Ma'at was the Egyptian Goddess of Truth, Justice and Order. Her headdress ostrich feather served as the ultimate arbiter of the goodness of a man's life, and was balanced against a newly deceased person's heart on the scales of justice as a precondition of being permitted to pass into the Afterlife. Those whose hearts were heavy with wicked deeds had their souls devoured immediately by the demigod Ammin. Only those whose were lighter than Ma'at's feather were permitted to pass through into immortality with the Gods.
Is Tomorrow "The Day" (And Ya'll Know What I Mean)
Cannot fold, spindle, mutilate, destroy or secede from. Period.
Sometimes there are no words.
At least, there seem to be no pithy ones available as a quick retort to the outright ignant ignorance being displayed with the pitiful request of hundreds of thousands of United States residents that have either (a) been threatening to expatriate after the re-election of President Obama last week (b) signed (part of) their name to one of the more than 50 petitions posted at We the People asking for permission for their state of residence to peaceably secede from the United States.
(I pause before calling any of these people "citizens", in keeping with the philosophy of the late great Robert Heinlein who, in Starship Troopers noted that "citizenship an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part... and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live.")
The first thing that came to mind when I realized this was not just one night's sore loser whinging, but something else, was my mother's favorite: "Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you". It's a handy phrase; I myself have used it at the end of several intimate relationships and friendships over the years. Yet it's a bit too long for what would be hundreds of thousands of potential conversations. You sort of have to work your way up to it by engaging in a battle royale of some type before spitting it out. Besides, a lot of people don't believe in the Good Lord anyway and I wanted a quick retort of universal application. So, I reached out into the etherware (with the help of one of my kids) and discovered that there was a short, snappy way to say at least part of what I wanted to say: kthxbai.
There is more than one definition of kthxbai at the Urban Dictionary, but this one is my personal favorite:
Okay, thanks, goodbye for people you really don't like. Used as a derogatory term for idiots.
Unfortunately, kthxbai is just a little too pithy. It doesn't fully convey that I am not just politely dismissing the petitioners and the threateners and moving on because I think they are idiots. No, I am pretty darned close to requesting that they all either drop dead or at a minimum STFU and let the rest of us be Americans in peace and tranquility. (Yes, I know, asking fellow Americans to drop dead or STFU may itself be rather un-American.) So I kept digging for another word, one that conveyed the full reach of my anger at, and disgust over, those Americans who so believe that the re-election of our president was the functional equivalent of being cast into all nine circles of hell in Dante's Inferno that they are saying they refuse to be part of the country he's going to be in charge of (again.)
Thanks to my millennial children who let me know that part of my problem was that I was looking for correctly spelled words, I found another term that had real potential: BuhBye.
BuhBye means, according to the Urban Dictionary, "Get the fuck out of my face."
This was much better; the impatient anger I was increasingly feeling as the numbers of "I'm leaving!" cries and secession "petitions" kept going up publicly is definitely well summed up by this phrase. However, I was raised right, and know that it's not really fair to angrily tell someone to piss off without at least explaining to them why. Thus, as tempting as it was to just choose "Buhbye", I realized that too wasn't enough.
Ultimately, I decided to combine the concepts of "Kthxbai" and "BuhBye" to create a sum greater than its parts:
It was painful to watch President Obama debate Mitt Romney for the first time on Oct. 3. Literally, physically, painful. The president, despite clearly having the advantage over his opponent of rhetoric, intellect, and mastery of the facts (plus some increasingly good looks), appeared to simply be phoning it in. The whole night. The most painful part was that, despite the escalating outrageousness of lies, lies, lies that Mitt Romney brought to their meeting, Obama never pushed back. Never really tried to score a rhetorical body blow in response to the attack dog Romney was playing on TV. Not once.
This left many of his most fervent supporters discouraged, disillusioned, and very frightened (no matter how much bravado some tried to show after the fact; indeed, a student of psychology could argue that the more bravado expressed, the more fear they were actually feeling.)
It didn't help calm any nerves when the polls confirmed that Romney had run away with the debate in the minds of the court of public opinion (aka the potentially voting public) rather than being jettisoned for being a lyin' liar of epic proportions willing to say anything to become President that everyone knows he is and that Romney confirmed he is that very same night (to anyone who was listening to substance and comparing it to truth, anyhow). It went from bad to worst when Romney, who had been looking almost hopelessly out of the running before the Oct. 3 debate, by Oct. 15 had closed President Obama's commanding lead in the polls.
It's now the home stretch of the silly season, otherwise known as election time. And, as we all know, having been trained from pretty much knee-high, that We Must Vote. Because Every Vote Matters.
We all say this, those of us who are engaged in the political process, every election season. We even mean it. Especially those of us who follow national politics. After all, we saw a presidential election turn on the counting (or failure to count) of votes, leaving the country in the hands of a nightmare president named George W. Bush thanks to only 537 votes cast in the state of Florida on Election Day 2000.
Yet to those who don't have their finger on the political process all the time like we do, the voting results in Florida 2000 (except for the devastating 8 years that followed) are a bit attenuated to our own lives. The Florida debacle was about distant votes in a distant state where it was only the vagaries of the Electoral College math that made them meaningful (otherwise, an entirely different man named Al Gore would have become president due to his 1/2 million vote lead in the popular vote.) Let's be blunt: to most folks, electoral college math is not what they focus on when they think about elections. Their concerns are a lot closer to home. This can make it hard to motivate folks who live in states which are really "not at issue" in the Presidential race in the minds of electoral pundits and analysts. States where everyone knows the outcome in advance. States where it is easy to convince yourself that your one vote isn't going to matter.
But those single votes DO matter. Everywhere. Not just for Presidential contests. But for everything else that affects our day to day lives.
On Thursday morning, California time, my youngest daughter and I are boarding a plane. We are leaving what are supposed to be the highly sunny, highly warm shores of California (warm for one of the few times ever this year - I know that global warming folks always focus on extreme weather events and overall heating trends but they have ignored that it has been blooding FREEZING in California this year and I am convinced it is related!). We are coming to Washington, D.C. A place where I have lots of relatives and friends, even as I won't have time to see them since we'll be there for just over 45 hours.
We - my baby that is ½ foot taller than I and likes to lay her elbow on my head as a way of trying to equalize our status -- are coming to march.
On the appointed day, 10.2.10 (which I hope is not rainy or too cold, but I'll be there either way), my baby and I will be marching along with I'm not sure how many others. Who knows? To hear the media tell it, there isn't anything special going on in Washington on 10.2.10.
Call me angry, call me sad, call me depressed. Call me all those things, upon waking up Sunday and hearing what I already knew when I went to bed on Saturday: that the Health Care Reform bill cleared the House on the narrowest of votes - but only because abortion access was sharply limited as part of the bill. For that, call me not at all surprised about Stupak-Pitts not only being introduced, but passing by a higher margin than the ultimate health care reform bill itself.
Why wasn't I surprised?
I wasn't surprised because Stupak-Pitts is merely an extension of that age-old American value, "fuck the poor." An extension to those very folks who threw poor women, largely of color, under the bus 32 years ago (with benign neglect each year the appropriations bill comes up ever since) by not fighting tooth and nail to defeat the Hyde Amendment.
ACORN Workers Fight to Save Abused Prostitute and 13 Sex Slaves from the El Salvadorean Mafia
Volunteers at 5 offices of the nation's largest advocacy organization for the poor, ACORN, were filmed today in their efforts to help an abused young woman and her boyfriend buy a safe house to free her from the pimp who had abused her and imported thirteen El Salvadorian children to the U.S. as sex slaves.
I was going to write today about the latest brilliant idea that Wall Street has come up with to bottom-feed profits now that predatory mortgage lending has dried up, and talk about how this relates to the stonewalling that health care reform is facing. I was also going to reflect on the ideas of reasonable money, fair and balanced capital markets, and the possibility of "humane profit". I was going to ponder whether such things ideas are necessarily oxymorons, as some would perhaps argue, or whether in an ideal world, guided by a wise hand at the helm (hint, hint), America could enter into its Next Phase with a new American Dream, having clearly failed at the last Dream if the overall condition of the Average American (and neither your nor I fit that bill, let's be clear about that -- as Black Americans privileged by education, profession and the resultant access to at least some power, although far more in your case than mine.)
Alas, that diary is going to have to await another day.
I find it almost amusing, the restrained yet increasingly celebratory nature of the news -- media and blog -- that "the bottom is being reached" and that the economy is slowly "on the mend." I find it amusing because it seems that, despite America hovering at the edge of the Second Great Depression (or being deep within it; economists and pundits continue to argue about this point), America and Americans are still judging whether all is right in our version of Denmark primarily by the trappings of those who Have. Whether the Haves can again put their spare change in stocks and make a profit. Whether they can buy a new house. Whether new houses are being built for them. Whether nearly a quarter million people can invest in a car loan of around $10,000-$15,000 (on average, if not a cash transaction) for the promise of a $3,500-$4,500 "clunker" trade-in to buy a brand new car.
It is only "almost" amusing because I was taught to measure whether things were right in the world not by the behavior and lifestyle choices of those who Have, but instead by the quality of life being experienced by the vast majority of Americans, those who Don't Have, even when they do an honest day's work for a living.
I am working too hard. I have no time to write diaries. Yet between yesterday afternoon, when I'd finally read one hateful racist fingerpoint from a white gay person too many here and elsewhere on the internet, I'd had enough. I therefore blew off work that needed to get done and still needs to get done to try and put to rest, once and for all, this virulently racist idea that Black people are to blame for the passage of Proposition 8 here in California. It is an idea grounded in utter myth, a complete lack of knowledge about anything related to Black people's presence in California, and just plain old scapegoating.
Hoepfully, this diary will help put all that to rest, and we can get back to work trying to beat back the hateful results of Tuesday's vote.
If I go by the whinging coming from the Republican side of the political aisle, if the electorate does what it is now predicted by every major poll to do today (elect Senator Barack Obama, a Black man, as President of the United States aka "Leader of the Free World"), it will be the end of America as we know it. Probably the end of the world as we know it.
This morning when I turned my computer on there was an article about a thirteen year old Somalian girl (Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow) being stoned to death while a thousand witnesses watched in an auditorium. Her crime was saying that she had been raped. She was charged with adultery (apparently she somehow managed to commit it alone, since she was stoned alone).
I read the Quran, I read the Bible, I read about Ma'at, I'm obsessed with a kind of balanced justice and I talk very strongly sometimes.
The article made me angry, on so many different levels, for how that situation came to be, for the Aisha herself,and for even the people who watched, here and there.
It also made me feel a chill of fear. Usually I am so strongly protesting this or that, I don't want a world where my thirteen year old daughter is dragged out alone to face stones.
So alone, so powerless, no one to stand up for her, to say that she was sincere, confused, too young, but honest and brave. I wished I could have been there for her, I would have stood in front of the whole auditorium of people and even if I was stoned too, every person would have heard about real justice, about balance and how it wasn't in attacking a little girl alone. (I'm a fool, one of these days I'm going to get killed because I'm the type of person that stands alone in front of a group of Hell's Angels and yammers out "oh, no you don't, that isn't right.)
I feel like I need a sense of direction, a sense of where I want to go and why, because I'm so often angry about injustice for one reason or another, but I don't want to exchange one kind of injustice for another.
One of my aunts got into tracing our family tree through genetics and records and found that we're not nearly as diluted as I might have thought, apparently from my mother's side, we're from somewhere in the midnorthernparts of Africa. It makes sense,a lot of the older philosophy really connects with how I think.
My mother spent some time in Africa and I thought it would be a good experience and go there for awhile (we have some second cousins living there now)instead of just reading things. I haven't done it yet.
I feel a huge sense of repressed anger about everything that I hear about in this country, I want to lash out but I bite my tongue, then I read something like that, and I feel violent too.
Reading about these things (like Aisha) and I feel a sense of fear of being caught between a rock and a hard place, with injustice on every side, coming from every color; like an attack dog on a short leash and every child is ready to hit me with a stick, and I don't really know who my enemy is, or if its truly anyone but only injustice itself; but I feel the desire to bite so badly I can barely contain it. Where is the justice, where is the balance in this world? Who is abiding by Ma'at? (in a manner of speaking)
According to one book I have, it says the Pharoahs (who were god-kings) said that if even they were not "beloved of Ma'at" that first they would lose themselves, then they would lose Egypt, and THEN even the whole world would move towards destruction of order; when I see the lack of justice, order, and balance, the pain it brings in the human world, and the catastrophe it brings in the natural world, I would have to say it sounds like the Priesthood of ancient Egypt was exactly right. What direction will lead me to that balance, justice, and order?
I haven't posted a diary in a very, very long time, but wanted to contribute my voice to the many bloggers who are screaming, loud and clear, "NO" on Proposition 8.
Some folks might feel that I have no real dog in this hunt. After all, I am married, heterosexually so, for much of the last 28 years. I'm also emotionally (but not physically) polyamorous, but that is a different diary for a different time.
Yet my sexual orientation is not heterosexual. I am bisexual. I was, during a year-long period in my teens when you couldn't be bi, a lesbian. Back then, you had to either be straight or gay, because otherwise you were just either a ho or too chicken to come out, depending on whether you were talking to someone gay or straight. And, since I was what I thought was irretrievably in love with the woman of my dreams, I concluded that I must be a lesbian -- the boy down the street a mere distraction from my "true nature." That was the product of the sexual rhetoric at the time, and it was only through a lot of hard lessons and tears and just not being able to "pick a side" that I realized that I am genuinely sexually and emotionally capable of loving men and women equally.
I passed over not a word -- not even the Ibids in the extensive footnotes and bibliography section. Even that ostensibly dry and academic denouement had its horrors, however. I encountered citation upon citation of Congressional and federal records marking the infuriating inaction of the risibly defined protectors and defenders of the Constitution that exposed the Emancipation Proclamation (and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution regarding slavery and the role of African Americans in the United States) as the cruel joke it turned out to be for nearly a century after the ostensible "freeing of the slaves."
Nothing related to race, African Americans, American history, political "facts" or sociological issues in America will ever be the same again for me.
Perhaps I should rejoice in the fact that I am capable of being educated and instructed, of absorbing wholly new information at my advanced age of 40...
But I feel a weight upon me just now, so heavy it seems it will never be lifted; and perhaps that's as it should be. Self-congratulation for finally having attempted to learn something I ought to have sought out long ago wouldn't simply be unseemly; it would only be mildly less grotesque than that same attitude expressed by innumerable whites who still see nothing solecistic in claiming "We" fought the Civil War to end slavery, freed Europe from Hitler, defeated communism, marched for civil rights and so on.
I used to assure myself, privately, that despite the obvious shared ancestral shame of so many white Americans, my ancestors had nothing to do with that ugliness. After all, they were Irish and Scots -- northerners all, poor or working class until my mother's generation. Aside from the admittedly insidious and long-lived spectre of inveterate racism in their attitudes (which persists to this day, albeit in a milder and assuredly less overt form, in some of my mother's brothers and cousins), what evil deeds could they -- shunned and discriminated against themselves -- have perpetrated, after all? Surely my relatives and I share only the merest, microscopic percentage of the collective taint befouling all whites in America born second generation or earlier?
The NYPD officers who riddled Sean Bell with 50 bullets on the eve of his wedding have been acquitted of all charges following a bench trial. A bench trial in which the judge said, pretty much point blank in comments that were uncalled for and evince a certain mindset in a so-called objective judicial officer, that the prosecution witnesses were simply "not believable."
The most surprising part is how utterly unsurprising the verdict was. And how utterly unsurprising the majority of reactions at NYTimes.com reader's comment page have been, so far - aka Sean Bell got what was coming to him. They mirror the mindset of the judge, truthfully.
Since we all know that Black folks don't get murdered by the police, no matter what color hte police are. Never. No matter what.
I know differently, having now lived a long time. Black men's lives in America continue to be worth not the spit that the cops drop when they blow them away. I wish that we'd just own up to it, frankly - because I grow weary of pretending that there will ever be an unjustified killing of a black person by police in the US where someone actually goes to jail.
And yet folks still appear clueless about why so many of us are so damned angry, all the time.