Trump’s death march to November: If they’re not his voters, let ’em die | Salon.com

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If you listen to Donald Trump, before him there was nothing.

According to Trump, before he was elected, the United States military, which was fighting wars in two countries, confronting foreign navies on the high seas, launching drone attacks willy-nilly, and had soldiers stationed in more than 100 outposts around the world, had no ammunition. In the Rose Garden on March 30, Trump said, “I’ll never forget the day when a general came and said, ‘Sir’ — my first week in office — ‘we have no ammunition.'” 

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On Oct. 9 of last year, he told the same story: “When I took over our military, we didn’t have ammunition. I was told by a top general — maybe the top of them all — ‘Sir, I’m sorry. Sir, we don’t have ammunition.’ I said, ‘I’ll never let another president have that happen to him or her.’ We didn’t have ammunition.” 

But now that Trump is in charge, according to him, “We have so much ammunition. You wouldn’t believe it, how much ammunition we have.”

Before Trump, we had no supplies of any kind: “The shelves were bare,” he has told us over and over at his coronavirus briefings. The shelves he’s referring to are those of the national stockpile of emergency medical equipment, the same shelves we’ve seen in photographs of a warehouse stacked with pallets filled with medical equipment, all of which has been there for years. But according to Trump, before he came along “the shelves were empty.”

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Fuhgettaboutit it when it comes to testing for the coronavirus. “We took over a dead, barren system,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on March 30. “We inherited a broken test.”  The “broken” test was created in February of this year by Trump’s Centers for Disease Control. 

At his briefing on April 18, Trump said, “I inherited broken junk. Just as they did with ventilators where we had virtually none, and the hospitals were empty.”

But not to worry, he reassured us at his briefing on Wednesday, when it comes to testing now, “We’re doing it at a level that’s never been done before. We’ve got ventilators like you’ve never seen before.” 

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There is so much about Trump like we’ve never seen before. 

We have never seen hospitals so crowded that patients in their beds are lined up in hallways outside emergency rooms and intensive care units because those rooms are full. We have never seen refrigerated trucks lined up behind hospitals to carry away bodies from overloaded morgues. We have never seen doctors standing mute in the White House while a president of the United States stood before television cameras and advocated bringing ultraviolet light “inside the body,” and injecting patients with disinfectants like isopropyl alcohol and bleach, medical “experiments” that were carried out on Jews by Nazi doctors in places like Dachau and Buchenwald. 

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Before Trump, we have never seen 26.5 million people apply for unemployment benefits in just five weeks. Before Trump, we have never seen 50,000 Americans perish from a virus for which the United States government was singularly unprepared. 

Before Trump, we have never seen a president who wakes up every day at 5 a.m. and obsessively watches television and sends out dozens of tweets all morning and waits until noon to descend from his living quarters to go to work in the West Wing. We have never seen a president who told more than 16,000 lies in his first three years in office, an average of nearly 15 a day. 

Before Trump, we have never seen a president change the color of his aerosol-sprayed hair three times in three days, from yellow to gray and back to yellow again. 

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Before Trump, we have never seen an election when people may have to risk becoming infected with the coronavirus to go to the polls, the way voters did in Wisconsin two weeks ago.

Before Trump, Republicans suppressed Democratic votes with ID requirements and closed polls and registration purges. Before Trump, we have never seen tens of thousands prevented from voting because they’re dead and buried in the ground. 

Has Trump decided to use the coronavirus to win in November?

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It sure looks that way. The tip-off came with Trump’s wild swing between Wednesday and Thursday over opening businesses in Georgia. On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was a genius for allowing businesses like massage parlors and nail salons to open on Friday, with restaurants and bars opening on Monday. But less than 24 hours later, Trump had changed his mind. 

“I wasn’t happy with Brian Kemp. I wasn’t at all happy,” Trump announced from the podium at the Thursday briefing. What had happened overnight to sour Trump on “liberating” Georgia? “Trump’s sudden shift came only after top health advisers reviewed the plan more closely and persuaded the president that Kemp was risking further spread of the virus by moving too quickly,” the Associated Press reported on Friday.

That same morning, the New York Times published a front page story with another clue right there in the title: “No Rallies and No Golf, Just the TV to Rankle Him: Feeling Alone, President stews Over Image.” Buried in the story was the news that among the few calls a frustrated Trump agrees to take as he molders away in the White House are from his campaign manager, Brad Parscale. After Trump has heard the bad news about the coronavirus from his medical experts at his daily press briefing, what do Trump and Parscale discuss? “The latest polling data,” the Times reports. 

Bingo. At six o’clock he’s hearing that the body count has hit 50,000. At nine, he’s hearing how far he is behind Biden in the key swing states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio. If he’s running behind now, with 50,000 dead, what’s it going to look like in October or November when the number tops 100,000?

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Trump is balancing the grim news from his medical experts against the equally grim news from his campaign manager. When the choice is between dead people or his reelection, it’s an easy call. He is going to let it rip. His poll numbers are already so bad, he doesn’t have anything to lose. What’s another 50,000 to 100,000 dead compared to four more years of profiteering from the White House?

But the key to Trump’s plan is who dies. Watch the way he plays the game as the rest of the states make plans to reopen. He’s seen the facts and figures that social distancing works. He knows opening the economy will cost lives. He’s going to be very, very careful with states he expects to carry, but narrowly, like Georgia. The states that are a lock for Trump, or the states he doesn’t stand a chance in? Let them rip. Get the dying out of the way now. Maybe by the fall the coronavirus infection numbers will go down, maybe not.  

The number of those killed won’t go down, but Trump doesn’t give a shit. He’s not the president of the United States. He’s the president of the Confederate States of MAGA. All he wants to do is win. If they’re not Trump’s voters, let ’em die

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Hull business woman Georgia Allenby has big, personal plans for old Ceruttis restaurant – Hull Live

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Property firm design manager Georgia Allenby’s next project is creating a new home for herself at one of Hull’s best-known former restaurants.

Famous for its fish dishes, Ceruttis closed its doors last April after 45 years.

Its closure came after brother and sister Tony and Tina Cerutti announced plans to concentrate on their other restaurant in Beverley while expanding an existing external catering business.

The property in Nelson Street was previously used by British Rail in conjunction with the operation of the nearby Humber ferry.

Now Ms Allenby is planning to turn the clock back even further by converting the building into a three-bedroom residential dwelling after buying it. It was originally built in 1813 as a family home.

Allenby

She has submitted a planning application to Hull City Council seeking permission to change its use from commercial to residential.

In a design and access statement accompanying the application, she said: “The property was originally built for residential use in 1813.

“The reason for me purchasing the property is to convert it back into a three-bedroom house, which I will occupy myself.

“The property is rich in heritage and any original or historic features, which still exist in the interior and exterior, will be kept and preserved.”

Watch: When do you need planning permission?

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Ms Allenby is the design and marketing manager at Hull-based family firm Allenby Commercial, which has acquired and refurbished a series of high profile properties in the city centre in recent years.

They include Paragon Arcade, Danish Buildings and Bayles House in High Street, the former Europa House office block at the junction of Ferensway and Anlaby Road and the multi-use Works business and leisure complex in Beverley Road.

Ms Allenby is also a director of the Hideout Hotel in North Church Side, another of the company’s recent city centre conversion schemes.

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Planned Parenthood’s political arm to spend $45 million on electing candidates backing reproductive rights

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(CNN)Planned Parenthood‘s super PAC kicked off a $45 million electoral program targeted toward battleground states for the 2020 election, the reproductive rights giant announced on Wednesday.

The group’s self-identified largest program to date will go toward “large-scale grassroots organizing programs and targeted canvass, digital, television, radio and mail programs,” according to a press release. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will all be focuses of the initiative, per the release.
“Who we elect will determine our access to birth control, cancer screenings, sex education, abortion access and more,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, in a statement.
“That’s why Planned Parenthood Votes will use every tool at our disposal to hit the pavement, flood the airwaves, and elect reproductive rights champions up and down the ballot,” she added. “We know this is a fight we can win.”
The super PAC pledged to back reproductive rights candidates “from the White House to the Senate to statehouses and ballot initiatives across the country,” indicating a state-level focus after a year that saw a slew of pre-viability abortion restrictions coming out of conservative state legislatures. Planned Parenthood is among the plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging such laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio.
Anti-abortion leaders decried Planned Parenthood’s election efforts, accusing the group of looking to protect its own finances and lamenting its federal subsidies. Planned Parenthood received $563.8 million in government funding in 2018, according to its annual report.
Lila Rose, president of anti-abortion group Live Action, slammed the funding effort as a display of “ruthless prioritization of politics and their bottom line over women’s health care.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement that the funding effort was unsurprising “because this Administration has implemented a pro-life agenda in many areas, including the Protecting Life in Global Health Policy and new Title X regulations, both of which impacted Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.”
“It is unfair to force Americans to subsidize through their tax dollars this partisan political organization bent on electing pro-abortion politicians,” she added.
This year, Planned Parenthood rejected some federal funding. The group decided to drop Title X funding in August after the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Trump administration rule blocking recipient providers from discussing abortion services with patients. HHS told recipients in July that the rule would go into effect despite several pending challenges.

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Downton Abbey, like plantation houses, delivers fantasy over brute reality | Michael Henry Adams

The American south may seem a long way from the estates of England, but in both places a veil of caprice covers harsh truths

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The son of a Scottish immigrant who worked as a servant, Donald Trump could hardly wait for his banquet at Buckingham Palace. A seat next to Elizabeth II conferred a sense of accomplishment little else could.

To many, such behavior from an American president appeared downright unseemly. But how could we scoff? How else have so many of us been eagerly awaiting the return of Downton Abbey?

TV and film can be transporting, giving us glimpses of lives we can only imagine imperfectly. Decades before Julian Fellowes creation came forth to conquer America, PBS offered a steady diet of British clotted cream. Royals, aristocrats, castles, servants, sex. Such is the stuff of which Downton daydreams are made.

We make our own fantasies too. As a boy, watching Gone With the Wind, I saw plantation houses for which I thought I could sell my soul. It seemed such an alluring way of life.

No wonder people complain of being lectured about slavery when they visit Savannah or Charleston. They, like me, have imagined themselves in the masters place. No work to be done, fanned on white-pillared porches, sipping cooling drinks, pondering pleasures to come. Is it surprising so many, confronted by the nightmare behind the reverie, recoil in unacknowledged shame?

I came to this crossroads early, no longer able to overlook the anguish of my ancestors. I saw exquisite architecture and ideas of gracious hospitality but knew both to be built on the worst criminality.

Fortunately, thanks to green England, I was able to transfer my affections. The Forsyte Saga, Upstairs Downstairs, Brideshead Revisited, The Admirable Crichton. The Shooting Party, The Remains of the Day, Gosford Park. They became my refuge and taught me much. Entranced by an elegant aesthetic, reading countless books, even attending the Attingham Summer School to study famous country houses, I sought an elusive loveliness, untroubled by oppression.

I know I never escaped. I had only embraced a new quagmire of contradictory caprice.

At the very lightest level, all this means I know that Downton the whole phenomenon, the TV series, the film, the traveling exhibition, the merchandising is a ludicrous and ahistorical fancy.

I know, for example, that contrary to what we see on Fellowes screen, non-royal butlers did not wear white waistcoats and that waiters did not wear dinner jackets at all. I know ladies were never gloved while drinking or eating, candles were never used on a luncheon table and candle shades, now found only in royal residences, were in fact universal. For enthusiasts like me, its such esoterica which makes Downton so enjoyable.

But as in my love affair with the plantations of the American south, there was a wriggling worm in the bud.

How alike our ruling classes are. How nefarious the sources of their vast wealth, on which such beautiful homes were built.

In the UK, to take just one example, a house as sublime as Harewood, near Leeds, altered by Robert Adam, was funded by the infamous triangular trade. Even English currency came to be defined by slavery. With abolition by Britain in 1833 came compensation to 46,000 slave owners for 800,000 liberated Africans, until the banks were rescued in 2009 the largest government bailout in history.

There were other sources of income. Indian opium, imposed on China. Farms in Ireland. The wealth behind many of the estates of England was no less tainted than that which built plantations in Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.

Fellowes was careful to give his great house a more benign foundation. The Earl of Grantham, we are told, derives his affluence straight from his Yorkshire estates.

Hit hard by agricultural depressions, he takes an option not available to his tenants: he marries the daughter of an American millionaire. That said millionaire is an untitled Jew, a dry goods merchant from Cincinnati, is among storylines meant to show us what a good egg the earl really is, an unlikely egalitarian in tweeds. But hes an imprudent one too: by investing his wifes millions in a Canadian railway that goes bankrupt, Grantham places all his loved ones in peril.

Worse occurred in real life, of course. Much worse. Take the brutal, polluting mills and mines, like so many plantation fields, that often lay just outside the gates.

Of course, Downton isnt real. So, to stay in the realm of art, consider Shipley, the neo-Palladian masterpiece DH Lawrence invented for Lady Chatterleys Lover. There, Squire Leslie Winter talks of the miners who work his pits with all the condescension a planter might have for his slaves.

Chatting with the Prince of Wales, Winter quips: The miners are perhaps not so ornamental as deer, but they are far more profitable.

HRH replies: If there were coal under Sandringham, I would open a mine on the lawns and think it first-rate landscape gardening. Oh, I am quite willing to exchange roe-deer for colliers, at the price.

In the real world, many fine homes have been lost. Their deaths, like their lives, are all about the money.

In Lawrences book, the squire dies and his heirs tear down his hall to build semi-detached villas for workers. Lady Chatterley is shocked to learn such people are as capable of love as she is. One suspects Fellowes, the author of a novel called Snobs, no less, might feel a similar shock if told us ordinary people who love Downton, his facile but beautiful and seductive creation, are capable of sincere feeling too.

We are. And while we are equipped to daydream of such luxury for ourselves, or to pick nits with Fellowes staging while we swoon at his stars in their gorgeous firmament, we are also the heirs to those who did all the work, those who built the Downtons and the plantations.

We know a profound truth behind all their costly beauty and misery. Every stately home, in every land, belongs to us too.

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Lizzo Is 100 Percent That Bitch: Todays Best Pop Star

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This week:

  • Living for Lizzo
  • John Travolta, LOL
  • Turns out: I love puppets!
  • If you thought Id ever shut up about Designing Women
  • I laughed so hard at this. You may not find it funny at all.
Worshipping at the Church of Lizzo

I had another great check-in this week with my therapist, Lizzo.

Yes, it was in part because of her songs, which play on constant loop through big-ass headphones I wear at the office all day so that no one will approach me. Her music doubles as aural antidepressantsinstantaneous mood lifterscarrying me through the most difficult parts of the week. (I spent all Wednesday thinking it was Thursday.)

But theres something about Lizzo, her music, her celebrity, her success, her specific talents, her humor, her style, her messageher entiretythat makes her the perfect pop star for this moment in time. That much was more clarifying than ever this week at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she performed and delivered a sermon in front of a massive inflatable twerking ass. (Watch it here.)

She began by singing her hit single, Truth Hurts, a capella, before melting into a dance move I can only describe as feeling yourself. Soon she was making her ass clap in unison with her background dancers, before exploding into a particularly ebullient rendition of Good as Hell. As the anthemic joy threatened to shatter the arena roof, she mounted a hot pink platform and, with her ensemble of fabulous, inclusive dancers flanking her and the 17-foot-tall butt looming behind her, preached to the people.

Let me talk to you all for a second, she said. Im tired of the bullshit. And I dont have to know your story to know that youre tired of the bullshit, too. Its so hard to love yourself in a world that doesnt love you back, am I right? So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell. Because you deserve to feel good as hell!

At that moment, I did. I did feel good as hell. Ive felt that way again the 47 times Ive watched the performance this week.

I dont know if it will rank among all the gimmicky, shock-value VMA performances of legendthough, what with the assless costumes, house-sized billowing booty, and expletives, it would still have fallen squarely in the all-important category of things on MTV my mother would not have allowed me to watch as a kid. But it is a spectacular, important performance, and one of the most rewatchable award show sets Ive seen in recent memory.

After the show, Lizzo posted a clip of the performance on Instagram with a caption that summed up its importance better than I could:

Every woman on that stage had a story of either why they shouldnt have been on that stage or why they didnt believe they deserved to be on that stage, including myself. Imposter syndrome is a privilege to the most marginalized group in America. Not only were we taught to believe we didnt belong in the spotlight, but when we finally get to a place [of] self-worth the world tries to knock us down. Not this time. The world smiled with us. The world sang us. The world saw our beauty last night. The world saw black women feeling Good As Hell and cheered us on.

I dont know about other people, but Lizzo resonates with me, yes, because of her message of self-love and positivity, and the refreshing humor and vulgarity with which she wields her affirmations. (My favorite tweet on the subject: Im so done with being insecure I cannot be letting Lizzo down like this anymore.) But its not a tunnel-vision mindset.

Shes not saying that the things about her, about ourselves, that we are insecure about or feel dismissed because of, dont matter. Shes acknowledging that they do, that it registers constantly what people say, think, or judge about us, and overcoming that is a daily, moment by moment decision. That we make that decision is worth celebrating, because we deserve to make that decision.

Whats so great about Lizzo and her songs being so cheeky and playful is that she has the indisputable talent to back it up. Her lyrics are genius wordplay. (Why men great until they gotta be great is *chefs kiss* brilliant.) Her vocals are fantastic. She has exceptional instincts for stage presence and wit. (Calling it the Tiny-ass Desk Concert, I mean) Oh, and shes a classically trained flautist. (If you dont follow her flute, Sasha, on Instagram, you are missing out.)

Im not sure that, in a vacuum, I could have known, or certainly not articulated, that the pop star I would want most in 2019 is one able to pause a dance break to riff on her flute while twerking. But, oh my, is it that exact thing.

Speaking of the VMAs…

John Travolta, for some reason, presented at the awards this year. Gen Z: Huge fans of Welcome Back, Kotter. In any case, He Who Birthed Adele Dazeem continues to be the most tragic celebrity award presenter whenand this is so good you just cant make it upTaylor Swift won an award for her You Need to Calm Down music video and he tried to give the trophy to the drag queen that plays her in the video instead.

Its just the most wonderfully embarrassing thing ever, but also the most uplifting. Good for you, Jade Jolie! Swift reportedly laughed it all off. I mean, with such CONFIDENCE, Danny Zuko tries to give this drag queen the award. He is so certain that it is Taylor Swift. Or, as he likes to refer to her, The talented and lover-ly, Trudy Schrump!

Im Shocked By How Much I Like Netflixs The Dark Crystal

I have never seen The Dark Crystal, the cult 1982 film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz that takes place in some dark fantasy Lord of the Rings-meets-aliens world and stars a bunch of puppets. When Netflix announced a new prequel series to the film that sees the Jim Henson Company revisiting The Dark Crystal universe but this time with all the modern advancements in puppet and CGI technology that 2019 affords, I thought, Hm. Sounds great. Not for me though!

Well, based on word of mouth from critics I respect, I watched advanced screeners of the first half of the new show. It turns out: Very much for me!

Im gonna use some hyperbolic words now. Know that I recognize this. That said, it is one of the most astonishing technical achievements and most visually wondrous television series I have ever seen. The puppets, people, the puppets! There is gorgeous CGI, of course, for the scenery. But the characters, the puppets, are all real and practical. The world-building is so smart and creative that it made no difference at all that I had never seen the movie and had no idea what the hell I was getting into when I started watching.

More, this prequel, titled The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance, boasts a stirring, resonant story, one with themes of oppression, fascism, the hubris of power, gaslighting, and the abuse of the marginalized that are, ahem, PRETTY TIMELY. That something this whimsical could still be so dark without losing an ounce of tenderness or spectacle is admirable. Then again, thats Jim Henson for you.

Watch Designing Women, You Jerks!

Everyone keeps asking me what my Labor Day plans are and Im offended, taken aback that not only are my plans not obvious, but that everyone else does not have the same. I will not be moving from my couch until I have finished bingeing every single episode of the seminal 90s sitcom Designing Women, which has finally been made available for streaming on Hulu.

If you have not seen this show beforeHOMOPHOBIA!!!it stars Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Jean Smart, and Annie Potts (aka the four women who will be meeting me when I cross through the pearly gates of heaven) as headstrong steel magnolias working at the fictional Sugarbaker design firm in Georgia.

You have not lived until you have seen Dixie Carter torpedo her way through a righteous, hyper-feminist monologue; or marveled at how Delta Burke humanizes a ditzy pageant queen; or lost your breath laughing at Jean Smarts beleagured line deliveries; or felt seen, regardless of age, gender, or the thickness of your southern accent, as Annie Potts triumphs through life as a hardworking, fast-talking working mom.

The show is responsible for two of my favorite episodes of television ever, Killing All the Right People and The Beauty Contest. If youre not sure if the show is for you, start there. Happy Labor Day.

This Is the Funniest Thing Ive Seen All Week

Youre either going to die laughing and rewatch 100 times, or have no clue what the hell anyone who made this Twitter video go viral is thinking. (Watch here.)

What to watch this week:

The Dark Crystal: Did you not read my review?

Wu-Tang: An American Saga: The story of the greatest rap group ever, now available for your bingeing desires.

What to skip this week:

Carnival Row: Great fairy wings, beautiful wings.

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Climate change and the US south for a year

I crisscrossed a region my own that is mired in a culture of denial and delay. The conversation on the climate crisis has not changed fast enough

atmosphere

Its 96 degrees in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The sidewalk is too hot for dogs to walk on. The iconic wild horses, visible on Shackleford Banks, wade in the marsh, munching cordgrass. Ive been watching the horses since I was in elementary school, and now Im sharing them with my elementary school-aged daughters on summer vacation.

My girls love them, as I did. The legend is that the horses swam to safety from an old Spanish shipwreck. Its moving to watch the small, strong horses grazing on the dunes. For now, theyve survived the latest big hurricane, and theyre free.

The 100 or so wild horses have one square kilometer of high ground on which to weather hurricanes and sea level rise, and a shortage of fresh water endangered by encroaching salt water and storm surge. Some scientists recommend that the Shackleford horses be relocated, although they have been there for centuries.

The story is a familiar one that will be told in a thousand different ways as the atmosphere warms in the years to come: we must think creatively and quickly to save the things we love.

I wrote my Climate Changed column between hurricane seasons, in the wake of Hurricane Florence and before the start of Hurricane Barry. I close the column from Beaufort, a place where Florence brought a record storm surge; it caused $17bn in damage to the state. As my daughters and I drive over the bridge into Morehead City, I see bulldozers still clearing the last of the Channel Marker restaurant, a fixture of Atlantic Beach flooded during Florence.

I thought that Hurricane Florence might serve as a turning point in the conversation about the realities of climate change in a region still mired in a culture of denial and delay. After a year of research and reporting, I am not convinced that the conversation has changed fast enough, if much at all. Here in Beaufort, like Miami and Charleston, I encounter deniers, continued waterfront development, hurricane damage and blistering temperatures.

A
A great blue heron is silhouetted by the reflection of the rising sun at Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh. Photograph: Alamy

 

If there is any part of the south where technology, tax dollars and public opinion are aligning to make changes, its Miami, even though new waterfront real estate is still being built. But for the most part, climate change discussions continue to fall along party lines in a divided nation. To many rural southerners, the bigger, well-funded environmental movements seem to be rooted in California and New England. The conversations appear to be taking place in the echo chamber of privileged believers.

I saw more of the south while reporting for this column than I ever saw in my 30 years of living there. My travel reinforced what I already knew: there is no one south. In 2019 it is multitudinous, diverse and still reckoning with its plantation economy and cruel social history. It has PhDs, evangelicals, Trump enthusiasts, environmentalists, artists and activists. Its this very tension that has often made the south the genesis of social movements; one hopes it might happen again, and soon.

Social and environmental racism, income inequality and poverty are as present as they have ever been, and are only weaponized by climate change, as I reported from Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi.

I found that in places like eastern North Carolina, the river parishes of Louisiana, Miami, and Mississippis Gulf coast, chronic exposure to natural disasters has resulted in psychological resilience, and created a desire in some to go down with the ship. In places like New Orleans, trauma strengthens the sense of community. As Tropical Storm Barry moved in to New Orleans, I emailed with former interviewees who shared forecasts and concerns. Im gritting my teeth, one wrote. But Im not evacuating. Home is sometimes more an emotional than a rational commitment.

In eastern North Carolina, where I grew up and write from, climate change was never a polite topic of conversation. I was told the same in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and by a minister in Georgia. Too many southerners are still dancing around the reality of climate change, and the cost of avoiding the conversation is going to be steep.

What does a better and more inclusive conversation look like? Non-traditional environmentalists can be critical allies in addressing the culture of climate change denial below the Mason-Dixon Line, like hunters in Arkansas and evangelical Christians in places like St Simons, Georgia. But too often, the perspectives and interests of frontline communities are ignored, further exacerbating the environmental racism so pervasive in the south.

When it comes to climate change preparedness in this region, part of the continued challenge is that the power structures of the old south remain in place. A Pew survey indicated that white evangelical protestants are the least likely to profess a belief in climate change. Power companies, developers and conservative politicians have a vested interest in deregulation and maintaining the environmental status quo, and many paint environmental concerns as nothing but liberal pagan ideas.

When I began this column, I felt more of a duty to listen to all sides, but frankly I do not believe that climate change is an issue of which one can pretend, or afford, to hear both sides. I believe that to deny climate change and delay productive action in 2019 is malicious and akin to governmental malpractice. A government that is not actively protecting its citizens from the future challenges of climate change (property loss, food system collapse, increased intensity of storms, flooded infrastructure, extreme heat, economic disruption) is not acting in the interests of its citizens. A politician who delays climate action is not acting in his or her constituents best interests, and may be going so far as to actually cause harm.

We do not need to hear another word from deniers, or cater to their anti-science position. Something the progressive south has always struggled to do: take the megaphone away from the people who want to live in the past.

Now that Ive seen more of the south, I cant help but feel losses and concerns in a specific way. As I began to write this final column, a fire raged through the Everglades, which I had driven through just months before. Storms threatened to challenge the already saturated Mississippi and its river control structures. I thought about the gators in the marsh, the last wild panthers darting to safety in the Everglades, the bartender who was kind to me in an ancient pub on Natchez-under-the-hill. The loss of life and landscape in climate change scenarios has always troubled me, but now it is real and urgent in a way it has never been before.

When the wild horses of Shackleford Banks weather storms, the dominant male gathers his harem on high ground or in the deep parts of the maritime forest, and they turn their backs to the wind and rain. A researcher observed that while wild herds are typically divided into harems, the divisions break down in extreme weather. The horses gave up their internal political dynamics, he said, staying together on the relatively highest ground of that site. That is how they survive.

To navigate the decades ahead, and save the places we love and call home, southerners will need to dismantle old political dynamics and build new, inclusive alliances.

 

 

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