In real life, it takes the form of Nazi storm troopers, Klansmen and white supremacists marching in torch-lit parades chanting their messages of hate. And, the name of our current president. Their great white hope. That kind of situation was once the stuff of science fiction as well. How things change.
Here's a science fiction idea: What if the desires, hopes, ambitions and secret longings of the people could become palpable reality through artificial intelligence? Vast clouds of nanites, perhaps, inundating the air we breath, reading our thoughts and assuming some ultimate collective form which was the sum total of what the majority...or those with the strongest desires, perhaps...wanted most in an idealized center of society?
Donald Trump is like that. He's the sum total of the desires of a disenfranchised middle-American industrial, uneducated white working class. In him, their anger, cynicism, disillusionment, frustration, bigotry, fear and hatred have come together as one in defining the values of the society they want. And, what are those defining values?
Racism, that's one up front and certain. All men are definitely not created equal. Klansmen and fascists chant Trump's name in the street. White school children bully minority kids, following the president's example.
Lies. Alternative facts. Orwellian double-think. The truth is malleable as clay. The press is fake news and fake news and wild rumor are the truth.
War and torture and police brutality are good. The president loves them. He has said this.
Close the borders. Foreigners not wanted. No more "send us your tired and poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free." We don't care about anyone but ourselves. Selfishness and xenophobia are our new creeds. Our country over all. Familiar?
Threats of Armageddon. Of fire and fury such as the world has never seen. Idle threats, or Nero about to torch Rome? Who can say in a world gone mad?
No rules, anymore. Just the wild emotions of the public, usually confined to the cathartic cyber-space of the Internet, now given flesh and bone (and, nuclear weapons) by a time in which reality blurs with the monsters of the Id.
The primitive demons of hate and unreasoning fear of the outsider, of scapegoating the foreigner, of the gun and the wild rush of the kill have replaced conventional governance. Organized anarchy. Every last shred of dignity and respectability have been stripped from the once noble office of the presidency of the United States.
A president who tweets. Who offers a divided and bleeding nation only the most perfunctory readings of pre-written speeches of brotherly love and anti-racist platitudes, his eyes never straying from the teleprompter, then reverts to a raving madman who sees no moral difference between Nazis and those who protest against them, who sees the American free press as the true enemy, not fascism. A president who makes excuses for fascists and tyrants while attacking one of the pillars of our democracy.
Then, he offers national unity in the form dictators and demagogues throughout history always have: war. He hopes a clarion call to arms, and more dead American heroes in flag-draped coffins will rally the nation around him as it did around George W. Bush.
And, of course, the dictator's other old ally: hate. He'll kick the transsexuals out of the armed forces. Rally, oh legions of haters and killers. Wrap yourselves in the flag of hate. Let ours be a nation united in common hatred, for we have forsaken love.
Hail the future. It comes cloaked in darkness black as death.
Two stories hit the news simultaneously today. One, a 20-year-old woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for successfully encouraging her teenaged boyfriend to commit suicide by asphyxiating himself in his car. Two, a policeman was acquitted of murder after fatally shooting a motorist five times in the head, his wife and daughter in the car with him. The first victim was white, the second black.
That's almost required information today, it seems. No one says the two cases are directly comparable. In one case, a girl (then herself a teenager) miles away as she tells her boyfriend over the phone to get back into this car and die as planned after he lost his resolve and tried to get out of the death car, the latest of a long series of aborted suicide attempts on his part. In the other case, a policeman in the course of a traffic stop apparently believing the motorist is reaching for a weapon and arguably fearing a possibility of imminent danger, shoots. (Albeit five head shots with a woman and a child in the car.)
In the girl's case, the usual arguments of mental derangement vs. narcissism were argued in court. The judge found her guilty on the grounds that she acted "recklessly" in advocating suicide and did nothing to save the boy's life from self-inflicted destruction. Everyone spoke of a young life (however troubled) cut short, his dreams and future gone, because of the words...only words, mind you...of a selfish girl who thought apparently only of the attention and sympathy she hoped to win in the aftermath of her boyfriend's death. Or, maybe she wanted to end his suffering. We'll never know. Only that he set up the means for his own death, and that he'd done it many times before.
In the case of the police shooting...the usual. The teary-eyed, emotional officer acquitted. Justified shooting, though as always the policeman shot first, supposedly in fear of his own safety. The angry rhetoric flashes across the news, and everyone asks the question that will never be answered: Would he have fired if the motorist had been white? The surviving relatives of the shooting victim shout with anger and pain, of course. But, little is heard from the mainstream public about the life of a husband and father cut tragically short, about his orphaned kid, about his lost dreams.
There's no comparison between the circumstances of the two deaths. What's significant is how courts and society react to each. When a teenager commits suicide, everyone wants to blame someone. The parents don't want to take the blame, of course. It's so much easier to blame another teenager. They are our dependents, after all. So much easier to blame them. If one of them simply insulted the suicidal teen online, that's cyber-bullying. Encourage them to commit suicide, and that's involuntary manslaughter if they choose to go through with it. Punish the other teen. It makes us feel better. But, don't mourn or yearn for justice when a black motorist has his brains blown out by a cop, his wife and kid in the seat beside him. Always sympathize with the cop, and don't empathize with the survivors of the dead man. We depend on the police. We always find excuses for them, especially when the victim is black. We want to feel safe. We want to get our own way.
We claim to cherish life. But, of course we're extremely selective about it. A suicide is blamed on the words of another. A shooting death is dismissed as a policeman doing his duty. The deaths of thousands under the mother of all bombs? That's just part of making America great again.
Is every suicide (every white suburban suicide, anyway) now to be followed by a background investigation of everyone who ever sent the decedent a nasty email? Is every police shooting of a black man reaching for his driver's license to be dismissed as law and order in action? Free speech is a crime, shooting a man is business as usual.
One small step for man...one giant leap backward for mankind.
We have passed the 100 day mark of the Donald Trump presidency. A presidency based on "alternative facts," racist paranoia and political elitism masquerading as anti-establishment populism. Casualties?
Quite a few in the middle-east. But, the real war is the one at home: The war for America's heart and mind. It's been said truth is the first casualty of war. That's definitely the case here. Case in point, scientific truth, the one truth that is supposed to be absolute. The Trump regime has done its best, with Orwellian finesse, to systematically excise all data regarding the ever-present and ever-dangerous reality of pollution-induced climate change from the body of policy-making.
The Environmental Protection Agency -- now run by a self-declared climate change denier -- has removed all mention of global warming from its website. Donald Trump has secured his political position with the workers who elected him by standing on the false promise that the coal industry -- an industry that is inherently finite, given the fact that coal is a finite resource -- can be revived. No ecological regulations. Just all ahead full with coal mining, oil drilling and oil pipelines to poison our air, land and water. All based on the false and archaic belief in inexhaustible frontiers and the infallibility of American enterprise.
It's a backward-looking dream. Back to an imagined idyllic past. Make America great again. Prosper again. Strong again. Always "again." Always back to the past. It smacks of a romanticized longing for the days of old. Like those bright, wonderful 1950's, when a woman's place was in the kitchen, a black man's place was on the back of the bus, and a gay person's place was in prison or in the insane asylum. Or, dead. And, it was all ahead full then with production and capitalist expansion, future generations footing the bill for ecological degradation.
A hundred days and counting. Progressive and ecologically conscious populations, apathetic and uncaring during a lack-luster presidential campaign now seem revitalized and marching through the streets with a gusto unseen since the 1960's. Can a change be effected in current policy before irreparable damage is done to our planet's biosphere? Only time will tell.
Sadly, the epitaph of humanity may be that its bane was its own mortality. Our leaders, and those who elected them won't live long enough to see the final consequences of their actions. Get a job today, destroy the world for your descendants. Selfishness is the core of human motivation, after all. That's why capitalism works and socialism doesn't.
Here's a science fiction idea: Wouldn't it be nice if we had to check with our descendants a hundred years in the future before making a decision? Wouldn't it be nice if we had to see the world through their eyes, breathe the air they'll have to breathe, drink the water they'll have to drink, before laying the foundations for the word they'll have to live in? Time travel is theoretically possible, but, we haven't heard from our descendants on the issue. Hmmmm....does that mean we've already passed the point of no return?
The Future Is Short Science Fiction in a Flash Volume 3 New Anthology Release January 30, 2017Now availableat major book sellers!
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56 exciting flash fiction stories, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, providing mini escapes to extraordinary new worlds. Discover strange planets, unexplored places and times, and characters that demand you never forget them.
Authors: Jot Russell, S. M. Kraftchak, Paula Friedman, J. J. Alleson, W. A. Fix, Andrew Gurcak, Jeremy Lichtman, Tom Olbert, Thaddeus Howze, Jon Ricson, Andy McKell, Kalifer Deil, Marianne G. Petrino, Gary Hanson, Dean Hardage, R. E. Jones, Ben Boyd, Jr., Elana Gomel, Heather MacGillivray, Jack McDaniel, Chris Nance, Carol Shetler, Helen Doran-Wu, Greg Krumrey.