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I was going to post one last anti-Bush diatribe, as many other writers and commentators have done. I’ve been working on it off and on for several days. But today I find that I just can’t.
I’m too giddy.
We made history today, folks, in a day many thought would never come.
It’s a great day to be an American.
We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, undoing the damage of the past eight years – the past twenty-eight years, more accurately, perhaps even longer. And tomorrow we’ll roll up our sleeves and get to work.
But for now? I say we party.
I maintain a profile under my real name on Facebook, and via the Facebook grapevine word has filtered back to me about a fairly recent article about some shenanigans some friends and I got up to in my undergrad days back in the late eighties.
It was Reagan’s second term, and all across the country, college students and others were protesting the situation in South Africa. My alma mater, the University of Utah, was one school where these protests happened, though I believe we were relatively unique in being one of the few schools where there was also a pro-apartheid presence, in the form of a few returned missionaries who had spent time in South Africa and some old dude who owned a cooking-stove business there that did a booming business selling to people who lived in Soweto and various villages and shantytowns scattered across the country.
I, perhaps not surprisingly, was a loud voice in the anti-apartheid crowd, and I routinely mocked the pro-South Africa demonstrators when they had the temerity to show up on campus. One of them once actually accused me of “betraying my race” because I was more inclined to believe the reports of black South African students on campus than those of white South African students (we actually had a smattering of both groups attending the U). In a moment of unbelievable self-righteousness, I told the guy (rather loudly, as I recall) that the only race I considered myself a part of was the human race, and as such, I was more inclined to listen to the oppressed than the oppressors. The line got a few laughs and some applause from passersby, so hey, all good.
The article about the anti-apartheid movement in Utah appeared in the Utah Historical Quarterly, and while it is somewhat distressing to think of anything one has been involved with in one’s life referred to under the heading “history” (I’m only 42, ferchrissakes!), it’s still kinda cool to think that someone took the time to do this research in the University of Utah archives (where I worked part-time as an undergrad) to put this together.
In spite of being rather heavily involved in the activities of one of the student groups mentioned in the article, I somehow managed to dodge the bullet of being mentioned by name myself, so I am going to go ahead and post a link for those among you curious enough to check this out. For me, it was a real stroll down memory lane, and a lot of fun to read.
One note for the curious: although I am not mentioned by name in the article, you can still see a bit of my handiwork in it. In the pictures of the shanties that accompany the article, you will see my writing on the walls of the structures (though I did not paint the face that is shown in one photograph). I was the designated grafitti artist at our little shanty town, because I could write the clearest using spray paint.
My little claim to fame…
Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. And I’ve been horrified by the loss of life. But I’ve been hesitant to comment on it.
Much to my shame, I really don’t know what to make of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
I get that Israel is surrounded by a lot of people who don’t acknowledge its right to exist as a nation. And that wouldn’t be a pleasant situation to be in. It would make one want to have the best damn military possible, and it would tend to give one a rather itchy trigger finger.
At the same time, I think the Palestinians have some legitimate grievances against Israel. Really legitimate grievances. Grievances that could make one want to fire rockets into their territory, maybe, after decades of frustration in the face of those grievances.
But I don’t approve of bombing civilian targets. Something both sides have been doing to some extent, but Israel far more than Hamas in recent days.
I think Israel’s reaction to Hamas has been disproportionate, but at the same time, I realize that I haven’t walked a mile in Israel’s moccasins. It’s hard for me to know what I would do in their shoes.
I think they’re trying to get their licks in before Obama takes office, knowing that Bush won’t do anything to stop them.
And I think this is only going to make us look worse in the eyes of the Arab world. Where we already look quite bad enough.
I just don’t know what to do about it.
The end of any year is often a time of reflection. Looking back to see what went right, what went wrong. This year, we could perhaps benefit from such retrospection more than other years.
I was going to refer to 2008 as “a kidney stone of a year,” but I was almost certain I had heard that phrase elsewhere, likely in something by Hunter S. Thompson. A quick Google search of the phrase didn’t reveal the original source, but it did show three other people describing 2008 in those words, so at least I’m not alone in thinking of it that way.
On a national level, we saw a further…what’s the word I want? crumbling? eroding? collapsing? disintegrating?…let’s go with… deterioration of: our civil rights, our privacy, our status overseas, the situation in Iraq (notwithstanding all the neocons rushing to claim the surge has been a “success”), the situation in Afghanistan, the economy, the health care system, our schools, our infrastructure (Rachel Maddow’s favorite word), the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip, the environment, and…well…it’s a really long list, actually.
So maybe we should think of 2008 as the year when the whole house of cards we’ve all been living in fell to the floor.
There was the presidential election, which filled up our ears for way too many months with noise and lies and distortions and endless debates and oh the spinning and spinning and spinning and stop the world, please, I’m getting dizzy.
Before that, though, we had the primaries, and the caucuses, and the conventions, and the polls, and the protests and…well, you were there. You heard it.
There were a lot of lows, but there were a few highs, as well. Particularly toward the end of the year.
For a nice change, we had a presidential candidate that appealed to our hopes, rather than hammering at our fears. We dodged the bullet of a McCain/Palin administration, four more years that would most likely have looked like the last eight, except less organized, and instead managed to elect the smart guy over the guy people would like to have a beer with. Thought I suspect Obama would be way more fun to have a beer with than McCain, anyway.
And there was the nice bit about finally electing someone who isn’t a white male to the highest office in the land. That part was pretty cool.
But the economy is bad, and likely to get worse before it gets better. People are losing their homes, their jobs, and their retirement investments. We’re probably going to see a lot more people moving in with other family members to save money, and we’re already seeing more people living on the street.
It’s a scary situation.
And yet, with the new year comes hope.
In twenty days, we will be rid of alleged president George Walker Bush.
We will have strong Democratic Party majorities in both houses of Congress.
Let’s hope they use their new power for good. Let’s hope they actually use their power, instead of allowing themselves to be conned by Republicans into thinking they don’t dare use the power we gave them to change things.
Hope is good.
I have some ideas for a new project for myself in the new year…something that will involve this blog – or perhaps a separate blog created specifically for the project…more on that soon. But I think some more changes are coming in the life of yours truly, that I hope will be interesting for you all, and ultimately, perhaps profitable for me. We shall see…
In the mean time, happy new year, everyone!
And stay safe.
p.s. And lest there be any doubt about it…I still think Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.