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Friday 22 June 2018

Whither Goest Thou America?

I appreciate that here in the UK we don't have too much room to shout at the moment, being led as we are by the most incompetent government since the end of the Second World War who are attempting to put into law, by most reckonings, the most disastrous political decision any major western country has taken in the same period. But, as the question at the top of the post asks, 'whither goest thou, America?' When Jack Kerouac asked the question in On The Road it was in a different context but still, the question stands.

In the last two weeks alone Trump has-
* legitimised a brutal dictator who uses torture and murder against his own people, orders assassinations of those in his government who he falls out with and who has used forced starvation to bring the population to heel.
* professed admiration for this dictator, praising him as a a man whose people listen when he speaks and said he wants the same from the American people
* removed the USA from the United Nations Committee on Human Rights because it criticises Israeli policies against the Palestinian people
* continued to support a policy that has led to toddlers being imprisoned in cages on the USA's southern border

This is the normalisation of anti-democratic practices by the US government. We know from history where this leads. It's never too late to shout about it. One of the things David Byrne talked about between songs on Monday night was about how at his shows in the US they had a table in the foyer to register people to vote there and then, and about how important it is to get people to engage, to vote in local elections and national ones. It beats 'Hi, how are you?' (response usually a big cheer) and 'this is a new one' (response, a trip to the bar or the toilet). Unless Trump abolishes elections in the next 2 years (as his new friend in North Korea might advise), he is removable and defeatable. Same over here. We've got to rid of these people. The chorus of this 2006 Jarvis Cocker song is truer now than it was when he wrote it...

Running The World

' I mean, man, whither goest thouWhither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?" "Whither goest thou?'

In 1997 an album called Joy Kicks Darkness was released, a spoken word tribute to Kerouac by artists including Michael Stipe, Lydia Lunch, Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, John Cale and Juliana Hatfield and also featuring surviving Beats like Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This track is Joe Strummer and Jack Kerouac together. 

MacDougal Street Blues


Walter said...

True words Adam. I can only agree and if we don't stand against all the Things taking a fatal direction the world will not be the same as we know it.

The Swede said...

Well said SA. Outraged has been my standard default setting for so long that I don't even remember what normal is or was anymore.

Charity Chic said...

It is getting scarier by the day Adam and his popularity ratings in the US seem to be increasing.
We are living in worrying times.
We need Drew back for a rant!

londonlee said...

The damage that Trump and the Tories are doing to their countries will take a long time to recover from. But yeah, getting them out is the first step

gruff said...

"legitimised a dictator" - what does this even mean? How is Kim now "legitimised"? It makes no sense.

Since the alternative to negotiation is confrontation with high risk of war, I assume you would prefer war.

Countersignaling the detente with the Norks just because you hate Trump is moronic. Peace is good. Trump has started zero wars so far and looks set to end one - a better record than Obama.

As regards babies in cages: that could be prevented by sealing the border, perhaps with a large earthwork or masonry construction. That way families wouldn't be able to cross illegally and would be free of the risk of detainment. Don't like that idea? Well then what do you propose be done? Let everyone who sneaks into the country stay permanently?

Anonymous said...

Trump has given Kim legitimacy because previously no one else would meet him, he was a pariah. Other leaders, including US presidents could have met him. Meeting dictators confers respectability on them and legitimises their rule.

The risk of war was created by Trump and Kim. Kim and the N Koreans know Trump is unpredictable. They increased their missile testing because they knew he would respond. Trump responds with a macho pissing contest on Twitter. The risk of war came from these 2 men, one of whom wanted a summit because he wants a) legitimacy and b) economic aid and the other wants a foreign policy success and to 'go down in history as the man who fixed Korea. Ego.

Regardless of immigration and issues that surround it, anyone who justifies putting toddlers in cages, separated from their parents, has completely lost their moral compass. It is indefensible and inhumane.
Swiss Adam

drew said...

I am beginning to get scared. I don't think I have felt like this since the mid 80s about the state of the world.

I reckon Gruff's a bot SA.

Nic said...

SA - well said, sir. And I second that (e)motion from Jarvis. Truer now than then even, sadly.

Echorich said...

Drew voiced some of what I've been feeling recently. Living in the USA can be an uneasy thing these days. I have friends of 30+ years that I just don't talk to anymore because they live there lives based on an agenda of defending Donald Trump and his Far Right Confusion. It reminds me of coming of age under Ronald Reagan, only, my fears are less existential now.

gruff said...

Me a bot? Odd. Why do you think that, drew?

re: NK: "Trump has given Kim legitimacy because previously no one else would meet him, he was a pariah." - lol. Without even googling I recall that Kim met with SK and China before meeting with Trump. Oh, and NK fielded a joint Olympic team with SK, remember that? That alone was a clear sign that peace was on the menu. Clock this: https://twitter.com/TimothyS/status/1013913242085650432 "People here in South Korea are completely bewildered by the aggressive campaign by US liberals and even leftists against the very notion of peace with North Korea. And they're shocked by how these libs are in total synch with the fascist far right here, now totally discredited."

Yes, the real upset is how readily elements of the American left now parrot neocon talking points, unreflectively, solely out of a desire to own Trump. There are a million other things to criticize him about - let Korea go, let there be peace, and be happy for the actual Korean people.

re: toddlers in cages: I oppose that 100% too, just as I will oppose the next thing the corporate media tells me is intolerable. Meanwhile, what's the solution to the border? "Abolish ICE"? Look at the polls - that's electoral suicide. What is the left wing position on immigration?

re: "I am beginning to get scared" You god damn weaklings. Your ancestors crossed oceans, wrested sustenance from unforgiving earth, fought like dogs in the street for crusts of bread - you have one election go against you and you're "scared". It's time to work for a better future, work hard. This work is difficult and lengthy, and won't be rewarded with likes and upvotes. But your forefathers worked harder and longer. So put your big boy pants on and get out there, put your damn noses to the grindstone.

thewalker said...

Well said Adam.