If we don’t know our history, we are destined to repeat it – a much needed reprise

Keith’s words today are so true, so important, they should be heard by every person in this country, young and old alike. Please take a few minutes to read his words, to contemplate them in this period when some are trying to literally bury the history of this nation. Thank you, Keith.

musingsofanoldfart

I read this week from an UPI article that 60% of millennials and Gen-Zers are unaware that 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis in World War II. I use the word “exterminated” as that is what the Nazis did by gassing Jews after they rounded them up. If the brashness of this statement offends – I apologize for the needed candor. It is meant to wake people up.

But, the Nazi genocide of Jews is among too many persecutions around the world and over time. The United States has had three persecutions of groups of people, two of which leading to many deaths. We should never forget these sad parts of our history or white-wash (word intentionally chosen) them away.

– European settlers of the US over time seized land from, killed many and moved Native Americans over the course of three centuries. Even today…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons 7/24

I’m just now getting around to sharing TokyoSand’s cartoon post from Saturday … sorry for the delay!  As always she has scoured the Internet and found the cream of the crop!  The topics this week range from the strange Tokyo Olympics to the Republican’s about-face regarding the COVID vaccine to anti-vaxxers and much more!  Thank you, TS, for pulling these together for us!  Here is a sampling …

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!

Your Rights Or Mine?

When the pandemic hit the shores of the U.S., when non-essential businesses were ordered to close and mask mandates became widespread around the nation, I rebelled a bit against the restrictions. However at the time, I had no idea of the scope of this pandemic, no idea that some 16 months later we would still be in dire circumstances.  As I saw the new cases skyrocketing, saw the death toll rise to more than a thousand people a day, I made a conscious decision to stay out of public venues to the largest extent possible, and to dutifully wear a mask when I couldn’t avoid being in a public place.  I may be stubborn, but I’m not stupid!  Other folk, however, might just qualify as being a special kind of stupid and it annoys the hell out of me that they have so little regard for anyone, even their own children!


The Catholics vs the lives of children

I thought I had heard every excuse in the book for not wearing a mask.  They are all bullshit, for if I can wear a mask when out in public, I with severe breathing problems, then almost anybody can.  But those who choose not to don’t even claim to have health issues, they simply don’t want to and they view civil rights as basically being … whatever they want to do.  They are disgusting and crude, but I’ve gotten used to it and usually just tune them out or flip them a middle finger.  But it turns out that no, I hadn’t heard the worst of it.

Resurrection School, a Catholic school in Lansing, Michigan, and two parents are suing the State of Michigan for a mask mandate that was in effect for schools last year when they first filed the lawsuit.  The mask mandate, of course, was put in place in order to keep children, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends safe from the coronavirus.  But the Catholic school and parents argue that Catholic doctrine holds that every person is made in God’s image …

“Unfortunately, a mask shields our humanity. And because God created us in His image, we are masking that image.”

OH For Pete’s Sake!!!

The school’s lawsuit argued that in addition to physically blocking God’s image, face coverings make people anti-social and interfere with relationships.  In addition, the school argued, wearing masks “conveys the message that the wearer has surrendered his or her freedom to the government.”

OH FFS!!!

In December, Judge Paul Maloney of the Western District of Michigan denied the school’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have banned enforcement of the state’s mask ordinance for kindergarten through fifth-grade students at religious schools. Resurrection School notified the court of its intention to appeal two days later, court records show.  That appeal was heard last week, but as of yet no verdict has been handed down.  Surely no court in their right mind would put a church’s vanity over the lives of the children!  Stay tuned …


Re-defining ‘Rights’

Humans.  Bah humbug!  Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile.  Tell them they have the right to free speech and they will tell lie after lie after lie under the protective dome of the 1st Amendment.  Tell them they have the right to ‘bear arms’ so long as it is as a part of a well-organized militia, not some ragtag group of uneducated bozos, and they will demand that they be allowed to carry assault rifles, grenade launchers and any weapon known to mankind.  Tell them they have a right to free choice, and they will thumb their nose at you, will demand the right to kill their own children in the name of ‘freedom from being forced to be vaccinated or wear a mask’.

I treasure my constitutional rights, but I am not so stupid or unconscionable to try to assume they give me the right to do whatever the Sam Hell I want to, no matter who it puts in the path of danger.  See … I have this thing in my head called a brain, and some days it even kicks into gear and produces coherent thought processes!  Sadly, my late-ex-husband hit the nail on the head when he said that some people, when they were giving out brains, thought they said, ‘trains’ and answered, “No thank you”.

This seems to be the case with those who seem to believe they are immune to the ravages of the COVID pandemic.  In France, President Emmanuel Macron has put into place a mandate that people must show a “health pass”, similar to a vaccine passport being discussed here in the U.S.  The health pass would be required to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus when entering cinemas, theaters, museums, restaurants, long train trips, bars and planes.  The French people are whining that the President is taking on powers with dictatorial overtones that crush basic freedoms.  Bullshit!  Connerie!

Here in the U.S., people are whining over everything everywhere.  They don’t want to have to be vaccinated, don’t want to have to show proof of being vaccinated, don’t want to wear a mask … wah wah wah.  Big bunch ‘o babies!  EVEN people in the healthcare industry!  Wouldn’t you think they would know better???  How the hell are they going to convince the populace to be vaccinated when they themselves are refusing???

Some areas are moving into a region of sanity.  The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the State of California (CA) have made the vaccine mandatory for healthcare workers in their areas.  It only makes sense!  Do you really want to visit the doctor, knowing that his nurse and maybe even himself are walking covid breeders?

And at a time you might expect churches to take the high road, for the most part they have lowered the bar.  Churches have argued against forced closing back when all but the most essential services were shuttered.  And now, some are arguing against protecting their congregation by the requirement to limit attendance and wear masks.  One pastor, Greg Locke, says that mask-wearing is forbidden in his church and anyone entering wearing a mask will be ‘thrown out’.  He claims to be standing up for people’s ‘rights’.  Wait a minute … doesn’t forbidding the wearing of masks intrude on the rights of those who wish to protect themselves by wearing a mask?  Think on that one a minute!

Rights, folks.  Many people aren’t understanding them.  With rights come the responsibility of ensuring you use those rights wisely.  Your rights end at the point they step on mine or somebody else’s.  Rights.  They are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution … I would suggest it be on the mandatory reading list for every single person over the age of 12 in the U.S.  Read it, think about it, then tell me that you have a right to come into a restaurant, unvaccinated and sans mask with the pandemic once again skyrocketing in certain areas.


And then there is Basilico’s Pasta e Vino restaurant in Huntington Beach, California …

When restaurants across California halted indoor dining as the pandemic took hold in March 2020, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach continued to welcome patrons.

When officials issued an order for establishments to mandate face coverings to stem the spread of the virus, the Orange County eatery declared itself a mask-free zone and required that diners remove them before entering.

This week, the Italian restaurant issued another decree: Proof of being unvaccinated is required for entry.

We have seen a lot of ignorance, a lot of blatant stupidity, a lot of cruelty since the start of the pandemic, but … this one takes the cake.  I would love to see this restaurant shut down by the Department of Public Health and told never to re-open their doors again.


An Exciting New Blog …

Today, I would like to introduce you all to a new blogging friend, Quentin Choy, who has recently started the blog WeTheCommoners.  His blog, per his ‘About’ page …

“ … Aims to create a place where a multitude of political and non-political ideas are shared and challenged.

WeTheCommoners comes from the phrase “We the People,” found in the Constitution. The word commoner is used instead of people because a clear divide has been established between ordinary, working-class Americans and those who are meant to represent them in Washington. Many in Washington view normal people like you and I as “commoners,” or as people who come second to political parties, lobbyists, and campaigns.

In a polarized America, many are afraid to discuss things that are even slightly political, and WeTheCommoners hopes to change that. With blog posts from ordinary people with a wide range of political beliefs, your personal beliefs will be challenged. Bloggers on WeTheCommoners are upfront about their opinions and political stances and come from all walks of life.

I hope this blog inspires you to share your political opinions, normalize having political conversations, and maybe even become actively involved in the political world!”

I don’t often promote new blogs, but when I see a blogger’s work as exceptional, beyond the pale, then I like to do my small part to help them grow their blog.  I think Quentin’s blog is worth that effort.  He first caught my eye when he commented on my post about Jeff Bezos’ space excursion and how much money was simply burned up while people go hungry every day in this country.  Curiosity piqued, I paid a visit to Quentin’s blog, liked what I saw, and I want to help him if I can.  I well remember my early blogging days when, after a year, I had 30 followers and thought I was in the big time!

Quentin’s latest post is one that I think is well worth reading … he traces the recent … last 70 years or so … history of the relationship between the U.S. and Iran.  He reminds us of some things we may have forgotten, and answers the question:  How did we get where we are today?

Sometimes it’s easy to think that the country we live in is the entire world.  Oh sure, we all know there are other countries out there, and that our government, no matter what country you live in, interacts with the governments of all these other countries, but … we live in the moment.  And the moment, for many of us, perhaps most of us, is what’s happening outside our back door.  Here in the U.S., it is the rampant toll of the coronavirus pandemic with all its variants, having taken more than 625,000 lives thus far.  It is far right radical politicians turning our government into a three-ring circus.  It is the threat of one of our political parties shredding our Constitution and turning this nation into an autocracy worthy of third-world status.

But … the internal problems can become somewhat less relevant in a heartbeat if a global threat should occur.  I once worked for a professor of International Relations and did some of the research for his academic paper about how some nations use an external threat, real or designed, to ease bring about internal cohesion.  The examples are many.  Think on that one for a minute, my friends.

I hope you’ll take a look at Quentin’s blog, give him a word of encouragement, and stay tuned for more!  A brief sampling of his latest post …


How We Got Here: An Illustrated Timeline of U.S.-Iranian Relations

By Quentin Choy

I remember being afraid that an actual hot war would take place between the United States and Iran a few years ago. Being at the prime age for the military draft, I was greatly concerned. I wrote to my Congressman Ed Case, trying to figure out what Congress was doing to get the situation under control.

I clearly remember thinking to myself, how did we get to this point? In this post, we’ll explore a timeline of events that deteriorated the U.S.-Iran relationship to a breaking point.

1953: The C.I.A. launches a coup in Iran, overthrowing democratically elected PM Mohammad Mosaddegh following plans to nationalize Iranian oil. The Shah takes power and is friendlier to the West.

To see the rest of this timeline, please visit Quentin’s post at WeTheCommoners

Good People Doing Good Things — Giving

If it’s Wednesday … wait … it is Wednesday, right?  Then it must be time for us to switch gears and focus on good people instead of the other kind I usually report on!  And, as luck would have it, I found some without having to turn over too many rocks!  Some times it isn’t about giving money or ‘things’, but about giving the most precious thing you have … yourself, your time.


One cool restauranteur

Josh Elchert is the owner/operator of Heavenly Pizza in Findlay, Ohio.  On July 5th, the crew at Heavenly Pizza filled 220 orders, nearly double its usual for a Monday, but at the end of the day, the restaurant had zero take.  Why?  Because Josh Elchert declared it to be Employee Appreciation Day and he divvied the entire take, every last penny, to his staff!  All $6,300, plus $1,200 in tips, went directly to employees.  Damn … I just want to hug this man!

He says people tend to think of pizza for the sauce, crust or cheese. But the most important ingredient is sometimes lost on people.

“You can have the best pizza in the world, if you have no one here to make it, it doesn’t matter.”

Elchert posted his plan on Facebook in hopes that his customers would get the message and come out to “show the love” … and they did!  Says one assistant manager …

“No, nope, nah, I’ve never experienced anything like this before. It’s a big gift. That kind of giving nature is why this place runs so well, works so well.”

My hat is off to Josh Elchert and since Findlay is only about a 2 hour drive from where I live, I might just venture up that way and visit Heavenly Pizza some Saturday and see if I can give Mr. Elchert that big hug!


And yet another restauranteur …

Eliot Middleton owns a restaurant in McClellanville, South Carolina – Village BBQ – an outdoor dining restaurant he started in response to the pandemic.  Now, Eliot is always looking around his community for ways to help others. He donated meals to essential workers and those affected by natural disasters, fed students and teachers for free, and handed out Thanksgiving groceries to the hungry.

“It’s all about sharing what you have. That’s what the world should be about. Helping people, that’s just what I like doing.”

But even that isn’t what earned him a spot here on this week’s good people post.  Eliot goes even further in his altruism.  After work and on his days off, Eliot repairs old cars … but not to drive or to sell … he repairs them to give away to struggling families in his community!

He learned how to fix cars as a teenager when his dad gave him two that needed major repairs as soon as he got his driver’s license. He was tasked with taking the good parts from both vehicles and creating one safe, reliable ride. He did it, and the project left him with a lifelong appreciation for auto repair. Eliot studied and worked as an auto mechanic for years after high school and knows his way around under the hood (bonnet).

He has collected about 90 donated cars, which he keeps at his home and at friends’ properties nearby. He has already refurbished 28 of them.  Eliot saw results from his labor of love right away. He donated the first car he fixed up to the mother of a child with a disability, as she needed a vehicle to go to the hospital regularly. The freedom that comes with transportation enabled her to finally get a job and make positive changes in her family’s life!

Since then, Eliot has started a nonprofit called Middleton’s Village To Village. Its mission is simple: “We repair donated cars to donate to families in need!”

A GoFundMe established to help him with the costs of the program has collected over $112,000 so far, and the initiative continues to gain momentum.


And then there’s Olga Murray …

More than thirty years ago, after retiring from her 37-year career as a lawyer with the California State Supreme Court, Olga Murray treated herself to a trip to Nepal in South Asia.  Little did she know that this would be a lifelong journey.

“The minute I landed I fell in love with the country. The children, they held my hand, they laughed. They were just so delightful, and they wanted to go to school. Most kids didn’t go to school then.”

While in Nepal, Murray realized that she needed to be there, with the children who touched her heart. She made a plan to help educate the children of Nepal, losing sight of her retirement.

She started the Nepal Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that combats poverty, builds schools, and rescues young girls who were forced into servitude.

“We were going to not be the great white saviors coming in and saving them from this destructive practice. But we would train them to save their sisters, to liberate their sisters.”

The Nepal Youth Foundation has built 72 hospitals. Over the past 30 years, 50,000 children have been a part of the service.  Today, Olga Murray is 96 years old and hasn’t slowed down one bit … nor does she intend to!

“I don’t think about stopping and, you know, as long as I have my marbles and I’m healthy, I’ll just continue to do that.”


And finally, I came across a couple of things last week over at Phil’s Phun that I thought would make a nice addition to our ‘good people’ …

Tears Of Shame … Yet Again

Over the past few weeks, we have read with horror about the discovery of unmarked graves at Canada’s boarding schools that housed indigenous children a century ago.  But guess what, folks?  We may well find the same here.  The U.S. does NOT have clean hands when it comes to the treatment of the original settlers in this land, the Native Americans.  The New York Times has presented a moving article that frankly brought tears to my eyes when I read it last night, so I have decided to share it with you, my friends.


Lost Lives, Lost Culture: The Forgotten History of Indigenous Boarding Schools

Thousands of Native American children attended U.S. boarding schools designed to “civilize the savage.” Many died. Many who lived are reclaiming their identity.

The last day Dzabahe remembers praying in the way of her ancestors was on the morning in the 1950s when she was taken to the boarding school.

At first light, she grabbed a small pouch and ran out into the desert to a spot facing the rising sun to sprinkle the taa dih’deen — or corn pollen — to the four directions, offering honor for the new day.

Within hours of arriving at the school, she was told not to speak her own Navajo language. The leather skirt her mother had sewn for her and the beaded moccasins were taken away and bundled in plastic, like garbage.

She was given a dress to wear and her long hair was cut — something that is taboo in Navajo culture. Before she was sent to the dormitory, one more thing was taken: her name.

“You have a belief system. You have a way of life you have already embraced,” said Bessie Smith, now 79, who continues to use the name given to her at the former boarding school in Arizona.

“And then it’s so casually taken away,” she said. “It’s like you are violated.”

Bessie Smith, 79, was forbidden from speaking her Navajo language once she began attending a federal boarding school and nearly forgot her native tongue. “It’s so casually taken away,” she said. “It’s like you are violated.”Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

A memorial set up after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former boarding school in British Columbia.Credit…Amber Bracken for The New York Times

The recent discoveries of unmarked graves at government-run schools for Indigenous children in Canada — 215 graves in British Columbia, 750 more in Saskatchewan — surfaced like a long-forgotten nightmare.

But for many Indigenous people in Canada and the United States, the nightmare was never forgotten. Instead the discoveries are a reminder of how many living Native Americans were products of an experiment in forcibly removing children from their families and culture.

Many of them are still struggling to make sense of who they were and who they are.

In the century and a half that the U.S. government ran boarding schools for Native Americans, hundreds of thousands of children were housed and educated in a network of institutions, created to “civilize the savage.” By the 1920s, one group estimates, nearly 83 percent of Native American school-age children were attending such schools.

Tolani Lake School children and staff in an undated photograph.Credit…National Archives

“When people do things to you when you’re growing up, it affects you spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Russell Box Sr., a member of the Southern Ute tribe who was 6 when he was sent to a boarding school in southwestern Colorado.

“We couldn’t speak our language, we couldn’t sing our prayer songs,” he said. “To this day, maybe that’s why I can’t sing.”

The discovery of the bodies in Canada led Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to head the department that once ran the boarding schools in the United States — and herself the granddaughter of people forced to attend them — to announce that the government would search the grounds of former facilities to identify the remains of children.

That many children died in the schools on this side of the border is not in question. Just last week, nine Lakota children who perished at the federal boarding school in Carlisle, Pa., were disinterred and buried in buffalo robes in a ceremony on a tribal reservation in South Dakota.

Many of the deaths of former students have been recorded in federal archives and newspaper death notices. Based on what those records indicate, the search for bodies of other students is already underway at two former schools in Colorado: Grand Junction Indian School in central Colorado, which closed in 1911, and the Fort Lewis Indian School, which closed in 1910 and reopened in Durango as Fort Lewis College.

“There were horrific things that happened at boarding schools,” said Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis College. “It’s important that we daylight that.”

A committee at Fort Lewis College in Colorado has begun investigating the institution’s past and is studying how to search its former campus for the possibility of the remains of children who died there.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Fort Lewis Indian School, which closed 111 years ago, was dedicated to eradicating Native American culture. Now, on its former grounds, student are planting Native American crops.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

The idea of assimilating Native Americans through education dates back to the earliest history of the colonies.

In 1775, the Continental Congress passed a bill appropriating $500 for the education of Native American youth. By the late 1800s, the number of students in boarding schools had risen from a handful to 24,000, and the amount appropriated had soared to $2.6 million.

Throughout the decades that they were in existence, the schools were seen as both a cheaper and a more expedient way of dealing with the “Indian problem.”

Carl Schurz, the secretary of the interior in the late 1800s, argued that it cost close to $1 million to kill a Native American in warfare, versus just $1,200 to give his child eight years of schooling, according to the account of the historian David Wallace Adams in “Education for Extinction.” “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” Capt. Richard H. Pratt, the founder of one of the first boarding schools, wrote in 1892. “In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: That all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

Students and staff at Fort Lewis Indian School circa 1900.Credit…Courtesy of the Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College

Those who survived the schools described violence as routine. As punishment, Norman Lopez was made to sit in the corner for hours at the Ute Vocational School in southwestern Colorado where he was sent around age 6. When he tried to get up, a teacher picked him up and slammed him against the wall, he said. Then the teacher picked him up a second time and threw him headfirst to the ground, he said.

“I thought that it was part of school,” said Mr. Lopez, now 78. “I didn’t think of it as abusive.”

A less violent incident marked him more, he said.

His grandfather taught him how to carve a flute out of the branch of a cedar. When the boy brought the flute to school, his teacher smashed it and threw it in the trash.

He grasped even then how special the cedar flute and his native music were. “That’s what God is. God speaks through air,” he said, of the music his grandfather taught him.

He said the lesson was clear, both in the need to comply and the need to resist.

“I had to keep quiet. There’s plenty where it came from. Tree’s not going to give up,” he said of the cedar. “I’m not going to give up.”

Decades later, Mr. Lopez has returned to the flute. He carves them and records in a homemade studio, set up in his home on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation in Towaoc, Colo.

Norman Lopez, 78, playing a flute outside of his home. He said a boarding school teacher in Colorado smashed his hand-carved flute and threw it in the trash.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Russell Box Sr. spends his days at his home in Ignacio, Colo., painting images of Native American symbols and ceremonies he was told to forget at the boarding school he attended as a child.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

In the same boarding school, Mr. Box was punished so severely for speaking Ute that he refused to teach his children the language, in an effort to shield them the pain he endured, his ex-wife, Pearl E. Casias, said.

Years of alcoholism followed, he said. His marriage fell apart. It was not until middle age that he reached a fork in the road.

“I had been yearning in here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “My spirit had been yearning in here to stand in the lodge,” he said, referring to the medicine lodge that dancers enter during the annual Sundance, one of the most important ceremonies of the Ute people. “Then one day I said to myself, ‘Now I’m going to stand.’ And when I said that inside of me, there was a little flame.”

He went to the Sundance for the first time. He stopped drinking. This year, one of his daughters reached out to her mother, asking if she could teach her how to make beaded moccasins.

But for many, the wounds just do not heal.

Students and staff at Grand Junction Indian School in central Colorado in an undated photograph.Credit…Museums of Western Colorado

Jacqueline Frost, 60, was raised by her Ute aunt, a matron at the boarding school who embraced the system and became its enforcer.

Ms. Frost said she remembered the beatings. “I don’t know if it was a broom or a mop, I just remember the stick part, and my aunt swung it at me,” she said, adding: “There was belts. There was hangers. There was shoes. There was sticks, branches, wire.”

She, too, turned to alcohol. “Even though I’ve gone to so much counseling,” she said, “I still would always say, ‘Why am I like this? Why do I have this ugly feeling inside me?’”

By the turn of the century, a debate had erupted on whether it was better to “carry civilization to the Indian” by building schools on tribal land. In 1902, the government completed the construction of a boarding school on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, Colo. — the school that Mr. Box and Mr. Lopez both attended.

The impact of the school, which was shuttered decades ago, can be summed up in two statistics: In the 1800s, when federal agents were trawling the reservation for children, they complained that there were almost no adults who spoke English. Today, about 30 people out of a tribe of fewer than 1,500 people — only 2 percent — speak the Ute language fluently, said Lindsay J. Box, a tribal spokeswoman. (Mr. Box is her uncle.)

“There were horrific things that happened at boarding schools,” said Tom Stritikus, the president of Fort Lewis College. “It’s important that we daylight that.”Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

Jacqueline Frost, 60, holds a photo showing how she was forced to adopt the look and attire of a white girl. She said she was beaten by a Ute aunt who served as a matron at a federal boarding school designed to assimilate Native children.Credit…Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times

For decades, Ms. Smith barely spoke Navajo. She thought she had forgotten it, until years later at the hospital in Denver where she worked as director of patient admissions, a Navajo couple came in with their dying baby and the language came tumbling back, she said.

It marked a turn for her. She realized that the vocabulary she thought had been beaten out of her was still there. As she looked back, she recognized the small but meaningful ways in which she had resisted.

From her first day in the dormitory, she never again practiced the morning prayer to the four directions.

Unable to do it in physical form, she learned instead to do it internally: “I did it in my heart,” she said.

In her old age, she now makes jewelry using traditional elements, like “ghost beads” made from the dried berries of the juniper tree. When she started selling online, she chose the domain: www.dzabahe.com.

It is her birth name, the one that was taken from her at the boarding school, the one whose Navajo meaning endured: “woman who fights back.”

A View From North Of The Border

Last week I did a post based on Charles M. Blow’s column titled “Welcome to Jim Crow 2.0” about the history of racism in this nation and how, with the current wave of voter suppression laws targeting mainly Blacks, this nation seems to have made a U-turn and is heading back to the days of slavery, of segregation, of “separate but equal”, of “sit in the back of the bus”, of racist horror.

My post inspired our friend rawgod, a Canadian, to not only share my post, but to share his views from a Canadian perspective.  Y’know … I have often said that those who live outside the U.S. can often see our situation more clearly than we ourselves do, and … well, rawgod’s post gives voice to my claim, I think, as well of giving us some insight into racism in his own country.  Please give his words some consideration … think about it …

THE HISTORY OF SYSTEMIC RACISM — WHAT WE ARE NOT TAUGHT IN CANADIAN SCHOOLS

When I was a K-12 student in Canada in the 50s and 60s, I was taught a lot of American history, along with a lot of British history, and a good smattering of world history. Our educators told us we had one of the best history curriculums in the world. And we believed those educators. Certainly we learned more about Americans than they learned about Canadians. What we did not know, what our educators never told us, is that what we were learning was White American history, indeed, White World history. While some mention was made of slavery, and the struggle of the Negro to gain equality, it was bare basics. Everything we were taught glorified America, and was intended to make us look up to Americans. I hate to admit it, being a person of colour in Canada, red, I had no idea how badly White Americans treated Black Americans. At that time there was no mention of people of other colours. While we were told there were brown and yellow people in the world, we were never taught much about them except as they interacted with White Canada, and White America and White Europe, especially White Britain. There were Black and Asian Canadians where I grew up in Winnipeg, but we learned little about them, other than that they were now Canadians, and so worthy of our respect and acceptance. In schools we were not taught to hate. What we were taught at home will not be discussed here at this time. Suffice it to say, we were taught it did not matter what colour people were, we were all equal, at least in theory.

… Read more of this post

A Gross Miscarriage of Justice

Texas has been much in the news lately.  First you had the winter storms … people dying because of power outages that could have been avoided had it not been for the stubborn resolve of the state to be independent of the rest of the nation.  And off went ol’ Ted Cruz, one of two U.S. Senators representing Texas, to warm, sunny Cancun, Mexico.  Then there were the bills slashing women’s rights, and most recently the attempt to pass bills that would severely restrict about half the state from being able to vote in next year’s election.  It almost seems as if Texas doesn’t consider itself a part of the United States.  Oh wait … they don’t!  In February, State Representative Kyle Biedermann formally filed proposed legislation that would give Texans a chance to explore opting out of the union in a referendum. Biedermann began talking about the potential “Texit” in early December, saying it’s his response to a federal government that is “out of control and does not represent the values of Texans.” 

I say, let ‘em go!  Let the “great” State of Texas opt out of the union, let them figure out how to support their own economy, how to take care of their poor and elderly.  I would predict a mass exodus from Texas into places like Arizona and Oklahoma within a matter of weeks, especially if Texas keeps the ignoble Governor Abbott in charge!

But I’m not here to talk about the secession that isn’t going to happen because it isn’t legal … I’m here to talk about a ruling yesterday by a federal judge in Texas, Andrew S. Hanen of the United States District Court in Houston.  Judge Hanen ruled yesterday that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), by executive order in 2012.  Nearly a decade after the fact, when thousands of young people who were brought to this country as children, some even still babies, have made this their home, have jobs, school, friends, homes … this judge rules that ultimately they must be sent back???

NO!!!!  NO NO NO NO NO, ‘Judge” Hanen!  I will fight you tooth and nail on this one, as will MOST of the rest of the nation … apart from those who are so white that they think their whiteness entitles them!  Take your Texas narrow-minded ego and shove it somewhere!

Under the judge’s ruling, immigrants enrolled in the program will for now retain the ability to stay and work in the country, though those protections could evaporate.  The Department of Homeland Security may continue to accept new applications and renewals for the program known as DACA but is prohibited from approving any of them.

Since its inception, DACA has enabled more than 800,000 immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States or fell into unlawful status when they were children to remain in the country, finish school, go to college, get jobs, buy homes, and start families.  The former guy often threatened to force the Dreamers as they are known to return to their countries of origin, even though most have no family or connections in those countries.  I thought that with the xenophobic former guy out of the White House, the Dreamers were safe from bigoted persecution.  Obviously, I was wrong.

President Biden has expressed an interest in extending a path to citizenship to the Dreamers, but the Texas ruling throws a wrench into that, though the Biden administration is almost certain to appeal the ruling.  The other option would be for Congress to pass federal legislation, but we’ve seen in the past months that the Republicans in Congress have zero intention of working with the Democrats and once any such bill reached the Senate, it would be subject to the filibuster and certain death on the Senate floor.

Texas is not alone in attempting to end the DACA program … it is joined by a number of other states … most in the South, not coincidentally:  Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Currently, about 650,000 immigrants are enrolled in the program. Among them are some 200,000 frontline workers who have performed essential jobs in health care, agriculture, food processing and education, among others, during the coronavirus pandemic.  About 250,000 U.S.-born children have at least one parent who is enrolled in DACA, and about 1.5 million people in the United States live with a beneficiary of the program.  Most of these people do not have family or friends in their country of origin and many do not even speak the language!  How cruel, how inhumane it would be to simply end the program and deport these people!

Ultimately, the case is likely to end up on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.  I wish I had more confidence in the Court’s sense of justice than I have today.  The words at the base of the Statue of Liberty read, in part …

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

They do NOT say “as long as they are white people of Anglo-Saxon ancestry!!!”

My Worst Nightmare

Many things bother me at the moment:  Those who are actively rejecting the COVID vaccine; the determined obstruction by the Republican Party in Congress; climate change and those who refuse to so much as lift a finger to help reverse decades of man-made damage; wealthy people not paying their fair share in taxes; the ignorance of those who still believe in the former guy’s Big Lie, and the list goes on … and on.  However, the one thing that is keeping me awake nights, is bothering me more than any other single issue in this nation, that has made me contemplate seeking a new country to call home, is the current push for voter suppression and the fact that Congress and the Courts are doing NOTHING to stop states from attempting to move this nation back to the days of Jim Crow.

If you share my concerns, I hope you’ll take a minute to read Charles Blow’s latest column regarding voting rights … or should I say lack thereof …


Welcome to Jim Crow 2.0

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

In the wake of the Civil War, liberals in the North went about establishing Reconstruction, passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, greatly expanding the rights of Black people in America, and putting severe restrictions on Southern states before they could be readmitted to the Union.

But of course, the Northern liberals soon grew impatient with and tired of dealing with Reconstruction and the racial issues in the South. At the same time, racial terror was regaining strength in the region.

After Reconstruction was allowed to fail, the last remaining federal troops — who had helped protect Black people from the terrorists — were withdrawn from the South. Even though there was a large percentage of Black voters in many of these states — and Black voters were the majority in some — the terrorists were able to significantly reduce that voter participation through intimidation and violence.

In Mississippi, where Black voters were the overwhelming majority, this suppression succeeded well enough that in 1890 the state called a constitutional convention to write white supremacy into the DNA of the state and to restrict the Black vote.

Only one Black delegate was invited to the convention.

When Mississippi established its Jim Crow Constitution, it didn’t submit it to the public for a vote. Instead, it simply declared that “This Constitution, adopted by the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, shall be in force and effect from and after this the first day of November, A.D. 1890.”

If it had gone before the people, Black voters would have surely voted it down.

Because the Constitution was not put before the voters, there was some question about its validity, but that was put to rest in 1892, when, as The New York Times reported, “The Supreme Court today settled the point, which was made in a contested election case, holding that the Constitutional Convention was the embodiment of the sovereignty of the people, and that it was competent for it to put into effect the new Constitution without submission to be voted on.”

Without the courts or Congress stepping in to protect voter rights, Mississippi served as the shining beacon of a way forward, and state after state in the South followed, copying the Mississippi example and calling state constitutional conventions of their own, establishing Jim Crow in the South.

The racist South may have fallen in defeat in the Civil War, but it rose in victory in the ballot war.

Once Jim Crow was established, Washington was in no hurry to dismantle it. Liberals simply worked around it. For decades, they simply accommodated Southern racists so as not to offend them and to retain the possibility of earning their votes.

Black voters in the region, disenfranchised and therefore disempowered, were essentially written out of the political calculus.

It would take more than seven decades before Congress would fully restore voting rights for Black people in the South. So, a 30-year-old Black voter in Mississippi who was disenfranchised in 1890 very likely died never having cast another ballot.

These voter suppression efforts were so effective and so emboldening that they even led to a movement — though unsuccessful — to repeal the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed Black men the right to vote.

In 1903, Representative John S. Williams of Mississippi, a proponent of the repeal, called the 15th Amendment “one of the greatest crimes in political history.”

Fast forward to the present, when Donald Trump is calling his election loss “the greatest fraud in the history of our country from an electoral standpoint,” in part because it was made possible by the votes of Black and brown people.

Most of Trump history was a failure and embarrassment, but one of its great ignoble successes is that it is ushering in Jim Crow 2.0.

Just as in the 1890s, the courts and Congress are not doing much to stop the march of voter suppression. In 1890, Benjamin Harrison, a business-minded liberal who believed in Black people’s right to vote, was in office. He endorsed the federal elections bill that would protect Black people from raging voter suppression in the South.

The bill passed in the House but languished and died in the Senate — even though liberals controlled both chambers — in part because those liberals were more focused on other issues.

Then, as The Washington Post reported, around the time of the Mississippi constitutional convention, “African Americans from 40 counties in Mississippi had protested to President Benjamin Harrison, but he declined to intervene.”

President Biden hasn’t declined to intervene, but he has dragged his feet and not used the full force of the bully pulpit and still hasn’t given a full-throated endorsement of ending the filibuster to protect voting rights.

America is having a déjà vu moment, reliving in real time a horrendous history of more than a century ago, and it is impossible to understand how Democrats in Washington don’t see that.

There is no reason to believe that this round of voter suppression is the end of those efforts, and every reason to dread that any successful implementation of them would serve as an accelerant of further suppressive efforts.

Voter suppression is like an invasive weed. Either snatch it up by the root at the first sign of a sprig or it will spread, unchecked, and consume the whole garden.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country that robs half of its people of the right to participate in government, the right to make their voices heard.

STOP!

I sometimes have to laugh when I hear it said that the U.S. is such a progressive, forward-thinking nation, for others are far ahead of the U.S. in many ways.  One of those ways is plastics, or more specifically, the elimination of single-use plastics.  Take New Zealand, for example, the country that has committed to banning a swathe of single-use plastics, including cotton buds, bags, cutlery, plates and bowls, straws and fruit labels.

From an article in The Guardian

New Zealand had already banned most single-use plastic bags in 2019, but the changes will include packaging for produce, as well as a range of other items. These steps follow similar bans overseas: outlawing plastic bags is now common around the world, and the UK introduced a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in 2020. The EU has voted for a similar ban to be introduced this year. In some countries, Covid-19 has stalled progress on plastics – a number of US states rolled back their bans on plastic bags and halted new legislation to limit plastic products as the pandemic reached its height. Environmental groups have also reported enormous quantities of “Covid waste” – including plastic gloves, hand sanitiser bottles and surgical masks – are clogging oceans.

The U.S. lags far behind.  Even though I take my own re-usable canvas bags to the grocery store, and mesh produce bags so that I do not have to use the store’s plastic bags, I am amazed by the amount of plastic I am still bringing home each week from the grocery.  Produce and meat that are pre-wrapped in plastic are the worst culprits. Laundry detergent, dish detergent and almost all cleaning products are packaged in plastic.  And why can’t the producers of bottled water find another material from which to make their bottles?  I would gladly pay a bit more to know that the bottle is re-cyclable.

Did you know that the average person in the U.S. throws away 231 pounds of plastic per year???  The UK isn’t far behind, at 218 pounds of plastic waste per person per annum.  According to a study published in Science Advances …

… 300 million tons of plastic trash are produced annually, of which at least 8.8 million tons end up in the ocean.  What’s that you say?  Recycling?  HAH!  It doesn’t work much for plastics and only about 9% of plastic can be recycled.  Why?  Mainly because it is an expensive operation and has very little payback.  In other words, profit over life once again.  Oh, and remember that plastics are made from petroleum products — fossil fuels — so if we cut back on plastics, we will also be helping the environment in another way, less oil being produced.

The solution, as I see it, is two-step.  One, yes governments must work diligently to reduce plastic waste via single-use plastics.  But more importantly, and a more long-term solution, is the companies that produce all this garbage must invest in research to develop a more sustainable product, one that is fairly easily recycled and that is biodegradable.  But meanwhile, until that happens, it is up to US … You and I … the consumer, to “Just say ‘no’” to single use plastics.  Refuse to buy products that are packaged in layers of plastic.  Take your own re-usable cups to Starbucks and fast-food places.  Take your own reusable bags to the grocery.  Every little bit helps, my friends.

NPR: The Plastic Problem Isn’t Your Fault, But You Can Be Part Of The Solution

National Geographic: U.S. generates more plastic trash than any other nation