Thanks for your courage and sharing your story. Ironic that actors are trained to have empathy and understand different characters, but can’t do that with dreaded republicans. Look forward to your piece on New York - here’s my escape from New York chronicle of a decade of demoralization: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/escapefromnewyork

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Apr 29Liked by Clifton Duncan

Outstanding essay! I can hardly wait for the next part. (In addition to the basic points, I also loved the use of comic-relief terms and phrases which I hadn't heard of before but quickly figured out, such as "Black don't crack"!) I've been meaning to try to contact you ever since I heard you Tom Woods show a while back, but I was always too down in the dumps to do so as a result of the lockdown isolation. (My main joy in life is theater and the staged-reading playwright and screenwriting groups I used to go to in Chicago [until three years ago].)

I've written over two dozen short plays and films (most about ten minutes each), some of which have been produced at small theaters over the years (and one won a contest at Chicago Dramatists). I've also written two full-length plays and am about finished with my third full-length screenplay. None have been produced so far, but most have done well in contests or in critiques by established playwrights. (Some have a strong streak of libertarianism in them, but even those are very dramatic and/of funny.)

I still haven't seen any theater (unlike many such as Tom), as I refuse to go to any theater that requires masks or requires their actors to get shots. Let's talk sometime soon Clifton, and see if there is any way we can get some kind of new theater (and/or film) production company going. Of course making movies -- even shorts -- costs a lot of money. (I hear ten grand for a ten-minute short if you want it to look like a real movie [not a low-budget stage play]), and I guess there is no real model to support that unless/until you have a tremendous amount of paid subscribers... or is there? (It seems most short films are loss-leaders designed for festivals.)

Forgive my rambling but the hour is late and I at least wanted to make contact before going to bed lest I once again let another several months (year?) pass without contacting you. (I have no idea if there are a ton of libertarian writers like me out there [in secret] -- in which case I may not be of much use to you -- or whether I'm about the only one [which may make the difficulties of geography worth it].)

Perhaps I should start by sending you the PDFs of some of my shorts -- both a couple of dramas ("The Relativist") and a couple of over-the-top comedies (such as "Being Anna's Boots" and "Dusting For Vomit"). (If you're a Spinal Tap fan than you can imagine how proud I was when Smith & Kraus published the opening page of "Dusting for Vomit" in one of their recent annual Best Stage Monologue anthologies!) Either way, if you have access to my email address or phone contact me, otherwise tell me how to contact you.

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Apr 28Liked by Clifton Duncan

At last, Clifton, you're hitting your stride. I'm very proud of you. Sometime soon, you will get this: that we are in a spiritual battle between good and evil. Transhumanism is on the march and is bent on destroying the Arts.

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“As I have for much of my life, I felt like a lone wolf, astride the boundary of two opposite yet co-existent realities”

This is not only poetic but an incisive observation about maintaining clarity and independent-mindedness amidst the shock-and-awe propagandizing engineered to splinter the populace.

As I detailed in the post I published the other day (https://margaretannaalice.substack.com/p/my-two-year-stackiversary-lattice), my own journey toward awakening has involved jettisoning the political lenses that blinded me to the higher-level machinations being used to control us:

“Shedding my own labels peeled away the cognitive biases that had inhibited my ability to appreciate the perspectives of those outside my in-group, and it helped me see through the lies told to keep my in-group enslaved to an ideology that served the rulers rather than the people.”

You mentioned in your last post that you’re an introvert, Clifton. I have noticed the majority of people who recognized the fraudulence of the COVID narrative seem to be introverts. I wonder if that’s because we tend to read, to reflect, to resist the pressures to conform to the majority opinion.

I’m curious if you’ve noticed a similar tendency in those who have emerged as Badass Germans in a sea of Good Germans:

• “Are You a Good German or a Badass German?” (https://margaretannaalice.substack.com/p/are-you-a-good-german-or-a-badass)

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Absolutely fantastic. <3

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Apr 28Liked by Clifton Duncan

I have the same feeling now as an audience member from Richard Pryor’s epic LA special, with the heart attack story, monkeys and dog story. Naturally I can’t quote directly, so I’ll paraphrase with “Preach,

Clifton, preach”.

Eloquent, well observed and alive. Bravo.

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Apr 28·edited Apr 28Liked by Clifton Duncan

Beautifully written.

As what the good Lord decided to make me, a WASP born in Mississippi in the middle of a race war, to parents from the similarly segregationist (but slightly more 'friendly' about it) western Kentucky, I've tried from a vantage point I can never darken away with PC rhetoric to get a finger on the pulse of what race really means to anyone in the USA. I have good reason to believe that the reason I didn't grow up where I was born was that my dad was basically driven out of Yazoo City by the Klan, for having the race-traitor effrontery as a young white Southern Baptist pastor to have himself observed being a tad too friendly with a nearby congregation of black Baptists. This simply wasn't done, and I'm pretty sure the Home Mission Board in Nashville, my dad's employer, agreed. So they exiled us to New Orleans where my dad took training to be a real pastor and be promoted out of the dead-end status of 'missionary pastor' he'd held in Mississippi, then they offered him a leg up to the middle class with an executive position in Nashville, while for several more years systematically denying him any opportunity to ever lead his own congregation again. He had proven racially unreliable, to a corporate church which had voted in 1845 not to get too visibly upset about the enslavement of fellow humans, and hasn't really backtracked on that cautious posture ever since, being named after the South, and all.

So having been raised in the politely but not too ostentatiously segregated white middle class that my parents had found more appealing than remaining Baptists proved to be, God help me, I've spent a lifetime finding folks of other ethnicities.... interesting. The idea that anyone besides WASPs and their auxiliaries from far enough north in Europe who came along later and joined in the American whiteness club, was actually just as human and as ordinary (in a scratch us, do we not bleed? sense), was just not dinner-table conversation in our house. But somehow over time it began to enter my world view that Mexicans tend to be anything but dirty, that if some black people commit robbery it isn't because they're black but because they're thieves, that women who wear hijab also argue with their husbands and win sometimes without being beaten for it, that girls who grew up in Iran before immigrating to California actually knew all about women's rights long before arriving, that not all native Americans hated me on sight for being white but some might, etc, etc.

That people are people, in other words. That radical notion had all but ended my dad's life quest to become a 'simple country preacher', because the simple country white folks he wanted to preach for didn't see things that way. Feeling himself unqualified as a marriage counselor in the midst of a disastrous and traumatic marital crisis lasting years finished the job on that one.

But now I wonder if it's just as much a violation for me, in the PC-du-jour atmosphere now governing race relations in America, to find my non-WASP fellow Americans interesting, and want to know more about how we may be similar, or different, or how much the differences might have to do with color (which turns out usually to be not very much.) I've lived among Latinos (who do not, as it turns out, all come from Mexico to get a better job), and blacks, and Asian immigrants, and Indians (native and Asian varieties), and many other..... descriptions, and to this day I find the company of my own WASP and neo-WASP fellows to be the least illuminating and the most, frankly, boring.

It isn't even that we shouldn't notice our differences, which is the post-Jim-Crow WASP code of conduct that seems to be holding for the time being. I'm more of the mind that we should indeed notice our differences, and investigate them, and listen to them, and be delightedly curious about them, and through the process find the common ground as well as respecting the ground not shared. And invite the same in return. I've let non-WASP folks take shots at 'white people' in my hearing all my life, and I find myself mostly cheering them on. My own people bore the shit out of me, but not because I regret what God made me, but because so many white folks are still stuck trying to figure out how they got stuck sharing a planet with so many people who aren't like them, bless their hearts.

A tech guy from the local internet provider came out to my house last weekend to fix a damaged cable, a man so black with an accent so thick and from whom I'd heard so few words over the years he's been around that I stupidly assumed he was from Africa itself, or maybe the Caribbean. There ain't a lot of black folks in these parts, shall we say, and I really did want to know more about him. Turned out he is from Louisiana (hence the near-indecipherable accent). Bo'n-n-raised, he told me. He'd come here because a local college football coach had helped him get a scholarship, and he liked it.

Trying to avoid the unforgivable 'what's it like to be black around here?' angle, I still couldn't help wondering how things had been for him since arriving in a rural farm neighborhood of about half-white and half-Latino. The question didn't seem to hold much relevance for him. He talked about his wife and three kiddos, and his plans for the rest of the weekend, and the weather, and stuff.

If he knew that I was non-plussed by his ethnicity on regional grounds more than offended or guarded about it, it didn't show. He was basically just a nice guy, a fellow blue-collar tradesman, and God help me, I still had to agonize over why that might have still come as a surprise to me, after all this time.

I was born where I was born. 1960 in Mississippi was not exactly the best starting point for a life of trying to decode the Race Question as a white man. I'm still working on it, but mostly I feel like it's good and right and normal, and damned interesting, that we're all different. By trying to confront and embrace just how different, it seems we find more and more that we're all basically the same, too.

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I so appreciate these insights. It has been particularly brutal being a MAGA hearted Trump supporting (I love his economic policies) anti-vaxxer (I am a vaccine abolitionist) during these difficult times.

Clifton says the quiet part out loud for those of us in the performing arts wondering if we will ever work again.

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This was such a well written piece and so important. I found you on Twitter during these past few years when I was noticing this insanity and it felt validating and I really appreciated your takes. I wasn’t in the arts space but I left my career as a Psychologist during this time for very similar reasons. It was so enraging and disheartening to see so many folks in the field who saw themselves as compassionate helpers fall in line with what I viewed as authoritarianism and conformity without thinking critically or humanizing others as much as they “should” . Covid, trump voters etc. So thank you for writing this and expressing what I’ve seen as well.

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As a liberal writer-artist from another Blue Bubble (San Francisco), I was so happy to see you were going to start telling your story. Thank you. I look forward to more.

I, too, was always taught: keep an open mind. Listen and learn.

And, those are the qualities that have both helped me stay peaceful these past few years...and be totally gobsmacked. What happened, people? It's been a lonely, long haul. Glad to have the voices and friends that have thought critically and sanely.

Well, by now we know. More divide and conquer. Keep people distracted. Continue profiteering. Repeat.

P.S. Clifton, I'd be curious your response to Candace Owens sometime. Just read a piece on her and can definitely "see both sides."

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So enjoyed reading your observations and experiences regarding the lack of introspection and self-reflection within the arts community. Unlike you, most don't know any Republicans/Conservatives and sadly, do not wish to. Speaking for myself, the only way in which I judge a person is by their actions. Words are cheap, but actions are costly. While the cost has been high for you, I predict you have a promising and profitable future ahead of you, having been willing to pay the price. Very glad you are sharing your talent for writing and keen observations here on Substack. In appreciation I am happy to be a paid subscriber.

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Love your openness!

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Great piece Clifton.

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