Happy National Freedom Day! Today day is also, relatedly, the anniversary of the first day of the Greensboro Sit-ins of 1960 (my hometown) and the first day of African American History Month. This sonnet may be a good fit:
sonnet for a Saturday morning
Our story has a happy ending.
I’m telling you up front so you know
what you can expect – how to overcome
any temporary darkness that may
attempt to cloud out the light we emit.
Our story is not a pop video.
It won’t make you dance or sing. Ain’t no blues
to wail, to welp, to beg, to plead, to scream.
Our story ends in celebration.
But Twitter and Instagram won’t tell you
what’s really going on. You have to read
between the lines, between the images
that flash past you faster than light or sound.
Don’t be depressed. Arise & celebrate.
Speaking of Freedom Day, information used to be so much more free during the Trump years. I know some readers of this blog will disagree, not on the merits but just because, but think about it. Just think about it. Trump sent us tweets day and night. We always knew exactly what was on his mind. Total transparency. And his transparency forced a degree of transparency by those below him, those around him. And transparency means information is free. Despite his departure, and despite the relative lack of information transfer between the White House and the public (other than all these damn Executive Orders he keeps signing, of which we have no clue about the consequences, short or long term, intended or unintended), a degree of the transparency Trump established remains. Small wonder we found out so quickly about Pelosi cashing in on stock futures on electric car technology stocks following a Biden executive order mandating electric car fleets in federal government.
But, they don’t want us knowing that stuff. I suspect that’s why they want to wipe Trump out completely so badly. They want the transparency Trump represented to disappear. They want the return of the cover of darkness to hide their deeds. And they want it quickly so they can get back to normal “business” on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans. I know. I’m rambling.
Last night I consulted one of my LIS books, Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives. The question of politics in archives goes straight to the relationship between access to information and democratic governance as a core democratic value. There is an interesting essay about Glasnost, openness, as an element of Gorbachev’s program to democratize the former Soviet Union. His top archivist, Yuri Afanasiev, led the charge in “re-processing” Soviet and Eastern European history and records, without which there would have been no Glasnost “opening” to speak of.
The other night we watched “The Lives of Others,” a film about life in East Germany just prior to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall. (We are marching towards a type of political censorship and repression – there’s not much difference between the Stasi regime and the modern surveillance state and cancel culture.) Because the East Germans kept a central index on the files they kept on journalists, artists, and political dissidents of all occupations, people were able, after reunification, to pull their files and learn the degree to which their privacy had been violated. The big difference between then and now, and between them and us, is that we will have a much less organized way of recapturing the truth after this period of repression is over. Who would ever imagine we are less organized that the East Germans?
My faith in “the system” diminishes a bit daily. Every day. “They” can’t cancel me, all I do is write bad poetry, and besides, my readership is loyal to a fault. But what is happening to the rest of the country? How many writers are self-censuring to stay below the radar of the cancel culture police? What is happening to access to information as a cornerstone of our democracy?
Finally, those who say there is no evidence of fraud or irregularity in the 2020 elections may all belong to the same club, but they are not friends to this country. They are only friends to each other. They are not patriots. But those who say there may be evidence of election, voter, and/or vote fraud, but not enough to change the outcome of the elections, they are the evil ones and they have made their beds in Hell. Y’all know what I’m saying. God don’t like ugly.