Second & Flume: Let’s find each other

Before anyone freaks out, Melissa said this is OK.

As many readers already know, longstanding CN&R Editor Melissa Daugherty is taking time off—and she’s given me the green light to write in her stead this month. My first instinct, naturally, is to be a brat and devote this hallowed space to a detailed analysis of my favorite Sonic Youth album (Daydream Nation, if you need to know) or maybe some kind of Qanon parody (see Arts DEVO for that). I will fight those urges, however, and instead respect the Opinion page. I will simply wish you a very restful recovery, Mel, and promise to keep your column warm until you return.

So, what’s up with the paper? No new news, for now—we are publishing a monthly print issue and posting stories online thanks to a pandemic Payroll Protection Plan loan, loyal advertisers and the incredible generosity of our readers. This arrangement isn’t permanent, obviously, and we are still trying to figure out what comes next: Maybe transform into or partner with a nonprofit? Maybe someone with the means who appreciates our commitment to community journalism buys the paper and becomes a Chico hero?

How can I donate? Online at chico.newsreview.com/support or by mail at 353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928.

Enough from me for now. I’m going hand our badass leader’s column over to badass local artist Muir Hughes—co-owner of The Bookstore and co-founder of the Chikoko fashion/arts collective—whose recent Facebook post on the state of our country during these final months of President Donald Trump’s four-year term gets straight to the broken heart of it all:

We are losing each other. And in the process, we are losing ourselves. If you are not outraged, triggered, aggressive, pessimistic, aimless, thrashing, grieving, depressed and delusional, you are likely not an American living through 2020. I don’t want a civil war. I don’t want a country so divided that our polarized society sees only fear in a presumed “other.” I know people who are across the political spectrum. I don’t cancel. I attempt to enlarge my information stream even when it’s stressful. We really aren’t meant to see the fast and furious streams of toxicity that exist through our online largely depersonalized pocket oracles. But here’s the thing, we live here together.

When our community faced devastation through a fast-burning terrifying fire, we experienced shared trauma. We are still not recovered, and some lost so much more. But in that moment, we were not divided. Nobody asked each other what their political affiliation was before throwing them in a fleeing vehicle. No, our first instincts were our best: Save your neighbors. And people did. Ordinary small-town American heroes looking out for each other.

A friend of mine in a small [Butte County] town recently shared a post from an online community forum. This is what it said [without grammar/spelling corrections]: “Attention all patriots…were looking for … militia members. Anyone wanting to join please message and I will let you know times and locations of our meetings…if your not voting for trump your on your own. If your voting for biden you better be hidden.”

This from a man who helped others in crisis, and now? Who is he taking arms against?

There is a fever pitch of fear seizing the country, and it is dangerous. Where is the intensity of division coming from? Who could be turning fellow Americans against each other in order to utilize fear to become king? Who is the most lawless and anti-American president in our history?

I know that all of us living in America are not hearing on the same frequency. When I hear Trump speak, I hear a lot of nonsense. Whatever he says of those he name calls, those are self-indicting statements. He doesn’t know very much, but what he does and says is always self-serving. He is a criminal. I hear words that sound like what a false prophet says. I hear disparagement of Americans who have served (and from a man who’s served nothing). I hear playground name-calling and dictator boot-licking, and I am so confused.

I wish I could understand what it is that my fellow Americans support and hear in this. Because all I hear is cruelty and weakness. Supreme weakness. And it breaks my heart.

—Jason Cassidy is Interim Editor of the CN&R

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