Post-election Malas / #4 Washington

1.  Took an early train to Washington the Thursday before the inauguration. Ran into Debra my dental hygienist in Penn Station, commuting in, who said she wasn't going to watch.

2.  Thanks for taking care of me, I said, & she smiled & said, Take care of me in Washington.

3.  Watched dawn break generously over the poisoned New Jersey salt marshes, remembering that train in January 2009

4.  --when the sand was running out of the capitalism hourglass & Paul Krugman was still calling the economic situation "terrifying"

5.  --& the Israelis had been bombing streets I walked in Gaza with planes I helped pay for from two days after Christmas until just before the inauguration.

6.  200 dead in an one hour on December 27, the first day.

7.  The BBC video of the dead eyes of Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, who just cancelled a trip to Brussels because Belgian federal prosecutors wanted to question her about war crimes.

8.  The set of her mouth as she reiterated Israel's right to defend itself against cheap rockets lobbed over the border by filling a municipal courtyard in Gaza with the dead bodies of 20 Palestinian traffic policemen, for starters.

9.  "This is the translation" of that right, she said.

10.  The first war in my life in a place I'd been.

11.  In 2009 on the train to Washington the nice man beside me was Squaxin, from the Puget Sound islands in Washington State

12. & he noticed that my snacks were dried blueberries & salmon jerky

13.  & I noticed that he was reading Sweet Country, a Caroline Richards novel about the Popular Unity government in Chile ended in the blood of the US-backed coup.

14.  Interesting choice of reading material, I said, Let's hope it's not prophetic.

15.  I meant re the attacks on the Popular Unity government, not re the arrival of our own Pinochet.

16.  Apparently that part of the prophecy was delayed.

17.  Note from my friend Daylín in Havana: Please cuéntame de ti y de la situación en NYC con ese loco suelto en el país.  Please tell me how you are & how's the situation in NYC with that madman loose in your country.

18.  My landlady in Havana last spring: They worry us, your elections. And who's that one with the hair like a nest?

19.  Meeting between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger & President Augusto Pinochet, Santiago, June 1976:

Pinochet: This is a country of warm-hearted people, who love liberty. This is the reason they did not accept Communism when the Communists attempted to take over the country. It is a long-term struggle we are a part of. It is a further stage of the same conflict which erupted into the Spanish Civil War. And we note the fact that though the Spaniards tried to stop Communism 40 years ago, it is springing up again in Spain.

Kissinger: We had the Spanish King recently, and I discussed that very issue with him.

Pinochet & Kissinger

Pinochet & Kissinger

19a.  Kissinger: In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here.

20. Thursday morning I walked from Union Station toward the Mall & it seemed oddly warm for January & oddly quiet after the crowds of 2009 & 2005 & 2001

21.  --2001's rooftops of snipers & blocks packed with mounted police after the disputed election of the former-president-& CIA-master's son, 2005's tall laughing Restoration white people with expensive overcoats & furs, & 2009's church-dressed Black grown-ups bending down to tell children, This is history.

22.  The old man on the radio in 2009, jailed in Birmingham in the 60s, on why he was going: "I just want to be there. I just want to put my feet on the ground where this is happening."

23.  Thursday morning I walked to the Capitol, which looked as usual as if it were slipping down the hill it's built on

24. & the figure balanced on the dome looked like a dancer balancing on a breaking wave, above & behind the white people with cowboy hats & Southern accents taking pictures of themselves

25.  --like Manhattan in August of 2004 for the Republican convention, but many of these people poorer & sadder, a Bushmaster Firearms t-shirt, a button from Reagan-Bush 1984, smoker's coughs & laughs like those of the woman on the capitol steps in Harrisburg the day of the Electoral College vote.

26. Man in suit & overcoat : You need to come to the ranch. We'll teach you how to shoot a gun in a couple of hours.
Woman in heels: I think I'd be good.

27.  How the women reminded me of the world I grew up in, where being paid attention to by a man was the most important thing in the world.

28.  How amid all the Southern & Western accents I found myself thinking of the voices of Woody Guthrie & Mab Segrest & Diane McWhorter & Margaret Wrinkle, for the same reasons I went to Israel/Palestine after 9.11, to stop associating a kippa with the Jewish fascists near where I lived screaming God Bless America.

29.  Guardian interview with the proprietor of the Hotel Bethlehem in Pennsylvania: "Now it's like, it's almost like I left the country for 8 years, & now it's back. The country that I grew up in is now returning."

30. How where I grew up I learned quite a lot about the white settlers befriending the Native people of the town of Scituate, who for reasons not discussed were gone, but before yesterday didn't know that the only state to ratify the Constitution without slaveholders was Massachusetts.

31. My 4th great-grandfather Henry Shaw was a Congressman from Massachusetts in that Capitol in 1819, part of the first session in the new building slave labor built after the British burned the old one in a war.

32.  He served on the House Ways & Means Committee. Shaw is my middle name.

33.  Henry Shaw was close to Henry Clay & was never elected from Massachusetts again after he voted for Clay's Missouri Compromise, which agreed to admit Maine as a free state if Missouri could be admitted with slavery uninterrupted.

34.  How Mr Holmes of Massachusetts presented the resolution that Maine be admitted

34a.  & then Mr Scott of the Territory of Missouri, aka the land of the Osage, proposed that Missouri be admitted

34b.  & then Mr Strong of New York "gave notice that on to-morrow he should ask leave to introduce a bill to prohibit the further extension of slavery within the Territories of the United States,"

34c. & then Mr Shaw of Massachusetts introduced a joint resolution authorizing the transmission of House messages free of postage.

35.  How I sat by the Capitol & watched worried-looking people in suits pass with House & Senate manila envelopes under their arms

36.  & hoped that the EPA & John Lewis & Barbara Lee were in there copying documents & planning something.

37.  "Mr Clay remarked that, since the question was put, he would say at once to the gentleman from Massachusetts, & his worthy friend the chairman of the Committee on the Post Office & Post Roads, with that frankness which perhaps too much belonged to his character, that he did not mean to give his consent to the admission of the State of Maine into the Union, as long as the doctrines were upheld of annexing conditions to the admission of States into the Union from beyond the mountains."

37a. "Equality, said he, is equity." #AmericanValues

38.  Mr Holmes of Massachusetts, speaking on behalf of Maine: "Will any one say we ought not to be admitted into the Union? We are answered, yes; and that, unless we will agree to admit Missouri into the Union unconditionally, we ought not to be admitted! I hope the doctrine did not extend quite as far as that. [Mr Clay here said, in an undertone, yes it did.]"

39.  What Clay called the anti-slavery objections: "certain doctrines of an alarming character--which, if persevered in, no man could tell where they would end."

40.  Mr Taylor of New York: "Possessing, as we do, both a moral & Constitutional right to require of Missouri a provision against slavery, as a condition of her admission, if we fail to exert it, we shall justly incur the reproach of our contemporaries, & the malediction of posterity."

41. Mr Holmes of Massachusetts, beginning the great equivocation: "But, though my feelings are strong for the abolition of slavery, they are yet stronger for the Constitution of my country. And, if I am reduced to the sad alternative to tolerate the holding of slaves in Missouri, or violate the Constitution of my country, I will not admit a doubt to cloud my choice. Sir, of what benefit would be abolition, if at a sacrifice of your Constitution? Where would be the guaranty of the liberty which you grant? Liberty has a temple here, & it is the only one which remains. Destroy this, & she must flee--she must retire among the brutes of the wilderness--"

( 41a. Slave song: "I seek my Lord in the wilderness/For I'ma goin home." )

42.  "Resolved, that the subject of improving the Indian tribes in the arts of civilized life be referred to a select committee."

43.  Letter to Clay from Secretary of War J.C. Calhoun, on the Civilization of the Indians: "They are not, in fact, an independent people, nor ought they to be so considered. They should be taken under our guardianship; and our opinion, not theirs, ought to prevail, in measures intended for their civilization & happiness. A system less vigorous may protract, but cannot arrest their fate."

44. What a beautiful plan it was, the Founders' experiment, leaving aside the pesky question of the disqualification of most of humanity as full human beings.

45.  What if what we've learned as liberal tolerance is a mirror of the euphemisms & evasions & moral equivocations of these white men of property.

46. What if they were right to defend each others' prerogatives even in the midst of heated disagreement, because at bottom their interests were the same

47.  --but ours are not, not now.

48.  Representative Barbara Lee of California, January 6: "There is no doubt that the integrity of our election was compromised."

49.  Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, to CNN as I sat by the Capitol: "Chris, you gotta understand, we members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have. And I can tell you, over the last week or two, the classified briefings that I have been to. And if the public knew what members of Congress know, I , I," & then was interrupted. 

50.  How I walked past the Supreme Court & had forgotten about the Roman centurion in the frieze with his fasces.

51.  Holy spirit touch us, holy spirit move us all, said the man filming himself as he walked past the portable toilets with Don's Johns just barely visible under the white stickers covering the letters

52.  --as Chuck Schumer tested the sound system reading a version of the speech he'd give the next day.

53.  I'd been dreading DC thronged with gleeful fascists but everyone was so subdued on Thursday, & so few, on the public grass you could hardly see in 2009 because there were so many people.

54. Help her, Jesus, someone said passing, because of my vest with NO sprayed on it in orange emergency paint.

Suzanne Gardinier of New York City made her feelings about Mr Trump known as she followed a group of protesters. (Michael S Williamson/The Washington Post)

Suzanne Gardinier of New York City made her feelings about Mr Trump known as she followed a group of protesters. (Michael S Williamson/The Washington Post)

55. My fellow Americans, said Chuck Schumer. We live in challenging & tumultuous times. In such times our hope in the future can wane.

56.  How a reporter said his test of good faith & hope in our nation was to see if someone could say something good about their opponent, & would I like to say something good about Donald Trump

57.  & I said I was grateful for the frankness of his assault on democracy, like a dye dropped into our national circulatory system & now we'll see whether our heart functions or no.

58.  Help me understand this, I said to the man who prayed over me, This using of public office for personal profit, that doesn't bother you?

59.  That blank stare I remember from growing up in an almost all white town, with menace at its edges.

60.  How I learned yesterday that, years before Dred Scott, one of Henry Clay's slaves sued him for her freedom & her children's.

61.  Her name was Charlotte Stanley Dupuis, but it took a while to find the suit because it was called Lotty v Henry Clay.

62.  How James Condon of Maryland bought her when she was eight years old, & kept her as his only slave

62a. [ "Seen the arrow on the doorpost. Saying, This land is condemned. All the way from New Orleans. To Jerusalem." ]

Charlotte Dupuy, Bill of sale

Charlotte Dupuy, Bill of sale

63. --until Henry Clay bought her when she was eighteen.

64.  When my 4th great-grandfather was a Congressman he probably ate food she prepared, in the kitchen of Clay's house on Lafayette Square, near where that beautiful young woman was standing last November 10 with a sign that said I Respectfully Decline Donald Trump As My POTUS

65.  --where Charlotte Dupuis & her husband & their two children were the Speaker of the House's house slaves.

( 65a. Henry Clay to his agent in Washington, regarding Charlotte Dupuy's bid for freedom: "I approve entirely of your order to the Marshall to imprison Lotty." )

66.  So maybe I misspoke earlier when I said the Gaza war in 2008 & 2009 was the first in a place I'd been

( 66a. Cotton Mather on the massacre of the Pequots at Mystic: "In a little more than one hour, five or six hundred of these barbarians were dismissed from a world that was burdened with them." )

( 66b. How Captain John Mason "brought out a Fire Brand, & putting it into the Matts with which they were covered, set the Wigwams on Fire." )

( 66c. From Colin Powell's autobiography: "On February 18 [1963] we came upon a deserted Montagnard village.  The people had fled at our approach, except for an old woman too feeble to move.  We burned down the thatched huts, starting the blaze with Ronson and Zippo cigarette lighters.  The ARVN troops slashed away with their bayonets at fields of corn, onions, and manioc...Part of the crop we kept for ourselves.  On later occasions, the destruction became more sophisticated. Helicopters delivered fifty-five-gallon drums of a chemical herbicide...From the drums, we filled two-and-a-half-gallon hand-pumped Hudson sprayers, which looked like fire extinguishers.  Within minutes after we sprayed, the plants began to turn brown and wither." )

( 66d. April 11, 2002, Israeli soldier on Israeli television, describing the Jenin refugee camp after attack: “Vietnam, something like that.  There’s nothing here now.” )

67. --because the wars are everywhere & unending, so far.

68.  In 2009 a Black man was doing the sound check & his voice made everyone walking on the Mall stop & listen.

69.  My country 'tis of thee, he said. Sweet land of liberty. Of thee I sing. Is that good? You got enough?

70.  Walking past the Supreme Court, watching children chasing each other & laughing, thinking of the children of Iraq & Yemen.

71.  My six-year-old daughter's sign for the 2001 inauguration: Count All The Votes.

72.  Mine a Ryokan poem: Thinking of the people in this floating world/far into the night/my sleeve is wet with tears.

73.  The photographer I met on Inauguration Day with tear gas stains on his black jacket, which looked like tears.

74.  The Jamaican woman about my age named Arlene who said on Thursday afternoon that how Trump treated women wasn't important & that Black women needed to get with his program.

75.  He's going to make America great, she said, You know, strong again, not a wimp like Obama. We're aMERica!

76. How bewildering it's become to guess at someone's politics from their identity.

77.  Now please stand, Chuck Schumer said behind us, rehearsing, While Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administers the oath of office to the vice president.

78.  How Arlene & I walked along weirdly empty Pennsylvania Avenue & she stopped to high-five 3 young Black men in ties & red Trump hats: 3 boys who look like me! she said in delight.

79. The similarly dressed young black man I saw traveling around with cameras the next day, saying he had a greater risk of being killed by someone Black than he did by police. That for him Black men were the real danger.

80. How we stopped in front of the hotel where about 40 people were waiting for Trump's car to pull out

80a. (The glee in the faces of the white women)

80b. (How quiet most of the people were until a man who looked rich & official would stride by & yell Yeah, Trump! & they'd yell with him)

80c. (The Asian boy holding up his phone with pink plastic Playboy bunny ears attached to it)

80d. (The haunted face & broken teeth of the Black man selling flags that said A Hero Will Rise, calling Trump, Trump, Caps, Flags)

81.  & Arlene said Well, So nice to meet you, good times! The Deploraball & all! Happy Inauguration! & walked away.

82.  That feeling I remember from childhood, of seeing that wall of ignorance people put up when other important things have been taken.

83.  Behind the masked toilets near the White House, when I was about to lie down in the middle of the street because my hope in the future was waning, the joy of running into Rachel, who calls him 45, the one who shall not be named.

Rachel & her marching socks

Rachel & her marching socks

84.  As I got on the bus up 16th at dusk

85.  (To the left from 16th as you pass Massachusetts Avenue is Sheridan Circle, where Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier was blown up in his car in the middle of the day 3 months after that conversation with Kissinger)

85a.  (How someone described pre-coup Chile as "a nation with a lawyer's soul," was Letelier a lawyer)

85b. (Pinochet to Kissinger in the course of airing diplomatic difficulties related to the freedom to torture & kill with impunity:  "Letelier has access to the Congress.")

85c.  (In diplomacy as in poetry, the power of saying something twice: "We are constantly being attacked by the Christian Democrats. They have a strong voice in Washington. Not the people in the Pentagon, but they do get through to Congress. Gabriel Valdez has access. Also Letelier.")

85d. (How the bomb that killed Letelier was planted by 5 Cubans directed by an American from Iowa named Michael Townley, whose father was the head of the Ford Motor Company in Chile, & who worked for both Chilean & US intelligence.)

86.  --the beautiful wave of indignados was already rolling up the street. Not few & not subdued.

87.  How much Washington's We. Reject. The President-elect. sounded like Sidi Bouzid & Tahrir's Al-shaab. Yurid. Isqat al-nizam. The people. Want. The fall of the regime.

88.  That night I was staying with my friend Gaye & her family, & after dark we stood on 16th with her neighbors with candles, including Fran who'd been at Standing Rock, who I saw again in McPherson Square with other Native activists, & again on the bus Saturday morning, who was going to step off for the Women's March from the American Indian Smithsonian

89. --so I didn't see the fistfights & teargas outside the National Press Club building, where the Deploraball was, but read in Politico about the vision of host gay British fascist Milo Yiannopoulous ("a sort of 21st-century Islamophobic Oscar Wilde") for the event:

"As guests entered the National Press Club, shirtless Mexican laborers would be building a physical wall around them. Instead of doves, Yiannopoulous would release 500 live frogs in honor of Pepe, the cartoon mascot of pro-Donald Trump internet trolls. The room would be lined with oil portraits in gilt frames, each depicting a celebrity who had vowed to leave the country in the event of Trump's election. At the end of the night, the portraits would be thrown into a bonfire & burned. Yiannopoulous would send a bill for the party to the Mexican Embassy."

90. Richard Spencer, who days after the election held a Nazi conference in the Reagan building near the White House, complete with Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory! & Nazi salutes, was apparently not invited

91.  --but the Proud Boys were there, who on election night were embracing & screaming We Are The Champions together in Manhattan, about 14 blocks up Hudson from where I live, at a bar appropriately called the Gaslight.

92.  Proud Boys motto: "The West Is The Best!"

92a.  Kissinger to Pinochet in 1976: "You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende. Otherwise Chile would have followed Cuba."

92b.  Politico on the Deploraball:  "a kind of gala debut of a new clique in Washington."

92c. New in its openness maybe, but an old clique really, one Charlotte Dupuis would have recognized. Young masters.

92d.  Richard Spencer's hope "that his National Policy Institute could occupy a marquee headquarters in downtown Washington within 10 years."

93.  At dawn on Friday the multiracial young indignados were already playing music & drums in McPherson Square & planning their disobediences



94.  & by mid-morning they'd blocked almost all the inauguration entrances, which were so weirdly uncrowded anyway.

95.  My favorite was where the queer people were dancing & playing & singing, We found love in a hopeless place

96.  --which balanced the man who put his face in mine & said "I am the peckerwood you love to hate"

96a.  & the man wearing & selling shirts that said Bitch I'm The President

96b.  & the notes that said that the White House web pages about climate change, health care & civil rights had already been hosed down the memory hole

96c. & the man at Shake Shack sitting at an outside table with his wife & two young daughters & a hat that said Finally A President With Balls

96d. & the riot police lined up with masks & shields blocking the road between Union Station & the Capitol to the sound of the cannons firing as it started to rain.

97. ( "He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies" it says in stone over the Union Station pavilion )

97a.  ( Papal Bull, Rome, 1493:  "…by the authority of Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found…" )

97b. ( "Let no one therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift, grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition, and will. Should anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God." )

98. & the glory of the convergence of Saturday's millions in the streets

99. (I climbed a generator on Pennsylvania Avenue & stood there for hours to watch & listen to & cheer the gorgeous river of free awake people flowing by)

100.  --replayed in my mind beside what happened to Fran's contingent

(100a. @sydnerain : "We started a prayer circle in the morning in front of the American Indian Smithsonian museum, next to all those ancestors. It was powerful.")

(100b. "We took smoke from Ponca elder Casey Camp-Horinek, we sang warrior songs together. There were so many nations that came together as one.")

(100c. "You could hear what the WW said. 'They're real Indians.' 'They're still here?' 'I think they're faking it.' 'Why do they look like that?'")

(100d. "All the while I kept trying to focus on the energy & history of the land I was standing on. Washington DC. Capital. Stolen Piscataway land.")

(100e. "I always try to think about my connection to the land. Think about whose ancestors I'm standing on. And these WW ask me if I'm a real human."

(100f. "We begin our first chant, 'Mni Wiconi, water is life.' WW look confused. WW staring at us or just acting oblivious like we weren't there.")

(100g. " When the march starts several WW try to join our group to march with us. Two WW beside me told me "Guess we're Indians today!" and laughed.

(100h. "We responded, 'We don't get to choose if we're native or not. This is our reality & you are not Indian. You are disrespectful & need to go.'")

(100i.  "WW responds: 'I'm from Minnesota. I can name a lot of the lakes around me and they're all in Indian. I even know some tribes too.'"

(100j. "None of us are amused and we ask her to leave. She calls us and our march 'rude' and said 'it's unfortunate that Indians can't take jokes.'")

(100k. "I want to make it clear that I had my people with me, that I had a home in this march that was absolutely plagued with white supremacy.")

(100l. "We were surrounded by good medicine in DC, the belly of the beast. You could tell by our spirits we came from 100's of years of resistance.")

101. The statue balanced on top of the temple of liberty was supposed to be wearing the red cap of freed Roman slaves, but Secretary of War Jefferson Davis objected, so she's wearing a Roman helmet instead, with Indian feathers added.

102. & did I already mention that Charlotte Dupuy lost her freedom suit

( 103.  Malcolm Gladwell: "I moved to America 32 years ago. Yesterday was the first day I felt ashamed to be part of this country.")

( 103a. @MatthewACherry "*blinks in African-American*" )

( 103b. @allisonscag "What's your family's immigration story? #wetooareamerica" )

( 103c. @ashuhhleeee_"Middle passage! Thanks for asking!" )

( 103d. @TrumpHotels "Tell us your favorite travel memory - was it a picture, a souvenir, a sunset? We'd love to hear it!" )

(103e. @DariusUncensord "Picture it. West Africa, 1619..." )

104. after the depositions & arguments & jury decisions of two dozen white men.

105. How Linda Sarsour visited a meeting of artists in Manhattan the week before the inauguration, & told the story of the nice white lady from Hawai'i who suggested a women's march on Facebook & thousands responded

105a. & then the story didn't go the way it usually does, because young women of color stepped forward & the white women listened & they made the flawed miracle together.

106. When I looked up 'Squaxin' after I met the nice man on the 2009 train I found a 1905 photo of a Squaxin woman whose name was Lottie Bagley.

107.  She looks poor & tired & worried, one hand on her hip & one over her heart.

108.  Standing by the river of the women's march in Washington that Saturday, between the White House & the woman with the wrong hat balanced on the Capitol dome, I thought, I'm tired of presidents, It's enough now, Let's have Lottie's Day, Lotty's Day.

Mrs Lottie Bagley, Squaxin Reservation, 1905

Mrs Lottie Bagley, Squaxin Reservation, 1905