We Need the Storm, the Whirlwind
Stand up for what you believe: Neil Young's new Resistance Anthem
On this fraught Fourth, in what Chuck Wendig calls "this epoch of syphilitic dipshittery," some scavenged words of hope, rage, persistence and perspective to help us through. An artist and activist, Wendig offers "ways to stay motivated in this shit-shellacked era of epic stupid" as the Trump presidency renders us "the dumbest, saddest pig at the county fair." Suggestions include "be with your people," write and do art, acts of resistance of themselves, ration exposure to the "constantly crashing cars" that are the news and social media - "The news is a vampire. It’ll bleed you dry" - and remain "cautiously, grimly optimistic," while pairing that hard-won optimism with "a bit of realism and a lot of effort...We still have options and a way out of the storm. Train your brain to look for good stuff. And better, train your brain to look for ways to make things better." As The New Yorker's David Remnick notes, "Donald Trump is not forever."
Mostly, the Fourth brings to mind former slave and timeless orator Frederick Douglass - infamously praised by Trump for doing "an amazing job (and) being recognized more and more" - who labored both with and against Lincoln to effect change. In his iconic 1852 speech in Rochester, N.Y., Douglass asked, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” and grimly answered, "Your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns... mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy (to) cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages." He cites these wrongs that we might right them, calling for "not light...but fire...The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused." He even summons hope, citing our founding principles "and the genius of American Institutions." Let them, please, persist. Happy Fourth.
John Gerrard's Western Flag art installation: