• Chris Banks

America’s birthday I’m feeling deeper than usual this year. It’s hard not to. Chaos in the streets. Chaos in the halls of power. Chaos in the court room. In people’s minds. Depending on the source, chaos on each of our screens. We all feel a collective descent, a feeling, something we are all unfamiliar with. This feeling makes us all uneasy, scared. Maybe with have a heightened sense of things. Maybe we’re paranoid. Anticipating the next news bomb to drop.

America’s birthday this year comes at a critical cross roads for her birth her health, and her longevity. As Chaplin beautifully put it, “greed has poisoned mans soul, has barricaded the world with hate..” and so to has this greed poisoned our souls as Americans, so to has hate barricaded us within our own borders. A true irony for electing a President who promised to keep foreigners out is that we are now trapped inside of our own borders. Because we are deemed too sick by the rest of the world to travel there. I find this to be a fitting classification for Americans right now. We are too sick.

And this sickness isn’t new, it was present at our beginning. The trade of slavery dominated the world. Not just here. There was no choice to not participate in it. It was how goods were produced. All over the world. It doesn’t make anything ok, and it doesn’t make what they did any better. But there is no appetite to just accept this as a fact. Understandably so. But once we do, the burden of our loves becomes even more omnipresent. We must do both at the same time. Admonish the past while accepting its facets and pushing forward. This allows for actual accountability, rather than unmitigated reflection which leads to an unwillingness to engage in the now. It prevents us from accurately loving in the present, if there is any love to even be found. Usually there is. We’re just too closed off to it, because we’ve been pushed to be this way. We all push ourselves to be these cookie cutter fragments, pushing ever forward to nothing but an eventual fortune. But why do we all have to be millionaires? Why can’t we all just focus on being happy? Whatever that means to you.

My grandfather landed in NYC and worked for 6 YEARS before being able to send for who would eventually become his wife. The American dream has always been hard. Much harder if you aren’t an Irish lad coming here in the 1900s. Today I’m witnessing the dream, because so much is harder now because of so many varying components and shifting trend lines that just weren’t present in my grandfathers day, and because of all of those factors the dream is being degraded by all sides. There is no faith anymore. Only time for dollars. This is where we are going wrong as Americans. I think. When I first read stories last year about the African-Americans choosing to go move back to motherland instead of staying in the US-I was terrified and sad. Depressed even. I never thought I’d see anything like that in my entire life. Now I’m not criticizing an individuals choice to live in a place-that’s any persons prerogative. I’m talking about Americans simply giving up on being American. I never thought I’d see it.

Then I asked myself, if the Fourth of July for me was really a family history lesson about the pain and discrimination my grandfather faced that eventually got his life taken from him-I would have a different relationship to America too. If I felt like nothing I ever did was good enough-I would have a different relationship to America too. If when I demand justice and equal treatment I get chained then get the dogs sicked on me then I’m held down then I’m chased by the cops then I’m denied by the bank then I can’t even protest any of it because I am treated like my rights are less American -I would have a different relationship to America too. I mean my white protestor brothers and sisters mispercieving public health for a threat to their rights werent gassed and sent to the hospitsl so why are my brothers and sisters being treated like that?

Today, on America’s birthday- I hope we all reflect on this. Regardless of what we look like, where we came from or how much our families have.

This is a time for deep reflection as Americans. All Americans. Do we want to call our country home to the worst outbreak of this virus? Do we want to see an ever intensifying and ever expanding war on people’s who just don’t look like us? Do we want to keep telling ourselves the lie that as white Americans, we based on the lack of pigmentations in our skin-are somehow MORE American than the people whites are subjugating to an inferior existence? That just based on our hands being on the lever of power in the

axis-ees of the nation since it’s inception dictates for the rest of time that the very same hands remain on those very (not same) evolving levers?

It doesn’t make any sense. We all know it doesn’t make sense. Only those who subscribe to an old world code of being adhere to this way of thinking. Those individuals will always be among us. Know this at the fore before you allow it to prevent you from being happy. You’ll be happy if you do your job as a citizen. It’s up to us to ensure those individuals, that small group, remain on the fringes. We never again want to give them the opportunity, created by our lack of engagement, to grab onto those levers of power. Those individuals that want to look down on others and take us back into the dark ages. Those individuals who just want to watch the world burn - they are The People as well. Their just not the majority of them. And by a collective lack of participation and engagement by us, the masses, The People-they were allowed to destroy our nation. The majority must now flex its muscle. The majority want the lack of access to opportunity and excess judgement to end. The majority want access to quality affordable healthcare. The majority want their kids to be able to go to school without fear of violence, or death. The majority want to be able to live each day without turning on the tv or opening the paper watching their government become corrupt, seeing their countries laws weakened by the very people they elect to put in power. The majority want to see the constitution of the United States upheld, and defended by the domestic threat within. The majority want sensible common sense gun laws, not the Wild West. The majority want to see police act like police, not like their paramilitary. The majority, regardless of what they look like, want to be able to live with dignity live in security and live without dependency on anyone or anything. WE, the people, must finally work to allow that reality to take shape. Stop fighting over the same things that have held us back from healing and growing as a people.

And I mean, actual work. Not social media or internet anything. Remember, turning a woman’s life into a meme does nothing to solve the larger systemic problems of race, police abusing their power, etc. Memes exemplify larger trends but they also act as stand ins for cultural anxieties. They are ways to express and alleviate fear through humor.

But when we turn a cultural moment, like the murder or Breonna Taylor for example into being commodified or trivialized it can be used as fodder for performative allyship.

Turning a woman’s life into a meme, even if the intent is grounded in a good intent, does nothing to solve the larger systemic problems of race and police abusing their job functions. It does nothing to meaningfully sustain an awareness level that does not permit such atrocities to ever even be thought about being being perpetrated, never mind actually carried out and covered up by the very people who we pay to protect and help us.

We’ve seen examples of this already with Riverdale actor Lili Reinhart.

What does it mean for white people or any other ethnicity of people to start engaging on such a meaningful conversation in such a surface and thoughtless way? It entirely degraded the meaning of the entire movement. And that’s what I see people being too quick to lean into, forgetting of course their civic duty.

Trumps America is a time for all of us to be reminded of what happens to our country if we do not participate in the process. It is destroyed.

So I hope we take this day and remain quiet, mostly listening. Because only through listening can we learn.

The first year of this presidency seemed like it was smooth enough, but he spent the entire year in court, rewriting the rules for many international and institutional norms. The second year the chaos started to spill out into the open, with essentially his entire first cabinet either resigning in disgust or being let go out of vengeance. It surprised me, especially from a man who’s new on the job and needed to learn so much. But he never chose to. I never thought he would spend his entire term simply giving in to the nefarious forces always present in the right wing of our political spectrum, and his own self interest. These nefarious forces are the very same forces that pushed my father from the military. The very forces that made him become disenchanted with the very notion of service. The new culture that turned my dad away turned the meaning of service into meaning a show of strength. But that’s not why my dad signed up. These forces are now fully fortified, and have convinced the President to rewrite all kinds of back door policy that is purview to administrative review. Trump has essentially gutted vital elements of law, and did it in a way that bypassed Congress. All while keeping close touch with the Russian President. It doesn’t stop there, the corruption within our government right now is at levels I thought I would never see. Not in this country. I never thought the American people would allow the government to spend money in such a reckless way with such minimal oversight, trusting only someone who has no idea what he’s doing, someone who has already proven he isn’t up to the job.

This isn’t a career lawyer we’re talking about, this is a career criminal.

He has control of our government.

A criminal president, already once impeached, telling US about law and order. Imagine that. Words matter, especially a President’s. A man who’s made lawlessness fashionable where law is supposed to be written, somehow tricking the public into accepting it, and with a straight face-calls lawful protests ‘domestic terrorism’.

Stop, right here.

This is all you need to know about the truth of The President’s words. If you find yourself still buying this act, take a step back. This isn’t about left right blue or red anymore. Anyone selling you that is making money. This is about being American. It’s about human rights. This is about our constitution. This is about ALL of us being treated with RESPECT. Period.

The looting takes attention away from that. The looting was never and is never good. But why does the news focus on that? It’s an escape from learning from our mistakes. Again! To those who think the protestors were mainly the ones to cause destruction I’d plead with you to lean in and think more. Protestors have a lot less to gain than do outside fringe groups. Or opportunists. People devoid of purpose. They just want to exploit the fact that crime can’t be covered everywhere, so they look for places to exploit like in downtown cities. This focus on Antifa lacks any evidence that they were in any way any part of what was happening with the looting. And actually as of yesterday, right wing groups have been the ones formally charged, not left wing groups as the President tries to trick us into believing.

The lines are blurred now, and there are a lot of smokescreens. There have been for his entire term. This is like Russia. THAT’S the true poison of this administration. The mirage has turned everything upside down.

But then again, you voted for him to.

You voted for him because you were told about some sort of deep state. This way of telling people about the world instead of reporting the news, and allowing people to actually learn about the world, has made mentally/emotionally weak, and unstable people actually go out there and shoot other Americans. This should give anyone great pause about putting all of their trust in cable news. The internet isn’t any better. I mean, how many has the internet radicalized? Check out my podcast.

For whatever reason the people in Fox Facebook brietbart internet bubble are selling you on many lies. They make a TON of money from us being divided. Theres a lot of money to be scooped up in this new upside down world. Tricking you into watching tabloid news by giving you ear candy thinking it’s more valuable and ‘American’ than the channels you’ve trusted since they were built, or journalism that has been around for hundreds of years. This selling and dividing the news market has been very dangerous to people’s perceptions and what people understand about the world around them. This has proven very dangerous to our democracy, our very institutions, and our way of life.

This is a problem so much greater than our current moment, while also showing us how we got here.

We all feel a collective strain because our collective fabric is being ripped apart and shredded. By The President Of The United States, Republicans in Congress, his enablers around him and his defenders in the media.

The last few years have been exhausting. And now this.

It’s officially all gotten out of hand.

His first cabinet members saw him being outmatched by the job way before the rest of us did. That’s why they leaked, that’s why they quit and that’s why others got fired. That’s why there were so many books, so quickly. Hoping WE would catch on, at some point, and DEMAND he be removed.

Most of us did.

Yet, those who rely on Fox and who get their news from the internet and Facebook still believe what this man is saying. Their still buying the lie.

Imagine: a man that has defied subpoenas, broken the law, infringed upon people’s constitutional rights, was impeached-and you actually believe he is your law and order President? That’s the power of the presidency. mass messaging, propaganda, and an echo chamber. You brainwash people.

Turning your own forces against your own people is entirely counter to everything my father served decades for. This isn’t law and order. This is chaos. This is an overwhelmed outmatched empty hearted callous man with strongman tendencies, and a bestie in Putin. The President has isolated just about everyone else around him but the Cheney wing of the Republican Party, while creating an entirely new internet bat shit crazy wing while in office. When you hear “Liberal publication” what it really means is “buy subscribe read MY publication”

So basically put your fingers in your ears, close your eyes, but walk out into the world.

And you wonder why you are always angry?

It is our duty to be informed citizens.

My generation and every subsequent one reads less and less. This is just a reality. We must fix it. Reading is the best way your brain deciphers truth. Reading is the only way you inhale objective fact. Reading has been around since we could write on stone for a reason. TV, and especially the internet are ruining our democracy. Democracy requires all of us to be aware, truly aware, of the world around us. That means we can’t be in rabbit holes. We can’t be aware of things if all we do is watch our favorite cable channel or listen to our favorite podcast or read our favorite blog or scroll through our social media.

That’s not where truth has ever resided. Drowning in all this is how we have all become lost. We’re all going down, inside our own rabbit holes.

Now, we shouldn’t even be dealing with this anymore. His enablers and the senate are just as complicit in this as he is. Nancy did what she had to do, what Mueller wanted her to do. Republicans minus Mitt Romney treated the most important event in our lifetime, the removal of a sitting President, into what seemed like a sham. That was the plan all along. Because, just think; who storms an entirely bipartisan meeting about evidence and turns it into a PR stunt lying about how only one party was involved to make it look like a sham? Look up the houses impeachment evidentiary rules. Republicans are the minority in the House. Democrats as the majority get to write the rules. Republicans wrote that law. But Republicans still have opportunities for their voices to be heard officially, yet instead of showing up like normal, like Democrats did during Clinton impeachment-Republicans shrewdly made the decision they were going to make it look like a farce to the American people. Because enough of them watch one tv channel anyway. So they coordinated with other members of GOP in Congress to storm the meeting, made sure cameras were there so that Fox and other right media could propagate these were ‘secret’ ‘illegal’ meetings. It was a P.R. stunt.

And it worked.

Who doesn’t want to see evidence in a trial? No one. Because in a normal trial that would never be allowed. Because it wouldn’t be a trial. Now granted, an impeachment trial isn’t that. Impeachment is our only political trial and it’s our only designed method in which to remove a President (other than 25th). So the GOP treated it in the modern political way - they lied through their teeth mass messaged away on fox and internet and they scorched earth. All the noise drowns out the facts, that way the cockroaches can come out from under their rock and sell you on a lie -that way you never know the truth.

But Mitt Romney did.

That was the only way the GOP could go ahead with not hearing evidence, yet still somehow voting for innocence. Makes no sense does it, because it never was supposed to. They just wanted to get through it. And they did. But WE still have the corrupt lawless leader who has no idea what to do or how to do it. Now we are in a whole new level of uncharted water with troops on the ground in the nations capital. He needs to be removed. He has no respect for our country or the constitution. He has zero respect for you or I, and even less for people who do not look like him. Even Nixon had some respect. Bill Clinton never tried to make himself look like a law and order President after being caught breaking the law. Yet this man thinks so low of us, that we are so stupid to actually believe he is a law and order President. The man isn’t capable of leading. The only reason why he wants to be re-elected is to not be criminally prosecuted. Think of that. For the first time in American history we have a President solely interested in protecting himself than protecting us. For some reason, we keep allowing it. But if enough of us wake up and stop buying the bate, actually start demanding to our reps and senators to remove him they will not behave the way they did last time. Watch.

It’s a hard thing to watch. My father did not sacrifice decades of his life to see his forces being used against his own people. I won’t stand for it. It’s an unimaginable circumstance, and his actions call in question his loyalties.

I’m glad his taxes are in front of the Supreme Court. I hope they do the right thing. We need to see what’s in those tax returns. In order for transparency to exist we need to know if The President is making decisions guided by his own self interest. He is a first time non-public servant President. It’s crucial to know if the decisions he has made, like ceding international space to Russia and China and re-destabilizing our relationship with Iran, were done for interests not in our nations best.

The man already fired an F.B.I. director leading an investigation into his campaign; urged a foreign power to investigate a political rival; purged inspectors general tasked with overseeing his administration; is currently leading a public crusade for his own Justice Department to drop charges against his first national security adviser-who had already pleaded guilty.

What is going on? We don’t even acknowledge the craziness of all this. And Fox viewers actually fight or flight this information rather than allow it to sink in. But just think about this.

After speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, The President of The United States gave a speech about ‘dominating’ our streets with a use of force against our own citizens. He cleared protestors using pepper spray, citizens exercising their constitutional rights, in order to hold a bible aloft in front of a church-because he didn’t like the news about how he was in a bunker.

All of that just happened. In 2020. In America. About the only thing that would push a global pandemic from the front page. A pandemic which has killed close to 105,000 Americans.

We have to all look in the mirror and realize that simply continuing to accept this is unacceptable. Luckily, thank god, we have an election coming up.

Joe has already pledged to create an oversight commission within his first 100 days in order to implement widespread changes to police practices. The previous administration left a playbook for not only how to deal with a pandemic but how to reform our policing. Trump threw that out too. So it can be done pretty quickly once Joe is in office. I know people do not want to hear more words. But In our rush to condemn further words, we must pause and reflect and allow ourselves to be guided by our hearts. Our system is collapsing under the weight of a corrupt man and an misinformed people. He has not only corrupted everyone around him but he has now corrupted our very foundation, our very fabric.

Our mindsets.

I never thought that was possible in less than 4 years.

In our most trying hour as civilians, we mustn’t allow our fear to drive out our hope. I put a lot of faith in our original words, because as much as they were meant to secure us, they were meant to start us. To guide us. I put more faith in our ever unfolding reality, and in our people. It is not enough to just be created equal, we must all be treated equally. All of us. Every single one of us. Treated equally. If we are not, we are all failing to live up our own words, our own ideals. This is why I get so upset when I see my white brothers and sisters sitting on the sideline (or worse, attacking from the sideline) simply because they miss the point entirely. Do me a favor, don’t speak. Just learn, and then you can talk. There is no time to waste, and only justice to gain. At the end of the day. The behavior by police is over. We may not all be treated equally right now but we are all in this together, whether you realize it yet, or not.

We all find ourselves in an extraordinary moment in American history. To those still putting their faith in this President, I’m sorry. I’m sorry he failed you, he has failed us all. In our deepest regrets keep in mind what General Mattis said, we don’t need The President; we can rely on our civil society. We are strong. We are kind. And we can all rise, together and stop being divided by one man. I will never stop lending my arms to help push the arch of universe toward justice. Do your part in this fight.



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