Yeah, this last week was particularly awful to live in Nebraska, and I don't just mean because of the flooding. The flooding is pretty awful though. We were spared, but gee whiz-the rain was relentless. Relentless...like the stupidity we seem to keep outdoing on an almost hourly basis. (Racist legislation, science textbooks being pulled from curriculum over mention of global warming, parents outraged that students were taught anatomy in a sex-ed biology course...it just goes on and on and on).
Anyway, during the really fierce storm last evening, I let Danny stay up late to watch television until the storm warning was canceled. The only channel to come in (thanks, DTV with your improved reception!) was PBS, and they had a documentary about William Kunstler, filmed by his daughters. Well, nothing cheers me up more than footage of Bill Kunstler pissing off the establishment, so we watched it. Danny was riveted.
Look, I'm from Chicago. No one ever needed to tell me to be wary of police and other assorted authorities with power-it was common knowledge, and shared cultural experience. Danny's had a different cultural environment to grow up in. When he saw Bobby Seal being tied to a chair in the courtroom, and gagged-he was visibly upset, and wanted to know if Chicago was part of the US. Even a five year old knows that's wrong. I let him watch Dan Berrigan being interviewed, before sending him off to bed. I could tell he was upset though-to a modern child, these things are unthinkable. People aren't bound and gagged in courtrooms for trying to exercise their rights, and we don't go into prisons and shoot to kill. Of course we did, and do, but to Danny this was new territory.
I suppose it was a good week to start talking about racism, and how he's always going to be biased just by being a white, American male. I hadn't planned to formally approach it quite so soon-but he got it. I mean, he really got it. I'm glad it was disturbing and upsetting to him-it should be. We talked about having unpopular opinions, and convictions, and how miserable people will try to make your life.
Little did I suspect watching cops bashing kids heads in Grant Park would have such an impact on Danny. I sort of feel obligated to go ahead and teach the '68 Democratic convention because it is still lingering in his attention. I should try to find a copy of Medium Cool. Having grown up there, I guess I just took it for granted that you couldn't get a fair trial if you were poor, or a minority, or had long hair. I wish there had been greater change over the last forty years, but I've yet to see anything compelling to convince me.
Anyway, it is worth watching if you get the opportunity, particularly if you happen to be living in the most regressive state in the US.