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Shattered_Mirror_2_by_wolfrain319

If a woman is looked upon as an object, without feelings, life, soul, or thoughts, then it is easy to ingest images of her that defy her humanity. She is not a woman — a living creature with human attributes. She is merely a body, a vacant, empty, vessel intended to contain the needs of others — preferably men — and her body, which is the most desired aspect of her existence, perfect, lithe, smooth and hair-free, is open for interpretation and domination.

-Marina DelVecchio, The New Agenda

In an era in which human beings claim to be ever more enlightened and concerned with justice, the manner in which violence against women is depicted on television, on the internet, and in movies has never been more graphic. In fact, our society has become so desensitized to this that it’s generally considered a normal part of our entertainment. We’re so accustomed to seeing women belittled, berated, beaten, raped, and murdered that we might feel nothing but a vague ambivalence as we watch our favorite shows, be they true crime, fantasy, sitcoms, reality, or comedy.

In 2014 a group from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology published a study, Contribution of Media to the Normalization and Perpetuation of Domestic Violence, in the Austin Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. They pointed out that domestic violence (DV) is “becoming more prevalent in social media as well as academic literature. Based on the astonishing prevalence rates of DV there are good reasons to consider this issue an epidemic.” The researchers go on to say that, “DV continues to be normalized through its comedic portrayal via news outlets, magazines, advertisements, and television shows.”

This study highlighted various contributing factors to the prevalence of DV in the media, including video games, cultural and family values, religious tradition, advertisements, and the news. In particular, they discussed how DV is portrayed through humor, and how this too desensitizes us to the seriousness of what is, truly, an epidemic. They offer statistics to illustrate just how vibrantly alive and well this violence is. Additionally, they make a fantastic point that all of this desensitization and joking leads to DV being underreported—and therefore victims are underserved.

Domestic violence can be portrayed as exciting, romantic, and sexy, with couples “needing” to fight so they can have passionate make-up sessions. Some TV channels targeted at particular cultures often portray teary-eyed, emotional women playing second fiddle to demanding macho men. This dynamic can also be seen in America’s long-running soap operas, with high drama ping-ponging between characters and constant tension and betrayal. As Lucy Lopez of the Sonoma State Star pointed out last year, the movie Suicide Squad (per the original comic) shows prison psychiatrist Harley Quinn being brutally tortured into becoming the Joker’s abused girlfriend.

Similarly, Dr. Wind Goodfriend’s 2011 Psychology Today blog post outlines how the Twilight series sets fans up for abusive relationships. It glorifies the awkward girl with low-esteem being enticed and isolated by a forbidden man. If you’ve ever read Sandra L. Brown’s Women Who Love Psychopaths or How to Spot a Dangerous Man, you’ll easily recognize how the Edward-Bella dynamic could be very dangerous in real live even if it does make for an intriguing story.

More recently, the HBO series Game of Thrones has made sexual violence even more mainstream, showcasing marital rape, incest, the gang rape of a minor, and other brutal sexual assaults. While the show’s creator points out that rape is just as much a part of history as war, even longtime fans of the show began to question the value of actually depicting and watching such acts. Over and over, women on this show have been viciously assaulted, causing some to label the series medieval rape porn.

As of mid-2015, Michelle Jaworski of The Daily Dot said that there were 50 rape acts and 29 rape victims in Game of Thrones to date. The books the show is based on contained 215 rapes and 117 rape victims. The recent Twin Peaks revival revisits the story of a teen raped by her father for years and then brutally murdered by him. Supposedly she was “too strong” for the evils that wanted to consume her, escaping them through death—as if that were her only out. Themes of incest, sex with minors, and other women’s murders are woven into the Twin Peaks mythology, which also contains likable, entertaining characters and storylines. Despite its selling points, it always seems like someone’s sick sexual fantasies are lurking underneath.

Back in 1985, five years before Twin Peaks debuted, The Center for Media Literacy and UCLA’s Neil Malamuth discussed the rise of sexual violence. They found that sexual violence had negative effects on a significant number of people, potentially increasing the likelihood of attacks and warping children’s sexuality. Thirty-two years later, we still debate whether ingesting violence via the media has any effect on our real world behavior as we deal with a whole new level of crime and terrorism including school shootings. Domestic violence in all forms is thriving. Presentations of it on the screen just get deeper, darker, and more disturbed.

When a program or movie portrays a story of an abused or assaulted woman getting revenge or seeking justice, we seem to accept vivid portrayals of her victimization as just part of the story. True crime shows often include these portrayals. Some call this crime porn; we don’t intend to watch pornography, but the depiction of the crime in the show might as well be. We also laugh along with countless sitcoms and adult cartoons that show dysfunctional relationships in which men and women often nitpick, threaten, and insult each other. Arguably most of our country believes this negativity is to be expected in a relationship.

PreventConnect has an amazing list, Movies, documentaries, and video clips related to Violence Against Women, that includes fictional movies on the topic and many educational shorts designed to prevent it. A quick look at this collection shows how glaring the problem of violence directed at women, including domestic violence, still is. I challenge you to watch at least one of these shorts every day for a week without altering your regular viewing schedule. The gruesome reality of how saturated our programming is with harming women will begin to stand out—even to those of us who already believe we have an acute awareness of the issue.

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Originally written for a newsletter before the Weinstein scandal broke, but all the more relevant now.

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

 

 

Don’t look at the storm and waves. Look at the Lord.

–Os Hillman

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

-Matthew 19:26

Up and Over

Trueblood House 8-17 1

Disney Pixar’s Up House

August 15th, 2017: It happened! One year from when Kirkland’s historic Trueblood House last moved, it finally landed in its permanent home. Thank you to the amazing new owners who made room for it and took on the expense.

Today’s journey began here on the southeast corner of 1st Street and 7th Avenue where the house has been moored in a church parking lot atop a trailer.

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Looking south about 12:40 P.M., you can see the preparations being made for the house’s move around the corner.

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Later on… thar she blows!

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It certainly isn’t every day that you see a house in the middle of the street, especially a late 19th century structure complete with a stained glass window.

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Note the balloons. They are a color-appropriate homage to the Up house! What a cheery and festive touch.

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Here Nickel Brothers moving begins to navigate the turn east onto 6th Avenue.

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They couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather.

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See the house. The house is relatively level. Onlookers are making predictions as to how long the house will stay in the street.

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Then– GAAHHH!!! The house suddenly began tilting to the left as a gathering crowd collectively gasped. Was the house falling off the trailer?!

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Oh, it looks like it’s tipping, doesn’t it? Evidently the trailer has hydraulics and they shifted the house to navigate past the massive maple on the south side. As you can see from the branches lying on the sidewalk on the left side, that tree got an impromptu haircut to facilitate safe passage as well. Also note the downspout on the right that caught on the tree. It didn’t fall off.

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Now it’s about 3:40 P.M. and the house is being backed into its new lot. This shot shows just some of the many trucks involved in the move. Communications lines had to be taken down and put back up, there were pilot cars– many different companies helped make this possible.

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It really does look like it’s going to float away.

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These workers kept cutting boards and placing boards and making sure everything was perfect as the house was slooowly backed into position. Note that the house is suspended over a huge hole in the ground. More on that soon.

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Just beyond that center bush is a refrigerator that was said to have come out of the old house. Not only was it handy stadium seating for this event, but a cohort remarked that it was also the ultimate cooler.

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Then the move became even more interesting as this big boy was backed in to assist.

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This was a great moment I almost didn’t catch. One of the movers brought balloons over to this mini-onlooker who was rocking his own PPE. Because this was taken on private property, children’s faces are omitted, but it still captures the joy.

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The behemoth newcomer was chained to the trailer to assist as the first truck backed up.

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So much work went into this move. Some people stayed for hours watching the carefully choreographed moving mambo.

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Here you finally have a sense of the yawing abyss. There were men down in there keeping an eye on things as the house sometimes creaked and shuddered into place.

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There it is. This is a cause of rejoicing for the local community, especially the local history buffs.

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The cavalcade of bucket trucks put wires back up with amazing speed. This is one of the last lines to be restrung.

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They had to get it just right before leaving for the night.

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As I texted to friends, “It’s sitting on giant Jenga blocks, then plywood, then the trailer.” The cribbing is holding an estimated 60 tons. Although the primary truck will stay hooked up to the trailer overnight, it is due on a ferry by tomorrow afternoon. So work will begin again in the morning.

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Overall, this was a fantastic experience. Thank you to the new owners for their hospitality and for saving a landmark. Kirkland’s first doctors lived in this home and some of those in attendance had lived in it for years to decades as well. This is a well loved house and I’m grateful that– albeit in an enhanced version (you’ll see)– it will live on.

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Russell: [reading from his scout handbook in monotone] Good afternoon. My name is Russell, and I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweatlodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross the street.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your yard.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your… porch?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: Well, I gotta help you cross *something*!

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Civil War

Upside Down American Flag 2

Today in Seattle tensions are mounting as a group of people demand the removal of a Confederate monument in Lake View Cemetery. This happens from time to time. You might remember Destroying the Seattle Confederate Memorial  from two years ago in which I mention the diverse parties involved in its dedication.

Earlier today I was informed that Lake View Cemetery might be somehow obscuring this monument in response to calls to remove it, so I called to ask for the facts before I commented. Lake View has respectfully removed vulgarities from this monument over the years just as they would from any monument there. Evidently they’ve been very busy so it will likely take them some time to answer. I should add that they are consistently responsive and helpful, and that this famed burial ground houses people from all walks.

This afternoon I noticed that a story written by a major Seattle news source reported that the inscription on this memorial says “Erected by Robert E. Lee.” It was almost funny because Lee died 56 years before this monument was placed. But this omission of the rest of the inscription, intentional or not, was potentially inflammatory. We don’t need more fuel on the fire of civil unrest. The actual inscription reads “Erected by Robert E. Lee Chapter Number 885 United Daughters of the Confederacy 1926” prefaced by “In Memory of the United Confederate Veterans.”

Because of this omission I contacted this news source and asked if they would correct this on a factual basis. I pointed out that the modern UDC is very clear about standing against racism– in other words, know these women before you criticize them. What followed left me gobsmacked. This is not verbatim but it does convey the sentiment.

I was told that anything supporting the Confederacy supports white supremacy, racism, and slavery. I said, “So anyone who supported the Confederacy is white supremacist, racist, and pro-slavery?” His answer: yes.

“What about the larger issue of secession?” I asked. (No answer.) I was told that the South fought to keep slavery alive. I believe I said something about expecting more factual reporting and objectivity, but anyway, asked if they would correct their article, politics aside. I haven’t even looked to see if they did after this experience.

That belief, that anyone who supported the Confederacy is white supremacist, racist, and pro-slavery, underscores the ignorance and assumptions that are dividing our country in two. We are losing the republic by not having our facts straight and not respecting other citizens’ freedoms. Angry, self-righteous, narrow-mindedness that denies others freedom of speech and expression will be the death of our union if we don’t get a grip.

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In my Generation Xer lifetime I’ve witnessed a remarkable shift from critical thinking, fact-checking, and intelligent civil discourse to politics and activism based more on emotions like anger. Facts seem to have become increasingly unimportant. It’s now hip to wield a broad brush and make scathing generalizations about anyone who disagrees with you, attacking people rather than policy or politics.

In the age of social media we go online calling others Nazis, fascists, racists, bigots, and haters not because they actually are those things, but because these are the labels we slap on those who disagree with us. The frightening aspect to this, one that threatens civilization, is that we are losing track of– or don’t care– what these terms actually mean. Merriam and Webster seem to be anachronistic relics of a less enlightened era.

Nazism advocates totalitarianism. What is totalitarianism? The state rules. The state makes the rules. The state gets total control. Nazism is also equated with fascism. What is facism? It’s similar. The state rules, usually with a dictator at its head. There is no freedom to disagree and there is strict social and economic control. Some fascist states have ruled without employing terror but both ideologies might employ it. Racism tends to be more prevalent in totalitarianism. Scholars can debate the finer points all day but here’s the bottom line: Nazism, totalitarianism, and fascism are all about control and the state controlling individuals.

Here’s an example of irony: Antifrees. At least that’s what I call them. This Antifa group, claiming to be anti-fascist, labels those who disagrees with them fascists and then resorts to violence to protest “fascists.” Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? Antifa and similar organizations are the actual fascists by denying others’ individuals rights and using violence to try to force others into compliance. They are judge, jury, and executioner, showing no respect for the right to have a differing opinion in a free country.

Whatever they call themselves, this  and similar terroristic, thuggish, accusatory ideologies have been tried before. They’ve resulted in hundreds of millions of deaths. Call it totalitarianism, fascism, Nazism, Communism, or what have you, these systems of thought have the same basic idea that causes the same problems: one group has control of a nation and it crushes dissenters. This is accomplished by polarizing and punishing those who advocate for individual rights. These are unquestionably undemocratic philosophies as well.

Note that if you label someone “extreme right,” and they’re just a Reagan Republican who believes in less government, you’re way off. Isms want more government and fewer rights. Isms exist at either side of the traditional political spectrum. A better version of the spectrum would be to put all the liberties-sucking, control-driven, dictatorial ideas on one end and little to no government or governmental control on the other. Extreme isms always bring death. So can anarchy. Stay away from those edges.

How about the ‘phobes? It is hip right now to call someone a ______phobe if they disagree with you. If you speak out against elements of Islam that contradict our Constitution or disregard women’s, human, or animal rights, you an Islamophobe. What is a phobia? It’s an extreme, irrational fear. Irrational implies that there’s little to no logical basis for that fear. It’s just a knee jerk reaction that’s likely unfounded and unfair. It doesn’t matter if you track human rights violations like female genital mutilation or domestic violence; you speak out on one issue, you’re a ‘phobe on all counts.

Xenophobe is another term thrown around like popcorn in the bed of a ’64 pickup on a bumpy back road. You might be against immigration for financial reasons and want to take care of homeless veterans or the elderly or foster children in your own country first. But– shazam– you’re a xenophobe because you’re clearly against foreigners. Xenophobes shouldn’t be concerned with our astronomical national debt and the financial train wreck we are leaving our children.

How dare you take care of your own people first. Worse yet, you’ve shown the desire to put your nation first. You’re a patriotic nationalist! Nationalists surely must be racists. Using popular warped logic, that makes you a fascist! If you are a fascist, then you are a Nazi! This is the new math of politics. It doesn’t care about facts. It just accuses. You are an ist of every ilk no matter what you actually, factually believe.

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Then there’s the very popular label of “hater.” “Hate” has nearly lost its meaning. If you agree with the possibility that a local criminal is a sociopath, you’re a hater. If you advocate for punishment instead of reformation, you’re a hater. If you’re a churchgoer and peacefully disagree while showing respect to those different from you, but take a public stand on a moral issue, you’re a hater. “Choose love,” they say, using “love” as a reason to ostracize others.

It’s getting to the point that unless you agree that anything goes, you’re a hater. Superman’s Bizarro World where up is down and backwards is forwards is consuming our culture. True hate and intolerance are unacceptable to me. Calling someone a hater or intolerant because I disagree with them is just an excuse not to have a rational, constitutionally-based defense to my beliefs ready.

It is alarming to see a nation devolve into high school bullying. What happened to the ability to sit down and have a civil conversation with someone different than ourselves? Instead I see a profession that claims to be objective engaged in 24/7 obsession with manic oppression. The media seems to have gone mad, tilting at windmills, laser-focused on perceived slights when much larger injustices and issues plague our world.

After various media personalities become incensed, emotional, and loud, social media erupts with “so and so demolished or destroyed so and so.” I listen, and most of the time I just see a feelings-charged freak out with no real facts or logic behind it. Most of these tirades can’t even address the original “offense” point by point. It’s just lashing out. So-called entertainers do this night after night and people laud their rationale as if it’s the best way to fight against figures and philosophies they frown upon.

The current national climate is also like domestic violence: “You are what I say you are!” Remember that? For those who’ve been in abusive relationships, a huge portion of our population, you know what it’s like to be called filthy words you never deserved that bear no resemblance to reality. If anything, the abuser was projecting onto you words that described themselves. If you yell, “Fascist! Nazi! Bigot!” at me and try to shut me down because I have an opinion that is different from yours, think about that. Who’s trying to control who?

Most importantly, you don’t have to agree with what your neighbor/spouse/friend/congressman/coworker/pastor/teacher/pet sitter is saying. They have a right to freedom of speech and expression backed by the mighty U.S. Constitution. Yes, this is a constitutional right. You don’t have to be happy about it. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to listen or agree or applaud. That is your right. But you have no right to try and limit someone else’s rights. Your rights end where their nose begins. Their rights are just as important and guaranteed as yours.

Returning to the Confederacy issue that sparked this post, there is a swelling movement to tear down all Confederate monuments. Using the sanctimonious statement I encountered earlier today, all Confederate monuments are a celebration of white supremacy, racism, and slavery. On that note, tearing them down sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Why would anyone want to celebrate that? Hold on. Could there are have been other reasons for these monuments? Could these be freedom of speech? Have we bothered to read the history or understand why or are we just making assumptions to feel superior about ourselves?

Of course slavery is one of the horrors of human history. Speaking of that, there are more slaves now than there ever were before. How many of these masked protesters would go into battle to save even one trafficked girl? Per my Christian beliefs, racism is denying that we are all made in His image and have equal value. Devaluing or persecuting someone based on the color of their skin– as if they even control that!– is astoundingly ignorant. I’ve often said that supremacists of all shades need to go have DNA tests and, hello, Jesus wasn’t a white guy. I’m sure that most Americans agree that slavery, racism, and race-based supremacy are detrimental.

Because we generally agree that these things are bad, we want to erase symbols of them. But the cry to tear down Confederate memorials is ridiculously subjective. It dictates how others can or can’t memorialize their dead and their history. They say, “because it is Confederate, it needs to go!” Let’s try this logic on other quasi-random concepts:

-If the state of California were to successfully secede from the union, a movement largely driven by Progressives, then their names should be stricken from history and it should be illegal to memorialize this act in any way.

-The State of Washington should be renamed because George Washington owned slaves. So should D.C.

-Anyone who believed in preserving the union but owned slaves should not be considered a Unionist. Take down all likenesses.

-Any Southerner who fought out of loyalty to their family, state, or states’ rights is a supremacist bigot. None of them ever changed their views either.

-Because our English ancestors oppressed our Scottish ancestors– or our Arab ancestors sold our African ancestors into slavery– or insert any conflict between people groups on any continent– we should disavow that people group in its entirety. Don’t value anything admirable. They’re just evil.

-If I say you’re a racobigofascitotaliphobahateaholic, you are. Disregard the long-accepted and objective definitions of these terms and just go with it. It’s what the cool kids do.

-There’s a monument to William Henry Seward just next door to Lake View Cemetery in Volunteer Park. His family owned slaves. Should that statue be removed despite his own opposition to slavery and tremendous sacrifices on behalf on the Union? Some Alaskans didn’t want sculptures of what they deemed an imperialist white man in Juneau.

-If there’s a monument that offends me, I have the right to vandalize it, desecrate it, and tear it down, even over someone’s grave. Their remains and resting place are no longer sacred.

-It doesn’t matter if a monument is on private property. It should be subject to the same laws that public property is. (Totalitarianism, anyone? That distinction must remain.)

-Symbols of Christianity and Judaism are offensive to me as well as the Confederacy. I demand that those be taken down as well.

-Should we progress to book burning? Why not? (Does anyone see parallels to the “isms” here? See why some consider this Marxist revisionism?)

When does it stop? Where do we draw the line? This could go on and on. If it does, it becomes one group taking freedoms from others and dictating what is acceptable. They could even demand replacements that enshrine ideals and individuals that are just as offensive to huge groups of other Americans. Instead, we need to have dialogues, conversations, respectful exchanges. We need to study our history and stand in others’ shoes for a moment to try to understand where they’re coming from.

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I don’t have the right to go break anything I think is bigoted. If I did, I’d be down in Fremont right now taking a sledgehammer to the abhorrent monstrosity that is the Vladimir Lenin statute. Oh, no big deal, millions were murdered in the Red Holocaust, but it’s just a neat piece of art that blends nicely into Seattle’s kitsch. If it offends someone who came to America to escape such oppression, they just don’t get the joke.

As I said in another forum today, some of us have been telling Seattle to take the Lenin out of its own eye for a while. The hypocrisy of having Lenin there while demanding that other monuments be taken down bothers some more than the actual statue, which could be construed as an homage to one of humanity’s greatest mass murderers. Some have wondered if Ted Bundy and Hitler would be okay there too.

(It could be argued that the structure celebrates what was good about Lenin. Or it’s just art that’s well done. Alright, then please stay on that track when addressing other monuments.)

Broad brushes. Grandiose generalizations. Feelings freak outs. These can be lazy and disrespectful ways to get your points across. Many of you know not to try these tactics on your children– “You always do this!” “You overreact every time!” “You make me crazy!” Your kids will out logic you and/or suffer because you aren’t acting like an adult. It’s okay to use this behavior with adults you disagree with though?

We need to return to our roots. People will die if we continue to allow these subjective labels, violence, and terrorism to continue. Try empathy– understanding the backstory. Try respect– you can speak respectfully even during strong disagreements (think Lincoln-Douglas). Try objectivity– being true to the classic definitions of words and concepts we throw at others. Try having friends who believe differently than you and celebrate what you have in common instead. Try patriotism– being proud of the diverse people who make up this country and the checks and balances our differences provide.

Ultimately there are forces in this world that are savoring every moment of Americans turning on other Americans. If we divide ourselves, we destroy ourselves, making us subject to some other nation or coalition that is an ism– something that won’t value our rights or property or freedoms. Have you considered that we’re playing right into some greater evil’s hands by so flippantly labeling and deriding our neighbors?

Don’t be a useful idiot. Be a passionate individual who expresses yourself and intelligently speaks out for what you believe in. Exercise your American freedoms and use them to achieve justice for others. Having both strong Democrat and Republican role models growing up, I greatly admire people who blaze with enthusiasm for their core values and can advocate for them without alienating their neighbors. They are the people who draw varying opinions into conversations, not insult them and spit them out. They are the brave souls who actually achieve reform and change the world rather than dividing it.

I understand why some want the Confederate memorial in Lake View Cemetery removed. But I disagree with actually removing it. It would be removed on the basis that it’s about racism, white supremacy, and slavery. It is more than that. It is a part of our collective history, a history that should never be forgotten. Americans should be allowed to commemorate their ancestors and graves especially should be off limits. We should not cave in to terrorism and criminal behavior either. If this is taken down, it will just cause even bigger fires. And is this the best thing Seattle has to do considering the state of its mayoral office and widespread human suffering?

We are Americans. To survive we must stay united. We are allowing ourselves to be divided by petty preconceptions and money-making mayhem manufacturers. Allowing one side to issue orders to another about what is right and acceptable without any constructive dialogue or fact-checking is just unleashing the wrecking ball that will take us out. Leave the dead where they lie and focus on saving the living. Let’s leave future generations an intact democratic republic instead of a black hole.

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Update, 8/17/17: Here is verbiage from one of the online petitions demanding that the monument in Lake View come down. Note that these petitions claim that this monument was raised in the name of white supremacy– they are completely ignorant of the monument’s history. They obviously haven’t bothered to talk to the UDC or read their explicitly anti-racist creed. It’s their own version of reality, demanding that a structure on private property be subject to the same rules as public property.

How dare they blindly accuse this group of women as being white supremacist and racist. How dare they trample on others’ freedom of speech. They claim the monument serves no historical purpose– wow. One petition says that because you can see it from the road, it should be considered to be in the right-of-way and the land it’s on should be treated like a public place (!).

This is radical, dangerous thinking that ignores facts, didn’t even attempt to have a dialogue, and wants the government to force a private property owner to do their misinformed bidding. These sentiments are divisive and tear at the very bedrock of our Constitution. They have no right to prevent someone else from memorializing their people on private land. I’m sure some supporters mean well and are trying to do the right thing, but some just plain want to label and control other people’s business in some misguided quest to sanitize our nation of anything that disagrees with them. This has happened before, it got out of control, and hundreds of millions died.

This isn’t bigotry. This is history. Deal with it and stop falsely accusing others.

Erected in 1926 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, it was built to memorialize and commemorate the hate that ripped our country in two. It seeks to remind everyone that – despite losing a war – that White Supremacy is still alive and revered as a positive trait for (white) Americans to have. The fact that it still stands is a testament to how desperately White people clench to their race-based power.

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See also Rantz: On private statues, Murray should mind his own business

With respect to the mayor, he should mind his own business on political speech or historic symbolism when they’re erected on private property. It’s not the role of the government to chill free speech rights, even if we find it abhorrent. He knows he has no power to compel them to remove the memorial, so all this statement does is serve as a heavy-handed dose of virtue signaling that injects him into a national conversation that he should have no part in.

And perhaps, given the allegations against the Mayor, I’m not sure he should hold himself up there as a moral authority in any fight to stand up against oppressors.

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While Depeche Mode’s politics likely differ from my own, they knocked it out of the park with this song. This is the kind of fearless statement that can and should ignite constructive dialogues.

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 13A

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

It helps when you ask someone with the ability to find an ideal solution.

Last summer I’d finally sat down to read the Spring issue of the Nordic Heritage Museum’s Nordic Kultur magazine. Long a fan of this museum, I’d always been intrigued by one of their displays about an early 20th century Ballard police officer named Jakob Bjarnason.

Something about his eyes and slight smile always made me pause. There was something… whimsical and honest in those windows to the soul. Something that made me think I would have liked to have known him.

Enter page 42: Big Jake Bjarnason: The Gentle Giant by Friðrik Þór Guðmundsson. This well-written article by a relative of Bjarnason’s told the story of a respected local cop who had immigrated from Iceland. He actively worked to honor his native culture and heritage while working and helping raise his daughter’s sister. Big Jake also had a wonderful sense of humor.

Standing at well over seven feet tall, Bjarnason was an imposing presence with a heart to match. When he died suddenly in 1927, 2000 people attended his funeral. That speaks volumes. Unfortunately, his grave was marked with a small temporary marker that, local history buff John Haggem told me, cost a dollar. Haggem and others also found that the birth date listed on the marker was off by a decade.

Guðmundsson’s piece said that the marker is now covered by grass. When I read that, I got out of my chair, slapped down the magazine, and said, “That isn’t right.” It isn’t. No one should be forgotten. Especially not someone who dedicated their life to service and family. So I added “get Jake a proper marker” to my never-ending historical to-do list.

Later in the year, I contacted the Nordic Heritage Museum and Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, not knowing that others, including John Heggem, had the same idea. I asked how we could get Big Jake a proper marker. Little did I know that Officer Jim Ritter, who heads the police museum, would find an even better answer than I could have envisioned.

In short order, Officer Ritter designed a grave marker that honored Bjarnason’s service to both the Ballard and Seattle Police Departments. For those outside of the Seattle area, Ballard was its own entity until May 29th, 1907 when it was absorbed by the City of Seattle. Those against annexation flew their flags at half-mast that day. 110 years later, some of us locals still sport “Free Ballard” bumper stickers.

Quiring Monuments of Seattle donated their services to make the marker come alive. Evergreen Washelli, the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Icelandic Club of Greater Seattle, and the Washington State Archives became involved. I jokingly nicknamed this coalition Team Jakob (nod to the silly Edward vs. Jacob meme of years past).

Friðrik Þór Guðmundsson poured more heart, soul, and research into this effort. David Johnson of the Icelandic Club had me traipsing around the Crown Hill Cemetery looking for examples of 1920s Icelandic grave markers (before I knew Ritter had designed a fitting tribute). Our fabulous Washington State Archivist Steve Excell and his “cold cases don’t stand a chance” genealogy expert Dr. Jewell Lorenz Dunn focused on demolishing a brick wall that had prevented investigative journalist Guðmundsson from finding any of Big Jake’s sister’s offspring.

I and others had visited Jakob’s grave site in the cemetery. It took me a while to find his marker mid-winter as it was covered with debris again. Once found, I noted that his resting place above the Seagull Pond had a direct view of Home Depot.

I also had to get out a measuring tape because I couldn’t fathom how a man who was 7’4″ could have been buried in that spot without using his western neighbor’s head as a footrest. But once Evergreen Washelli explained it was clear that there was enough room. One thing I remain partially stymied by is finding an inside out pair of Carhartt pants nearby, but cemeteries deal with the strangest things.

In the meantime, Ritter was tapping his media contacts and setting up a day to remember. The talented Arnfridur Sigurdardottir became involved as the team’s (other) Icelandic language specialist. As things moved along, it became apparent that Evergreen Washelli, Quiring, and Officer Ritter were cooking up something special.

On April 5th, KING 5 broke the story Ballard’s ‘Big Jake’ receives overdue recognition. You can read John Heggem’s letter there. KING 5 has done a great job covering this process yet one error appeared in this account and the most recent. May 10th is Big Jake’s birthday, not the anniversary of his death. He passed away 90 years ago on October 6th.

On April 12th, the Washington State Archives disclosed that they had located living descendants of Gudridur Bjarnadottir, later known as Grace Ryan Bell, Bjarnason’s sister. All this time the relevant genealogy records on the web had been tied to a wrong person. These relatives were surprised to find out they were a part of this story and made plans to attend the May 10th ceremony at which the new marker would be dedicated.

As someone who believes that bagpipes should be part of every major life event, be it childbirth, a new car purchase, or a Bar Mitzvah, I hesitated to suggest having pipers present since Iceland seems to be the only country on earth without a history of bagpipes. I come from generations of public servants and have that background myself so it’s not a party without the pipes.

I was delighted to learn that Ritter had arranged for the Seattle Police Department Honor Guard and pipes and drums to be present. Score! This man thinks of everything. He also asked Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to officiate. Guðmundsson, in the meantime, had contacted his newly found relatives and Team Jakob (okay, only I called it that) began inviting others.

One of the invitations went to the people who currently reside in Jakob’s home. Friðrik had shared Jakob’s registration papers from World War I and I realized the address was still valid. As a history buff, I’m used to making such cold calls and following up with supporting documentation, so I contacted the male resident. I asked if a 7’4″ man could have maneuvered well in their home. He said he’s tall and he’s never had a problem. I still wonder if Jakob had to duck through every doorway. Sadly, this neighborhood could be rezoned, which means yet another historic Ballard home could be lost to soulless boxlike condos.

Wednesday was May 10th, which would have been Big Jake’s 143rd birthday. Despite having experienced the wettest six month stretch in Seattle history with freak thunderstorms the week prior, Wednesday was a stunning sunny 70 degree day. Mother Nature was on her best behavior, bathing that morning in an almost magical glow.

At 11 A.M., Wednesday, May 10th, 2017, a crowd gathered to give Jakob Bjarnason, the Gentle Giant, the rest of his funeral, this time with a marker designed to last.

Enter the Seattle Police Pipes and Drums.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 1

Here Friðrik Þór Guðmundsson, who started it all and flew out from Iceland for the event, meets cousin Daniel Bell’s family for the first time. It was a joyous occasion that KING 5 captured some great video of. Bell’s family brought photos of relatives that Guðmundsson immediately recognized.

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A view of the venue before the ceremony. Evergreen Washelli always puts on classy events and donated their time and services to honor Bjarnason this day.

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The Seattle Police Honor Guard added a reverent and respectful air to the ceremony.

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While some malign bagpipes as the secret behind crop circles, there are few sounds more glorious when you are celebrating a life. Or otherwise. It stirs the blood.

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Officer Jim Ritter prepares to speak.

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Ritter pointed out that Jakob Bjarnason was practicing community-oriented policing long before it was cool. He knew his community, he was involved in his community, and his community respected him for it.

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Friðrik and Daniel, together at last, listen to Ritter speak about their uncle. One of the men who made this possible, John Heggem, is in the foreground. I later learned that John’s mother and other relatives are buried just a hop, skip, and a jump from Big Jake. For Jake, that could be just a couple of strides.

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Chief Kathleen O’Toole addresses the audience.

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Friðrik’s turn. He gave a rousing speech about his Uncle Jakob, pronouncing his name Yah-cawb as the Icelanders say.

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The man of the hour, Jakob Bjarnason himself. The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum owns this bust of Big Jake. Evidently the matching set of Jake’s hands is missing. Anyone have a couple of giant plaster hands in their attic?

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It’s possible that Bjarnason’s original funeral could have looked very much like this.

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Jakob at the microphones. Having “him” there added depth to the celebration of his life. It already felt like he was looking down upon this smiling and “his” presence made that more real.

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Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Officer Ritter present Friðrik and Daniel with an American flag.

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Friðrik explained that because Daniel is more closely related to Jakob, he would offer the flag to him.

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The moment arrives… the Evergreen Washelli crew backed their tractor into position to place the permanent marker.

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Jakob’s bust watches the marker’s placement from the podium.

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Friðrik and Daniel peel back the protective plastic to reveal Quiring’s amazing craftsmanship.

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The Honor Guard looks on.

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Jakob appears to admire the handiwork.

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One of these officers said he had served the City of Seattle for 47 years!

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Not only did Arnfridur Sigurdardottir read a poem in Icelandic written by Jakob’s neighbor, but local Icelanders attended as well.

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This is what teamwork looks like. Well done, Seattle PD and associates.

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Bonus: Ritter drove an original 1970 Plymouth Seattle Police cruiser to the event. Some of us got a kick out of discussing the particulars and asking him to pop the hood later. Evidently the car was located out of state and brought back to Seattle.

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Here it is… the culmination of months of hard work. Now visitors will know who Officer Bjarnason is. When you live a life of honest service, people will remember you nearly a century after you die. And beyond.

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Post-ceremony, Friðrik gives another interview in this idyllic setting.

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Evergreen Washelli had clear signage everywhere including on the way to the indoor reception.

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Cool cake! The inside was marbled with what appeared to be several different flavors. Thank you again to Evergreen Washelli for hosting this.

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Daniel is holding a copy of the essay Jakob wrote just before dying courtesy of the Nordic Heritage Museum. It was explained that Jakob was a contributor to the local Icelandic journal and was expounding upon his belief that Leif Erikson was Icelandic, not Norwegian.

Feeling unwell, he went into the bathroom to shave, probably to prepare for a doctor visit. He collapsed and died of heart trouble. He was only 53 years old.

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The Gentle Giant’s birthday ride. One of his relatives, looking in the window, quipped, “He can’t possibly be 7’4″!”

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And so the festivities ended. Generous donations and Team Captain Jim Ritter made this a day to remember. Please check out KING 5’s feature Descendants travel far and wide to honor legendary Seattle police officer.

Iceland

Translation:

I pray I may rest
where the priests and the best
of farmers have trod,
with faith in God
and themselves strong as stone —
as strong as my own! —
and where life flows bright
amid bounties of light.

-Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, Home

Happy Birthday Big Jake. You’ve certainly given those who’ve come after you some mighty big shoes to fill.

Jakob Bjarnason Ceremony 5-10-17 34

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Update: Friday, May 12th. We were having to pack up our desks at work for a move. I pulled a pair of seldom-used work gloves out of my bottom filing cabinet drawer and gasped when I saw what they said.

You’re welcome.

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*************************************************************************************Disclaimer: This is a personal, nonprofit blog and it is not endorsed by any participants in this project or parties in this story. I do hope that the museums and organizations mentioned will benefit from their roles in this amazing project. 

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Who You Are

angel-and-moon

What can we know? What are we all? Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite, with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts. –Arthur Conan Doyle

Standing in the accelerating sleet last night, the pinks and blues and purples burst above us like the Space Needle was imploding in the most beautiful way.

2017… a new year, a new start, a chance to make things right. That’s what the New Year is for, correct? A giant reset button that lifts our spirits and refreshes our souls?

As I made my way through the mass of revelers and vehicles that leached out into the streets from every corner and crevice as if the city was a giant washcloth being wrung out, reality set back in. New year, same problems, even new problems.

Most of the world has more serious issues– I need to keep mine in perspective. But that doesn’t make them any less real, and one thing I don’t like about having problems is that it impedes my ability to help other people solve theirs.

This night is always a good night to forget about our challenges for a while and just feel alive. I needed that; I did that. As I went on to my next activity, though, I thought about how many of our efforts to feel alive please the body for a few hours but aren’t good for the soul.

We are masters at temporarily numbing our pain without digging down to the root cause of why we continually engage in self-destructive behaviors. Eventually these flimsy fixes we fashion to avoid processing the larger issues will fail. It might take decades, you might get away with avoiding your demons most of your life, but they will catch up to you.

Why? Why do we persist in doing things that devalue ourselves and seemingly ignore the fact that in the end we have to answer for our choices? This is not judgmental; I include myself in this analysis. And I was reminded as I pondered this that we don’t know who we are. Or we don’t care.

We are born. We learn pain. We try to find love. We find flawed human beings who are selfish and hurtful. Some even take pleasure in harming others. The enemy of our souls exploits our weaknesses and tries to convince us we have no need for God. Our bleeding hearts scar over, our walls go up, we keep a good face on but inside we withdraw farther and farther into the desolate labyrinth of prison cells that our life experiences have built for us.

This was never God’s plan for us. It’s still not His plan for us. I write this as someone who feels like I’ve had every reason in recent years to walk away from Him. The losses have been repeated and immense, the physical toll brutal and embarrassing. I understand as well as any why people feel betrayed by God and ask why He can allow such terrible things to happen, especially when you’re trying to be true to His ways.

In the beginning we walked with God in the garden. Then we met a deceiver who convinced us we could be our own gods. And our race has largely been stuck there ever since– doing our own thing, hurting and killing each other, destroying our souls. As C.S. Lewis astutely noted, all of human history, all the crazy things we’ve done, is an attempt to find something other than God to make us happy.

Do you know what gives me hope in those moments I feel like I’ve taken yet another shotgun blast to the chest and my internal organs are hanging out in shreds? I am His child. He has a solution for every sickness, a plan for every problem, a miracle for every mountain. Tonight might be the darkest night of your life but He’s awake and working. He has unlimited resources. And He’s going to make a way.

Some who believe in Him will tell you to be a good little doormat and to just be glad it’s not worse. Don’t listen to them. He has no intention of keeping us stuck in the same mud until we drown. He might allow us to make our own bad choices again and again until we hit rock bottom and wake up, but you are a child of light, not of mediocrity. You are a victor, not a victim. You are a purposeful creation of the force that not only made this universe but exists beyond it.

You might say, “you don’t know what I’ve done.” That goes both ways. You don’t know what I’ve done either. But I know He offers forgiveness and has had a plan for your life since before you were born. If you ask for His help and make an effort to live His way, He’ll start showing you the path you’re supposed to be on. Chances are He’s already given you some clues, but you feel too afraid, unworthy, or used up to go for it.

Our modern culture has no use for God except in times of tragedy. It’s become so very normal to believe that drinking, drugs, sex, sports, fashion, money will solve our problems. They mask our problems. They are Band-Aids. One more shallow relationship, one more beer, one more pair of designer shoes– no. Those just prolong the inevitable. You will still wake up one morning with the realization that your life could have had a deeper meaning. You might be 30, you might be 90, but it will come.

If you know who you are– His child– your life has that deeper meaning. You were not designed to function on your own and fuel your part-body, part-soul amphibious self with the things of this world. You were made to run on God, Love Himself. The more you realize this, the less you need the Band-Aids. It can be so hard to believe this when parts of your life have been like a horror story. I get it. Yet every time I choose Him instead of the Band-Aid, I am making it more possible to overcome my problems. This is because I’m surrendering my way to His, and He knows better than I do.

This is my challenge to all of us in 2017. Will we choose to believe that He has great plans for our lives and the best is yet to come as sons and daughters of the Most High? Or will we keep doing the same things over and over hoping that this time the outcome will be different (it won’t)?

New year, same problems as yesterday. Life didn’t magically start over during the fireworks. But you are most powerful when everything looks hopeless and lost and you choose to believe anyway. When life gets out its baseball bat again and beats you senseless, get upFight back. When temptation comes, remind yourself that you’re better than that. When people who don’t know your whole story judge you, remember that they don’t know but God does.

You are His child. He wants the very best for you. Remember who you are and what He has promised, and you will be happier, healthier, and more able to love and be loved.

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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