Essay #14: Trump in La La Land

As should have been expected, Trump and his legal team are launching lawsuit after lawsuit in an attempt to “correct” the election results. I personally believe that the motivation existed for fraud to be committed against Donald Trump, but I do not see evidence that would suggest it occurred in a large enough scale for the current result (Joe Biden’s victory) to be incorrect. I am sure a Trump supporter would contend with what I’ve just said, but that is not what I am concerned with today.

If you may recall, as people went to sleep on election night, things were close, but it seemed as if Trump was about to pull off another upset. The expectation was that the mail-in ballots that had yet to be counted in key states would favor Biden, but would it be enough to take back the advantage Trump currently held? The next morning, we all woke up to see that Michigan had turned blue, and over the next few days North Carolina, Georgia, and finally Pennsylvania began to turn blue (NC turned back though). A friend of mine posted a meme comparing Trump to the movie-musical La La Land and Biden to the movie Moonlight. For those who don’t know, at the 2017 Oscars there was an error when presenting the winner of Best Picture. The envelopes were mixed up and La La Land was pronounced to have won Best Picture. Later it was corrected, and Moonlight was announced to have won.

For anyone who hasn’t seen these movies, La La Land is a musical about Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone falling in love in Los Angeles. Moonlight, on the other hand, is a movie about a young black boy growing up gay in the rough Black community of Liberty City, Miami. The movie deals with bullying, sexuality, and fraught relationships with parents among other themes. One of these stories has been told many times, and the other one is quite new and much more meaningful. People were annoyed with the mix up and suspicions flared that people in Hollywood had tried to suppress Moonlight’s victory. It turned out to be just a simple mix up of envelopes, and the event was soon forgotten (though not by my friend apparently). Earlier this year, I heard someone ask a question that is quite relevant in this post-election period. What if instead, Moonlight had been announced by mistake, and was later corrected to La La Land?

As I said before, Moonlight is a more culturally and period relevant story. If the story itself is not new, then the setting and the details of the story are new. The story of growing up gay seldomly takes the main spotlight and then you add the setting of the Black community which has a troublesome relationship with homosexuality, and we have something nascent that many people felt very protective of. People may feel that a movie like this pushes tolerance and acceptance forward and anticipate those who do not wish for such tolerance to attack this movie, and thus they form a defensive ring around the movie, ready to stave off any attacks. So now, imagine what would have happened if the Best Picture award had been “taken away” from Moonlight and given to La La Land. I don’t think I am too audacious in saying that there may have been massive protests and boycotts, if not riots. I could also picture a great deal of public pressure to “give back” the award to Moonlight, even though it had only been a mix-up that gave it to them in the first place.

Perhaps you see where I am going with this. What would happen if Donald Trump is victorious in some of these lawsuits and manages to flip key states and take the election victory from Joe Biden? We just saw Donald Trump/La La Land seemingly win the election and then the advantage changed while we were asleep to Joe Biden/Moonlight. And what has happened? Many conservatives are saying the election was stolen, but their actions have only amounted to supporting Donald Trump and his attempt to reverse the election through the courts, and the highlighting of any stories of potential fraud. You may recall that many stores in cities all over the country were boarding up in preparation for violence after the election, but the conservatives have not been violent and many of these stores have removed the protective constructions. If you have your ear to the ground in conservative circles, you may find that they are hopeful for every story of potential fraud that emerges, but realistic about their chances and many seem to be tired of being strung along by fake or exaggerated stories. What happens if fortunes flip and Donald Trump finds a path to victory through the courts?

I am not going to answer this question, but I would encourage anyone reading to think about it. I will tell you what I see, though. I see an imbalance. I am someone who can usually find the good and bad on both sides of an issue and I can certainly do that here, but there is an imbalance. I presented the store owners protecting their businesses against a general threat, but I believe the threat was specific. As far as I know, in the unrest of the past year, no businesses have been looted or burned down by right-wing rioters. If anyone has any concrete information to the contrary I would love to see it and I will issue a correction (I am not talking about these hypotheses that alt-right provocateurs or undercover police have been starting the riots, unless of course there is concrete evidence). We have been hearing about the Proud Boys and Antifa a lot in recent months and they are a perfect microcosm of the troublesome aspects of right-wing and left-wing unrest. I wanted to write full essays on both Proud Boys and Antifa, and I may still do that, but I can boil things down right now.

The Proud Boys are a disturbing group of generally conservative-minded individuals. They attend and stage demonstrations in which they engage in violence. There is a history of assault (for which some members are currently serving jail time), bringing weapons (such as blunt weapons, knives, pepper-spray paintball guns), and general behavior that is inappropriate at a protest. They are currently banned on most social media platforms. Antifa is a decentralized organization of people who refer to themselves as anti-fascist and believe violent means should be deployed to fight those they consider “fascist”. They dress in all black and often wear masks (even pre-pandemic), and have a history of wearing home-made body armor, fiberglass-enhanced gloves, and carrying weapons. They are, in the most part, allowed to operate on social media. I will say it plainly: I believe Antifa is worse than the Proud Boys.

I can show you videos of Proud Boys and Antifa mixing it up at protests. However, I can also show you videos of Antifa barricading the Portland Police in the Federal Courthouse and attempting to light the building on fire. I can show you videos of Antifa/Left-Wing Demonstrators parading around residential neighborhoods shining flashlights into homes and demanding people wake up and join them in the streets. I can show you video of Antifa attacking journalist Andy Ngo and giving him a brain hemorrhage. I can show you a video and an arrest warrant of an Antifa member stalking a Patriot Prayer member and shooting him dead from 10 ft away for seemingly little reason outside of his political affiliation. I do not support the Proud Boys at all, and I will stand up against them, but I cannot sit here and pretend that these factions are two sides of the same coin.

Antifa seems to have inspired similar behavior by participants in some of the BLM protests over the summer (or perhaps both sources of destructive violence emerged convergently), and this behavior seems to be absent on the right. I think it is easy to picture the kind of response we would have loved to see from President Trump after Charlottesville. I don’t think the “both sides” comment was wrong (as explained in Essay #8), but I think he could have taken a stronger stance against right-wing extremism. I think the same is true for Democratic politicians in dealing with left-wing extremism. In the recent debate where Trump famously uttered the “stand back and stand by” request to the Proud Boys, Joe Biden got away with saying that Antifa is “just an idea”. If we treat the extremism affiliated with our political stance with kid gloves, we will move away, not towards, unity.

P.S. I encountered some odd potential censorship on the part of Google and YouTube. I typed “compilation of proud boys vs antifa” into both searches and all I got was news stories about such violence. That is not what I wanted, specifically because I don’t want video to be accompanied by editorializing. I used Bing to search for videos instead, and it was VERY easy to find everything I was looking for. You may even notice the video of Proud Boys and Antifa fighting is titled “Compilation of Proud Boys and Antifa Clash…”, almost exactly what I typed into Google and YouTube. Of course, not proof; just odd.

P.P.S. Andy Ngo, the journalist who was attacked by Antifa, is a journalist who almost exclusively covers Antifa and does so from what seems like a right-leaning perspective. I do not approve of everything he says and does, however, he is still a journalist. He was attacked because he was covering an Antifa march. The incident itself is very troubling, but far more troubling was the media’s response. If you have seen the media response to a journalist dying in the field or being attacked, you will notice the difference with how they covered Ngo’s assault. He was labeled in headlines as a “Right-wing troll” among other things. Can I get a “victim blaming”? Consider reading this Rolling Stone article written not long after the event, and decide for yourself if it feels like fair coverage from someone who was brutally attacked for covering a story.

P.P.P.S. I wrote 3 different essays this week, and by wrote, I mean I put my stream of consciousness about a topic into a Word Document. There is a lot of work that must happen after that, and it was difficult to pick the route I wanted to go this week because it seems like there is so much going poorly in this post-election period. Also, Maria and I adopted two 13-week old kittens this week and they are a fantastic distraction. Their names are Sabriel and Sameth. Maybe I will include some pictures in a future essay.

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