CANNONFIRE




















Tuesday, April 20, 2021

In the fight against racism, do we want purity or progress? Justice or revenge?

Cannon here. I have not said anything about the George Floyd trial because I've not said anything about anything for quite a while. But right now, I will say this: The accusation that Biden "inflamed tensions" with his statement about the verdict strikes me as silly. 

On the other hand, Maxine Waters was ill-advised to say what she said. I can understand why she said it. I can sympathize. But if she had given any thought to the atrocious events of January 6, she would have re-phrased.

Look, we've been trying to make the case that Trump incited violence on January 6 even though he did not specifically ask for violence. Making that case against Trump gets even harder when Maxine Waters -- whom I usually admire -- does more or less the same thing. Both sent "GO" signals under the cover of plausible deniability.

Trump did not actually say "I want you to kill Nancy Pelosi." But that's what he meant and everyone knows it.

Waters did not actually say "I want you to riot if we don't get the verdict we want." But that's what she meant and everyone knows it.

Here's D-Jay:

*  *  *

The Deprogramming Dilemma – 17

In the fight against racism, do we want purity or progress?  Justice or revenge?

By D-Jay

Is racism alive and well in America? 

After four years of Trump, do you really need to ask?

Maybe not, but before we decide that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the answer to everything and that racism is the critical component of every aspect of American life, there are several other questions that desperately need to be examined.

Let’s take the last one first.

The answer is as simple as it is horrifying. As I outlined in my last Cannonfire post, 2030 or bust, a consensus is emerging among many of the world’s top climate scientists that if we haven’t made a very serious global effort to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2030, it’s pretty much game over. Critical tipping points will be passed and there will no longer be anything we can do that will save us from the worst effects of climate disruption.

If power in the U.S. returns to the Trumpists and QAnon types again, or even if Mitch McConnell is once again in a position to halt all effective Congressional action, we are literally doomed.

EVERYTHING we do from now needs to be viewed through that lens.

No matter how justified the fury of the African American and other minority communities might be, if the way it is expressed helps put white nationalist climate change deniers into power, the result will be death.

And in the short term, all the current efforts to actually improve the situation of minorities in the U.S. will also be derailed.

So…

 
racism.
 
What exactly is it?

Marriam Webster defines it as:
 
1. A belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 

2. A political or social system founded on racism and designed to execute its principles.

 
It might be a bit of an oversimplification, but I think it’s fair to say that most adherents of CRT take the position that only Webster’s second definition is valid – that “racism” is only something done by the majority group to minorities and that in the case of America, it permeates and underlies every facet of our society. Something that only applies to how whites treat and feel about blacks and other minorities, never the reverse.

Like many people of every race, however, I’d define it more simply.  For us, the word “racism” means a gut level mistrust and fear of people who don’t share your race or ethnicity. 

Jingoistic tribalism based on your culture or the color of your skin.

Having lived for 30 years in non-white majority parts of the world and having spent time in some 80 countries in my 70 years on the planet, I feel pretty comfortable suggesting that at various points in their lives, to one extent or another, this is something felt by almost everyone, everywhere.

The question, then, is what kind of society do we want?  Do we really want an end to racism?  Do we want a country – and a world – in which “people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” to quote Martin Luther King? 

I do.

The white nationalist crowd clearly doesn’t.

They are just fine with race being the primary factor in just about everything.

And, more-and-more, it seems that people on the “progressive” side of the aisle are mirroring their position.

The question I have is this – can racism be eliminated by putting race at the center of every action, thought and policy?

How well did that work in the 2020 election?  Without calls to “defund the police,” would the Democrats have done much better in Congress?  James Clyburn certainly thinks so and so does Barak Obama.  

Would the Democrats have picked up even one or two more seats in the Senate if Black Lives Matter organizers and supporters had taken a much stronger stand against the rioting and looting that sometimes followed their demonstrations?  If so, Joe Manchin wouldn’t have the deciding vote on filibuster reform and we would have a much better shot at passing meaningful voting rights and police reform legislation.

Has the time come for people who like to call themselves progressives to ask themselves if they are more interested in genuine progress or ideological purity?

And as police officers are brought to trial for the deaths of black Americans, are they really looking for justice…or revenge?

As this article is being written, jury deliberations in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the death of George Floyd are under way. 

Can a good result be expected, regardless of the final verdict?

If he’s convicted on all counts, most BLM supporters will feel satisfied, but Fox News and friends will spin it ad nauseum as a perfect example of left-wing hatred of all police and everything good and holy about America.

If he’s found innocent or convicted only of manslaughter, large-scale demonstrations can be expected, at least a few of which will eventually dissolve into rioting and looting. Fox News and friends will spin it ad nauseum as a perfect example of left-wing hatred of all police and everything good and holy about America.

Either way, racial animus will only increase and the Trumpist / QAnon / white nationalist movement will strengthen.

Heads they win, tails we lose.

If the goal is real progress towards a color-blind society with equal opportunities and justice for all, sometimes we need to examine our own biases and deprogram ourselves.

 

*****************************************************************************************

Contributing factors to our democratic decline:

From the Right

Truth Decay – Destruction of the Ability to Distinguish Fantasy from Reality

Ever Worsening Demonization of the Media

Manufactured Distrust of Science and Expertise

The Iron Bubble of Disinformation

The Dark Money Conspiracy

Information Warfare Aimed at Us

Domestic Terrorism

Emergence of a Full-blown Cult of Personality

Ongoing Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering

Election Security

Continued Weaponization of Social Media

Toxic Right-wing Pseudo-Christianity

Racism

Sexism and a Pseudo-Macho Mentality

Putinism and the International Neo-Fascist Movement

Lack of Education in Civics and Critical Thinking Skills

Destruction of Crucial Democratic Norms

The Collapse of Good Manners and Propriety

Radicalization

Sedition

From the Left (and Sometimes the Center)

OTT PC (Over-The-Top Political Correctness)

Inept Messaging

Lack of Media Investment

Arrogance

Surrender of Rural America Without a Fight

Failure to Call Out and Counteract Toxic Right-Wing Christianity

Failure to Call Out Right-Wing Racism, Sexism and Fascism for what it is, and Counteract it in Time

Framing Too Many Issues as Being Rooted in Race Rather than Economics and Class

Failure to Recognize Just How Bad Things Can Really Get

Forever Bringing Beanbags to a Knife Fight

Failure to Protect Critical Norms

 

 

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Comments:
Gulp! A strongly reasoned reaction to Merrick Garland's announcement about investigating the Minneapolis Police Department on Althouse. After all is said and done, Hennepin County which includes the Twin Cities is 63% DFL, so who is punching who? The political power starts and ends therein. Nothing but Democrats as mayor in Minneapolis since 1968.
 
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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

2030 or Bust

(A note from Cannon: Still here! Yet still not here. In this household, we're dealing with illness and depression and other fun stuff. As we used to say in the '60s and '70s: Just thought I'd take some time off to get my head together, yknow, man? I've also been writing a book about, of all topics, Phantom Social Workers. In the meantime...)

2030 or Bust

Hi Everybody – D-Jay here. Before getting started, I’d like to take a moment to apologize for my long absence from the site. As can happen, urgent work got in the way – this time in the form of a large rush translation project needing to be done for one of my Japanese clients. More interestingly, this was followed by a request from the University of Tokyo’s newly established Center for Global Commons to write an opinion piece for the New York Times on their behalf regarding the Tokyo Forum 2020 Online, an important international conference on climate change and other critical items on the global agenda they hosted last December in collaboration with the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, a Korean academic promotion foundation. If all goes as planned, this article should appear sometime in late April or early May and I’ll be sure to post a link here for those who are interested.

In the meantime, however, I wanted to give Cannonfire readers a sneak peek at the main issue raised in the Forum.

It is VERY important.

2030 or Bust

By D-Jay

Climate change deniers are fond of saying that the people warning of its dangers are nothing but a bunch of alarmists. Among the real scientists in the field, however, a growing consensus is emerging that we might not be nearly alarmist enough.

According to a blockbuster presentation by Christiana Figueres at the Tokyo Forum 2020 Online (see above) if we humans don’t take really effective action to drastically reduce our carbon emissions by the end of 2030, it will be pretty much game over.

After that, anything we do is likely to be too little…too late.

In short, ten years might be all the time we have left to prevent a runaway climate catastrophe.

Ms. Figueres ought to know. Anything but a wild-eyed radical, from 2010 to 2016, she was the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in which role she was one of the people most responsible for the successful conclusion of the historic Paris Agreement, 2015’s groundbreaking international treaty on climate change.

In a panel discussion with four other leading experts on climate change, Figueres said:

“It is over the next 10 years and only over the next 10 years from here to 2030 that we can influence what is going to happen. The scary thing is that after 2030 it basically doesn't really matter what humans do. We will be in danger of those tipping points having a domino effect on each other and we will lose total control.”  

Tipping points. 

If we can keep our planetary system on this side of them, the most apocalyptic effects of climate change might be averted. Once we’ve passed them, however, we’re over the cliff. Feedback loops beyond our control will kick in and however much we might want to try at that point, we won’t be able to stop them.

The most well-known of these potential calamity causers is probably the so-called “clathrate cannon” hypothesis. First put forward in 2010 by Russian specialists in the Artic climate, Igor Semiletov his colleague Natalia Shakhova in the journal Science, the theory is that at least 1,400 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon is trapped beneath the Artic ocean and Siberian permafrost in the form of methane clathrates (basically frozen methane). When temperatures remain safely below freezing, no problem. As the polar ice caps shrink and the permafrost melts, however, there is a risk that huge amounts of this methane could suddenly release into the atmosphere – possibly as much as 50 Gt in a single “burp,” which, according to Shakhova, could increase the atmospheric methane concentration up to twelvefold. 

Since the greenhouse gas effect of methane is at least 30 times that of CO2, this would not be good. And what’s worse, it could set off one of the unstoppable feedback loops Ms. Figueres warned us about. Reduced sea ice warms the water - which releases methane - which increases the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere - which warms the air - which reduces the sea ice – which… You get the idea.

And that’s not the only tipping point or feedback loop we need to worry about.

Far from it.

According to another excellent presentation at the Tokyo Forum by Johan Rockström, the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a Professor of Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam, there is a whole big set of them now poised to blow up in our faces.

They include destruction of the Amazon rainforest, die-offs of the coral reefs, a shutdown of the Atlantic Ocean circulation, fires and pests destroying the boreal forests of the world, collapse of the Antarctic ice sheets, disruption of monsoon rainfalls, desertification and more.  

According to Prof. Rockström, “these are all interconnected systems and they might start having strong cascading effects… The scale and speed in our hyper-connected world are such that we're getting close to hitting the ceiling of the earth system’s capacity to remain stable. Scientifically you can make the case for declaring a state of planetary emergency. We're at risk of undermining the stability of the entire earth system.”

Ms. Figueres, Prof. Rockström and other speakers at the Forum also stressed, however, that it is not too late for us to reverse course and save the planet. In fact, they pointed to a number of positive emerging trends, including:

·         Many large corporations are adopting more climate-friendly business models and are aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner.

·         Korea and Japan have declared targets of carbon neutrality by 2050 and China by 2060.

·         Under President Biden, the U.S. is returning to a climate protection leadership role.

·         Citizen awareness of climate change realities is improving, due largely to the increasing severity of wildfires, floods, hurricanes, etc.

·         Many people and organizations are starting to recognize that the costs of climate inaction far outweigh the costs of effective action.

·         Our scientific understanding of climate change is developing rapidly and a broad scientific consensus is emerging that we need to move rapidly to an age of what Forum organizer Dr. Naoko Ishii, head of the new Center for Global Commons (CGC), and others are calling, “Global Commons Stewardship” – aka taking proper care of the planet in everything we do.

·         New green energy and other climate-friendly products and technologies are being developed and introduced at a fast pace.

·         New metrics for understanding our progress in the fight against climatic catastrophe are being developed. At the Forum, for example, the CGC introduced a new “Global Commons Stewardship Index,” a comprehensive method for quantifying countries’ and organizations’ environmental progress.

Not bad.

But, as I have noted in my article for the Times, not enough.

The scientists and academics are doing their part, but how about the rest of us? That is the life-or-death question for the planet.

And for humanity.

Since the Forum was an international scientific conference hosted by a foreign university, however, there is one issue I didn’t include in the Times article.

An issue upon which, if the scientists are right about a 2030 deadline, nothing less than the fate of most life on planet Earth – our own included – could rest.

Simply put, it is just this: will Bidenism survive and thrive, or will the U.S. elections in 2022 and 2024 see our government back into the hands of willful ignorance and obstructionism?

When it comes to climate change, if the United States is on the right course, we’ve got a chance. If the type of policies Biden has started to introduce can continue, success is possible. The tipping point we pass might be that of a critical mass of people throughout the world coming to their senses and reorganizing human society into something that can prosper within the limits imposed by Mother Earth – and the laws of physics.

If we slip back into Trumpism in two or four years, however - if the QAnon form of consciousness prevails - we are doomed.

Literally.

2030 is too close.

  

 

 



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The melting ice will release 28 new pathogens, as deadly as covid and for which we have no defenses. The insects are dying and so will our crops. Insects are down 75% in Germany. The biomass in Mexico (the residue of dead birds, butterflies, insects, lizards and other invertebrates) has dropped to 15% of what it was 40 years ago. The story is the same throughout South America. Temperatures are rising along with wildfires and floods.

The climate changes are unstoppable. Catherine Ingram spells it out. When the decline hits social mechanisms will break down. Police state methods and resource wars will follow. Technology will not save us. We lack the emotional capacity to handle what is staring us in the face: the destruction of the global ecosystem and the political chaos and death that will ensue. We are simply a species of children.

But the effort must be made.
 
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