No Ben, just no

I try to avoid commenting on American politics on general principle because I have plenty of targets here in Ontario, but every once in a while comes a WTF moment that can’t be ignored. Such was the case earlier this month with the comments of Ben Carson. Something about immigrants coming to America in the holds of slave ships, working hard for less and dreaming of starting a new life for themselves. No Ben, just no. This is the sort of thing Kellyanne Conway would no doubt call “alternative history”.

Ben, these people were in the holds of slave ships because guess what? They were slaves! They were treated as cargo, not passengers. Once they arrived in America, they were property, not immigrants; not people who chose to come to America in hopes of a better life. They were ripped from their comfortable lives in various African countries and forcibly shipped to your fair shores. As property, they could be bought and sold, just as the plantation owner could buy and sell horses or cattle. And in many cases, the livestock was better treated than the slaves.

If they were dreaming of anything Ben, it wasn’t of making a better life for themselves in America. I’m just guessing here, but if they dreamt of anything, it was escaping, making contact with the Underground Railway and finding their way to Canada, where they could truly live as free people and make a better life.

Ben, I understand revisionist history is common in the administration of which you are part, where your president denies saying things he has been recorded as saying and other members deny speaking with the Russians despite proof to the contrary, but really, calling slaves “immigrants” is too much of a stretch. Immigrants indicates to me, at least, they came willingly, whereas slave ships did not carry willing, paying passengers. History texts are not printed in a looseleaf format for a reason: the past can’t be changed and is not subject to being altered at will by you or anyone else. . And “alternative history” is properly called “fiction”.

So, no Ben, just no.


Dream? Or ghost?

The phenomenon known as “recurring dreams” is not an unusual one. You know – the kind where you seem to revisit the same place night after night, or perhaps only two or three times a week, in your dreams.

From what I understand, many of these are like a video clip that just keeps repeating itself without change. You can’t figure out why you keep seeing the same thing over and over, but that’s the dream you’re stuck with. It could be a happy scene; something scary, or just a bland scene that keep repeating. In any case, it seems to be the dream you’re stuck with.

There is another kind as well – one in which the only constant is the location to which you keep returning. This is the kind I’ve been experiencing. The scene is the interior of a bicycle shop. Through the windows I can see the seasons change and movement on the street beyond the sidewalk. In the shop someone, either the owner or a mechanic, is working on a bicycle. This bicycle is never the same one whenever I visit this shop, so it appears that rather than a video loop, I’m actually watching things happen in “real time”. He finishes one project, then goes on to another.

The episodic rather than repetitive nature of this dream has given rise to a question. Since I am seeing life in this shop go on, am I really just seeing it in a dream? Or are the people in the shop aware of my presence, and if so, do they see me as a ghost or spectre of some kind? I suppose I’ll never know for certain unless I should somehow happen upon this shop and scare the daylights out of them when they see the flesh and blood embodiment of the spirit that’s been haunting the place.

Enjoy your weekend and if you’re fortunate enough to have a three day weekend, as am I, enjoy the extra day off. And remember to hug an artist – we need love too.