You know, if Danielle Crittenden wants to marry young and start popping out Frum-rat after Frum-rat, no matter how miserable it makes her (and the answer, btw, is, apparently, hideously miserably, if we are to believe the testimony of her stellar novel, AmandaBright@home), that's her business.
Really is. And if Fundavengelicals want to marry off their daughters and sons when they're barely old enough to vote and make them start breeding at that age as well and teach them that is what Jesus wants and if they don't do this they aren't obedient to God's will, well, if their sons and daughters go along with it, I reckon that's their business too.
It's when they start saying the rest of us need to do it as well -- that's when I get edgy.
It's when they start saying things like this that I start looking around for the exit:
It's not about identity. It's about obedience. When it comes to marriage, we don't need a burning bush to know if it's God's will. He's already told us it is. If we're not specially gifted to be celibate, we're called to marriage. There's no third option; no lifestyle choice to remain single because it's more fun or more fulfilling or more spiritual than being married. Yes, if you're gifted with a calling to celibacy, a la Paul, then that is your duty. But if you're not -- and Scripture is clear that most of us aren't -- then our calling is marriage.
And then, of course, once married? We must keep popping out the babies:
Severing the link between marriage and children is a modern concept, born of material wealth, political freedom and technological advancements. But just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. God has not revoked His charge to the first couple, Adam and Eve, to be fruitful and multiply. (And contrary to public opinion, we're in dire need of more, not fewer, people on this earth.) When we marry and choose not to have children, we violate our very design and disobey our God. (We've talked at length about this on Boundless, including articles by J. Budziszewski and Matt Kaufman.)
There's more, including rebuttals to emails sent in protest to the original essay -- apparently even the readers of Dobson's site are having trouble swallowing this claptrap.
If you haven't read the essay over on Harper's by Rebecca Solnit, have a look.
It's partly about New Orleans/Katrina, but wider ranging -- about disaster in general and the failure of our social policy over the past thirty-odd years in specific, how that's leading to the utter disasters we now see exploding around us. (No one could have forseen the collapse of the levees!)
Disasters are almost by definition about the failure of authority, in part because the powers that be are supposed to protect us from them, in part also because the thousand dispersed needs of a disaster overwhelm even the best governments, and because the government version of governing often arrives at the point of a gun. But the authorities don't usually fail so spectacularly. Failure at this level requires sustained effort. The deepening of the divide between the haves and have nots, the stripping away of social services, the defunding of the infrastructure, mean that this disaster—not of weather but of policy—has been more or less what was intended to happen, if not so starkly in plain sight.
When we look back at Katrina, we may see that the greatest savagery was that of our public officials, who not only failed to provide the infrastructure, social services, and opportunities that would have significantly decreased the vulnerability of pre-hurricane New Orleans but who also, when disaster did occur, put their ideology before their people.
Bill Bennett thinks if we killed all the black infants in this country, we could reduce the crime rate.
No, I'm not joking. That's what he said, on National TV.
BENNETT: But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
That's some family values for you, huh? That's some good moral Christian thinking.
I read that passage, and I thought of my daughter's best friend, who is six, and has more energy than any five kids, and is smarter than Bill Bennett will ever be, and has, like the kid, and imagination that won't quit, who, along with my kid, is always in trouble -- they run their teachers ragged, not to mention me and Kate's mother -- and who happens to be black: this is who he is talking about. This is one of the black babies he thinks our country would be better off without.
This was where I was, four years ago -- on the tenure-track, in a city I hated, Charlotte, NC -- overcrowded, over-priced, traffic snarls 24/7, filthy air, filthy weather (it did have good parks and libraries, as well as good bookstores and restaurants and malls -- but because my lousy job paid so badly, and had such horrible health insurance, we were always too poor to buy anything or to eat out). I was also in a job I hated, though, at a university that was rapidly rotting on the vine. So I feel her pain.
We moved here, to Arkansas, to a job I like much better -- better work, better students, better administration, better pay, slightly better health insurance.
It is in Arkansas, though. And while I have nothing against Arkansas, per se, if I had listed the top six places in the world I wanted to live in, Arkansas would not, in fact, have made the cut. And if I had to live in Arkansas? Fort Smith would not be my town of choice.
My students know their town sucks too. They ask me, sometimes, "What are you doing here?"
These are students who are planning to be English professors. (I'm the English advisor. They ask me this while we are having That Talk about their future.)
I smile at them, kindly. I say, "Child. When you have got your doctorate? And you are on the hunt? You will go where the job is. Lo, it is so."
However. mr. delagar hates it here.
I don't actually much like the Fort either.
It is hot here, six or seven months out of the year.
It is pollen-filled and dusty and sticky here, all the time.
People here think nothing of littering. Apparently no one here ever heard of Keep America Beautiful. Littering is Just Okay With Folk in the Fort.
Nothing in the Fort is either attractive or intersting to look at in its own right -- architecture is not a thing folk in the Fort think of when they are building, for the most part. I think when folk in the Fort are building, they think of erector sets and shoe boxes. That is all I can reckon for what they turn up with.
Everyone -- well, almost everyone -- in the Fort is a Christian. A White-Bread White American Christian. Who has a Personal Relationship with the Lord. And thinks you do too. And thinks this is good and normal. Who will get upset if you put God, A Poem by James Fenton up on your office door. No, I mean really upset. Like they will go crying to your Chair about it. The big babies.
No good movies come here. Only stupid slasher movies. If a good movie does by accident come here, it only stays one week and you never notice it is here until it is gone.
Despite the fact that this is a small town, the traffic is abysmal, because the roads suck and the folk can't drive -- all of them tailgate, for instance. I attribute this to their religion. They're all Christian (see above) and know that this is not the only world. So I might as well be living in a huge town with bad traffic.
No snow. It's the freaking south.
Bugs. It's the freaking south.
Racism. It's the freaking south.
Also: it's the freaking south.
So yes, we've also been considering moving on. Except: the Other Liberal Professor is here, along with Miles, the kid's intended, not to mention Mick, and the kid's other friends are here, and the kid' s Montessori school is here, and our Writing Group is here, and where else would I find a job I liked this much?
(mr. delagar points out he has no job here at all, not counting his online teaching gig. Well.)
I suppose academics almost always are looking over the horizon. Because somewhere there will be that that perfect job in the perfect town. Where there isn't any traffic and there are wonderful bookstores, two of them, right in town, and the administration is sane and the people aren't loons and everyone rides bicycles to the grocery and recycles and loves folk music and Billy Bragg as much as I do and there are parks every six blocks and it's up in the mountains with plenty of hiking trails and twenty-seven inches of snow every winter. Oh yes, and a house for rent with four bedrooms for six hundred dollars a months.
The Other Liberal Professor sends me this interesting post from over on the Kos diaries, more fundavangelicals trying to prove that Genesis is, so, literally true:
The sermon was given by a guest speaker, John Walton, who is a professor in old Testament scripture at Wheaton College. He has studied Genesis 1 as much as any scholar, and has some great incite [sic] to offer.
To start with, we have to realize that the Bible was written FOR us, but it was written TO the ancient Jews. So we have to view the text from the viewpoint of the ancient Jews. For the sake of the Creation story, the first thing we have to define is what it means to exist. Of course when a person today reads Genesis 1, we immediately think creation in the physical sense. The Jews at the time of Moses, when Genesis was written had an entirely different view.
To the Mosaic Jews, something exists when it has a purpose. To the Mosaic Jews, the Desert did not exist, because it did not have a purpose. The tribes in distant lands did not exist to the Mosaic Jews, because they served no purpose for the Jews. So everything that had a purpose could be said to exist, and things that had no purpose could be said to not exist.
The problem here, of course, is that this isn't so. In fact, in the Jewish worldview, things do not have to have a function or a purpose for us to recognize that they exist -- that's not just an odd worldview, that's a sociopathic worldview, and it is not, in fact, a Jewish one, nor was it ever. Where this fellow got the idea that it was, I do not know.
Well, yes, in fact,I do. Probably. He made it up. Christian "scholars" like this guy love to make things up. As do Christian Presidents. What are we to do.
But, in fact, to be clear, the desert did exist for those "Mosaic" Jews (I love that "Mosaic Jews," what the fuck is that? As opposed to Dolphin Jews? As opposed to these Evil Jews we have now? What?) and so did the light that God created and so did everything else. Things do not, in fact, have to have a purpose in the Jewish worldview for them to exist.
No. In fact, exactly otherwise. We are told exactly otherwise. We are told not to muzzle the ox when he treads the grain. What does this mean? This means to respect the selfhood of the ox. This means that we are to admit that the ox has a selfhood -- has a purpose beyond what use we can make of him.
God asks Jonah, in fact, if he does well to be angry. The understood answer there is no. What does this mean? It means that the people of Nineveh and the cattle of Nineveh have a selfhood, beyond any use they can serve Jonah, and Jonah should respect their right to exist.
The law says let your serving man go after seven years, but only if he wants to go. What does this mean? This means your serving man has a self, and you must respect it.
The law says slaughter your beasts painlessly -- why? Because they have a self, and they can suffer.
So NO NO NO, it is not all about how the world is there to fulfill a shining purpose for man. It is not all a tool for the Christians.
Can someone please send these folks a nice big plate of Get Over Yourselves?
As you might recall, the kid's been dealing with a pile of anxiety over this whole Katrina thing. So it's getting out of hand -- she's not sleeping, and when she does sleep she has nightmares, she can't be alone in rooms, she doesn't want to go to school, she's terrified of anywhere dark, or any strange noise, she has panic attacks, she doesn't want to do anything but sit next to me in the white chair (her favorite chair) and read Calvin & Hobbes books, or huddle in the TV room watching Animal Planet.
So I took her to her doctor, who said this sounded like PTSD, which I pretty much already knew, said it might get better on its own, but since it seemed to be getting worse and not better, recommended we try a child therapist.
So I called one. And found out our insurance -- which, okay, is not great insurance, I give up, our insurance SUCKS -- our insurance has, for mental health care, a five hundred dollar per year deductable (this is besides the thousand dollar deductable it has for regular health care) and then, after that, it's only going to cover 80% of the cost -- and then only up to a $5000 cap.
Did I mention this is September? And Academics are poor in September?
And I just went through fucking bankruptcy for medical reasons?
He points out that we funded WWII by selling War Bonds, and that, at the moment, all these idiots with their stupid magnets on their stupid SUVs proclaiming that they Support the Troops! are actually supporting nothing at all but some cheap factory in Tawain or wherever.
Why not, says Fred, connect these magnets to bonds? Buy a $500 War Bond, get an official Magnet? Then when you slapped one of those puppies on your stupid Hummer, you'd actually be supporting the troops, and not just acting like a poseur.
I really like this idea.
Plus, as Fred points out, it would give us even more leave to mock the poseurs who think they're actually doing something, with their moronic Support the Troops magnets.
(Here in NW Arkanas, as I have mentioned, our Support the Troops magnets have bright red Razorback Hogs jumping out of their loops. Which is just so appallingly offensive I can't even get past it. I support the troops -- and the Razorbacks! Cause it's the same thing! Yippee! Go Hogs! Go Amurica! Hoo-ya!)
So I'm teaching Middlemarch today -- and it went pretty well, it's one of the sessions I do on class issues, and what Eliot's saying about class issues in the book, how Caleb Garth is the moral center of the book and he's pro-working class and about the dignity of work, and have they noticed that almost no one in the book who is rich does a fucking thing, for anyone, and what do they think about that, huh? Do they think that's a good idea? What do they think about a system which endorses the notion that working people are evil, simply because they're poor, and rich people -- who don't do a thing for anyone -- are good simply because they're rich? Huh? What do they think about that? Huh?
And does this remind them, oh, of anything that's been happening lately?
Oh, my, I'm so subtle.
Anyway, the class went well enough, but.
As we're walking out of class.
One of my students begins singing, quite idly and nicely, "Yellow Submarine." He has a nice voice. He sings it very well. I'm enjoying it.
Another student asks him, and no, I'm not kidding, "What's that song?"
"I dunno," he says. "Some stupid song my mother used to play for me."
These posts have brought the trolls out in force, as they tend to.
This topic is one that annoys me, too. Our friends on the Right, see, believe that it is all right to hold the most reactionary, hateful, vicious beliefs -- that oppressing the Other is just fine, that the poor deserve to be poor because they are ignorant and lazy, that Jesus wants us to bomb people who don't follow his religion, that it is okay to beat your children into submission with belts and sticks, that giving women the vote ruined this country, that the only proper reaction to your enemy is to shoot him in the head, twice, and once in the chest -- all of that, believe those on the Right, is perfectly fine speech. Nothng wrong with any of that speech.
But say fuck?
That, my love, is stepping way over the line.
This is where my jaw drops.
Hate speech is evil, in my universe. Not saying fuck. Saying hateful things. Not saying shit, saying hate your neighbor. Not saying goddamn it, saying poor folk are too lazy to work, that's evil. But no. Over on the right, they can call someone a traitor, they can say, with a straight face, that the Jews had it coming (as Vox Day did in one sweet little post) because they are so annoying, but so long as they don't mention hell anywhere, why, they're on the side of the angels, they are.
As I said to my brother, when the kid was nine months old and he said fuck in front of her, and then apologized to me: "Sorry," he said. "I guess I shouldn't say the F word in front of your kid."
"No," I said. "Say the F word all you want. Just don't say the N word in front of her."
*BTW: Difference between cursing and cussing is a regional one, having to do with whether you come from an area that has a rhotic or a non-rhotic dialect. A rhotic dialect is one that pronounces that post-vocalic R (the R that follows the U in cursing): if you come from a place that is rhotic you tend to call it cursing. If not, you call it cussing. Many Deep South Regions are Non-Rhotic. (They say Fah for Far and Yahd for Yard and Cuss for Curse.)
Another BTW: Bad words in our house are called Mama Words and the kid is not allowed to say them. This is not because I think they are actually Bad Words, as I have explained to her. It is because I know the folk out in the world will think she is ignorant and bad if she uses them. I have told her when she is fifteen or sixteen she can start using them -- when she is old enough to accurately judge situations appropriately, and know when it's all right to use them and when it isn't. I've explained to her about ignorant folk who think words are bad and how they're wrong. So? Right now? When she's angry and wants to use a nasty word? She says, "Oh -- MAMA WORD!"
The kid has decided to deal with her phobic terror of aliens (which was how she was dealing with her phobic terror of Katrina, by displacing it onto a phobic terror of aliens invading from Mars in order to steal all of our water -- they haven't got water on Mars, you know, and are very thirsty there, and having seen all the pictures of floods in Katrina, well, obviously) by inventing an invisible alien named Slimy, from Mars, who follows her about and steals water from all sorts of appalling places -- dog dishes, puddles, abandoned soda cans, dirty toilet bowls, the more disgusting the better. "Well, he's very thirsty, you know," she tells me when I appeal for decorum. "There is very little water on Mars."
He is a nice alien. Just thirsty. Not like the ones we were having earlier, who were going to suck her blood and eat her eyeballs and kill us all. So I'm going with it.
I would demand to know where this child came from but I am afraid I know. You reap what you sow.
I was reading a post about teaching in a small town yesterday, which said, among other things, don't apply to teach in a small town unless you really like your students, because you will meet them everywhere: they will bag your groceries, baby-sit your kids, take your tickets at the movies, serve your eggs at the local restaurant, sell you your birth control pills, and I just started laughing, because this is just utterly true. I remember when I was living in Pocatello, Idaho, and I was buying a pregnancy test for the kid, to see if I was pregnant at last. It was sold to me by the guy in my Utopian/Dystopian Lit class.
And? Since this is Talk Like a Pirate Day?
"don't apply t' teach in a small town unless you really like your students, because you will meet them everywhere: they will bag your groceries, baby-sit your sprogs, take your tickets at t' movies, serve your eggs at t' local restaurant!"
I am making lists of things to be pleased about (they are in short supply around House Delagar these days, what with the kid suffering from a baby version of PTSD, apparently -- anyway, that's what her doctor thinks, I'm looking into a therapist for her who will give us a better diagnosis soon, I hope*) hoping to cheer myself up. Here it is:
(1) the weather is breaking, at last. It was almost cold here, the other night, and is sort of cool here, most mornings. Leaves are falling from the trees. Not turning red or yellow, mind you, because of the drought, just giving up and falling off, but still. It's almost like autumn.
(2) mr. delagar has bought me all the remaining Billy Bragg CDs that I don't have already. (I couldn't buy them myself b/c this is September. September, at least at the low-rent universty I work at, is the poorest month for academics -- the fiddling summer pay has long run out and the much higher winter pay -- that nine-month pay that is our regular pay -- has not yet kicked in (we get that starting at the end of September) -- and so all through September and usually a good bit of August too we are dirt poor.) Well. Where was I? Oh. mr. delagar, though, has a bit of money left, and he bought me the rest of the Billy Bragg albums with it. To cheer me up. What a saint the boy is. 37 pounds Brit money. Anyone know how much that is in American? mr. delagar assures me it is a lot.
(3) I found a way out of the plot tangle I had gotten into and couldn't get out of, in the third book of the trilogy. So I'm writing again, though not at the ripping pace I was this summer. But I can't, not with the kid melting down and five classes with five preps. At least the book is moving forward again.
(4) I got the class I wanted for next semester, a Special Topics: Mythology through Literature class. This is a class which is I proposed to the Chair, one I actually want to teach, one that is actually in my area -- one I am qualified to teach, in other words. It's been, ah, let's see, eight years? Nine years? Since I actually taught a class in my area? Fuck's sake. I may not remember how.
(5) I am also scheduled, so far, to teach only four classes next semester: Chaucer, History of the English Language, Special Topics, and Honors World Lit. It is four preps, and one of them is Chaucer, but I have taught all but one of those before, so that counts as good news.
(6) My What Would the Flying Spaghetti Monster Do? teeshirts came yesterday, one for me and one for the kid. These have cheered me up immensely.
(7) mr. delagar also bought me some Hornsby's hard cider, so I can have snakebites later. Even though he thinks I drink too much. (Compared to what? I ask. Compared to how much I want to drink?) (I don't, btw, in case anyone out there is worrying. He's just got the Jewish POV about drinking. A Jewish drunk is better dead, after all.)
(8) Tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Yay! That's enough to cheer anyone up, right there!
I've got a much longer list, of things that have pissed me off lately. But I've decided to keep those to myself. As a public service, y'know.
*As we're leaving the doctor's office, where I have taken the kid to discuss her endless nightmares, her new refusal to sleep, her increasing phobic behavior, her developing school fears and OCD-like behavior, the kid says, "Does this mean I'm going to need a therapist?"
I say, offhand, like it's no big deal, "It does, in fact."
She brightens. "Oh, good!"
I'm relieved, but a bit surprised. I think aboout how to approach this issue, and take an indirect approach: "How do you know about therapist, Miss Girl?"
"Hank the Cowdog," she explains. "The chickens have therapists."
Seriously, I'd like to thank Pete M., wherever he is. I have this blog only because he stopped by the day after I started messing with it and told me I could, too, have a blog. Thanks, Pete. I hope you're doing okay.
Also Geeky Mom and DED Space and Old Cranky and Zelda and the Other Liberal Professor and Dr. B and all the folks out in the blogosphere who give me a reason to go on.
And Billy Bragg. Why not. I'd like to thank Billy Bragg.
I too have been suffering from a lack of the will to go on as this week has progressed. I find myself sitting at stop signs, staring at them, thinking, Why? Why would I keep going? When we are so clearly fucked?
Or sitting in my office at school wondering if it would really be such a bad thing if I yelled at all my students that they are wasting their time reading Middlemarch and they should all join the Peace Corps and I myself am, in fact, planning to quit teaching and get a job at FEMA, how could I possibly do a worse job than the yabbos in charge now?
The Other Liberal Professor and I, as well as Zelda, over at her blog, (http://darcy12.blogspot.com/) we're pretty sure it's exhaustion -- too much bad news, for too long. Five years of watching Bush destroy our beloved country, and then Katrina piled on it. And watching Bushco trying to spin their way out of it. And suspecting they will likely succeed. And watching as, around us, our neighbors say things like, "Better get extra locks on your doors if those people show up." Or "There's a reason those people stayed. There's a reason those people are so poor."
I'm so sad about this country. I'm so sad about what's happened here.
So's Shakespeare's Sister.
“Quote Faulkner,” Joe told me.
He was writing a post, and I figured he was looking for a specific quote. I gave him what I had.
“‘A man’s moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.’”
“Ooh, that is a good one,” said Joe.
Not the one he needed, I guessed.
“How about, ‘Man will not merely endure; he will prevail’?” I suggested.
“The most quoted,” Joe noted. “Not even in book; Nobel Prize speech.”
“‘Others have done it before me. I can, too’?” I went on.
“‘Given the choice between grief and nothing, I’ll choose grief’?”
“Good,” said Joe. “You are just full of them.”
Joe wasn’t in need of Faulkner for his post. I was in need of Faulkner to regain the fight in me again.
“Is this just a trick to get my blood pumping again?” I asked. “Sneaky.”
“Yeah, well you know,” said Joe.
I've been using Billy Bragg in the same way. He's not from this country, but I am hanging onto his music this week like it's my last hope in the universe. It just might be too.
The kid is still obsessing about aliens invading and killing us all in our beds, as you know. We hold many lengthy conversations, as we drive around the Fort, to and from school, to and from the grocery and the library, her explaining why she is still afraid of the alien invaders from Mars, and me listing reasons why she shouldn't be afraid.
"First, gravity," I explain. "They're from a planet with a much lower gravity. You could whomp them all. Second, allergies."
"Allergies?" she says, intrigued.
"Right. Look at you. You evolved to be on this planet, and you're allergic to half the world." This is true, by the way. "If aliens invaded, what do you think would happen? They'd either go straight into anaphylactic shock, or they'd have to take so much Benadryl, they'd be useless. Think about how dopey you get on Benadryl! Think about aliens trying to invade on Benadryl!"
She began giggling wildly in the backseat. "They wouldn't be able to steer their tripods! They'd miss the planet!"
When nothing else works, I resort to magic. I tell her carrots are full of vitamin A, and vitamin A protects against Aliens. So if she eats a carrot every day she will be safe.
Well, it isn't any worse than telling her that if she prays to the magic sky God he'll protect her, is it?
And actually better, in fact, since she won't get any cultural reinforcement for this myth, so she'll be able to cast it off easily when she no longer needs it.
Then later she wants to know what, if I were King of the World, I would do.
I think this over. "I don't actually want to be king of the world," I point out to her. "It's antithetical to my Buddhist and non-interventionist philosophy."
She makes an exasperated noise. "But if you WERE King of the World, if you could do anything, what would you do?"
I think. Would I make people be sensible about teaching evolution in school? Would I make people stop forcing their belief systems on other people? Would I end Racism and Sexism Now? Ooo -- would I make people stop hitting their kids? Now that one is tempting -- See, but no. Making people do anything is just a bad plan. People either change themselves or they don't change. I don't want to be king of the world. I want people to be kings of themselves. I want people to learn to do what is best because it is best.
"Come on, come on," the kid is demanding in the back seat.
Suddenly I start to grin. "I know," I said. "If I were king of the world, I know what I'd do. I'd find George Bush, and I'd make him DANCE!"
mr. delagar, who had been ignoring us while he read his album notes (a new album arrived from England) began to laugh.
The picture cheered me up all afternoon. George Bush, dancing.
The kid, as I've mentioned, is having some trouble dealing with Katrina and her aftermath, as is Miles, the child of the Other Liberal Professor.
The kid has displaced her anxiety onto a really nice full-blown phobia connected to aliens (aliens as of The War of the Worlds aliens -- not from the movie, from the original radio broadcast, which mr. delagar let her listen to, the git) and sleeping in the dark, where the aliens might lurk. Miles is worried about "fast-running water," and what might happen if the fast-running water gets to Arkansas, and what if he is alone when it gets to him, what he would do then.
The Other Liberal Professor did some research (cause we are liberal professors, so that is what we do when confronted with a problem, research) and came up with a good site -- http://www.childtrauma.org/ -- and that led me, after way too much time spent wandering through the site for someone who is teaching five classes with five preps and trying to finish a novel and trying to deal with a neurotic child, to this article,
Ultimate solution to the problems of violence -- whether from the remorseless predator or the reactive, impulsive youth -- is primary prevention. Our society is creating violent children and youth at a rate far faster than we could ever treat, rehabilitate or even lock away (Groves et al., 1993; Garbarino, 1993; Sturrock et al., 1983; Richters, 1993). No single intervention strategy will solve these heterogeneous problems. No set of intervention strategies will solve these transgenerational problems. In order to solve the problems of violence, we need to transform our culture.
We need to change our childrearing practices, we need to change the malignant and destructive view that children are the property of their biological parents. Human beings evolved not as individuals, but as communities. Despite Western conceptualizations, the smallest functional biological unit of humankind is not the individual -- it is the clan. No individual, no single parent-child dyad, no nuclear family could survive alone. We survived and evolved as clans -- interdependent -- socially, emotionally and biologically. Children belong to the community, they are entrusted to parents. American society, and its communities, have have failed parents and children alike. We have not provided parents with the information and resources to optimize their children's potential and, when parents fail, we act too late and with impotence to protect and care for maltreated children (Kendall et al., 1995; Urquiza et al., 1994; Klee et al., 1987; McIntyre et al., 1986; Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1995).
The violence in our society, and especially the violence toward the Other -- who is a safe target -- it alarms me. It's growing worse, not better, under the current leadership, under the rule of a media and a culture where people are being schooled in the notion that to say hateful things is to be honest, and to avoid saying hateful things it is to be P.C. (The concept that it might be best not to hate at all -- that it might be best to attempt to love your enemy and do good to those who have done evil -- well, what sort of whacky talk is that?) A society that is so addicted to and so steeped in violence, which reaches for violence and hate as its first tool -- as ours does -- is in danger.
And the root of this violence lies in the way we rear our children.
Over here in Arkansas, we're hearing a bit of the same, or so I understand from Zelda, whose daughter got a visit from her local law enforcement officer. They're taking some refugees in their town. Better get some better locks on these doors, Zelda's daughter got told, some of those people are moving into town.
If one more fucking conservative yaps about "moral levees" failing in New Orleans, I'm going to hunt the fuck down and spit on him.
It ain't moral levees that failed in New Orleans.
It was actual levees.
And they failed cause your boy George cut the funding for them.
It wasn't moral deaths that occurred because of those levee failures. It was actual deaths, of actual citizens, of our country. Real people are dead because your boy George failed to do his fucking job.
Children are dead.
Babies are dead.
Old women and old men are lying dead in their houses and on the side of the road. Bodies are floating the water.
The news out of New Orleans and her suburbs is mixed -- some parts seem all right, some parts are ruined forever. We don't know about my parents or my brother's house yet. My oldest brother's house in Destrehan is probably okay. My brother who was actually in the city, the one who got airlifted out, his apartment is gone.
But so many people have lost so much. So much is lost. The stories that are coming out are so awful.
The kid is having nightmares every night -- that's when she can sleep -- and we didn't even let her watch the news. This is just from what she overheard us talking about, and the bits she got off NPR. (She has displaced it onto aliens. She is worried that aliens are going to invade from Mars. She makes us leave the lights on every night. But during the day she asks about what would happen if it flooded here, and whether any kids got caught in the flood, and what happens to orphans in New Orleans, and whether parents left their kids behind when they left New Orleans, and I know what's happening, all right.)
I haven't told her about the lost dogs and cats. She couldn't take the lost pets. On NPR this morning, the reporter told about packs of strays running up and down the neutral grounds in New Orleans, scanning the crews of the rescue boats, looking for their owners -- and the rescue crews speculating about how soon they would have to start shooting the strays. I don't turn on NPR anymore until after I have dropped the kid off at school, for obvious reasons.
Right after that, the rescue crew told three guys on a balcony they needed to leave. "There's no reason to stay," they pleaded with these guys. "We're going to bulldoze this whole area anyway. We're tearing down this whole part of the city anyway."
This is America. In America, these things are happening.
Finally talked to my brother at length. They were airlifted out off the roof of Tulane Hospital, taken to Covington, and then bussed to Lafayette, where my oldest brother and brother-in-law picked him up and took him to my sister-in-law's house, where half my family is now staying.
He says both Tulane Medical Library and the New Orleans Public Library, down the street from TML, did not get water into the levels where the books are -- that the books are safe. He says the Public Library has a few broken windows, that's all. (Being as we're both book people, this matters deeply to us.) But he added that since they got pulled out, he thinks looters might well sack both places. He seemed pretty certain about this. Since he was on the ground there and I wasn't, I'm inclined to take his word for it.
Apparently things were pretty horrific, on the ground. And they didn't have internet or phone service or television, so they knew less about what was going on that we did, much of the time. They could get some information via the radio. But he was standing on the parking garage when the big explosion happened, over there by the river, for instance. It shook the city, he said, and they saw it happen, and had no idea what was going on.
Not to mention gunfire and looters in the streets. Like something out of Alas, Babylon, he said.
He says they didn't run out of food or water, because early on the cafeteria manager, also on-site, organized all the food up to the eighth floor, but they were on short rations the whole time. Nearly two hundred of them were inthe building. He's glad to be out alive, he said. He sounded like it, I must say.
I went to a Graduate Student function with mr. delagar last night, though I didn't much want to. First off, I don't like parties. Never really have. Parties are large crowds of strangers talking about things that don't matter in large, noisy, bright rooms. Everything I hate.
Also, of course, I hardly felt like a party: though I had just gotten the good news about my brother being safe, still -- his apartment, my youngest brother's house, and probably my parents' house (we're not sure about that yet) have all likely been destroyed or at least badly damaged, and certainly none of them can go home in the foreseeable future. My oldest brother lives in Destrehan, about twenty miles out of the city, and they don't think that area flooded, so if the power gets restored there sometime soon, he can go home -- well, eventually.
But meanwhile, my entire family are refugees. Quite possibly most of them have lost nearly everything they own. My mother is in rampant denial. My brothers are staying with relatives throughout the South. My parents are wandering from hotel to hotel. (I keep saying come here, but they aren't, so far.) Not to mention, down in New Orleans, people are dying in the streets. I don't feel like a party. I go anyway, because mr. delagar wants to.
There's a fund drive for Katrina victims. That cheers me up.
But this -- guy -- come up to me, and says, "I hear you have family in New Orleans."
"I do," I say. I expect sympathy. I have been getting sympathy from people, all week.
"About time that toilet got flushed," he says, and proceeds to tell me about how New Orleans used to be a great city and how it sucks these days, how everything that was good about it has been gone for years, and how much better Fort Smith is than New Orleans, and how he's glad he left. Yap yap yap.
People are dying down there, and he gives me this.
My brother has been evacuated -- and his dog, so that's good. They're in Covington, LA.
mr. delagar took the call, as my brother could not get through to anyone else, and he has just called me, and I must say he is a very unsatisfactory source of information. He says my brother is being taken to the hospital in Lafayette, and I'm like WHAT? WHAT?
He's not sick, mr. delagar says. They're just taking them there.
Well, why, then? I demand.
I don't know, mr. delagar says. They just are.
You didn't ask?
(Like, why would I ask that?)
What's next? I say. Where do they go after that? How is he? Is Jinx okay?
I don't know, mr. delagar says. He just said to call your parents and let them know he was out. He can't get through, the circuits keep coming up busy.
At least he found out about Jinx.
Probably he didn't though, probably my brother told him about Jinx.
One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming in from the water. The disappearance of those wetlands does not have the name of a political party or a particular administration attached to it. No one wants to play, "The Democrats did it," or, "It's all Reagan's fault." Many environmentalists will tell you more than a century's interference with the natural flow of the Mississippi is the root cause of the problem, cutting off the movement of alluvial soil to the river's delta.
But in addition to long-range consequences of long-term policies like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river than God, there are real short-term consequences, as well. It is a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed those policies--ordering federal agencies to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands.
Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing the Bush administration's policies had allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands. Does this mean we should blame President Bush for the fact that New Orleans is underwater? No, but it means we can blame Bush when a Category 3 or Category 2 hurricane puts New Orleans under. At this point, it is a matter of making a bad situation worse, of failing to observe the First Rule of Holes (when you're in one, stop digging).
Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off for a while, it's quite likely no one would even remember what the Bush administration did two months ago. The national press corps has the attention span of a gnat, and trying to get anyone in Washington to remember longer than a year ago is like asking them what happened in Iznik, Turkey, in A.D. 325. Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant "major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now."
Just heard from our admin that we're going to be admitting refugee university students from New Orleans into our classes, here and up in Fayetteville. Fort Chaffee is setting up to take 7,000 refugees. On the one hand, this cheers me up -- someone is planning somewhere. On the other hand, it makes it apparent no one is, in fact, going back to New Orleans in the near future.
Also, our National Guard students just got called up. They're being shipped down to New Orleans tomorrow.
We're been doing a fund drive for Katrina victims all day, over in the student center.
The art museum is okay, mostly. A bit of a problem with the evacuation order now, that's all -- the authorities want museum security, who have been staying on site taking care of the art, to leave, and museum security doesn't want to because, d'oh, who's going to take care of the art if they go?
The New Orleans Museum of Art survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath without significant damage. But when Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives arrived in the area Wednesday, NOMA employees holed up inside the museum were left in a quandary: FEMA wanted those evacuees to move to a safer location, but there was no way to secure the artwork inside. Six security and maintenance employees remained on duty during the hurricane and were joined by 30 evacuees, including the families of some employees.
Harold Lyons, a security console operator who stayed on at the museum, said FEMA representatives were the first outsiders to show up at the museum in days.They immediately tried to persuade staffers to leave the building. That would have left no one to protect the museum’s contents, and no one inside the museum had the authority to give that order, Lyons said as he inspected the grounds.
Museum Director John Bullard was on vacation and assistant Director Jacquie Sullivan had taken a disabled brother to Gonzales.“We can’t just leave and turn out the lights on the say-so of someone we don’t know,’’ Lyons said.
The phones inside the museum had failed. Lyons asked a reporter to pass a message to Sullivan as soon as possible. Interviewed by telephone, Sullivan said she had been in close contact with emergency management officials all day Wednesday. State Police had promised to take her back to the museum at 7 a.m. Thursday, she said. City Park was littered with fallen trees, but evacuees’ cars, clustered around the museum’s walls, were mostly unscathed. The museum itself was spared any wind damage, and floodwater had not reached the building.
Inside, the museum’s generators whirred away, providing air conditioning to preserve the priceless artworks. Sullivan said museum workers had taken down some pieces in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden before the storm. But a towering modernist sculpture by Kenneth Snelson was reduced to a twisted mess in the lagoon.
This is the best news I've had since Sunday, I have to say.
All right. I've been trying not to politicize this, since it all sucks badly enough already.
But we've got bodies in the water. We've got people dead. We got billions of dollars of damage. My entire family is homeless. The city of my childhood, every place that means anything to me, is destroyed for all I know, and what does Bush say?
"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
WHAT? You FUCKWIT? WHAT?
Not to mention, what a liar.
Go see Echidne who will tell you exactly how much"