Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Tea Party folks are more vividly identifiable by more people than their predecessors because of advanced communication technology. From a literary perspective the women and men seem to bear resemblances to Madame Defarge and Rumpelstiltskin respectively. It may a matter of coincidence or choice of media coverage, but it seems that the field is occupied primarily by far out women, or if you prefer, far in. Sarah Palin opened the door, to be followed by Michelle Bachman, Sharon Angle and now by Christine O’Donnell. The Delaware Senatorial candidate has warned of scientists putting human brains in mice. This may not be as far-fetched as it seems. Hearing Ms O’Donnell speak suggests that the reverse of the procedure isn’t out of the question.
Monday, September 13, 2010
But we all have some limits to our political correctness. I’ve yet to hear anybody use the word “Iranian” to identify a breed of cat or a style of rug, or the term “Thai twins. But for me there are gray areas. If I ever have a hankering for Peking duck I might be ornery enough to order it that way rather than as Beijing duck listed on the menu.
This leads to a pet peeve regarding political correctness, particularly when it comes to geographic imprecision or historical myths requiring extra syllables. In the first case I refer to the word “Asian,” formerly “Oriental,” now used to identify people with ancestors from nations such as China, Japan or Korea. The Continent of Asia, probably the world’s largest, includes India, Saudi Arabia, and all the “’stan” nations. It even covers what was once Palestine, with descendants there including both Lancemen and Goyim. I’ll grant that the old fashioned “Oriental” is less than perfect. To Marco Polo, China was east. But today when we fly there we head west. It’s all a question of where you’re coming from. But then isn’t that true of life?
The second case involves the necessity to refer to what were once called “Indians” as “Native Americans.” Well hold on a minute! I am literally a native American. I was born here as were my parents, although I’ll grant that we’re less native than the folks who squared off against the cowboys.
The appellation “Indian” is supposed to have come from Columbus’s mistaken notion that he was in India. The only thing wrong with this story is that what is now India was then called Hindustan. The natives he encountered got their name because they were friendly, so much so that his crew referred to them as “en Dios” or “in God.” As we are reminded yearly, Columbus was Italian and spoke Spanish with an accent, hence “in Dios” and eventually “Indians.”
Columbus never set foot in America and didn’t land on the continent in Central America until his third and last trip. The natives he met were from the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and they all lived on islands. Any “Native Americans” he saw must have gotten there on a vacation cruise.
I don’t expect you take my word for all this. If you have any doubts just check with my source, Hop Choy Brave Eagle.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
A few days ago I sent a seriously unserious letter about the scheduled burning of Qurans by a small congregation of religious hillbillies. What impressed me at the time was that the plan to burn one hundred books by a membership of fifty, since estimated at thirty, suggested that these primitives may have developed rudimentary mathematical skills, a fact that might be of interest to sociologists.
My mistake was in viewing the matter as it should be, not as it is. The possibilities have become seriously serious. What began as a blatant publicity ploy by a “man of the cloth,” helped by anything goes media coverage, has brought to full blossom the Islamophobia latent in this country since 9/11.
No prominent political figures have spoken in favor of this book burning. But the intensity and nature of their objections paints a clear picture of where they stand politically. Those on the right have been more tepid in their condemnations, concluding with caveats suggesting to skeptical types like me that they are afraid of offending Tea Party members whose votes they need in November. This approach involves conflating the planned demonstration with the “Ground Zero Mosque,” in the process strongly implying, if not claiming, that the two are a wash.
There’s no questioning the legality of either. In a pragmatic context I consider both unwise, although not equally. On principle I think all religions should be able to exercise identical rights in building places of worship and social recreation. On the other hand burning religious sacraments of others is nothing other than spiteful in the extreme.
This affair has resulted in divisions that are unjustified and detrimental to the nation. It is not one of America’s, or organized religion’s finest hours.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The media, or more precisely the folks who run the media, have done it again. Just the other day the news was dominated by some foreigners, or people looking like foreigners, who decided to build an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero. Lucky us, and just when we thought we’d be limited to ho hum palaver about things like Congressional Elections, the economy and environmental disasters.
Well, again they did it again. The hottest news now is about a holy roller preacher in Florida who let the purveyors of “information” know that he and his congregation of fifty plan to burn a hundred Korans on the ninth anniversary of 9/ll. That comes out to two Korans per parishioner. I hope they’re getting a discount.
The possibilities in this field are mind boggling and lead to the thought that there could be gold in them thar Korans. Burning two of them could become a litmus test of Tea Party loyalty. Medals could be passed out to be worn alongside lapel flag pins. With colder weather on the way they could be sold as material for the fireplace to be used as logs or the pages as kindling. Maybe they could be made into fireworks, a fitting gesture for the Fourth of July. Enough militant Judeo Christian types could spawn an industry which would be a non-governmental economic stimulus and a show of patriotism to boot.
Oh how I ramble! Now I know how a boggled mind feels. On second thought I’ll just give aspiring printers of the Koran this advice. Pay no attention to that Petraeus fellow, whatever is said about you, be sure your name is spelled right and it couldn’t hurt to hire an agent named Murray.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I doubt that there was a time in our recent history that some public figure wasn’t calling “critical.” In my judgment there have been three since World War II that stand out. With our very lives at risk, the Cuban Missile Crisis is in a class by itself. Just behind, limited in context to the national fabric, are the McCarthy era and today’s threat from the radical right.
A glance at history will show that the self proclaimed “Tail Gunner Joe” led a movement that ended the careers of people, many of them prominent, suspected of Communist ties. What not everyone realizes is that the suspicion in most cases was based on alleged associations made fifteen years earlier during the Great Depression; That many of the victims were merely friends or close relatives of the suspects; That among them were people who simply objected to having to answer what they considered improper questions put to them by members of Congress.
What also seems to have been forgotten is that this was a major Republican issue in the party’s l952 Republican sweep of the White House and Congress. Ike’s campaign slogan was “Communism, Corruption and Korea.” His party stuck with this theme until McCarthy overplayed his hand by attacking the Eisenhower Administration itself. It was America’s good fortune that he was dealing from a deck soaked with booze.
What can be said of both the McCarthy’s people and, for lack of a better word, the “tea baggers,” is that they fit the “we have met the enemy and he is us” mold set by Walt Kelly in Pogo. The five year McCarthy saga is neatly tied together. Coherent books have been written about it. What we are facing now began with the inauguration of Barack Obama, so a major part of the story is missing, the middle and, most particularly, the end. This leads to the question of when, or perish the thought if, there will be an end.
The vituperative nature of the signs at Tea Party rallies may not exceed the limits of free speech. But the words of a Nevada Senatorial candidate advocating “Second Amendment remedies” to what one disagrees with in government might have broken the barrier. It sounds mighty like getting out guns as an adjunct to voting, something that never would have survived McCarthy scrutiny. Men carrying guns with signs saying they aren’t loaded “this time,” standing defiantly outside buildings where the president is speaking, seems unthinkable under previous presidents.
This crew lies about the president’s proclaimed religious preference, without a shred of evidence.* In the face of requisite Constitutional evidence to the contrary, they challenge his legitimacy as a citizen and hence his presidency. Lies, too numerous to mention in this space, are the foundation of most of their arguments.
The ham handed incivility, if not illegality, with which these people are trying to win control of government makes the possibility of their success cause for alarm. “Concern” is too mild!
*Obama’s religious preference is of no concern to me. “None” wouldn’t be all that bad.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I was watching excerpts from Glen Beck’s recent D.C. extravaganza which, for the most part, struck a more reasoning tone than we’d come to expect. But in one segment he shouted and paced the stage like a caged tiger. My brief first thought turned to the Third Reich.
My second thought was that it couldn’t happen here. During much of Hitler’s ascendency we had our own problems with the Great Depression. We also had scavengers like Father Coughlin, Huey Long and, from the extreme left, Communism, which drew many who appeared on Joe McCarthy’s list fifteen years later. But we survived and Germany didn’t.
The generally accepted and plausible explanation is that we were made of sterner stuff. But the suffering we went through was considerably less and of a shorter duration than Germany’s, which began well before the 1929 market crash that heralded what was to come. It’s reasonable to wonder how much more it would have taken to turn this country upside down.
At this time what is passing as the establishment in one of our two major political parties is trying to do just that, albeit for just the two plus years necessary to gain complete control of the government. What would be left is not as important to these people as the fact that they and their financial partners would control it. Their intent to destroy a four year presidency at its inception was confirmed by one of their leading legislators using the allegoric “Waterloo” to send the new president his best wishes. This approach is by definition deliberately harmful to the nation, and is in spirit, although not legally, perilously close to treason.
We are not hurting, nor do we figure to hurt, as badly as we did during the Great Depression. But today’s organized opposition, both beneficiaries and their gullible minions a bit long in the tooth, as a group have been spoiled compared to their predecessors and quite possibly to those who’ll follow them. Consequently they have a low threshold for what qualifies as hard times. Unlike Depression victims who reflected despair these folks have the luxury of being able to respond in anger, with which they are well endowed. Their deficiency in numbers is compensated by a high decibel level.
The voters who will join and eventually replace them are generally of a different breed. They aren’t familiar with all the “old values” that their elders hold sacred. They tend to be more tolerant of a president with a pigmentation and people of a sexual preference differing from theirs. The influence of today’s domestic “insurgents” will decrease by attrition, unless these reckless people, in the short time they might have, remove any pretense of our being a democracy. But then that could never happen here, could it?