Putin and Fellow Travelers

In a previous article here, I took on what I called “Trumpism on the Left” with a focus on Stephen Cohen’s defense of the Trump-Putin bromance in The Nation magazine.  A friend of mine suggested that the title of the article should have been “The Strange Case of Stephen Cohen,” implying perhaps that “Trumpism on the Left” was an unjustified generalization from a single example.  Cohen, as I noted fleetingly, is not alone in his affinity for Putin and by extension Trump.  What my piece lacked was the context of other advocates of the two leaders, which I try to provide in what follows.

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Trump on My Mind

A man w/ orange-tinged skin, side-combed dyed yellow hair and a mouth that looks like the “o”-shaped mouths in cartoons, has taken up near-permanent residence in my mind. I go to bed thinking of him and he pops into my head — the surreal and terrifying reality of him — first thing in the morning.

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Our America: Lessons from the McCarthy Era

Koude-oorlog

Late in the afternoon of January 13, 1954, less than a year after my marriage to Anne Halley, with a two-month-old son at home in our apartment, I was sitting in my half of an office in Folwell Hall, a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota, when the phone rang. It was a reporter from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, an African American named Carl Rowen who was to go on to renown and a modicum of fame in later years. He informed me that I had been “named” as a Communist by a woman from Minneapolis—a former Communist at twenty-three, testifying before a U.S. Senate committee.

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Greening King

The author of the following post is C.E.O. of BlocPower—a black enterprise that cultivates green energy projects in under-served communities. (BlocPower is a business that’s shaped by a social commitment: “at every point in our value chain we seek out and hire underemployed workers from vulnerable communities.”) 

One of my favorite sermons by Dr. King is called “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.” It starts: “A French philosopher once said that ‘No man is so strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked’…

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Putin vs. King Remembered in Time

The music video above, in which an African emigre duo who call themselves A.M.G. extol Putin, seems to soundtrack Nathan Osborne’s musings on the link between contemporary rap and Trumpery.  But there are (always) countervailing trends in the hip hop nation as you’ll see if you try videos in the body of this text by Big K.R.I.T.—a rapper from the Dirty South. He makes conscious music for our mess age: “I don’t rap, I spit hymns.” K.R.I.T. stands for King Remembered In Time.  (A.M.G.’s initials, OTOH, are associated with the Mercedes logo.)

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Trump tha Don

Kyrie Eleison

Donald Trump is the greatest Rapper of all time. He’s the G.O.A.T. precisely because he doesn’t even have to rap. “Well, how then is he a rapper? It says here in Webster’s…” I don’t mean to be a tease. And please don’t assume I’m suggesting that he’s a rapper chiefly due to his misogyny or his nasty language. But, to move forward, let’s go back a bit…

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Identity Fraud

After 9/11, I wrote a piece called “Risk of Contamination” for Brendan Lemon, who was then the editor of Out Magazine. In the essay I compared the way fear of the female body as a contaminating agent of maleness operated in both western and eastern philosophies and practices. I said a crisis in the concept of masculinity in both the east and the west was endangering the world, and I said this crisis in the concept of masculinity linked geo-political factions that otherwise saw themselves as enemies.

I feel a need to review these ideas.

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State of the Union (& “The Plot to Hack America”)

“The bigger issue here is why Trump and people around him take such a radically different view of Russia than has been the case for decades.” (New York Times, 2/16/2017)

No doubt. But when it comes to Trump’s philo-Tsarist turn (and the Republican Party’s “surprise surrender”), the time-scale cited above (“decades”) fails to take in the full weight of the past: “Hostility to Russia is the oldest continuous foreign-policy tradition in the United States…”

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Someone’s in the Kitchen

Lucille told me not to come in the kitchen.  In my young days when I wanted to watch her slice vegetables and pluck chickens, she warned: “This is no place for the likes of you.  I’m telling you, standing next to me at this counter won’t get you nowhere at all.  As good as looking a blind cat in the eye.  And you know you don’t want to do that.”

But I did.  I wanted to see that blind cat all the way through, into her milky eyes and beyond.  Sacred it was, that kitchen: the shiny surface near the sink covered in blood, the gizzards and neck put aside to be fried later and eaten—Lucille’s special delicacy—and her tidying up after the mess of flour and butter, her thick batter where she rolled chicken breasts and thighs before frying them in the skillet at dinnertime for the “white folks.”  That’s what she used to say, with a grin and a nod, adding:  “But we get the good parts.”

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