Hogg takes The Hill

The death-lobby mouthpieces in the media continue to test the waters of public tolerance for attacks on the children trying to curtail the ever-increasing frequency of attacks in our public schools. Laura Ingraham on FOX News (the senility network) lost a number of advertisers when she took on Chris Hogg, the most vocal of the Parkland survivors. She was forced to retract her comments, citing “the spirit of Easter.”

But it doesn’t stop there. The Hill has published a criticism of Hogg’s exhortation for others to support the boycott of Ingraham. Saying that it “sets a dangerous precedent” in attempting to destroy Ingraham’s career, The Hill continues with assertions from a Parkland “2nd Amendment Rights” supporter that Hogg was being manipulated by the liberal media, and warns that Hogg’s continued advocacy makes him fair fodder for the kinds of destructive propaganda normally reserved to adults.

So first to Ingraham: there is a God. As evidenced in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, he strongly favors renunciation of violence. He sent me to Parkland to shower love upon the survivors. And if losing your fat paycheck (not at all equivalent to losing your career) is an unenviable prospect, in invoking “the spirit of Easter” to cover your toadying to Death and his minions, you are placing at risk your soul.

This extends to the rest of Death’s propaganda machine. You may be a distributed pustule uncontrolled by any political agenda or leader, but you are seen by God, and you will find yourself unable to enter heaven with those that fight for love.

And, again and again, as many times as it takes: you are beloved, my fair warriors for love. Hogg, Gonzalez: your courage in the face of evil is admirable, and will be rewarded.

Wake Up!

When all the channels broadcast messages that promise satisfaction but lead only to disappointment and suffering:

  • privilege
  • novelty
  • lust
  • violence
  • addictive substances

The abused loyalist has no place to turn for truth but inward.

How do I feel?

It is in that moment that the quiet, still voice of the Holy Spirit enters.

If you still seek love, here we are.

All other messages are then recognized as meaningless clamoring for attention from those that have no power other than to steal strength from the weak.

Those that hunger for love follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit because once that assurance is tendered, the greatest desire is to sustain the connection. Each of us walks in the world open to its suffering, and healing enters in our wake because we do not attempt to monopolize its energy.

There is far more power available to us than is necessary to solve the problems we have created. We simply need to accept that we can’t control it – we can only recognize those that wish to share it with us, and so heal us in turn.

The shadow of darkness hangs over this age, but the dawn will dispel it.

The Ideology of Massacre

Prior to 9/11, the most destructive terrorist attack in America was the bombing of the Murrah Building in 1995. One-third of the nine-story building was destroyed, and casualties were concentrated in the day-care center on the first floor.

The perpetrators of the attack, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were motivated in part by the actions of the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas. Both incidents involved compounds led by apocalyptic leaders that believed the government was a tyrannical conspiracy. Disaster evolved when normal law-enforcement procedures were initiated against paranoiacs that resisted contact with the outside world. Their possession of gun arsenals was a particular problem.

Where most might have seen government missteps as indicating problems in practice in dealing with a new sub-culture predisposed to violence, the separatist militia movement saw things differently. Propagandized by Reagan’s “government has a boot on your neck” rhetoric and Gingrich’s anti-government messaging, the two incidents in jurisdictions a thousand miles apart were taken as proof of tyranny. Buoyed by this political rhetoric, McVeigh and Nichols saw themselves as freedom fighters, exercising their Second Amendment rights to strike a blow against the ATF agents housed in the Murrah Building.

Gingrich never recognized this connection, because his strategy had much narrower political motivations: attain Republican control of a Congress that had been dominated by Democrats since the New Deal. Rather than deal with specific issues, Gingrich attacked the government as a whole, indicting the Democrats by association. The reverence in which Gingrich is held by the movement reflects the continuing effectiveness of that political strategy: smearing government and blaming Democrats for all of its defects.

It’s the smearing government part that relates to mass murder in our public schools. To a young adult, a public school is the only governmental agency they interact with. When bureaucratic procedures fail to protect students from abuse (as in Columbine) or impose sanctions for paranoid aggression (Parkland), to justify mayhem the affected parties have only to make the same step made by McVeigh and Nichols.

What needs to be understood is that the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment zealots in the Republican Party advocate openly for that step. They characterize gun ownership as an essential element in maintaining a free society, a characterization that makes sense only if guns are actually used by individuals in resisting authority. It is this logic that requires the provision of military-style weaponry to the public, which when turned on unarmed civilians results in heartbreaking trauma.

So for Gov. Scott in Florida and others to assert that these incidents are reflections of “pure evil” should be seen as a self-indictment. These incidents reflect people doing what you tell them they should do, against a government that is incapable of controlling the dangers that your rhetoric incites.

FOX Outed

Disgusted by the way Bill O’Reilly ran his cage-match shout-fests, I’ve scrupulously avoided FOX News for the last fifteen years. As TV has invaded our public spaces, that has come to require some discipline. Management often chooses to impose their political views on restaurant patrons. So at the local Jack in the Box, I turn my back to the FOX monitor and take the lesser of two evils: watching grown men ruin their bodies doing things that were intended to be forms of play.

Today it was the dual monitors that bracketed the bar at the Best Breakfast and Lunch in Port Hueneme. Confronted with the finishing counter, I couldn’t help but glance around for some visual stimulus. Much to my surprise, I found myself reading a FOX panelist explain that the reason America has a serious problem with mass violence is easy access to military-style weaponry.

Interest piqued, I kept on following along, and couldn’t help but burst out loud in laughter.

The response to sanity came a few minutes later, when another panelist retorted that America doesn’t allow easy access to guns, it protects the rights of citizens to protect themselves from tyranny. Now this is fatuous: a despotic government doesn’t need to wage war to subjugate a modern society – it only needs to turn off the water and power and stop collecting the garbage. But what brought on laughter was the unintended inference from a mouthpiece for a party that controls all three branches of the US government.

FOX admits that the Republicans are tyrants!

So I began to laugh, really heartily, and wondered why Trevor Noah can’t produce such hilarity. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe FOX isn’t shifting to the loony right to protect its brand from Breitbart, maybe it’s competing with Comedy Central.

But what would be the right byline?

The students in Parkland recognize the irresponsibility of Republican gun policy, as do some Republican Party donors. If the young and the sane recognize the need for sensible gun reform, that seems to leave only the senile as defenders of the gun industry. So should we think of FOX News as “Senility Central?”

That seemed to fit when Rush Limbaugh was brought on for the interview. I couldn’t help by think that Madame Tussaud’s had diversified into animatronics. The wavy pouf, painted face and elegant suit brought to mind a story by Horace Mann describing the antics of a senile man who encounters a beautiful boy while at a beach resort. Mann’s telling forces the reader to skirt the shadows of pedophilic sensibility. Limbaugh tends in a different direction, but perhaps no less offensive to the “forgotten men” that he claims to represent. It’s an implicit sympathy for entitled royalty.

Feeling that I was wandering into a Lewis Carroll novel, I listened in incredulity as Limbaugh intoned his support for full amnesty for all illegal immigrants, given a Democratic stipulation that that they not be allowed to vote for 15-25 years. Wow, Rush! Just throw all those jobless listeners of yours under the bus, why don’t you?

But wait, there’s more! The interviewer asked whether the Republican electorate wasn’t concerned that the recent tax bill was going to cause the budget to explode. Limbaugh countered that “not a single listener” had called in to complain. Again, I know that the young and the sane are concerned with the problem, so that leaves the senile as the patrons of Limbaugh’s blather – perhaps most prominent among them being Rupert Murdoch.

Tyranny arises when the political elite seeks to secure its privileges free from the discipline of responsibility to the public. That would-be tyrants take cause with a propaganda machine such as FOX is alarming, until we see how inept and clumsy the lies have become as occupants of the conservative echo-chamber wanders further and further from reality.

Through

As of Sunday morning, the 101 was still closed in Montecito, so I resolved to head down to Westwood for the Ecstatic Dance LA celebration. After lunch, rather than heading up to the Getty Center, I was inspired to visit the Armand Hammer Museum.

It was deja vu all over again as – just as when I visited with my sons during Kevin’s attendance at UCLA – most of the museum was closed for their annual rotation. Apart from the standing collection (mostly French and American oils from the 19th century), they had four environmental experiences.

The most profound is Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Saydnaya. Saydnaya is the death prison established by the regime of the Syria dictator Bashar al Assad. During the course of the civil war, more than 13,000 people have been destroyed there.

The guards at the prison maintained control through a strict regimen of silence. Any significant noise was punished by beatings – even the screams of those beaten were punished with further abuse. As a result, every sound was impressed upon the victims. Through acoustic forensics, interviews with those released have reconstructed the organization and operations of the prison.

The installation is simple: at the entrance, two large speakers that first demonstrate the effects of a 19 decibel drop in sound – reflecting the drop in the volume of the prisoner’s speaking when the prison stopped serving any investigative purpose and became simply a death camp. The recording starts with a loud siren, and drops through a series of declarations of annihilation (including the extinction of frog species in the Amazon). When the volume is inaudible, the recording continues with the testimony of a prison survivor describing the use of silence as an instrument of torture. Finally, the artist and acoustic specialist describe their methods.

The entry is dim, as the main installation is set off by a large partition. Walking around the partition, we are confronted with a number of overhead projectors, each bearing a ray tracing of the acoustic reconstruction. Two smaller text projectors add testimony of the investigation to the setting.

I entered during a lull in the recording, and stood in the center of the room, amidst the projectors, trying to feel my way into the situation. It was distant until I turned around to look behind me, and found that my shadow had fallen across the ray tracing on the partition. The pain washed through me then, and I turned my back to the young female docent as I allowed it to penetrate. When I finally left, I made the mistake of asking her “Do they have a PTSD therapy program for you after you spend all day in here?” Her face nearly cracked with grief. I don’t think that she understood before that moment.

I went down to the Peet’s Coffee on the corner and resolved to soak in the sun and listen to music. Brahm’s First Piano Concerto seemed appropriate, but the street traffic was noisy. After finishing my coffee and scone, I thought to head back into the Hammer atrium where I’d be able to focus on the music. As I stepped into the quiet, I had the sudden inspiration that I should do my listening in Hamdan’s exhibit.

The first movement of the concerto is an elegy to Robert Schumann, Brahm’s unstable contemporary who committed suicide at a young age, leaving a wife and young children. Much as the exhibition’s recording, it opens with crashing orchestral chords that evoke the trauma of receiving news of a tragic loss. After extended orchestral development, the piano solo enters with an echo of those chords. It was at that point that I paused the recording before walking up the stairs.

As I settled on the floor in the back of the projection space and resumed the concerto, the exhibition recording started, blaring loudly over the music. Again, the trauma and sorrow washed over me.

This was the process, then: holding onto the pattern of the music as the noise and words stepped over it. The stronger chords exerted themselves even through the loudest sections, but Brahm’s meditation has passages of delicate arpeggios and simple, haunting melodies that even hushed voices would occlude.

The thought that I projected was only this:

If they won’t let you speak, then hear this; share it.

To not be forgotten. To receive evidence that love transmutes sorrow into beauty. And, as the first movement ends with it’s playful re-iteration of the opening themes, to hope that children would come to restore joy where greed and fear have made a wasteland of the human heart.