A Special Man And His Memories

I’d like to tell you a little bit about a man named George Dawson.  George was born in 1898 in a dirt-floor cabin in Marshall, Texas.  He was the son of a farmer, and both of his grandparents and great-grandparents were African-American slaves. Though freed at the end of the Civil War, they had to stay on the plantation for ten years to work off their debt to their former master’s store. George’s father, Harrison, was three years old when they left. The family walked west and stopped in Marshall because a lumber mill there provided work; they received forty acres of land and a mule from the federal government and started the grueling process of eking out a living. George, the oldest of eight children, began contributing to the family’s survival by age four, combing cotton while his great-grandmother Sylvie made thread with her drop spindle.  At age eight, he went to work on a white neighbor’s farm feeding hogs and cattle, and at twelve, he was sent away from home to live and work on a white man’s farm so his wages could help support his family and allow his brothers and sisters to attend Marshall’s colored school.  George never got the chance to attend school.

George’s life of hard manual labor hardly stopped for the next half century. When he was twenty-one, he left his family and followed the jobs he could find across North America for the next decade. He picked cotton, cut sugar cane, built Mississippi River levees, pounded spikes and laid rails for railroads from Cincinnati to Canada to California, tamed horses all over the Midwest, loaded barge cargo, and worked in Mexican coffee plantations. In 1928, Dawson settled in Dallas, Texas, where he worked on the railroad and did road crew work for the city. For almost twenty-five years he ran the pasteurizing machines at the Oak Farms Dairy.

During all those years, George raised a family, worked hard, but never had the time or the opportunity for an education, never learned to read.  That was, perhaps, the one thing that George wanted most in his life … to learn to read.  Fast forward to 1996 …

George was 98 years young when one day a man knocked on his door.  The man was a volunteer who told George that the Lincoln Instructional Center, just a few blocks away, was offering adult education courses!  FINALLY!!!  The opportunity George had wanted for 98 years was knocking on his door!  George overcame his initial reluctance to reveal his illiteracy, telling himself, “All your life you’ve wanted to read. Maybe this is why you’re still around.”

On first meeting instructor Carl Henry, a retired teacher, he learned that the oldest student until that time had been a woman in her fifties. George Dawson learned the alphabet in a day and a half, moved from printing to cursive writing, and could write his name within a month. After almost two years he could read at a third-grade level. Inspired by his example, students flocked to the Lincoln Instructional Center and enrollment doubled.

George Dawson’s story ‘went viral’ as we would say today.  The Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote an article about Dawson’s one-hundredth birthday celebration and his recent literacy accomplishments. The Associated Press picked up the story and distributed it to newspapers across the country.  One such article was read by elementary school teacher Richard Glaubman in Port Townsend, Washington. Glaubman thought Dawson’s story would make an inspirational children’s book, and he phoned Dawson to propose his idea.  Dawson was leery at first, having been long ago warned by his father about the trouble that can ensue when whites and Blacks mix.  But ultimately, George agreed to meet Glaubman and the two struck up a friendship.

Long story short, after two years of frequent meetings and many late-night trips for George down memory lane, Glaubman realized that George Dawson was more than a children’s book, that his story and that of his ancestors needed to be told in full.  And so it happened that in May 2000, George Dawson’s memories were published in a book, Life Is So Good.

I have just downloaded Mr. Dawson’s book to my Kindle and plan to read it this weekend!

Besides describing Dawson’s life and adventures, the book is said to deliver a wrenching history of the life of black people in the South. A Reading Today reviewer stated …

“He recalls the struggles involved in growing up in rural Texas in the early 1900s, where the Ku Klux Klan was very active and where he saw one of his childhood friends lynched for being accused of being with a white girl. All through his life, even into his retirement years, Dawson has experienced prejudice in many forms.”

The opening scene in his book is one he lived through at age ten when he saw one of his friends lynched … hung to death from a tree by a local sheriff and a band of white supremacists, after falsely being accused of raping a white woman.  Ten years old when he witnessed this!  I cannot even imagine … can you?

Anyway, George Dawson’s memoir has withstood the test of time.  He appeared on Oprah and was featured in People magazine. He told his story in the June 2001 issue of the inspirational magazine Guideposts.  Sadly, George didn’t live long thereafter and died on July 5th, 2001, at the age of 103.  After his death, Carroll Independent School District named a middle school after him in Southlake, Texas.  And that might be the end of this story except …

That same school district that named a school for him has now banned his book.  They claim that it contains “inappropriate content.”  The district has thus far declined to specify which parts they found inappropriate but let me take a wild guess:  the parts that have to do with Jim Crow, lynchings, white supremacy, and in general the racial abuse Black people have been subjected to for centuries all the way up to today.  Let’s not allow our children to know how inhumanely white people have treated all humans who didn’t look and believe exactly as they did.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Mr. Dawson’s great grandson, Chris Irvin said that he was confused and hurt by Carroll ISD’s move, considering he and his family have visited the school at least five times for a reading of “Life is So Good.”

“That’s hurtful. You take away the bad and the ugly, and you only talk about the good, that doesn’t add up. Black history is American history. You can’t have one without the other. I can’t go to your history and tell you, ‘hey x that out of your life, that didn’t happen.'”

The attempts to bury and whitewash our history, our real history, must not be allowed to succeed.  It is a slap in the face to every Black person in this country.  Their story must be told!  IT MUST!!!  George Dawson’s story MUST be heard, it must be told and retold!  Otherwise … how can we ever do better???

I hope you’ll take just a couple of minutes to watch this brief video about the life and times of George Dawson.  Oh, and make sure you have a box of tissues at hand.

What Planet Have I Landed ON???

Ooooooohhhh … my head is ‘sploding!  🤯    The snark-o-meter is well into the danger zone  .  It must be time for me to share the misery, the angst, the utter depravity!  Fasten your seatbelts, my friends, for it won’t be a smooth ride!

I first read The Diary of Anne Frank at around the age of 7.  I already knew of the Holocaust through first-hand stories told by family members, and Anne Frank’s account of the terror in Germany during those years stayed in my mind long after the first time I read it.  Since then, I have read it at least twice more.  But some children today are not being allowed access to the book.  WHY??? Because at the Keller Independent School District in Keller, Texas, the district has ordered The Diary of Anne Frank to be pulled from all school library shelves immediately!

“By the end of today, I need all books pulled from the library and classrooms,” wrote Jennifer Price, Keller ISD’s executive director of curriculum and instruction.


Okay, so it appears that not only do some in this nation wish to whitewash the history of the U.S. – slavery, Indigenous People, internment camps, St. Louis, Jim Crow etc. – but now they also want to pretend that anti-Semitism isn’t even a thing, that Hitler never called for the execution of some six million Jewish people and others, that … what?  That World War II never happened and that the Jews self-exterminated because they didn’t like Hitler’s broomin’ mustache?

Apparently there is a concerted effort in some districts to see just how ignorant we can make the next generation!

Sean Hannity is a talking head for Fox “News” who just happens to have a net worth of some $250 million, was an unofficial ‘advisor’ to the last so-called president, and apparently is even more stupid than he looks.  Here is the nonsensical babble he uttered last Friday …

“What do you think the next thing that happens here is, do you think that they would try and indict the former president in the hopes of convicting him and having him in jail at the time of the next election to prevent him from running . . . Because a conviction by the way, constitutionally, would not prevent him from running for office.”

Marc Elias, a lawyer specializing in election law, rebutted Hannity’s claim by quoting U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2071, which states that anyone “having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

Hannity continued his claim that Trump could run and be elected even if convicted and even from a jail cell.  Well, Mr. Hannity is not as smart as he thinks, but he sure is, just like his idol, a royal pain in the patootie.  Oh, and by the way, if Trump should happen to be convicted for his role in the events of January 6th, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that Hannity claims to understand, prohibits anyone who has previously taken an oath of office (Senators, Representatives, and other public officials) from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.  Unlike Mr. Hannity, I have actually read and studied the Constitution!

Boston Children’s Hospital is ranked the #1 children’s hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and is a pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.  They do good things … they save children’s lives.  But in the past two weeks or so, the hospital and some of its staff have been harassed and are receiving threats.  Why?  Because some of the children they treat are transgender children and the radical right do not like it.

Apparently, it all started with a right-wing Twitter account, “Libs of TikTok” with misinformation, and then it snowballed, as such things are wont to do.  Now, doctors are being threatened with ‘execution’, staff are being harassed with threatening emails and phone calls, all because of some blatant lies told on a social media platform.  I have long seen two sides, a positive and a negative, to social media in general, but these days I’m seeing more negative than positive and am wondering if it’s really worth it.

The January 6th attempted coup was so well attended because participants were able to openly communicate on Facebook and Twitter to coordinate such things as travel arrangements, weapons, etc.  What’s next … a riot with bombs at a hospital filled with sick children?  Law enforcement is said to be working with the hospital … they damn well better search until they find every single person who has issued a threat and put them in jail where they belong!  A growing portion of this nation is sick and disgusting!

And on that note, I bid you a good-night or a good morning, depending on which side of the pond you’re on!

Shall We Stop Educating Our Children?

Betsy DeVos served under the former administration as Secretary of Education.  Ms. DeVos brought no qualifications in the field of education to the position – her only qualification was the huge sum of money (reported to be in the multi-million dollar range) she and her husband, Dick, had donated to the former guy’s campaign in 2016.  Ms. DeVos was no more qualified than I for the position, and did an even worse job than I would have, but that is all water under the bridge, for she and her corrupt boss have left the federal government … or have they?

It seems these days that anybody and everybody who served in the former administration feels qualified to write a book, and they believe that we will pay money to read their first-hand experience, or drivel, which is what most of these books are.  There are a few exceptions, such as Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy by Jamie Raskin, which I am currently reading.  However others, like One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General by former Attorney General William (Bill) Barr are merely ego trips for the authors.  The latest in the batch, slated for release on June 21st, is Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child by none other than Betsy DeVos.

Apparently Ms. DeVos defines ‘education freedom’ differently than I do, and hopes for an entirely different future for today’s children than I would wish for.  During a tour this week to promote her upcoming book, Ms. Devos made this statement:

“I don’t think the Department of Education should exist.”

My jaw dropped … she was, after all, paid $199,700 per year from our hard-earned tax dollars to lead the very department she now claims should not exist.  I read two articles about her ideas, why she believes the Department of Education should be shut down, and in my view she didn’t make one bit of sense.  She drones on about how ‘children are political pawns’ and “how poorly the system is serving children,” but offers no facts upon which she bases her opinions.  She apparently does not believe that every young person should have the opportunity to go to college, for she said …

“There are millions of great jobs going unfilled that don’t require a college degree.”

And regarding President Biden’s proposed student loan forgiveness program, she believes …

“It’s a horrible idea, and I don’t know how anyone can defend it. All you’re doing is buying a bunch of political goodwill.”

Way back in 2017, when DeVos was first made Secretary of Education, I posited that the goal she and Trump had was to ensure that only the children of the wealthy would ultimately be able to afford or qualify for a college education, that the other 99% of us would remain the proletariat, doing the heavy lifting for subsistence wages while those wealthy kids went into politics and managed their family’s multi-million dollar corporations.  Seems I was right.

Now, I consider her to be irrelevant and wouldn’t waste my time writing about her, except that … her ideas are becoming the ideas of the entire Republican Party that wants to diminish the education our kids are getting by failing to teach them facts, teach them history, teach them what they need to get into college and learn to think for themselves.  What if … perish the thought … the former guy somehow avoids the long arm of the law and is allowed to run for president again in 2024, and what if he were to win?  Would he follow DeVos’ advice and demolish the Department of Education?  And what would it be replaced with?  The Department of Christian Learning?  Will forced school prayer return to our schools, replacing such things as Biology, Literature, and History, all of which are seemingly being given the axe in many states today.

From banning books to refusing to teach about such things as slavery – the true cause of the Civil War – and the Tulsa Race Massacre, and the Civil Rights Era, and how white people treated the original owners of this land, we are turning education upside down and not in any good way.  I hope, I truly hope, that Ms. DeVos is never again in charge of anything in our government, but there are other equally noxious people in the Republican Party like Ron DeSantis who support the dumbing-down of our children.  What will this nation look like in 50 years if they succeed?

I Thought We Were Better …

In countries like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and many others, one man or group of men (it’s always men, never women) control the people, their actions & behaviours.  But in a democracy, a true democracy, it is the voice of the majority that determines the laws of the land.  The United States was founded as a Democratic Republic, which is somewhat different than a pure democracy.  In a pure democracy, laws are made directly by the voting majority leaving the rights of the minority largely unprotected. In a democratic republic, laws are made by representatives chosen by the people and must comply with a constitution that specifically protects the rights of the minority as well as those of the majority.

Today in the United States, it is the will of the minority that is trampling all over the rights of the majority.  The majority of people (60%) in the U.S. are for stricter gun regulations, yet there is no movement in this direction.  The majority of people (54%, with only 28% wishing to overturn it, with 18% who don’t care one way or the other) are in favour of maintaining Roe v Wade, supporting women’s rights, yet the Supreme Court is fully poised to overturn Roe.  The majority of the people (66%) in this country support Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ program to help people who were financially affected by the pandemic, yet Congress trashed it.  70% of all voters were in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act last year, yet Congress also trashed both of those.  So … we can only conclude that the minority is dominating the majority and that is NOT in keeping with ANY form of democratic principles!

A few weeks ago, I reblogged Brosephus’ post titled America Is Dead.  At the time, I qualified my view of it, saying that I still had hope for this nation to rebound and that I would continue fighting with renewed resolve to restore the rights and will of the people – the majority of the people.  But yet again, I am discouraged, for it seems that the people in this nation today are so divided that there is no longer a UNITED States of America, but that we should change the name to the DIVIDED States of America.  In truth, it is almost as if there are two completely separate sub-species of humans living here.  We laud Abraham Lincoln for ending the Civil War, for bringing the nation back under one umbrella, but today we are as divided as we were in the 19th century.

Our friend Keith, who is among the most reasonable men I know, suggests we do more to open the lines of communications between the two sides, initiating dialogue, calmly asking those with opinions different from our own why they think as they do, and finding common ground, areas where we can compromise.  I agree with Keith’s premise, but is there so much as a square inch of common ground remaining these days?  It seems to me that the common ground was the first casualty of the great divide.  My concern is that there will be many more casualties of that great divide in the future.

Every day it seems that more and more schools and communities are banning certain books, even classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, or To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  WHY?  I first heard the claim that such books made white children ‘feel bad’ about how Blacks were treated back in the day, but of late, it is said that the books are being banned because they make Black children feel bad about themselves.  Either one is naught but an excuse for the reality which is that white supremacists do not want the next generation to be taught about the racism that has been a part of this country since before its founding.  Do they honestly think the children won’t learn about it anyway?  Isn’t it far better to have a compassionate teacher explain what happened, why it was wrong, and how we have worked throughout the past century to rectify it?  How can you simply cut a piece of history out of the history books?  How will they explain what Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Malcom X and others were fighting for when those who are children today reach high school and college?  So, I argue that books cannot be banned in schools and libraries, except perhaps books like Fifty Shades of Grey.

But my voice is not heard, more books are being banned daily, and if I were independently wealthy, I would mail a copy of Maus by Art Spiegelman to every child under the age of 12 in the nation.  Maus is a nonfiction graphic novel that depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, yet the book is banned in a number of places.  Are we also, in addition to trying to erase our racist past, trying to erase the Holocaust, or anti-Semitism, or even World War II???  Are people really so narrow-minded that they believe our children won’t learn these things, one way or another.  And even more to the point, do they seek a return to those things such as extreme racial hatred, anti-Semitism, and violence against any who don’t fit into their own views?  For that is exactly where we are headed if we hide the reality of the past from the next generation.  It’s almost as if some have looked at the steps forward of the past 50-70 years and decided it was too much, that they wanted a ‘reset’ button to take them … take us all … back to the 1950s, the days of Happy Days television show, the days of segregated diners, segregated schools, and school prayer forced upon every child.

America’s claim to fame has been that it was a nation of immigrants, a diverse nation, but today it seems we want to erase that, to become a homogeneous country where everyone thinks, looks, and acts exactly the same.  How terrible, how boring, and how surreal that would be.

Those who wish for more, rather than fewer civil rights, who wish to keep Roe, Obergefell, Brown, and other Court rulings that have given rights to those who were once without, are not trying to force their way on others.  For example, and I’ve said this many times, if you don’t believe that abortion is right, then you are free not to have an abortion!  If you do not like same-sex marriage, then marry someone of the opposite sex!  Nobody, but nobody is forcing anyone to have an abortion or marry someone of their same gender.  But it is those with narrow minds and shallow views who would force the rest of us into their very small, dark box.  I don’t wish to live in that small, dark, terrible box, nor would I wish it on anyone else.

I thought we were better than this.  Obviously, I was wrong.

They Are Not Just “Your” Kids!

A recent column by Frank Bruni brought to my attention something that … for whatever reason … had not occurred to me in this whole education “cultural war” anti-CRT, anti-LGBTQ school curriculum battle.  DAMMIT, Ron DeSantis and others who would deprive our children of an education … WE THE PEOPLE … all of us, even those of us who no longer or never did have school-age children, PAY for the schools AND we rely on the schools to turn out well-educated, well-rounded young people who can make this country — the world — a better place for us all!  DeSantis and the bigoted parents who do not want their children to learn that the U.S. is and has always been a racist nation, DeSantis and the homophobic parents who are scared shitless that little Johnny or Susie may eventually realize that … hey, it’s okay to be different …  DeSantis and those narrow-minded parents are ruining the future of this country, ensuring the next generation will repeat the mistakes of the last!!!

Whew … glad I got that off my chest.

But seriously … every working person in this nation pays taxes … taxes that go to pay teachers, to build, renovate and maintain school buildings, pay bus drivers and buy buses, desks, and other equipment.  Why should only parents and governors have a say in whether our children are educated or indoctrinated?  Parents:  Your children are my children’s future and the future of every person in the country!  For you to determine that they should be shielded from our past is to say that you want the racist, homophobic ideology that has often been prevalent in the U.S. to continue.  You say you don’t want your children to “feel guilty” over such issues as slavery and Jim Crow … well, I never felt guilty when I learned of these things as a child and later a teen, I just felt that I wanted to do better than past generations had done.  Isn’t that what we need?  Do you hate Blacks and Gay people so much that you want your children to grow up sharing your hatred?  Do you want to see hundreds more Black men murdered as George Floyd was in Minneapolis in 2020 because you were too ashamed to allow your children to learn the truth?

If a parent wishes their children to learn only the happy-happy-joy-joy parts of U.S. history, then they can either find a private school that shares their views, or they can homeschool their children, but the do NOT have the right to inflict their narrow-minded views on every child in the nation!  Parents who wish to teach Christianity or Islam or Judaism to their children have plenty of time off campus to do just that, but those parents do NOT have the right to cram it down the throats of children whose families believe differently or do not place the same level of importance on religion as they do.  There is a reason that the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1962 that prayer in schools is unconstitutional … because not all of us believe the same, and that is our right, as well as the right of our children!

Ron DeSantis owes this nation an apology, for he has attempted to make the whims of a few into the law of the land.  And why?  Because he hopes to stir the pot enough to win the presidential election in 2024.  He would destroy our future for his own personal gain, just like another similar ‘man’ who was twice-impeached and voted out of office two years ago.  These, my friends, are not the sort of politicians we need in our government, for they pander to the few and disregard the majority.  They would turn this nation into ashes tomorrow if it gave them the ego-boost, the power they so crave.  DON’T LET THEM DO IT!!!  Protect our children, protect our nation, get rid of the clowns who care naught for either.

Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow, who few people outside of Michigan have ever heard of, defended herself after being accused by a colleague of supporting pedophilia, being a ‘groomer’, and more because she stood up for teaching children the truth, and for being open and allowing children to express themselves.  This clip is well worth the time spent to watch Ms. McMorrow’s rebuttal.

The future of the world, if the world is to have a future, depends on teaching today’s children to be better than we and our forbears were, teaching them to care for the earth and ALL its inhabitants!  Instead of banning books, we should be banning bigots like Florida’s Governor DeSantis and all those who agree with his hate-filled ideology.


In another 20 years or so, there won’t be a young Floridian who is able to get and hold a job, other than perhaps one pushing burgers through the drive-through window at Wendy’s.  Why?  Because in Florida, there will soon be nothing left to teach in public schools.  First there was the bill that banned the teaching about lessons touching on race or gender.  Only whitewashed history – false history embellishing the good and hiding the bad – is allowed to be taught.  And the latest?  Florida has just banned 54 math textbooks, saying they touched on critical race theory and other ‘prohibited topics’!  MATH textbooks!!!  So … the next generation in Florida will not be able to balance a checkbook, let alone count back change to a customer or do their own taxes!

C’mon people … critical race theory has become a dog whistle for Republicans … something they use to raise the fears of people in their state, even though the damn lawmakers writing these laws don’t have the foggiest notion what CRT actually is.  It is not taught in schools, and it damn sure isn’t found in math books!  Have these people lost their bloody minds?  Do they really want to raise a generation that cannot think, that has no idea how to even think for themselves?  Oh, they’ll know how to shoot a gun, but anything else is likely to be beyond their realm of capability.

But wait!  There’s a solution … if you’re wealthy, that is.  You can spend lots of money to send your children to private schools where they might actually learn something useful and be better prepared for college and eventually a lucrative career!  For several years now I have thought that schools were being ‘dummied-down’ in order to ensure a future where the only people educated enough to hold high-level government offices would be the offspring of the ultra-wealthy … children of corporate executives and the like.  Laws being passed in Florida and numerous other states seem to be playing into that scenario.  Right now, the wealth in this nation is concentrated, owned by a relative handful of people while that handful pays money to members of Congress to ensure that we peons are kept working for a relative pittance!  The minimum wage was last raised in 2009 … how much wealth has Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk accumulated in those 13 years while the average Joe has struggled to simply pay his rent and put food on the table?  I bet my life’s savings … all $14.96 of it … that the offspring of Bezos & Musk do not attend public schools in Florida or anywhere else!

Those who work for a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour cannot possibly afford to send their children to private schools so that they can get a good education instead of the brainwashing Florida and other states are determined to provide in public schools.  This trend began with Betsy DeVos being put in the position of Secretary of Education under the former guy with the sole goal of ensuring that only the wealthiest are availed of the opportunities that will take them far in life.  She’s gone now, but the trend to keep children from being educated continues at the state level in states where Republicans dominate the state legislatures and governor’s offices.

Heck, before long even such classes as Literature, Science and Art will be taboo.  Think about it … Literature is filled with stories of struggle by various races and the tales of rich vs. poor — can’t have that now, can we?  And Science … well, we surely cannot allow our children to understand such things as ecosystems and how humans are destroying the environment!  Why, it could put the fossil fuel barons out of business!  And Art … well, what if some unsuspecting child were to draw a picture of a Black kid and a white kid playing together!  GASP!!!

Florida is not alone … it is, however, the first that I’m aware of to ban math books claiming they promote Critical Race Theory!  This is the most ridiculous pile of garbage I’ve ever heard and it is to be hoped that the good people of Florida will take the very next opportunity to throw the entire lot out of office and elect people who care about the future of this nation and future generations!

The Week’s Best Cartoons 4/16

Each Saturday, our friend TokyoSand over at Political Charge scours the ‘net for the best, most relevant political cartoons of the week.  Political cartoonists have a tremendous talent, an ability to sum up a situation with few or no words, only a drawing.  This week is no exception and I really hope you’ll visit Tokyo’s site to view them all, but below is a sampling of this week’s best ‘toons!

Here’s a smattering of great editorial cartoons I saw this past week.

See all the ‘toons at TokyoSand’s Political Charge!

Banning Books … What’s Next … Burning Books?

The book Maus by Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer.  According to Amazon …

The first installment of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker).

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history’s most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.

This week, a Tennessee school board voted to ban Maus.  Says Spiegelman …

“It’s part of a continuum, and just a harbinger of things to come. The control of people’s thoughts is essential to all of this.”

Sound rather Orwellian?  Well, guess what … George Orwell’s most famous novel, 1984, has been banned repeatedly in many places in the U.S. along with other classics such as The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, and a host of others.

Schools and libraries that have banned books are essentially depriving young people of the opportunity to learn, to become functional adults who understand both what is right and what is wrong with the world we live in.  The latest trend in education seems to be to whitewash history or teach a revisionist version of history and this is just WRONG!  We are told that it is wrong to teach something that might make students feel ‘uncomfortable.’  Bullshit!  Life can sometimes be very uncomfortable, but we cannot simply don our rose-coloured glasses and turn a blind eye to such things as racism, police brutality, an over-reaching government, or the darker periods in history such as the Holocaust, slavery, Jim Crow, and more.  Reality is … you cannot bury the past and expect future generations to understand what NOT to do!

After reading about the decision to ban Maus, I started digging a bit to see what other books have been banned and … my jaw dropped all the way to the floor!  A few examples …

Toni Morrison’s Beloved … Set after the American Civil War, it tells the story of a family of former slaves whose Cincinnati home is haunted by a malevolent spirit. Beloved is inspired by an event that actually happened: Margaret Garner, an enslaved person in Kentucky, who escaped and fled to the free state of Ohio in 1856. She was subject to capture in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; when U.S. marshals burst into the cabin where Garner and her husband had barricaded themselves, she was attempting to kill her children, and had already killed her two-year-old daughter, to spare them from being returned to slavery.  Beloved has been banned from at least five U.S. schools.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2009 at number 17th.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Color Purple is a powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, depicting the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, a 1937 novel by American writer Zora Neale Hurston, is considered a classic of the Harlem Renaissance, and Hurston’s best known work. The novel explores main character Janie Crawford’s “ripening from a vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny”. Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel was initially poorly received. Since the late 20th century, it has been regarded as influential to both African-American literature and women’s literature. TIME included the novel in its 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.

That classic tale by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, was once banned in Mississippi schools because one parent reported that “her son was uncomfortable with the N-word.”  Reality, my friends, is often harsh, but we must learn from it!  How are we to improve, become better people than our ancestors were, if we hide the truth, turn a blind eye to the past?

And the list goes on … and on … and on.

Last year, a group in Tennessee calling themselves “Moms for Liberty” demanded that lessons about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruby Bridges be cut for being divisive, lessons about civil rights crackdowns be cut for “negative views of firemen and police,” and even took issue with a book about … seahorses, claiming that the seahorses were shown being ‘sexy’!  For the love of Pete, where are these damn fools coming from???

Now, I could understand if schools were banning something along the lines of how-to sex manuals or tips for getting away with murder, but the books being banned are those that teach the valuable lessons of history, both in this country and others.  Our young people MUST learn about our past, must learn what we did right as well as what we did wrong, otherwise in no way will they be prepared to enter the world of adulthood, the real world!

Banning books … there is nothing to justify it and it is eerily reminiscent of times and places that led to horrible outcomes.  Are we destined to keep repeating the same history, the same mistakes, over and over until the human species finally obliterates itself?  Think about it.

Note to Readers:  Just as I finished editing and scheduling this post, I saw a post by John Pavlovitz along these lines and he says it better than I, so if you have a minute, drop in and read his view, too!

Another Note to Readers:  Annie over at AnnieAsksYou also wrote on this topic today and I think you’ll find much of her information to be surprising and enlightening!  Thank you, Annie!

Snarky Snippets Are Baaaack!

It’s been a while since I released a full stream of snarky snippets … been taking it a bit easy, trying to keep the snark at bay, but … well, that only works for so long, y’know.

Say WHAT???

Harry-PotterWhen Miss Goose was young, I read to her the first Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (first published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK).  I liked it much better than she did, and I went on to read the next 2 or 3 in the series … by myself.  Although I’ve never been a fan of fantasy fiction, I have to admit they are fun books.  Harmless fun with lovable characters.  But apparently the Catholic Church doesn’t think so.

St. Edward Catholic school in Nashville has removed the Harry Potter books from its library, saying …

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

Oh bullcrap!  Yes, that noise you hear is me stomping my feet, not the presence of evil spirits!

According to Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools for the Catholic diocese of Nashville …

“We really don’t get into censorship in such selections other than making sure that what we put in our school libraries are age-appropriate materials for our classrooms.”

Well if this isn’t censorship, lady, then I must not understand the meaning of the word.  I was not aware, but the Harry Potter series has drawn criticism from religious groups before.  In 2001, the pastor of Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico oversaw a book burning of the Potter books, and a local library responded with a dedicated display, telling the public that “Harry is alive and well at the library”.

While he was still a cardinal in 2003, the future Pope Benedict XVI described the books as “subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly”.

Wake up churches … we have entered the 21st century!  Harry Potter books are fun!  They are harmless!  There ain’t no evil spirits planning to descend upon those who read these books!

A veteran speaks …

Last week, a spokesperson for Bozo in the Oval announced that “in certain cases”, children born to U.S. service members or government employees stationed abroad may not automatically be eligible for citizenship under the new Trump rules.

Tammy-DuckworthTammy Duckworth is a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois since 2017.  While serving in the Iraq War as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, Ms. Duckworth suffered severe combat wounds, which caused her to lose both of her legs and some mobility in her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war. Despite her grievous injuries, she sought and obtained a medical waiver which allowed her to continue serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Senator Duckworth penned a letter to Kevin McAleenan, the acting director of homeland security, stating her objections to the new policy.  Her letter bears reading …

Duckworth-1duckworth-2.pngDuckworth-3What’s next, folks?  Trump claims to love the military, love veterans, but thus far his policies have done nothing positive for them.

Spittin’ in the wind?

I really didn’t set out with the intention of picking on religion tonight … I try hard to bite my tongue where religion is concerned, but at the moment, my tongue is already bleeding.

Florida is bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian.  I’ve seen countless pictures of people filling sandbags, boarding windows, helping others move inland, stocking up on supplies, and more.  But, these people …pray-ers

… gathered on the Jacksonville Beach Pier to pray the storm away.  Yes, you heard me right!  They say they are telling the storm to “calm down”.  I put this one right up there with people sending “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting, but then admittedly I am a cynic.  The group says they did the same thing two years ago while awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irma.  Did that work well for them?  Well, let’s see …

Hurricane Irma delivered an $85 million hit to the city of Jacksonville, according to the city’s most recent cost estimates.

The biggest share of the total is about $40 million for hauling away all the debris left behind by the storm, followed by $16.6 million for dunes and berms, and $15.3 million for personnel and equipment costs for emergency response operations.

The total financial impact on city government is almost twice the $45 million expense dealt by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

I’m thinking maybe not so much.  And during Irma, they even had the help of some 59,000 people who had the brilliant idea to point fans toward the east and blow the hurricane back out to sea!  Imagine how much worse Irma might have been if she hadn’t been thwarted by all that hot air!fans-Irma


Okay … I’m done snarking for tonight.  I’m fairly certain I’ll have more soon, though.  Meanwhile, to all my friends and readers in the path of Hurricane Dorian, please keep safe and let us know you’re okay.  Love you all!