INCLUDE_DATA

The Pope, the Church, the Story

April 3rd, 2010

The public radio program, This American Life, contains, in it’s April 3, 2010, episode, the story of a priest who was used as a ‘fixer’ to settle down parishes that had just lost their pastor, because the pastor was a pedophile, a fact which no one in the parish — with the exception of the abused child and possibly his/her parents — knew.

[To skip the introductory section of the program -- of which this story is just one of four, separate, 15 minute topics -- click on "Stream Episode" to the right of the picture on the opening page, and move the player's bar to 2 minutes and 34 seconds.]

The interviewed former priest, Patrick Wall, speaks of how he was used by his order to assist bishops in ‘cleaning up,’ after a pedophile priest was discovered at a parish — and moved to another parish — by the local bishop.

Father Wall, as he went about his work with parishes and the bishops, discovered a system of off-the-record ‘archives’ — established in the penal code of Canon Law — in which were kept information about events and reports the Church did not want exposed to the public. Wall notes that this Canon goes back ‘centuries.’

This story is devastating. It goes to the heart of what the Catholic Church — as an institution run by the hierarchy — is, from the very beginning of written Canon Law.

I’m not expressing concern about the faith, Jesus, or God; only the institution. I was raised a Roman Catholic and, for two years, studied to be a priest.

Please listen with an open mind. This interview, in light of what is occurring in Rome, the U.S., Europe, and God knows where else, is extremely difficult to bear. But the story should be heard and reflected upon.

[Five years ago Patrick Wall co-authored a book about the facts and history of the pedophile scandal in the U.S.]

Gay Official Once Blasted for His ‘Amble Across Potomac’

January 3rd, 2010

Striking a blow on behalf of ignorance and adding fuel to ever-present homophobia, the Arlington Sun-Gazette last month got it terribly wrong by rhetorically ‘rapping the knuckles’ of Arlington (Va.) County Board Vice Chairman Jay Fisette for testifying in favor of gay marriage before a committee of the District of Columbia Council.

The paper’s “Arlington Highs and Lows” stated, “For an elected official in Virginia to wade into this issue in another jurisdiction is more than a little dicey.”

Hmm. When have we heard that type of remark in the past? Outside agitator, maybe? SelmaBirminghamNeshoba County, Miss.

When a human right is denied, no matter the jurisdiction, we are each obliged to ‘speak out’ on behalf of those who suffer from legal and social discrimination. Those who stood against oppression in the past were castigated as ‘outside agitators’ for working to end the voting, public eating, and housing laws established against African-Americans.

Are we not equally bound to stand with our brothers and sisters of all races now?

Denial of marriage to two committed individuals, regardless of their gender, is as abhorrent as denial of that right to two opposite-sex individuals with different skin colors — a legal prohibition in Virginia until June 12, 1967 (Loving vs. Virginia) — and has contributed to the atmosphere of homophobic hate that too often has led to death.

For what is marriage but the public exchanging of vows in which two human beings profess mutual, lifelong fidelity to one another? What can be more honorable or more loving?

And now — because of the ‘agitation’ or ‘wading in’ of thousands and millions from so many other jurisdictions — on December 18, 2009, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty signed into law Bill number B18-0482, “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” which, after a 30-day period of review by Congress, will allow men and women of the same gender, at last, to marry one another and live as a wedded couple in the District of Columbia of the United States of America.

Every agitator — from all jurisdictions — who worked to achieve this long-sought goal deserves our thanks for making a once far-off dream come true.

NAACP’s Origin: 1908 Race Riot in Lincoln’s Home Town

October 21st, 2009

Illinois Mobs Kill and Burn

Foiled in Attempt to Lynch Two Negroes, Angry Whites Start Destructive Raid

Troops Bring Gatling Gun

Mob Sets Fire to Negro District and Refuses to Allow Fire Department to Work

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Aug. 15 — Race riots are raging here as the result of an attempt to lynch two negro prisoners in the county jail. [ New York Times enter 'Illinois Mob Kills and Burns' at 'All Results Since 1851']

Those are the headlines and opening sentence of a New York Times account published on August 15, 1908, of a race riot in the home town of Abraham Lincoln, the sainted president who practiced law in an office that overlooked the Old Statehouse. It was at that same building, 100 years later, where Lincoln’s would-be successor, a young Barack Obama, announced his campaign for the presidency. But, in 1908 that very area had been full of a seething white mob.

Who could have imagined it? A ‘race riot’ in Lincoln’s home town? — [The Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois]

This was no Watts or Detroit. No, this was a white man’s riot. At one point, according to the New York Times’ account, “the sky over the east end of Springfield was aglow.”

I know that ‘east end’ of Springfield — the ‘end’ Springfield residents now call the East Side — because I was born and raised in Springfield. For as long as I can remember, the East Side was ‘the black side’ of Springfield, the ‘other side of the tracks’ just beyond Ninth Street. And it was in that part of town, the Times reporter wrote 101 years ago, where a mob roamed, killing blacks and destroying their homes and businesses.

How did this all begin?

On the hot summer evening of August 13, 1908, a white woman, Mabel Hallam, who lived on Springfield’s north side, claimed she’d been raped by a black man. Subsequently an African-American construction worker, George Richardson, was identified by Hallam, whom she told “I believe that you are the man and that you will have to prove that you are not.” [ Something So Horrible, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, 2008 ]

Richardson said, “Before God, I am innocent of this crime. I can explain her identification of me only by the theory that all coons look alike to her.”

According to the Lincoln Presidential Library account, “Richardson was a handsome, dark-skinned man, the well-spoken grandson one of Springfield’s most prominent Blacks, William Florville, who had been Abraham Lincoln’s barber.”

Richardson was taken to the county jail, where another black prisoner, arrested a month earlier in a different case, resided.

The next morning the city opened its newspaper, The Illinois State Journal, to find this screaming headline: “DRAGGED FROM HER BED AND OUTRAGED BY NEGRO.” [ Sangamon Valley Collection ]

Aflame with the alleged ‘violation of a white woman by a black man’ — the ruse concocted to lynch untold numbers of black men over the history of this nation — an angry mob formed at the jail, demanding the sheriff to release his two black prisoners, so the mob could lynch them both.

Instead the sheriff spirited the two out of town for their protection, and the riot began in full force.

One of those killed in the furious mayhem was a black barber named Scott Burton, who faced the mob in his shop doorway. Someone shot and killed Burton “and his body was paraded from his porch to a place several blocks away where it was hanged from a tree outside a saloon. Burton’s corpse became the symbol of the mob’s hatred of blacks and was riddled by bullets.” [ Sangamon Valley Collection ]

And how did State Journal, Springfield’s leading newspaper, headline its day-after, post-riot account? Well, it tells you a lot about what Springfield was in 1908, and what, eerily, still lurks there today: “Frenzied Mob Sweeps City, Wreaking Bloody Vengeance For Negro’s Heinous Crime.”

A ‘crime’ that had never occurred.

“Two weeks after the riot, Mabel Hallam would confess to the grand jury that her story of rape by a Black man was a lie. … But that Friday morning, August 14, her cry set the mob in motion and evoked death, destruction and untold hardship for which Hallam was never held accountable.” [ Lincoln Presidential Library ]

Something positive did come of this horrific event: the NAACP was founded less than six months later in New York on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, February 12, 1909. Last year at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, the Association commemorated its link to that terrible summer of 1908, and included a copy of William English Walling’s chilling, on-the-scene account. [ The Independent - 1908 ]

And what of Springfield today, 100 years after the founding of the NAACP, 101 years after the riot itself?

The State Journal-Register (successor to the State Journal) produced a special edition to commemorate the riot’s 100th anniversary on August 14, 2008. But below the online story in the ‘comments’ section, the ugliness of 1908 raised its head in the form of two anonymous comments:

‘tweetybird’ wrote:

“this is a total waste 0f time why keep bringing up the bad stuff? Nobody living now was involved in that. Its past. Leave it there. The article states its not forgotten. Well its not forgotten because this paper keeps shoving it down our throats. I’m tired of hearing about it. drop the subject and leave it in the past where it belongs.”

Following tweety’s comment, ‘Iremember’ wrote:

I am in my 70’s. I was born and raised in a small town outside of Springfield. When the riot was still fresh on the minds of many, I recall folks stating that one of main reasons for the riot was the black’s ‘push day.’ On one day of the week (I think it was Thursday, but am not sure), groups of blacks would literally walk down the sidewalk in mass pushing everybody — in this instance, whites — out of their way. That tactic and the supposed rape I guess set the white folks off. Whether ‘push day’ is true or not, and I am of the belief it occurred, it is part of local lore, and I am disappointed the JR didn’t do a better job of researching and reporting the complete story of the riot.”
[ 100 Years Ago Today, State Journal-Register ]

Has the election of Barack Obama changed the thinking of these two? You have to wonder. Springfield remains a racially tense town.

Just a little more than two months ago in Springfield, a noose was hung in the work area used by a black employee of the city’s power and light utility. [ State Journal-Register ]

The apparent target of the noose hanging, Mike Williams, an African-American, pleaded to the Springfield City Council,

“So, I beg of you, as this ground starts to shake and the rumble is coming, to please don’t just ignore this, don’t sweep this under the rug,” Williams said. “Adopt a no-tolerance policy immediately that says if you are caught or if you admit jokingly, unintentionally or whatever it may be that you committed such acts, that you will be terminated immediately.”

After Williams spoke, Archie Lawrence, president of the Springfield Branch of the NAACP, said that hanging a noose is “the ultimate insult.”

“The only thing that’s worse than hanging a noose is hanging itself,” he said, adding that he finds it impossible “to believe that anyone would hang a noose did not have the intent to send a message that black people are not welcome in this town, that black people did not deserve to perform their job without any type of threat or intimidation.”

Following a ‘review’ of the incident by the Mayor of Springfield and the Sangamon County State’s Attorney, the names of those who placed the noose were made public: one was the brother of the mayor’s former wife, and the other a nephew of the city human resource director, himself a well-known former high school coach. [ State Journal-Register ]

The punishment – meted two months later – for the heinous act committed by these well-connected city employees in Abraham Lincoln’s home town: 60-day unpaid suspensions in scheduled five-day increments. This unusual method of discipline was taken, according to the city utility’s spokesperson, “in order to not adversely affect the operations of those departments and avoid overtime.” [ State Journal-Register ]

At an October 7 secret meeting, the city’s civil service commission declined to intervene, yet one member questioned the suspensions as a “a new level of discipline … that basically keeps people from being terminated.” [ State Journal-Register ]

And so it goes in the Land of Lincoln.

Second Stimulus – What Ended the Depression?

September 30th, 2009

There’s been a lot of shouting since the end of summer and name-calling in the Capitol. On the outside, meanwhile, respected economists say a second stimulus (including healthcare reform) is necessary to pull us out of this ‘Great Recession.’

Nevertheless, Republican leaders say the President is “bankrupting America,” that we can’t possibly spend any more, borrow any more.

Let’s look at some facts; about calamitous crashes and the climbs back out of them.

*****************

Great Recession Unemployment: Since December 2007, employment has fallen by 6.9 million. As of August 2009, 14.3 million people were unemployed. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Great Depression Unemployment: At the height of the Depression in 1933, 12.8 million people were unemployed. [Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum]

*****************

Obama Stimulus Cost: $816 billion over ten years (2009-2019). Jobs saved/created: 1.5 million as of the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2009. And an estimated 3.5 million as of this time next year.

New Deal Cost: (adjusted for inflation) $500 billion over six years (1933-1939). Over the course of the New deal, the government created jobs for more than 8.5 million people. Still, millions remained unemployed.

******************

WWII Cost: $5 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars, 16.1 million enlisted; 406,000 died.

Instead of unemployment, we had a labor shortage. But it took a war to do it.

******************

“The New Deal brought jobs and relief to millions of Americans. It did not, however, end the depression. The depression ended because of World War II. During the war the nation’s economy was devoted to the production of weapons and other materials necessary to win the conflict.” [Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute]

The point of all this is to show that, in a catastrophic emergency, we have the capacity to do whatever it takes to save our nation. As patriots, as citizens, as human beings, we have to believe it is worth saving.

So, which would you rather have; a second stimulus to create jobs for the 14 million citizens out of work? Or another massive war with hundreds of thousands of deaths?

The choice is up to you.

Call 202/224-3121 and tell your members of Congress which one you prefer.

##

Oh, and the ‘bankrupt’ idea didn’t seem to come up when the previous administration was on these two spending sprees:

The bailout of the banks: after 30 years of the conservative ‘Reagan Revolution’ that ripped up regulations and let the bankers run free: $700 billion and no jobs for ordinary folks.

Iraq War Cost: $3 trillion and 4,344 deaths (as of 9/15/09).

##

That ‘Big Crowd’ Photo of the Anti-Obama Crowd? Fake.

September 17th, 2009

Oh what fools we mortals be…

The roar and riot and political rot of those who would ‘Bury Obamacare with Kennedy’ (an actual sign from the ‘protest’) seems to have gotten carried away with their organizers’ attempts to dissemble and deceive. Not only did one of their ilk disrespect the entire nation during our Presidents’ address to a Joint Session of Congress, but the various right-wing organizers of the event widely circulated an alleged photograph of their little ‘uprising.’

According to the political fact-checking site, politifact.com:

“Pete Piringer, public affairs officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Department, said the local government no longer provides official crowd estimates because they can become politicized. But the day of the rally, Piringer unofficially told one reporter that he thought between 60,000 and 75,000 people had shown up.

“‘It was in no way an official estimate,’ he said.

“We asked Piringer whether there were enough protesters to fill the National Mall, as depicted in the photograph.

“‘It was an impressive crowd,’ he said. But after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, the crowd ‘only filled the Capitol grounds, maybe up to Third Street,’ he said.

“Yet the photograph so widely posted showed the crowd sprawling all the way to the Washington Monument, which is bordered by 15th and and 17th Streets.

“There’s another problem with the photograph: It doesn’t include the National Museum of the American Indian, a building located at the corner of Fourth Street and Independence Avenue that opened on Sept. 14, 2004. (Looking at the photograph, the building should be in the upper right hand corner of the National Mall, next to the Air and Space Museum.) That means the picture was taken before the museum opened exactly five years ago. So clearly the photo doesn’t show the ‘tea party’ crowd from the Sept. 12 protest.

“Also worth noting are the cranes in front of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. According to Randall Kremer, the museum’s director of public affairs, ‘The last time cranes were in front was in the 1990s when the IMAX theater was being built.’

“It appears that the photo was actually taken in 1997 at a rally for Promise Keepers, a group for Christian men.”

Don’t you hate nasty facts? They always seem to get in the way of deceitful propaganda.

Well, our President’s no fib-teller. And he needs our support. Go to BarackObama.com and see what you can do to make his vision for change a reality. He needs you; our country needs him; and this moment is too important to our nation’s history for us to allow it to pass without his agenda achieved.

As he said when he arrived, “Let’s get to work!”

The President at Wakefield

September 9th, 2009

Has there been anything as unreal as the enormous row — created by the far right and ‘covered’ by cable news — over our President’s visit to Wakefield?

First, his opponents claimed he wasn’t born in the United States, even though his birth certificate was on his website all of last year.

Then he was ‘taking away our freedom’ and ‘creating death panels to pull the plug on grandma,’ according to the folks who brought you the ‘town hall’ riots last month.

Things seemed to be spiraling out of control as extremists began appearing with guns at some of the President’s events, the most outrageous of which was in Phoenix where police said the gun-toters were not breaking the law, but if something untoward should happen with those guns, “we will intervene at that time.”

Imagine the outcries that would have erupted, had an officer of the law expressed that attitude about a display of guns in the presence any other president.

Now it’s gotten personal. The crazies decided they would use Arlington’s Wakefield High School as the scene for their next showdown with the most intelligent and wise president we’ve had in generations.

And what was their issue this time?

The President was going to preach ‘socialism’ to our children and use a national speech to indoctrinate them into a foreign ideology.

Well folks, it’s over; and his speech was inspiring.

His message could not have been clearer to the students for whom it was intended: “I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down. Don’t let your family down or your country down. Most of all, don’t let yourself down. Make us all proud.”

No demagogic forest fires; no Karl Marx or Adolph Hitler apparitions. Just our impressive new President, setting aside time to tell kids to get with it, and take school as seriously as he — a troubled young man — did when he turned around his life in his youth.

Now it’s back to our starving economy, hemorrhaging jobs, bank fraud, Israeli settlements, torture committed in our name, and wars and untold crises that never appear on our radar but engulf him every moment.

Thanks for coming over, Mr. President. We in Arlington are grateful for your visit and hope you’ll stop by any time you, Michelle or the girls want.

You see, America, we’re proud of our President, and embrace him openly. We want the world to know that we welcomed him to our wonderful community.

Arlington Board Says ‘NO’ to HOT

August 21st, 2009

A voice of reason has broken through the constant chatter about the metro area’s infamous HOT lanes. Instead of ‘High Occupancy Toll,’ they ought to be called what they will become, High Income Toll lanes.

Name it what you will, but this Bonus for BMW’s, or Cruises for Cadillac’s, or Lightning on a Lexus, will only speed the way for those who, in this economy and this region, have the bucks to shell out “an estimated trip cost of $5 to $6” per HOT trip. [ Virginia DOT ]. Think of a mom, on minimum wage, who has to get home fast to help a sick child. Can she afford to cough up that much? It may be chump change for some, but it can be food or electricity or rent to others.

And now, thanks to a suit filed by County Attorney, Sephen Mac Isaac, a court is going to have to consider what apparently none of the officials overseeing this new massive river of concrete on 395/95, took into consideration. That would be the deterioration in quality of the air it would shed on us Arlingtonians, who have a habit of breathing most days. [ Washington Post ]

Oh, we’re such complainers, aren’t we? Always caring about peoples’ health and economic problems. If only we were like the Town Hall screamers and trampled all over the rights of individuals in need, this mammoth rich-guys speedway would be within reach.

Fortunately for all of us, the work had to stop, because the economic crash (why aren’t any Wall Street bankers in jail?) has collapsed state revenue and ‘the market’ is skittish about buying the bonds to support this “private/public venture.” [ Washington Post ]

You won’t fund us shedding any tears. Yes, construction halts mean jobs lost, and that is terrible in any instance. But why not put those same workers along Columbia Pike to construct the long agreed-upon trolley [ Pike Transit ] that will surely cut down on the Pike’s daily tsunami of rush hour fumes.

So, thank you, County Board, for standing up for us to halt HOT, and for your continued work to weaken the movement to widen I-66.

A Moment to Last Forever

August 15th, 2009

In June of 1966 I was a religious ‘brother’ on my way to potential priesthood. All second year members of this particular religious order were allowed to visit their hometowns for two days.

This was after one year of a ’see no tv, read no newspapers, and observe-Grand Silence-most-of-every-day’ (you couldn’t talk to anyone) novice life; followed by my first year as a physics major at Loyola U. in Chicago.

When I got to Springfield, Illinois, my hometown, I said hi to my family and — after calling up my high school senior love and asking if we could talk — borrowed the family car to meet Mary Ann Templeton. I’d not been allowed to write to her, and we hadn’t seen or talked to each other since the night of our high school graduations, two long years before.

I think I probably picked her up at six in the evening. We drove to a park by Lake Springfield, parked the car, and talked till five the next morning. No kissing or hugging, no deep breathing, just talk … about how we felt about each other and what the future might hold.

At one point late in the night, we decided to walk to the empty, darkened playground. I reached over to hold Mary Ann’s hand, as we walked over a ditch, but she held back. She sat in a swing and we looked up.

There were the stars, the magnificent stars the way the sky used to look before ‘light pollution’ knocked out that stunning sight in most cities and towns.

We still talk about that night, and both of us say to each other, again and again, “Look at the stars.”

Milky Way on the Prairie

That’s a moment I’d like to have lasted forever.

August 10th, 2009

Lincoln Gave Him Strawberries

February 11th, 2009

As he lay on his cot at Carver U.S. General Hospital in Washington, D.C., Caleb Brewster of New York heard a knock on the door at the end of the ward. And when it opened, he saw the President, Abraham Lincoln, standing tall in the doorway. Caleb watched the President walk down the rows of cots, hat in hand, speaking to an occasional soldier.

Then he stopped at Caleb’s side and bent over to talk to him. And… well, here, you read the story, as told to Doc Hartley of The Kansas City Star in 1914 by Caleb.

Imagine. It’s 1864 and you’ve been shot at Spottsylvania Courthouse, just 70 miles south of Washington, by a ‘minieball‘, which has mangled your right hand.

You find yourself in a military hospital in Washington, far away from the home you left three years ago in New York. Outside a nearby window you’ve seen the President, sometimes alone, on horseback as he rode to his summer ‘cottage‘ at the Soldiers’ Home, three miles north of the White House.

One day, standing alongside your humble cot in the hot ward, that same tall, bearded President reaches to shake your hand. Your right having been damaged, you extend your left, and President Abraham Lincoln asked when you’d been hit, And after hearing of your wounding at Spottsylvania, he shakes his head sorrowfully as he stands to leave.

Growing up in Springfield, Illinois, I heard that story many times, and was able to read it, just as you see it in the link above.

Our mother, Jean Hartley Penning – the granddaughter of Caleb - took her six post-War children to visit Lincoln’s home on Seventh Street and his magnificent tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery nearly every February 12, the date on which Lincoln had been born in 1809.

So, today has special meaning for all sons and daughters of Springfield. We honor his memory while we celebrate the presidency of Barack Obama, who opened his campaign on the steps of the old state capitol, where Lincoln had received visitors after learning of his victory. And where, on June 16, 1858, he delivered words nearly as applicable to our condition today:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. … I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

For President Obama seemed to speak similarly February 9:
“We find ourselves in a rare moment where the citizens of our country and all countries are watching and waiting for us to lead. It is a responsibility that this generation did not ask for, but one that we must accept for the sake of our future and our children’s. The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose. That is the test facing the United States of America in this winter of our hardship, and it is our duty as leaders and citizens to stay true to that purpose in the weeks and months ahead. After a day of speaking with and listening to the fundamentally decent men and women who call this nation home, I have full faith and confidence that we can.”

With President Lincoln as his guide, we must hope and pray our new President can equally bind our nation’s wounds and lead us from through this terrible moment in our history.

This is how I, as a great grandson of Caleb Brewster, will remember this day. One filled with the memory of Caleb and our slain 16th president; and with hope that our 44th will bring us together to meet the challenges of our own time.

##