Author Archives: Alyson Chadwick

UPDATE Rusesabagina Wrongly Taken and Arrested in Rwanda

UPDATE: For the second day in a row, Paul’s lawyer in Kigali was denied access to see him in the jail.  The Rwanda Investigation Bureau has said that someone called on behalf of Paul Rusesabagina to say that they had a team of lawyers for him but that is not true. He has had no Consular visits. While the Rwanda Government said that they talked to his sons about visiting him, that is not true. Paul’s wife has called the jail and has not been allowed to talk to him. 

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kitty Kurth, Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina FoundationEmail: kittykurth@me.comPhone: 312-617-7288 Rusesabagina Wrongly Taken and Arrested in Rwanda 

Paul Rusesabagina, the humanitarian famous for saving 1,200 refugees during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, whose true story was told in the film Hotel Rwanda, has been arrested while traveling.

“We believe Paul Rusesabagina was kidnapped and taken by extraordinary rendition to Rwanda,” said a spokesperson for the family. “We knew he was flying to Dubai for a meeting from San Antonio and return to San Antonio on Tuesday per his flight bookings. (He took Emirates 236 from Chicago to Dubai on Thursday, August 27 and was scheduled to return from Dubai to Chicago on Emirates 235 on Wednesday, September 2 Confirmation JYJQF6. He had a separate itinerary from San Antonio to Chicago and back.)  We have read press reports that he got on to a plane that traveled from Dubai to Kigali. We do not know whether he walked on to the plane misled by the destination, or was dragged on to plane. Either way he was a Belgian citizen being taken against his will in to Rwanda. Paul Rusesabagina would never knowingly get on to a plane bound for Kigali.

President Kagame’s forces have attempted to harm Rusesabagina repeatedly over the last fifteen years. Rusesabagina would know that if he went to Kigali he would end up dead, disappeared, or in prison. 

Rusesabagina ended up under arrest in Kigali. He is being held by President Paul Kagame’s government on false charges. He is a regular critic of human rights violations in Rwanda, and the Rwandan government regularly brings false charges against all critics in order to try to silence them.

The Rwandan government has been attempting to discredit Rusesabagina since the movie Hotel Rwanda appeared in 2004. He is seen as a famous Rwandan in exile who is embarrassing to Kagame and his authoritarian government. The various charges against Rusesabagina were shown to be false on many occasions, but Rwanda continued to pursue him. Rwandan agents have regularly followed Rusesabagina for over a decade, including invading his home, threatening his life, and frequently attempting to disrupt his public and private speeches.

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Where will you be on Election Day?

My mother has a habit of saying, “I hope they…” The ellipsis can mean “get rid of Trump,” “do something about AG Barr”,”make sure the Post Office isn’t destroyed”, or a host of other things she thinks need to be done.

Who is she talking about?

I always have the same question: Who are they? In republic like ours, there is no they, there is only us. If we are waiting for the cavalry to come in and save us, we are fucked. It makes me think of the song in Hamilton, “What comes next?

So what comes next? It’s not just about Election Day

This is what we all need to do.

  1. Register to vote. Every election, we are told “this is the MOST IMPORTANT election EVER.” It might be easy to think that it is hyperbole this year but 2020 is not like other elections. Go to Vote.org and either check your registration or register.
  2. Vote. If you are going to vote by mail, please get your ballot as soon as you can and get it back immediately. As you probably know, President Trump is trying to weaken the Post Office enough so that either the ballots won’t make in on time or people will have such little confidence in the system that they just don’t bother. Don’t give away your power. If you do not know where your Board of Elections is, go here.
  3. Volunteer on Election Day. In most election years, most of the volunteer poll workers are older. This year, that is problematic because of Covid-19, which can be more dangerous for older adults. Help is needed. You are needed. Go here if you need more information.
  4. Volunteer before Election Day. There are a ton of places working to get people out to vote or helping get people registered.
  5. Write letters to the editor. Your voice is important. Read the local paper and respond to its content. No one will hear your voice if you do not use it.
  6. Contact your electeds. If your electeds are not representing you in a way that you like, let them know! If they only hear from people who agree with them, they will think they are doing what their constituents want. If you don’t know who represents you in Congress, check this. You can also use a web search engine to find your local peeps.

The only thing more patriotic than voting is protesting

I love that so many people have come out to support and take part in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is wonderful to see so many people coming together to say, “No, this systematic and endemic racism is not something that we can allow to continue.”

The problem is attending a rally or protest, as great as that is, is not enough. We have one day when the government has to listen to us. Again, you giving away your power when you stay home (or vote for a third-party presidential candidate).

But Alyson, do you do these things? Oh. My. God. YES! You can find my letters to the editor in papers ranging from the Washington Post to the Gainesville Sun. When I am upset or interested, I call & email my congresspeople and local officials. I am registered to vote and have written asking for an absentee ballot. I will never ask people to do something I don’t do myself. I also plan to volunteer before and on Election Day.

Ahh… I miss the good old days when we fought about abortion

Back in the day, Democrats and Republicans fought but we fought about abortion, domestic spending, war and whatnot. We had real differences of opinion. Sometimes had a different sense of what happened and why. Our issues were based on a shared reality. Gosh, I miss those days.

The rise of the irrational

Conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie, as I wrote the other day my piece, This is how genocide progresses. The same can be said about distrust of government. You don’t rebel against a government you like and trust.

But now that desire to believe in these theories is tearing our nation apart. It has been reported that as many as 30% of us believe the coronavirus is a hoax. That is terrifying because the more people who believe President Donald Trump is right, the more won’t wear masks, and may rely on unsafe and ineffective medical treatments. More people with the virus means its spread will continue to climb. We will never crawl out of this pandemic and economic recession.

This alone is not the reason I am feeling depleted, defeated and depressed this evening.

The rise of Qanon

I wrote about this in the aforementioned piece but I just can’t wrap my head around this idea. Or rather, I can’t get my head around this group of ideas.

From what I have read and been told, there is a group of reptilian aliens who worship satan. They have infiltrated the highest levels of the United States government and probably governments all over the world because they control everything on earth.

If being a cabal of reptilian, alien, pedophilic Satanists wasn’t bad enough, they also like to eat babies. They do something to keep them alive until cabal members can suck out their bone marrow for its life-extending qualities. Members include Bill & Hillary Clinton, Bill & Melinda Gates, Barack & Michelle Obama and pretty much anyone with power, anywhere on earth. I know people who have claimed to have fought these alien beings (seriously).

Now, who or what is “Q”? When this started Q was one person, high up in the United States government. Today it is a group of people. Followers of theory believe that they have been in contact with Trump and that any day now, he is going to unmask the whole plot, arrest the leaders, end their reign of tyranny and peace and utopia will cover the planet.

This is where things get scary

When Trump ran for office, he attracted a very loyal kind of person. The people who flocked to his side were angry, white, and upset that the America they grew up loving is disappearing. Minorities, the LGBTQ community and women have moved ahead where white, straight men have languished or been sent to the back of the line.

Americans, as was mentioned, love conspiracy theories and more and more Trump supporters are learning of Qanon and like what they are hearing. No longer is Trump just the defender of their beloved way of life, he may have been sent to save all of us.

Move over Jesus, there’s a new religion in town

The Atlantic has called Qanon “the next American religion.” According to their reporting:

1. It’s a real-time participatory conspiracy theory.

The eventual destruction of the global cabal is imminent, Q prophesies, but can be accomplished only with the support of patriots who search for meaning in Q’s clues. … Surely there are people who know that Q is a fantasy but participate because there’s an element of QAnon that converges with a live-action role-playing game.

2. It’s a mass rejection of reason and Enlightenment values.

In the face of inconvenient facts, it has the ambiguity and adaptability to sustain a movement of this kind over time. For QAnon, every contradiction can be explained away; no form of argument can prevail against it.

3. It’s not going anywhere. In QAnon, we are witnessing the birth of a new religion.

Among the people of QAnon, faith remains absolute. True believers describe a feeling of rebirth, an irreversible arousal to existential knowledge. They are certain that a Great Awakening is coming. They’ll wait as long as they must for deliverance.

Now, what will happen if their prophet loses in November? You have millions of people, many armed to the teeth, angry and dedicated to their cult leader. It it impossible to reason with them now, I worry what will happen in November.

Also, this is my idea of hell. I never used to be this way but I like some rules. I like grammar and punctuation — because they make communication better. I like our Constitution because it makes our government better. I like science because it makes our life better. I like facts because they make everything better. Now, none of those things matter.

This is my idea of hell.

We are headed towards genocide

I have written a few times about this topic. In 2016, I wrote “This is how genocide starts.” That was when I saw Donald Trump take a political following and turn it into a cult. His abrasive language, unapologitic racism/ sexism/ mysongeny/ racism/ etc. combined with anger around the nation and an undercurrent of conpiracy theories made me think that his election would lead to genocice.

That was then, this is now.

Now, four years later, I think we are barreling full-speed towards genocide. Today, I wrote “This is how genocide progresses.”

This is the most important thing I have ever written. It is on Medium.com, please check it out, read it, click the applaud button and share it. We need to do something now, before it is too late.

pandemic

No one puts a pandemic in a corner

Why have we let the pandemic pit states against each other?

A long time ago, long before the pandemic hit we were governed by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Basically, the federal government had very little power and the country was individual states doing their own thing. This was a train-wreck. The whole reason the Constitutional Convention in 1787 convened was to create a better way to manage the country. As it was, Congress feared the new nation was not going to be able to ward off efforts from the British to take back what had been theirs. The result was the Constitution.

Covid-19 has sent us back in time

Today, it feels like we are living in the U.S. circa 1777. By not taking a strong stand on the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government abdicated its responsibility and left decisions to the states. Red states support President Donald Trump and took longer to issue stay at home orders, promote mask-wearing and social distancing and started opening up earlier. By contrast blue states did the opposite. During the early months, the lack of federal control of collecting and distributing needed medical equipment meant that it all became state vs. state. Governors across the nation complained about having to bid against each other — and sometimes against the federal government — to buy supplies they needed. Some resorted to buying and hiding what they had so the feds wouldn’t step in and take it all.

Now that we are five months in, this state v. state looks a little different. Early in the pandemic, Florida said New Yorkers entering Florida would have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The consequences for violating this are a fine of $500, up to 60 days in jail (the best place to get Covid-19). As the cases in Florida has skyrocketed and the cases in New York have plummeted, New York issued a new decree; no one from the states that have rising cases can come to the Empire State unless they will spend 14 days in quarantine. People who refuse will face a fine.

My state is better than your state

This is purely anecdotal but people I know in New York, where I live, do not seem all that concerned about what Floridians think of our state or how Governor Andrew Cuomo has handled Covid-19 but Floridians I know seem obsessed. Maybe they are bitter about #FloridaMan. We never should be in a place where we delight or rejoice at seeing other Americans die. I have family and friends in the Sunshine State and the last thing I want to see them suffer or die from this (or anything).

This data are backed up here.

Having lived through the worst (I hope) of the pandemic in New York, my first thought is, “Good for Florida, they dodged a bullet.” The problem is that the numbers do not always tell a complete story. In the last few weeks, Covid-19 has mounted a comeback and cases are surging all over the country. But consider the following:

  • The death rate so far has remained lower than in the spring. There are a few reasons for this. The death rate is a lagging indicator. People get sick, go to the hospital (or not) and die sometime later. Just because cases are rising does not mean they start dying at the same time. We don’t know what the real death count will be from this recent surge.
  • We have better treatments now than we had when this started. That is a good thing. As the novel coronavirus has been studied, doctors have been given more tools to fight it.
  • The death rate doesn’t tell the whole story about how bad a disease this is. One of the scariest things about Covid-19 is how long-lasting the impact can be. MRIs of the brains of people who spent time in the ICU show damage consistent with a traumatic brain injury. Many of these people require time in a rehab facility before going home.

It’s NEVER a bad thing when the mortality rate for a disease goes down. But to look at this data in a vacuum and extrapolate from it that Florida has done a better job than New York, for example, is shortsighted at best and harmful at worst.

We have let ourselves fall into this space. Rather than pit New York against Florida, a better way to handle this is to ask, “What can Florida learn from New York?” or “What can the world learn from the Floridian response?” We have taken the scientific/ medical and superimposed politics. How’s the working out? Not well.

I was raised to believe that we are all Americans. Floridians, New Yorkers, even people from New Jersey. Until we get back to that (and to the belief in empirical facts, we are doomed.