Friday, May 31, 2019
RIP, Leon. I hope that my own ungrateful family gets this message.
And suddenly, only the live material plays in Thailand. The records are "not available in your country." I have to wonder, what do they profit by denying the thirty-five or so people in Thailand who want to listen to Eddie and the Hot Rods LPs the pleasure of listening to records that we have all probably purchased at some point, but no longer have access to. Mine, for instance, are nine time zones away in the home of my oldest son, who appreciates such things. It's a puzzlement.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
G.W.F. Hegel was a philosophical big shot around Germany way back in the 19th Century. He was one of those know-it-alls who had an opinion about everything, even if he knew nothing at all about it.
Take black people, for instance, Africans. Hegal's analysis of black culture and society was very, very rough-edged and negative. He casually announced that black Africans had no real part to play in the history of the human race. He described their way of living as “sensuous barbarism.” A totally sense-based state of superstition and magical unreality. He had obviously not done his homework.
He took as his sources such “experts” as Herodotus, the ancient historian. If he had bothered to look into it, he would have found out that much of Africa at the time had very advanced cultures, featuring elaborate laws regarding property and trade.
Nice turn of phrase though, don't you think? “Sensuous barbarism.” You could almost sell that as a cultural option today.
Sunday, May 26, 2019
I discovered this song last year on KJAZ in Los Angeles. Leslie Odom Jr. was the singer on that occasion. I was floored, frankly, I pulled over to the side of the road and was ready to write when the back-announce came along. Interestingly, later that day I was able to hear Mr. Odom's version on YouTube, but ever since then it has disappeared into the "lock-box."
I had never heard Johnny Mathis's version; I had never heard much of Johnny Mathis at all. I'm afraid that I had picked up the negative vibe on Johnny back then, even though in my conscious mind I was very accepting of homosexuals. Somehow I didn't take Mr. Mathis seriously. Well, I was wrong. He kills this song, and no one could say he didn't totally own it. Great job, Johnny. Sorry I was missing the boat back when you could have used the support.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Some of the English bands chose really fabulous songs to cover, and a few of them even did a very nice job of it indeed. I love the Hollies in general, and I have ever since I heard "Look Through Any Window" on CKLW, from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, when it was a clear-channel that could be heard in NYC at night. Now on YouTube we can discover that the Hollies were not only a great studio band, they could actually set up and play. Great choice of songs, and a great cover.
Featuring Graham Nash with a championship Pompadour, and yes, I think that is a Fender six-string bass standing behind him.
A technique employed by fighter pilots during World War II to avoid the necessity of urinating during long missions.
Bombers had some kind of urinal, which was difficult enough with the pressure suits and everything. Fighters had one man sitting in a cramped cockpit for up to eight hours, hardly able to move at all.
There was a contraption with a tube and a funnel-like end to pee into, but it was almost impossible to manage it. They also had diapers that the pilots could use. They didn't like that either. So they resorted to “tactical dehydration.” They would simply stop taking fluids at some point the day before the mission. Voila! No urine to pass! Unfortunately, dehydration can lead to symptoms very much like oxygen deprivation. Dizziness, loss of consciousness, hallucinations. Those presented serious problems of their own.
Many women pilots flew ferry missions that could last the entire eight hours or more. Women flew our fighters to Europe from America. First to Halifax, in Canada; then a leg to Iceland, that's a long one; then over to Ireland, that's the longest. Reports are that most of the women employed the diapers.
The men should have used the diapers. I'm sure that the flight crews back at the base or on the carrier would totally understand. Living in the shadow of death, a little piss smell was the least of their problems.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
The Wiki describes cultural appropriation as “the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture.” Forgive me, but that is the weakest definition that I’ve ever heard. Maybe it’s like pornography: nobody knows how to describe it, but we’re supposed to know it when we see it.
The problem with that approach is that some people see cultural appropriation everywhere. I’ve come across some efforts to focus the inquiry, such as mention of a power-imbalance (it’s only cultural appropriation when a more powerful culture borrows a piece of a less powerful culture), or the suggestion that former colonial rulers must never appropriate aspects of the cultures of their former colonies. It all leads to further confusion and perverse results. What happens when those injunctions clash? England is the former colonial power for America, but America is now vastly more powerful than England. Who is allowed to steal from whom?
There are clear examples of cultural appropriation that are wrong. A recent example from Australia occurred in the artistic realm. A non-aboriginal artist was creating paintings that borrowed heavily from aboriginal artistic traditions. He got dinged good for that one, and not without reason. I don’t know how far you can take that one, though. The modern art museums of the world are chock full of paintings and sculptures that employ motifs from cultures that the artists did not share. Many of these are high quality works of great innovation that obviously rely primarily on the talent of the person whose name is on the piece. A good example is Picasso borrowing from African art in his early cubist paintings.
Do we give Mr. Picasso a pass while heavily censoring Mr. No-Name Australian painter? I’ll let you be the judge. How much weight are we going to give talent and celebrity? That’s a tough one.
Many of the examples that come to mind take place on the commercial level. Let’s say that I have a gas station on I-10 in Arizona, and that I have attached thereto a store that sells “authentic Indian artifacts,” along with cowboy belts, hot sauce, and jewelry made with rattle-snake skulls. I own the whole set-up. Many of the artifacts are authentic, too, but many of the Apache Kachina dolls, let’s say, were actually made by Navajo Indians. Maybe some of the employees at the store are Apaches, and they don’t seem to care. Is actual injury an element of proof in cultural appropriations?
It would be clearer if I was selling “genuine” Navajo rugs, or “genuine” Apache Kachina dolls, that had been made in Bangladesh. That would be wrong, even if there were Navajos or Apaches working in the store. Would it also be wrong if I were selling Apache war bonnets, the typical feathered kind, made by Indians? Made, perhaps, by Apaches? Well, definitely wrong if the buyer wore it to football games and he was a fan of the Washington Redskins. But what if he just hung it respectfully in his man-cave, which had a western theme? No football involved. These are tough questions.
What if the two cultures have grown up in the same space, at the same time? Constantly borrowing from one another? We often hear about cultural appropriation regarding the theft of black American music by white Americans. The intimate nature of the relationship should in itself render the accusation ridiculous. It is absolutely beyond argument that jazz is the cultural product of black America, but upon closer inspection one immediately notices that the music has always been played on instruments that arose from white American or European culture, and that the jazz music itself borrows heavily from standard European musical theory, and is transcribed using the European method. That jazz was innovative and different is certainly true. That jazz arose from the black community and was something brand-spanking new is also true. We might wonder, though, if the adoption of elements of white European/ American musical culture was completely coincidental, or could it be considered an important part in the development of jazz? No similar music arose in Africa. There is also the fact that neighboring white American musicians took to jazz like ducks take to water, mostly out of love for the music. It is very compelling music after all. “Musician” being the toughest component of the show business in which to make a living, it is likely that most of the musicians who incorporated the new music into their repertoires were doing so not only respectfully and out of interest, but also to help themselves in their effort to put food on the table. Would any fellow musician hold that against them?
I would be willing to bet that anyone accusing white musicians of appropriating black American culture was not, themselves, a musician. Musicians realize that all music is theft, and every musician that ever lived was influenced by everything that he heard and incorporated the parts that he liked into his or her playing. This kind of influence has been operating back and forth between black and white American musicians since we all arrived in the Western Hemisphere.
Something very similar can be observed in authentic black blues music. The oldest forms used one chord, and complexity was added with rhythm. The earliest blues form was the call and response singing of work songs. Not long after that black American slave culture added what is called, “fife and drum” music. This remained a one-chord song form, but with the addition of melody to complement the voices and more levels of rhythmic complexity. More melody was added with the innovation of a wire stretched between nails, one on a fence rail and the other on a post. In a more sophisticated form, this became the Diddley Bow, which was portable and used glass bottles to raise the wire above a stout board. Yeah! And you thought Bo Diddley was a farmer! The man was a musicologist!
After the Civil War, black American musicians with guitars or banjos were traveling to make a living singing and playing when and where they could. They learned as many songs and as many styles as possible, because the more versatile they were, the more jobs they could get. They were happy to play at white people’s parties, even if the white people wanted to hear traditional English and Irish folk songs. By the 20th Century this experience became the OG blues of the 1920s, with roots in every musical style that had been absorbed by the black musicians. What we know as twelve-bar-blues is itself a European song form, and the blues has always used European/ American influences that had been bent to the needs and ingenuity of the black musicians. The “blues scale” is a standard European scale that has been modified for emotional impact by borrowing a feature of African music. Applied to the standard scale, it substitutes flat thirds and flat fifths. Nobody’s getting ripped off here. We are all brothers in the American nation, for better or worse.
Speaking of the same space. I live in South East Asia, and there is a certain type of shadow puppet that is popular in the area. The figures are cut from dried cow skin and painted a bit, and they are manipulated behind screens on sticks and backlit so that the shadows show up nicely on the screen. These stories, and characters, the entire kit-and-kaboodle, are part of the traditions of the cultures of at least three of the countries in the region. Now one of the countries, not the one that I live in, is asserting possession of the art form as part of their unique cultural heritage. Putting aside for a moment the question of who, exactly, in the dim past, came up with the ideas in the first place, how to you forbid entire countries to enjoy an art form that spread organically over an entire region of the world over one thousand years ago? You don’t, in my opinion. I’d call that a “shared” cultural heritage.
I’m thinking that the entire idea of cultural appropriation is a non-starter, except in clear-cut instances where an underprivileged group is clearly being taken advantage of. It’s always a tough call. Pat Boone covering Tutti Frutti to capture the white-only radio market was cultural appropriation. I think that one is clear, because there was no respect in it. It was purely a money transaction. Elvis singing Hound Dog? I’m not so sure. Elvis respected the black music. Sun Records was a salt-and-pepper outfit. They were pitching their records to a mixed audience, and the records were played on radio stations that had mixed audiences. This whole thing is hard to pin down.
What do you make of this rather strange example? I lived in Kiel one summer long ago, studying German at the local university. There were eighty-five of us in the group, all foreigners, and after hours we often went out to bars. Kiel is a mid-sized, very German city, a bit out of the way and not cosmopolitan in the manner of Frankfort, Hamburg, or Berlin. One place that we liked was both a regular German bar, casual and good humored, with fifteen beers on tap, and almost a regular restaurant, too. Meaning that they had more than the typical few items of German bar food. Where do you focus the cultural appropriations here?
The bar was called the “Henry VIII Pub.” The entire front of the building was made to look like a timbered, Tudor style shop front. There was a pub sign, featuring Henry, and his likeness was also painted larger than life sized on the building front. The inside was decorated in much the same way, tables, chairs and all, with another large Henry VIII on the wall for good measure;
The owners of the bar were Turks, and almost everyone who worked in the bar was Turkish. There had been many Turks in Germany since the auto industry began inviting them to work in its factories. That would have been, I’m not sure, the 1960s? In any case, the Turkish/German community was well established by 1984. All of these “Turks” spoke native German and anybody under the age of twenty had probably been born in Germany;
The menu was entirely Italian. Mostly pizza, but also offering simple dishes like lasagna, baked ziti, “Mediterranean” salads, cutlets with spaghetti and red sauce, like that. The pizza was delicious. They had a real pizza oven, and there was nothing to complain about with the pizza. I’m a New Yorker, and I was perfectly happy with the pizza. You could notice a slight Turkish note in the sauce, some hints of clove and maybe star anise, allspice or something, but it only added to the experience.
We were standing at the intersection of England, Germany, Turkey, and Italy. Was anybody’s culture being appropriated? These days that would start an argument in some circles. The “Supreme High Council of Neapolitan Pizza” would probably declare that it wasn’t actually pizza at all! There are no cloves in a pizza sauce recipe! Case closed! But I doubt if it’s that simple.
It would be better if we avoided small matters like cultural appropriation and concentrated on the larger issues facing us. Several of those matters threaten the very existence of humanity in particular, if not life on earth in general. Such matters deserve out immediate attention, do they not?
Monday, May 20, 2019
I love the production on this cut. Nice and simple. They let the rhythm section carry it alone until the sax solo. That would be two guitars, bass, and drums. The second guitar occupies the space between the prominent rhythm guitar and the bass, and its part is so subtle you could easily miss it. These are very disciplined players; they play their parts right on the money, nice and tight. The back up singers are so far down in the mix that they almost get lost. After the sax solo, a small horn section helps out with the remainder of the song. No embellishments on the vocals, just a grateful man telling a sincere story. Beautiful record.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
A great cover of the great John Lee Hooker song, and furthermore, a fine example of how little the musical idea needs to be embellished to make a successful song of any kind. Here, the musical idea is 100% present and accounted for, with almost no equipment at all. Best of good fortune to Mr. Brushy One String. You deliver, brother.
This happened last week up in New Hampshire. This story is a powerful lesson in just how much “low level, unskilled” workers mean to large corporations. Here's a time-line.
Bonnie Kimball was a cafeteria worker in a high school in New Hampshire. She was a “lunch lady.”
(Mascoma Valley Regional High School, 27 Royal Road, Canaan, New Hampshire 03741)
The food service, including the lunch ladies themselves, was provided by Cafe Services. At the time of the incident, Cafe Services was negotiating with the school district to renew the contract. The new one year contract was ultimately signed, with the district agreeing to pay Cafe Services $560,000.
(Cafe Services, 749 E. Industrial Park Drive, Dept. CS, Manchester, New Hampshire 03109, Telephone: (877) 375-3246)
Mascoma is a small school in a rural area, and the children are not rich. Parents put money in a lunch account, and the children's lunches are deducted from the running total. It happens sometimes that students have more on their trays than there is money in the account. Ms. Kimball's immediate supervisor instructed her that because of the contract negotiations, if any kids come up short, just let it go. Tell the kid to tell his mom to build the account back up and we'll deduct the money owed later on. That makes business sense. Let's not piss off the school or the parents when we're setting up this big deal for next year.
It happened that a kid presented at Ms. Kimball's register with too much on his tray. Ms. Kimball did as she was instructed. She told the kid he owed $8, and please tell your mom to make it good. And she let the kid go, with the extra food, to eat his lunch.
Somehow, unsurprisingly, there was a snitch in the room, a “representative” of Cafe Services, probably what we'd call a “loss prevention” agent. He witnessed this whole thing and reported Ms. Kimball to the company.
The next day, the kid brought in the money owed and brought the account current.
After all of that, on the same day, Bonnie Kimball was fired.
Cafe Services is a huge corporation, with multiple very large contracts throughout New England. Their website is glossy. But now we know two additional things about them. For one thing, their management is so inefficient that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. The lunch ladies' immediate supervisor gave them specific instructions, but the loss prevention guy didn't get the memo. For another thing, Bonnie was fired for one small act of kindness that didn't cost the company A FUCKING DIME. The money was in the till when she was fired.
Bonnie Kimball looks like a nice woman. She seems to me to be the kind of lunch lady that the kids would like. Someone like that is an asset to the school. You'd be surprised. Many times things happen to students, things that make them uncomfortable, and they might tell the lunch lady because she seems much more sympathetic than her teachers. From her photo, I wouldn't be surprised if Bonnie has children of her own, and that she was very happy to have that job. But she gets no consideration at all, no one at Cafe Services (contact info above) even cared to look into it. They got a report from the snitch, and Bonnie got the ax. Some MBA genius learned that in school. (I'm only kidding! An MBA is actually a guarantee that the recipient IS NOT A GENIUS. Like George W. Bush, “I went to Harvard, and all I got was this useless MBA!” Check his business career before you accuse me of being overly harsh.)
This is what we mean to them. Nothing, we mean nothing to them. All of the old covenants between labor and management are long since dead and buried in concrete slabs. If someone were to really examine the business methods of Cafe Services, they'd probably find that the company pays the absolute minimum in wages, provides the absolute minimum in benefits, and bends over backwards to squeeze every possible nickel out of every employee at Bonnie's level. I'd be very surprised if she got any vacation at all, just school holidays maybe. Health insurance? Dubious. How many hours do they offer her? Just below the cut-off for full time? Like thirty-one hours a week? Does she work as a cashier in a gas station at night to keep food on the table for her own children? Can she even afford health insurance?
I have provided the contact info for the school and Cafe Services in case anyone would like to write them a letter expressing their disapproval. Or even better, ridicule, or moral condemnation. I should have included the address for the Manchester Guardian as well, but you can find that easily enough. These bastards should know what we think of them.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
This video is a tribute, from someone who is obviously a dedicated fan. As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words," and it's true of this video, that's for sure. Brian was the poster-child for the complex personality, and a perfect example of the ability of arrogance and fragility to coexist in one person.
I was a big 'Stones fan from "Not Fade Away" on, and no one could say that they turned to shit when Brian went first his separate way, and then just away, in 1969. The 'Stones were great until "It's Only Rock and Roll," in what, 1975? After that, not so much. The turning point is harder to map, but in the beginning, yeah, Brian was the glue that held the machine together. And it was a wonderful machine.
Monday, May 13, 2019
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Please don't be sad, it hasn't happened yet, I'm still sitting here typing this. Life, unbidden, clings to me. Somehow, though, I would be surprised to make it another five years, and if I collapse on the sidewalk or the floor at any moment I will be the last one to express any surprise. As happens to all of us, my systems, and each of them, have worn out, and something will fail, probably sooner rather than later. I say that because my systems have been working a lot harder than most people's, from an early age.
If, when, I collapse in a heap, heartbeatless, do not be fooled by the foolish guesses of parties with an ax to grind regarding the cause of my demise. My ungrateful family will say that it was my drinking that did me in. There is damage to my cardiovascular system, that much is true, and it is the type that is often associated with drinking or overeating in some people who turn up dead. In my case, my money is on another cause all together. Stress.
I have discussed this with my cardiologist, and he added some relevant information. My life, from my days as a preschool boy, has been devoted to fear, unrelieved anger, and depression. My ACE score is five out of six. My parents, mostly my mother, started working on these numbers before I started Kindergarten. I still have nightmares about my mother; my hatred of my father is more likely to manifest itself in the waking world. Upon returning home, every time, I was afraid of being ambushed by my mother, holding aloft a shoe, ready to beat me with the heel for some real or imagined transgression. My childhood milieu, especially as approached by a boy with a fearful temperament and stricken with a general hopelessness, offered the constant threat of danger from boys who were natural bullies or just boys who wanted to move up in the pecking order. I attended Catholic school for twelve years, where corporal punishment was endemic and still permitted. I was afraid much of the time.
A child who remains in this state of hypervigilance to physical danger for most of every day is permanently affected by the experience. It affects childhood brain development. The hormone cortisol is involved. This contributes to many ailments later in life, including heart disease. You can look it up; I'm too verbose by half already.
My father was a different story. Having realized that he was married to an unstable, borderline crazy woman, he simply abandoned us. Not that it showed, he was much too clever for that. He arranged to be traveling for work virtually all of the time. I've been over this ground, but there are always new readers, so forgive me if I repeat myself. My cousins worshiped my father, and still worship his memory, because he always appeared at family gatherings, holidays, birthdays, etc. He was charming, and they were thoroughly charmed. They didn't know that those were almost the only occasions that my sister and I, not to mention my mother, saw him. My parents ceased their proper marital relationship, physically, at an early age. He talked to my cousins, aunts and uncles more on those occasions than he spoke to his own family for the rest of the year.
Check the abandonment box on the ACE scorecard.
Those few details will need to suffice, because this is a blog post and not A Tale of Two Cities. I'm not getting paid by the word, like Dickens.
Approaching my home, I tensed up, fear welling up inside me. I was also afraid leaving home. Turning a corner, I searched the way ahead for bullies. Entering school, I was afraid. Each of these situations triggered the “fight or flight” hormonal response, adrenaline, cortisol, God knows what all. Each one was what I have come to call a “clench.” As in, “to clench one's hand into a fist.”
I grew to become a man who was a whirlpool of resentment, anger, fear, embarrassment, hostility to the world and all authority, and bitterness about what might have been. I was, and remain, short tempered. Things go wrong, and I experience a clench. For most of my life, they often happened when I was alone. Some small thing would go wrong, and there would be a clench. Every muscle tightens up, I see red and my eyes close, I hold my breath, and there it is: clench. Alone, I can stop them in their tracks now, but it's seven decades now! Out and about, other people and situations can set me off. No wonder there has been damage done. For all of this time, the clench can be a quiet, solitary experience, or it may be a public scream-fest. My cardiologist explained that every time that the sufferer does this, the entire vascular system experiences the tension, the tightening. This is particularly damaging to the smaller veins and arteries around the periphery of the heart. That, dear reader, is where my cardiovascular problem lies. So yes, I tend to blame my life threatening heart condition on the general psychological condition that I have lived with all of my life.
I have, by the way, the heart of a racehorse. The problem is out in the small blood vessels, including the one nicknamed “the widow maker.” My widow maker already has a stent in it, and that's not the only one.
I am only grateful that my experience of depression is such that I direct all of the negativity inward. I am my chosen victim, and I really do try to make other people's lives easier. My ungrateful family would also cheerfully explain to you that I was just like my mother, a self-medicating drunkard who brought about her own doom. It's true that my mother grew up in the same cortisol brain-bath that I did, thanks to her mother, who was a true demon in human form, but my mother drank exponentially more than I ever have, my God, the woman was an all day drinker who went through more than a case a week, and she also was a vicious woman who directed all of her negativity outward, mostly onto the people closest to her. She lived to make other people miserable. It was her only fun. When she died, I breathed a sigh of relief.
As usual, I am a mass of contradictions. I am a vortex of negative energy, it's true, but I also readily acknowledge that I have been a generally lucky man. Most people perceive me as a polite, charming man, a bit garrulous perhaps but with some good stories to tell. I raised two fine sons. I'm very proud of them even if they are less than warm and loving to me now. I have always had friends, and they have often been instrumental in helping me to obtain employment. I was lucky with my first wife, too. She was a perfect fit for the job. Great breadwinner, great mom, great where the rubber meets the road. When she kicked me out, I was lucky to come down on my feet in a good situation. I own a nice condo in Bangkok, and my second wife is a real gem. (Age appropriate, BTW. I'm no cradle robber.) I have always been interested in things, just any old thing, and I can honestly say that I have never been bored. I am still a voracious reader, books, I mean, fiction and non-fiction, and scholarly articles. Things could be much, much worse.
I still get the clench. I had one today in a restaurant; had one at the dentist on Saturday. I kept them both rather quiet, which is good. I'll probably go back to the restaurant, after a month or so, but I will be dumping the dentist. Somebody needs to explain to her the difference between a customer and a patient. Trying to get a cab in my neighborhood these days would give anyone a clench. I just thank God that I'm not in that machine-gun clench like the first year after my father died, when it was every ten minutes, being reminded of some terrible memory, and folding up like a cheap tent at the thought of it. “But I was a good boy!” At least that's over with.
If it took a couple of cocktails to accomplish that, so be it. When I die, please do not be sad, but also please do not blame the whole thing on me. I will have been overtaken by events not entirely of my own making.
Monday, May 6, 2019
I usually don't indulge in this kind of thing, but this presentation is kind of cute. I like Azumi; I like Cream live; I like Steppin' Out. So what's not to like?
Friday, May 3, 2019
Thursday, May 2, 2019
I am certain that our friends and allies around the world were shocked last week when acting President DJT claimed that newborn babies were being executed at the whim of their mothers and doctors. The idea has been going around for a while now, but this was the first time that the, I can't say it, you know who I mean, included a dramatic description of the practice in one of his rally speeches. “The baby is born, and they wrap it carefully in a blanket, such a beautiful baby, and they take the baby to the mother, and the mother and the doctor decide whether to execute the baby or not.” People in many countries must have done a spit-take when they heard that. It was kind of a WTF moment for Americans, too. Nothing remotely like that is actually happening.
(The medical facts of the matter are highly technical and should rightly be left to the parents and the doctors involved. That's not only my opinion. It is also the advised opinion of the U.S. Judicial system based upon the current requirements of Due Process cases. What President “I'm rich and I'm smart but I can't prove either thing” described was infanticide, which is totally illegal in every state.)
We have grown accustomed to the daily barrage of lies that pours out of the White House from every window, but this one really pushes the minute hand on the Fascism Clock dangerously close to midnight. This lie is so enormous, and so blatantly impossible and untrue, that it raises the bar. The idea is so outlandish, and the lie so totally preposterous, and the language so inflammatory (execute!), that the danger level must be raised. The whole idea of agitprop like this is to demonize one's political opponents. “Vote for us, and help us to save the country from the disgusting people who would do such things!” There's nothing new about it. We've already seen many people killed and injured because of language like this. That violence is the goal of the language.
The greatest expression of this kind of political foul play was the famous “Blood Libel” that has been leveled at the Jews in Europe from time to time.* It still is, actually, because “The Elders of Zion” is still in circulation and raising antisemitic feelings around eastern Europe. The Nazis weren't the first, but they used the Blood Libel with great success to drive out German Jews in the 1930s. They started with blaming the Jews for the loss in World War I, and then blaming them for the financial collapse, and then they reached for the big gun. (About two/thirds of the Jews were allowed to leave, after their property had been stolen. By the time the Nazis started actually killing Jews in large numbers, any excuse or rational was no longer necessary.) The Nazi's use of the Blood Libel is a perfect example of the demonization process in its fullest flower. Escalating lies and propaganda directed at the class of person to be demonized lead to greater heights of accusatory rhetoric that became more and more dehumanizing and finally turned exterminationist. Those ridiculous Jewish caricatures in Der Stuermer were not taken seriously by the Germans at first. After all, there were only 375,000 Jews in a country of over 60 million, how big a problem could they be? They had fought in World War I! Everyone living in a big city knew plenty of Jews! Years of escalating rhetoric, however, employing tools like the Blood Libel, finally led to the murder of about six million Jews. Plus big numbers from the other demonized groups.
“First they came for the diabetics, and I didn't care, because I wasn't diabetic.” That's a funny line now, but wait until your grandchild dies because the insurance company denies them life-saving medicine. That's just the beginning. If you are an American who is not in one of the preferred groups, i.e., rich, powerful, or famous, you're in the cross-hairs already.
So, Donnie the Gyp says people, with the help of doctors, are “executing” healthy babies. He wants to desensitize people from the use of the word, “execute.” You know he's working on his lists. In fact, they've been working on their lists since Nixon was president. The Republicans, I mean. Hippies; university professors and students; blacks; commies; socialists; feminists; liberals; atheists; progressives; homosexuals; and more recently added groups like, people with good educations; Californians; media personalities; people who speak foreign languages; Mexicans (which they take to mean all non-Caribbean Latins); Hollywood actors; Muslims; and any minute now, Asians.
We've been seeing this kind of demonization of liberals, etc., for decades now. It really took off while Mr. Obama was our president. Getting beaten twice by Obama really unhinged the Republican party. Trump has taken the practice to the moon and beyond. It is common now for ordinary citizens commenting on social media to furiously demand the deaths of Democratic politicians, or liberals wherever they may be found. For the deaths, in fact, of any of the groups being demonized by their ultra-right-wing style leaders. And lest we forget, it is increasingly common for some deluded fan of that ultra-right rhetoric to take up an AR-15 and actually kill as many of the demons as he can manage. (So far in America it's a man's game. That might change, as it has in other countries.)
When our ultra-right-wing, white supremacist “acting president” says things like “execute” on TV, many of his followers take it as gospel and believe him wholeheartedly. Several of my Facebook friends certainly do. This obvious lie made them furious at the doctors and the moms who are “executing” these born-alive babies, and also furious at anyone like me that might try to explain that no healthy, beautiful babies wrapped lovingly in blankets are being murdered. These people, who can hardly control their anger at such practices, include many that I grew up with. I've known them since we were teenagers, or in some cases even young children. If decent, hard working people like that can be enraged by such a transparent, obvious lie, such a virtual “Blood Libel,” well then there is no limit to the damage that those unscrupulous bastards who spew this agitprop can accomplish.
* Constant readers will recall that if something occurs to me, I assume that it has also occurred to many other people. That's my style; I try never to give myself too much credit. In the course of checking my facts on the Blood Libel, and trying to avoid giving offense to any aggrieved groups out there, I read, among other things, an article on Slate dot com called, “They Will Execute the Baby,” by Rebecca Onion (April 30, 2019). She mentioned the Blood Libel, without expanding the similarities very much. Ms. Onion called Trump's “execution” crack, “atrocity propaganda,” which I think is a nice turn-of-phrase. She attributed his statement to a desire to portray liberals and feminists as “selfish monsters.” I'm sure that the article is still up, or at least available. It's short.