Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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11

Aug

2019

“Turn him off! Turn him off!”

Author: Jim Taylor

Three million years ago, a distant ancestor of mine lived in Ethiopia. Since then, we humans have grown taller, stronger, more intelligent and, I would hope, more compassionate.

            After three million years of evolution, is Donald Trump the best we can achieve?

            Trump is the world’s number-one human, the colossus who sits bestride the world (to borrow a line from historian Robert Payne). President of the world’s most powerful nation. Chief executive officer of the world’s richest economy, who can make stock markets around the world crash with a single Tweet. Commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military force, with the biggest nuclear arsenal.

            A while ago, I resolved that I would not waste any more columns on Trump. It’s difficult to keep that resolution, when he declares himself “the least racist person in the world.” Or condemns the entire city of Baltimore as a “rat and rodent infested mess.”

           But I cannot continue to avoid writing about him.


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3

Apr

2019

Suffering from joy deprivation

Author: Jim Taylor

The news has not been good recently – unless you’re a Trump supporter. The media have been filled with incidents of hate, violence, death, and disaster. 

            The world is still reeling from the mass murders at the mosques in New Zealand. Followed by the copycat defacing of five mosques in the U.K. Where Brexit seems headed for disaster, taking Theresa May with it. And disaster aptly describes typhoon Idai’s effect on Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

            And that’s not counting an endless parade of house fires, vehicle accidents, thefts, and political conflicts.

            I admit to contributing to this flood of bad news. Ironically, journalists focus on bad news precisely because it’s an exception to the norm. It is news because it is out of the ordinary. 

            So we hear all about the accident where the bus full of young hockey players collides with a semi-trailer whose driver failed to stop at a stop sign. We never hear about the thousands of trucks, every day, that do stop. 


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28

Oct

2018

Hondurans are fleeing, not invading

Author: Jim Taylor

Last year, we saw endless lines of thousands of Rohinga refugees filing out of Myanmar into Bangladesh. This year, it’s similarly endless columns of 7,000 refugees marching ten abreast up a highway towards the U.S. 

            Trump, without so much as a shred of evidence, denounced the Honduran exodus as a “National Emergy” – apparently he can’t be bothered to spell “emergency” correctly – filled with criminals and agitators from the Middle East.

            I wonder how he would have described the biblical Exodus. Certainly there were fugitives from justice in that migration. Moses himself was considered a criminal. So was any person fleeing from slavery. And they were all – all -- Middle Eastern malcontents.

            “We’re not migrating, we are fleeing,” a man called Timothy from the city of El Progreso told a reporter.


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30

Sep

2018

Sexual predators incapable of hearing ‘No’

Author: Jim Taylor

The week opened with genial father-figure Cliff Huxtable -- better known as Bill Cosby -- named a “sexually violent predator” and sentenced to three to ten years in prison. In a Pennsylvania court, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting a Canadian woman, Andrea Constand,

            The same week, Christine Blasey Ford, professor at Palo Alto University, testified before a U.S. Senate committee that she had been the victim of attempted rape by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, 36 years earlier.

             Also, former media celebrity Gian Ghomeshi published an essay in the New York Review of Bookswhitewashing his own sexual escapades. Although Ghomeshi was acquitted, Ontario Court Justice William Horkins made clear that he was not saying that “these events never happened.”

           Three threads run through this sorry tapestry.


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17

Jun

2018

When writers don’t know what to write about

Author: Jim Taylor

           If you’ve ever wondered what writers write about when they don’t know what to write about, that incident might give you a clue. 

            We retreat into the commonplace world, the world we actually know about from personal experience, and hope to connect with larger events. 

            The problem is not having nothing to write about. The problem is having too much to write about. 

            Take this last week, for example. 

            Boatloads of refugees get sent back to sea in the Mediterranean, by nations unwilling to assume responsibility for disasters that they didn’t create, while the nations that caused the problems stay a comfortable distance away. 

            Volcanoes demonstrate that they can have different personalities. The one in Hawaii is relatively benign – dangerous, but not explosive. The one in Guatemala erupts explosively, searing its victims in hot ash and gases. The one in Washington… well, enough said. 

            The G-7 summit in Quebec, that became the G-6 summit after Russia got kicked out, became the G-5 summit when everyone was out of step except one man.

            And then the world’s two most unpredictable national leaders met in Singapore, to hatch a vague commitment to make the world safer.

 


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20

May

2018

U.S. embassy move misreads the Bible

Author: Jim Taylor

This week, the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv on Israel’s Mediterranean coast to Jerusalem. The move fulfilled one of President Donald Tweet’s campaign promises. The president sent his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to represent the American Empire. 

            Jerusalem epitomizes all that’s wrong with U.S. foreign policy.

            Kushner had no foreign policy experience at all, prior to being appointed the White House’s “Senior Advisor” with particular emphasis on Middle Eastern issue. But he is Jewish. 

           U.S. foreign policy treats the Bible as the final word on anything related to Jews. And, by extension, to anything related to the Middle East. 

           Let’s be clear – the Bible does state that the legendary King David chose Jerusalem as the capital of the new nation he had formed from the warring tribes descended from Jacob’s sons. That’s a selective reading, though. It ignores the Bible’s own testimony that David chose that site specifically because it did NOT form part of traditional Jewish territories. 


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25

Mar

2018

What kind of animal would Donald Trump be?

Author: Jim Taylor

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

            Those who are unable to think metaphorically won’t even understand the question. But some of the organizations I worked with, years ago, used that question to help members understand a little better their relationships with the people they worked with.

            For example, I tend to think of myself as a donkey – a creature that carries whatever gets piled onto its back without complaint.  But a colleague described herself as a hedgehog – an indication that when things got rough, she would figuratively curl up into a tight little ball protected by prickly spines. (Another called herself Miss Piggy, giving me a warning that it might be all about her.) 

            Obviously, I can’t ask world leaders what kind of animal they think they would be. But I get some wry satisfaction from imagining them as animals.


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25

Sep

2017

Triage applies to more than medical conditions

Author: Jim Taylor

A friend required surgery recently for a lump in her breast. She got into the operating room within a week. Someone else got bumped. The surgeon shrugged: “In these circumstances, a facelift doesn’t take priority.”

            My friend benefitted from a process called “triage.” Basically, it’s a system for making difficult choices. And it applies to many situations beyond medical. Even to the future of the United Nations. 

            In its original battlefield context, triage meant dividing injured victims into three groups: 

·      Those likely to recover, regardless of medical attention

·      Those for whom immediate care will make a positive difference

·      Those unlikely to live, regardless of what doctors can do; devoting energy to them might mean denying care to someone else who could benefit more.


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5

Feb

2017

Canadian blood on Trump's hands

Author: Jim Taylor

A week ago Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order restricting immigration from seven Muslim countries where he doesn’t have business ties. He branded them “evil”.

            Two days later, a Canadian with far-right sympathies entered a mosque in Quebec City and shot six men in the back as they knelt in prayer. Eight others were injured.

            The timing is too close for pure coincidence. If you’re a white supremacist feeling you should take action against people you dislike, what better justification could you ask for than encouragement from the world’s most powerful person? 

            Trump called Ottawa to offer his condolences. I think he should be charged as an accessory to murder.


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29

Jan

2017

Liars deserve to be called liars

Author: Jim Taylor

National Public Radio in the U.S. has made a decision. It will not use the word “lie” to describe President Donald Trump’s less-than-truthful assertions. Or, as NPR puts it, “how to characterize the statements of President Trump when they are at odds with evidence to the contrary.”

            NPR cites, as an example, Trump’s claim that when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, "I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people [referring to ‘Muslims’] were cheering as that building was coming down."

            The statement was clearly false, and NPR said so. But they didn’t call him a liar.


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: Trump, lies, NPR

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