Saturday, June 13, 2020

Abolish/Defund: It's a Trap!

In my 40+ years of watching politics pretty closely, I've noticed that
a. the institutional republican party (that counts as members some lovely people) is evil and want to make the rich richer, and they've got lots of ways to do it and are constantly cooking up new ones
b. they can't win elections fairly so they play dirty
c. every presidential election cycle they form an alliance with unwitting young/well off highly educated/privileged urban lefties to promote a cause that sounds really bad and no one really wants that can serve as their main talking point to scare people out of voting for democrats.

In 2016, it was unisex bathrooms.  I am not alone in saying, this was one of the worst things handed to the right on a silver platter.
It's looking like this year it's abolish the police.
If you ask an abolisher/defunder what they mean, it turns out, like "anarchy", that the words are meant to be provocative and the actual intent is more a kind of much-needed probing reform of an undeniably dysfunctional and often dangerous institution, than actual abolishing or defunding.  I know it's fun for you young 'uns to be provocative and I know there's a lot of peer pressure.  But you may not be aware of the hideous consequences of these traps has been over the decades.  Many of us can remember a time when the the middle class was much larger and included people who worked with their hands.  We remember when there was general agreement in polite company nobody should live on the street and that trade unions were forces of good and picket lines shouldn't be crossed.  The right has thousands of cold-blooded analysts figuring out ways to utilize anything they can get their hands on to divide the public and scare people who don't have graduate degrees.  This doesn't mean self-censoring.  It means mass communication that facilitates and encourages dialogue and teaching.  It means being bold with ideas and slogans that are real winners, that are absolutely true and clear and necessary.  Black Lives Matter is, of course, an excellent example.  Medicare for all is another.  These slogans can't help but provoke deep moral thought and shame in those who oppose them.  Abolish the Police can't help but divide and confuse.  It's a shibboleth.  If you know the "principles" behind it, you get it.  But to a majority of people, this sounds scary and menacing.  And if it's something that has to be "youngsplained", that makes matters worse.  I know "Reform the Police", "Demilitarize the Police", "Fund Social Workers", etc. don't sound as cool, but maybe there's something along these lines that will be almost as snappy and true and inspiring as Black Lives Matter or Medicare for All.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Poetic Book of Mormon (sorry, not chloroform in print)

I have been setting to music parts of the Book of Mormon that appear to be or have been in verse in the original languages.  I am aware that the Book of Mormon has been maligned by many, Mormon and not, for its stilted language and lack of poetic qualities.  Setting texts reveals their poetic qualities in ways that no other activity can.  I have found many of these texts to have delightful and evocative poetic qualities that I hadn’t noticed before, qualities that are quite musical.  The Hebraic parallelisms are, of course, striking.  They are not native to English language writing and have thus been annoying to many English speakers who have been taught to value economy and shun redundancy.  But I have also been noticing turns of phrase which have unique delights of sound and sense in their English manifestation.  There are abundant if subtle alliterations, in particular, as well as similes, synecdoches, etc.  I’ve listed a few here from the “Psalm of Nephi”, 2 Nephi 4, which I am in the midst of setting:

behold, my soul
the great goodness
causing them to quake
my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
why should my heart weep and my soul linger
droop in sin
robe of thy righteousness
I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh;
rock of my righteousness
my voice shall forever ascend