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Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

Cry, My Beloved Country.

Monday, September 14th, 2020

The people of other nations are worried about us.

Us? The United States of America?

Yes. Due to the actions of our president, the U.S.A.’s self-described stance as “exceptional” is in jeopardy.

How did we become exceptional? In the 20th century our place was firmly established by President Franklin Roosevelt, who built a governing-manufacturing-citizen coalition here, and a coalition of allied nations in Europe and Asia. Together they patched enormous and varied resources, which enabled the defeat of war-waging Germany and Japan.

The peace and order that followed has been maintained and bolstered by U.S. leadership and military might that left us atop the world of nations.

But we are no longer leading, no longer convening the major democracies in the cause of freedom and justice. The shine is gone. Instead, our president dismisses allies and embraces murderous dictators, even musing how much he admires their power over their countrymen: “He [North Korea’s Kim] speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.” His people? Sir, you work for us.

Because of his divisive words, his daily blasts of insult and rage, our civil discourse is fracturing, with crude online and in-person name-calling that’s harmed children and families, that some have now carried to physical violence in the streets.

Beloved country, what is happening to us?

In the midst of a global pandemic, unseen by the nations of the globe for more than a century, coupled with the ensuing economic depression, our president mocks world renowned U.S. scientists, shuns their life-saving advice, denies states life-saving support and encourages disorder.

Consequently, we hear some of our fellow citizens exclaim, at a time of a deadly contagion, “I want to be ‘free,’” from the “oppression” of suggestions by public health officials to wear a mask, because “I don’t want my government telling me what to do.” But without the leadership of these agencies, how can we expect to be rid of the COVID-19 virus and its deadly threat to our lives?

Our governors asked us to stay at home, and we did, for three months. As a result, the rate of COVID-19 infection, then roaring through the states, and the horrible rising toll of death, slowly stopped climbing and reached a plateau, which allowed hospitals and healthcare workers to breathe and their facilities to re-group.

But then … infections began to skyrocket in those states whose leaders ordered them to “re-open,” for citizens to resume normal activities. And with the onset of flu season, we’re told by our scientists that illness, COVID on top of flu, will again rise and become deadlier than it was last spring.

Remember those health workers so daily taxed, their energy overcome, seen in harrowing video diaries last spring? What’s to become of them? On those dedicated health workers will fall the burden of our mistakes, of failed national leadership.

All while our president has so diverted our attention from our genuine national crises, to those of his own personal imagination, that our nation risks a shattering of what makes us “exceptional.”

After federal forces descended on Portland in the summer, columnist Roger Cohen received a letter from Brown University history professor Michael Steinberg, the former president of the American Academy in Berlin, who expressed these alarming words:

“The American catastrophe seems to get worse every day, but the events in Portland have particularly alarmed me as a kind of strategic experiment for fascism. The playbook from the German fall of democracy in 1933 seems well in place, including rogue military factions, the destabilization of cities, etc.”

Even Germany’s leading news publication has expressed its concern for us, saying, “the foundations of American democracy have grown brittle.” — a warning from the nation once, itself, consumed by fascism that fought to consume the world.

Does this sound like the United States of America we want to pass on to our children, and their children? We’ll have a chance to decide, in less than 50 days.

What say you, beloved country?

How to Apply for Your Absentee Ballot

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

Simply go to this link - https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/voter-registration-absentee-voting.htm - to fill in an online application for your absentee ballot for the November 3rd Election.

At this site - https://www.nass.org/can-i-vote/absentee-early-voting - which is operated by the National Association of Secretaries of State, the organization for those officials who manage elections in each state, you will be taken to your state’s election office, where there are instructions on how to apply for your absentee ballot.

Think You Know What It’s Like to Be Black?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Please listen to this African American man, who spoke on the PBS NewsHour on June 8th, and see if he changes your mind. (also at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/time-really-get-uncomfortable-talk-racism-says-filmmaker.)

And if you’ve wondered about those confederate memorials, take a listen the striking testament of this woman, a true daughter of the South. (also at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/opinion/confederate-monuments-racism.html)

Driving While Black … “Three Times”

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

This column has been written in loving memory of Calvin Milton Jones, who died May 25, 2011.

“Has that ever happened to you?”

His face looked at me with the most serious expression I’d seen from this gentle man.

“Three times,” he said.

My friend, the late Calvin Milton Jones, had just sent me a copy of Dick Gregory’s talk to a Tavis Smiley “State of Black Union” convention center audience. Gregory, the comedian and activist, wondered aloud, that if Bill Clinton was truly “our first black president,” would he know (at 1 min,50 sec.) how it felt to be a black man, driving down the road, and hear a police siren:

“Mr. President, do you know what it feels like to be a black person, to be a congresslady, to be a lieutenant governor with 12 doctor’s degrees, and driving down the street, and hear the police siren, and you start squeezing that steering wheel tight, and they pass by you, and you Thank God! Damn! You didn’t do nothin’ in the first place. Do you know what it is to be black?”

The primarily black audience was in howls, cheering with a standing ovation at Gregory’s presentation. And I realized then that the expression, “driving while black,” was so real and so common that an entire audience of hundreds had reacted, knowingly and in unison, with raucous laughter at Gregory’s searing remarks.

After I watched it, I walked over to Calvin’s office and asked him, “Has that ever happened to you?”

He looked me straight in the eye, “Three times” … on the way to and from Washington and his hometown in North Carolina.

So this gentle and generous man … who arrived at the office at close to five o’clock every morning — even the day before he died, sick with pneumonia — to turn on the lights, make the coffee, check the phone and computer systems, arrange the conference rooms to be sure everything was in place for the days’ meetings … told me, with those words, that he had been stopped by police officers on three separate occasions, just because they knew they could taunt another black man.

This man, Calvin Milton Jones … who wouldn’t harm a soul, who cut all the lawns in his neighborhood, because he didn’t want it to look unkempt; who, unasked, often waxed neighbors’ cars; and who would give you the shirt off his back, if you were in need … this man had been pulled over three times for no other reason than the color of his skin.

Imagine how it must feel to look up into the eyes of a uniformed man, who, you and he know, could change your life in an instant.

And now we have young Trayvon Martin, killed by a single shot from the gun of a self-appointed ‘neighborhood watchman,’ who said Trayvon was, “suspicious … looks black” and, chasing Trayvon against orders, told 911, “They always get away.” But “they” (Trayvon) did not get away; and the man who hunted him down wasn’t even arrested.

Walking while black?

Author Donna Britt, commenting on the shooting death of Trayvon, said, “I don’t know what this child could have done to be safe, except not be black.”

Being, while black.

These two men, going about their business, are stopped for being “suspicious,” for being black men living in the world’s lone superpower; which the rest of us tell ourselves is “the land of the free” … the “sweet land of liberty” … that exists, “under God … with liberty and justice for all.”

Perhaps it is … for some.

President Trump’s Wartime Powers

Monday, April 20th, 2020

President Trump says of the governors’ response to the coronavirus, “We hope they can do the job,” and of the Defense Production Act, “We have the threat of doing it if we need it” [Washington Post].

In World War II, we didn’t ask each state to build its own bombers, make its own ammunition and sew its own parachutes to help the country defend itself and win the war. And we can’t settle for the president coaxing manufacturers to “do the right thing.”

He should do the right thing and order our manufacturing might into action. He should be a leader so doctors and nurses and hospitals and the patients they treat can survive.

He should help us all keep alive.

- See the Post article also at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/governors-and-mayors-in-growing-uproar-over-trumps-lagging-coronavirus-response/2020/03/22/98ac569a-6c49-11ea-a3ec-70d7479d83f0_story.html

Urgent COVID-19 Information

Monday, April 6th, 2020

The most authoritative voice we have in this moment of national crisis is that of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the infectious disease division at the esteemed National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He has guided the nation through deeply worrisome health crises (AIDS, Ebola) in the past, and has the answers to our questions of concern now.

Dr. Fauci was interviewed by Judy Woodruff on the PBS NewsHour last Friday (April 3), and his words carried great weight in our. household. I urge you to listen to his recommendations, because they could save your life or the lives of those whom you love, now.

You can watch Dr. Fauci’s interview at this website, also at this link:
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/what-dr-fauci-wants-you-to-know-about-face-masks-and-staying-home-as-virus-spreads

Trust Reporters - Truth Is Their Job

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

The New York Times recently spoke out in an editorial - which was written by the paper’s opinion arm, not by those in the newsroom - decrying the awful term, “fake news,” and pleading for us to rely on journalists and journalism for truth.

At a time when unsubstantiated falsehoods are uttered, relentlessly, in Washington and in televised commentaries carried across our airwaves, we need to understand that reporters seek and print/post/broadcast facts they have gathered.

Please read this, carefully. The subject is all too serious. Our nation needs your attention. The November 30 editorial is titled, “Who Will Tell the Truth About the Free Press?” and begins,

“Concocting fake news to attract eyeballs is a habitual trick of America’s New York Times, and this newspaper suffered a crisis of credibility for its fakery,” the

(more…)

Statement on the President’s Remarks to Congress Members

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

The office which he is privileged to occupy is normally associated with a person known as “the leader of the free world.”

The childish name calling emanating from this man’s mouth demonstrates his unfitness for this office.

His words of hatred, given his platform, will spread like a virus that has the capacity to destroy our beloved country.

And this from the leader of the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Remove “(COLORED)” From WWI Memorial

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Imagine you had a great grandfather who was involved in a great national cause, such as World War I, and to recognize his service, someone put his name on a memorial. But, unlike the others inscribed on that memorial, his name wasn’t listed in alphabetical or service order.

Instead, his name was put in a small grouping far below everyone else’s, as though those men in his group were somewhat less in value. And next to your great grandfather’s name, and the others, the memorial makers attached a racial descriptor, one that wasn’t necessary then, and shouldn’t be there today.

In Arlington, Virginia, there sits an old, worn memorial erected in 1931 that lists the names of the local men who died in service to their country in the Great War of 1914-1919. Thirteen men are commemorated, in total. Eleven of those names have only their branch of service listed after their names.

A few spaces below those eleven, after a blank area, are listed the names of the other two deceased Arlington servicemen, as if they were an afterthought. But they weren’t an afterthought. Because following the name of each of these remaining two men is inscribed, “(COLORED)”.

Why was that done?

In 2012 local discussion surfaced about perhaps changing that memorial, particularly because it was seen by some as offensive. But things were left alone. One commenter said the awkward wording was an example of “how life was at that time.”

You know what else “life at that time”, in 1931, consisted of? A Ku Klux Klan sign, erected on a road near County property. A sign that attacked a County Board candidate, who happened to be Jewish, with these words: “Let us show our strength. Defeat Albert H. C. for County Board. KKK.”

And when it stirred controversy, you won’t believe who promised to find the culprit, “Howard E. B., the exalted cyclops of Ballston Klan No. 4,” according to an article on page 13 of The Washington Post on Friday, October 31, 1931. The KKK cyclops said, “Any signs that have appeared have been erected by individuals and not by action of the organization.” He then promised not to remove the sign, but to offer a reward for apprehension of the culprit.

That’s how things were in Arlington, “at that time.” A Klan sign, and a Klan “cyclops” in Ballston, in our Arlington, Virginia.

Four years after that 2012 statement Arlington’s NAACP president called for a change that would show equal recognition; though again, nothing was done. The newspaper article, which noted the NAACP objection, began by suggesting that when the sign was erected, “few likely gave any notice” to how the names were arranged.

That may have been true of white people, but for those who live every day with suspicious eyes staring at them wherever they go, that order of names constantly called out again, “You don’t belong here.”

Last year the County accepted a grant to install at the memorial interpretive signs, the main goal of which would be “to provide historic context for the segregation of the names.”

Seriously? You would allow official segregation of those men to continue, and simply explain why they were thought less worthy?

Each day that sign remains (it has been reported to have been taken down in May to correct the spelling of one name), we are saying to every African American man, woman and child who walks by, “We didn’t think much of this Black family’s great grandfather then, and we still don’t today.”

Using the words Henry Louis Gates has said of Confederate monuments raised after Reconstruction, similarly, each day that “colored” plaque exists, it represents “a haunting symbol of oppression,” erected on County property that Arlington African Americans own, “that denies their humanity.” It may be small, but the hurt, the insult, is not.

However it is done, that sign must change, or it should be taken out of public display. We no longer see, nor accept, KKK signs publicly displayed, as one was in 1931; and we shouldn’t have this 1931 plaque on display either. To allow it to remain proclaims inequality. In 2019 Arlington, that is simply wrong.

We Are Not Full

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

We are a nation of immigrants. If you are not an indigenous American Indian or the descendant of an African man or woman stolen from that continent and trafficked here in slavery, you are the son/daughter of immigrants. And this land is no more “Full” than it was when your great, or great great, or great great great or great great great great grandparents landed here.

We need to be reminded of the harm to others that our anti-immigrant president is generating: harm from bullies in schools, from verbal assaults on individuals and families in public, to the physical harm being done in small and in major acts of brutality. All because this one man, with the world as his stage, encourages rage and anger and hatred for anyone not in the white, Christian majority.

African Americans and Jews and Muslims have had their lives taken away, because of the atmosphere of non-acceptance and hate he has created.

Our nation is becoming unrecognizable, while his party’s leadership does nothing to stanch this one man’s crass and vile words of hatred toward immigrants and people of color. These officeholders dare not express even one comment against his stream of venom, making their party, whose members in Congress once trumpeted themselves as being advocates of “Family Values,” an abettor to the harm we read about and view evidence of, daily.

Please, speak up and demand accountability, because your silence allows the harm to continue.