survive Holidays with Your Tr*mp-Loving Family

The Cheeto Hitler-in-Chief-Elect didn’t win the popular vote, but he’s quite popular with ISIS and various bits of the American electorate: neo-Nazis, the Klan, your relatives…

In the past, we’ve often stayed silent to keep the peace when various aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. have spouted racist nonsense. We’ve agreed to disagree about politics. We’ve let things pass.

Well, white folk, we can’t do that anymore. Letting it slide is part of how we got here.

So, when you go home this holiday season and your family passes the praise for Chitler* along with the gravy, remember: you’re not the asshole for pushing back. They’re the assholes for bringing it up to begin with. And they are very much assholes for voting for someone who wants to dismantle American democracy and rob the country. And before you get all sympathetic and think they’re victims, just remember that signs this shitheel’s a con man were everywhere for literal decades, and there’s no damned excuse for not knowing exactly what he is. He just had to settle a lawsuit over his fraudulent university, for fuck’s sake. There are no victims here. Just willing dupes.

With that in mind, here’s a brief guide to surviving the holidays with Chitler-loving relatives, and how to push back against their isms and bigotry. Continue reading “Remember: They’re the A**holes – How to Survive Holidays with Your Tr*mp-Loving Family”

Remember: They’re the A**holes – How to Survive Holidays with Your Tr*mp-Loving Family

Ban Bannon – Call Your Reps

So, one of Donald “Chitler” Trump’s first acts was to appoint a real live white fucking supremacist as his chief advisor. People, when the KKK and their terrible friends are thrilled with a pick, you know he’s bad. How bad? This bad. This is really fucking bad.

So, it’s time to speak up and let everyone know: this is not okay.

We don’t want an America founded on racial hate. We don’t want an America run by hate groups. We don’t want this shitstain anywhere near the levers of power in this country.

How are we going to let people know? Well, outside of linking this post on your social media feed with words like Fuck No Stephen Bannon, here’s what to do: if you have the ability, call your representatives. Here is a post with handy scripts and links to getting their numbers and everything. Continue reading “Ban Bannon – Call Your Reps”

Ban Bannon – Call Your Reps

To The People Trying to Claim We’re Not Racist Because We Voted for Obama

I’ve seen some very oblivious white people in my Facebook feed claiming that this election couldn’t possibly have anything to do with race, because people voted for Trump who voted for Obama. Why would they vote for a black man and then a white supremacist??

Gosh, fellow white people, I dunno. Why don’t we stop denying we’ve got racist as fuck tendencies and start thinking of the reasons, eh? It’s actually pretty simple.

CN: racial slurs, racism, bigotry

You can vote for a black man and still harbor racist thoughts and tendencies. Trust me. I know white people. I know conservative white people – I was raised in a house and community full of ’em. And I know how they think. They’ll swear they haven’t got a racist bone in their body as they call their Iranian coworker a sand n*gger. They’ll claim they’re not at all prejudiced in one breath while they bleat about all those foreign brown people sneaking into our country and taking  our jerbs – complete with slurs like w*tb*ck and ch*nk. They’ll all have that one black friend, but they’re super nervous around black people and steer clear of black neighborhoods, because everybody knows that’s where the thugs live.

Even those of us who have friends of color and really try not to ever use racial slurs and are pretty embarrassed by our more openly racist relatives and really admire a select few people of color are scared of what’s going to happen to white people when the brown folk outnumber us. And we may not admit it to ourselves, but we think affirmative action means some lesser human is going to get the job we deserve, and that more brown people getting college educations and entering the workforce means fewer opportunities for us, and so we’ll support policies that keep that from happening. We may not consciously realize we’re doing that. But we’re doing it all the same. Continue reading “To The People Trying to Claim We’re Not Racist Because We Voted for Obama”

To The People Trying to Claim We’re Not Racist Because We Voted for Obama

10 Steps to Start Fixing This Mess

My dear friend Alexis Record has some very important steps for us to take, for those of us who’ve recovered from the initial shock and grief and are ready to get to work. I’ll have a lot more for you very soon, but this is a brilliant way to get started.

Here’s how to be a friend and support to those who need you right now in ten (not so easy) steps.

1. Acknowledge our fear and grief.

2. Offer to protect, love, and support us.

3. Publicly condemn when people hurt us or others. The key word is “publicly.”

4. Report abuse.

5. Educate yourself on the specific needs of the disabled community, LGBTQUA community, Black community, Muslim community, immigrant/adoption community, etc.

Continue reading “10 Steps to Start Fixing This Mess”

10 Steps to Start Fixing This Mess

“Democracy Didn’t Stop When the Polls Closed”

My friend Michael Klaas is usually pretty laid back, but this election and its aftermath brought him out roaring, and he is so, so right. He’s given me permission to share his Facebook post with you.

I’ve been silent on the election so far. Obviously I’m upset, and I have many thoughts, but I simply must address something I’m seeing a lot of from my well-meaning liberal friends:

Many of you are posing things about accepting the results. Giving Trump the chance to lead. Making peace with our new government so that it can get things done.

Friends… THAT IS NOT HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS. It’s always the liberals who make that mistake. Right-wingers get it. They get that democracy is an all-the-time effort, not just something that happens on election day. They’ve stood in opposition to our president for EIGHT YEARS vowing to stop *any* action he chooses to take. The media tutted and dispassionately admonished them for doing this, but ultimately this tactic got the Republicans everything they ever dreamed of. Dems are out of power at ALL LEVELS, from statehouses to the three branches of our federal government.

Continue reading ““Democracy Didn’t Stop When the Polls Closed””

“Democracy Didn’t Stop When the Polls Closed”