The memories will last

​Don Magee got to see the Cubs win a World Series.

I say that because it was something we often talked about. Someday, they’d pull it off.

And he got to see it.

We buried him today. We buried him with a W flag, a Salukis flag and some of the ashes of his beloved dogs.

Don would have loved it. But, then again, Don loved most things. A big man with a booming voice, constant smile and gleam in his eye, the first thing a world weary journalist might think when first meeting him was, ‘this guy must be selling something.’ But then you realized everything he said was genuine.

He was a good man. Such a clichéd sentence, but so true. He was always willing to lend a hand, always willing to leave a much needed piece of advice, always willing to join in on the joke. He was 25 years older than me, but always younger at heart.

We talked about a lot of things — dogs, sports, SIU, politics, life. We wore silly hats and silly shirts to dog shows to keep ourselves entertained. We played pranks on each other and we called ourselves kennel help.

We talked about horse racing and barbecue. We compared notes on grilling. We enjoyed each other.

But there was so much more. He made my wife and me feel welcome when we got into the world of salukis. He made us feel comfortable.

We did a lot of things together. We saw Elvis Himself together, dual pianos, and the Million Dollar Quartet. Horse shows, dog shows, the State Fair, all the mundane things friends do.

But most of all, we shared time. Time with our dogs, time at SIU. Don loved having his dogs out during the tailgate at SIU games. He loved watching his wife (and mine), run the dogs out before games. He loved his dogs. He loved his school. When he got to combine both, he was in his element.

I talked with him after the Cubs won the World Series. He was thrilled. He’d received bad news from the doctor and his voice didn’t have the same boom, but he was thrilled. It was the last time I talked to him.

I’m going to miss him. I already do. But I’ll never forget the boom in his voice, the gleam in his eyes and the optimism that he always exuded. We buried a friend today.

We get to keep the memories. 


Bannon makes it harder to trust Trump

I didn’t like what Andrew Breitbart did with his web site. I certainly never considered him to be a journalist.

He wasn’t fair, he wasn’t accurate, he wasn’t interested in finding the truth and telling it. No, Andrew Breitbart was interested in telling a story from his point of view, and if you were a liberal, he was coming after you.

Andrew Breitbart was relevant. I first heard about him from a conservative friend of mine who left the journalism world because he became convinced that news media were not telling the whole story. My friend saw the world through a conservative lens and saw media through that same lens. He hates the news media, especially the news media that is coastally centered, left-of-center in its point of view and, in his opinion, biased against conservatism.

You’ve heard this argument before. The news media is an arm of the left, it completely turned its back on truth and presents stories only from the point of view of the cultural elites, leaving everyone in the middle behind. That’s why Donald Trump won the Presidency.

But back to Breitbart and my friend. We had conversations about media at the time. I was back in grad school, working on my Ph.D. and was interested in what was happening with the media world and I wanted to get an opinion from someone who left journalism because of its point of view. Tim told me to go to Breitbart.

I hated it. It wasn’t journalism the way I’ve thought of journalism, his tactics were brash, he attacked the media with relish and twisted every media story into an example of left-wing bias.

I learned something from it. Breitbart tapped into an anger from the right that was growing in intensity. When it was Andrew Breitbart’s site, the site did a good job of taking any story and using it to attack the left.

It was never journalism. It was never fair. It didn’t have to be. Its job was to expose the left and claim that what was being reported on by our mainstream news outlets weren’t news either. We’ll get to that later.

But Breitbart wasn’t always what his site was. He was brash, arrogant and a jerk but he also took the time to reach out to gay groups who were disinvited to the Republican CPAC. Breitbart relished the argument, the fight and he did what he had to do to win it, at any cost. Breitbart died in 2012. Some celebrated, others mourned. A great piece about Andrew Breitbart’s legacy can be found here.

I don’t know what Andrew Breitbart would be thinking today, now that President elect Donald Trump has named Steve Bannon, the successor at Breitbart, to be his chief strategist. Bannon took Breitbart in a new direction, keeping the angry rhetoric of Andrew Breitbart but adding the racist, sexist views that now define the web site. Bannon recruited the no longer fringe element now known at the alt right. He gave it a larger voice, one that keeps growing under the Breitbart name. Bannon’s the one who encouraged the racism, the anti-semitism, the misogyny in order to grow Breitbart’s brand. And now, he’s Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

I’m sure Andrew Breitbart would have loved the discomfort this causes liberals, the anger and fear from liberals that a Trump Presidency is little more than a racist call to slap down the “Other”. He would have relished the comeuppance that Bannon’s selection actually is.

But Bannon represents truly vile things in American culture. This isn’t a joke. Racism is not a joke. Our history proves that time and time again. And the fact that a top adviser to the President promotes the White Nationalist movement in our country is not a joke.

Donald Trump can go on 60 Minutes and tell those attacking minorities to stop it all he wants, but when his next move is to hire someone who approves of hate speech, his words don’t match his actions.

And when Republican friends of mine try to tell me that the racial overtones of the Presidential race were purely made up and they voted for Trump for other reasons than racism, that’s all well and good. But they have no choice to accept the fact that their choice for President just hired a man who gave a voice to the alt right. When I hear the cry against Bannon is overblown by the left-wing biased media that Andrew Breitbart despised, I simply point to Steve Bannon, and the comment of Richard Spencer, the President of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, who wrote on Twitter that Trump placed Bannon in exactly the right place,

“Bannon will answer directly to Trump and focus on the big picture, and not get lost in the weeds,” he wrote Sunday night.

“He’ll be freed up to chart Trump’s macro trajectory…. The question is: Which way is the arrow pointing? It’s pointing towards the #AltRight!”

It’s hard to expect the left to settle down after Trump’s election, and to believe this election wasn’t racially motivated when a top proponent of the alt right is now Donald Trump’s top adviser. And it becomes even more difficult for those who voted Trump to claim their new President isn’t being advised from a white nationalist point of view.

Steve Bannon is not Andrew Breitbart. Bannon is more dangerous than Breitbart was because of his ties and he has the President’s ear.


If you voted for Trump — Live with it

This isn’t sour grapes. I’ve been on the losing end of elections before and I most likely will again.

Yes, I voted for Hillary and I voted for her because I believed she is the most qualified person for the job. I happened to think the first Clinton Presidency was a good time for America, despite Bill’s issues in office. And I thought then, and still do, that Hillary was smarter than Bill. So I voted for her.

And yes, she did win the popular election. But she lost the electoral college, and like it or not, that’s how we decide elections in the United States.

So Trump won.

I’ve had students in tears, wondering what their future holds and I’ll admit, on Wednesday, I didn’t know. I know some things. First, I don’t blame Trump for what’s coming, I blame you, the people that voted for him.

If Trump even keeps half of his campaign promises (the average for a President is around 70 percent) then this country will be in trouble.

And I’m going to make sure my Republican friends stand by their vote.

Repeal Obama care and watch as 20 million go uninsured – you voted for him. Live with it. Rejoice as people die because of lack of health care.

Watch as families who have been in this country for decades and built a life are split up because some are here legally, while others aren’t. I’ll send you those pictures. Tell them how it’s their fault they tried to build a better life in America but they shouldn’t be here.

When your gay or lesbian friends start getting harassed again (and don’t tell me Trump is pro-LGBT, look who he chose as his VP) you live with it. No, not live with it, rejoice in it. This is what you voted for.

The return of stop and frisk, a law and order society, free reign for bad police officers (not talking about the majority who do a good job) to go back to shooting black folks for no reason and with no accountability (I’ll look at you as our cities burn in protest and our President calls in the National Guard).

The continued rise in hate speech, the emboldened hate groups like the KKK, that sits on the new President’s doorstep as well. But I’m not blaming Trump, I’m blaming you, because you voted for him.

You voted for this.

You didn’t like Hillary and her emails. You believed she was corrupt, you believed a lot of things. And you yearned for a day when we could make America great again. Well, you’re getting that. And when the bad things happen, the things that we know are coming, get here, you don’t get to act shocked. You don’t get to say “But that isn’t me, I don’t believe in that.” You voted for it. You knew. And you voted for it.

So live with your vote. And hope that Trump’s promises are false. Or hope that they aren’t. Maybe it’s time for you to cheer when Trump attacks free speech, or he attacks women’s choice over their bodies, or anyone’s choice over who they decide to fall in love with.

Maybe it’s time to cheer when our Muslim community is attacked, when immigrant families are torn apart and when the sick can’t get health care. After all, you voted for it.