Curtain Raiser

There’d Be Days Like These, Colltalers

We’re entering an extraordinary week in American history. Books, theories, films, college disciplines, and brand new laws will be written about what’s happening in the U.S. Billions of people, entire regimes, wildlife, and the planet itself will be impacted by it. Will Americans choose wisely or poorly?
The terrifying global spike of Covid-19 – the U.S.’ still on top with over 9.4 million cases – and a just-retooled Supreme Court on track to reelect Trump will certainly headline the period. That and the U.S. officially leaving the Paris Agreement. Oh, did we mention there’s a major election tomorrow?
We start the news roundup with the brutal murder of three in Nice, France, by a young Tunisian, supposedly in the name of Muhammad. It’s the third of such attacks in two months, but there were other near-miss tragedies averted by law enforcement. The attacker survived and will stand trial. All because the satirical Charlie Hebdo paper – itself targeted in 2015 – decided to republish cartoons of the prophet. 2020 can’t stop breaking our hearts.
In Poland, it’s been the second week of protests against the far-right Andrzej Duda administration, which has enforced a draconian abortion ban. It’s all part of an effort to cancel women’s reproductive rights, despite them being the majority of the population, by its mostly Catholic male demographics. But it won’t work for that’s a fight conservatives can’t win, neither in Poland nor anywhere else. When women rise, they usually get what they need.
Before going any further, let’s correctly identify the source linking both events: religious intolerance, the exact reason invoked by the Pilgrims to flee 16th century England and settle on its brand new colony. The difference is the degree of violence employed, which by no means is negligible. Still, it’s important to relate both incidents as pre-planned and executed to the letter by its perpetrators and not forget their common goal: to shut down dissent.
Let’s also mention yet another migrant tragedy at sea: the 140 people who drowned off the coast of West Africa last week. 200 migrants had set sail from Senegal to Spain’s Canary Island, but only 59 were saved. Hundreds of these staggeringly sad calamities happen so often most don’t even get to be reported. The need to flee extreme poverty and death by political strife, to build a better future however will still be there. But will our empathy?
An earthquake in Turkey and Greece, and a tsunami that followed; Typhon-driven floods in Vietnam; wildfires in Colorado and California; and the strengthening of Eta, the season’s record 12th hurricane. There’s some good news from the natural world though: a huge, ‘taller than the Eiffel Tower’  new coral reef was found off Australia, likely part of the Great Coral Reef. Exploding with wildlife, in a week like that, we’ll surely take it with joy.
So it came to this. The enemies of Democracy have carved us a pretty deep hole and we’re supposed to lay down and mostly fail to fight back. They’ve been gerrymandering districts in their favor for years. They’ve undermined the Post Office to near collapse, so as not to deliver mail-in votes. They created confusion and even fake vote collection boxes, besides throwing thousands of people of color off the election records. They’re ready to litigate.
All to reelect someone who called immigrants ‘animals,’ mocked disable people, attacked dozens of women and went on record telling us all how to do it, and lied, lied, lied an average of 50 times a day for four years. A self-appointed businessman who burned through millions of his dad’s money, and broke or bankrupted every business he’s ever touched. A tax cheater, who’s proud of paying less than under-the-poverty-line hard-working Americans.
Don’t worry, over 30 million of our fellow citizens believe his con and will show up to reelect him or else. Or rather, yes, worry, a lot. It’s from this springboard of sure votes that he counts to build his victory at the polls, which may be unlikely. But he’s not worried: the Supreme Court he rebuilt is set to serve him, not the nation, just as it’s been doing for the past weeks. The shameful partisan, conservative minority will do his bidding, no sweat.
As far as the president and his despicable band of sycophants and self-motivated acolytes are concerned, the 236,000 Americans who died of neglect and Covid-19 are a non-starter when it comes to his ‘victory’ over the virus if one pays attention to his campaign. They and big pharma have already profited from the ‘vaccine’ even if there isn’t one yet. What? Thousands being killed globally every day from the climate emergency? Not his problem.
Just think if we were heading to the election to decide between two views of a peaceful, generous, wise America. Would the police nationwide now be preparing for battle? Would businesses be boarding up in fear? Would violent, armed gangs planning to ‘show up’ be as unchallenged as they’ve been? 
Trump and his party have all but overturned what’s a democratic tenet, that of the right of everyone to safely cast a vote, unharmed and unharassed. They’ve used their financial prowess to garner even more power and sway legislation in their favor. They dumped principles of civility and decency and put themselves above the law. Thus they broke the Constitution and the most basic laws of the land. There must be accountability and reckoning.
But if the president is reelected, there will be neither. He’ll proceed with his agenda, allowing oil digging in pristine national parks, preventing asylum seekers from finding shelter in America, prioritizing the rich and the powerful over the poorest and the dispossessed, as well the authoritarian and the despotic over our global allies, all while openly profiteering from his White House position. He may even shoot that man on Fifth Ave. and go free.
There’s no question about it: Trump has been undoing 200 years of American democracy, which it’s far from ideal or even extendable to so many, but at least is geared towards us, the people who can change it. And he’ll replace it with some sort of Fascist regime not even he’ll be able to control. You may have reservations about Joe Biden, as some did about Hillary Clinton. Neither would be nearly capable of sowing so much chaos and destruction.
Your mission should you accept it is to be an agent of compassion, of solidarity, of peace. Vote if you haven’t yet, but remain vigilant. Not for violence or for ‘breaking stuff up.’ You’re there to speak for those who have no voice, no claim, no political representation. You’re a rep for the planet, defending its interests and helping make people’s lives better. You’re human, you oppose hunger and income inequality. Help usher a new dawn in America. Vote. WC

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