Don’t talk about it

Shortly after a police officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd, there was talk of the dawning of racial reckoning in the United States.

This event, it was said, would open new avenues for honest conversation about how racism and its corrosive effects throughout our society might be approached, confronted and eventually eradicated.

I saw this as a dim hope. We have had many such opportunities in recent years, and none of them has moved us close to a fruitful discussion. All our opportunities have evaporated almost as soon as they were glimpsed.

Nothing has changed. The Republican party has seen to that. Its campaign against “Critical Race Theory” will doom all efforts to talk about racism, white supremacy, white nationalism and other subjects that some white people will find offensive.

CRT started as an obscure academic exercise examining social, cultural and legal issues relating to race and racism. It may have been taught in law school or other advanced studies. It was never taught in American high schools or elementary schools. And it never will be.

Because the GOP has found a way to turn CRT into a political weapon. Mainly by spinning wild stories about it, most of them approximately 97.5% untrue. And Republican-dominated state legislatures are falling over themselves passing laws to outlaw the teaching of it.

What this means is that whenever a teacher starts a discussion about race, a white student is going to freak out and parents are going to shout “Critical Race Theory!” and the teacher is going to get fired. It won’t take long before everybody gets the point.

In the United States, you cannot have a discussion about race. It is illegal.

That’s only the start, of course. But if you can shut down this discussion, think about what other things you can make sure nobody talks about. Way to go, GOP.


The outdoor lights, the many-pointed Moravian star and the lighted Nativity trio came down yesterday, January 5, the last day of the Christmas season. We kept the tree up for Twelfth Night but are removing the decorations and putting it all away today, on Epiphany.

It’s nice to get the living room back to normal, but not having the tree in the front window always feels like a loss just the same.

Some people try to put up their tree on the first day of Advent, but that’s so close to Thanksgiving that it never happens for us. This year I think it went up on December 6. That happens to be Saint Nicholas Day. A few days ago I read that many families set up their tree on that day in the old saint’s honor.

I like that custom: from December 6 to January 6, Saint Nicholas Day to Epiphany. Maybe we’ll keep it intentionally come December 2022.

Linda and I have had an artificial tree for most of our marriage. It took us a surprisingly long time to figure out that having a live tree in the house might explain why she always had allergy problems in December and early January. When we got an artificial tree, the allergies mostly disappeared.

Trekking out to the tree farm, picking the “perfect” tree, lashing it to the top of the car and hauling it home always seemed like a meaningful ritual – until we didn’t do it anymore. Digging the tree out of storage in the attic or garage just isn’t the same, but I have to come to prefer this new routine. The result is still gorgeous, and I like the simplicity of the act.

Come December 6, we’ll do it all over again, but with a renewed sense of purpose. Happy day, Nicholas! The season of miracles is upon us again.

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An epiphany is a sudden revelation. So on this Epiphany we must not fail to take note of the one-year anniversary of events in Washington. That’s when Donald Trump attempted a coup by subverting the elections, and hundreds of Trumpistas stormed the Capitol building, causing several deaths, national trauma, and millions of dollars in damage.

Trumpistas and other purveyors of the Big Lie still insist is what all a harmless frolic. History will record otherwise, unless the Trumpistas triumph and the last shreds of the American democratic experiment are buried in propogranda and hate. Pray that it is not so.

Remember this day for the insurrection that failed, and also pray for the souls of those who bury their faces in darkness and insist on living a lie.

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May the season of miracles continue!