I respect John Lewis for staying away.
I respect the people – including some close to me – who are going to Washington on Saturday to protest.
I’m hunkering. I can’t watch the transfer of responsibility, of power, from the President to a reality-show host.
For all that, the dominant feeling I expect on Friday is relief.
This essay is being written on the national holiday for Martin Luther King, who went to Memphis in 1968 to back up striking sanitation workers.
It is written in honor of John Lewis, who went to Selma in 1965 to protest American segregation, and who, thank goodness, survived the beating and is still with us, calling the new President illegitimate.
How many people have been holding our breath since the election of 2008 – hearing in our hearts the lyrics by Dion DiMucci: “Seems the good they die young.”
Instead, came a more subtle version – what Justice Clarence Thomas might call “a high-tech lynching” -- conducted by Mitch McConnell, missing only the hood over his face, and Boehner and Cantor and Ryan, who could not coexist with a black President.
They screwed up the country, leaving a Rube Goldberg health-care bill that could have been so much better, and stalling on infrastructure and education. High-tech resistance.
For eight years, President Obama has conducted business with intelligence and dignity; he will walk away observing the rituals of democracy.
The main thing is, he and Mrs. Obama will walk away. I look forward to their books; I look forward to very rare glimmers of their children, leading semi-normal lives.
The country will now have to respond to the demonstrated rapacity of the new people. This new person has nominated people who cut deals with dicey nations to make money for themselves and shareholders, who demonstrate contempt for the majority as well as for government.
The current polls suggest that many people who voted for the man are now having misgivings. Did you see Charles Blow’s list of polls showing the people’s dis-satisfaction with the transition?
That’s right, the people out there who thought this guy was a fine religious gentleman and an American patriot and a savvy executive are now having misgivings. (Mike Pence, the token of the religious right, looks stricken -- the only man on his island.)
John Lewis is staying away. As always, John Lewis is way ahead on moral stances.
What plans do you have for Friday?
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.