Learn To Let Go of Your Need for Civility, America Needs Your Brutal Honesty More

David Burn
5 min readJun 22, 2018


I’m glad we’re seeing some movement on kids in cages this week. It’s not nearly enough progress, but Don was made to bend. Small victories add up.

It’s interesting how many chances we, the People, have had to be outraged at Don Don and His Heartless Marauders. You might recall that he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” He meant it.

You’d think any of the following would be invitations for intervention and instant removal from the Oval Office:
— Pussy grabbing and bragging about it
— Dick Taters for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
— Hush money for porn stars
— The utter decimation of the EPA
— Using the White House to advance the family biz
— Mocking a person with disabilities
— The daily diminishing of the 1st Amendment
— The call for “his people” to stand and salute

But no.

I’m not saying kids in cages isn’t the right issue. I’m saying it’s one of at least two dozen issues that would have been more than enough to remove any POTUS in history. So, it’s natural to wonder, what’s wrong with us now? Here we are being tested and we’re failing the test. Are we truly this stupid? This weak and disorganized? Signs point to yes. But we can’t drown in self-pity. Let’s get the knowledge we need to fight for our freedom. Right now, it’s small brown people in cages, and the more we slip into autocracy, the faster we will see journalists, political activists, academics, and other voices of reason behind bars.

I don’t know anyone in the country who ever thought we’d be faced with this type of enemy from within. Yes, it’s an international criminal cabal behind this disruption to democracy, nevertheless, millions of Americans are comforted by the lies of tyrants. When Trump is eventually deposed, there will be others to replace him. Therefore, he can’t just be defeated. Trump’s dystopian alter-reality has to be called what it is and dealt with accordingly.

We can get better from this. But first, we have to stop the slide into American oblivion.

Forget About Common Sense And Decency, Right Now

To reverse the tide, we need to understand the dangerous waters we’re swimming in. I keep encountering well-meaning people who think today’s America is the America they grew up in. Now is the time to stop telling ourselves little lies and actually see the depth of the problem. Now is the time to stop dancing around the core facts in the case—namely, that we live in a deeply racist society, and racists are not to be handled with kid gloves.

Sociologist, Catherine Cross, has had enough with all the calls for civility:

Vulgarity and incivility are indeed coarse and uncomfortable, but like any weapon there are moments when they must be employed in self-defense. This is just such a time. If we cannot be vulgar about a cabinet secretary lying to the nation and saying “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border” when her own department has produced statistics and photos evidencing just such a policy, then what is vulgarity for?

Cross adds:

The dirty secret of fascism is that its appeal is not rational; it is, therefore, impervious to rational argument. You cannot talk someone out of a feeling of hatred.

We, the People, can’t fight the fascists within and restore American democracy if we’re scared to call the domestic enemy the names they’ve rightly earned. I hear Democratic Party candidates continue to say how Republicans mean well and that they’re just misguided patriots. It’s maddening to give an inch, because it’s all too obvious how Republicans will then take a mile.

Are Your Ready To Break The Spell of State-Sponsored Propaganda?

“Many liberals are perplexed that when their fact-checking clearly and definitively shows that a lie is a lie, people seem unconcerned and indifferent. But Hannah Arendt understood how propaganda really works,” argues Richard Bernstein, professor of philosophy at The New School for Social Research. This is what Holocaust survivor, Arendt, has to teach us:

What convinces masses are not facts, not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably a part. People who feel that they have been neglected and forgotten yearn for a narrative — even an invented fictional one — that will make sense of the anxiety they are experiencing, and promises some sort of redemption. An authoritarian leader has enormous advantages by exploiting anxieties and creating a fiction that people want to believe. A fictional story that promises to solve one’s problems is much more appealing than facts and ‘reasonable’ arguments.

If the Democratic Party insists on “reasonable arguments” from now until November, we can kiss the Blue Wave goodbye. This is a real battle for the future of our nation. Anyone who cares ought to treat it accordingly.

Dear Democrats, Please Don’t Be Eli

I recently rewatched the film There Will Be Blood starring Daniel Day Lewis as a focused and ruthless oil man. At the end of the film, there’s a scene that’s hard to watch, but worth paying attention to.

Don’t Be Eli

The Eli character is an ego-fueled preacher on hard times. He wants money from his former benefactor. But the benefactor has always despised the preacher’s weakness, pious blather, and his failure to face the facts of his own life. Eli refuses to see how the ground under his feet has been eroded by “the long straws” of those more eager and willing to do what it takes to win.

Democrats want to be better people than their Republican counterparts. They want to play fair, all the while fooling themselves that you can enter or survive a knife fight this way. Too many Democrats fundamentally misread the threat, and this failure puts us all in harm’s way. Why is this? No one wants to sound alarmist or crazy. It might hurt their professional reputations, or make someone they care about angry.

p.s. Own Your Own Shit

I don’t believe you need to be particularly brave to look America’s “Black Mirror” squarely in the face. But you need to be brutally honest to see yourself in the problem. For instance, anyone who says, “I’m not a racist!” misses the point entirely. Our society is deeply racist, sexist and classist. No matter what may you think you are or are not, almost everyone in America is racist by social conditioning, if not in their actual hearts and minds. Owning this fundamental truth is the first step toward a long-overdue recovery and resolution, as people and as a nation.

I took place in a Facebook comment string recently about rising above the fray. It’s a common need. At the same time, I feel the need to examine how a culture mends. Without acknowledgment of the crimes, there can be no resolution. What some see as name-calling and negativity, I and a growing number of others see as necessary steps in the process.