It’s been a little bit over a week since I decided to take a step back from online politics.
The constant back-and-forth – the unflinching positions and the escalating tensions and the personal attacks – was weighing heavily on my general disposition. I have to say that I have generally been a happier person since I stopped trying to weigh-in on things over which I have no control.
Consider this one of those things that my father tried to teach me at a young age that I was too stubborn to take to heart.
But since I made this proclamation to myself, and by extension, my family – you’re really not much of an attentive parent or partner when you’re worried about responding to the last comment left on your thread – I’ve seen two things emerge locally that leaves be absolutely floored at how out of control things appear to be in some respects.
First, on Monday, I was sitting in my philosophy class and the teacher held up a piece of paper. It was nothing more than a simple, inverted triangle – greenish blue in color – with three intersecting lines connecting in the middle form each point of the triangle.
Seems innocuous enough.
But the group behind it, which I don’t think deserves mentioning, is an “alt-right” organization founded by an Oakdale resident who also happens to be a student at the school that I’m attending. Preaching white ethno-nationalism and a return to the European identity, the group has emerged as a force among the movement – led by inflammatory figures like Richard Spencer – that have essentially put a suit-and-tie on white supremacy.
While the collective media likes to throw the term “alt-right” around quite freely in response to the ideologies that led to the results of the last election, I quickly discovered through some online snooping that the true identity of this movement is much more sinister in nature than most people even realize.
And it’s here.
The second thing that raised the hair on the back of my neck took place earlier this week at a Stockton City Council meeting that was essentially shut down by protesters who claimed to be affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding answers for a series of police-related shootings in the community over the last several years. The spin on Facebook is that Mayor Michael Tubbs – who has become a lightning rod for online vitriol since he ousted troubled but in some respects wildly popular Anthony Silva from the mayor’s seat in November – called a recess because he couldn’t handle the mothers of some young men who were slain by their local police force.
The only issue is that isn’t entirely true. After watching several videos that captured the critical point in the meeting where Tubbs called a five-minute recess, the words of the man who was speaking at the lectern – quite profanely – dictated how the elected officials then responded. In a nutshell, it was the thinly veiled threat that if something didn’t change, the “Texas cop shootings” would happen here.
And “the soldiers would come out.”
Now, I’m not an expert on these matters, but the comment sounded an awful lot like unless people get the answers that they want – and the dash cam footage of the shooting of this particular suspect – then people on the streets are going to take matters into their own hands, and hunt police officers.
You’re probably asking yourself right now, “Why are these two things connected?”
Well for one, these are factions on opposite sides of the political spectrum operating right here in the heart of the Northern San Joaquin Valley. And as tensions escalate across the country in relation to the new administration, we’re starting to see the response from both sides – either the modern fascists who want to return to our “European” heritage (think Holocaust) or inner-city communities that are so enraged that they’re willing to advocate for violence against law enforcement.
Neither one of those is acceptable, and it’s starting to seem like both are starting to become so from their respective bases as time wears on – whether that’s outright support or the latent form that comes from ignoring and letting it fester.
Here’s to hoping that powder keg doesn’t break.
Splish-Splash on the Manteca High Quad
On Thursday night after attending the second community roundtable for Manteca High School, I was chatting with a few friends – Brian Rohles, Mark Condit, Brett Lewis – as we walked out of the school cafeteria.
“Don’t step in the water,” Lewis yelled at me as I hemmed and hawed with Condit over something.
It was at this point that I stepped with both feet into an ankle-deep puddle of water right in the middle of the Manteca High School quad, and then tried to dance my way out of it – only making matters worse and splashing water that ended clear up to my calves on both legs.
This made for a hilarious moment, but it also showed me what students have to deal with on the nearly 100-year-old campus.
As Manteca Unified prepares to direct the $32 million in modernization funds to a school that desperately needs it (work not likely to begin for two years as the focus is narrowed down and five elementary schools are taken care of first) it’s becoming clear to me that this project is about a lot more than creating an environment where students can thrive.
A few of the things on the campus that teachers and students have to deal with were pointed out to me by Rohles – including puddles that form in nearly every outdoor hallway and passageway thanks to poor drainage, water that leaks into buildings during the rainy season, doors that don’t close all the way on their own and inadequate air filtration that leaves facilities, especially those that are used for PE, musty and dank nearly all of the time.
When the first thing on the wish-list of students was new bathrooms, that tells you how badly the school needs a facelift.
It’s good to see something is going to be done to help the staff and students at the campus that bears the city’s name.
Here’s to hoping that some sort of a partnership between the district and the city can lead to putting even more of those wish-list items in play – a performing arts center or an aquatic complex, for example – so that the school itself is able to flourish.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.