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    An Epic Eclipse of Conscientiousness

    By Andrea Shorter–

    This week we experienced an eclipse of the sun that brought breathtaking darkness across the U.S. from the beaches of Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. While fog obscured our views here in the Bay Area, it was a memorable event nonetheless. Throughout human history, myths and beliefs have captured our imaginations about the meaning and effect of a solar eclipse. Some believed—and still do—that a total eclipse of the sun means the world’s end. Considering the events of the week before the actual solar eclipse, it felt like a cosmic precursor to an apocalyptic end times.

    Before the solar eclipse, we collectively experienced the shattering aftermath of an already horrifically violent and deadly terrorism visited upon Charlottesville, Virginia, by white nationalists and supremacists. We are still reeling from the President of the United States’ spiral from one unconscionable utterance to another in his trenchant unwillingness to outright condemn white supremacists, their cause, and violence.

    After declaring “many sides, many sides” at fault for the violence, he rightfully faced piercing backlash for proposing moral equivalency between white nationalists and counter protestors. He then reluctantly delivered a forced teleprompter prepared statement of what was to have made him sound like he had a grasp on the totality of the situation at hand, a.k.a., a grip on reality.

    Then came the thunderous, meteoric plummet to planet Earth: finally, 24 hours later and teleprompter-free, adorned by the lush comforts of his very own granite and gold-laden monument-to-self at Trump Tower, the President grabbed the mic after a press conference ostensibly about infrastructure. Eager to relieve himself of constraint before the press corps, he imparted a way, way off-script shameful reveal of his true, innermost twitterific feelings about the events and defense of the white supremacists he shamelessly courted, emboldened all the way to the White House.

    In about the same time as a solar eclipse, he blew away any modicum of presidential decency, regressing quickly back to his initial bombastic insistence that the violence was incited by, and was to be held accountable by, “both sides.”

    Effectively defending the white supremacists, he proposed that many of those marching with fiery tiki torch-bearing, locked and loaded arms and clubs-bearing, anti-Semitic and other hateful chanters were actually “fine people,” you know, like the ones at his self-aggrandizing rallies. In fact—because he is always about the facts, right?—some of these folks were just innocuous history buffs (perhaps the ones in Polo shirts) there to quietly, civilly witness the take down of one of at least 1,500 cherished Confederate monuments erected around the South.

    Then along came the equally morally corrupt band of counter-protestors spoiling for a fight with the fake media camera-ready provocateurs with torches, clubs, guns, and even an automobile unleashing its arson of decades pent-up KKK-inspired hate and violence empowered by the President himself upon peaceful or other resistors (see Trump campaign rally footage of Citizen Trump inciting violence towards unwelcome rally intruders).

    We have revisited, relived and re-litigated with good cause towards ad nauseam the litany of indefensible offenses and danger he presented to the world in an epic fail to lead and unify in crisis with moral clarity.

    Instead, he continued with his same old tired shtick of blame games, name calling, score-settling tweets, temperamental ticks against fake media, in an all too obvious pivot from his defense of white supremacists towards an all-out cultural war guised by some very incomprehensible anti-political correctness chatter about erasing American history by taking down Confederate monuments—and maybe the monuments of slave-owning American forefathers, like George Washington! Gasp! Thomas Jefferson! Gasp! I do declare, where and when will it end?

    Good question, Mr. President: where and when will it end? Will your naked attempts to deflect, divide, and distract from the exposure of the erupting, gaping fault-lines in your nascent presidency—such as the numerous Russia election interference, collusion, and criminal investigations your associates, campaign, and possibly you are under—ever come to an end?

    Nice try at the three-card Monte, but we haven’t forgotten.

    Nor are we so distracted as not to see the behind the scenes drive to continue implementing your policy agenda to make America something, something other than great again by dismantling our regulatory agencies, civil rights, public education, and all else counter to the interests of the other fine global warming deniers you’ve cast at the helm.

    Note to the GOP: thanks for the obligatory denouncing of racism in our society twitter-storm, but can you all please stop enabling, and giving this man a chance to magically rise to the precious occasion to act presidential. There will be no Eliza Doolittle transformation. Stop predicating your political calculations for maintaining majority houses in fear of alienating and angering his eroding base.

    Party of Lincoln, follow the lead of the corporate leaders who (led by one of the few African American corporate CEOs) kicked him to the curb en masse for his blatant inability to break free from his coddle of white supremacists’ vitriol and hatred of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Jews, Muslims, and LGBTQ people who are, and have always been, America—very much to their misguided dismay.

    The long, tiki torch-lit Trumpian march to de-legitimize, eventually succeed, and erase the legacy of the first Black President of the United States with the winds of hatred, desperation, and division at his back must come to an end.

    Now, these people who lost their damn minds bearing witness to their worst nightmare—a Black president—are openly emboldened, played, and sympathized by a man to whom a scorched Earth, win at-all-cost is his iron-clad brand.

    His own clunky, yet calculated, attempts to distract, deflect, and divide tell that he is constitutionally resistant to maturing into a self-possessed secure man, with a depth of character that will recognize, regret, and make meaningful amends for his own epic, irreversible failure to lead against hate—not foment hate—with moral clarity and authority reasonably expected of the leader of the free world.

    Donald Trump has no moral compass. As a self-convinced strongman President, he has shown himself in broad daylight not only to be the emperor with no clothes, but also to be a dangerous, weak-minded, bare-assed drama queen.

    Please quit him. He is not a good boyfriend.

    Muster the Courage of Peace and Non-Violence

    In a couple of days, white nationalists and supremacists are planning to descend upon the ultra-liberal, diversity-rich San Francisco Bay Area. It is expected that against the backdrop of the glorious Golden Gate Bridge, they are hoping, if not planning, for the incitement of another violent, bloody confrontation, such as what occurred in Charlottesville.

    Of course, our City leaders, including our Chinese American Mayor, our African American President of the SF Board of Supervisors, and First Woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives have made it very clear that the hatred planned to be brought here is not welcome or wanted. Perhaps the permit to assemble in the National Park’s scenic Crissy Field will have been revoked, postponed, or something, but I doubt it. They do have a right to assemble and to free speech.

    They do not, however, have a right to incite violence, and neither do we as resistors. For onlookers, peaceful resistors, and others it will prove difficult, but absolutely imperative, that we muster the courage of peace and non-violent resistance in the face of pure unadulterated hatred for all that we are, stand for, and aspire to be.

    Do not give in to what they want: that singular, snapchat photo or fake news reel against the most recognizable, majestic, wonder of the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, in bloody battle defending themselves against the left of the left, bluest of the blue, same sex marrying, transgender affirming, mix-raced loving, Jewish, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, medicinal marijuana smoking, elitist educated, technologists replacing industrial era jobs, etc.—the 21st Century shining collective anti-thesis against all for which they stand.

    Do not give them what they want. Yes, everyone has a right to defend themselves against an act of violence. Yet, if you are there, unless you are there as them or to join them, you are most likely there to be a witness. Please stand firm as an heir and descendant of the non-violent civil rights movement against hatred faced down by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and living hero U.S. Representative John Lewis. Remember, it was Bayard Rustin—an openly gay, Black, Quaker—who infused the civil rights movement with the principles and practices of non-violence. It wasn’t easy then, and it won’t be easy for some now. But, it was done. And, it must be done now.

    Better yet, stay away. Stay far, far away. (Editor’s Note: Or go to Juanita MORE!’s event at Harvey Milk Plaza. See page 6 and the back page.)

    Meditate on the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love. Join in alternative happenings in solidarity for peace, justice, equality, and love that celebrate the best of the San Francisco Bay Area, and all that we aspire to be.

    It will be very difficult for some of us to contain decades and generations of our own painful hurt and disdain against the very ideology, rhetoric, and hate that has sought to completely enslave, eradicate, or obliterate us. This may be so. Still, please do not give them what they want.

    Wherever we are and with whomever we are with, please let us honor the memory of Charlottesville’s lost sister and peaceful counter-protestor, Heather Heyer. Let us hold fast to each other in spirit, and stand firm in the righteousness of resistance by mustering the courage of peace in the coming days—and beyond.

    Andrea Shorter is President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights, and marriage equality. A co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.