Winning Over White Supremacists–One Hater at a Time

In the wee hours this morning, as I was trying to catch up and visit a few friends’ blogs that I had not visited recently, I came across one that gave me pause. Since the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, extremist white supremacist groups have been much on our mind. It is easy to lump them together and think of those who perpetrate such crimes as something less than human, but … sometimes they just need somebody to show them that love is better than hate. Please take a few minutes to read Annie’s excellent post … you won’t regret it! Thank you, Annie, for the time and effort you spent on this … very thought-provoking!

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Image from American Progress.org

I am writing this piece with images of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol still very fresh in my mind. It is a huge stretch to think of those brutal, sadistic, remorseless thugs and imagine summoning an iota of compassion for them. But others of their ilk–and many psychologists and researchers–say that’s precisely what’s needed.

They call themselves the “formers”: former Klansman, neo-Nazis, or generic white supremacists or other racial extremists who are now devoted to guiding those who’d followed similar paths to come to a better life.

Christian Picciolini is one of them. As a 14-year-old, he’d joined a violent group of white power adherents who became the “Hammerskin Nation.” As he described his feelings to Dave Davies in an NPR interview, the group threw him a “lifeline of acceptance…I felt a sort of energy flow through me that I had never felt before—as…

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Just Two Bits of Snark …

My hero for this week is the police chief of Atlanta, Georgia, one Erika Shields.  While other police chiefs and mayors in the 20+ cities that saw protests of the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were behind closed doors, calling out National Guard troops to try to quell the violence, and while Donald Trump cowered behind the White House doors, tweeting ridiculous lies and not so much as mentioning trying to bring the country together, Erika Shields was calming the protests in her city.

Chief Shields waded right into the crowd of protesters, and here’s what she said to them …

Erika-Shields“Let me tell you something, I am standing here because what I saw was my people face to face with this crowd and everybody’s thinking ‘how can we use force and diffuse this’ and I’m not having it. I’m not having that. You have a right to be upset, to be scared, and to want to yell. And we’re going to have everybody doing what they need to do and we’re going to do it safely. That’s my first commitment. And I hear you. I have heard from so many people that cannot sleep, they’re terrified, they’re crying, they’re worried for their children – there’s a problem.”   

She gently touched the arms of the protesters, and one by one they came and thanked her, with tears in their eyes telling her of their fears.

Now, granted, in and of itself, a few kind words won’t fix the problem, won’t stop the violence, but it’s a damn sight better start than Trump threatening to have them shot!  I give Chief Shields two thumbs up for showing empathy, for understanding that threats are not the answer, for remembering that the protestors are there for a reason and that their voices have been ignored for a very long time now.  They are saying … “No longer will we be ignored and treated as second-class citizens!”

KaepernickThe solutions to these problems will not happen overnight, and they will not happen at all as long as we have people in the upper echelons of our government who simply do not care.  Until the very real concerns are taken seriously, until there are steps made toward real solutions, not band-aid fixes, the protests, riots, and violence will continue.  In September 2016, San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick chose to take a knee rather than stand for the national anthem.  He was protesting the exact same thing the protesters today are protesting:  police brutality and murder of black people.  Yet, his very peaceful protest was met with derision, insults, and eventually loss of his job.  Since then, police killings of blacks have continued and now people are tired, they are sick of protesting peacefully and nothing changes.  Until this nation makes changes, there will be protests, some will be violent, some people will die.  It’s a fact, not a speculation.  I don’t condone the violence, but I do understand it and I fully support their cause.


I have long said that Trump’s constant battle with the press would have a disastrous outcome.  When he declared the press the “enemy of the people”, my jaw dropped.  Every president has had his difficulties with the press, but none in the history of this country has ever used the venomous rhetoric that Trump does, and in the last 48 hours, we have seen the results.

On Friday morning, the day began with the chilling arrest of a CNN crew in Minneapolis — two of whom were people of color — even as their cameras rolled. Omar Jimenez, Bill Kirkos and Leonel Mendez were simply doing their jobs, covering the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.  They identified themselves to police, but to no avail.  Then later in the day, CNN headquarters in Atlanta were attacked and vandalized by protestors. CNN-headquartersIn between, all around the country, journalists were harassed.  In Louisville, a police officer shot pepper balls at a local TV reporter, Kaitlin Rust while in Denver, police fired paintballs and tear gas, hitting a news photographer and his camera.  The seeds for these incidents were planted long ago, when Donald Trump declared the press the “enemy of the people”, but this is only the beginning, my friends.  According to Suzanne Nossel, chief executive of PEN America, the nonprofit organization devoted to free expression …

“By denigrating journalists so often, he has degraded respect for what journalists do and the crucial role they play in a democracy. He’s been remarkably effective in contributing to this topsy-turvy sense that journalists are the opposition.”

During the 2016 campaign, Trump was interviewed by CBS reporter Lesley Stahl, who asked him why he was constantly denigrating members of the press.  His reply?

“You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

Well, folks, just like it’s time for the black people to stand up and say, “Hell no, we won’t sit down and take it any longer”,  perhaps it’s time for this entire nation, at least those of us who value democratic principles, to say the same about Trump’s abusive denigration of our press.  Please remember that the free press is the only thing standing between a full-fledged dictatorship and a relatively democratic nation.  THE. ONLY. THING.Obama-free-press-quote

A change will come

Just after I put my post about racism in the U.S. on the schedule, I saw this post by my friend Brosephus. In this post, he addresses some of the same issues I did, only from a much more up-close-and-personal view. With his permission, I am re-blogging this and hope you will take a couple of minutes to read it … his words are so very important. Thank you, Brosephus, for sharing these thoughts and words.

The Mind of Brosephus

I’m tired of seeing, hearing, and writing about unjustified police actions on the people they’ve sworn to protect and serve. It’s a never ending loop of agony and despair. I look at my family, my friends, and my coworkers and wonder when will this cycle stop? We’ve been in this loop since before the Emancipation Proclamation, and it’s time for a change in approach.

I’ve told people over the last year or so that we’re barreling towards a date with violence in America. Look at the response to the killing of George Floyd. No, rioting and looting is not the way to address his killing. However, I understand the frustration being uncorked because the residents of Minneapolis have been protesting police brutality there for a while. It’s the same all across America.

When you ignore, downplay, or dismiss peaceful protest, the end result is violence. Colin Kaepernick ended his NFL…

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A Child … Just A Child

It seems to me that this nation places too much value on rites and rituals and not enough on substantive issues.  When an eleven-year-old child is arrested … yes, arrested by police … for exercising his right to free speech by refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, something has gone awry with our values as a nation.

It all began on the morning of February 4th, when a young boy at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Polk County, Florida, refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance.  The boy had refused to stand for the pledge for the entire school year, and had written permission from his mother to do so. But on this day there was a substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez.  When Ms. Alvarez asked the boy why he didn’t stand, he told her he believes the pledge represents racism.  Ms. Alvarez’ responded …

“Why if it was so bad here you do not go to another place to live.”

And when the boy replied, “They brought me here,” Alvarez said …

“Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”

Perhaps Ms. Alvarez forgot she was talking to an 11-year-old child who has neither the autonomy nor the means to choose his own place to live?

“Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”

A school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department eventually responded to the classroom and arrested the boy.  Arrested a child.  An African-American child who did not break any law.  According to a statement by Polk County Public Schools, the child “became disruptive” and “refused to follow instructions.”  Excuse me, but the boy is eleven years old!  He was no doubt frightened and felt threatened!  He was not an adult who might have been able to understand and deal with the situation in a moderated voice!

This case, naturally, brings to mind that of Colin Kaepernick who was unduly ostracized and penalized for exercising his first amendment right to refuse to stand for the national anthem.  If Colin Kaepernick had been Caucasian, would the results have been different?  If this 11-year-old boy had been Caucasian, would the results have been different?  We will never know for sure, but my best guess is that yes, in both cases the refusal to stand would have been largely overlooked.

On Tuesday, Brian Haas, the state attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Florida, said that his office would not prosecute the boy despite statements by the police that he had made threats after disrupting class. “The case is closed,” Mr. Haas said.

However, the boy’s mother, understandably, is not satisfied, nor is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Dhakira Talbot, the lad’s mother, declined an offer from prosecutors on Monday to drop the case if the boy completed a so-called diversion program, which could include a fine and community service.  She has obtained an attorney who plans to file a civil-rights complaint with the federal Department of Education this week.

A personal note here.  Throughout my childhood I refused steadfastly to stand for the pledge or to engage in the morning prayer that was requisite in the Catholic schools I attended.  The nuns did not like it and more than a few times I was smacked on the hands and even the head with the metal edge of a ruler (Catholic schools in the 1950s were notorious for corporal punishment).  But, being the stubborn girl I was even back then, I did not give in.  AND … I did not get arrested.  I seriously doubt that calling the police ever crossed their minds!

According to the New York Times article from February 19th

Across the country, black students are disciplined more often and face harsher consequences than their white peers. At Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, black students made up 17 percent of the student body last school year but represented 39 percent of disciplinary actions, according to data from the Florida Department of Education.

Systemic racism.  Perhaps the biggest shame of this nation.  And an 11-year-old boy has suffered an experience he will never forget.  He has been shown, first-hand, that black people are treated with less respect, less dignity than those with pale skin.  What lasting effect will this incident have on a young child’s life?  There is no way to know, but we can rest assured that it will colour his views for the rest of his life.

A Dose of Saturday Snarky Snippets

Saturday afternoon … and all the news is about Paul Manafort’s plea bargain and Hurricane Florence.  While these are both very important stories, I cannot add much to what is already being said, so, I went in search of a few snippets beyond today’s headlines.


The last laugh …

nike-toonWhen Nike announced that their new ad campaign for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” motto would feature Colin Kaepernick, the man who took a knee to take a stand against racial injustice, some portion of the nation went a bit berserk.  There were reports of people burning their Nike clothing & shoes, cutting holes in their socks, and all manners of rather stupid (considering they paid for those clothes & shoes) protests.  Boycotts were called for, and Donald Trump, of course had to get in on the act saying, “I don’t like what Nike did. I don’t think it’s appropriate what they did.”  Rather tame for him, come to think of it.

The rumour mill, aka ‘social media’, fed by people who have entirely too much time on their hands to think up stupid things to do, went wild.  Within days of the announcement, for example, it was reported that Nike scotched the deal after Kaepernick launched into an “anti-white rant” in public (false), that Nike lost an $80 million U.S. government contract because of the deal (false), and that former NBA star Michael Jordan had resigned from Nike’s board of directors in protest of the Kaepernick deal (also false).  Then on September 9th, it was reported by a junk website that Kaepernick was arrested for trespassing after running onto the field during the national anthem “as a publicity stunt” at an NFL game in San Francisco.  Also blatantly false.  Trump talks a lot about libel laws when somebody reports something unfavourable yet true about him … these stories about Kaepernick are what libel actually looks like.

And of course, the predictions by some were that Nike would be on the verge of bankruptcy within a year. Thus, it is with great joy that I report that on Thursday, Nike stock reached an all-time high, closing at $83.47, and gained yet another two-cents yesterday, closing at $83.49!  Additionally, Nike’s online revenue increased by 31% in the days after the announcement. Go Nike!

nike swoosh-2


NRA oopsie … 

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from making expenditures in connection with federal elections.  Known as Citizens United, this case opened the door for massive amounts of money to be spent by big businesses and lobbyists such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) on advertising for individual candidates who they believe will, in return, vote in their favour once in office.  There are, however, some rules & limitations.

One such rule is that while such groups can raise and spend virtually unlimited amounts on an election, they must do so independently of the candidate. In other words there cannot be an agreement between, say, the NRA and a specific candidate.  And so, when the following conversation between republican senate candidate Matt Rosendale of Montana and an unidentified person took place in a bar one July night, it was in violation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC rules).

“I fully expect the NRA is going to come in… in August sometime. The Supreme Court confirmations are big. That’s what sent the NRA over the line. Because in ’12, with [Republican Senate nominee Denny Rehberg] they stayed out, they stayed out of Montana. But Chris Cox told me, he’s like, ‘We’re going to be in this race.’”

matt rosendaleChris Cox is the head of the NRA lobbying efforts, and sure enough, earlier this month, the NRA spent more than $400,000 on ads hitting Rosendale’s democratic opponent, incumbent Jon Tester over the precise issue that Rosendale mentioned—the senator’s votes on Supreme Court nominations.  Dirty pool?  You betcha.  Is anything likely to come of it?  It is extremely doubtful, for there is no evidence in the audio recording that Rosendale consented or encouraged the contribution. Just one more of the many tricks the GOP and NRA have up their sleeves.


‘Fear’-less library …

fear-libraryThe town of Berkeley Springs is located in Morgan County, West Virginia.  West Virginia voted 75% for Donald Trump in 2016, which says something about the state.  Nonetheless, there is a library in Berkeley.  The Director of the Morgan County Public Library is one Donna Crocker.  On Tuesday, when Bob Woodward’s book, Fear:  Trump in the White House, was released, Berkeley Springs resident Rob Campbell generously attempted to donate a copy of the book to the library but was turned down flat.  Crocker declined his offer, saying that they “… wouldn’t be putting books like that on the shelves anymore.”  Books like that???  Like what?  What year is this, again?

After a hue and cry on Facebook by residents who are apparently eager to read the book, Ms. Crocker’s decision was overridden by Connie Perry, the president of the trustees of the Morgan County Public Library.  Ms. Perry attempted to pass the incident off as just a ‘misunderstanding’, saying “It was an employee who . . . wasn’t aware of what she should have done.”  And yet … Crocker is the Director, not just any employee.  I strongly suspect Ms. Crocker made the decision based on her own political preferences, for when asked in a phone interview about her decision, she said “I don’t want to get in the middle of that. We have other Trump books.”book banning


And thus concludes yet another episode of Snarky Snippets. Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!

Mind Bounce & Snarky Snippets

Good Monday Tuesday morning!  Somehow it feels like Monday … I suppose because yesterday was a holiday and other than 4 loads of laundry and mopping up pineapple juice from the kitchen floor, I didn’t do so much as a smidge of housework!  Anyway, I had mind bounce yesterday that carried over into last night, so I started multiple posts, then couldn’t figure out how to wrap them up … in one case, couldn’t even figure out where I was going with it, what my point was.  So, instead I am opting for some bits ‘n pieces, this ‘n that, with just a bit of my usual snarkiness added in for fun.


Bannon Gets Bounced …bannon-2Last week it was announced that white supremacist and former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon would be featured during The New Yorker Festival that is scheduled to run from October 5th thru 7th. He was to be interviewed by the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, who is a frequent critic of the Trump administration.  The response to the announcement was rapid and served as a potential death knell for the festival, with prominent participants saying they would not attend if Bannon were there.

Sometimes, voices truly are heard.  In a note to his staff yesterday evening, Mr. Remnick said, “I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues—and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind.”  Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow and Patton Oswald were among the celebrities who said they would not participate in the event if Bannon were to attend.

Bannon was miffed: “In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”  Oh well, Stevie … sorry ‘bout your luck!  Score one for good sense, eh?


Thumbs Up For Nike …

Having written a rather lengthy post about the latest regarding Colin Kaepernick, I had no plans for writing about him again so soon.  But, in the comments section of yesterday’s post, two readers, Ellen & Larry, gave me the heads up about Nike’s announcement to feature Colin in a new ad campaign for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” motto. Colin KaepernickNow, you may not think this is a huge deal … Colin Kaepernick is a big football star, Nike sells athletic clothing & shoes … this is what they do, right?  But, given the controversy over the past two years, given that some 53% of the nation, including the ‘man’ in the Oval Office think what Mr. Kaepernick is doing is terrible, Nike is taking a huge risk.  It could go either way … people might, like myself and some of my readers, plan to start buying more Nike products, or Donald Trump and others such as conservative news sites may call on their fans & followers to boycott Nike.  My instinct says the latter is the more likely scenario.

Nonetheless, I give Nike a 👍 👍 for having the courage to stand by their convictions.  According to Nike executive Gino Fisanotti, “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward. We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes.”


What … Again??? 💤

baby-trumpIf your favourite brand of coffee changes the taste just a bit, you may grumble and grouse for a bit, but after a few days you are used to it and you don’t even notice anymore.  This is how we are becoming in certain areas … complacent, immune.  One such area is the threat of a government {yawn} shutdown.  How many times now since Trump took office have we been threatened with it?  Three, I think?  💤 Who knows … I’ve lost count.  The one constant here is … the bloomin’ wall!  Wah, wah, wah … da baby isn’t gonna play nice if he cannot have his multi-billion-dollar toy.  It’s old, folks … it’s well beyond old and tiresome.

One might think that with a republican president, a republican majority in both chambers of Congress, and an administration that is filled to the rafters with boot-lickers and sycophants, they could likely agree on a compromise early on so that we wouldn’t have to be threatened.  Oh, but wait … he likes to threaten … it’s how he feeds his mighty ego.

This time, the threat of a shutdown has another layer of intrigue, for the deadline to pass a budget comes a short 36 days before the all-important mid-term elections.  It must be tough on the republicans tasked with soothing and cajoling Trump.  I understand that Pence, McConnell, Ryan and McCarthy have all been handling him with kid gloves, trying to talk him into postponing the border wall issue until next time, for they fear the additional damage a shutdown will cause at the polls.

On the other side, however, are the hardliners who are encouraging Trump to stand firm.  My, oh my … what’s a man to do? trump-golf


Stay tuned, folks … never a dull moment these days!

Colin Kaepernick vs The Nation

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” — Colin Kaepernick, August 2016

I am, once again, going to wade into this controversy with my own semi-humble opinion.  It is a topic I have dealt with at least once or twice before, but people are losing their grip on reality here and it has set my radar to ticking.

To start, there is not a single word in the U.S. Constitution about kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.  The national anthem wasn’t even thought of in 1787 when the Constitution was signed and ratified.  The lyrics to the song were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, but the song was only adopted as the national anthem in March 1931.  Additionally, there is no federal or state law making it a requirement to stand when the song is sung or played.

Last October, former judge and then-senatorial candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore claimed …

“It’s against the law, you know that? It was a act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.”

Judge Moore lied.  There is no such law.  Congress indeed passed a law dealing with decorum during the national anthem. But the etiquette is merely a suggestion, not a legal obligation.  It is a song, folks … only a song.  Hardly worth people threatening other people’s livelihoods over.

There is a legal precedent that protects people’s rights in such cases.  In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia vs. Barnette that the First Amendment protects people from being forced to participate in patriotic ceremonies that offend their conscience or beliefs.  And more recently, in the 1989 case of Texas vs. Johnson, the court protected the the right to burn the American flag as a form of symbolic speech.  Just as the national anthem is but a song, the flag is but a piece of cloth.  People matter more!

Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in First Amendment law, said “If the Constitution protects the right to burn the flag and the right not to participate in the pledge as aspects of free speech, it must also protect the right to kneel respectfully during the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance.”  I strongly suspect that is how the courts would rule.

Colin Kaepernick used to play for the San Francisco 49ers.  From what I understand, he was one of the league’s best quarterbacks.  As such, he has a voice, a presence, a public persona and in August 2016, he used his voice to call attention to the atrocities being committed against African-Americans in this nation by police.  After a spate of police killing unarmed black men, it was time for somebody to take a stand … or, in this case, a knee, for Mr. Kaepernick took a knee when the national anthem was played.  And, based on the uproar, you might have thought he murdered a room full of babies.

Kaepernick began receiving death threats, one NFL official referred to him as a ‘traitor’, and worst of all, he was black-balled from the NFL and no team would sign him in 2017.  He lost his livelihood for a peaceful protest against proven injustices by law enforcement in this country.

Pause here for just a moment, if you will.  After the rally by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Donald Trump claimed that among those hate groups there were some “fine people”.  Lives were lost that day, murder was committed, and the most abominable form of hatred was on display by those “fine people”.  And yet, a man engages in a peaceful protest that hurts no one, simply goes down on one knee to remind people that this country is losing its values, and here’s what Donald Trump had to say about him …

“I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.” – 30 August 2016

And more recently …

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” – 23 September 2017

“You have to stand proudly for national anthem, or shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. And the NFL owners did the right thing.” – 24 May 2018

Why did the president of the country feel a need to involve himself to start with, and why the Sam Heck is he still, two years later, injecting his hateful and uneducated opinion?  This, folks, is the piece of work we have sitting in the highest seat of government in this country.  But back to Mr. Kaepernick …

In May of this year, the NFL, presumably under pressure from Donald Trump, approved a policy that forbids players from kneeling during the playing of the anthem.  As a compromise, they may stay in the locker room, but if they are on the field, they must stand.  The decision was made without input from or negotiation with the players union, which is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.  It might behoove them to remember that it is the players, not the team owners nor NFL officials, who make the money that supports the NFL and the teams.

What I find equally, if not more disappointing is that the majority of people in this country do not support players’ right to protest peacefully by kneeling during the anthem.  43% of voters believe kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate way to protest racial inequality, while the majority, 54%, say it is not appropriate.  The other 3% were asleep.  Predictably, though sadly, the results fell along political and racial lines.  We are no better than we were 200 years ago, my friends.

Meanwhile … Colin Kaepernick, who has been out of work since March 2017, was made privy to leaked audiotapes of an NFL meeting held in October where, in response to players questioning whether Kaepernick had, in fact, been blackballed, the team owners expressed their fears about further aggravating Trump.  Patriots owner Robert Kraft—a supporter of Trump—worried that “the problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America.”

Colin Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, asserting that the league conspired to deprive him of his right to sign with any team.  The burden of proof is on Kaepernick, and collusion is not easy to prove.  The NFL had high hopes that Kaepernick would not be able to convince arbitrator (and University of Pennsylvania law professor) Stephen Burbank that there is sufficient evidence of collusion.  However, last week those hopes were dashed when Burbank, who was appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association, said lawyers for Kaepernick had unearthed enough information in the past year for the case to proceed to a full hearing.  It is a preliminary step, but an important one.

For the record, this writer fully supports Colin Kaepernick and any other players who have the courage to stand by their convictions, who are not afraid of the bullies in government, the NFL and society.  The flag and the anthem ought to stand for something, but more and more these days, they stand for hypocrisy rather than values.

I Think …

I quite often say that we seem not to learn from the lessons of history.  Oh sure, we remember for a while – a generation or two – but then the memories dim as the people who lived through that history die off and there is nobody to tell the stories with passion, with first-hand experience.  The immediacy fades and we return to the old ways or settle into new ones. One example is Hitler and the Holocaust.  My grandparents and parents well remembered those lessons, for they lived through them.  I have, perhaps a slightly dimmed sense of it, for I was not yet born, but still a heightened awareness from a childhood spent hearing the stories from one set of grandparents, my mother, and my father who fought in WWII.  And I passed many of those stories to my own children and granddaughter, but by this time they are 3rd and 4th hand stories and are losing some of their authenticity.  Another generation and the stories likely will not be told at all.

Surely there are history books from which we can learn, but again, with few exceptions, written words on a page often fail to bring the story to life, fail to inspire or excite.  And so, we may know the facts, while at the same time forgetting the lessons.  Arrogantly, we believe that those things could never happen in today’s world, never to our generation. Two comments I read yesterday gave rise to this post and an attempt, probably feeble, to find something in the past on which to judge the political and social turmoil the U.S. is experiencing today and find solutions to keep us all from killing one another.

The first comment was by USFMAN, commenting on my post Be Better:

“You cannot outshout a demagogue like Trump so look for similar situations from history that might offer solutions. Gandhi’s idea of mass passive resistance and Martin Luther King’s Freedom Riders come to mind.”

The second was by our friend Roger (Woebegone but Hopeful) commenting on Keith’s post That Jesus Saying:

“The danger lies in the separation of the nation into quarrelling tribes who never listen to each other. This is not good. Does no one look back to the histories of the 1840s to 1860s? Does it take another ‘Bloody Kansas’ for folk to sit up and think, ‘there is something wrong here’”

Interestingly, Roger lives in the UK, Wales to be specific, and yet most often has a better grasp of the history of this nation than we who have lived here all our lives.  And he, as well as many other friends from across the pond, see our situation with clearer eyes than we do.  Perhaps there is something to be said of that expression “can’t see the forest for the trees”?

Anyway, these comments started me thinking.  A very brief bit of historical context for those who may not remember the details.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 gave the territories of Kansas and Nebraska the right to choose, by popular vote, whether to become a slave state or a free state.  Slavery being the most contentious issue of the day, tensions ran high, to say the least, and a lot of dirty politics ensued.  So dirty, in fact, that when a congressional committee investigated a year or so later, they found that 1,729 fraudulent votes had been cast as compared to 1,114 legitimate ones!  Needless to say, violence ensued:  a hotel and two newspaper offices were burned, homes and stores ransacked, and murder & mayhem became the order of the day.

Long story short, a divisive political issue nearly destroyed a society, causing death and destruction.  Now granted,  that was in the days of the ‘Olde West’, and we are more … civilized today.  Or are we?  We have white police officers killing unarmed blacks.  We have white supremacist groups creating chaos on city streets and university campuses.  We have people refusing to serve other people in their place of business because of politics.  We have a ‘president’ who incites violence, encouraging people to hurt others.  Are we more civilized that Kansans in the mid-nineteenth century?  Don’t be too sure.  It would seem that we really haven’t come very far at all.

Which brings me to USFMAN’s comments …

How many times in the last year or two have I said that I wish we had another Martin Luther King?  Too many.  Martin Luther King was only one of the Civil Rights leaders some 50-60 years ago who worked tirelessly to bring about change, but what was unique about him was two things:  his charisma that gave him the ability to lead, and his philosophy of non-violence.  Martin, you may remember, had a dream.  He knew what he wanted to accomplish.  As I read the text of his speech for probably the 100th time, I realize that Martin Luther King’s dream in 1963 was not much different than our own dream today.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

We have many burning issues today, concerning relationships with our allies, health care, education,  poverty, immigration, guns, environment, abortion, and more.  Most of these issues were  not born under the regime of Trump, but he has fanned the flames of discord and disharmony in every single event. But at the crux of most of it is bigotry, intolerance and discrimination of one group or another.  Discrimination against not only African-Americans, but Muslims, Latinos, LGBT people, non-Christians, the poor and even women.  Rather than being able to say we overcame the discrimination that Martin Luther King was fighting, we have expanded it to include other groups – almost anyone who is not white, Christian, and preferably male.

Now that I have offered my rambling thoughts, you probably wonder where I am going with this, if I have a point.  I do.  It seems to me that, in the absence of a Gandhi or Martin Luther King in our midst to lead the way in peaceful protest, then we must each become those leaders, using our voices to promote ideas of equality, to insist our voices be heard, and to do so without violence.  Colin Kaepernick was one such leader last year.  MLK would have been proud of Mr. Kaepernick, for never was there a more peaceful way of protesting, yet he made his point.  This is the way to win equality … the only way, I think.

Roseanne, Samantha and Free Speech

I have written about Colin Kaepernick and others who, in protest of police brutality against African-Americans and racism, took a knee rather than stand for the national anthem. But recently, a new blogger joined my circle of friends & readers, and when I read the post she did on this topic, I was awed. I simply had to share it with you, my friends, for Lindi Roze, blogging as Self Censored, has written the most thoughtful and thought-provoking piece on this topic that I have read. Please take a few moments to read Lindi’s piece and leave her a comment, if you feel so inclined. Thank you, Lindi, for this excellent post, and for your generous permission to share with my readers!

A Roze By Any Other Name

Critique does not come easy for me.  I try to be careful but truthful with my words.  I don’t like to be rude.  I don’t want to hurt anyone.  I consider myself a moderate in many things.  I prefer to look at both sides of an issue, as I know that circumstances can appear different to each of us. We all have experiences that color our perception of the world around us.  I’m one of those who believes in “being nice to someone no matter what because you don’t know what they’ve been through.”  When there is a bizarre statement trending on social media, I try to look it up before I pass judgment or share inaccurate or misleading information.  I have voted for political candidates on both sides of the aisle, taking into consideration which person I feel is best for the job. That being said, when push comes…

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