Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: tent city

Yesterday, Barack Obama made a speech that’s getting quite a lot of attention. If I’d been home in South Jersey, I probably would have recruited some friends to try to catch it; he spoke in Philadelphia, apparently just across the street from the Constitution Center. Thanks to Alma for emailing me the link to its transcript, and now I’ve found it on Youtube. It’s long, but I think it’s well worth watching:

It’s a brilliant speech by a powerful orator. I don’t think I’ve seen such an excellent speaker so long as I’ve seen any political candidates ever. It rivals “Ask not what your country can do for you.” It rivals “I have a dream.”

It is about unity over division.

And it reminded me of my personal favorite candidate, John Edwards.

Obama spoke on race; Edwards built his platform around class, which is just as divisive as race (and is often so intricately tied, one to the other). Division? Yes, there is white and black, Latino and Asian. But there is also 300,000 versus 150 million (top income earners versus everyone else). There is also the Hummer-driving, Starbucks-drinking, valet-parking population of Hollywood and its handful of burbs versus the Coleman stove-burning, seedy motel-showering population of so-called Tent City not even an hour away in Ontario (and probably walking distance from Ontario’s Outlet Malls).

Here’s a speech Edwards gave at the Service Employees International Union (you’ll note, at time of linking, its front page features a banner with Barack Obama):

And a spot he did about his beliefs and hopes to bring America together:

Reading about Tent City gives me a bad feeling; that it’s happening to those people. That it could happen at all. That they are giving out armbands now.

Back in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, a similar situation occurred across the nation.

This is not now a crisis; it’s been headed this way for a while, and it’s only getting worse.

And I think the two subjects of this post, Obama and Edwards, can get us through this, but I think they need to commit. I think it’s about time Edwards quit waiting around to see who might earn the nomination and endorsed Obama before it’s too damned late to do so, and I think, at the same time, it’s time for Obama to shake Edwards’ hand and offer him the VP spot on the ticket. It’s time for the primaries to be Obama & Edwards v. Clinton.

Obama & Edwards: Yes we can

I followed my own earlier link to Will Shetterly, and I discovered this video:

About groups of people who’ve been forced homeless, many by recent foreclosures caused, it seems, by the recent crises in the subprime mortgage industry and the US economy overall, the latter of which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is in the shitter, with the dollar fallingfallingfalling hard. The American dollar is so low even the Canadian dollar is now worth more. The American dollar is so low it’s probably rivaling the peso or the yen at this point.

But this isn’t about the American economy. Fuck the American economy, and furthermore fuck any country that could possibly allow such a thing as a tent community to occur. Fuck any country in which people are so completely disenfranchised, so completely ignored, that I live in this fucking county and I hadn’t heard about it until twenty or so minutes ago, because I’m constantly surrounded by hipsters in lowriders who drive Porches and park valet.

I live in West Hollywood, close enough to Hollywood that I can almost see its sign from my bedroom window (there’s an apartment in the way. My roommate has an unobstructed view). I used to work in a gym where people drove Hummers and Bentleys and Mazeratis, and I drive, two days a week, down to USC, a campus full of students with affluent and influential parents. George Lucas has donated untold millions of dollars to his alma mater (which is great, don’t take me wrong) while across the street, teenagers choose carefully their school outfits for fear of wearing the wrong color. Every day, I realize how lucky I am to be teaching, while every day again I receive a DPS (that’s Department of Public Safety) notice that someone got mugged or shot or worse.

And now I discover that, an hour from where I live, a group of people fallen on hard times have founded a “tent city.” Where they rely on churches for handouts, and where they look to group trips to the DMV to obtain ID cards they can use to visit a hotel where they might shower (and, who knows, maybe even sleep in a bed. One can dream, can’t one?). Where they reside and remain when they’re not working the one day a week at the job they managed to find in an unstable economy.

And now, where they face eviction.

Was your first thought mine? How could people living in tents be evicted? Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Apparently, Ontario has decided that only Ontario residents can reside in “Tent City.”

I assume they mean “residents” and “reside” for various definitions of each word.

Ontario is, in fact, now issuing arm bands to people. “blue for Ontario residents, who may stay, orange for people who need to provide more documentation, and white for those who must leave.”

In 1939, Jews are required to wear armbands or yellow stars. This, of course, came six years after the Nazis, in 1933, suspended civil liberties for all citizens.

You know. Like, say, a commander-in-chief usurping full executive power. Or, I don’t know, an attorney general authorizing illegal wiretapping.

Those kinds of civil liberties.

America is currently a country in which one of its most prominent newspapers (The Los Angeles Times) can print the following sentence: “Another resident, clearly confused, seemed relieved to get a white band — not understanding it meant she had to leave.”

Yes, clearly confused.

The ACLU of Southern California noted: “We are concerned that however they go about trying to reduce this population,” which seems ominous wording indeed. They promise they are continuing to monitor the situation, though, which I’m sure will make everyone breathe a collective sigh of relief.

I was going to quote “First They Came,” by Martin Niemoller to end, but I think I’ve made my point without it.