Looking Back


When George W. Bush was elected I knew what to expect, mostly: I knew there was going to be a war, the tax cuts, the bubble. That was all on schedule. The most unpredictable thing during those eight years was his administration's response to the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Just deciding to let a major American city drown seemed unthinkable as it was happening, and as it was happening we were all watching, thinking: "They are letting this happen. They're not going to help at all."

Part of the fear of the incoming Trump administration is that no one is sure what to expect. His behavior as president-elect has given a clear indication of how far he is willing to undermine all governing norms. For malice and unpredictability, this incoming administration feels a lot like Katrina.

The unofficial start of Black Lives Matter took place ten years before the rest of the movement, during A Concert for Hurricane Relief, an event held to support the victims of Katrina. Kanye West, always ahead of his time, told national TV audiences flatly: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Aghast, Mike Myers set the template for all white reactions to the outright call for respecting black lives.

Contrast that scene with the one that played out last week, when Kanye met with Trump at his black tower on 5th Avenue.

Tweet by @MeelzTV shows Kanye’s 2006 vs. 2016

There is no way to predict what kind of events are about to take place. No real strategy to outthink, or philosophy to counter. If even facts are becoming sludgelike we have to trust something more intimate than facts. Memory. Strength. Rage. Emotion. Faith. None of those things are reasonable, and yet all can be substantiated. There is only one fact to check: do you want to stand next to Trump or do you want to stand next to Mike Myers?

(Top image: Altered version of US Navy 050915-N-5345W-144 by U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Kristopher Wilson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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