by Dick Mac
Some thoughts about the year just passed.
WomenWomen need to take over the world, and during 2018 it started to feel like this might happen.
The phrase "Me Too" was first used in 2006 by a woman discussing sexual abuse. It became a hashtag and larger topic in 2017 when an actress used it while describing her experiences of sexual harassment in the movie industry. Since then, after centuries of sexual abuse, harassment, and slavery, (all of which continue as I type this), women spoke out even more vociferously in 2018 about the men who have abused them, and forced them to trade sex for work. Every industry is being now affected by this movement, and this is a good thing. Employers, managers, and supervisors are no longer immune from exposure and prosecution if they use their authority to extract sexual favors. So, although we must suffer scum like Susan Collins, we get to celebrate millions (billions) of amazing, talented women who now need to take their places in the spotlight of the world stage. In our collective journey of women taking power, the midterm elections in the United States saw a number of women take seats during a decisive change in the House of Representatives.
Alexandria Ocasio-CortezU.S. Representative-elect for New York's 14th congressional district. After beating long-time machine-backed Congressman Joe Crowley, in the primary, @AOC is will be the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress, at 29 years-old. She has arrived in Washington with promoting the agenda nicknamed the Green New Deal to address education, the environment, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform, the Middle East, election reform, and the criminality of the Trump Administration. She rightfully boasts the New Green Deal is as bold as the space mission. If the Democratic Party doesn't turn on her, we may see her in Congress for a very long time. Already, however, the machine has begun to undermine her by appointing Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), a fossil-fuels-funded congresswoman, to head the soon-to-be-revived climate change panel. We can, however, probably expect the Democratic machine to undermine her at every turn. When your party is led by the likes of Pelosis and Schumers and Clintons and Obamas, you cannot expect progress. I'm doubling-down on my support of AOC and I hope you will too.
Billie Jean KingDuring her career, King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. Although quietly active in social issues for many years, she went very public in January, in response to retired tennis player Margaret Court's derogatory remarks about gay, lesbian, and transgender people. In 2003, King supported the renaming of the Australian Open's main court to the Margaret Court Arena. When Court went public with her bigoted views, King hit the media circuit with a direct condemnation of her former opponent and insisted that Court's name be dropped from the arena. Since then, King has been very public about her support of equal treatment under the law for LGBT people, and she has been a joy to watch. While attending the US Open this year, we were floored by the reception she received during the Roger Federer match by simply stepping out of a suite, into the seats. The reception was wild and she modestly and smilingly waved to the crowd for an extended period before stepping back inside. King embodies the beauty and strength of a true American: working hard, helping others, and standing-up for what is right.
The James Fields JuryJames Fields was driving his car through Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, after celebrating hatred at a white nationalist rally. When he encountered a counter-demonstration by people who oppose his political beliefs, he rammed his car into the crowd, killing one person and injuring thirty others. In December, 2018, a jury of his peers found him guilty of ten crimes, including first-degree murder, and recommended the sentence of life in prison. Next up for Fields is his Federal trial on civil rights charges for which he is eligible to receive the death penalty. For standing-up to hatred and nationalism, the jury that convicted him is one of the most important groups of people in 2018. Say her name: Heather Heyer.
Ariana GrandeAt 25-years-old, she has endured a day at work that resulted in a bombing of her concert in Manchester, England, followed by the death of her collaborator and partner Mac Miller, followed by a very public and short-lived romance and engagement to Pete Davidson. Through all this, she released an excellent record that includes the song "thank u, next." Although not a genre I generally consume, this song is much better than I would expect from someone so young, and shows a maturity rooted in a series of personal and professional experiences that nobody her age should have to endure.
Tree of Life SynagogueJews are under attack in 21st Century America, and it is happening amidst a dialog and tone that is suspiciously and frighteningly similar to 1930s Germany.
During Shabbat morning services, on October 27, 2018, at the synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Robert Bowers, a neo-fascist radicalized by Fox News and Donald Trump, shot and killed eleven people and injured seven others. It is the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in the United States. Bowers was arrested. Since he is white, however, he is not being charged with terrorism, because this is America and white people are rarely charged with terrorism, even when they are terrorists and commit crimes of terror. The victims of the Tree Of Life Synagogue shooting are some of the most important people of 2018.
Those killed were:
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69
Say their names.
Arsene WengerLong-time manager of Arsenal Football Club ended his tenure with the club. Although he'd won 3 Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, and the FA Community shield 7 times, he was harassed by a well-organized group of Arsenal supporters who blamed him for the club's recent lack of silverware. What these bone-headed supporters never acknowledged or respected was that ownership cut all spending for seven years after building a luxurious new stadium in North London, and he managed to keep the team competitive the entire time. Wenger was brilliantly dignified while under attack, and deserved a much nicer departure than the #WengerOut scum afforded him.
During his time at Arsenal, Wenger was honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and France's Legion d'Honneur. He was Premier League Manager of the year three times, and once named World Manager of the Year. Irrespective of his departure from Arsenal, Wenger remains one of the most important sports figures in history and one of very important people of 2018.
Forest FiresIn the last quarter of 2018, no fewer than 9 wildfires struck California, killing and injuring over 100 people and destroying over 20,000 structures. If you listen to the average (stupid) American, this has nothing to do with climate change. If you listen to the above-average American, including the scientists who know about these things: the extreme nature and number of these wildfires is directly related to climate change. The United States, however, is a nation of climate science deniers and will do nothing about it.
Jamal KhashoggiJamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist working for the Washington Post, was murdered at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Both the Saudi government and the Unites States government delivered ever-changing stories and excuses for this journalist's death. None of the stories were believable. What is believable, and probably is the closest to the truth, is that the Saudi government, ostensibly led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ("MBS"), planned and executed Khashoggi's murder because they tired of his critical reporting. What is also believable is that the current Administration of the United States has decided to simply agree to whatever MBS spouts as the truth. An employee of an American newspaper is dead and the United States is doing nothing about it.
The Immigrant CaravanThe United States has become a hot-bed of fascism and white supremacy under the leadership of the current American president. At the top of the hate list is Hispanic Immigrants, followed by African Americans and American Jews. In what has turned into a fiasco, a group of Central American immigrants in need of political asylum because they are living in extremely dangerous and dire conditions, publicized their migration to the American media (which by and large is controlled by fascists of varying degrees), so instead of it being a mission to safety it has become a circus and sideshow for the current American president and his overlords at Fox News to use as political capital.
Never one to miss a chance to rile-up the hatred steaming inside his "christian" base, the current American president has demonized this group of mostly women and children and turned most of the country away from our need to be providers of refuge, into a mob of debating fools ignoring the basic tenets of American goodness. We are a nation of immigrants and we need to open our doors to these immigrants. We need immigrants. We need these immigrants.