The Week That Was (May 21-27, 2021)

The Week That Was (May 21-27, 2021)

Context, perspective, and yes, even a little “shade.”

Every Friday, I take a look back at the week that was, mostly as seen through my Twitter feed:

As May slides into June, the end of the academic year is here —and with it, graduations. Last Friday I wanted to send some more graduation cheer by re-sharing a tweet that led to hundreds of you sharing graduation stories. I felt it would be a happy way to kick off the weekend and highlight hope for the future. If you haven’t already, give the graduate in your life a shout-out here.

I had hoped for a a peaceful Saturday but was interrupted by news that made me do a double-take. It seems that “Kremlin Cruz” had stuck again. It’s important to note that this isn’t the first time the junior senator from Texas has promoted and endorsed Russian propaganda in order to advance his own agenda.

This worrying trend reminds me of advice often offered to schoolchildren: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I’d like to offer an adaptation: If you can’t make your point without echoing foreign propaganda or misinformation… then maybe keep your mouth shut and your twitter thumb in your pocket.

Jokes (or shade…) aside, on a more serious note, news of Russian influence continued through the weekend. On Sunday, a Ryanair flight traveling from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania was diverted under the ruse of a bomb threat and forced to land in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Why? To detain Belarusian activist and dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, who was one of the passengers onboard. The forced landing ordered by President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, is seen by the international community as a “state hijacking” and there are legitimate fears that Protasevich’s life is in grave danger. If you ask President Vladimir Putin of Russia, however, it was a “brilliant special operation.” This provides a reminder that the values of freedom of the press and political dissent need to be defended.

Another value that needs to be defended is the truth. The poison of the Big Lie continues to spread through our body politic. The latest threat? Republican politicians who sought to discredit the legitimacy of the 2020 election results are now running to become election officials in many key swing states. We cannot allow these politicians to lie, and then in that same breath use that lie to stifle democracy.

Voter suppression is both a historical and present-day problem in the United States. So it’s too bad that many Republican politicians lack a clear grasp of the past and the present. Take Florida governor Ron DeSantis or Trump. Apparently fulfilling their job responsibilities and having an understanding of history is one task too many.

Tuesday brought a somber and solemn occasion: the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. There are not enough words to express the depth of emotion after a loss of life. All we can do is try to honor Floyd’s life and dismantle the systemic injustices that contributed to his death.

My thoughts are with the Floyd family. And when I saw this photograph, I was moved by all it captured and the echoes across history.

A feeling of thoughtful reflection carried over to the middle of the week. On Wednesday, I found myself taking stock of the state of the country. It is true we are divided, and have been in the past, but lately the stakes of that division grow ever larger. There is no shortage of topics on which we can respectfully disagree but reality should not be one of them. Two plus two equals four. Water does not run uphill. Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Facts shouldn’t need debate.

But if you want something to talk about, or if you’re in need of something to read, look no further than Ellen Barry. Her piece in the New York Times on Thursday is worth the time. A sad and beautiful story about a farmer, his community, change, loss, and a love of the land. There is a lot to like on a communication platform like Twitter, but longer-form journalism like this is without parallel in my book.

Well that’s a walk through some of the week as I saw it. Have a great weekend.