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I'll Shut Up - Right After This

Hunkering down with the Gray Lady

— — — John Darling

She reads the New York Times every morning at the Beanery. It&

s a hard read, but it&

s all there, if you have the courage to read it &

and my old friend Ellae does. Then she wants to talk about it. We talk. The young woman journalist from Michigan kidnapped in Iraq and put under a death threat. Not much chance for her, we agree. Our side won&

t release prisoners to free her. We&

d look weak and it would encourage them. Her face on the video, so young. Your eyes stray to the neck, so vulnerable. How can they do this, walk around Baghdad, knowing what can happen to them? But what a great shot at a Pulitzer, and in your 20s.

So strange, it&

s happening by the Euphrates, where the first story, Gilgamesh, was written 4,200 years ago on cuneiform tablets. I&

m reading Stephen Mitchell&

s new translation of it. Here it is, the same old story, the strong man risen up and made crazy with power, abusing and killing his own people &

and how a preemptive attack is thought the wisest course.

We talk long of &

Brokeback Mountain,&

or &

the gay cowboy movie,&

as people call it. Everyone we know is talking about it. We don&

t know much about that kind of hatred, for gays, here in Ashland, but when we see its grisly, savage face on the screen, it&

s familiar and we have to put in on the table. Where does this come from? Well, we all need love, she says, and these guys love each other &

and they grew up without much love, in hard, cold, unpainted homes on the windy plains, with parents who barely spoke to each other.


s hard to imagine this rage for gays in other countries, we say. Is it something about Christianity? Well, it&

s our Protestant culture, with English Puritan roots, meshed in with the sins of slavery and the genocide against natives here &

the guilt and denial propping up the American masculinity culture and projected on anyone seeming too weak or different. Whatever is scary about being gay, that whole thing is a lot scarier &

and we agree that gay tolerance, for us, is the canary in the mine, the test of whether a community or nation is safe for any kind of dissent.

We scan the Times. Hm. Intelligent design trashed by a Pennsylvania judge, nice. Maryland&

s gay marriage ban tossed out, cool. Oregon&

s Death with Dignity law upheld against the assault by Bush, who wanted to throw some red meat to the religious right, neat.

So, really, how does natural selection create something as complex and miraculous as the eye, not to mention the toe and pancreas and the blood sugar system, which Americans are rampantly violating, sending one in eight New Yorkers to the diabetic ward to get toes amputated, so says the Times.

Obviously, natural selection and mutation are not going to create the eye. The eye and all the rest of it were created in part by selection &

you don&

t survive with nonadaptive features &

but they&

re mostly created as a joint project of divine intelligence and our own creative urge, right here inside us. We got tired of bumping into things. We wanted eyes. We made ourselves see. We were both creative and created. God is inside us and is outside us, too. It&

s both/and, not either/or, ok? But let&

s not push that on the kids. Let&

s have them study all the creation stories, then look in their own hearts and write a project: How did you get here? Write your own creation story. That&

s what we, your ancestors, did. Promoting a powerful God outside us has only one purpose &

to allow for creation of a powerful priesthood and political-military machine, posing as his agents so they can use fear and ignorance to dominate the regular folks.

I hang with Sen. Wyden all afternoon at his town hall meeting with 100 of the citizenry. They&

re not too happy. It&

s different than the old days, when people would rail on this and that bill about Social Security and other helpful legislation that had some chance of passing. There are no helpful bills with some chance of passing now and the folks know it. Still, Wyden is a good man and he talks about bills that would be good, if there were a strong, brave, free citizenry to support and demand them &

like his flat tax, which would scotch Bush&

s giveaway to the rich or a bill to stop torture and wiretapping of Americans (isn&

t that already against the law?) or a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, but tied to a well-trained Iraq military, which means no timetable will work, but it sounds good. And he freaks the folks, insinuating maybe he could vote for Judge Alito.

What the town hall folks are ranting about now are not bills, but the whole ship of state &

the lobby corruption, church-state separation, voting fraud, concentration of media power, a bought Congress, the war, you know, the one whose justifications were proved false, but it still goes on and a couple hundred billion have been wasted, cash that could have funded national health care, at least for the middle class and working poor.

Afterward, I talk with a guy who&

s on the county Democratic executive committee and he wants to say nice things about Wyden and does, but shakes his head and says who can get anything done, really, in such a culture of corruption in D.C.? It&

s gone round the bend, folks, and our senator knows it and we know it.

But, ah, here it is, this just in from the Gray Lady &


s the Times. Wyden will vote against Alito, whom, he nods, is a &

seemingly moderate and amiable jurist&

but stood with the corporate polluters and doesn&

t get it about separation of powers. Nice shot, Ron.