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How the burning of a science fiction bookstore reflects America

How the burning of a science fiction bookstore reflects America

The Ωmega Beam is not political. We want everyone to feel comfortable discussing stories that we mutually love. Of course we acknowledge the world we live in, and we don’t hide our opinions on those things that affect us. But that’s not what this podcast (or website) is about.

Sometimes our little podcast seems laughably trite compared to what is going on in the world. We recorded our CW Superhero show conversations before George Floyd was murdered, and we discussed if we should skip posting our 8 minute chat about Supergirl this week. Or maybe we should re-record the intro to discuss the situation. But ultimately, we opted to leave it as is. It made no sense to use an 8 minute rundown of a tv show to try and speak profoundly about divisions and inequality in American society. And if in the midst of all this serious news, we can give people a smile for a couple minutes, well, that’s something.

But when the world suffers, that means that even our own little corner of it suffers, too: in the protests in Minneapolis, one of the oldest and most venerable science fiction bookstores, Uncle Hugo’s, was burned down.

Maybe you never shopped there. Maybe you’d never heard of them until now. But the greater point is that no matter how far removed we feel we are, major social injustices like this, and the subsequent outpouring of grief, frustration, and anger, affect us, too. Hopefully, like me you’ve only had respectful interactions with the police. Hopefully, you’ve never felt the sting of injustice personally. Maybe you feel it’s not your problem, and don’t want to think about it. Maybe Dan Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s, felt that since his shop isn’t political, it was safe. But sadly, when the system itself needs fixing, everyone is affected, if we like it or not.

You may want to blame the protesters for bringing this problem to your city, and to Uncle Hugo’s. I don’t know about your town, but there was a peaceful protest here in my town, no violence, no looting, the protesters and police were all on the same team, as it should be. However, it’s becoming clear that often the damages are being caused by outsiders with their own agendas.

If you read the page I linked to above, Don Blyly writes, “Per the local authorities, as of this morning, virtually all of the people arrested for these crimes are from out of state. Eyewitness accounts and livestreams report fires being set by young white men.” Think about that for a moment: eyewitnesses and livestreams captured young, male, out-of-state white people “piggy backing” onto legitimate expressions of grief and solidarity to destroy property.

Now, I’m not sure why these white vandals are using the protests as cover to wreak their own havoc. I have my guesses. But I think it’s clear that our total lack of responsible leadership in Washington contributed to a sense that they can get away with whatever they want to do.

Here’s where I get political. I’m not going to tell you how to think or how to vote, but I implore you to think, and to vote. Vote for rational leadership, compassion for everyone, public health and safety, and equality. Changing out the current regime in the White House and Senate isn’t going to immediately solve our problems, but at least we will be able to collectively start working on solutions. I firmly believe we need leadership that will clamp down on the white supremacists and others working to upend our society, leadership who will address inequities in our nation, and will help guide us down a path toward unity. What we don’t need is a president who hides in a bunker while Uncle Hugo’s burns to the ground.

Dan Blyly writes that after he’s talked with his insurance, he’s going to let us know what we can do to help his shop recover. Voting for change is what we can do this November to help all of us recover. Thank you for reading.

Update 2020-06-08: there is now an official GoFundMe fundraiser organized by the son of the owner. If you want to donate, you can donate here.

Published on: June 1, 2020

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Tags: social responsibility