Political Matters – November 2019


By Mordecai Specktor

Among the Trumpites
As I wrote last month, the Imperial Kleagle in the Oval Office paid a visit to Minneapolis on Oct. 10. I was there, inside Target Center for most of the horrible event, which featured thousands of Trumpites from the burbs and outstate, Vice President Mike Pence, Eric Trump, Minnesota GOP elected officials, and Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis police union and Cops for Trump.

I parked in my secret parking ramp space (in the Target HQ) and walked through a strange mix of anti-Trump protesters and members of the MAGA cult. On First Avenue North, a grizzled, middle-age man wearing a St. Cloud State Huskies cap sat on a parking lot barrier with a sign: HANG THE TRAITOR LIBERALS. The sign had a replica noose (incorrectly knotted) taped to it.

I took my place in the “press pen” at about 6 p.m., and Trump finally came onstage around 7:45, following hours of recorded high-volume rock music. (Why did they play “YMCA” by the Village People – twice? Pence, a leading homophobe, was there. The Trumpites, not a socially liberal gaggle, boogied to the tune, with lyrics that include: “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA / They have everything for you men to enjoy / You can hang out with all the boys.” WTF!? as they say.)

I left after more than an hour of Indiividual-1 banging on. His racist and xenophobic rant – which began with a whopping lie about setting a Target Center attendance record, and that were “25,000” people outside who couldn’t get in – reportedly stretched on for one hour, 40 minutes. Numerous protesters were ejected during the course of his speech.

Trump, the subject of an ongoing impeachment inquiry, will be riding the arena rally strategy through the 2020 campaign cycle. The mass rallies stroke Trump’s yawning need for ego gratification; and those attending the arena shows provide cell phone numbers and email addresses for GOTV (get out the vote) operations in 2020. On the upside, several thousand dump Trump protesters gathered on the street for an energetic demonstration against the malign goings-on inside Target Center.

Trump, an unhinged narcissist, represents a grave danger to the United States and the world; hopefully, he will be removed from office soon.

Native authors
A 2019 book, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present” (Riverhead Books), by David Treuer, who’s from the Leech Lake reservation in northern Minnesota, is a finalist for the National Book Award. I read and wrote about his previous nonfiction book, “Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life,” and I’m nearly through the new volume.

“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” chronicles Native history and federal Indian policy in its first 200 or so pages. The history moves quickly – the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 gets about a page and a half. I noticed that when he writes about Brian Vallo of Acoma Pueblo, Treuer mentions that “the village was settled around 1100 CE.” Perhaps, the use of “CE,” which Jews generally use for the “Common Era” – as opposed to “AD,” Anno Domini, Medieval Latin for “in the year of the Lord” – reflects Treuer’s paternal ancestry. His father, Robert Treuer, “was Jewish and had just barely survived the Holocaust.” The elder Treuer, as the son writes, “had adopted the reservation as his home and had adopted our causes as his own.”

Apart from the Native history and machinations of the federal government in Indian Country, Treuer writes in fascinating detail about individual lives, including his cousin Sam, who trains as an MMA fighter and finds personal triumph in the cage; and his friend, Bobby Matthews, who lives off the land, gathering wild rice and pine cones – and leeching. (Treuer quotes a bit of conversation with his friend: “So Dave, so the guy says to me, ‘Where’d you get all those leeches, Bob?’ And Dave, I says to him, I say, ‘Well, look here, goddamn it, I got ’em in the getting place, that’s where.’ So I says, ‘Does it look like I have STUPID written across my forehead? Why would I tell you where I got my leeches?’ Can you believe it, David? Can you believe it?”)

And I’ll just mention that I recently got around to reading the critically acclaimed debut novel “There There,” by Tommy Orange. The author introduces readers to a cast of memorable characters from the Indian community in Oakland, California. The plot moves through their lives, with some planning to attend and others planning to rob the Big Oakland Powwow. It’s a stretch of brilliant prose, and I’ll be looking forward to Orange’s next book.