Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Another Protest

I mentioned yesterday that it takes me much longer to read a book now than it used to. Part of the reason, as Elizabeth said in the comments, is the Internet and all its distractions. The ol' Web definitely consumes a lot of my time. Remember life without the Web? It's hard to even imagine now.

But if I'm honest with myself, it's also because I watch a lot more television than I used to. When I lived in New York I didn't even own a TV, and now Dave and I watch two or three hours or so at night. I justify it by saying that it's our time -- we usually spend an hour talking, catching up on our days, and then we watch a few shows. To give that up and disappear into the bedroom with a book just seems antisocial, and would deprive us of that common experience of entertainment. So my reading is now confined mostly to my lunch hour and periods during the day on the weekends -- when I'm not out walking or cleaning or doing any of the million other things I do.

Hence, it takes a while to read a book.

On the political front, we had an interesting day at school yesterday. Some of the teachers came up with a plan to bring the London street protests of Trump's ban on certain travelers into our private school, by wearing black with a pinned-on sign that said #NoMuslimBan. It was cleared with the school administration -- on the grounds, I assume, that we teach the value of diversity and a global perspective on issues, and to support our Muslim students and staff members. I did it, as did many others, and the students who made comments seemed to appreciate it.

But I have to say I wasn't entirely comfortable with bringing such divisive issues into school. Students who support Trump -- and I'm sure there are a few, though our school tends to be very internationally-minded and I'm sure they're in a small minority -- might feel marginalized when their authority figures assume an oppositional political stance. Right? On the other hand, maybe it's our job to teach what's right, politics be damned. If this were Germany in the 1930s, wouldn't we want to be teaching that discrimination on a religious basis is inherently wrong?

It was an interesting situation. As I said, I did it. I didn't want to be so cautious as to be on the wrong side of history. I also wore my "Stand Up to Trump" button.

These are crazy times.

(Photo: A barber shop near Paddington.)


  1. Wearing a badge etc AND being open to discussion is so much more valuable and honest than keeping the students in a pretend sanitised environment which ultimately denies them participation in a civil society. I applaud you.

  2. If this were Germany in the 1930's such teaching might cost a job or one's life, and that may happen eventually here too, the way things are headed. Bannon is the major influence and was quoted three or so years ago as saying he wanted to take our country down and all of the executive orders have started that process. I commend your school for this effort because I think it is an important step in teaching that actions have long range consequences and critical thinking.

    What would happen if you made the decision to curtail Internet and TV time and fill that time in other ways?

  3. Of course I am appalled by Trump but as a former teacher I would have been very uncomfortable about bringing my personal view of him and what he stands for into the classroom. There are millions of American parents who cast their votes for Trump in the belief that this was a good and rightful thing to do. With that realisation in mind, any American school serving the children of American voters should be studiously neutral in my opinion. After all, this isn't history, it's right now.

  4. I have no answers. None. Not about Trump or how to best spend an evening. We're all trying to figure everything out from scratch, it would seem in this world where changes of all sorts are happening so fast that we can't keep up with it any of it.

  5. I had an interesting experience on Monday evening when I had dinner with an old friend who was totally in support of the ban. I couldn't believe it. She honestly thinks we are safer with a ban. As our argument progressed, I began to realize that she is a Fox News watcher. She honestly thinks that the government is doing no vetting of immigrants right now. I tried to tell her that wasn't true but, she doesn't believe me. I don't know how we (as a nation) will ever be able to bridge the this ever widening gap.

  6. as for Trump supporters feelings, to hell with them. they don't care about our feelings. and what Sharon said...people who only watch Fox will never believe anything said to the contrary of what they hear on Fox. while we are busy our in the streets and lighting up the internet it is my hope that the politicians with the power are quietly working to cut him off at the knees.

    as for reading, I find no time these days. part of it is the internet. part of it is the dog who demands attention. I'm on my third book in two months.

  7. Given the situation in this country, I think you were right to support diversity. One reason we are all so stunned by this madness is that in the past, no matter the political persuasion of officials and their supporters, there were certain things that we all agreed on and those were what gave us stability. For instance, even Richard Nixon would not defy a court order; he resigned his presidency because to do so invited impeachment. T***p? First he issues an executive order in violation of Constitutional Amendment 1, and then follows it up by telling Customs & Border Patrol to ignore court orders suspending that EO. This is not business as usual. And as Sharon Anck says, his supporters call such reports "fake news." Will they ever come around? Yes, when some of his actions affect them, but it's too early yet, and with Bannon running things, much of what is lost between now and then will be irretrievable. So, spare the feelings of students who supported T***p? No. That does them (or us) no favors.

    I envy your living across the pond. Rationally, I know that really makes no difference, but irrationally, it sounds like relief. :/

  8. I also find it takes me much longer these days to get through books and magazines because I read so much more online, both blogs and news. I would ,however, feel so much more isolated and uninformed if there was no internet to keep me current,
    I support your diversity and anti-Trump badges as I feel Trump and Bannon are a real danger to this country. Will the other Republicans grow a spine to stand up to him?
    My only consolation is that with internet news and social media the world hears very quickly what is being said and done so there may be protests, pushback and legal challenges.
    Enjoy your evenings together with your telly and escape from reality for awhile.

  9. Good for you far publicizing your support for inclusion. Support for positive things takes precedence over nasty things.

  10. The thing that is becoming more apparent as the days go by is what Rafe has pointed out, that the new administration is going beyond the boundaries usually observed by politicians. We seem to be in uncharted territory.

    Even reputable members of the media seem to be jumping on everything that happens without enough thought, and that doesn't help. There could be many reasons for that (not enough people to do the research, needing to get out in front with the story, especially online, a sense of urgency, I don't know what all), but the reporting of only part of the picture initially -- that's increasing the hysteria, I think. For example, all the executive orders that Trump signed were in an initial article, and not until a later article did the WP explain more about executive orders and their limits. Does the average reader know the latter? I didn't, and although I could have researched it myself, I think it was an important piece of balancing information that could reasonably have been provided alongside the other stuff. But ... uncharted territory! Maybe the media is having as much trouble adapting as everyone else.

    I don't know. I think it's too early to know. I think it's too late to know. Seems like free fall. And while I am not as stressed over it as much as many people, it is a bit like coming upon a car wreck and not being able to help staring.

  11. I also read less...because of blogs, the internet and modern life
    I am endeavoring to change this

  12. Sabine: Well, that's a good point. This does potentially allow them to think and debate and argue, which is a valuable part of education!

    E: Well, maybe I mean the 1920s. In any case, the point is the same! As I said, I hate to give up the TV time because it's also our time together as a couple on most days. And Dave is not about to give up his TV time.

    YP: I had a feeling you'd say that! One serious mitigating factor, though, is the mission of our school, which includes fostering diversity and tolerance. So you could argue that an American parent who supported Trump but had nonetheless chosen to send his/her child to our school would have to accept that aspect of the education we provide. We don't pretend to be neutral on those issues.

    Ms Moon: It's true. It's like we're trying to figure out a whole new code of behavior.

    Sharon: Isn't that amazing? This is why we can't have honest political discussions anymore, as a society -- we can't agree on the basic facts!

    Ellen: I agree, except that in the school environment we're talking about kids. So I do worry a little about their feelings!

    Rafe: Yes, it's true, Trump is going where no president has gone before. It is a very scary time, and I've said to Dave more than once that I'm glad we're here in England. But of course we're not citizens and we could easily find ourselves back in the states at some point. And we have our own brand of craziness here.

    Cheryl: I think social media both helps and hurts. It definitely spreads news and helps foment peaceful protest, but it also spreads the virus of "fake news" and propaganda.

    Red: You're right -- it was ultimately a positive action and I think it was seen that way.

    Jenny-O: It probably takes the media time to figure out the limits of the orders, you know? Those kind of nuances often come in second-day stories, when the reporters and analysts and legal experts have had time to parse things. It can be frustrating, I know!

    John: It's hard! I wonder if overall we don't read MORE, when you consider all the Web stuff we consume. We just read fewer books! Sad!