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When 20,000 American Nazis Descended Upon New York City

When 20,000 American Nazis Descended Upon New York City

On February 20, 1939, over 20,000 American Nazis gathered in Madison Square Garden for a “Pro-America Event.” At the same time, in Europe, Hitler was finishing construction on his sixth concentration camp. Seven months later, the Nazi army invaded Poland, triggering the bloodiest war in history.

“Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans, American patriots, I am sure I do not come before you tonight as a complete stranger. You have all heard of me through the Jewish-controlled press, as a creature with horns, a cloven hoof, and a long tail. We, with American ideals, demand that our government shall be returned to the American people who founded it. If you ask what we are actively fighting for under our charter, first a socially just, white, Gentile-ruled United States. Gentile-controlled labor unions, free from Jewish Moscow-directed domination.”

(A protester interrupts the speech, is beaten, and hauled off stage by guards. The audience of American Nazis cheer as he is led away. Later, they give a Nazi salute while an orchestra plays the Star-Spangled Banner.)

I hope most people can all agree that Nazis were evil, if there is any definition of the word we can accept these days.

I’m watching American citizens from 1939, just before World War II, who were convinced that the Nazis were a force for good. And there could be nothing further from the truth. Yet they fully believed it. Why is that?

Look at them and listen to what they’re saying. Propaganda. Lies. Xenophobia, scapegoating, racism, it’s all there–it’s just wrapped up in the American flag. Jews were literally being mass-murdered by the Nazis at the moment this speech took place, while the orator opens by disparaging the Jewish press. Yet 20,000 Americans openly supported the Nazis in the middle of New York City. Why is that?

Can you imagine a Nazi rally 20,000 strong taking place in NYC today? And that was in 1939, when 20,000 was a much larger percentage of the population. It would be more like 50,000 people today. Why did so many people believe in what the Nazis said?!

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Sinclair Broadcast Group Is Extremely Dangerous to Our Democracy

This has nothing to do with writing or science fiction.

I’m not sure which is more disturbing–watching this video of 45 local news anchors simultaneously reciting a script given to them by their bosses at Sinclair Broadcast Group, or reading the script itself as it was given to the anchors at Seattle’s KOMO News.

Hi, I’m(A) ____________, and I’m (B) _________________…

(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.

(A) But we’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.

(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories… stories that just aren’t true, without checking facts first.

(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.

(B) At KOMO it’s our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.

(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.

(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual… We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.

(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.

These anchors were forced to sign contracts in order to work for Sinclair which “stipulated that employees could be subject to a ‘liquidated damages’ clause requiring them to pay Sinclair up to 40 percent of their annual paycheck as penalty.” So not only are they at risk of losing their jobs if they refuse, but if they tried to quit in protest they could be liable for thousands of dollars in damages to Sinclair for ending their contract early. They were essentially held hostage to spread “fake news” propaganda–exactly the same thing they’re seemingly warning people about.

David Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast, is using these local anchors to exploit the trust they’ve built up with their audiences in order to spread his message. Think about what they’re saying. They warn of “irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country,” and how “members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.”

You might say, well yeah, of course there’s fake news! And members of the media DO use their platforms to push their own personal bias! And you’d be right. So let’s talk about biased members of the media pushing false, one sided news stories, what they push, and who they’re pushing it on.

If you lean left, you might be thinking Breitbart, Limbaugh, Drudge, Fox, InfoWars…

If you lean right, you might be thinking NYT, MSNBC, ThinkProgress, The Young Turks…

“Fake news” is a term that Hillary Clinton first used, believe it or not. In December 2016, she made a speech decrying “the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year.” Trump only picked it up a month or so later when he told CNN’s Jim Acosta, “you’re fake news.” Then, he began repeating it endlessly after Trump supporters responded well to it.

Either way, Sinclair Broadcast Group is definitely a right-leaning organization: “During the 2016 election, Sinclair stations were perceived to have offered Donald Trump soft interviews on local news outlets in states that were important to his electoral college victory. The station group recently hired Borys Epstein, a former White House spokesman, as a commentator.” David Smith of Sinclair said on April 3, 2018 in an exchange with New York Magazine, “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away.”

And now, Sinclair has forced 45 local news stations to air “must-read” segments “warning of the dangers of ‘fake news’ in language that echoes President Trump’s rhetoric.” Ajit Pai, head of the Trump Administration’s FCC, “intends to raise the limits on the ownership for TV stations, currently capped at reaching 39% of the country.” This would lead to Sinclair “extending its reach to 72% of American households.”

72% of American households would be getting their local news from David Smith’s perspective, while thinking that each channel was independent and looking out for their best interests. Think about that video, and how anchors A and B established trust with their viewers by reminding them that they’re from the local community–eastern Iowa, mid-Michigan, San Antonio, etc.

They are trying to get people to mistrust other news sources in favor of theirs. Sinclair aligns with Trump and the right wing, so what they’re doing is discrediting “liberal” or “left” news, even though they try to claim that “truth is neither politically ‘left nor right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”

Factual reporting cannot be their focus when the anchors are forced to say these things. Propaganda is dangerous to our democracy.

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Shitty First Drafts: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Slush

Making Word Slush

First, say it with me: shitty first drafts. It’s liberating.

I first learned of shitty first drafts from an essay by Anne Lamott called (you guessed it) “Shitty First Drafts.” Basically, the idea is that it’s really okay for a draft to be shitty at first. That’s not to say that what you’re going to write is shitty, it’s not to make any judgment at all of the writing itself–that’s the point. Don’t worry about it. It’s fine if it’s a bit shitty for now because we’re going to fix it all later anyway, so don’t worry about what you’re saying and just keep writing.

Somewhere I heard someone call this process “making word slush,” creating content that you can work with later–like making snow before building a snowman. Going back and editing is counterproductive to writing. Don’t edit until you’re ready to show it to someone besides yourself.

I’m telling myself as much as whoever you are, dear reader, that it’s okay to write shitty first drafts because we shouldn’t worry about the quality; editing comes later. Write first, and if you can avoid it, don’t edit while you write. You just want to focus on creating pure, unfiltered word slush to work with later.

BUT. As much as it’s important to accept the shitty first draft, to love the shitty first draft, we also have to prepare for it. With something as long as a novel, it’s so easy to get lost and drown in just how much there is to think about. For me, the prep work to getting my first book completed was absolutely essential. I have to have a road map, I can’t just wander through the story without knowing where it ends.

Some people like that, and if you’re a seat-of-the-pants type of writer, YOU DO YOU. The Star Pirate’s Folly started when I was just struck by an idea, I got up, and immediately started writing the story in my head. I built the outline after, and I didn’t even end up using that first draft in my final copy, but writing those first few pages was SO important for the story because it gave me something to work with.

Mind map –> Outline –> Write

This is my formula. Bottom line, if you have an idea, get it down on paper/in a document, ANYWHERE, or you might forget. Personally, I like writing my outlines and mind maps by hand first and transferring them to Scrivener, a writing program (which is awesome for outlines!!). If you’ve never heard of a mind map, it’s basically just writing down ideas in a web and connecting them to each other. It makes outlining so much simpler.

I like to use an 8.5 x 11 legal notepad and a pen, but some people like to get a huge piece of construction paper or something with more space. Mind mapping is something I wish I’d done for my first book, so that’s where I started with book two, The Star Pirate’s Return. Since it would give away the plot, I can’t show you that, or go into much detail, but I’ll talk about it in terms of the first book.

The basic idea of the plot arc came from a Kurt Vonnegut lecture called “The Shapes of Stories.” I won’t go into that, but google it! It’s really cool. He’s a funny guy. (Okay, I had to google it myself anyway to get this cool picture, so here you go!) The basic shape of Bee’s story in The Star Pirate’s Folly was the “Cinderella” variety:


plot cinderella

At the beginning of the story, Bee is pretty low on the “good fortune” axis of the graph–surviving day to day on whatever she can, unable to really pursue her goals. She catches her first real break with Hargrove, who gives her a place to collect herself and be safe. Then, she gets her ticket off planet by selling the map, Starhawk shows his face (but only as she’s leaving Surface), she makes new allies with the Wanderlust crew, and so on. In the end, she gets her shot but has to sacrifice everything she’s gained. It doesn’t match up perfectly, but that’s where I started.


The important thing for me was just getting a framework for my story. I had key events at places in the book that acted as landmarks for my outline and let me keep in my head a basic idea of where I was in the plot. Tools like the good/ill fortune graph really help with visualizing the story.

Mind map –> Outline –> Write

Start with mind mapping. Just get everything out. Write your title in the middle, circle it, and then start with your plot (at least, that’s what I did). Write down the first thing that happens in your story, circle it, and draw an arrow from the title to your first plot point. Next event, circle, arrow, you get the idea.

If you get stuck on the plot or don’t have it all figured out yet, make new blobs from your title for characters, for setting, for anything you can come up with. When you’re finished, it will probably look like the ramblings of an insane person and that’s okay (I hope).

Your Outline Is Your Road Map

Once you’ve got a handle on your plot and you feel like you’ve gotten your ideas out onto a mind map, start with outlining. Your story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Try to break the plot points on your mind map into these general sections, then from there break each beginning/middle/end section into chapters.

If you’re more familiar with the three or five act structures, use that. I decided for my first book I’d write 40 chapters at roughly 2,000 words each, which works out to 80,000 words or 320 pages. But you can use whatever proportions you want–I just like short chapters.

Beginning/Act 1: Chapters 1-5, 10k words, 40 pages

Middle/Act 2A: Chapters 6-20, 30k words, 120 pages

Middle/Act 2B: Chapters 21-35, 30k words, 120 pages

End/Act 3: Chapters 36-40, 10k words, 40 pages

Don’t feel like you have to follow this ratio exactly, this is just what I ended up with because it felt right for the book. What you want to do next is make an outline for each chapter using the information you wrote in your mind map. Break each chapter into 3-5 scenes.

All you need is quick sentences that sum up an action or event which leads the characters through your chapter and ultimately through your whole story. Point A to Point B. Cutting the work into small chunks makes it much more manageable. It might not be totally legible, but here’s the most recent outline I used to finish The Star Pirate’s Folly. 





For me, quantifying the book into a number of words or pages made it something I could wrap my head around. At first it was pretty intimidating to think about all the words I hadn’t written yet. But as I got farther into the book, keeping the wordcount in mind made it easier to plan and adjust my outline as things came up.

And because I’d been thorough with my outline and plotted out each chapter, I got a better idea of which parts of my story would need improvements and which might take more space than I thought. Some chapters got removed, split up, or combined with others. Each time I made a big change I’d update the outline so I had a “current” version in addition to my old ones.

Just going to say it one more time.

Mind map –> Outline –> Write

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