Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Extremes of Life and Death

Two deaths touched me this weekend. Two who couldn’t be further apart, in time or age.

The oldest and last British veteran of WWI, Harry Patch, succumbed to the ravage of time at the age of 111 on Saturday. The WWII generation is rightly referred to as ‘the greatest generation’, but the generation who fought “the war to end all wars” was pretty great too. If you're not familiar with the history of the Great War, read some. The horrors are, even when compared against later wars, astonishing. Most of an entire generation of British young men went away to war and perished in the mud of Belgium and France. "Anyone who tells you that in the trenches they weren't scared, he's a damned liar: you were scared all the time," Patch said. A reluctant warrior, but an honorable one nonetheless.

At the other end of the spectrum, his family buried junior firefighter Jacob Rosa on Saturday, dead at age nine from cancer. The Camden, NJ Fire Department honored him as one of their own, having made him an honorary firefighter just a few weeks ago and helping him realize part of his dream to grow up and become a firefighter. They stood rigid at attention and saluted as his coffin passed before them.

I ever knew either of these two before I read about them in the paper. I hope they know how many others were touched by their lives.

The both earned their angels’ wings…

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama is the One Acting ‘Stupidly’

Whether this case of Dr. Henry Gates is a matter of racism or not isn't the issue. The issue is why did the president comment on it? Perhaps it was because he personally knows Dr. Gates, who knows?

But what I do know is this. The President of the United States has no business commenting on a matter in which he does not know the whole story. And to use such a strong word, especially when he admits not knowing the whole story, is wrong.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ultra-Conservatives are Scaredy-Cats

I comment on several ultra-conservative blogs, and one thing I’ve noticed is they aren't very nice to people who disagree with them. In fact, their strategy seems to be if they can’t win an argument on logic, resort to name-calling of the most vile kind. Despite the fact I’ve never made a negative comment to any of them, I've been called troll, lowlife, termite, roach, ratbag, maggot, punk, idiot, scumbag, degenerate, etc., among various other insults.

Rather than responding by referring to them as wingnuts, morons, craven little jerks, knuckle-dragging pinheads, corporate shills, pond scum, fascist stooges, etc., I prefer to take the more noble approach.

Conservatives, you see, pine for a world which no longer exists, that 1950s “Leave It To Beaver” world where everyone was white and middle class, not to mention Protestant. Today, there are Catholics and Jews who aren't invisible, blacks and Hispanics who refuse to mind their place, Sikhs with turbans, Muslims and, worst of all, gays.

Mind you, they won’t come out and say that they're prejudiced. They’ll couch it in terms of objecting to affirmative action as ‘reverse discrimination’. They’ll couch it in terms of protecting morality, in terms of defending institutions and traditions. They’ll say we should no longer consider skin color or religion or sexuality, that we’re past all that. But you can see it peeping out from behind all those facades they’ve put up to hide it every time they say ‘but’ right afterwards, as in, “I have nothing against gays, but…” You hear and read it every day.

This big new world that is changing frightens them enough to make them soil their underwear. They react by withdrawing, by denigrating, by belittling, and most of all, by denying. Facts are not facts; they're results of conspiracies by liberals spinning things to suit their socialistic ends. Truth is only ‘TRUTH’ if it agrees with their limited world view. They are the anachronism of the 21st century. If it wasn’t for Rupert Murdoch and the internet, they’d already be extinct.

So don’t be upset with those far-right conservatives. They're just too afraid to adjust. Take pity on them. Do your best to gently bring them into the light.

After all, the knuckle-dragging pinheads can’t help themselves.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Response to Rinku Sen of Talking Points Memo

In Sen’s article, “The White Supremacist in Us”, she asserts that institutional racism is still present, and accounts for the rise in hate crimes.

She’s wrong.

Hate crimes rise when economic times are bad. It’s quite a simple relationship actually, something which Ms. Sen seems to have difficulty grasping. She also fails to grasp that African-Americans are no longer the prime target of such crimes. Hispanics, primarily recent immigrants are, just as Arab-Americans and Sikhs were the primary targets after 9/11 and Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.

She states: “Even a cursory look around most high end restaurants makes it clear that to these employers, only white people look good enough, that the only people willing to put up with dangerous conditions for low pay are Latinos and Bangladeshis and that black Americans don't belong in there at all.”

When is this meme from blacks going to die? Why do African-Americans keep coming back to this over and over? It’s past the expiration date for this excuse. And non-blacks are getting tired of hearing it after four decades of black advancement. Maybe, just maybe it’s the fault of the black community itself that they haven't advanced as far as they should have by this point. Just maybe you should be looking in the mirror rather than looking at us.

It’s easy to cite one example of anything. But where are the others? Where are the other, specific examples of institutional racism she claims? This is the best she can come up with?

It’s also fairly easy to blame an institution as 'racist'. But I see something else. You know what? I see Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Central Americans and Asians and Bangladeshis and Pakistanis and Sikhs willing to work their butts off in lousy jobs with long hours that pay little, in the hope their kids will have a better life than they do – that’s my father, uncle’s, and cousins’ story after they all came to America from Nicaragua.

You know what I see, living in one of the poorest cities in the US? I see African-Americans who don’t care about their kids’education, who have this sense of entitlement that they are somehow ‘owed’ something. If you want to call that a stereotype, well that’s what I see. I see hard-working African-Americans, a lot of them. But I see the former too, and what I don’t see is a lot of blacks talking about it or criticizing it – Bill Cosby excepted.

And no, I’m not a racist. I don’t believe whites are better than anyone else. I don’t believe in ‘reverse discrimination’. I’m just reporting what I see. Is there some degree of racism in all of us? Undoubtedly, yes. But African-Americans need to do a little self-examination here.

In my opinion, blacks are allowing themselves to become the permanent underclass of America. And if that happens it’s truly a shame, because it means all those brave sacrifices made in the civil rights movement will have been made in vain.