Patriots Of The Left And Right Must Unite Against Trump’s Personal Rule

By Jacob Kaye

Throughout much of the last two years, talk of patriotism has been at a fever pitch.

Although defining patriotism – and what it means to be a patriot – has long been a contentious debate between the left and the right, the nationalism evoked by President Trump has added new life to the conversation.

The conversation itself, it seems, has been fairly inadvertent.

Few politicians, political pundits, or journalists have spoken of patriotism by name.

Instead, we have been subjected to certain phrases that speak to the core of what the two sides believe is patriotic behavior – or, more often, what they believe it is not.

Whenever someone suggests that we give President Trump a chance – to fail or succeed, they never do specify – or that those who are upset by his electoral victory or his onslaught of executive orders should move out of the country, they are speaking to the core of their form of patriotism.

One that relies on the belief that the actions, policies, and traditions of this nation should be unquestioned and often celebrated.

This is typically the belief of a patriot of the right.

Conversely, when someone proposes that we overhaul or dismantle large and deeply embedded systems of American society, they are speaking to their form of American patriotism.

One that relies on the belief that the actions, policies, and traditions of this nation be questioned often and celebrated when reformed, calibrated, or undone.

This is typically the belief of a patriot of the left.

Photo Credit: Jeff Turner/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Both forms of patriotism come from a place of love and an insatiable need to believe in American goodness or, at the least, it’s potential for goodness.

But both forms of patriotism ­– at their worst – can also inspire great and terrible violence.

The inability – or, in some cases, willful ignorance – to question the country, it’s people, or government, can lead to a national blindness that allows evil actors to bring injustice upon groups of people indiscriminately.

On the other hand, the constant destruction of long-standing institutions – in the name of either love or despair – can lead to anarchic revolution.

Of course, both cases speak the most extreme deployment of one’s patriotism.

What I find most curious is that a both sides feel their patriotism is in direct opposition to the patriotic believes of the other.

It is not simply a matter of disagreement but both believe the other patriot is inherently acting to destroy America.

One patriot uses their love as a weapon against the other.

Both sides have failed to recognize how their patriotism is rooted in the same belief-American Exceptionalism.

Patriots of the left believe that America has the ability to solve the world’s ills – inequality, systemic injustice, racism, or poverty – and that we have a duty, as well as a unique gift, to diagnose these flaws.

Patriots of the right believe that the exceptionalism of our past has so strongly guided us to a present in which the world’s ills exist in America only fractionally and this difference is worthy of celebration and continued dedication.

Whether or not one can be an American patriot without believing in some form of American Exceptionalism is a conversation for another day – or if we can put it off, another election cycle – but I believe that the two patriots outlined above both feel that this country is unique.

Photo Credit: MarieEly/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Although it certainly isn’t the only disagreement between left and right, the definition and qualities of a patriot remain a critical cause of the current political chasm.

But still, we avoid a deeper conversation about what a patriot is because it is rude, tacky, confrontational, and at times, incendiary, to proclaim one’s self a patriot or to say that someone is not.

Maybe we believe that the times are not dire enough to speak fervently about patriotic notions.

But they are.

Every day, we adjust and recalibrate most aspects of our lives to the 21st century.

A patriot of 1776 is not a patriot of 2017.

American institutions and systems and history have informed the patriot over time and the patriot has a duty to allow American institutions, systems, and history to do so.

There is one patriot who has decided to change the definition of American patriotism altogether.

He even declared that January 20, 2017, this year’s inauguration day, be forever remembered as the “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” implying there is no further discussion to be had over what patriotic behavior is.

President Trump, as suggested by Paul Krugman in The New York Times, believes in a haunting credo – “L’état, c’est moi,” or, “I, myself, am the nation.”

Patriotism, as he has defined, is devotion to him.

As patriots of the left and right, we owe it to the love we both have for this country to empathize with one another and open our eyes to the common ground we all stand upon.

Understand that this is not a fight over who loves the country and who doesn’t but instead, it is a fight over how we, both as patriots, choose to express our love.

If we don’t, one man will make sure, through credo, proclamation, or law, that both patriots are patriots no more.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Luz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Misterwives Releases New Song After Long Wait

By Annika Dahlgren

If you’ve heard of American Authors, Twenty-One Pilots, or even X Ambassadors, you’re bound to have heard about MisterWives, one of the latest bands to steal the ears of many young people.

Their hit “Reflections” is easily recognized, but the song “Coffins” was most people’s first introduction to the band.

Misterwives. Photo Credit: Abby Gillardi/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Lead singer Mandy Lee is the only woman in this alternative/Indie pop band joined by percussionist Etienne Bowler, bass guitarist William Hehir, guitarist Marc Campbell, and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Blum.

Read More: Can The 1975 Change The Music Industry As We Know It?

The band formed in 2012 and began performing in a small venue called the Canal Room in New York City.

The day after their performance, Photo Finish Records signed the band, and immediately they began work on their first EP, Reflections.

Since then, MisterWives has gained recognition for opening for Twenty-One Pilots and performing for MTV, VH1, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

On February 17, their latest single “Machine” was released as a preview for their second album that will arrive later this year.

MisterWives is definitely a band you need to check out if you haven’t already.

Their unique sounds is mesmerizing, and you’ll get hooked immediately.

This is one of the up-and-coming bands that is going to become a household name, just wait and see.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Abby Gillardi/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Milo Isn’t Going Away

By Joshua Hudson

Milo Yiannopoulos is the second most polarizing figure in the current political scene.

Whether it is his pro-pedophilia comments that recently came to light, campus protests at UC-Berkeley, Twitter-ban, open condemnations of Islam, or “humorous” rants about obesity, abortion, race, feminism, homosexuality, and religion, the British-Greek former Senior Editor and provocateur of Breitbart News creates continuous controversy in a society conditioned by political correctness.

With his bleached-blonde hair, flagrant homosexuality, and exuberance, it would be easy to expect Milo to be a prominent liberal figure, but with any research into his ideals, it becomes clear that is not the case.

However, despite his consistently conservative views, establishment Republicans dare not associate with such an outlandish, vexed person.

READ MORE: Milo To RISE NEWS: “Racist? Me? I’ve had more black dick in me than the entire Kardashian family” 

Instead, Yiannopoulos is viewed as a figurehead of the Alt-Right movement characterized by divisive, regressive ideas such as white supremacy, but Yiannopoulos refutes this association due to his sexuality and preference of black male partners.

So, where does he fit in?

In light of his controversial comments on the benefits of hebephiliac-homosexual relationships, intuition would imply that the answer is nowhere.

In an era dominated by the resounding voices and opinions of partisan extremes, that is not the case.

Milo Yiannopoulos embodies the “Freedom of Speech” doctrine and extensively conservative views.

By incurring the cost of hurt feelings, Milo destroys a range of stereotypes and political correctness so perfectly that his presence is the Achilles’ heel and consummate antagonist to the modern media and progressive millennials.

The direct honesty of his world view and opinions resonates with a niche populace that is determined to be heard.

By supporting Yiannopoulos and others like Tomi Lahren and Ben Shapiro, many conservative millennials have voices to combat the likes of John Oliver, Van Jones, and the many liberal voices in the media and Hollywood.

These supporters say they treasure the Constitution, freedom, patriotism, and nationalism.

They despise the rise of social justice warriors, safe spaces, the modern feminism narrative, gender non-conformity, the perceived liberal-bias in the media, and feel exiled by not conforming to the rise of Bernie Sanders like many of their peers.

This rebellion from the mainstream is the exact vein that Donald Trump tapped into to win the 2016 Presidential Election.

Their stream-of-consciousness style connects with the silent majority in America that rebukes the scripted, robotic political styles of many mainstream politicians.

Despite the controversies, there is no denying that Yiannopoulos is a talented, research-driven debater, who’s witty attacks and ability to frazzle even the most composed opponents are perfect for an age of information driven by echo-chambering, 10 seconds videos, and memes on Facebook.

Milo’s recent misstep with pedophilia was drastic enough to be the final nail in the coffin of his “Dangerous” book deal from Simon & Schuster his invitation to CPAC and his career at Breitbart.

But based on the exemplified steadfast support he has continued to receive on social media, it is very unlikely that this ends the career of America’s most infamous provocateur.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Trump Should Fight To Make Voting Compulsory

By Mac Regan

Democracy is at risk when we fail to fulfill basic citizenship responsibilities.

Consider the evidence.

Approximately 40% of eligible voters didn’t vote in the 2016 President Election. Even fewer voted in the last round of Congressional elections.

Only immigrants receive formal citizenship training and are required to pass a test that the majority of our citizens would fail.

The vast majority of citizens don’t communicate with their Congressional representatives. Most cannot even name their representative.

Read More: Arnold Schwarzenegger Just Made Trump Look Silly

Engaged and informed citizens are a necessary condition for effective democracy.

It’s time for a Bill of Responsibilities to re-establish the requirements of citizenship. During his first 100 days, Trump should form a non-partisan panel of citizens (who would be compensated for their work) to develop a citizen Bill of Responsibilities before the end of 2017.

This panel should, at a minimum, provide four sets of recommendations to the President, Congress, and all citizens, that:

  1. Require eligible voters to vote in presidential and congressional elections. Other countries do this. We should too.
  2. Develop common voter rules that will simplify voter registration and voting, provide adequate anti-fraud protections, and unify disparate state by state approaches
  3. Identify primary and secondary school curricula additions that ensure all high school graduates understand citizen responsibilities, engage early on in policy debates, and develop the critical thinking skills to make informed voting choices.
  4. Provide a system of rewards and penalties to encourage citizens to fulfill their responsibilities. Citizenship should be earned. This type of citizen-driven project has immense importance. It can be a foundation for increased public trust in the Trump administration (perhaps turning protesters into focused reformers) and serve notice to Congress that “we the people” demand a more representative, inclusive, and accountable democracy. Congressional representatives would oppose these recommendations at their own peril.

However, in a representative democracy, citizens are only half of the equation.

Elected representatives also need to do their jobs.

Congressional approval levels are at their lowest levels in memory.

Most agree it’s time to “drain the swamp.” Trump must demand these game changing reforms:

Get special interest money out of elections and re-elections. In the first 100 days, form a non-partisan citizen task force to develop options to eliminate campaign contributions from businesses, unions, super PACs or any other organization while limiting contributions by individuals. Canada puts strict limits on campaign contributions while providing generous public funding for candidates. We can do the same.

Reduce partisan gerrymandering. Establish state-by-state non-partisan reviews of voting districts and restore fair representation and competitive congressional elections
Redefine the mission of political parties. Parties need to stand for something other than winning elections at any cost. They will better serve our democracy if they develop and articulate realistic, affordable and clearly differentiated platforms.

Establish congressional term limits. Ensure congressional accountability. Establish national goals with two-way citizen input. Enact a congressional compensation system to attract talented representatives. Provide market-based compensation to reduce the incentive to take outside money.
A Historic Opportunity

President Trump has had a rocky start.

However, as someone who has bucked convention throughout his campaign, he is in a unique position to reform a system that is badly out of step with the needs of its citizens.

Empowering citizen-driven, non-partisan reviews of the responsibilities of citizens and elected representatives will be the most viewed reality television of our time.

These debates and ensuing reforms are necessary to the successful evolution of America’s system of constitutional values, democracy and capitalism.

There is much at stake. This is Trump’s (and America’s) opportunity.

Mac Regan is the author of Global Citizen Patriots.

Cover Photo Credit: Tim Evanson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Post-truth politics actually dates back to Aristotle

By Kevin Morrell

Following Donald Trump’s inauguration as President the world is anticipating a new, and potentially radically different era for the US.

The inauguration also prompts questions about this new style of politics.

Trump’s surge to leading the most powerful nation in the world was fuelled by a rhetoric we associate with a new term: ‘post-truth’.

The Oxford Dictionary named post-truth its word of the year in 2016, and defined it as “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Brexit, and Trump’s success were new lows for many of us, particularly in higher education, precisely because facts came a distant second to populist appeals.

But, as a number of people have identified, post-truth didn’t begin with Trump.

One reference point for the two campaigns 2016 will be remembered for has been the propagandism of the 1930s, and two wickedly cynical pieces of advice: repeat lies often enough until they are accepted as true, or remember if you are going to lie, tell a big lie.

But almost a century earlier, in the 1850s, there was a far dirtier US election campaign where an anti-immigration party, the “know nothings”, actively thrived on pretending to be ignorant of their own party’s activities.

Further back still, before US independence, the satirist John Arbuthnot wrote: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it, so that when Men come to be undeceived, it is too late… like a physician who has found out an infallible medicine after the patient is dead.” The title of his 1712 essay? The Art of Political Lying.

And way, way before Arbuthnot, in 350 BC, Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens describes the demagogue Cleon in a way Trump critics might recognise: “The cause of the corruption of the democracy by his wild undertakings.”

Photo Credit: Martin aka Maha

A closer look at Cleon invites several parallels with how critics see Trump. Cleon inherited his wealth from his father in the form of a tannery – a leather factory: certainly the Athenian equivalent of blue-collar.

He rose to power in 430 BC, during a desperate time for Athens – it was at war with Sparta and was devastated by plague. Plutarch describes him as someone who “catered to the pleasure of the Athenians” with a combination of “mad vanity”, “versatile buffoonery” and “disgusting boldness.”

Cleon had a distinctive and shocking communication style, one Athenians had never seen before.

While speaking, he would hitch his cloak up and slap his thighs, running and yelling at the crowds.

Aristotle says he was “the first to use unseemly shouting and coarse abuse”. Aside from this radically new communication style, Cleon’s populism was based on attacking two enemies.

First, though wealthy himself, he was an anti-establishment figure, pursuing a “relentless persecution of the upper classes”.

Second, he was a flag-waving xenophobe, antagonistic towards Athens’ rival and (partly thanks to Cleon) bitter enemy Sparta, as well as to the city of Mytilene, who wanted independence from Athens.

The Athenian general and historian Thucydides even records a speech where Cleon expresses admiration for Mytilene’s “unassailable” walls.

Parallels don’t end there. A later Athenian writer, Lucian, suggests Cleon profited from exploiting his office as some warn Trump is set to do and that he was “venal to excess” (as Trump detractors suggest).

He was boastful, once bragging that he could win a war against some Spartans by himself. He was thin-skinned and censorious, as well as a litigious bully.

Cleon tried, unsuccessfully, to have the satirist Aristophanes prosecuted for writing The Babylonians, which he considered a treasonable play – in the process turning Aristophanes into a life-long enemy.

He accused Athenian generals of incompetence and, in establishment-bashing mode tried, unsuccessfully, to prosecute one of them, Laches.

Cleon was held responsible for the eventual exile of another, Thucydides, who as well as being a general is sometimes described as the founder of history.

Indeed Thucydides’ contribution was to found a tradition of historians as being concerned with facts and the truth.

Throughout this period Cleon was the biggest obstacle to normal relations with Sparta and within a year of his death a peace treaty was agreed.

History was certainly not kind to Cleon, and perhaps Trump will not be showered in praise either.

In Cleon’s case this was no surprise perhaps given that he exiled the most eminent Athenian historian and tried to silence the most eminent Athenian satirist.

Nowadays Cleon is most well-known through Aristophanes’ play, The Knights (far ruder than Saturday Night Live).

This has an unusually small cast because it is essentially a relentless assault on the character Paphlagon, who is obviously based on Cleon: “the leather-seller” with a “gaping arse”, “a perfect glutton for beans” who loudly “farts and snores”, an “arrant rogue” and “mud-stirrer” with a “pig’s education” and the “stink of leather” – “this villain, this villain, this villain! I cannot say the word too often, for he is a villain a thousand times a day”.

Cleon may well have had a front-row seat for The Knights, where he would have seen Aristophanes playing Paphlagon/Cleon, presumably because no-one else dared to.

Characters in these plays were masked, but no prop-maker dared make a mask resembling Cleon.

We might imagine Cleon later reviewing The Knights as: “A totally one-sided, biased show – overrated! The theatre must always be a safe and special place. Apologize!”

What matters is that Aristophanes’ contemporaries awarded The Knights first prize at the Lenaia festival (something like Athens’ Cannes Festival).

Cleon’s brand of post-truth politics flourished because when life is extremely hard, facts are not as novel or distracting as sensationalism.

Some Athenians were won over by the novel spectacle of yelling, coarse abuse and thigh-slapping – and distracted by diversionary ranting against Sparta.

Critics of Brexit and Trump might say voters were won over by bus-sized gimmicks or tweet-sized slogans – where both camps painted “enemy” over an anonymous other.

2016 was a bad year in which millions were desperate for change, but perhaps what we saw was an age old spectacle. Populism and appeals to emotion always work on some people. When times are bad enough they work on enough people.

One consolation for Trump’s opponents and Remainers is that the Athenians kept Cleon partly in check using existing governance mechanisms – the courts.

They can also take comfort that contemporary culture remembers Cleon through the eyes of his bitter enemy Aristophanes. Cleon’s era was horrific yet it also became a golden age for satire and saw the birth of the discipline of history.

The worst fears for the Trump presidency are bleak, but civilisation survived Cleon. Shortly after his death we saw another kind of Athenian golden age – with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle laying down the basis for Western philosophy and civilisation.

They taught the importance of scepticism and scrutiny, and of virtue. They placed the ultimate premium on the search for knowledge and truth.

In the Rhetoric Aristotle gave us all the tools we need to see through a Cleon. Indeed, he wanted rhetoric to be widely understood so politicians’ arguments were evaluated on their merits rather than the wrapper (or bus) they arrived in.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Kevin Morrell is a Professor of Strategy at Warwick Business School, UK. He researches rhetoric in politics. 

Cover Photo Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s How Trump’s Gaslighting Reminds Me A Lot Of My Abusive Ex

Originally published on Everyday Feminism.

This election was triggering for a lot of abuse survivors. Calls to RAINN’s sexual assault hotlinesurged after Trump’s Access Hollywood tape leaked, and many have pointed out that he used verbally abusive tactics in the debates.

As a survivor of emotional abuse, one tactic of Trump’s in particular reminded me of my manipulative ex partner: gaslighting. This is when someone tells you that your thoughts aren’t based in reality, to the point that you start to distrust your perceptions.

In my case, when I tried to discuss my partner’s habit of borrowing money from me and not giving it back, he’d tell me I was being too negative. When I got upset with him, he told me that life was too short to get angry. If I felt hurt by a word he used, he’d say that nobody can “make” you feel anything without your consent, so it was my problem.

This led me to feel that I was too unreasonable to trust my feelings. I internalized his arguments and believed that if I was unhappy about anything he’d done, I just needed to put it out of my mind because life was too short, nobody can make you feel anything, and it was all my fault anyway.

Since I’ve learned about gaslighting, I’ve understood that all the things my partner blamed on me weren’t actually my fault. Looking at Trump’s words can also help us understand our own relationships, as well as the ways gaslighting can shape our political climate.

While people in relationships may gaslight to discredit and manipulate their partners, Trump does it to discredit his critics and manipulate public opinion.

Here are some phrases he’s used that either were used by my abusive partner or remind me of him – because they’re clear examples of gaslighting.

1. ‘I Never Said I’m a Perfect Person’

After Trump was caught on tape saying that if you’re famous, you can just do whatever you want with women, including “grabbing them” by their genitals as your heart desires, he released a video attempting to mitigate the seriousness of his comments.

“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not,” he said.

My ex has told me something similar: “Nobody’s perfect. What do you expect?”

If anybody ever responds to your concerns about them by saying that they never claimed to be perfect or that nobody’s perfect, be very, very skeptical.

If “I’m not perfect” were a real defense against criticism, nobody would ever be justified in criticizing anyone’s behavior. But obviously, things don’t work that way. If they did, people could just avert jail time by pleading imperfection.

The “nobody’s perfect” defense isn’t just irrational, though; it’s also malicious. Its goal is to imply that by criticizing someone, you’re being so demanding and unreasonable that you expect perfection, and that if you truly understood that humans are flawed, you would’ve kept your mouth shut.

Photo Credit: Oli Goldsmith/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Oli Goldsmith/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Of course, people’s issue with Trump isn’t that he’s imperfect; it’s that he’s promoted misogyny, racism, ableism, and a whole lot of other negativity and oppression.

By reducing all these nuanced problems to mere imperfection, he’s distracting people from the real issues and painting people as overly critical if they want to talk about them.

Similarly, if your partner is toxic or abusive, you deserve to be treated better – and that’s not an unreasonable request at all. Asking for better isn’t asking for perfection.

2. ‘This Is Nothing More Than a Distraction From the Important Issues We’re Facing Today’

Trump also said this in the “apology” video regarding his Access Hollywood tape.

Similarly, he said in the second presidential debate that we need to forget about the tape so that “we can get onto much more important things and much bigger things,” like defeating ISIS.

He also tweeted, “I’m not proud of my locker room talk. But this world has serious problems.”

As if sexual assault weren’t serious or important.

These comments aim to convey to Trump’s critics that they’re blowing something out of proportion.

This type of gaslighting comes up a lot in conversations about social justice: “How could you talk about eating disorders when some people can’t even afford food?” “Who cares if queer people can get married when in some places, they’re killed?”

It also came up in my own relationship.

If I was angry with my significant other, he implied I was being myopic for focusing on supposedly small issues. He invoked lofty notions of love and forgiveness for the same reason Trump invoked ISIS: to illustrate the necessity of looking past the problem for a worthier cause.

Beware people who tell you your problems are small. They don’t get to singlehandedly decide what’s important. And if they claim to be the authorities on the topic, it’s often to serve themselves.

More often than not, the “small” problems are the ones they’ve contributed to – and the “small” problems can add up to something much bigger.

This type of gaslighting functions to dismiss people’s very real problems on the grounds that they’re not serious enough. And when it’s used as self-defense, it has another insidious effect: It makes the person who brings up the issue look petty.

When Trump said we need to focus on more important things, he was trying to dismiss people concerned about sexual harassment and assault – many of them survivors themselves – as uncaring, self-centered people who just can’t see the big picture.

That not only detracts from the real problem, but also penalizes people for speaking out about injustice.

3. ‘This Was Locker Room Banter’

Dismissing something that hurt another person as a joke or otherwise not serious is textbook gaslighting.

And it showed up when Trump called his Access Hollywood comments “locker room banter” ina statement following their release. He also referred to it as “locker room talk” in the debate.

This defense only worked because “locker room talk” serves a very specific function in our society. Without the connotation of “not serious” or “not a problem,” it wouldn’t even be a defense. It would just mean something unacceptable that’s said in a locker room.

But in our culture, we have phrases designated for the purpose of gaslighting – specifically for men to gaslight women. “Locker room talk” is one. “Boys will be boys” is another.

Both imply that certain misogynistic behaviors are forgivable and even inevitable, so if we take issue with them, we’re just being too demanding.

We’re essentially being told that we’re asking for too much when we say that sexual assault and entitlement should not be acceptable casual conversation.

My ex-partner didn’t use these phrases, but he did, for example, defend using the word “silly” to describe an observation of mine, arguing that “silly” isn’t a serious or hurtful word.

This language serves the same purpose: invalidation and belittling, by claiming someone else’s concerns aren’t serious – which is a huge component of gaslighting.

4. ‘She’s Playing That Woman’s Card’

Trump accused Clinton multiple times of “playing the women’s card on me,” or, alternately, “playing that woman’s card left and right.”

Accusing someone of playing a card, like the “woman card” or the “race card,” is also an example of gaslighting because it implies that someone’s trying to find a problem because the problem they’re seeing isn’t real.

In Trump’s view, if Hillary Clinton tried to talk about gender, she was just doing it because she wanted to win the election – as if being a woman or speaking out about sexism gave you an advantage.

Similarly, I and many other feminists have been accused of discussing the struggles marginalized people face just so that people will feel bad for us and we’ll gain special treatment.

It wasn’t always in these words with my ex-partner, but I knew what he was getting at. Once, when I pointed out a nudity double standard in a movie, he said I may be interpreting it as sexist because I thought about sexism a lot.

Another partner told me to stop “playing the woman card” after I suggested a hiring decision at his friend’s company could’ve been influenced by sexism.

Both of these instances made me feel like I had to stay silent if I ever had an opinion related to gender again – even if it was my own lived experience.

Once again, this form of gaslighting is more than a defense. The person using it is also on the offense, attacking the other person for supposedly making up injustice for personal gain.

Whether it’s used in politics or in the context of a relationship, “woman card” accuses the other person of being not only wrong, but also dishonest and opportunistic.

5. ‘I Think It’s Pure Political Correctness’

One gaslighting technique used by many politicians and everyday people discussing politics is accusing people of trying to limit free speech through political correctness.

Trump called putting Harriet Tubman on the twenty-follar bill and moving Andrew Jackson to the back “pure political correctness.” His former campaign manager said it was “political correctness run amok” when people criticized an anti-Semitic tweet by Trump.

“We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore,” Trump said in a statement to defend his view of Muslims as terrorists.

When equality and justice become mere “political correctness” and political correctness is portrayed as a threat to free speech, every social movement becomes subject to attack.

And that’s what makes Trump so popular. His supporters have been dying for an outlet for their hateful opinions. They’re sick of being politically correct – so much so that he’s been elected into office.

By deeming efforts to not be oppressive mere “political correctness,” Trump gives people permission to let out all the thoughts they’ve felt pressured to suppress. He’s brought sexism, racism, and classism back in style.

In reality, “political correctness” is just being considerate. And telling people not to be hateful isn’t limiting their free speech. They can still legally say what they want.

Gaslighters like Trump are themselves trying to silence people by painting their standards as unreasonable and oppressive.

That’s the effect my ex had on me. He often accused me of trying to be the PC police if I pointed out a gender stereotype or racist joke he made. I started to feel ashamed and think that maybe I was just being a killjoy.

Trump wants people who care about social justice to feel like killjoys who are just out to rain on everyone’s parade – rather than people with legitimate concerns.


Gaslighting can happen on both macro and micro levels and takes many forms. But its message usually boils down to this: “If you have a problem with something I’ve done, the problem is actually with you.”

The same way this reasoning teaches people to suck it up when their partners hurt them, it teaches them to stay silent about injustice.

If they speak up, they fear they’ll be accused of expecting perfection, ignoring important issues, being unable to take a joke, playing a card, or limiting free speech.

It’s this kind of intimidation that actually does all these things. Trump criticizes people unfairly, discourages them from discussing issues that are in fact important, expresses extreme defensiveness, takes advantage of his privilege, and suppresses people’s opinions.

And no matter what he’d have us believe, we’re not irrational for observing this.

Trump has put gaslighting on a very public stage. Perhaps recognizing this abuse tactic in this context will help more people build the tools to recognize when it’s happening on a personal level, too.

Suzannah Weiss is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, Seventeen, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She holds degrees in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Modern Culture and Media, and Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University. You can follow her on Twitter @suzannahweiss.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Kanesue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

People Shouldn’t Be Going Into Debt Because Of Christmas Shopping

By Thomas Seibold

In his bestselling new book Hillbilly Elegy, author J.D. Vance paints a vivid picture of the Appalachian culture he grew up in, including its attitudes toward earning and spending. While recounting an unpredictable childhood marked by broken marriages, violence, and addictions among the adults who were supposed to be caring for him, he singles out the custom of free-spending, debt-incurring Christmas shopping as one of his community’s least-defensible traditions.

Sporadic employment and reliance on anticipated income-tax refunds that didn’t always come through tinged the year-end shopping spree with a distinct sense of anxiety.

Unfortunately, the desire for a “nice Christmas” defined by the price, size, and status of gifts piled beneath the tree is not limited to those in Appalachia who can least afford it. It is part of the American psyche from coast to coast.

Gallup’s annual survey on gift-giving in the US, released on October 17, says that American adults each plan to spend an average of $785 on gifts this Christmas season.

Gallup says, “This is consistent with the range in October spending estimates since 2013,” though “still not as high as the $900 averages recorded just prior to the recession.”

And that’s just the average. Fully 31% of survey takers said they’d be spending $1000 or more per person, while 23% plan to shell out $500 – $999.

Can we afford this? A May 2016 story reporting on a poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates that “Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency.” Surprisingly, this lack of savings covers all income levels!

Even among “the country’s wealthiest 20 percent — households making more than $100,000 a year — 38 percent say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.”

Perhaps Christmas should be renamed “Creditmas.”

After all, a survey by Magnify Money found that Christmas in 2015 added an average of $986 (most of it on credit cards) to the debt of American households with holiday debt.

Our Christmas-celebrating family has always found the annual surveys on Christmas spending surprising and puzzling.

While we look like middle-class suburbanites with a house, cars, lawnmower, white-collar jobs, and two kids, we’ve come to realize that we apparently don’t financially observe the holidays like most Americans.

Christmas for us has never been a flurry of credit-driven gift-buying, elaborate preparations, or guilt-laden obligations.

And yet it has always been a season of magic, anticipation, togetherness, and enough toys to make Christmas eve and morning a typical scene of surprise, delight, and amusement for our kids.

The first principle of Christmas spending in our home is that it’s about making the holiday a source of anticipation and enjoyment for the little people in the house–not a chance for the adults to splurge on things they wouldn’t normally buy.

The conversation that includes “My husband asked me to buy him a . . .” or “She said this year I had to get her a . . .” in reference to big-ticket spouse-directed purchases has never been spoken with our friends, because we don’t view Christmas-time spending as a chance to fast-track the purchase of overpriced baubles that our normal spending standards wouldn’t permit at other times of the year. While we work together to determine and agree on large purchases as our respective needs and wants arise throughout the year, we view Christmas a time for extra restraint–not the moment to throw off our usual financial inhibitions.

The second idea that permeates our Christmas spending is not following toy fads! From what we’ve seen, it’s the adults more than the kids who get worked up over the “hot” gift of the year, whether it’s a new gadget for themselves or some TV or movie character-of-the-moment licensed product for the kids.

In fact, J.D. Vance references just this tendency in Hillbilly Elegy, recalling how his mother ran all over town trying to find the then-hot “Teddy Ruxpin” talking bear that was sold out in stores, ultimately prompting her to buy one from a toy scalper at a substantial markup.

Finding the worn-out bear in his childhood home years later, Vance laments the effort and expense his mother went to since he was just a toddler, too young to even realize or care what kind of toy he got.

Third, our family buys Christmas gifts all year long for a fraction of what they cost new! For my wife, that meant regular trips to thrift stores in our affluent county, where the cast-offs of those who buy everything new ends up, often barely worn and sometimes with the tags still on.

For example, our daughter liked miniatures more than Disney princesses or fashion dolls, and Sheri spent years methodically gathering and re-gifting like-new “Polly Pockets” sets that were a recurring highlight of our girl’s lower-grades Christmases.

Occasionally, there would be missing pieces, but pooled together the sets gave her plenty of “play value,” and as a working professional she now jokes that the one Polly Pocket figure missing its legs gave her an early acceptance of those with physical handicaps.

Does such a Christmas sound sparse, sad, or “poor?” It was not. Our tree was piled with a combination of thoughtful pre-owned gifts and typically less than $100 in new items from local or online stores (an amount putting us, by Gallup’s estimate, in a group representing 3% of the population).

For several years my corporate employer gave each employee a hundred-dollar Amazon credit, and it was a joy for each family member to pick around $25 worth of brand-new books or toys to be wrapped in vintage wrapping paper (also obtained from thrift stores and estate sales at a fraction of the new, seasonal price).

Our kids never looked, or felt, or played, deprived. In fact, at the end of Christmas day, when the boxes and wrapping paper got thrown away, our kids’ annual “haul” looked pretty much like every other kid’s in middle-class America.

And they were no less delighted with their little treasures than children whose parents each spent $785.

Of course, striving to live below such “normal” averages is a year-round endeavor, one that paid long-term dividends as we saved for college and worked to pay off the mortgage early.

No, we never measured Christmas by the number or size or momentary hotness of our gifts.

Instead, we made the Christmas season a time for putting up treasured holiday decor, raising sparkling lights in the darkness, playing music, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories, watching Christmas movies, and going sledding and skating together.

For as every child knows, the anticipation of Christmas is a sweet and enduring gift of its own.

To many modern Americans, anything less than a full-fledged holiday spending spree sounds like the pioneers in wagons, the Waltons, or “Little House on the Prairie.”

Yet this was, and still is, our sort of suburban-Amish “normal” for Christmas, one whose traditions and memories remain full of delight and family pride.

In fact, the greatest tribute and reward for our “bottom three-percenter” way of spending at Christmas is seeing our college-educated, professionally employed daughter, and her husband, adopting such spending habits and Christmas traditions for their own new home.

No gift is better than seeing how “below-average” they really are–giving thoughtfully and wisely without waking up with a financial hangover in January.

Tom Seibold is author of The 12 Joys of Christmas, a book for children illustrated by his wife, artist Sheri McCulley Seibold.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What Did Nostradamus Have to Say About Trump?

By Marigold Warner

Nostradamus, despite being 450 years dead, continues to provide a compelling narrative of future events.

His predictions have covered ground as varied as the Great Fire of London (“burnt by fire in the year sixty-six”), the rise of Adolf Hitler, and even the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but his ongoing popularity seems to defy logic.

Perhaps it’s because the Frenchman’s writings were deliberately vague, or perhaps the seer had a genuine skill.

Regardless of your opinion of Nostradamus’ writings, it doesn’t change the fact that his predictions have already found some relevance in 2016 events.

Here’s a quick look at the future according to some 2017 Nostradamus predictions:

Trump’s Impeachment

It’s probably a bit too convenient but references to trumpets in Nostradamus’ prophecies have been associated with US businessman and president-elect Donald Trump, specifically lines like this one: “The false trumpet concealing madness will cause Byzantium to change its laws. From Egypt, there will go forth a man who wants the edict withdrawn, changing money and standards.”

There are half a million ways to spin this one but Byzantium (Greece) has an association with refugees and illegal immigration while the point about changing money could be a reference to the instability of the pound and the euro in the wake of Brexit.

It’s perhaps a bit too Euro-centric for a Trump reference but the possible link to immigration is interesting, given that Trump made tackling the phenomenon the cornerstone of his election win.

A far more interesting prediction regarding Trump – or anybody in power in the States – is this one: “The great Senate will ordain the triumph, for one who afterwards will be vanquished, driven out.”

There’s obviously a real-life US Senate but are the country’s lawmakers already scheming to overthrow the new president?

It’s hard to remove a serving president. Congress can vote to impeach the president but the decision requires a two-third majority of senators.

The only two leaders ever impeached in US history – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – were acquitted, despite the latter’s almost comically illegal act of misleading a grand jury.

070718-N-6346S-068" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by cryogenic666

070718-N-6346S-068″ (CC BY-SA 2.0) by cryogenic666

World War III

Even with the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic measure of our proximity to annihilation, at three minutes to midnight, the prospects of a Third World War seem remote.

Trump has opened a dialogue with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, ISIS is rapidly losing ground, and there’s far too much money to be lost in trade agreements for any major power to start pointing guns at their international rivals.

However, if popular perception of Nostradamus’ verses is correct, the election of Trump is a harbinger of war.

The Frenchman wrote: “The republic of the great city will not want to consent to the great severity: king summoned by trumpet to go out, the ladder at the wall, the city will repent”, with “severity” presumably meaning war.

It’s all a lot of tabloid scaremongering; if anything, Nostradamus is predicting the failure of a proposed military campaign due to its lack of favor with the population.

The mention of a “wall” is interesting though, perhaps suggesting a small-scale conflict with Mexico. The latter scenario seems infinitely more likely than a Third World War, given the frosty relationship between Trump and the Mexican people.

So, there you have it, two possible futures to worry about. Didn’t Nostradamus ever predict anything nice?

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: “Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Tibet Is Actually Larger Than France. Sorry For Blowing Your Mind

By David J Castello

Few countries in the world evoke the mystique of Tibet.

Nicknamed the “Roof of the World” (it shares Mount Everest with Nepal), most people simply know it as the former home of the Dalai Lama.

For centuries, Tibet heavily restricted outsiders and it wasn’t until 1924 that the first European woman, Belgian–French explorer Alexandra David-Néel, visited the capital, Lhasa. Let’s start with the basics:
1. The Size of Tibet – Many believe that Tibet is a small country like neighboring Nepal or Bhutan.

Actually, Tibet is huge.

The Traditional Tibet (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo provinces) is 965,000 square miles.

This is over four times larger than France and a whopping 25% of the land mass of China, which is a good reason why the Communist Chinese invaded Tibet on October 6, 1950 only ten months after winning the Chinese Civil War and declaring the People’s Republic of China.

Since 1965, China recognizes only the much smaller Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) which comprises U-Tsang and the western area of Kham (474,300 sq. mi).

This Tibet is autonomous in name only because it is strictly governed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Furthermore, China has steadily relocated Chinese into Tibet and there are now more Chinese (7.5 million) in Tibet than Tibetans (6 million).

This does not bode well for Tibetans.

The Tibetan flag and national anthem are banned and they can be imprisoned simply for possessing an image of the Dalai Lama.

Over a million Tibetans have been killed and 6,000 monasteries destroyed since the Chinese invaded their country.

2. Tibet’s Altitude – Tibet is the highest country on Earth with an average elevation of 13,000 feet.

Altitude sickness is more prevalent here than anywhere else on the planet. If you visit Tibet, it’s recommended you give yourself at least 3-5 days of complete rest for your body to complete acute acclimatization or you can pay a heavy price.

The most common type of altitude sickness, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) occurs at elevations above 7,500 feet.

The two fatal varieties, High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), can occur at 12,500 feet.

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The elevation in Lhasa is 12,000 feet and 16,732 feet at Rongbuk Monastery.

On a personal note, I grew up surfing in South Florida and thought skiing in Mammoth, California (base elevation 8,000 feet) would be a cinch.

I jumped right in and was having a blast until I suddenly became dizzy and couldn’t get my bearings.

Ten minutes later, I was gasping for breath as attendants sledded me down the mountain like a deer carcass strapped to the hood of an F-150.

3. The Dalai Lama  – The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the fourteenth Dalai Lama and the spiritual leader of the Yellow Hat Tibetan Buddhists.

The first Dalai Lama was born in 1391 and each succeeding Dalai Lama is believed to be the reincarnation of his predecessor.

Tenzin Gyatso was chosen when, at the age of two in 1937, he correctly selected all items presented to him that had belonged to the recently deceased thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.

However, the Dalai Lama today believes his lineage is much older and that he is the seventy-fourth reincarnation that can be traced back to a Brahman boy who was given a crystal rosary by Buddha himself (567 BC- 484 BC).

Many Tibetans remain steadfastly loyal to the Dalai Lama and hold him in extremely high reverence which is a good reason why the Chinese won’t be stamping his passport anytime soon.

4. Longevity and The Quest for Immortality – Life extension has never been as popular as it is today.

In 2015, Google’s Sergey Brin announced that he was investing billions of dollars into his Project Calico, Google’s attempt to “cure death.”

In 1696, a monastic medical school was built upon the summit of Chakpori Hill in Lhasa.

In 1959, the Chinese destroyed it with artillery during the Tibetan Uprising claiming the Tibetans had posted a couple of cannons outside the school.

Some of the substances taught at Chakpori Hill reportedly had the ability to extend mortality far beyond that of the average human life span and at least two of them are in popular usage today.

Himalayan dried goji berries are readily available in health food stores and shopping chains such as Trader Joes and Whole Foods.

Li Qing Yuen subsisted mostly upon them (he also consumed ginseng, licorice root and gotu kola) and claimed that he was 267 years old when he died in 1930.

Shilajit is an ancient tar-like substance of vegetable origin that oozes from the rocks in the mountains of Tibet.

It has been reported to contain at least 85 minerals in ionic form, as well as triterpenes, humic acid and fulvic acid.

The ancient Vedic Hindu text, the Charaka Samhita (200 BC), claims there is no disease that cannot be cured by Shilajit.

5. The Sky Burial – On the flip side of immortality is death and the Tibetans have a unique method for dealing with the deceased.

The Sky Burial or Jhator was first mentioned in the 12th century Tibetan Book of the Dead. The ground in Tibet is too hard for traditional burial (solid rock or permafrost is only inches below the surface) and most of the country lies about the tree-line making traditional burial expensive and impractical.

Beginning at dawn, rogyapas (body-breakers) hack the deceased to pieces and then use rocks to pound the flesh and bones into a paste with tsampa (barley flour mixed with tea and yak butter) before lighting incense to summon hordes of giant Griffin vultures who swoop in to feast.

The immediate family may be present, but usually during a nighttime ceremony that does not include a view of watching their beloved reduced to mush.

Tibetan Buddhists believe the corpse is nothing but an empty vessel devoid of spirit and giving sustenance back to nature in this manner is an act of generosity that is essential to their beliefs.

The practice is in decline due to restrictions in urban areas and the diminishing number of Griffin vultures in Tibet.

David J Castello is the author of The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959)

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

What Was Popular In Every Year During The 90s?

By Bryan Vu

The 1990s were a simpler time when frosted hair tips were all the rage and boy bands ruled the music charts.

The decade started with millions tuning in to watch “Cheers” every week on T.V. before it and ended with “Friends” dominating the ratings while adult women tried to copy Rachel Green’s hairstyles.

Blockbuster movie hits included a love story on a sinking ship and a disastrous theme park filled with dinosaurs. If you were a kid, there’s a good chance that you often found a pack of Dunkaroos in your lunchbox and a Capri-Sun pouch to wash it all down. You probably also owned a Super Soaker, Tamagotchi, Pokemon cards, and begged your parents one year for a Furby under the Christmas tree. Nirvana led the rise of grunge music (and sales of flannel shirts) while other artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Run-D.M.C. added to what many considered the golden age of hip-hop and rap.

There were many trends that lasted through the whole decade, but each year was also unique in its own way. To fuel your nostalgia, Sunglass Warehouse put together an infographic highlighting some of the most popular trends from the 90s.


sw_popular-in-90s_1991 sw_popular-in-90s_1992 sw_popular-in-90s_1993 sw_popular-in-90s_1994 sw_popular-in-90s_1995 sw_popular-in-90s_1996 sw_popular-in-90s_1997 sw_popular-in-90s_1998


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

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