Tag Archives: Politics

We are all Mika

Make no mistake, Trump’s vile tweets about Mika were not simply an attack on her but an attack on all women.  Once again, his method of defense (or “punching back”) carried the residue of an ill-conceived tired notion that woman’s character is tethered to her appearance.

I don’t know how any male members of the GOP who supported Trump can look to their wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters without a sense of embarrassment.

Mika pointed out the fact that Trump had created a Time Magazine cover with his image and displayed this at his resorts.  In other words, he embodied the very “fake news” he so willfully condemns. She’s also been highly critical of his policies and the manner in which he conducted himself on his trips with other heads of state.  This is her work as a professional.  Thinking, researching, reporting constitute the foundation of her participation in the world of politics; yet, Trump’s idea of a response focused (and falsely) on her face.

Trump’s attacks were in no way indicative of a man interested in policy or political discourse.  Instead, they were a reminder of the way in which he views women, as something to be mocked, a body to be observed, a thing a man can do whatever he wants with.

We were all Mika in Trump’s tweet.

We are all Mika in her reply:



Pence Meets Atwood

Mike Pence: How wonderful to meet you at this extremely public place. My wife is approximately two feet to my left.

Margaret Atwood: (politely smiles)

Mike Pence: I’m a fan of your work. Or as the president would say “tremendous” fan.  Bigly. (chuckles)

Margaret Atwood: Why thank you.

Mike Pence: The Handmaid’s Tale is just brilliant.  I’ve a copy of it in my office.

Margaret Atwood: (blinks)

Mike Pence: I’ve read several times.

Margaret Atwood: Um, you know that’s a dystopia, yes?

Mike Pence: (coughs) Oops.


Socrates Meets Trump

Socrates: By Hera!  You want to create a ban.

Trump: Bigly.  Against Muslims.

Socrates: Muslims?  You must be an expert to do such a bold move.

Trump: Indeed, I am, Socrates.

Socrates: Tell me so that I can learn from your wisdom, for surely you must know much of Islam.

Trump: Well…

Socrates: I’m listening.  You must have read about Islam, the philosophy, the experts, the practices. Only someone advanced in knowledge would propose a ban.

Trump: Well…

Socrates: You know people who practice Islam, yes?

Trump: Have you seen Homeland?  Tremendous show.

Socrates: I have not.

Trump: It’s important to keep the country safe from terrorists.

Socrates: And could you define “terrorist”?

Trump: Look, I promised in my campaign to restore law and order.

Socrates: Of course, good fellow and patriot.  Now, surely you could define law, for only someone well advanced in judicial matters who understands law would make that sort of promise.

Trump: Law is…have you met Bannon?  Law is what we…I put forth for the good of the nation.

Socrates: But law is certainly broader than that.  You say and write (and tweet) many things that do not fall under the category of law.  Law can’t be simply what you say.  It is much more. Please, good sir, don’t hold back.  What is law?

Trump: Did you hear about how Nordstrom treated my daughter?

Socrates: And what is Nordstrom?

Trump: It is a business.

Socrates: And what is business?  You must be an expert.

Trump: Yuge expert. I am a businessman.

Socrates: But I did not ask for an example, my friend.  I asked what is a business?

Trump: It is a place where goods are bought and sold.

Socrates: I see.  Thank you for that excellent response.  And how did this business treat your daughter?

Trump: They will no longer sell her goods!  Sad!

Socrates: Sad, indeed.  And, tell me, are her goods being bought?

Trump: She is my daughter!

Socrates: And is that part of the definition of business?

Trump: I am the president and I need to keep the country safe from terrorists!

Socrates: Is Nordstrom in the business of terrorism?

Trump: I’ll be investigating.

Socrates: Your concern for safety is admirable.

Trump: Why, thank you, Socrates.

Socrates: What defines a safe country?

Trump: Freedom!

Socrates: Would that include religion? Or a business to conduct itself on its choice of goods?

Trump: Really, Socrates, I would love to explain it all to you but for another time.  I have to post some tweets and get back to watching Fox.

Yes, I will March…

Yes, I will march for:

  1. To stand for equality.
  2. The belief in the goodness of democracy built on freedom of speech.
  3. Any person feeling disenfranchised.
  4. A promise of education as a cornerstone for excellence and societal progress.
  5. Ensuring Americans access to voting.
  6. The voice of three million voters not factored into the outcome of the election.

Yes, I will march in protest of:

  1. Glorifying a bully.
  2. Discussions of race narrowly construed in terms of criminality.
  3. Framing an entire religion as an enemy.
  4. Dismissing the seriousness of sexual assault.
  5. Reducing the worth of a woman to a scale of attractiveness.
  6. Ignoring science and its important contribution to evaluating environmental policy.
  7. Encouraging shouts of jailing a political opponent.
  8. Building walls.
  9. Calling the profession of journalism fake.
  10. Not disclosing tax returns so that the public can be informed of conflicts of interest.
  11. Painting America as a dystopia.


Taking Class Time to Discuss the News

Today’s class discussion, as scheduled on the syllabus, was shelved.  We talked about the election results.  A friend of mine said (somewhat incredulously) “You talk politics?”

“Yes,” I answered.

Allow me to explain.  I do not lecture my particular view points, rather I offer a space for the students to voice their concerns.  In all sincerity my heart broke a little for the students who felt as though a vote for Trump was a vote against their very existence.  And, my students who favored Trump did not want to be thought of as hateful.  They, on the other hand, cast their vote in the spirit of wanting economic change, something they believe will be better for the country as a whole.

I let the students know that my participation in the conversation was as a fellow citizen and not as their professor.  I wanted my students to feel safe to dialogue and learn about each others’ views without risk or fear.

The problem we have, I believe, with considering discourse about politics as “rude” means we only chat about it with people who share our views.  This makes any other understanding terribly distant and foreign.  It is the exact opposite of how a democracy that prides itself on freedom and information ought to function.  Unfortunately, throughout the campaign we saw offensive and hateful rhetoric which ultimately diminished opportunity for authentic discourse.  No one wants to exchange ideas in such a climate.

For my students who are minorities and expressed a deep sense of fear and pain I offered them the following: choose to believe in the basic goodness of people.  For my students who supported Trump I said: work to make this a successful and inclusive presidential term.

The essence of philosophy hinges on examining arguments and this cannot be done without exploring premises, the strong and the weak.  So, yes, I shelved our lecture on Descartes to give the students a free space to voice their thoughts about political issues/arguments.  But, most importantly I hope, I wanted to the students to also have a free space to listen.

Honestly, I want nothing more than for my students to be engaged and feel at peace with being part of the democratic process.  Can this happen in a classroom?  Is it right to do this?  For anyone worried that I imposed a liberal agenda on my students, please do not fret. I treated this time as an invitation to talk, not as a soap box moment for myself.  Besides, shouldn’t education be, in part, learning to formulate our thoughts?   That’s more fun than power point, yes?




On Harassment

Harassment has everything to do with the character of the perpetrator, not the person on the receiving end.  It is an action reeking of contempt and misplaced assumption about power.

How did Trump reply when asked if his daughter were to be in such a situation? “I would like to think she’d find another career or find another company if that was the case.”

To clarify, his son, Eric Trump added, “I think what he is saying is that Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman; she wouldn’t allow herself to be.”

Allow herself to be?

This struck a nerve with me, a nerve I’d buried and forgotten.  Until now.

On two occasions in my career I’ve been caught off guard by inappropriate and sexually suggestive behavior while at work.  Both times I was alone in my office.  Both times the person was of a higher rank and older.  Both times I was paralyzed with a running loop of ICan’tBelieveThisIsHappening racing in my mind.  Both times I was embarrassed.  Both times I walked away in a daze wondering how I’d pull off getting back to work.

I did not allow this behavior.  I’m about as flirtatious as a brick and my attire is a degree less conservative than a Mormon fundamentalist.  But even if I had the appeal of a Samantha Jones or Sofia Vergara, harassment could not possibly be justified or described as relevant to the person being harassed because it does not stem from them.  The action belongs to the perpetrator.

Harassment is uninvited.  In fact, that’s pretty much the central nature to harassment.

On a rational level I know that I did nothing wrong; nevertheless I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I left my office both times feeling shame and contemplating what I had done to make the men believe that was okay.  Now, after reading about Trump Inc’s position on the subject I see why.  I’m wrapped up in a culture where the woman’s actions and credibility are called into question as a matter of course.

Deep down, I absorbed the lie of victim-blaming.  And this is the unfortunate truth despite the fact that I know better, that I’m a Ph.D., a vocal feminist, and a proud Beauvoirian.

If you’re perplexed as to why I didn’t say anything, the only response I can offer: I was in a state of complete shock.

I imagine other women, all the unreported cases, have a similar narrative: alone, no witnesses, not another career to run to, a perpetrator with a higher standing.

Note: another career wouldn’t make sense for me because

1) I love my job

2) See number 1.

So, on behalf of any person who has been bullied, harassed, or belittled for gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and/or race, I’d like to say:

Fuck you, Trump and son, for suggesting we are not strong, powerful, or should look for another career.




What is the Logic Behind The Other’s Political Position?

* Warning, you might not enjoy this post, especially if you harbor strong feelings about politics and believe that you are the sole arbiter of truth.  In fact, just skip to another blog right now while you have a chance.  Go ahead and clickity click…

You stayed?  Okay, good, because I didn’t really want you to move on.  Well then, let’s get to it.

I simply want to propose a challenge: write out an argument on a subject you feel passionate about (such as taxes, government shut down, immigration, the affordable health care act, etc…), but instead of constructing your position, focus on the opposing position.   Try to formulate the opposing side’s argument.  What are the premises?  The evidence?  The projected goals?  The concerns?

How much of your view is attributed to your place of birth and your parents?  What if you had been born with parents of a different economic status?  What if you had been born with a different language, religion, gender, level of health?

“If you don’t understand the other side’s argument, then you don’t understand your own.”  I can’t recall the genius behind this quote.  I can, however, recall when I first encountered it.  My senior year of high school one of my teachers wrote this on the board before we were to embark on researching for a debate about affirmative action.  Not understanding the quote, I drew up an argument I thought was solid and absolutely right.  Did I know the oppostion’s point of view?  Nope.  They were morons, or so my young eager mind believed.

That was essentially the extent of my research.  When I presented my bold flawless argument, the other side shot me down, and with good reason.  One student even dared to say, “I think you need to research the issue more. You do not understand what this is about and you are angry.”  Cue the deflated ego.

She was correct.  I only flaunted an idea I skimmed from hand me down rhetoric.  In fact, I was guilty of what is called the strawman fallacy.  As embarrassing as that was, I’m extremely grateful to have learned that lesson at seventeen.

I’m prompted to blog this topic because of some disturbing Facebook status updates I’ve read.  Yes, yes, yes, I shouldn’t be on Facebook.  Why do I care?  I care because people aren’t talking or thinking or listening and it’s driving me bonkers.  A little respect is all I ask.  Some of the status updates are angry, outrageous, annoying, and fraught with the philosopher’s pet peeve, the strawman fallacy.  This means recreating or misrepresenting the opposition’s argument, and then attacking that fabrication.  For example, here is a post:

Dear America and the GOP,
Just GIVE IT UP. Obamacare and it’s government jobs program and over-inflated pricing for the massees is HERE TO STAY (strike the band!) and make sure that in 5 or so years that you’ve got it all set up for a Single Payer system without any recourse for debate or discussion for what is actually GOOD for America and not just your legacy and continued elected status of the current incumbents. After all, we are NOT a democratic republic. I’m sick caring and sick of hearing about this. The Democrats and Progressives are CORRECT and any conservative (fiscal or otherwise is WRONG) – we need to give EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to people who want, and the solution is SIMPLE and EASY – by taxing anyone who makes money through hard work and through success. Those people don’t deserve to keep what they’ve made, they are SELFISH and BAD (Yes, I’m talking about myself here guys – y’all finally won the battle. I’m F*cking DONE with caring. I’m now sending an EXTRA $1000 a month in taxes off my paycheck just to ensure that you all get ALL THE FREEBIES that I can possibly give you.) 

I realize people are concerned about their money, their livelihood, and their rights.  But, can we please not repeat what the pundits who are making mucho bucks are saying?  If you flip through the media outlets like MSNBC and FOX you’ll notice that both claim the other side is out to destroy America, wants to ruin your lives, hates the middle class, and wants to take away your rights.   Are you really going to let this dictate how you come to your conclusions?

I am not advocating that one doesn’t take a position at all.  I myself hold views and vote, so of course I think one particular course is stronger than another.  However, one must understand the premises of the other’s argument in order to understand one’s own argument.  If, for instance, you found yourself in a pickle and about to go to court, and your lawyer turns to you and says, “I’ve got us covered.  But I don’t know what in the world the other lawyer will say.”  Run and find a new lawyer!  Every good lawyer could argue both sides of a case because they are familiar with all pieces of evidence.

Now, with your politics, could argue the other side?  What are you fighting for?  What are you fighting against?  Just please, think it through.  When you do this thought experiment it will diffuse the anger in your speech, and that really is my goal by putting forth this post.

To begin, not all Democrats want to take away your money, give it away to people who could care less about work, hate religion, and abide by Marxism.  (Which, might I add, please look up the definition of Socialism, Marxism, and Communism before using them to describe all Dems.)

I know Democrats dedicated to their religion, love working, and are pretty much a refutation of all the aforementioned nonsense.

Next, not all Republicans are selfish greedy bastards who love guns, are racist, and homophobic.  Did I cover it all?  I know Republicans who are charitable, care deeply about their family, their children’s education, their neighbors and, again, a refutation of all the aforementioned nonsense.

If you choose to only see the caricature of the political party then you are avoiding an honest discussion about how to allocate taxes , ensure justice, safety, and promote economic growth.

Find someone who enjoys dialogue and holds a different point of view.  Listen.  Learn.  What are their concerns?  Why do they come to their conclusions?

Thank you for sticking around to read.  As a reward, here is a picture of my cat, an actual destroyer of things, peace, and sleep.

photo-29 copy

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