Love and Protest

Amy’s Story by Anna Lawton sets a tempestuous romance against the turbulent half-century of global change that erupted in the 1960s and flowed across the land like a modern Great Flood. The novel plants the seeds of these decades in the post-World War One migration from Europe to the United States and reveals the newest fruits—poison to some, nectar to others—in the closing pages. The private romance and the public turmoil work together to create a story as much about love as it is about progress, about aspiration and success as about longing and loss.

A third conflict, the subtle struggle between the adventurous Amy and childhood friend Stella (with whom she shares a surprising connection) can be summed up in a line: ‘She tried to pull me back and make me think before jumping into action, although my instinct often prevailed.’

At every level the book addresses the question, ‘Where are you from?’ And the structure suggests there is no true answer without first understanding the history that brings you there.

The protagonist arrives in L.A. from Turin as the lover of a charming, if arrogant, Fulbright scholar. Jim is writing an industry-shattering book about Italian film’s influence on Hollywood, an anti-establishment work that will keep him struggling for years to win his place at the table. The pair struggle together; they’re a team; and their struggle occurs at a time when baby boomers around the world are struggling to upend the status quo.

We know the reasons: the war in Vietnam; political assassinations; craven and unstable American leadership; beats and hippies and drugs and music; the push for racial and gender equality. A trip to Mexico during these years reveals the nightmare women endured in the years before Roe v. Wade, a stunning description of the harrowing limits being pushed in the struggle to maintain control over a woman’s own body.

But as her mentor makes plain, not all protestors understand exactly what or why they protest. ‘These kids fill up their mouths with words such as Marxism, Communism, class struggle, revolution, but they don’t even know their true meaning. They lack historical knowledge, never went to the roots.’

The roots he refers to are the ideas from Europe that stitched themselves into the fabric of the American Constitution. And his lesson carries an eerie foretaste of the conformity and demagoguery that duped 46.1% of voting Americans last fall: ‘The ‘mass’… this is one of the favorite words in Marxist parlance because the mass can be easily manipulated. All you need is a charismatic leader, a simplistic doctrine, smart images on posters and banners, and…. A new dogma is born, an absolute truth, and all genuflect to it.’

Continue reading Love and Protest

Supporting the Women’s March on Washington


I may not be marching, but I refuse to be silent. The cause is just and the timing right. I will be counted among the marchers by rolling up my sleeves at home. A list of ways you can do the same:

1. Make the signs.
2. Airport/train/bus pickup for out-of-towners.
3. Pack their lunch (and a thermos of brandy).
4. Keep the young ones from burning down the house.
5. Wave to them when they wave to you on TV.
6. Hot soup on the stove.
7. Foot. Massage!
8. Bail money.
9. Encourage. Support. Participate.
10. Listen.

Or, you could march.

Hands Off My Free Speech (Round II)

A very important American institution has come under attack.

I’m not talking about those resonating pillars of freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the First and Second Amendments. I’m not talking about the Bill of Rights or the Constitution at all. This American institution is far more sacred than any of that. This American institution gave us Moons Over My Hammy and other desirable breakfast fare. This American institution is called:

Dennys_Logo_ColorAnd so I was greatly troubled and saddened to see that the parking lot of a Pheonix Denny’s was to be used for the shameful act of trampling once again our First Amendment right to free speech in the name of an entirely different freedom: the right to free hate speech.

Self-declared patriot Jon Ritzheimer hoped to defend this right by staging yet another silly (some would say vile) Draw Mohamed Cartoon contest in the parking lot of a Pheonix Denny’s before ridin’ on over to the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. There he and his followers plan on showing the world their ignorance in the “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II” by dressing in F**k Islam tee-shirts and declaring their hatred for a particular religion just as those who practice it show up for prayer.

And this All American Slam of an event gets even better. It doubles as a Second Amendment rally as well. From the atheist organizer’s own Facebook page:

This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist, with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad. Everyone is encouraged to bring American Flags and any message that you would like to send to the known acquaintances of the 2 gunmen. This Islamic Community Center is a known place that the 2 terrorist frequented. People are also encouraged to utilize there second amendment right at this event just incase our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.

This grammatically amusing page also notes, “There will be no after party!”

Certainly not! First of all Wild Bill’s (a presumptive biker road-house?) doesn’t want to have anything to do with all this hate speech. Good for Wild Bill. Second, Denny’s shuttered its doors in the face of this momentous occasion–no Lumberjack Slam or Bacon Slamburger for these clowns. And finally, it looks like those uncooperative Muslims over at the Center don’t plan to participate. In the words of the center’s president Usama Shami:

Everybody has a right to be a bigot. Everybody has a right to be a racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot.  We’re going to tell our members what we’ve told them before: not to engage them. They’re not looking for an intellectual conversation. They’re looking to stir up controversy and we’re not going to be a part of it.

Oh yeah? Them’s fightin’ words.

Just as I did at the beginning of this month when Pam Geller staged her own so-called Free Speech cartoon drawing contest, I would ask Jon Ritzheimer and all bigoted, hateful, embarrassing Americans to stop trampling my right to free expression in the name of their ignorance and hatred. I guess I kind of expect it from the Second Amendment crowd over at Fox News. But it’s a sorry day for thoughtful expression when it gets mixed up in the juvenile (as it did in Paris) and the impotently angry, as it will later on today.