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5 December 2017

"Fade To Zilch, a Screenplay" - The Venus of Cyrene Meets the Hollywood Casting Couch

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Fade To Zilch, a screenplay - Cover
"Fade To Zilch, a screenplay" - Cover
Rising from the rabble of Hollywood stories to challenge the status quo, Fade To Zilch, a screenplay is a powerful contemporary drama, whose time has clearly come.

"No one is innocent … not in this town." Thus, begins a riveting drama that shines a bold and illuminating light into the darkest reaches of the human mind as Fade to Zilch takes readers behind the scenes of the fabulous theatrical world of Hollywood. Revel in this compelling work of social criticism as powerful movie moguls strive to embrace the source of their creativity, while struggling with their own psychological demons. Brimming with sexual intrigue, eye-widening spectacle, and a host of recognizable characters, this unsettling mystery sets a new standard of transcendence in postmodern literary fiction, made more accessible to a general audience through the "perspicuous windows" of cinema and dramatic arts.

Follow the footsteps of Dr. Joseph Metropolis—an unlikely Private Investigator—as he investigates The Lost Love of the Latest Tycoon, examining the provocative role of the muse, the intemperate impulses of the femme fatale, and the atrocious allure of the casting couch, while witnessing the fall of an empire that has become degenerate—devoid of artistic inspiration.

Based on the novel, The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch by Konrad Ventana, the drama is a stunning commentary on modernism, existentialism, male egotism, and the emergence of a radical new brand of feminism—the feminist provocateur. Fade to Zilch by F. Lewis Hall, is a story for the ages that lays bare the human heart as it presages current events.


Konrad Ventana/F. Lewis Hall
Konrad Ventana/F. Lewis Hall (image via konradventana.com)
About the Author: 
F. Lewis Hall is an American writer, inventor, and some might say visionary who began his professional career on Sunset Boulevard. His award-winning Post-Lux Trilogy (postmodern, post-enlightenment stories), published under the pseudonym Konrad Ventana, illuminates three vital aspects of artistic creativity.

Encouraged by friends in the movie business to adapt his Hollywood Novel: The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch into a motion picture screenplay, the heart-wrenching drama, Fade to Zilch was painstakingly crafted. Alas, it did not receive a green-light at the time; and yet, it was recently re-discovered by professional book scouts—in light of recent Hollywood scandals and revealing current events.

The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch - cover artwork
"The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch" - cover artwork (image via konradventana.com)


SOURCE: Konrad Ventana

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2 December 2017

Octavia Spencer Shares Her Most Treasured Moments Rising to Fame in the December/January Issue of AARP The Magazine

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Octavia Spencer on the December/January Issue of AARP The Magazine
Octavia Spencer on the December/January Issue of AARP The Magazine
After years of struggles playing unnamed roles – clerk, waitress, bus driver, and woman in elevator – the now Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Film Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer is making the most of her opportunities, but what she treasures the most are the experiences and bonds forged along her journey.

Starring in the new romantic fairy-tale, The Shape of Water, on the heels of her breakout roles in The Help and Hidden Figures, Spencer talks of the importance of experiences and relationships in a candid interview with AARP The Magazine (ATM). 


"If you're constantly chasing success, then you're not really living in the moment. Save money and go places. Do things…Trust me, I love working and getting to do what I do, but I had a lot more fun on the way up," says Spencer as she looks back fondly on the days when her friends were all short on money yet long on time. Close pals like Melissa McCarthy, Allison Janney and director Tate Taylor would join Spencer and other friends on a number of adventures. 

Now, no longer short on money, but short on time, she doesn't see them as often but they remain close and Spencer cherishes the times they can gather for dinners. "We just revel at the idea of getting to hang out for a night," says Spencer. Growing up as the sixth of seven children all raised by a single mother in Montgomery, Alabama, Spencer highlights that it's the company of her family that grounds her. "Until I get married, I'll always spend Christmas with my family in Alabama," says the actress.

Professionally, The Shape of Water, in which Spencer portrays the best friend of a woman who falls in love with a sea monster, is a marked departure for an actress who has repeatedly played people of that era struggling to assert their civil rights. 

Though the film is set in 1960s America in a mainly white workplace, Spencer's race is not mentioned. "As crazy as this will sound, that was quite refreshing for me, to not have to talk about my race," says Spencer.

Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer (image via AARP The Magazine)
The following are excerpts from AARP The Magazine's December/January 2018 cover story featuring Octavia Spencer, available in homes starting December and available online now here.
Selections from Octavia Spencer's Cover Story in AARP The Magazine'sDecember/January Issue

⏩ On her new film, The Shape of Water:
"I knew I wanted to do it the minute my agent told me I would be meeting with Guillermo (Director Guillermo del Toro)," says Spencer. "I've been a fan of his for years. He is like the godfather of the horror genre, and I'm a huge horror fan."

⏩ On overcoming adversity:
Diagnosed with the learning disability dyslexia as a child, Spencer learned to cope by reading mystery novels. Spencer says, "My teacher told me, 'You have to pay attention to everything, because you don't know what is a clue,' " Spencer recalls. That gave her the motivation to decode every word. "That's how my brain processes information now," she says. "I can always tell people, 'This is what's about to happen. Connect the dots.' It's not like I'm psychic or anything—it's just all there in the details."

⏩ On being typecast:
"When I was 26, they were trying to give me 50-year-old parts," Spencer laughs. "As a woman of certain physical attributes, people would like to only see you in a couple of archetypes, like the nurturer nanny or the sassy woman."

⏩ On treasured moments while young, broke and struggling:
Spencer looks back fondly to the time when her friends were short on money but long on time: "On my first trip to New Orleans…one of our friends was a successful writer—it was Steven Rogers…and he kind of sponsored a writers' retreat for us all, because we were all writing things." Another time, about 20 friends shared a house in Laguna Beach, California, where they wrote during the day and cooked dinner together at night. "It was wonderful," Spencer says.

⏩ On being more mature and achieving success:
Spencer says, "When you are 20, you still care about what people think and how you're perceived. When you turn 30, you start to get an ownership of self. By the time you turn 40, you start to care less about how you're perceived, and you own your mistakes."

⏩ On how she spends her free time:
"When I see people who are happy and joyful and of a certain age, I know it's because they know the meaning of life," says Spencer. "It's about how you spend your time. It's not about chasing things on life's treadmill…it's about the people that are sitting around my table–my family, my nieces and nephews, my friends."

⏩ On friends and enduring relationships:
Says Spencer, "There are those people who love you stripes and all, and there are people who only love the idea of you. The ones who love the idea of you are there for you when you're successful. The people who love you stripes and all know that there are peaks and valleys to life. And they're going to be with you in the peaks and in the valleys."

⏩ On simple pleasures:
"My biggest indulgence is quiet time in front of the TV with a fire," says Spencer. "And I recently discovered Sangría. It's cheap wine with a lot of sweeteners."

⏩ On her admittedly dark sense of humor:
"I laugh at people falling down, as long as I know they are OK," says Spencer. "I'm that person."

⏩ On dating:
"I don't really like to talk about dating," says Spencer. "It's not easy dating anywhere, but definitely not easy dating in Hollywood. I don't know whether I'd call it 'fun.' It's very Interesting—let's just say that. "

⏩ On aging:
While traveling in Ireland, Spencer recalls "seeing all these women with platinum silver hair and there was something about them—they were all so beautiful. My friend said it's because they haven't done anything to their faces. They look like a real 50-year-old or 60-year-old…if you've got a laugh line, you've earned it. It means you're really happy. I'm fine with creases."

⏩ On holiday plans:
The company of Spencer's family grounds her: "I've always spent Christmas with my family," she says. "Until I get married, I'll always spend Christmas with my family in Alabama."

SOURCE: AARP

Octavia Spencer in "Hidden Figures"
Octavia Spencer in "Hidden Figures" (image via LoupDargent.info)

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Octavia Spencer Related Articles:

New Music Video From Beliefs Project Takes on White Nationalism, Divisive Politics, and Gun Control

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Scenes from "In the Streets of Charlottesville" music video
Scenes from "In the Streets of Charlottesville" music video
"In the Streets of Charlottesville" is a new protest music video by multimedia artist/producer Jeff Burger, released on YouTube through the non-profit Beliefs Project he co-founded. 

The song provides savvy commentary on both the violence that turned the bucolic Virginia town into a hashtag, and the underlying themes continuing to tear at the whole nation. 

Based in Charlottesville, Burger was inspired by his community who has responded to hate with love, as echoed in the song's culminating lines: "Now we choose our destiny / unity through diversity."
"I wanted to give people everywhere the deeper story and a paradigm for navigating divisiveness and violence," Burger says. "The song is also helping locals heal open emotional wounds. Ultimately, it's about the urgent need to examine beliefs, and embrace inclusiveness and compassion societally."
Confederate monuments—flash points for white nationalism throughout the South—get their due: "Statues stood and glorified / the whips and chains of Dixie pride / All more troubling now because / they mixed it up with swastikas."

Burger also calls out presidential emboldening of white nationalism in the thinly veiled lines, "When leaders lack accountability / or even common civility / there's always someone else to blame / and the bully pulpit fanned the flames."

America's stalemate over gun violence isn't left off the hook: "Time's upon us we knew would come / when free speech marches with a gun / Amendments beg us what to do / to reconcile numbers one and two."

Burger's one-man production delivers insightful spoken word set to music dynamically evolving from the opening's sparse urban heartbeat and military snares into a full rock anthem finale. He orates in his natural Caucasian voice without pretense of white rap.

 "While I felt the message would be more powerful spoken than sung, an urban voice could be too easily dismissed as just angry and disenfranchised in this racially charged context. White introspection is critical to meaningful healing and progress."
The song reinforces such soul searching in candid lines like "Here's our chance to realize / we all hold our secret lies / Judge brothers for this, sisters for that / Time to take ourselves to the mat."

Burger's self-produced music video elevates the piece to multimedia storytelling art. Eschewing screen appearances, he enhances emotional impact by employing a seamless visual montage intimately reinforcing the lyrics' message.

Jeff Burger, creator "In the Streets of Charlottesville" and co-founder of Beliefs Project
Jeff Burger, creator "In the Streets of Charlottesville" and co-founder of Beliefs Project

About Jeff Burger and Beliefs Project:
Jeff Burger is co-founder of Beliefs Project, a non-profit transmedia project dedicated to the collective evolution of human consciousness. 

An ASCAP songwriter, he is also an accomplished professional in the music and media industries, with clients including Apple, Disney, and Paramount. He has served on the masthead of four music magazines including Electronic Musician and EQ, and penned six books and 500+ articles on media arts.

The Video:


The Lyrics:
In the Streets of Charlottesville

This is the place Heather died
Gave it all to stem the tides
Of anger and hate racing ‘cross the land
As men arrived with guns in hand
Yeah, here’s where they came with rage in their hearts
Here’s where they came to tear us apart
Dressed for war, spoiled for fights
Waving flags righter than right
In the streets of Charlottesville

Statues stood and glorified
Whips and chains of Dixie pride
All more troubling now becuz
They mixed it up with swastikas
After millions paid the ultimate cost
We won’t bring back the holocaust
A classic case of us versus them
Can’t we just live as women and men 
In the streets of Charlottesville

Stay home and pray or call hate out? 
Join the fray, shout down the shouts?
A stand for peace could still transpire
In pouring gas onto a fire 
When leaders lack accountability
Or even common civility
There’s always someone else to blame
And the bully pulpit fanned the flames 
In the streets of Charlottesville

Opening wounds we hoped to ignore
Our oldest issues came to fore
Festering here, simmering there 
Time to come clean, clear the air
Here’s our chance to realize
We all hold our secret lies
Judge brothers for this, sisters for that
Time to take ourselves to the mat
In the streets of Charlottesville

Over and over again we make our battlefields
Have we had enough pain to drop the swords and shields?
Can’t fight hate with hate or fear with fear 
Love’s the only way our children will see all their years

Time's upon us we knew would come
When free speech marches with a gun
Amendments beg us what to do
To reconcile numbers one and two
The man on the screen plays to our fears
Says you’ll lose what you hold dear
Are you left or are you right?
You must see life as black or white
In the streets of Charlottesville

Draw lines here, draw lines there
'Til what’s left are maps of despair
Time we get all blood is red
Time we say enough's been shed
Together we can turn the page
On hate, on anger, on rage
Now we choose our destiny
Unity through diversity
In the streets of Charlottesville...

Words and Music Copyright © 2017 Jeff Burger

30 November 2017

"Dear Mr Trump..." - An Avaaz Open Letter

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump 
Dear friends,

Donald Trump just used his giant Twitter following to give the extremist far-right "Britain First" global glory, retweeting their Islamophobic, hate-filled videos. Then he smacked down Theresa May for criticising him!

Let’s show him his brand of dangerous bigotry has no place in our country.


When enough of us sign we'll push the government to cancel Trump’s state visit, and if they don’t, we’ll meet him with giant copies outside 10 Downing St and Buckingham Palace.

 The Open Letter:
Dear Mr. Trump,

This is not what greatness looks like. 

The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you.

Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding.

As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.

Sincerely,
Sign your name
Instead of dividing us, let's make Trump a force to bring us together, to fight for everything we love.

With hope,

Loup Dargent
On behalf of Bert, Alice, Christoph, and the whole Avaaz team.


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Billie Piper Gets... Piping for Small Business Saturday UK 2017

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Billie Piper helps bake cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London, as she partners with Amex to encourage people to go out and 'Shop Small' this Saturday.
Billie Piper helps bake cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London, as she partners with Amex to encourage people to go out and 'Shop Small' this Saturday. (PRNewsfoto/Small Business Saturday)
This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Small Business Saturday, a day that shines a spotlight on all the amazing small and independent businesses across the country in this busy Christmas shopping period.

While at The Cake House, Billie Piper alongside the café owner, 
Lorenzo Khan helped out, baking and icing cakes to encourage everyone to get out there and support Small Business Saturday

Lorenzo has owned the café for over 15 years making it an integral part of the community in which Billie and many others live.
"I've been coming to The Cake House - daily! - since I moved to the area. I live locally and absolutely love the relationships with people in what feels like a village. I want my kids to know people in the community and be able to come into The Cake House and ask for their ridiculous desert requests! I come to The Cake House all the time and Lorenzo has managed to get my daily coffee order down from three shots to two which, in fairness, took quite some doing." 
Billie Piper

Billie Piper serves cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London, as she partners with Amex to encourage people to go out and 'Shop Small' this Saturday.
Billie Piper serves cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London, as she partners with Amex to encourage people to go out and 'Shop Small' this Saturday. (PRNewsfoto/Small Business Saturday)
Small Business Saturday sees thousands of small businesses all over the country take part every year since its inception. According to research undertaken by American Express, founder of Small Business Saturday, last year a total of over £717 million pounds was spent by shoppers on this particular day. 

⏩ 3,610 UK adults were polled by Toluna between 8pm on Saturday 3rd December 2016 and 8am on Monday 5th December 2016. 
 
Billie Piper helps owner Lorenzo Khan bake cakes at her local favourite shop
Billie Piper helps owner Lorenzo Khan bake cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London, as she partners with Amex to encourage people to go out and 'Shop Small' this Saturday. (PRNewsfoto/Small Business Saturday)
Billie Piper partnered with American Express to celebrate the United Kingdom's thriving small independent businesses, such as The Cake House, to encourage shoppers to go out and 'shop small' this weekend.
"I was delighted when Amex asked me to help support this year's Small Business Saturday. They actually read about me talking about local businesses that I'm passionate about in my local press and decided to contact me to get involved. Independent retailers across the UK offer so much more to a community than just a shop - and that is something I really care about." 
Billie Piper

Q&A with Billie Piper: 
(Courtesy of Small Business Saturday)
Billie Piper with cakes...
Billie Piper with cakes... (PRNewsfoto/Small Business Saturday)
Q: Why do you think it’s important to support Small Business Saturday? 
A: “Because small businesses are amazing! They really are the unsung heroes of communities and the high street. When Amex approached me to support Small Business Saturday I jumped at the opportunity, I am a true believer in shopping small and local. Plus it’s Christmas, so if you want a gift that’s really special, then hunt around your local small businesses, especially this weekend. And that goes for food shopping too; small businesses are brilliant for advice and ideas on how to ‘do’ Christmas”. 

Q: Billie Piper Why did you choose to drop in to The Cake House ahead of Small Business Saturday? 
A: “I’ve been coming to The Cake House since I moved to the area. I’ve always loved local businesses that I can walk to, and when The Cake House opened, I was there like a flash. It’s so nice having Lorenzo in the area, he’s a total star and he makes a mean cake. His passion is so inspiring”. 

Q: Billie Piper Any dessert traditions for Christmas day? 
A: “Sherry trifle!” 

Q: Billie Piper Small Business Saturday is an initiative to encourage people to get out and shop small. What do you think independent retailers contribute to a local community? 
A: “Independent retailers who live & work locally, really are the glue that holds a community together. There’s a lovely vibe to Lorenzo’s. He says that his ‘mission’ was to make his business feel like it’s an extension of everyone’s living room and that’s 100% what he’s achieved, it’s so relaxed. My Mum goes there all the time too.” 

Q: Billie Piper What are your other favourite independent retailers? 
A: “There are so many that I love, particularly around my local community, but besides The Cake House & Lorenzo – there’s Frost on Bellenden Road in Peckham; a fantastic Mid-century furniture store which also specializes in art, antiques and utterly brilliant rarities and I always find a unique treasure there; and, Libreria in East London, an independent book store – it’s so beautifully set up, you can spend hours in there and find something truly beautiful”. 

Q: Billie Piper How do you think what you are doing will help to support Small Business Saturday? 
A: “Honestly I just hope that people think about all the brilliant small businesses out there. I hope that by working with AMEX as a Shop Small Ambassador, we can encourage people all over the UK to see that all these independent retailers offer so much more to a community that just being ‘a shop’. By supporting local, independent businesses - you’re investing in your local community which is brilliant”. 

Q: Billie Piper Have you started your Christmas shopping and what are the Billie Piper family Christmas traditions? 
A: “Yes I have actually. As for traditions, there’s always a proper prawn cocktail for starter on Christmas Day, and always the Queen’s Speech on telly – live, never recorded!” 

Q: Billie Piper If you could have your own independent retailer, what would it be? Where would it located? 
A: “A florist underneath my house has always been my dream!” 

Q: Billie Piper Are you working on any projects next year which you’d like to share? 
A:“I’m going to perform “Yerma” in New York, Spring of next year and after that I will direct and star in an independent film that I’ve also written, so that’s incredibly exciting”.  
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who (image via LoupDargent.info)

About Billie Piper: 
Actress Billie Piper recently won six Best Actress Awards, including the highly prestigious Olivier Award for her phenomenally reviewed starring performance in the title role of Simon Stone's sold out adaptation of Yerma at The Young Vic. She is going with the production to The Armory in New York in Spring 2018.

She is much beloved from our television screens with highly celebrated performances in Showtime's Penny Dreadful, Doctor Who for the BBC, the Philip Pullman series of The Shadow of the North and The Ruby in the Smoke for the BBC.

About Small Business Saturday: 
Small Business Saturday is a grassroots initiative encouraging people to show their support for small businesses by shopping small.

First conceived by American Express in the U.S. in 2010, where it has become a key date in the shopping calendar, it has received widespread backing from numerous organisations and personalities.

Now in its fifth year in the UK, Small Business Saturday UK 2017 (2nd December) aims to build on the success of previous years.

As founder of Small Business Saturday in the U.S., American Express is principal supporter of the campaign in the UK, encouraging people to make the most of their small, local, independent shops and businesses.

Billie Piper helps bake cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London
Billie Piper helps bake cakes at her local favourite shop, The Cake House in London (PRNewsfoto/Small Business Saturday)

SOURCE: Small Business Saturday

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29 November 2017

There's an Insidious Strategy Behind Donald Trump's Retweets

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File 20171129 12016 17h56a3.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
‘I’m not saying, I’m just saying.’ (Punyaruk Baingern/Shutterstock.com)
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of the article "How Donald Trump Gets Away With Saying Things Other Candidates Can't" published in March 2016

By Jennifer Mercieca, Texas A&M University


On Nov. 29, President Trump retweeted a series of videos that purported to depict violence committed by Muslims. They had originated from the account of a far-right British ultranationalist who had been convicted for harassing a Muslim. The backlash was swift, with British Prime Minister Theresa May sayingthe President is wrong to have done this.”

But Trump’s retweeting of controversial (sometimes outright false) content is part of a pattern.

For example, during the 2016 campaign, George Stephanopoulos asked Donald Trump about his retweet of a follower who insisted that both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were ineligible for the presidency.


Trump dismissed Stephanopoulos’ question with “it was a retweet” – as if to say that retweeting someone else’s claim meant that he wasn’t responsible for the content.

When pressed, Trump continued:
“I mean, let people make their own determination. I’ve never looked at it, George. I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he’s not [eligible]…and I retweet things and we start dialogue and it’s very interesting.”
It’s a response that can be reduced to I’m not saying it, I’m just saying it.

As a scholar of American political rhetoric, I’ve previously written about the ways that Donald Trump’s rhetorical style mirrors that of polarizing figures like George Wallace and Joseph McCarthy.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that what sets Trump apart is his reliance upon paralipsis, a device that enables him to publicly say things that he can later disavow – without ever having to take responsibility for his words.

Just saying…
The art of rhetoric – or persuasive communication – can include any number of forms: speeches, essays, tweets, images, films and more.

Paralipsis (para, “side” and leipein, “to leave”) is a Greek term that translates to “leave to the side.” It’s thought to be an ironic way for a speaker to say two things at once.

For example, say you wanted to imply that your coworker takes too many coffee breaks without actually accusing him wasting time at work. You might say something like, “I’m not saying that he drinks more coffee than anyone else in the office, but every time I go to the break room, he’s in there.” You might also shrug and make a “something seems kind of off” facial expression.

Paralipsis is a powerful rhetorical device because it can also allow someone to make a false accusation – or spread a false rumor – while skirting consequences.
And Trump has become a master at wielding this tool.

For example, after he was widely condemned for retweeting a graphic of homicide data delineated by race, FactCheck.org found that “almost every figure in the graphic is wrong.” His response on the Bill O’Reilly Show was:
Bill, I didn’t tweet, I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert, and it was also a radio show…am I gonna check every statistic? …All it was is a retweet. And it wasn’t from me. It came out of a radio show, and other places…This was a retweet. And it comes from sources that are very credible, what can I tell you?
In other words: I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly used paralipsis to deflect criticism that he’s courting white supremacists.

In January 2016, Trump retweeted a photoshopped image of Jeb Bush from a user with the handle WhiteGenocideTM. In response to the backlash he received for retweeting a white supremacist, Trump simply shrugged: “I don’t know about retweeting. You retweet somebody and they turn out to be white supremacists. I know nothing about these groups that are supporting me.”

Likewise, he blamed a faulty earpiece for his unwillingness to disavow David Duke and the KKK in a CNN interview:
I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know – did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.
I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

And when Gawker tricked Trump into retweeting a quote from Benito Mussolini during the campaign, his response was “What difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else? It’s certainly a very interesting quote.”

Accountability and responsibility
Certainly it’s a good thing to “start dialogue.” Trump knows that “interesting” content attracts retweets, followers, audiences and media attention.

However, there’s danger in circulating accusations and rumors, even if the purpose is to “start dialogue.” Research shows that once an accusation or a rumor begins to circulate, it’s very difficult to retract. Often, a retraction or clarification doesn’t receive as much attention as the initial accusation. Meanwhile, the mere act of retracting misinformation can reaffirm the deceptive assertions as facts, even after the clarification.

So what does it mean when a political figure gains a devoted following and rises to prominence – yet consistently avoids taking responsibility for the content of his public messages?

Political theorists, rhetoricians and historians have grappled with this exact problem since the rise of the “demagogue” in Athens in 429 B.C., when Pericles’ death created a vacuum for “unofficial” leaders of the people to rise to power.

The danger, according to political scientist Ernest Barker, was that “such a leader – having no official executive position – could exercise initiative and determine policy without incurring political responsibility, since it was not his duty to execute the policy which he had induced the assembly to accept.

In the Greek context, Barker described the danger of demagogues who weren’t tasked with implementing the policies for which they advocated. In our current political context, Trump can argue that he can’t be held accountable because he wasn’t the one who originally posted the tweet. He can shrug and claim that he’s simply giving a voice to an idea.
In both cases, the defining feature of demagogues is their refusal to accept responsibility for their actions.
Donald Trump, Reality TV "Star"
Donald Trump, Reality TV "Star"
Yet Donald Trump (the television star) routinely fired people on his show “The Apprentice” for failing to take responsibility for their team’s failures. And he’s often given lectures on “responsibility” to his Twitter followers, like on February 14, 2013 when he invited his followers to “take responsibility for yourself – it’s a very empowering attitude.

To use the President’s brand of paralipsis: I’m not saying that Trump’s a hypocrite and a demagogue. I’m just saying that he doesn’t exactly follow his own advice.
The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:
Jennifer Mercieca, Associate Professor of Communication and Director of the Aggie Agora, Texas A&M University


This article was originally published on The Conversation.



Video: CAIR Responds to Donald Trump's Anti-Muslim Retweets

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Donald Trump has retweeted Britain First deputy leader (image via The Independent)
Earlier today, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, responded to what it called President Trump's "incitement to violence against American Muslims" after he retweeted Islamophobic videos from Jayda Fransen, an anti-Muslim British political leader who has been charged in the United Kingdom with "religious aggravated harassment."
SEE: 
⏩ Trump Shares Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Videos

⏩ Trump Retweets Anti-Muslim Videos
Joining CAIR at the Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, D.C., were representatives of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

SPEAKERS: (In Order of Appearance) CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad, MPAC Policy Fellow for Religious Freedom Ilhan Cagri, and SAALT Director of National Policy and Advocacy Lakshmi Sridaran.

Video: CAIR News Conference in Response to Donald Trump's Anti-Muslim Tweets


In a prepared statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
This morning, millions of Americans were shocked but not surprised to see President Trump re-tweet anti-Muslim videos.

One of the videos has already been de-bunked by Snopes. The other two videos are unverified.

The videos were from a hate group known as "Britain First," which calls for a comprehensive ban on Islam in the UK and to deport British Muslims, who've made the UK their home for generations.

President Trump's actions are putting the lives and safety of American Muslim children and families at risk. 

Hate speech leads to hate crimes. When hate speech and conspiracy theories against American minorities go unchallenged, they foster an atmosphere that causes hate crimes.

Throughout this year, CAIR offices nationwide received, on average, at least 1-2 daily reports of hate crimes targeting American Muslims, Muslim houses of worship, or people perceived as Muslim.

As numerous Americans who are Muslim or 'looked Muslim' were shot or beaten severely, we did not hear a word from this President.

During most of these attacks, attackers uttered or expressed the same anti-Muslim slurs repeated daily in mainstream headlines and often by President Trump himself.

This is a continuation of President Trump's pattern of sexual, religious and racial harassment of many Americans. This includes Trump's attempts to turn Americans against each other… and his standing by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was credibly accused of inappropriate contact with children.

Trump has infected the Republican Party and I am asking my Republican friends who believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution's guarantees of equal justice under law, to not sit idly by while all this injustice continues.

This is not a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American one.

I am asking our nation's Republican leadership:
  • When will you draw a line in the sand against this bigotry and harassment?
  • What will it take for the Republican Party to say that these actions do not represent the Grand Old Party? 
  • When will you put country over party? 
  • When is the Republican Leadership, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, going to stand up for all Americans? This cannot be the America you want your children to live in. 


Millions of Americans worry about our safety and future. 

We need Republican Party leadership to publicly affirm American values of religious freedom,

We need Republican Party leadership to join us in reminding our fellow Americans that while some may want to divide us, we are, and always will be, Americans, united as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

CAIR has witnessed an unprecedented spike in hate incidents targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.

Earlier today, Awad also tweeted in response to Trump's hate posts: 

"Have you no sense of decency, Sir? Do you know how many anti-Muslims incidents in the US we recorded at #CAIR this year alone? 3,296. And we haven't heard a peep from you. Some president."

Reply from Nihad Awad (CAIR) to Donald Trump on Twitter
To read Nihad Awad's post on Twitter, click here...



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