Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Who is responsible for Donald Trump's presidential victory? Some argue that Trump's rise is a byproduct of the decaying American middle class, affected by decades of bipartisan policies. And then there is ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Smith is the lead pundit on the ESPN 2 morning talk show "First Take," and has been on record with finding extreme issues with Black people who made the conscious decision to avoid voting in the 2016 presidential election.
Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, I've given daily thought to the more alarming aspects of Trump culture. Conversations among friends have been quite helpful, both here in the US and in far- away Kabul from which I recently returned. It becomes hard to envision constructive responses to Trumpism without a steadfast focus on the larger culture which has made the policies of previous administrations seem acceptable and normal.
"What are you doing here?" Wendell Berry asked me after I approached him the afternoon of December 8, 2016, and told him that I was born in Kentucky. The celebrated poet and author of more than 40 books was in town to deliver the 17th Annual Edward & Nancy Dodge Lecture at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2010, Berry was given the National Humanities Medal by President Obama for his achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer and conservationist. The president also told Berry that he admired his poetry.
Biased-related incidents targeting Oregon's public schoolchildren have surged since the November election. Of 1,094 hate-based acts occurring nationwide in this period, 42 took place in Oregon. Documenting these incidents, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), ranks this small, famously "blue state" ninth because of its high rate of incidents. Despite the fact that the state's population of 4 million ranks 27 among states, the ratio of its bias acts to the state's population is three times higher than in California -- the state that tops the study's list.
As an animal rights activist in Canada, I was familiar with meeting pigs in transport trucks outside slaughterhouses. We'd be there bearing witness in the freezing cold of winter and then the boiling heat of summer as part of the Save Movement, whose Anita Krajnc has become a hero with her shocking prosecution for giving water to a pig bound for slaughter. If you've never met a pig, it's shocking. They have human-like eyes. They do look you in the eye. You can feel their plight.
Many in Washington's foreign policy establishment have expressed great alarm that Donald Trump may use torture and military power indiscriminately after he assumes the presidency on January 20, 2017. Trump has repeatedly said he would "bomb the shit out of ISIS" and in a March 2016 debate indicated that he would issue orders for US troops to conduct interrogation practices worse than waterboarding. Trump confidently stated that interrogators would not refuse such orders even if they constituted war crimes. "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me," he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is convening an advisory panel to review the science that links the main ingredient in the world's #1 herbicide with cancer. But don't expect one of the last acts of the Obama administration to be to save US farmers and agricultural workers from the ravages of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. All signs point to EPA caving to Monsanto, the company that markets glyphosate in its flagship Roundup herbicide.
What does the recent election cycle portend for health care in America? Nothing good, if we go by the recent and current debate over further reform of our dysfunctional system. The non-debate has been shallow, barely covered by the mainstream media, and uninformative at this important juncture in deciding where to go next in US health care.
Residents of the Third World and people who have come to understand its history within the context of the world system must be reeling with déjà vu thickly stewed in irony at the rise of Bernie Sanders and his "social revolution." Many Third World leaders have come to office with plans to effect changes very similar to those advocated by Sanders. These leaders have been called socialist, social democrat, communist, Marxist and even democratic socialist, like Sanders -- all leftists in an age of corporate capitalism backed by military force.
I've worked passionately full-time for years on climate awareness and solutions. I believe we need more at this do-or-die moment. I'm not eloquent or networked well enough to issue the required call to action. But I hope my voice and thoughts will help spark one of you -- or someone else -- to create a message that galvanizes and unites millions at a time when the future of the world may be at stake. Who will convince worried Americans to stop being too busy or too scared?