A Bully Goes To Auschwitz …

Freshman Representative Clay Higgins may not have known any better.

Higgins-1From early 1942 until late 1945, some 1.1 million people were exterminated, killed, at Auschwitz, one of the most infamous concentration/extermination camps of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  Perhaps Higgins, only 56 years old and a freshman member of the House of Representatives, did not realize the significance of Auschwitz.  Auschwitz was ‘liberated’ some 16 years and 8 months before Mr. Higgins was even born, so he can be forgiven for his faux pas, right?   WRONG!  Higgins, like the rest of us, no doubt had parents who remembered WWII and the Holocaust.  Higgins went to school where he learned of the atrocities committed against Jews at places like Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau.  Higgins either has a moral compass or he does not.  I think he does not.

Representative Higgins was shooting an advertisement inside the hallowed walls of Auschwitz.  An advertisement for a stronger U.S. military.  An advertisement for Donald Trump’s ignorant policies.  Inside a hallowed, sacred, burial ground. To politicize the Holocaust, to politicize the most relevant symbol of the 6 million Jews who died under Hitler … it is wrong.  Most of us understand it is wrong.  Clay Higgins does not understand the lessons of history.

Higgins is not new to controversy.  On 04 June, he made the following statement:

“The free world… all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identify them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” – Captain Clay Higgins

Higgins recorded five minutes of video, including some from areas of the site where Jews were gassed and their bodies burned. Higgins, an Army veteran and former police officer, briefly explains in the video how the victims were killed. “This is why homeland security must be squared away, why our military must be invincible,” Higgins says, with some of the ovens in the background. I, for one, am sickened.

Mr. Higgins, you have crossed a line of respectability and you do not deserve to represent the people of your state in Congress.  To the people of Louisiana:  I sincerely hope your morals, your values, and your conscience will not allow you to return this abomination of a ‘man’ to Congress in the next elections, November 6th, 2018.  If you do, then you will get exactly what you deserve.

Officials at the official memorial and museum called out Mr. Higgins: “Everyone has the right to personal reflections. However, inside a former gas chamber, there should be mournful silence. It’s not a stage.”

Amid the outrage, Mr. Higgins did apologize, saying, “My intent was to offer a reverent homage to those who were murdered in Auschwitz and to remind the world that evil exists, that free nations must remember, and stand strong. However, my message has caused pain to some whom I love and respect. For that, my own heart feels sorrow. Out of respect to any who may feel that my video posting was wrong or caused pain, I have retracted my video.”

Again, Mr. Higgins is not a stranger to controversy.  Prior to running for the House seat, Higgins served as a reserve officer for the Opelousas Police Department for four years until being forced to resign or accept disciplinary action for his striking of a handcuffed suspect. In 2014 he became the Public Information Officer for St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office.  As public information officer, Higgins made videos for Crime Stoppers. His videos went viral, and he was referred to as the “Cajun John Wayne”. One of his videos was featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2015 He resigned from the St. Landry Parish Sherriff’s Office in February 2016 because of the public outcry against one of his videos. I think by now it is obvious that this ‘man’ has no respect for his fellow human beings.

Mr. Higgins, We The People of the United States of America do NOT accept your apology.  What you did, your poor taste and judgement, are not erased with a simple, “I’m sorry”.  It is obvious to me that you have no humanity, no compassion, and no sincere empathy.  You do not belong in Congress.  Like the supposed leader of this sinking ship we call America, you are a bully, and you are not the man of honesty and integrity that we would expect to see on Capitol Hill.

The Republicans may applaud the Donald Trumps and the Clay Higgins’ of the world, for they are like-minded souls who have no compunction, no compassion, and no concern for their fellow man.  I will shine a spotlight on these bullies wherever and whenever their path crosses mine.

And On Holocaust Remembrance Day …

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Those are the words inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty that stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbour.  The Statue of Liberty is a symbol for universal freedom to all United States citizens and the people who visit the country.  The statue has become a representation of global friendship, freedom from oppression and democracy. There are seven spikes on the crown of Lady Liberty, representing the seven seas and the seven continents.

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Yesterday, 27 January, was Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day set aside each year to remember and honour the victims of the Holocaust: an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. On that solemn day of remembrance, the president of the United States took a proverbial axe to the Statue of Liberty and at the same time spit in the face of all who fell victim to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in the last century.

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed another executive order, this one effectively banning all immigrants from the countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all predominantly Muslim nations. One of the tenets of our democracy is that our nation is committed to the principle that each person who wishes to practice their religion be free to do so. This goes for people who practice any religion, and no religion. We do not discriminate against people of ANY religion.  That is a core principle of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Yet, Trump claims that while banning all immigrants, special priority will be given for Christians wishing to enter the U.S., while all Muslims will be denied entry. This, a mere eight days after he took an oath whereby he swore to uphold the Constitution. That oath was shredded into millions of pieces yesterday.

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Anne Frank Today Is A Syrian Girl

Two Iraqi refugees, one of whom had worked as a US Army interpreter, were in transit to the U.S. when the executive order was signed on Friday and as of this morning were being detained at JFK airport in New York. The former interpreter is fleeing persecution because he aided the U.S.! At least three human rights groups, the National Immigration Law Centre (NILC), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have announced their intention to file lawsuits.

In addition to the fact that discrimination based on religion is clearly unconstitutional, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin.  Trump claims his intent in signing this ‘executive order’ is to prevent terrorism, but frankly the threat of terrorism in the U.S. is very small compared to the threat of crime and murder by gun-toting U.S. citizens. The top 5 nations that are victims of terrorist activity are Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria … the U.S. ranks only 34th in terrorist activity worldwide, according to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index Report published by National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, is on January 27th, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, in 1945. Each year, the U.S. president has issued a statement in observance of the day.  In years past, both presidents Bush and Obama issued statements referring to Auschwitz, anti-Semitism, and the murder of six million Jews.  This year, Trump issued a statement that mentioned none of these, but merely noted that ‘innocent’ people died at the hands of the Nazis.  Reaction from the public and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was immediate outrage. Those of us who are of Jewish heritage understand that the reason for this day is to never forget and always remember the atrocities that were committed against people of one specific religion, Judaism.  Not only did Trump completely ignore that, but used this day to legalize atrocities against another religion:  Islam.  I rest my case.

lady liberty cries

 

 

Pokie … Pokie … Pokémon GO! Where … ???

Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality mobile game, developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company as part of the Pokémon franchise. It was released worldwide in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices.

The game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual Pokémon who appear throughout the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. An optional companion Bluetooth wearable device, the Pokémon Go Plus, is planned for future release and will alert users when Pokémon are nearby.

The game received a mixed critical reception, and attracted negative attention due to reports of accidents and public nuisance associated with it. However, it was the most downloaded smartphone app in the United States in its first three days of release and was a boon to the stock value of Nintendo, which owns part of The Pokémon Company. 

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Charmander

Normally this game would have been released without me even noticing, or if I noticed, I would have yawned and said “that’s nice … another new Pokémon game.”  But everywhere I turn during my daily news trolling, I see something about it.  So, I asked my resident video gaming expert exactly what it was, and she explained it to me … sort of in layman’s terms.  Apparently the game sends clues to your telephone, based on your phones GPS, telling you where to find certain of these virtual Pokémon critters,  and when you finally figure it out and arrive (physically) in that location, you are rewarded with a virtual critter that you can use to superimpose on photos, or play with on the game.  Seems like a lot of work for a virtual critter, but so be it.  It reminds me of the old-fashioned treasure hunts, where you found notes with clues, ultimately leading to some prize.  Actual notes … on paper … written with an actual pencil … leading to some tangible, material, physical prize.  Yes, I am showing my age.

 

At any rate, this game, which has only been out less than two weeks, is causing quite a stir, and even has one New York lawmaker calling for a bill to control … well, it is not clear whether he wants to control aspects of the game, or behaviour of the players, but more about that in a minute. Some incidents that have been reported to date are:

  • A Teen Discovered a Dead Body. On Friday, July 8, Shayla Wiggins was exploring a river in rural Wyoming while trying to catch a water Pokémon and stumbled upon a dead body.
  • Armed Robbers Used the App to Lure Players to Secluded Areas. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri, have reported that armed robbers were using the app to attract victims to isolated spots. Four teens robbed nearly a dozen Pokémon Go players using a handgun.
  • Pokémon Are Appearing at the Holocaust Museum and Auschwitz. Officials from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland are calling for Pokémon Go’s maker, Niantic, to remove the historic sites from the locations where players can hunt for characters.
  • A Sex Offender Residence Is a Game Location. In Phoenix, one of the beacons in the game is at the New Windsor Hotel, which is an old hotel turned halfway house for dozens of registered sex offenders.
  • A Man’s Private Home Has Turned Into a Pokémon Gym. Boon Sheridan of Massachusetts discovered that his home, a deconsecrated church, had turned into a gym after dozens of people were found strolling around in his yard, guided by their phones.
  • A U.S. Soldier Fighting ISIS Catches Pokémon on the Front Line. Former U.S. Marine Louis Park, who is currently fighting alongside Peshmerga soldiers in Iraq, posted a screenshot of a Squirtle on the front line, sitting on top of his machine gun.
  • Man Finds Pokémon on Wife’s Hospital Bed While She’s Giving Birth. Jonathan Theriot from Texas posted a photo to Imgur showing that he was attempting to capture a character as his wife was in labor.
  • Clefairy

    Clefairy

    And my personal favourite: An Anti-Gay Baptist Church Is Fighting LGBT Users in the Game. There’s been an ongoing battle between the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its virulently anti-gay stances and hate speech, and the LGBT community. When one user realized the Kansas church was a gym in the app, he claimed it using a Pokémon named Clefairy and nicknamed it “LoveIsLove.”

I heard that the Westboro group was none too happy to have kids running through their church, squealing when they found their Pokémon characters.  Of course, neither were the administrations of the Holocaust Museum and Auschwitz, and that one I understand. But as for Westboro … well, they have dedicated their lives toward invading others space and showing up when & where they were not welcome, so I see that as a case of them getting a taste of their own medicine!

Squirtle

Squirtle

The latest news is that New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is considering introducing legislation, because he is concerned that people playing Pokémon Go pose a risk to public safety. Ortiz said he was concerned people would play in busy streets, or while driving cars. The latter fear is shared by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, whose leader, Terri Egan, warned that it could have “tragic real-world consequences.”  It is unclear, at least to me, what the wording would be in the bill he proposes, but apparently Ortiz is known for proposing off-the-wall legislation such as banning the use of salt in restaurants, taxes on alcohol and sugary drinks, as well as admission to strip clubs.  Banning the use of salt in restaurants???  Seriously?  So, does that mean we all have to carry little salt packets in our pockets to use when we dine out?  Or would we be prohibited from doing that also?  And what about pepper?  But I digress …

 

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Pikachu

 

 

Well, though I laugh at Assemblyman Ortiz, there do seem to be some genuine potential inconveniences and dangers inherent in the playing of this game and I suspect it is only a matter of a short time before the makers will need to find ways to better control the locations of the Poke-gyms.  Meanwhile, I hope I do not awaken in the middle of the night to some teenager standing by my bed saying “Hey, Dudette, have you seen a Pikachu around here?”

 

Special thanks to Natasha for technical assistance regarding the game and Pokémon character identification.