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As ominous as Trump’s speech was, it tapped into a certain mood that has prevailed throughout 2016 — a year studded (at a seemingly biweekly rate) with deadly terror attacks, mass shootings, killings of unarmed civilians by police and ambush attacks on officers themselves.
Those events did not let up even into the warmer months, standing last week in especially stark contrast to the modern tradition of the summer music festival. At the mid-July Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park, considered to be among the more easygoing of summer gatherings, rapid-fire text messages with friends about which band to see next commingled with push alerts about the deadly coup in Turkey.
It’s enough to make anyone — and particularly tragic-news-weary journalists who can’t responsibly tune it out — grow cynical about something as seemingly frothy as a music fest. Is it appropriate to indulge in a weekend of frolicking from stage to stage while elsewhere people are losing their lives? Is it even worth it to go?
The answer is all but certainly “yes.”
Sure, there’s a lot of science behind the fact that listening to music carries with it all sorts of health benefits — improving mood, reducing anxiety and depression and even lessening pain. But, generalities aside, there were many moments from the Pitchfork, now in its 11th year, that served as evidence for the very specific ways that live music settings can help us cope with the seemingly endless onslaught of bad news.
As hard as it is to reconcile heavy events with light ones, the latter can serve as unifying response to the former.
Each performance provided a different antidote.
Canadian pop princess Carly Rae Jepsen’s Friday night set became a much-needed burst of joy. You’re probably grimacing at the thought of Jepsen’s once-ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe” hit, but, in light of recent headlines, dancing and singing along to slice after slice of pop perfection felt downright therapeutic.
Saturday brought catharsis in a different form thanks to London post-punks Savages, who tore through an exhilarating set amid blazing afternoon sun. Songs like the set-ending “Fuckers” ― which centers on lead singer Jehnny Beth’s repeated refrain “Don’t let the fuckers get you down” ― were the perfect vehicle for channeling some anger and a nod to keep your head up.
Other moments in the weekend spoke more to feelings of vulnerability. These came via British artist Blood Orange’s, aka Dev Hynes, emotionally raw Saturday evening set, which largely showcased songs off Hynes’ latest release, “Freetown Sound.”
Hynes has described the album as being written “for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way, the underappreciated,” and that sentiment could not be more timely. Songs like his duet “Better Than Me,” sung with Jepsen, effortlessly spun feelings of fear and uncertainty into something both comforting and affirming.
Eventually, in any grieving process, there comes the period of acceptance. At Pitchfork on Sunday, Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper made a surprise appearance during his friend and collaborator Jeremih’s mid-afternoon set.
As soon as the crowd knew what was happening, hundreds of people ran toward the stage so they could get a closer look at their city’s rising star. As Chance sang highlights from “No Problem” and “Angels,” the pure euphoria was, again, palpable.
The rapper’s appearance was particularly significant given his status as a hometown-kid-made-good who uses his fame to draw attention ― and action ― to some of the city’s most dire problems, like gun violence, and support of the young black community.
But perhaps no moment over the weekend captured the conflict of getting into a party mood among the gloom and doom than R&B star Miguel’s Sunday performance. After a thrilling start, the energetic singer, clad all in white, halted his dance-laden, energetic set to silence. He then addressed the recent killings directly, saying he was “tired of human lives turned into hashtags” and calling for action, not just prayers, before he launched into the powerful protest song “How Many.”
Before returning to form, he urged festivalgoers to raise their fists in the air in solidarity as a promise to do better. Together, the crowd raised their fists in a silent pledge to do just that.
It was another reminder that attending an event like a festival serves an important function of getting oneself out into the world. Whether you’re reading about the latest tragedy or writing about it, gathering in a public place that’s underpinned by a certain sense of community is a crucial counterbalance.
For one of us, the Pitchfork experience came just days after returning from an anguished week in St. Paul, where the community was grieving the death of Philando Castile, a man killed by police in a traffic stop.
The week before, protesters shut down I-94 for hours amid angry and anguished protests. To cut the tension and lift the mood, a pickup truck carrying loudspeakers amplified music from Marvin Gaye, Kendrick Lamar and Prince.
A dancer from an indigenous Mexican tribe joined the crowd on the freeway to drum and offer a “fire dance.”
Asked why the group opted to dance and sing for a crowd calling for an end to police brutality, the dancer said, “We need to keep feeding the passion, the motion. Especially when we’re feeling hopeless and [feeling] despair.”
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Every day, Tianna Kennedy walks through the crops that blanket the 70-acre expanse of idyllic farmland she helms in New York’s Northern Catskill region.
Kennedy grows hundreds of varieties of organic vegetables and herbs. As she walks, she closely examines her collards. She used to grow more of them, but her customers just weren’t buying them ― in the realm of greens, it seems kale is still king. So she’s down to a quarter-bed of collards.
She continues on to her fava beans. Kennedy’s indifferent to them, but many of the 15 different chefs she counts among her customers just can’t get enough, even as she doubles her production of them again and again.
Thus is the daily push and pull of business for Kennedy’s Star Route Farm, which she established two years ago.
In addition to supplying restaurants with produce, Kennedy operates a 150-member community-supported agriculture group and takes an unusual “harvest-to-order” approach to her business. Plantings are carefully planned based on chef and CSA customer feedback and observations from previous growing seasons, in an effort to more accurately predict what customers will want, and thus reduce waste.
While food waste has suddenly become a popular topic in the food and farming worlds, for Kennedy it’s simply about survival amid alarmingly tight margins.
“There’s this myth that farms will always exist and farmers will always exist,” she said. “A lot of people’s lives are on the line, a lot of rural economies are on the line. Shopping from your local farmers and local farmers’ markets is not just cute. It’s keeping that economy alive.”
Kennedy is part of a new breed of farmers working hard to avoid food waste in an industry with a reputation for a whole lot of it.
According to the best available estimates, about 20 percent of the fruits and vegetables the agricultural industry grows don’t even make it off the farm. And that number doesn’t include food loss that occurs due to handling, storage, processing or packaging issues.
All that waste adds up. According to Feeding America estimates, at least 6 billion pounds of fresh produce goes either unharvested or unsold each year in the U.S.
Of course, producing just the right amount of food has been a challenge for farmers for as long as there have been farms. And there will always be factors beyond any one person’s control that contribute to food waste at the individual farm level: weather, pests, disease, labor shortages, changes in market price.
Still, there is a growing movement committed to getting creative and doing something about it. And a lot of farmers, large and small, are on board.
For larger farming operations in particular, pressure from retailers to deliver produce that looks a certain way often leads directly to surpluses.
Most retailers adhere to strict cosmetic standards put in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine the acceptable size, shape and color of the produce they sell. The USDA describes these standards as a “common ‘language’” that makes it easier to do business.
The result, though, is a lot of so-called imperfect or “ugly” produce that farmers don’t have a market for. Sometimes it’s composted or fed to livestock. Other times it winds up in landfills. Often it doesn’t get eaten at all ― not by humans, and not by animals either.
Farmers aren’t to blame for this waste, says Jordan Figueiredo, who leads the popular @UglyFruitAndVeg Twitter campaign aimed at getting major retailers like Walmart and Whole Foods to sell “ugly” produce in their stores.
“This is not the farmers’ fault in most cases,” Figueiredo said. “They have to produce so much and can’t miss their orders for how much they’re supposed to have. So they overproduce. There’s always going to be this extra produce they have.”
Most farmers fear pushing back against the expectations of massive buyers like Walmart, says Dominika Jarosz, a campaign manager at the anti-waste nonprofit Feedback. And so the cycle repeats.
“Farmers don’t want to jeopardize any relationships they have with retailers,” Jarosz said, “given the power they have in the current structure of our food system.”
Many farmers, when faced with a surplus ― whether because of a bumper crop, an order rejected due to “uglies,” or some other reason ― choose to donate their extras to food banks, soup kitchens or other charity groups.
The decision to do so is a no-brainer to Dana Boyle, co-owner of the Garner’s Produce farm and market in Warsaw, Virginia.
“It’s just as simple as we have it and people need it,” Boyle told The Huffington Post.
Food recovery or gleaning organizations often step in to collect and redistribute the would-be waste, relying on volunteers to help harvest produce from farmers who don’t have the labor available even to get the surplus fruits and vegetables off the field, much less onto a vehicle and to a food bank.
Elise Bauman heads up one of the nation’s largest such organizations, Salem Harvest, headquartered about 50 miles south of Portland, Oregon.
Founded in 2010, the group coordinates some 3,000 volunteers and works with about 42 farms in the Willamette Valley region.
“It’s crazy the amount of food being wasted on the outskirts of town and in rural parts of town,” Bauman said. “And then in the middle of the city, you see people who are hungry.”
Groups like Bauman’s are helping to bridge that gap.
Last year, a week before Thanksgiving, Bauman was alerted to a large surplus of butternut squash on an Oregon farm that was going to go to waste. After rallying 100 volunteers, Salem Harvest harvested 130,000 pounds of squash — 18 full truckloads — in two days. The squash was delivered to food banks throughout the region.
Similar programs are also expanding under the purview of food banks themselves. In Ohio, Erin Wright oversees the Ohio Association of Food Banks’ unique Agricultural Clearance Program, which serves as a direct link between farmers with excess produce and food banks that provide food to hungry Ohioans.
Last year, the Ohio program distributed more than 40 million pounds of food, for which the farmers are reimbursed roughly 20 cents per pound. It’s a win all around.
“It helps them out, it helps us out, it helps the clients out and helps sustainability across the board for everyone,” Wright told HuffPost.
Many states have similar programs. Others, including Kentucky and Michigan, are looking at creating or expanding initiatives based on the Ohio model.
There are two major hurdles preventing many of these programs from scaling up, however. One is funding. The other is the logistical challenge inherent in getting produce from farms ― often located in remote, rural areas ― to the places it’s needed.
Often, the funding available isn’t anything close to enough, Dana Gunders, staff scientist of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s food and agricultural program, told HuffPost.
“Food recovery is chronically underfunded at every step,” Gunders said.
The Ohio program is a rare exception. It receives $7.25 million in funding through a grant from the state legislature. But many smaller programs are unable to obtain the capital they need.
Further complicating matters is the fact that many states don’t offer tax credits to farmers who donate their excess produce ― which means a lot of them simply can’t afford to do it.
Even in states that do offer credits to incentivize donations, including California and Oregon, the money typically only covers any additional labor costs farmers incur by donating — so the best they can expect is to break even. Currently, there are no federal tax credits available for farmer-donors.
“Farmers can only donate so much without going broke,” Figueiredo said. “A lot of times they just leave stuff in the field, because they can’t afford to pick it just to donate it.”
Some in the private sector believe they have the solution. Over the past several years, apps like Love Food Hate Waste, Rainbow, Waste No Food and Food Cowboy have surfaced that aim to use technology to connect farmers (and other people with excess produce) with those who wish to get their hands on it.
Another promising platform, the San Francisco-based Full Harvest, debuted earlier this year. The platform connects farmers who have surplus or imperfect produce with food companies that need fruits and vegetables and don’t much care what they look like ― companies like juice manufacturers and other businesses that use produce as ingredients instead of the main product.
The demand has been very high, Full Harvest CEO Christine Moseley told HuffPost. Moseley said they’ve sold over 100,000 pounds of produce to food companies over the course of the last few months, and they’re aiming to ship over a million pounds of produce by the end of the year. She is confident their growth will only continue.
“It’s just a matter of time before people start realizing this is something that has to be done and we’ll be the platform [farmers will be] able to sell their product through,” Moseley said. “So far it’s working.”
Still, there’s a long way for the farm industry to go if it wants to help the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency meet their joint goal of halving U.S. food waste by 2030.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is confident that both the agricultural industry and the nation as a whole are on track to hit that ambitious target. In an interview with HuffPost, Vilsack pointed to innovations like WholeVine Products’ flour derived from grape seeds and the increased use of automatic fruit-picking machines that can harvest crops more efficiently.
The USDA has also expanded funding for its farm storage facility loan program and its value-added producer grant program in an effort to help farmers reduce their food waste. But despite these encouraging signs, Vilsack acknowledged that change always takes time.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Vilsack said. “I don’t think you’re going to have a situation where every American at the same time is going to come to the conclusion that [they] ought to be focused on this issue.”
Other experts agree ― but there’s a sense of optimism in the air. Gunders is particularly cheered by the amount of mostly bipartisan legislation, like the bills Rep. Chellie Penigree (D-Maine) has introduced, coming out of Congress. She believes the momentum is building.
“This is picking up speed really quickly,” Gunders said, “and that gives me a lot of hope.”
In the community of Wayne, Illinois, in Chicago’s western suburbs, Ellen Kamps and Jeff Hughes, the team behind Foxtrot Organic Farm, are also feeling hopeful. Their vision of a solution to food waste involves the entire community, and the food decisions we make every day.
Foxtrot holds a “transplant” sale each year where prospective gardeners can get a head start on the growing process. It’s part of the farmers’ effort to help people feel more connected to the food they eat ― and to gain a better appreciation of what the growing process is really like.
“It really puts the waste into perspective,” Hughes told HuffPost. “When you find out what might go to waste and how much effort is required to create the food, you become a lot more aware of and grateful for the food you see in the store. You know what went into it.”
Kamps and Hughes also take waste into account when choosing what produce to grow on their farm.
At their farm stand and their market booths, they sell unusual varieties of produce that are easier for home cooks to work with ― and more likely to actually get cooked up and eaten. Among them are a Romanian red garlic with a large clove size that’s easier to peel and a Delicata winter squash that was bred to have a softer skin, so you don’t need to peel it before cooking.
“Part of this is on the farmers’ end to make food and select varieties that are more convenient for people to cook with,” Hughes said. “People lead busy lives these days. So it’s a big help to make [things] easier for them.”
Still, experts say, food waste won’t be reduced in a meaningful, sustainable way without a broader cultural shift. And in that sense, says Figueiredo, the @UglyFruitAndVeg ringleader, there’s yet a long way to go.
“From a cultural standpoint, it’s about valuing food,” he said. “We don’t really value food enough to not waste it so much. But we’re at the very beginnings of progress.”
The responsibility, according to Figueiredo, ultimately falls on all of us collectively — along all points of the food supply chain — to push for change.
“This is a matter of us deciding if we want to do this,” he said.
More stories like this:
The Obama Presidential Library has found a home.
Sources told The Associated Press and Chicago Tribune Wednesday that the president has settled on Jackson Park, a green area of more than 500 acres on Chicago’s South Side, east of the University of Chicago.
Jackson Park beat out rival Washington Park, another South Side green space rumored to have been in the running for the institution.
DNAinfo Chicago reports the specific site in Jackson Park is a 21-acre lot in the center of the park currently occupied by a football field and a playground. In contrast, a development in Washington Park would have potentially disrupted some of Chicago’s oldest trees, including ones that predate the park itself.
The Obama Foundation is expected to make a formal announcement of the location in the next week.
New York firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and the Chicago-based Interactive Design Architects will oversee the library’s design. Interactive Design recently headed up the Art Institute of Chicago’s new modern wing.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
When it comes to food waste, the United States has a bit of a guilty conscience. And given that we waste an estimated 40 percent of the food we produce each year, that’s with good reason.
A new survey released last week and published in PLOS ONE found that 77 percent of respondents in a poll of 500 people representative of the U.S. population agreed that they feel guilty when they throw out food.
But it’s unclear if most Americans truly understand why they might feel guilty about food waste. Only 58 percent of respondents said they believed food waste was bad for the environment, while just 42 percent saw food waste as a major source of wasted money.
That disconnect came as a surprise to Brian Roe, a professor of agricultural marketing and policy at Ohio State University and the study’s co-author.
“Our intuition is that respondents might think that throwing away food is environmentally benign because food is organic and naturally occurring,” Roe wrote via email to HuffPost, “and they haven’t quite connected the dots that food that goes to a landfill produces methane, which has substantial environmental impacts and that all the energy and resources that went into creating the wasted food are essentially now useless.”
There also appeared to be a disconnect between respondents’ guilt about food waste and the feeling that they could do anything about it.
Fifty-one percent of respondents felt it would be difficult for them to reduce food waste in their homes and 42 percent said they don’t have enough time to worry about it. Further, it appears that most Americans believe we’re doing better than our neighbors on food waste — 87 percent of respondents said they believed they toss out less food than similar households.
The survey also provided insight into some of the causes of food waste. About 70 percent of respondents said that throwing away food past its package date reduces the risk of someone getting a foodborne illness.
This is a misconception, the Ohio State researchers say.
“As recent congressional testimony points out, label dates are not generally indicators of safety,” Roe noted.
An effort to standardize food labels could address this. The researchers and other advocates are pushing for confusing labels like “sell by” and “use by” to be supplanted by more straightforward ones like “best by” and “expires on.” Federal legislation with this aim was proposed earlier this year.
While less confusing date labels could help, it is still only part of the solution, the researchers and others working to reduce food waste argue.
Awareness of food waste appears to be growing — the Ohio State poll observed a 10 percentage point increase in the number of people who said they were aware of the issue when compared to a similar Johns Hopkins poll taken last year.
But awareness still relatively low. The new poll found only 53 percent of respondents were aware food waste was a problem in the first place.
Awareness, too, isn’t action. Stefanie Sacks, a food writer and nutritionist who is helping to push retailers like Whole Foods and Walmart to agree to sell “ugly” produce as a means of reducing food waste at the retail level, believes education is the key to getting consumers on board.
“We have to hit people in their kitchens,” Sacks told HuffPost. “We need to give people the tools, not only to cook but also to have tools to store and manage waste. We need to give people information.”
That’s because consumer-level food waste represents such a large piece of overall food waste in the U.S. According to USDA data, about 30 percent of all food loss occurs at either the retail or consumer level. Consumer food waste outnumbers retail waste in nearly every commodity category, with the lone exception of added fats and oils.
New technology could also prove helpful. The Ohio State team, including study co-author Danyi Qi, is currently working with with researchers at Louisiana State University to develop such a tool — a new app that measures household food waste.
Even with recent progress, other food waste experts are aware movement on the issue is still going to take time, though there are plenty of opportunities for meaningful action — pushing for standard date-label legislation, engaging with initiatives like the Walmart “ugly” produce campaign — now.
“This isn’t going to change overnight,” Natural Resources Defense Council staff scientist and Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook author Dana Gunders told HuffPost. “I think it’s going to take decades to really fundamentally fix [food waste], but I think there is a lot we can do quickly.”
Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email email@example.com.
Sweltering heat waves like the ones plaguing the Midwest and Northeast in recent days will become typical summer weather if climate change continues its course, scientists warn.
Temperatures have been in the mid-to-high 90s across the northeast since Thursday, plaguing the New York tri-state area, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C. and beyond. They follow a heat wave that struck the Midwest late last week, slamming Chicago with temperatures in the high 90s that felt more like 105 degrees.
And this comes just a month after triple-digit temperatures scorched the Southwest, breaking temperature records across Arizona and killing four hikers. At this rate, some experts are already saying there’s a 99 percent chance that 2016 will beat out 2015 as the hottest year on record.
Unless we slow down our fossil fuel consumption, we should get used to summers like these, climate scientists say.
“If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, and warm the planet by [3 degrees Celsius] by the end of this century, then what we today call ‘extreme heat’ we will instead call ‘mid-summer,’” Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and professor of meteorology at Penn State University, told The Huffington Post.
Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, agreed that severe heat could be summer’s new normal. He pointed to findings in the 2014 National Climate assessment that project that by the end of the 21st century, what used to be “once-in-20-year extreme heat days” in the U.S. will occur every two to three years.
“In other words, what now seems like an extremely hot day will become commonplace,” the report said.
As an example, Mann pointed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. During the late 20th century the city averaged less than one day a year with temperatures over 100 degrees. But “by the end of this century, given business-as-usual fossil fuel burning,” Mann wrote, “the models tell us we’ll see more than 30 days (yes, a solid month) a year of 100F+ days.”
That type of consistent heat may render some climates unlivable.
“Eventually the elevated heat becomes so pervasive and persistent that human habitation becomes difficult,” Mann said. “A number of studies have shown that the tropics will eventually become unlivable to human civilization, if we continue on the course that we’re on.”
But before humans are confronted with such drastic consequences, wildlife and landscapes less equipped to adjust will suffer first.
“What can not adapt is the ecosystems, the plants whether in nature, in forests or farmed,” Trenberth wrote to HuffPost. As for animals in the wild, “[t]hey lose food, the water evaporates and so becomes short in supply and maybe tainted, and they are subjected to increased wild fire risk. But bugs tend to love it!”
Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the New York Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.
I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why -- and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.
Who Supports Trump and Why
Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don't think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?
He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don't fit a common mold.
He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?
The answer requires a bit of background.
In the 1900s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?
The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).
What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.
In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father's authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don't prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others -- who are responsible for themselves.
Winning and Insulting
As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said,
"Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories -- deserved victories.
Consider Trump's statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don't get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.
The Moral Hierarchy
The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, Am,erica above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.
We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy
Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition -- who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn't that way, one can become frustrated and angry.
There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.
Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be 'born again" by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.
Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.
Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to "family values," which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.
Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.
Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative -- male or female --may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.
Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer -- cheaply and confidentially by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.
Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don't want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.
Laissez-faire Free Marketeers
Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don't deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans' anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.
But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn't import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him -- American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don't look like a problem.
Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government -- government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken by eminent domain for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he build his casino using eminent domain to get the property.
If businesses have to pay for their employees' health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.
Direct vs. Systemic Causation
Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes -- often combined.
Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.
Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.
Many of Trump's policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.
Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico -- build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them -- even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer -- the government -- take bids for the lowest prices. If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten Isis leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.
There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, nonChristians, gays -- and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call "bigots." For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable.
As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out... bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call 'political correctness.'
As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the unAmerican nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call "political correctness" -- public pressure against their views and against what they see as "free speech." This has become exaggerated since 911, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.
Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel -- with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don't even have to express their 'politically incorrect' views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.
Whenever you hear the words "political correctness" remember this.
There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?
Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump's views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.
This is true even if you are attacking Trump's views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don't Think of an Elephant! It doesn't matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.
A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in "traditional family values" -- a conservative code word -- and they may identify with winners.
Why Has Trump won the Republican nomination? Look at all the conservative groups he appeals to!
Why His Lack of Policy Detail Doesn't Matter
I recently heard a brilliant and articulate Clinton surrogate argue against a group of Trump supporters that Trump has presented no policy plans for increasing jobs, increasing economics growth, improving education, gaining international respect, etc. This is the basic Clinton campaign argument. Hillary has the experience, the policy know-how, she can get things done, it's all on her website. Trump has none of this. What Hillary's campaign says is true. And it is irrelevant.
Trump supporters and other radical Republican extremists could not care less, and for a good reason. Their job is to impose their view of strict father morality in all areas of life. If they have the Congress, and the Presidency and the Supreme Court, they could achieve this. They don't need to name policies, because the Republicans already of hundreds of policies ready to go. They just need to be in complete power.
How Trump Uses Your Brain to His Advantage
Any unscrupulous, effective salesman knows how to use you brain against you, to get you to buy what he is selling. How can someone "use your brain against you?" What does it mean?
All thought uses neural circuitry. Every idea is constituted by neural circuitry. But we have no conscious access to that circuitry. As a result, most of thought -- an estimated 98 percent of thought is unconscious. Conscious thought is the tip of the iceberg.
Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people's brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.
The mechanisms are:
1. Repetition. Words ore neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We're gonna win so much you'll get tired of winning.
2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark '(C)' in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.
There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant "Lock her up!" activates this whole line of reasoning.
3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community -- despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father -- namely, Trump.
4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: "Radical" puts Muslims on a linear scale and "terrorists" imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a "radical Republican terrorist."
Trump is aware this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, "I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration -- and it's a very effective form of promotion."
5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.
Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of "entering" and "leaving" the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexist; Britons believe that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.
6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.
7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, "He will do it."
8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that "defense of country is a family affair." From Trump's love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America's citizens and be committed to the success of all.
9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family's national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proud state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.
10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase "to call someone out." First the word "out." There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in "I see what you mean." Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To "out" someone is to made their private knowledge public. To "call someone out" is to publicly name someone's hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences.
This is the basis for the Trumpian metaphor that Naming is Identifying. Thus naming your enemies will allow you to identify correctly who they are, get to them, and so allow you to defeat them. Hence, just saying "radical Islamic terrorists" allows you to pick them out, get at them, and annihilate them. And conversely, if you don't say it, you won't be able to pick them out and annihilate them. Thus a failure to use those words means that you are protecting those enemies -- in this case Muslims, that is, potential terrorists because of their religion.
I'll stop here, though I could go on. Here are ten uses of people's unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer Morality govern America into the indefinite future.
These ten forms of using with people's everyday brain mechanisms for his own purposes have gotten Trump the Republican nomination. But millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on tv and heard them on the radio. The media pundits have not described those ten mechanisms, or other brain mechanisms, that surreptitiously work on the unconscious minds of the public, even though the result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people.
Even if he loses the election, Trump will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences. It is vitally important people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people's brains without their awareness. It is a form of mind control.
People in the media have a duty to report it when the see it. But the media comes with constraints.
Certain things have not been allowed in public political discourse in the media. Reporters and commentators are supposed to stick to what is conscious and with literal meaning. But most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public.
And it is not just the media, Such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of unconscious brain mechanisms like the ten we have just discussed. This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their campaigns at all levels.
Is the use of the public's brain mechanisms for communication necessarily immoral? Understanding how people really think can be used to communicate truths, not Big Lies or ads for products.
This knowledge is not just known to cognitive linguists. It is taught in Marketing courses in business schools, and the mechanisms are used in advertising, to get you to buy what advertisers are selling. We have learned to recognize ads; they are set off by themselves. Even manipulative corporate advertising with political intent (like ads for fracking) is not as dangerous as Big Lies leading to authoritarian government determining the future of our country.
How Can Democrats Do Better?
First, don't think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.
Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven't been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That's how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.
Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending "the government." Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.
The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.
And don't forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don't ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don't have to do jobs that should be done by others.
Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom -- freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.
Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn't his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.
Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.
Give up identity politics. No more women's issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don't surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.
And remember JFK's immortal, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country's values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.
Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.
George Lakoff is Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant! His previous books on politics and social issues are Moral Politics (1996, 2002), Don't Think of an Elephant! (2004), Whose Freedom? (2008), The Political Mind (2008), and The Little Blue Book, with Elisabeth Wehling (2012). The third edition of Moral Politics will be published in September in time for the 2016 election.
WASHINGTON ― Two activist groups, Black Lives Matter and the Black Youth Project 100, launched #FreedomNow, a two-day long campaign of nationwide actions designed to highlight the role of police unions in shielding officers who engage in misconduct. The protests, which began Wednesday, took place in Chicago, New York, Washington, Detroit, Durham, North Carolina, and Oakland, California.
Organizers in Chicago led protests at Homan Square, a secretive facility where for at least 11 years, the Chicago Police Department illegally detained and physically abused black and Latino residents.
In Washington, protesters occupied the grounds of the national legislative office of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the country’s most powerful law enforcement union, for 13 hours. Demonstrators blocked street traffic and chained themselves to ladders placed in the building’s front yard. They also flew the red, black and green flag of Pan-Africanism, an ideology that encourages the unity of all people within the African diaspora.
“In the confrontation between Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, we put our stake in the ground and won’t retreat, but confront the state with our bodies directly. That’s what this moment is about for us,” said Jonathan Lykes, co-chair of the Black Youth Project 100’s D.C. chapter.
The activist groups argue that police unions are impeding efforts to reform law enforcement both nationally and locally. There’s some truth to this.
When their members are accused of violence, police unions stoutly defend them, sometimes long after the evidence shows they did wrong.
“Police unions are much like police chiefs. When an officer is caught doing a very bad thing, they start to circle the wagons,” Cheryl Dorsey, a retired Los Angeles police sergeant, told VICE News last year.
The police union in Oakland has successfully appealed and reduced punishments in 12 out of 15 recent cases in which officers were investigated for excessive force, while the union in Chicago sued the city to prevent the release of scores of complaints against officers. After 10 D.C. Council members signed a resolution calling for policing reform in the nation’s capital, the local police union pledged to unseat all of them when they face re-election.
On the national level, the Fraternal Order of Police has lobbied against bills that would end the transfer of military equipment, including tanks, to police departments across the country, as well as sought to impede efforts to gather data on deaths in police custody.
“When it comes to the FOP, it is the one entity that we really haven’t made visible within the last three years of the Movement for Black Lives,” Lykes said, using another name for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This is about making visible an institution that often works in the shadows and is often allowed to cover up the accountability process when it comes to police killing black bodies and black lives,” Lykes said. “We’re just trying to shine a light on that picture. We’re trying to do it in a coordinated way.”
Devin Barrington Ward, another member of the Black Youth Project 100 and a former D.C. Council staffer, suggested that even those within the leadership of law enforcement are becoming frustrated with the way union involvement can obstruct officer discipline. He pointed to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier as an example.
Ward claims that Lanier met with local activists to discuss her department’s efforts, although a representative for the chief denied that any such conversation took place.
Not surprisingly, some unions contend the attention from activists is unwarranted.
“Today’s protest was a display of misdirected and misinformed anger that should have been pointed at City Hall ― not the police officers who were on hand to protect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights,” the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of New York City said in a statement released Wednesday.
Ward pushed back, saying that police unions are “not used to having this type of limelight shined on them, so that’s why they’re responding like that.”
While Black Lives Matter activists have mainly focused their attention on protesting elected officials, Ward said the shift to police unions is crucial.
“When we really want to get to the root of the issue, it’s finding out who are the special interest groups and where is the money coming from to push these bad policies,” he said.
Protests continued Thursday, with at least 10 demonstrators arrested nationwide over the two days.
When Michelle Gielan was working as a local and national news reporter, she covered her share of tragic stories. But in her years as a television journalist, one particular story stuck out and made Gielan question everything about how tragedy is covered in the media.
Gielan was working in Chicago at the time, and was assigned to cover the funeral of a young girl who had been an innocent bystander caught up in deadly gang violence.
“A stray bullet from gang gunfire had blasted through the living room window of the house, and inside there was a birthday party going on. The bullet hit this little girl in the head... She was one day shy of turning 11 years old,” Gielan says. “The night that this happened, we did the typical story: emotional, crying interview with the mother, we interviewed kids whose lives would never be the same because they just witnessed their friend die and then we talked to community leaders about this failing side of town. We put this sensational story on the news.”
A week later, Gielan was covering the girl’s funeral. That’s when, sitting in the pews of the church, she saw a different story emerge.
“There was this beautiful community surrounding this family and supporting them through times of challenge,” she says. “And what I physically saw before me was a group of women, presumably the other mothers from the neighborhood, and they were surrounding this mother and swaying together to songs of prayer while hugging her.”
The moment sparked an epiphany for Gielan.
“It was just beautiful,” she says. “We could talk about the fact that there’s pain and tragedy here, but there’s also hope and optimism and resilience... One story leaves us activated. The other leaves us paralyzed.”
It is the elevation of positive news stories and hope, she continues, that holds true power.
“What would happen if we talked about that stuff on the news?” Gielan asks. “How would that transform the community? How would that transform the world?”
Another story from Gielan: