Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


Last week in American discourse (1)

Here are some points I’ve either read or heard made over the course of the past days by my fellow citizens. These have been edited for clarity, respectability and brevity.

In Social Media

1.) Facebook in no way influenced the election because you’re a liberal and you don’t understand how algorithms work.

2.) Sure, Donald settled for $25 million, but Hillary killed people prepared to testify about Benghazi.

3.) Democrats don’t even know how to count because Donald Trump went back on his promises.

4.) You really do need to show more tolerance towards people who want Jews and Homosexuals gassed. Those people believe they are the descendants of the sun.

5.) If Hillary Clinton were as strong as Vladimir Putin, she would have kept all the Crimeans out, which is the only reason Putin went in.

6.) Donald Trump can’t win. Even if he changes his positions, still the liberals don’t like him.

7.) The only reason I voted for Trump is because he’s against the H-1B visa. I got laid off because of that, and I’m an accountant.

8.) Not everybody thinks its Nazi to support white people. And just because you salute with your right hand doesn’t mean you buy into everything that’s Nazi.

9.)  Obama gave Ellen DeGeneres a civilian award even though she never fought on a battlefield or took a wound. So now it’s just a lesbian award? I’m going to pretend I’m a lesbian so that I could get one.

10.) I know people from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who understand their jobs aren’t coming back. So they voted their conscience.

In Overheard Conversation

1.) No, I’m really really really not a racist. I just think it’s time for white people to have another chance.

2.) It’s actually wrong to vote unless they put somebody in office.

3.) Illinois went blue mostly because nobody voted.

4.) You know those protesters got paid off because most of them went to Starbucks or Whole Foods right afterwards, and there’s no way any of them have jobs.

5.) I was there waiting in traffic for those protesters to get out and I could tell you it was way more annoying than watching the Cubs win the World Series.

6.) Now the millennials are going to learn what it means to have to look for a job just like regular people.

7.) If you supported immigrants, you would really want them to go back to their home countries where they would be safe.

8.) Can somebody explain to me why Michael Jordan deserves to get a Medal of Freedom? What did he do to deserve it?

9.) It shouldn’t be wrong for the president to own hotels. If you think about it, it saves  money on business trips.

10.) The only way you’re going to get more people out to vote is if you give them a good reason to do it.

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Photo of Lollipop from Wikipedia

 

 

 


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New essay published

The good folks at ReImagining Magazine have published their summer issue. My essay, An American Imposter, finds itself there.

I spent a long time abroad this spring and summer, and got tired of having to “explain” my American identity. It got to the point that I no longer wanted to talk to strangers about where I was from. It became impossible to have conversations about anything besides our loathsome national politics.

The experience inspired this essay. Hope you’ll read and share. 


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We are all members of our culture

I’m depressed today because I know I’m complicit. Separating myself from the culture—indeed, the cultures—to which I belong is impossible.

I am an American at a terribly low point in our history, and I can’t separate myself from the embarrassing maelstrom in our daily rhetoric, the “leaders” we believe reflect our values, at least in part. I refuse to use their names in this post. Using their names has for a long time been part of the problem, a way of using attention junkies to gain attention.

I’m an educator at a time when education is far less effective than it should be, both yielding and reflecting the maelstrom. I’m in higher education at a time when the whole system—the system that compensates me so that I might pay my student loans—looks at students as streams of revenue, at courses as products, and thinks of itself the way an empire might, at its teachers the way Pharaoh saw captured troops. A contemporary college’s greatest partner is a bank. Its greatest enemies are artists and philosophers.

I’m a man of letters at a time when people argue in comments about clickbait headlines. Despite the headline’s purpose, so many don’t bother to click, yet freely unload their frustrations, ignorance, hatred, fear and anxiety. I have written such headlines in attempts to profit. My refusal to monetize this blog is a cheap and pathetic attempt at integrity, one whose sincerity is questionable. It’s embarrassing to receive a “paycheck” for your “writing” in the amount of $6.00, the result of 12,000 “clicks”. We’ll say, “Hey, better $6.00 than 0!” We justify so many vile acts this way.

I could go on. I think I’ve summarized the situation well enough. No…I’ll go on.

I am a child of migrant refugees who now fear and loathe migrants and refugees, who blame refugees for failing to contain a war that banished them from their homes, migrants for working jobs that, if performed by others, would raise prices. Among us are sons and daughters of those displaced because tyrannical demagogues decided to send their armies into battle, slaughter citizens en masse. These children of the displaced today support a demagogue and tyrant. I am complicit in this irrational fear, in this simultaneous hatred and denial of one’s back story. I have paid money to companies that financed movements and politicians who profit by inflaming the maelstrom. Some of these politicians hold shares of the company that sends me a bill each month.

That bill buys a product that’s bad for me. The company knows, all of its employees know the product is bad for me. How many of us pay our bills from the sales of products we know are bad for the people consuming them, and how many of our bills represent purchases we know are bad for us, bad for our kids, bad for people not yet born? The maelstrom swirls, gaining speed. We all know what we’re doing, and we go about it as if there’s no alternative.

Our national rhetoric is about to achieve a level of profanity we may not be able to imagine. I think it’s important, right now and right here, for all of us to stop using this sentence: “Look at what they’re doing over there.” That’s a dangerous delusion, part and parcel of the problem. The correct sentence is this one: “Look at what we’re doing over here.” If we could wake up to ourselves, to our actual predicament, which is that our conditions are the result of our actions and ideas, we’d see the alternative path.

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The implausibility of a Great American Wall

I tried posting this article on Facebook, but I felt it did not get the proper traction, so I’m going to share it here on Liquid Ink. Some colleagues and I were discussing this over lunch. Does anyone understand what kind of engineering feat it would be to build a wall between Mexico and the USA? In the damn desert? With this state of political gridlock?

An engineer, Ali Rhuzkan, has chimed in, and his explanation makes obvious just how absurd all this bravado is about a wall between our countries. What do people think, that the Mexico-US border is like a street between Charlottenburg and the rest of Berlin?

Here are some of the article’s highlights:

  • This wall would contain over three times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam.
  • It would be greater in volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis.
  • The rebar necessary to reinforce the concrete would equal about 5 billions pounds of steel, or more than is contained in 4 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

Read the rest of Ali Rhuzukan’s article here.

Here’s a wall for you:

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My 9/11 Memoir

I was living in New York on 9/11/2001. I composed this brief memoir for today’s edition of The Good Men Project.

Sept 11 Fireman