Waiting for Biden-Harris at the last minute .. on a great lake in the far north

Jan 18th, 2021 | By | Category: In Brief
Pancake Bay on Lake Superior, in warmer weather.

SPECIAL FROM L. FRANK BUNTING, PANCAKE BAY, ON. JANUARY 18, 2021, 2 AM, 2 PM ET : Some worried that yesterday would be a kind of state-Capitol reprise of what transpired at the national Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. According to CNN, however : “Weekend protests at state capitols stayed small amid heavy police presence.”

CNN authors Christina Maxouris, Eric Levenson, and Dakin Andone have reported some further details : “Demonstrations remained small and peaceful as of Sunday night, despite warnings that armed protests were being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration” (on Wednesday, January 20).

The Daily Cartoon from The Independent in the UK, 18 January 2021.

A FEW STATE CAPITOL CASES. In Michigan “several dozen demonstrators — some of whom were armed and armored … gathered at the state Capitol in Lansing under a light snow … There were fewer than a dozen people at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul — a group far smaller than the journalists and law enforcement who were present.”

In Denver, Colorado “demonstrator Larry Woodall told CNN he was disappointed with the low turnout, saying he’d come out to ‘support Trump, let him know we still care’ … Woodall said he did not support violence or the Capitol riots this month, and he’d accepted that Biden would be president, calling it ‘a done deal’ …”

In Oregon, “five armed people dressed in camo and carrying flags arrived to the state Capitol, saying they were anti-government libertarians who did not support either Biden or President Donald Trump … In Ohio, a small group of protesters stood in front of the statehouse in Columbus near a large police presence … And in Columbia, South Carolina … about 40 protesters gathered at the Statehouse for a protest about free speech … ”

HAPPY 99TH BIRTHDAY BETTY WHITE. Meanwhile, yesterday also marked the 99th birthday of the brilliant US comedienne Betty White. Like Ernest Hemingway she was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in suburban Chicago. (Some may be interested to learn that she has two Canadian grandmothers as well.) But her parents moved to Los Angeles County when she was not much more than a year old, and she graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1939.

Ms White was actually on an experimental TV show a few months after she graduated from high school. The rest as they say is history — though it took a while for her radio and TV career after the Second World War to take firm root. I am not as great a fan as my perpetual stay-at-home companion, but I certainly agree Betty White is a remarkable woman with a remarkable career and longevity. As a partisan of the particular North American delicacy myself, I also much admired her announcement that her 99th birthday dinner would be a hot dog and fries.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the very non-violent March on Washington in 1963.Credit…Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

REMEMBER MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. Today, Monday, January 18, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States (also celebrated informally in many parts of Canada and elsewhere in the global village). Dr. King’s tragically short life reminds us that there is a forward-looking, resolutely free and democratic past, present, and future in the USA, along with “A Land Where the Dead Past Walks.” And Stacy Abrams and her colleagues and the two new Democratic Senate seats in Georgia remind us that the un-conquerable spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. is still a potent force in the American future today.

I think it’s equally worth underlining that, like Ghandi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. believed fervently in non-violent democratic mass protest, in the free and democratic society under the rule of law. His August 28, 1963 March on Washington in support of civil rights and freedom for all (“I have a dream … ”) was well-behaved (and also well-dressed, in a way that might impress President Trump!), non-violent, and inspiring. It is at the opposite end of some political-protest spectrum from the invasion of the Capitol building in Washington, by anti-democratic “alt-right grift” activists (inspired by assorted deranged politicians, lying blatantly about the results of a quite free and fair US election), on January 6, 2021.

OLD SOUTH VIETNAM FLAGS AT THE US CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6, 2021. One aspect of the January 6 invasion that puzzled me somewhat at first was the yellow flags with three horizontal red stripes that some “alt-right-grifter” invaders were carrying. (My perpetual stay-at-home companion and I had wondered about the same flag at similar mass alt-right grifting events, over the past number of weeks.)

I have now had a chance to learn from the (whatever else) hard-working professional mass media in the USA today that this is the flag of the old South Vietnam — finally “lost to communism” when Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon pulled the last US combat troops out of South Vietnam on March 29, 1973. See, eg : Claire Wang on “Why the defunct South Vietnam flag was flown at the Capitol riot … The flag has become a symbol for different things: anti-communism, US imperialism, democracy and recollection of the past.”

The appearance of this flag on January 6 and at similar recent events does, I think, point to a kind of complexity in the current American (and wider) political situation that most of us have still only begun to think about — even on the very pro-Biden-Harris side I identify with strongly myself (as does my stay-at-home companion etc).

The flag has a history back to the 19th century, in both the Vietnamese and French empires. But Claire Wang gives the no-doubt best short answer for the purposes immediately at hand : “The yellow-and-red-striped banners of the former South Vietnam flew above crowds of rioters all over the Capitol grounds. Many of the flag carriers were Vietnamese Americans who, in support of President Donald Trump, have often used the emblem to express nostalgia for a lost home and opposition to communism … ‘This flag to me is an anti-Communist flag,’ Michelle Le, a Seattle-based real estate broker who flew the banner at the rally, wrote …”

This seems vaguely analogous to the case of the right-wing, anti-Castro Cuban community in Miami, Florida, USA. But then it also seems that there is another (more liberal and democratic?) side to Vietnamese communities in the United States and elsewhere outside Vietnam (Canada, eg, or France). And Claire Wong also cites the views of Tung Nguyen, president of the Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, or PIVOT. The yellow flag with three red stripes did not belong at the US Capitol on January 6, and should not have been there. The flag is“about us being free, and Trump is not someone you can be free under. White supremacy is not something you can be free under.”

“Where Does Time Go?” by Michael Seward, Toronto, January 2020.

WHY NOT THINK THE NEW COMPLEXITY AHEAD IS A GOOD THING? Just as Biden-Harris at last comes to office on January 20, 2021, in the midst of an (even if understandably) excessive military presence that may itself be one of the great challenges ahead (as in the parallel challenges faced by the Mounties in Canada and on and on), my guess is that the real world of politics and culture generally (including the various culture businesses of course) is about to get a lot more complicated.

The optimistic view is that this is a good thing. The real world problems increasingly weighing us down are complicated problems. They will demand (at least some) complicated solutions, and so forth. In any case we’re looking forward to Wednesday on our TV set ourselves. And we’re looking forward as well to all the ups and downs that will no doubt follow — but will at least be pointed in directions that add up and have a future.

President Obama presents National Humanities Medal to Kwame Anthony Appiah, East Room, White House, Feb 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

If you like such magazines (as I do, unlike my stay-at-home companion and fellow TV addict), the January 14, 2021 issue of the New York Review of Books (in spite of apparent problems with hard-copy mail that have mercifully not affected me) is one place that offers welcome current guidance to the complexity ahead, especially, I think, in :

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