Martin Luther King Would Still Fuck Our Shit Up (2022 Edition)

It's more frustrating than ever to hear conservatives who are opposed to legislation that would expand voter participation, supportive of gerrymandering that specifically reduces the power of non-whites, and losing they goddamned minds over teaching the hard truths about the United States's racial history quote Martin Luther King, Jr. like they actually give a single segregated fuck about what King really was about. They sure can trot out the whole "judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" without bothering with the radical context. They can directly tie MLK to whatever racist bullshit they want. But they can't be bothered to fucking learn about King.

Let's put this as plainly as possible: If you are against voting rights or against getting rid of the filibuster so you can vote for the voting rights you claim you're for, you may as well just piss on King's monument in DC. And we will all judge you by the shitty content of your shitty character.

But the truth of the matter is that King has always been talking about the political things that hold back Blacks from achieving full equality in this country. He had called out whites who paid lip service to the Civil Rights Movement but ultimately did nothing. He called bullshit on the filibuster. And he had no fucking patience with the way that some states decided to defy the Supreme Court after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. 

In his speech "The Summer of Our Discontent," delivered at the New School in New York City on February 6, 1964, King clearly connected rising racial protests around the country directly to the lack of progress post-Brown: "The Negro had been deeply disappointed over the slow pace of school desegregation. He knew that in 1954 the highest court in the land had handed down a decree calling for desegregation of schools 'with all deliberate speed.' He knew that this edict from the Supreme Court had been heeded with all deliberate delay. At the beginning of 1963, nine years after this historic decision, approximately nine percent of southern Negro students were attending integrated schools. If this pace were maintained, it would be the year 2054 before integration in southern schools would be a reality...the statistics make it abundantly clear that the segregationists of the South remained undefeated by this decision. In every section of Dixie, the announcement of the high court had been met with declarations of defiance. Once recovered from their initial outrage, these defenders of the status quo had seized the offensive to impose their own schedule of change."

King wasn't just blaming the racist dickholes of the South. See, MLK would still fuck our shit up because he saw both political parties as the problem: "A second reason for the outburst in 1963 was rooted in the failure of both political parties to live up to their campaign promises. From the city of Los Angeles in 1960, the Democratic Party had written an historic and sweeping civil rights pronouncement into its platform. From Chicago, the Republican Party had been generous in its convention vows on civil rights, although its candidate had made no great effort in his campaign to convince a nation that he would redeem his party’s promises. Then 1961 and ‘62 arrived, with both parties marking time in the cause of justice. In the Congress, reactionary Republicans were still doing business with the Dixiecrats, and the feeling was growing among Negroes that the administration had oversimplified and underestimated the civil rights issue."

And he took it directly to the Oval Office (which, as we know, had recently changed hands): "Negroes had manifested their faith by giving a substantial majority of their votes for President Kennedy. They had expected more of him than of the previous administration. In no sense had President Kennedy betrayed his promises, yet his administration appeared to believe it was doing as much as was politically possible and had, by its positive deeds, earned enough credit to coast on civil rights." You got that? King is saying that Kennedy was taking the votes of Black Americans for granted while not following through. "Politically, perhaps, this was not a surprising conclusion," King continued. "How many people understood, during the first two years of the Kennedy administration, that the Negroes’ 'now' was becoming as militant as the segregationists’ 'never'? Eventually the president would set aside political considerations and rise to the level of his own unswerving moral commitment." This is a full-throated endorsement of hardball tactics, including mass protest, to bring about change. 

Today, this would get him nasty tweets from people not thinking he was sufficiently deferential to the leaders who would give him crumbs they think he should be grateful for.

The entire speech is a pretty damn stunning indictment of the way that the nation failed to live up to its promises. It directly connects racist laws to racist economic conditions and the racist history of the nation to the propagation of those conditions. Quite plainly, despite what morons and assholes, like House Minority Leader and Man So White He Drains Color Out of Others Kevin McCarthy, say, King would not only support critical race theory, he'd think you were a liar or ignorant if you didn't. 

Every year since 2004, I've written an MLK Day post based on something King wrote or said. Every fucking year it's a scream of defiance against everyone who wants to do what lynch mobs did and neuter the Black man who stood up to them. Martin Luther King was a radical motherfucker and we have not yet fully grappled with his insights into the nature of race in this backsliding nation. 

(One final thing: In the Q&A part of the evening, King was asked what he thought about the more violent tactics of the Nation of Islam. While King said he opposed their approach and their belief in racial separation, he offered, "It did not come into being out of thin air; it is symptomatic of the deeper unrest, discontent, and frustration of the Negro. And I think it is an indictment on the laxity of Christianity and the laxity of democracy that a movement like this came into being. And I think that the challenge of this movement is not so much to condemn its philosophy, as I will continue to do, but go out and work harder to get rid of the conditions that brought it into being." That's some badass compassion right there.)


Covid Tests, Sick Leave, and More: This Country Has Lost Its Ability to Give a Shit About You

It's sadly fucking hilarious and hilariously fucking sad how the Biden administration is rolling out its at-home COVID-19 tests. Sure, 500 million will be available for free, but, for most of us, we've learned that our health insurance will be forced to cover the price of any we buy at the local Walgreen's. Which means, likely, we'll have to fill out forms, upload receipts, deal with fuckups, deal with denied claims, and handle the usual fuckery that is part and parcel of the insanity of our health care "system," all in the name of some kind of perverse version of "freedom." Just give the fucking tests away. Just make them available to everyone. Why the hell should everyone have to go through this just to see if they have Covid before they visit their parents? Why the hell should anyone who can't afford them have to rely on going to wait in line at a clinic or testing site? Easily-available testing helps everyone. This isn't vaguely up for discussion.

President Biden could have flooded the country with tests by now, and that no one has thought to do this bespeaks a reality about living in this United States. The country doesn't act like it gives a shit about you when it comes to health care (and many other things, but let's just stick to health care right now). Oh, it talks a good game (and there are amazing people working in health care), but the official actions of our state and federal governments are bound up in ideologies that can't help but hurt people. 

Jesus, it's like being in a relationship with an intense sadist when you're not into BDSM: "Wait, we can't just fuck for once? We gotta break out the whips and nipple clamps and ball crushers and spiked spanking gloves? Can't we just fuck and enjoy it? Why does everything have to be complicated and painful? My sphincter just healed from last time." But, no, your partner wants to cuff you and beat you before you're allowed to get off, and, well, shit, fuck, sometimes it's just easier to take it than to fight about it. Otherwise, you have to break-up, move out, and who's got the time. "Fine. Fist me."

That's not the way it should be. Mutually-consensual BDSM is a beautiful thing, filled with love and pleasure. (No kink-shaming here.) But if it's not mutual, it's just abuse. And the United States has gotten really good at caning our asses whether we like it or not, with Covid making the blows sharper and more frequent.

What this pandemic has starkly revealed just how failed so many of the policies we've been forced to live under have been. 

We were warned early in the pandemic that the lack of paid sick leave for workers was going to fuck us over. While there was an actual effort to provide for this during the lockdown period of the pandemic, now, as Omicron has its viral way with us, the fact that most workers get little or no paid sick leave has led to, well, sick people going to work (if they aren't forced to by their employers), which leads to more sick people, including people who are too sick to work, which depletes the work force and makes it so no one can work. Or is that math too fucking hard? As in so many things, the US is an outlier as one of only 11 countries where there is no national paid sick leave law. In other words, our selfish capitalism is freedoming us to death.

Even worse, there's the lack of any or of decent health insurance in this country. I personally know people who refuse to get help for their obviously symptomatic Covid because they are afraid of how much it will cost if they end up in the hospital. This has been one of the brute realities for Americans, and even with Obamacare and expanded Medicaid (not to mention Medicare for the many elderly who are sick), the out-of-pocket cost can go into the thousands and thousands of dollars and, fuck it, that's not worth it unless you might die. How much undiagnosed Covid is out there? How much untreated? 

Fuck, I'm not even getting into the lack of support for parents whose children have to stay home from schools.

Think of the stress all this causes, stress that's added to the stress of the pandemic. Our country is doing that to us. Our leaders, especially Republicans, are doing it. But, honestly, Biden has broad powers that he could draw on right now in a crisis that we're two goddamned years into. Could he say that government is going to cover all Covid-related medical expenditures, creating a de facto Medicare for all? (Maybe, but then the savage dickbeasts on the Supreme Court would tell everyone to fuck off and die.) I remember when President Obama decided to make health care his major first-term goal, and many wondered why that in particular, why not go for a greater economic and infrastructure package to build on the Recovery and Reinvestment Act? But Obama knew that health care insecurity was overwhelming for many Americans. Of course, what we got was severely compromised and has been undermined by Republicans at every turn, at every level, so that, while an improvement, the Affordable Care Act is still a fucking sieve of a program.

Fuck, I'm not even getting into the PTSD everyone is going to have to deal with for the next few decades. I'm not even getting into the absolutely unforgivable burden we've put on health care workers repeatedly, breaking many of them. 

It's not working, this way of existing without caring about each other on a national basis. Yet what can you say about a nation that allows this to happen and a people that don't rise up and demand something better other than that we have lost our ability to care about each other (not you, of course, not you personally, unless it is you, in which case, go fuck yourself). Instead of doing the things that would make us better, our leaders keep things the same, even in the face of a genuine catastrophe, even when one easy thing, free at-home Covid testing, would ease some of the burden of this sadistic time we're damned to live through and allow us to at least pretend we care.

(Note: This isn't about anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers because fuck them always.)


Notes on the Anniversary of a Failed Coup

The riot/insurrection/coup on January 6, 2021 was violent. We know that various members of law enforcement were beaten, gassed, cut, crushed, and more. We know that a great deal of property was damaged. If you had been on the receiving end of it, it would have fucked you up. And if you had been a Democratic member of Congress or Mike Pence, you would have shit yourself when you heard the violent herd of morons yipping in gleeful rage as they tried to get to you so they could...what? I'm pretty sure that once someone's beaten a cop with a pole that has an American flag on it, they're not there to have a calm discussion about election law.

But that violence and threat of violence isn't enough for too many Americans, including members of Congress, who crawled on their bellies and invited Donald Trump to jack off on their backs as they begged for forgiveness for ever saying a truthful word or two about his complicity. No, we're told by right-wing media figures and by insane and/or opportunistic politicians, this wasn't violent, this was just people expressing their anger over an election loss, calm down, nobody died. And all I can think when I hear that shit is that they're saying that they need corpses to even consider the seriousness of what happened. They're saying they need to have had Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mike Pence hanging in the rotunda in order for it to have been more than a bit of overzealousness. And even then, those motherfuckers would still be yelling, "False flag" or "Lies" or whatever because to admit that the actions of the insurrectionists were wrong would be to have to grapple with their role in the insurrection.

There are things I get and things I will never understand about January 6.

For instance, I understand why law enforcement didn't just open fire on those who were trying to breach the Capitol (with the exception of the barking mad Ashli Babbit). I get the fear that they would then be overwhelmed by a tide of racist yahoos, many of whom had weapons of their own or were improvising with things like the shields they took from riot cops. While I fully believe that 90% of the rioters would have scampered away like surprised squirrels, it would have been a bloodbath. And, with the exceptions of those who may have helped the yahoos, law enforcement ended up preventing the absolute worst from happening, at the cost of their bodies and minds. 

On the other hand, I will never understand why Donald Trump and his staff and advisors weren't immediately arrested. Don't fucking tell me that he was the president. The idea of a goddamn president was always that no person is above the law. And Trump had already taken the presidency and pissed on its face before telling it to sign an NDA about his water sports fetish. Arresting him would have been saving the presidency.

I'm not saying that Trump shouldn't have had a trial or been denied any due process. But he should have immediately been jailed without bail until his trial, along with Giuliani and Bannon and Kerik and anyone else who was trying to figure out a way to steal the 2020 presidential election. But fuck them because fuck them. None of this happens without Trump refusing to accept the court-approved, state-approved election results. He's the goddamned ringleader. You put him the fuck away and tell the others, "We're not afraid to lock any of you up." Treat people who try to overthrow the government like they fucking tried to overthrow the government. And if Trump's people wouldn't do it, then it should have happened right after Biden was inaugurated. Frankly, Trump should have been handcuffed and frogmarched after the phone call with the Georgia Secretary of State where he begged Raffensperger to conjure up enough votes to just get past the margin of Biden's victory became known.

But there's one thing I am perfectly clear on: The assholes and mental invalids and Confederacy humpers who ragegasmed at the Capitol before smearing the walls with shit were doing it based on fucking lies about the election. Anyone who defends or excuses them is saying that the fucking lies are truth. The fucking liars themselves need to be punished, not just the fucknuts who decided they could finally live out their pornographically violent racist Christian nationalist militia fantasies in DC because the chief fucking liar told them it was go time. The lie part of this needs to be taken as seriously as possible because not squelching the fucking lies like they're goddamn mosquitoes is going to drain the blood of this weakening democracy. 

The problem, of course, is that the fucking lies have metastasized because, as ever, Democrats acted as if they just let passions calm down that everyone could Come Together and Be Reasonable. That did not happen. We accommodated our abusers so they wouldn't abuse us more. There are so many woulda-coulda situations from January 6. What if the House and Senate had not adjourned after the Electoral College vote? What if they had decided right then and there to stay in the wrecked Capitol and impeach and remove Trump from office, convicting him of high crimes and misdemeanors? (And, yes, there was a chance then that the Senate might convict.) 

But, no, no, every decision has been made slowly and with great consideration so as not to upset the violent dickholes and their rhetorical enablers any more than they are.  The time called for action and everyone just went home. Thus Republicans had a chance to get all the  attacks from Trump and his idiot hordes and any spine they might have had softened into jelly and collapsed. With no prosecutions so far of the leaders of the coup attempt, including Trump, President Biden risks making another of President Obama's mistakes: letting the evil fucks get away with it and letting them set the narrative.

President Joe Biden's speech today was a good start. He was clear and forceful, stating plainly that the coup attempt was Trump's fault and that the idea that the election was fraudulent or rigged or stolen is just a fucking lie. He gave as good a talking point as any to demonstrate how stupid those spouting the fucking lies are: "The former president and his supporters have never been able to explain how they accept as accurate the other election results that took place on November 3rd — the elections for governor, United States Senate, the House of Representatives — elections in which they closed the gap in the House. They challenge none of that." Biden still holds the irrational belief that there are decent Republicans left. The motherfuckers were indecent before January 6. They are indecent to their filthy, rotting core. Stop trying to pretend there's goodness there, like you can find some cure for evil. But his definitive statements about that day are a solid, even inspiring foundation upon which we can fight back. 

And we should all be as angry all the time about what was done to us on January 6. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, in the midst of despairing about the economy, we held the fairest, best-run election anyone has seen. That should have inspired confidence in us that we could survive all this shit and get back to something like normalcy.It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but, fuck, it went so much better than anyone expected. That feeling was taken away from us by Donald Trump. Our security about the stability of our nation was undermined further. Goddamnit, every fucking day should be an expression of our anger about that until we are made whole with his ass in prison. Or else just toss the fucking country out into the trash heap of history.

Still, yeah, we're a little antsy about what Attorney General Merrick Garland and the January 6 committee are finding and what they're gonna do. It's not just because the clock is running out should the GOP win back at least one chamber of Congress. It's because everything that the GOP is doing, at the local, state, and national level, everything that their media accomplices are doing in nutzoid online videos and on Fox "news" and elsewhere points to them just fucking doing it again in 2024 if not to re-install Trump, then to put in some other deranged monument to incompetence and madness like Josh Hawley. As we learn time and time and time and time again, if you let the powerful go unpunished, they take that as permission to get more powerful and do it again. Appeasement is not an option. Even today, the right is screeching with outrage that people would dare be angry at Trump. Fuck all of them with wooden scroll holding the Constitution.

If I'm being completely honest, the only thing we should be arguing over at this point is if Trump should die in prison or be executed. (I'm for life in prison only because I oppose the death penalty.) 

On this one-year anniversary of the Yahoo Coup, we can say with quite a bit of evidence that the morons lost the battle but have a real chance of winning the war. 


Haiku Review of 2021: Blue Weekend

I'm loving the pouring on of haikuing that's happening. Yeah, slap me with haiku. Tickle me with haiku. Peg me with haiku. Here's another 10-spot of 'em to kick 2021's ass out the window.

From Madeleine Begun Kane of Mad Kane's Political Madness Blog in NYC:
Evil Dick’s spawn Lynne
Tries to save Democracy.
Hell’s frozen over.

From Q. Santi in Belize:
Party of losers
Stolen election my ass!
Go cry in your beer

From Jim in California:
Merry Christmas from the Boebert Family
The happy Boeberts 
Clutching their guns with dreams of
A Muslim bloodbath

From Heather in Sun City, AZ:
A new baby breathes.
My planet just keeps dying.
I must smile and cry.

From Rabbit Earz in Los Angeles:
On the house tonight
Bleach-A-Ritas cure Covid
Drink until you die

From RG in Illinois:
Lather, Rise, Repeat
The fuck, man! The FUCK!

From T. Mangrove in Wisconsin:
MAGA’s response to
The Audacity of Hope:
Fear, anger, and spite.

From Beth in Alexandria, VA:
Red eyes, freaky sounds,
Bodies falling from the trees,
Brood X in my yard.

From Mel in rural Oregon:
Q has gone silent.
Under psychiatric care?
Or tired of the joke?

From Jack in a hellishly red area of a hellish blue state:
Twenty twenty-one
Rotten to the goddamned end
Rest well, Betty White

I might have one more day of haikunification in me. I've still got a few dozen to get through. Thanks to all who made the effort, whether you got in or not. 

(The title is from Wolf Alice's incredible 2021 album.)

Haiku Review of 2021: Pink Noise

Once more, you have inundated the ol' inbox with a load of magical, mad, and messy little poems. Keep 'em pouring in until I'm slobbering drunk on your words. Here's a sampling of some of the quality haiku you've sent in from sea to not-so-shining sea and even around the world:

From The Human Stain from We Ain’t Gonna Make It, USA:
Doctors, nurses, and
COVID vaccine researchers
Pandemic heroes

From Seattle Snowflake:
1776-2021 (R.I.P.?)
Hey Joe and Kirsten--
Change the filibuster rule
So we all can vote

From Eve Fisher:
Dershowitz is now
shitting bricks. Trump wishes he'd 
pardoned her, not Flynn.

From SPL:
The kid with a gun
Cries tears on the witness stand
What tears for the dead?

From Suffering fools sadly in WI:
Reject the science
Fire Fauci! Burn those masks!
Doctor, help me breathe

From VJ in NJ:
Billionaire playtime
Cock rockets, crypto, and lies
They're our heroes, right?

From Jenny in Staunton, VA:
Marco Rubio
Dude's not worth the syllables
Not even counting

From BB in LA:
Manchin blocked the bill
Someone may have snorted crack
West Virginia bleeds

From Arthur Tiersky:
2021: On the Bright Side
In February
Racist fuckwad Rush Limbaugh
Went to rot in Hell

From Chris in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong under the
Chinese Communist Party

I've only been through the first 24 hours of haiku. So keep your hopes alive if you've sent them in. More tomorrow. And probably Saturday. Once again: 5-7-5 syllables. Titled or untitled. Send 'em to: rudepundit (at) yahoo.com. And make sure you tell me your nom de rude and some place somewhere. 

(Note: The title up there is from Laura Mvula's 80s dance party of an album from this year.)


Haiku Review of 2021: Smiling With No Teeth

Remember how we thought this year absolutely had to be better than motherfucking 2020? The shock is that it objectively was a better year in so many ways, but it felt like a goddamn sequel, shinier but somehow shittier. Yeah, we got rid of Trump, but Trumpism's rank stench continues to pollute everything in this nation. We will not live to see the world rotate out of the eclipse shadow of his orange, jowly moon. Whatever hope we voiced with the vaccine's availability was quickly drowned out by the heaving fuck yawps of humping morons, squealing in orgasmic delight over how they're sticking it to the libs by not getting vaccinated and dying at a much higher rate than the rational rest of us. We saw a fleeting moment of actual bipartisan unity in the moments after the attempted coup on January 6, only to have the MAGA ogres and right-wing media monsters tear it apart like so many billy goats under a bridge and elevate election lies that inspired the mob of yahoos to the level of holy beliefs that one must have in order to be a true Republican shitheel.

Sure, sure, some good things happened, with that vaccine at the top of the list. And Biden's infrastructure bill. And the judges that have been approved. And, hey, howzabout that economy, huh? But all that gets ass-fucked by the two-headed Gorgon of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and it gets face-fucked by the Supreme Court, tearing down the right to abortion, and it gets skull-fucked by the nutzoid state legislatures that are pissing all over voting rights. And let's not even get into how the climate change apocalypse is here and we somehow can't get our heads around it, even when we're being burned and frozen and drowned and blown away by it. Or racism. Always racism.

So around these parts, we kick the calendar year's ass out the door with haiku, those little 3-line poems you were forced to write in grade school and everyone made it about farts, except for that one kid who took it seriously and wrote something so beautiful it made the teacher cry and believe, once again, that her career choice was right. What was I talking about?

Oh, yeah, haiku. Send me yours. Here's the deal:

Submit your haiku about anything you want having to do with the fucked up 2021 to "rudepundit(at)yahoo(dot)com." I'm the only judge and jury here, and I am generally fickle, drunk, high, and yelling at squirrels.

I'm also a stickler for the form: one line of 5 syllables, one line of 7 syllables, and one line of 5 syllables, in that order. They can be as filthy, funny, or fucked-up as you like. You can be serious, silly, or sanctimonious. Titled or untitled. The ones I like the best get published on here over the next few days, so lemme know what name you want on it (in case your boss or mate or Mom sees it) and where you're from. Like "Marjorie Taylor Greene's Hammer Toe from Jizzpond, AL" or "Alisha from San Francisco" or something.

Here's a few to inspire you:

Break windows and doors
Beat cops bloody with our flags
Trump over country.

Covid Isn't the Only Illness
Vax should be enough
But fools would rather drink bleach
Soon, a million dead

Today's History Class at the MAGA School
White people are good!
Sure, slavery happened. So?
America rules!

Okay, now it's your turn. Send 'em on.

(Note: The title up there comes from Genesis Owusu's majorly cool debut album, which was one of the things that made this year tolerable.)


The Year of Unmagical Thinking

If we hung out, sometimes you might ask me why, seemingly out of nowhere, I've gotten angry. It's not like there aren't thousands of reasons all the time to be angry, but, mostly, we all keep that in check. This last two years, though, I haven't really been able to, and I'd get morose and snippy and generally unpleasant. I can pinpoint why pretty exactly. 

It's not just the pandemic, although that would be enough. It's not the deaths and suffering, although that never goes away. It's not about my own experience of this time because I know that I have not had it nearly as bad as so, so many others. It's specifically when I think about young people, those in college and graduating during this damned period, and all the opportunities that have been lost, all the lives that have been stunted or postponed because of the foolishness of our leaders and the selfishness of a large part of the population. I'm angry for those young people because I'm a generation or two older and we should have been looking out for them and we didn't. And I'm angry because someone needs to be held to account, and we're not doing that...

If I start to list all the things connected that contribute to my anger, I'd never stop. 

I've talked to many, many people who find themselves or people close to them suddenly upset or anxious, who feel trapped or despondent, who no longer enjoy things like they used to, who don't accomplish as much as they once did, and who beat themselves up over feeling any or all of that. "Maybe it's because we're dealing all this," I'll say, gesturing at, well, everything, primarily meaning the pandemic, but all the damage that has been done because of it. I don't mean that as a diagnosis or anything. I mean it as an observation, that we have been living through trauma and damn if that's not going to have an effect on, well, everything in our daily lives. That's what collective trauma does. 

And how could it not be traumatic? At this point, we're certainly not far removed from people who have died from Covid. All of us know someone who has had it or we've had it ourselves. Again, it's not just the disease. It's being forced to learn how to interact in the world in a new way (and resistance to that is its own kind of demonstration of trauma), from how we work to how we shop to how we go to school to how we gather to how we breathe. It can be relatively minor. For instance, for years, I knew to check before leaving: Keys, wallet, phone. Now I have to add "mask." Or it can be more severe, like the fact that I've barely taught in person for nearly two years and didn't see members of my family for extended periods. It's the involuntary nature of it that gets to us. We didn't choose this, like moving to a new house or getting a new job. It was done to us.

And, for lack of a more concise way of putting it, it's fucked us up. Badly. And extensively. The world was one way and now, in the blink of an eye, really, it's another. 

"Maybe we just need to be more forgiving," I'll say to people, to fellow professors, to friends, to myself. "Maybe we need to forgive ourselves and forgive others for sometimes not being able to hold it all in. Maybe it's okay to feel like that."

I have learned the act of forgiveness in so many ways over the last two years. I've been advising professors to be forgiving to their students in ways that we never would have been prior to March 2020. Many students have written to me about how they've had to negotiate the pandemic landscape, how they've had to care for family members, how they've gotten sick, how they've just felt depressed and unable to work. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I can't help but feel like I need to forgive them and let them make up work or turn it in late or help them out. I'll be a more discerning judge of their pain in the undefined future.

The trauma is especially keen now because we've been told, at least twice now, that we were emerging from the pandemic and back into whatever normal is going to be, only to have it Greek-lettered away. And that trauma is on top of the steady thrum of stress and trauma we were already dealing with on a daily basis, the personal events or racism or sexism or poverty or abuse or some terrible combination of those and more. Yes, there are things that shouldn't be written off as related to the pandemic. But one exacerbates the other. 

Just to be clear, though: No, I don't forgive the willingly unvaccinated, especially those who refuse to get their children vaccinated. I'm only human, after all, so I won't forgive those I blame for putting us in this terrible time and those who are keeping us in it.

But this last year has been one where I had to remind myself that, despite however many meds I suck down to keep me from going on a five-state killing spree, of course I'm going to be upset, irritated, angry, even. I've been in mourning for nearly two full years. Now, though, I'm not mourning for what's past. I'm mourning for what is. And I'm trying to push myself through dread for the future. 

I want next year to be better. Truly. I'm not despairing yet. Hell, I keep writing and sending stuff out. That's gotta mean I believe in a future. I know we've got a big fight waiting for us politically in 2022, and I wanna fight it. Hell, I'm planning trips, buying tickets to concerts and shows, and looking forward to seeing friends. Hell, I'm heading to a bar now to meet up with people. See? Hope. And whiskey.

I'm filthy with hope, but I'm exhausted by this last year spent hoping. I'm exhausted because I know it's not enough, but it's what we've got.

In the back of my head, though, I know we're one slight push from it all being swept away. 

And I forgive myself for thinking that.


The Rude Pundit's Annual Nativity-palooza, Now Including Weird-Ass Glass and Metal Ones

Like movies about suicidal snowmen and tortured ghosts and pole-frozen tongues, some things are a tradition around the rude house. Beloved reruns are good for the soul. My favorites to trot out this week are the Invader Zim Christmas episode and Olive the Other Reindeer. Even here, in Left Blogsylvania, we can indulge in revisiting old posts.

Before Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, and many other places you can get your fix of weird shit, I posted this Christmas blast back in 2004, updated yearly with new bits of freakishness (some links might not work anymore, but they were or are all real and are not meant to be ironic):

Xmas - And, lo, a small teddy bear will lead them:
In the days before Christmas, the Rude Pundit roamed his neighborhood, looking at the displays in the charming stores and corner markets. There he saw the agony of so many dichotomous feelings about this holiday. One window had a kneeling, praying Santa next to a baby Jesus in the manger. Santa's hat was off. He was balding. Another display had the jolly old fat man landing his sleigh and reindeer on the roof of the manger. Surprisingly, neither Mary nor Joseph seemed rattled by the noise, although a camel was looking upward, as if asking, "What the fuck?" The Rude Pundit loved that camel.

Ah, sweet camel, what the fuck, indeed. Christ and commerce, Alleluia. The Savior has been born and he thanks you for your presents. Santa showing that he'll even honor the king of the Jews in the land of Islam. There's no telling what it means (and don't get all up in the Rude Pundit's face about St. Nicholas). Except this: we want to embrace both things, good deconstructionists that we are: Santa, who soothes our greed, and Jesus, who promises us peace. Either way, we want them both to tell us we're good people, nice people. And, of course, guilt-ridden Christians want to make sure that Santa toes the party line, you know.

For the holiday, here's a few of my favorite nativity sets, none of which are intended to be mocking of the event:

That right there is the Veggie Tales Nativity. In case you don't know, Veggie Tales are cute vegetables who love Christ and salad tossing. The newborn savior up there is a carrot. Get it? A baby carrot? What a delight.

Holy shit, that bear nativity is one of the creepiest fucking things I've ever seen. Staring straight ahead with their dead eyes, it looks like a satanic cult sacrifice to some horrible bear-demon. Although, the three wise bears have provided snacks for the blood rite: salmon, honey, and berries. All go well with cub entrails.
Every year, I think, "I wonder if there's an even weirder nativity set that I can find" and every year I come across something where I think, "Yeah, that's friggin' crazy shit, man." Here, it's the snow people nativity, with a snow angel, a snow Joseph, a snow Mary, and horrible half-snow, half-flesh sheep chimera. Did Snow Mary give birth to Snow Baby Jesus? Or did they all just make Snow Baby Jesus out of snow?

You know how gnomes used to be just those creepy little bitches you put out on your lawn and forgot about? Well, now they can apparently give birth to the Gnome God's child, who will, no doubt, be crucified on a cute little cross one day for the sins of all gnomes. Oh, so many sins.

That goddamn nightmare fuel isn't a lab experiment gone horrible awry. It's a bunch of white mice with eyes so wide they look like someone laced some cheese with meth and let the little bastards go crazy. It's gonna be horrible when baby Jesus mouse gets crucified in trap.

This is not to mention the Chickentivity, the Moosetivity, the Barntivity, the Native American Nativity, and the various Beartivities, all available unironically for your Christmas consumption.

And then there's the baby nativity:

You might think, "Oh, that's adorable. What's so wrong with it?" To which I can only inform you that the implication of it is that a baby Mary shoved a baby Jesus out of her baby vagina.

Speaking of implications, think of what this dog one means:  
This means there is a dog Pilate who will sentence dog Jesus to dog crucifixion. It means that there is a dog Mary Magdalene who is a dog prostitute. This is not to mention the dog centurions who routinely torture and kill dogs, the dog slaves who serve their dog masters, and the Jewish dogs who get blamed for everything. But don't worry. Dog Jesus will rise from the dead in three days. Have some damn kibble waiting for him. 

And to all a good night.

Oh, wait. What's that you say? You think that last one was kind of a weak one to end on? Well, then, fuck you. Here's the Day of the Dead nativity:

Yeah, you might think they're singing Christmas carols, but they're all screaming in horror and pain. Essentially, that's Christmas in the time of MAGA and Covid.

Oh, wait. What's that? Those aren't that bad after all we've suffered? Then how about these terrifying motherfuckers:

Or maybe that's just how we'll all look after climate change has its way with us.

Maybe your taste is more cutting edge. Well, you fancy motherfucker, you can cut lots of shit with this one

I mean, come the fuck on. It screams, "I want to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I don't want my friends to think I'm too Christian-y." It yells, "Look how pretentious I am but still love Christmas." It cries, "A nativity, but with multicolored ghost blobs." It announces, "I don't have children and fuck you if yours break my glassy Mary."

Finally (for real), here's one I actually like. It's the Recycled Auto Parts Nativity
C'mon. It's got everything. Skeletal camels, edges that would slice open a loaf of bread and some fishes, and baby Jesus sleeping on a bed of chicken wire. That's awesome art by Armando Ramirez, and I'd proudly put that up in my home next to my Peanuts creche and dare some internet asshole to talk shit about it. 

Merry Christmas, baby. Let's just get out of this year alive. May George Bailey finally get to push Mr. Potter into the frozen river.

(Note: Previous editions of the nativity post have included the ZombitivityDogtivity, the Boyd's Bears Nativity, and the Rubber Duck...oh, fuck, you get the idea.)