With everything happening from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and today being the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it seems bizarre to write something trite or funny, so I thought I would just include some articles that I felt were impactful and interesting.
I grew up in the greater New York City area in the aftermath of 9/11, (I was six in 2001), and a lot of what I know is from friends and family talking about it. We grew up hearing a lot of personal accounts of what everyone was doing that day (friends, peers, adults) so I haven’t read many accounts of what people went through. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I watched a video of the actual day.
I really enjoyed this piece by Margaret Lazaros in Refinery29 because, while it was brief, it was totally beautiful and heartbreaking to hear from someone who worked in the World Trade Center. She writes about walking away from the buildings as they fell (that’s a common thread amongst the retellings – the walking, the sneaker stores opening their doors for women in heels) and trying to get to her daughter. If you have a few minutes, I highly recommend it.
I can’t decide if Twitter jokes about nuclear war makes me want to laugh or cry, and really that’s the best description I can think of for Twitter – and the internet world in general.
So I’m coming off working my first freelance job, and it was very exciting but a little draining for someone who, until now, has considered wearing pants with zippers to be the greatest triumph of any given day. So I almost considered skipping this, because I knew it would have to be about the whole Trump-North Korea thing and I just wasn’t ready to put on my journalist hat. But then I realized, infusing humor and drama into politics is what I do best. So I’m going to give you a Casual Cool Hip Take on the Trump-North Korea dramz.
Media is taking a huge hit right now. We’re being called biased, fake, unreliable, vindictive. We are supposed to be the bringers of truth, the backbone of the country, and we’re becoming a target.
Conway was saying in the interview that the media is not giving Trump a fair shake, that we’re taking him at his word when we should be reading his intentions. The problem with that, Kellyanne, is that there is no way of reading his intentions. He has no intentions. He flip-flopped on every issue, lied about things in plain sight, shut out the media, ranted on Twitter, built his campaign on the backs of issues targeting immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.
So if we’re reading his intentions and his words, both have negative implications towards the media, minorities, and America.
In her speech at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep could’ve thanked her fans and her team, something soft and fluffy. But she didn’t. She said that Hollywood, foreigners and the press belong to the most vilified groups in society right now. She said that disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. She spoke on the handicapped reporter whom Trump made fun of—something he denies ever happened, despite video proof.
The reporter was someone Trump outranked in every capacity. He has a habit of doing that; humiliating someone who cannot fight back properly. He has that—excuse my language—trump card over all of us. He holds the highest position in the country. No one is able to fight back. And so that is why we need the press. We need the press to shine light into dark places, to unveil corruption, to show abuses of power.
“We need the principled press to hold power to account…Join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
Streep ended with something that Carrie Fisher told her.
“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
And that’s beautiful and poignant. But there was something that Meryl said that caught my ear. It was when she was discussing the reporter and Trump.
“But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth.”
The last three words: “Show their teeth.”
The phrase is an idiom that refers to animals, typically wolves. They bare their teeth when they are angered, when they are showing their true nature.
When they are about to attack.
And even though she said it in connection to the hateful, hating people who laughed with Trump, I can’t help but think of it as something that we—the media, minorities, Americans—need to take onto ourselves.
But animals bare their teeth in other moments, not just attacking. They show their teeth in the defense of something.
Show your teeth.
The media has been under attack for months, but it’s heated up. Trump shut down the CNN reporter, the one person who is allowed access to him. He wouldn’t take his question because he didn’t like CNN. We are being shut out; we are being prevented from doing our jobs.
If the urge in the face of the Trump regime is to normalize him, get on his good side—resist that urge. Don’t normalize. Show your teeth.
We have to be vicious. We have to be fearless. We must continue doggedly in the pursuit of truth. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the petty squabbles he lobs into the media, letting it distract them while he does something even more nefarious. Get angry. Stay angry. Be smart and passionate and educated. Information is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
Show your teeth. Bare them, and don’t back down. Because if we do, everyone suffers. We are the protectors of the truth. Propaganda is a staple in dictatorships; a lack of freedom of the press means that nothing is free. If we don’t have freedom of information, we have nothing.
Do like Meryl; don’t let yourself sit in the softness and sweetness. Push forward; use your voice. Don’t get complacent.