December 17, 2017

TELL ME AGAIN WHY AMERICA IS EXCEPTIONAL

... or The reason Christianity sucks

This will be kind of a hodgepodge tale of how European Christianity led to America being simultaneously admired and despised by the rest of the planet. I'll just be hitting the high points. You can follow the links or do your own research if you want to know more. We'll start out with the Myth of Christopher Columbus and work our way to the Bears Ears National Monument.




Chris Comes to America - Or does he?

Columbus was more or less a freelance bounty hunter of the 15th century. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, with the blessing of the Church, offered a bounty for anyone who would steal property from Spanish Jews and Muslims to hand over to the crown, and our daring young Chris was quite happy to oblige. It was the money obtained from that plunder that provided the funding for his explorations. With his pockets full of booty, three ships and about 90 crew, Chris set out looking for a new route to East Asia and India.

To give you a bit of insight into his character, while en route Columbus offered a reward of 10,000 Spanish Maravedis (about $540) for the first person who sighted land. That much money was huge, since it represented what the typical sailor would have earned in a year. One early morning on October 12, 1492, one of the crew shouted out from atop a mast that he had seen land. Indeed what the sailor had spotted was probably Watling Island in the Bahamas, which is where Columbus is recorded as making his first landfall. Columbus immediately reneged on the reward, claiming that he had seen it first.

Nice guy, eh?

In the process of attempting to approach the island, Columbus wrecked the Santa Maria. Local and friendly indigenous bands of Arawaks, Tainos and Lucayans witnessed the accident, swam out to the wreckage, rescued the sailors and Columbus, and then worked for hours saving their cargo. We know all this because Columbus kept very good records. He was so impressed with the friendliness of the native people that he claimed their land in the name of Spain and the Catholic Church, kidnapped local women and children for the entertainment of the crew, and enslaved the men to look for nonexistent gold. In his own journal he wrote:

“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

So now we know the evil that was in the heart of a man for whom our Exceptional America has named a national holiday. 

On to the next chapter, skipping ahead about three centuries. 

In 1775 Thomas Johnson and some other British citizens convinced the Piankeshaw tribe to sell them some land in what is now Virginia. Johnson died and willed the land to his heirs. In 1818 a Scotsman by the name of William M'Intosh bought a bunch of land from the U.S. Congress, with about 11,000 acres of it being part of the land Johnson bought from the Piankeshaw. As you might guess, this pissed off the Johnson's heirs, so they sued M'Intosh. The Court ruled for M'Intosh because it was the Congress that made the sale. Johnson's heirs appealed to the SCOTUS, which upheld the lower court ruling. In Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823), Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in his opinion that "the United States earned the 'exclusive right…to extinguish [the Indians'] title, and to grant the soil.'" He further wrote that "...the Indians themselves did not have the right to sell property to individuals," and that "...M'Intosh's claim, which was derived from Congress, was superior to Johnson's claim, which was derived from the non-existent right of Indians to sell their land." 

So at this point you have to ask, why did the tribe not have the right to sell their ancestral lands? Well, Chief Justice Marshall had an explanation for that. The M'Intosh case was one of three such cases, collectively known as "the Marshall Trilogy." All were based on the Doctrine of Discovery.

This doctrine is not and never was a law. It is a legal construction built upon the Christian faith and dates back to the time when the Church needed to justify what Columbus had done to the natives of the Bahamas. In 1493 the Pope retrospectively issued a Papal Bull which in part states, "...any land not inhabited by Christians" was available to be discovered, claimed, and exploited by Christian rulers and declared that "the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself." 

Charming.

Marshall applied the Doctrine according to the way that colonial powers laid claim to lands belonging to foreign sovereign nations during the Age of Discovery. Under it, title to lands lay with the government whose subjects traveled to and occupied a territory whose inhabitants were not subjects of a European Christian monarch. The doctrine has been primarily used to support decisions invalidating or ignoring aboriginal possession of land in favor of colonial or post-colonial governments. Our Exceptional America has used this doctrine as an excuse to violate a majority of the treaties it has made with the native peoples of this land.  


Fast Forward Two Hundred Years

In 1851 the Standing Rock Sioux reservation was created under the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Standing Rock Sioux may sound familiar, and it should due to the debacle created when our Exceptional America violated the treaty by agreeing to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross near reservation land without consulting the tribe. This set off a protest as the tribe was rightfully concerned about it's only access to clean water. As the tribe protested, peacefully for the most part, there was video shot of the pipeline construction company bulldozing ancient stone prayer sites near the pipeline. Then the same company brought in private security guards who unleashed dogs on the protesters, and when the dogs didn't deter them, the guards sprayed the protesters with Mace. Not to be outdone, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple first brought in water cannons, dousing the protesters with water on a frigid day, and then declared a state of emergency as an excuse for cutting off the protester's camp water source. In the end the protesters disbanded due to the oncoming, brutal winter. President Obama finally put a stop to the construction, but the current president gave the go ahead. Since that time the pipeline has lived up to the people's predictions, springing several leaks with the first coming before it was fully operational.

Less than a year later, in an unprecedented executive, that same president ordered the review of 40 national monuments created over the past 21 years, all on Indian land. The goal was obvious. He wanted to give the lands that were preserved for their beauty and for the native culture to those who would exploit the resource and defile the sacred ground. The current president called national monuments created by Obama as “an egregious abuse of power,” and said “It never should have happened. I am signing this order to end abuses and return control to the people,” when in fact, the action took the land back away from The People."

In an article appearing in the online edition, National Geographic writes, "Even in the face of Trump’s frenetic efforts to erase other parts of Obama’s legacy on multiple policy fronts, his call for ending abuse of monument designation stands out. No president has ever revoked a national monument named by a predecessor. No president has ever tried."



Just as when the 1851 and 1868 Treaties of Fort Laramie were broken, the reason for the shrinkage of Bears Ears is because of America's greed. Conservative Republican lawmakers have long argued that the federal government, which owns almost half the land in 11 western states, should turn control of much of it over to the states, or sell off parcels for commercial development and the allure of new jobs. In the black Hills the treaties were broken due to the discovery of gold. For Bears Ears it is the lure is coal and oil

When Obama created the monument in the waning days of his administration, Utah’s congressmen denounced Bears Ears as “a slap in the face” and “a travesty.” Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, promised, in a website video, “We will fight to right this wrong.” With this president it was no fight. If Obama did it, he was going to undo it.

It is clear that Obama had the power to create national monuments on federal lands. That authority was written into law by the Antiquities Act, which was signed in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. With the exception of Reagan, every president since Teddy has used the law to designate national monuments. Obama created 34, which apparently rankles the current president.

His actions with Bears Ears will not be met with acceptance. There is still hope that we can put a stop to this latest violation of trust. Brad Sewell, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says “These are very popular places.”  He points out that “Many of our national parks started as national monuments. Even in Utah, where a fair amount of opposition is brewing in certain quarters, the public at large is in favor of national monuments.” Bears Ears is also home to more than 100,000 Native American archaeological and cultural sites, considered sacred by many tribes. This was Obama's primary reason for setting the land aside.

Disagreement over the Antiquities Act’s intent lies in its simplicity. The four-paragraph law clearly states that the president is authorized to “declare” national monuments. But the law says nothing about the presidential authority to do the reverse. “The Antiquities Act does not provide for rescinding a national monument,” says Robert Keiter, director of the University of Utah’s Wallace Stegner Center, and a specialist in public lands law. “The courts have not ruled on whether there is an implied power in the statute. The issue has never been litigated previously.”

There have been numerous Attorney General opinions arguing that the president lacks the power to revoke, with the most notable being authored by President Franklin Roosevelt’s attorney general in 1938. When FDR inquired if the Antiquities Act allowed him to scuttle a derelict Civil War-era fort in Charleston, South Carolina, as a national monument, he was advised it did not. Successive administrations heeded the same advice. This administration, having shown a disregard for precedent, public opinion, and the law, will attempt to once again show the contempt that this country has held the First People, and once again the People will rise up to meet the challenge. 

European Christianity has set the tone for the exploitation of the land and the disenfranchisement of a people. The natives may have been savages in the eyes of the old world, but the truth is that there has never in recorded history been so much savagery wreaked upon a people as was seen and is still being seen in this country. 

So tell me please... exactly why do we say that America is exceptional? If there was ever a time when this land was exceptional at anything, it was before the white Europeans brought their Christianity to these shores.

~~~~


October 14, 2017

uBuntu, Humanism, and the Lost Heart of a Nation

What is uBuntu?

Loosely translated, uBuntu means "I am because we are." Briefly described uBuntu is an African system of values that predates the Ten Commandments by two and a half millennia. uBuntu is taught by example. It illustrates the humanness, the value of community, and the value of caring for and sharing with the community.

The Origin

uBuntu is not religion based but rather it originates in ancient African spirituality and cosmology.  How far back we do not know. Africa is the the ancient "cradle of humanity," and it is thought that uBuntu may be the oldest, still existing system of human values, originating in the ancient, indigenous African'curiosity of the origins and meaning of life.

To find the basis for uBuntu we would look to Egypt and the concept of Ma’at. Records have been found in Egypt and in Ethopia which date to the period of the Old Kingdom, circa 2350 BCE. These records tell of the Forty Two Laws of Ma’at and the Seven Cardinal Virtues (truth, justice, propriety, harmony, balance, reciprocity and order) that instructed the people of that era on correct moral behaviour.

Ma’at as uBuntu 

Depictions of Ma’at show a sitting or standing goddess, often with a scale. She will have an ostrich feather in her headband and will be carrying a sceptre in one hand and an ankh in the other. The role of Ma’at was to maintain balance in the universe by regulating societal behavior.  It was her duty to determine if a person would have eternal life by placing the heart on one side of the scale of justice and the feather (representing truth) on the other side. If balance was achieved the person had achieved eternal life. It is believed that all religious afterlife or resurrection myths have roots in Ma'at.

The two concepts, uBuntu and Ma’at, are interchangeable.  The northern, central and western African religions were based upon a Hermetic philosophy of sciences originating with Hermes Trismegistus of Alexandria. This is the theosophy of Khem (Ta Shema) or ancient Egypt. Ma’at is the Ancient Egyptian/Ethiopian symbol of uBuntu.

In interesting correlation to the spiritualism of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the characteristics of Ma’at have both metaphysical and ethical components. Therefore the laws of nature, community, and the divine, as well as the ideals of honesty, caring, sharing, truth, and order are all interchangeable. The concept of Ma'at relies less on the five senses to determine truth and instead ventures beyond the simply physical to look to the metaphysical world as well. uBuntu is considered to provide order and balance to the universe through humanistic love.

Humanism in uBuntu

To the African, the art of achieving personhood requires that it be earned by a lifetime of sharing and caring. To exist requires existing for the community and for all others who exist. The self only emerges by cooperative relationships with others and with the world. uBuntu means that a human can never be alone as the person is in continual communication and communion with others and with nature. The human is constantly feeling the pulse of the community and is always aware of humanity's impact on the environment around him.

Think of uBuntu as the Golden Rule

In Ubuntu we see a balance between the human and humanity. The Golden Rule states that we should “Do unto others as you would have them do unto ourselves.” uBuntu would say "I am because we are. We are as one." What is done for one is done for all. What is done to one is done to the other. There is ethic of reciprocity.

The tenets of uBuntu may be stated this way:

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (Golden Rule.)

One should not treat others in ways that one would not want to be treated (Silver Rule.)

On April 4, 1967, a great man and proud descendant of Africa; a man who embodied a 20th century uBuntu... spoke these words:
"A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies."

On November 22, 1963, the United States lost a president to the culture of incipient hate and fear that seems to have been part of the nation's fabric from the time the first Europeans landed on these shores. John F. Kennedy was a friend of the man speaking those words, and on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by a sniper's bullet just like JFK before him. A year and two month later, King's ally and brother to the assassinated president, Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy, met the same fate.


Fifty years later we have almost daily mass shootings and multiple murders across the land, yet only when 20 school children are gunned down by an emotionally disturbed man, or an entire nightclub full of patrons become target practice for another lunatic,  or almost 600 country music fans fall victim to automatic weapon fire do we even hear about it in the news. It has become that common and we have become that lacking in empathy. White collar crime and ghetto violence have become commonplace. Our representatives in government are puppets for big money interests, installed for the purpose of fleecing their constituents, and almost half of all Americans voted to install a plunderer in chief... a hater in chief into the most powerful office on the planet.

This country and Ubuntu are strangers. It is this which we must change.
~~~

October 4, 2017

Trivial Pursuit

Which of the states produces more rice than any of the others?

RICE CULTURE

By Henry C. Dethloff

The Texas rice industry owes its origins to the introduction of rice (Oryza sativa) seed from Madagascar to the Carolina colonies about 1685. Production, milling, and marketing flourished in South Carolina and Georgia for the next 200 years. Although there was early domestic cultivation of rice in Louisiana and Texas, commercial rice production began in Louisiana shortly before the Civil War and in the 1880s spread rapidly through the coastal prairies of southwest Louisiana into southeast Texas. Arkansas, California, Louisiana, and Texas now produce 90 percent of the American rice crop, with lesser production along the Mississippi River in Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The earliest form of rice cultivation in Texas involved essentially pioneering agriculture. Farmers plowed small plots with oxen, planted seed by hand, depended on rainfall for cultivation, and harvested with hand sickles. Milling was with a crude mortar and pestle. Consumption was strictly
local. Considerable acreages of rice were grown in southeast Texas as early as 1853 by William Goyens and in Beaumont in 1863 by David French. The latter is often considered the first major rice farmer in Texas. Modern commercial production in Texas derived largely from the completion of the southern transcontinental railroad in 1883 and its acquisition by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1885, coupled with the availability of cheap land on the coastal prairies, the introduction of modern rice mills, and an influx of immigrants from Louisiana and from the grain producing areas of the Midwest. The latter brought with them combines and mechanized agriculture. Pumps, canals, modern irrigation systems, and improved varieties contributed to expanded production. Edgar Carruthers, Louis Bordages, and Dan Wingate produced the state's first large commercial crop of rice on a 200-acre farm near Beaumont in 1886. They shipped their crop by rail to New Orleans for milling. In 1891 Joseph E. Broussard established the first rice irrigation and canal system in the state, and the following year he added rice milling machinery to an existing gristmill, thus initiating rice milling in Texas and paving the way for the rapid expansion of production. Texas farmers planted 234,000 acres of rice in 1903 compared to Louisiana's 376,000 acres. The two states then produced 99 percent of the total rice crop, with production having virtually ceased in South Carolina and Georgia.

An important event in the development of the Texas Gulf Coast rice industry was the introduction of seed imported from Japan in 1904. Seed rice had previously come from Honduras or the Carolinas. At the invitation of the Houston Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Pacific Railroad, Japanese farmers were brought to Texas to advise local farmers on rice production, bringing with them seed as a gift from the emperor of Japan. The first three years' harvest, which produced an average of thirty-four barrels an acre compared with an average of eighteen to twenty barrels from native rice seed, was sold as seed to Louisiana and Texas farmers. C. J. Knapp, founder of the United States agricultural agent system, helped to overcome government regulation to bring seed rice into the country. Japanese rice production began at Webster in Harris County under the direction of Seito Saibara, his family, and thirty original colonists. The Saibara family has been credited with establishing the Gulf Coast rice industry.

Arkansas became a major rice producer after 1900, eventually surpassing Texas and Louisiana production. In 1915 Louisiana and Arkansas produced 12 million hundredweight of rice on 740,000 acres of land, and production was beginning to develop in California. In Texas rice mills operated in Port Arthur, Beaumont, Orange, and Houston. Texas-milled rice went to world markets by rail and through the ports of Houston and Galveston. The Beaumont Cooperative Rice Experiment Station began operation in 1912, under the cooperative management of Texas A&M University and the United States Department of Agriculture. Rice prices, like the price of other agricultural commodities, collapsed after World War I, bringing hard times to rice farmers. This was followed by the even more difficult years of the Great Depression. Various agricultural credit acts and finally the Agricultural Adjustment Act of the New Deal established the precedent for price, production, and marketing controls that generally characterize the industry to the present. Rice farming in the United States has historically been a large-scale, capital-intensive enterprise, heavily dependent upon international markets. The United States markets annually 15–30 percent of the total world rice exports, although it accounts for only 2 percent of world production. Texas growers annually produce 20 million hundredweight of rice on 350,000 acres of land. In various years between 1974 and 1990 Texas rice farms averaged from 250 to 450 acres in size. The number of rice farms remained generally stable with 1,200 to 1,500 units in production. The value of the crop in the field in 1990 was $200 million. Rising domestic consumption and the opening of new international markets are expected to sustain the United States and Texas rice industry.

BIBLIOGRAPHYHenry C. Dethloff, A History of the American Rice Industry, 1685–1985 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1988). John Norman Efferson, The Production and Marketing of Rice (New Orleans: Simmons Press, 1952). Houston Metropolitan Research Center Files, Houston Public Library. Edward Hake Phillips, "The Gulf Coast Rice Industry," Journal of Agricultural History 25 (April 1954). Randell K. Smith, Eric J. Wailes, and Gail L. Cramer, The Market Structure of the U.S. Rice Industry (Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, February 1990). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

KISHI COLONY, TX

By Robert Wooster

The Kishi Colony was one of at least three small Japanese settlements established on the Texas coastal plains during the early twentieth century. The community, about ten miles east of Beaumont in central Orange County, was founded by Kichimatsu Kishi, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War and a graduate of the University of Tokyo. Anxious to get land of his own, Kishi moved to the United States in 1906 and visited California, the Carolinas, and Mississippi before deciding upon the Orange County site. Borrowing heavily, he secured a tract in 1907. The following year he and several fellow Japanese immigrants planted their first rice crops. Several, including Kishi, brought their families to the United States, and the Japanese colony at Kishi eventually included thirty-two men, five women, and four children.

The new settlers faced severe problems in their daring enterprise. The dredging of the Sabine River allowed saltwater to infiltrate Cow Bayou and thereby ruin their irrigated rice crops. The general collapse of the rice market in 1920 led the colonists to turn to truck farming in an attempt to pay off their loans. With the new emphasis also came a number of Hispanic and Cajun laborers. Kishi also sought to diversify through cattle raising and oil exploration. Despite such efforts, the Great Depression led to the Kishi Colony's final collapse, when the settlers were unable to pay off their mortgages.

While refusing to forget their traditional ways, the Kishi colonists adapted to their new culture well. They built a school and church, and several of their descendants fought for their new country during World War II. A few of the former immigrants remained in Southeast Texas, and many of their descendants still live in the area.

The colony's founder, Kichimatsu Kishi, died in 1956. A Texas Historical Commission marker was dedicated on Farm Road 1135 seven miles southeast of Vidor on October 3, 1982, in honor of the efforts of Kishi and his fellow immigrants.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gwendolyn Rosser Wingate, "The Kishi Colony," Las Sabinas: The Official Quarterly Publication of the Orange County Historical Society 9 (January 1983).

On this day in 1982, a marker was erected at the site of the Kishi Colony to honor Japanese pioneer Kichimatsu Kishi and the settlement he founded. The colony was one of at least three small Japanese settlements established on the Texas coastal plain during the early twentieth century. The community, about ten miles east of Beaumont in central Orange County, was founded by Kishi, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War. He purchased the land in 1907, and in the following year he and other Japanese immigrants planted their first rice crops. Several, including Kishi, brought their families to the United States. The Japanese colony at Kishi eventually included thirty-two men, five women, and four children. Although the Great Depression led to the Kishi Colony's collapse, a few of the former immigrants remained in Southeast Texas. Many of their descendants still live in the area.


~~~

October 1, 2017

Evangelical Preachers, Stop Crediting God With Donald Trump’s Victory

Dear Evangelical Preachers

I think you believe you’re helping right now.
I think you believe you’re actually glorifying God.
I think you believe you’re somehow bolstering the Gospel.
I think you believe that you’re engineering some conversation-stopping, sanctified mic drop, by crediting God with Donald Trump’s ascension to the U.S. Presidency.

You’re not doing anyone of these things.

You’re not sharing the Good News of Jesus.
You’re not evangelizing.
You’re not making disciples.
You’re not helping.

You’re making from the pulpit and platform, the greatest case for Atheism you could ever make.

You’re aligning God with an ignorant, petulant, narcissistic bully.
You’re putting God’s rubber stamp on unprecedented racism, bigotry, and violence.
You’re attributing to God, the most despicable treatment of women, the greatest intolerance toward the marginalized, the least compassion for the hurting.
In other words, you’re assassinating the character of Jesus in an effort to rub non-Christian’s noses in it.

Crediting Donald Trump’s win to “God” is the best conceivable argument for someone rejecting faith.

If God is responsible for the unbridled vulgarity, the viciousness toward people of color, the utter disregard for diversity that the President has so continually displayed this year—you can keep God.

If God sanctions someone like Trump to the highest place of leadership we have—you can have that God.

If God is that partisan, God is not a God who “so loved the world”, but One who has contempt for most of it.

If you’re asking me to agree that a God who is love, can also be a God who votes Trump, you can stop right now because that’s laughable and ludicrous.

Fortunately, I know God isn’t responsible for this disaster:

God didn’t campaign for Donald Trump.
God didn’t fail to report on the sexual assault allegations against him.
God didn’t give incendiary sermons.
God didn’t hack into our databases.
God didn’t generate fake news stories.
God didn’t suppress voters.
God didn’t refuse to educate himself on the issues.
God didn’t reject experience for celebrity.
God didn’t have his racism emboldened.
God didn’t manufacture hatred for Hillary Clinton.
God didn’t excuse sexual assault for a Supreme Court seat.
God didn’t choose party over country.
God didn’t stay home on Election Day.

I think God watched it all and wept.

It’s rather telling that the same God you’re crediting for Donald Trump now, seems to have had nothing to do with the past 8 years of Barack Obama. Guess God was offline or sleeping during those two terms.

Preacher, there is nothing to be gained by using the President-Elect as supposed evidence of God’s work in the world. It bears no good fruit. It has no redemptive value.

All it does is pour salt into the gaping wounds of marginalized communities who feel threatened and vulnerable right now. It says to people of color and Muslims and the LGBTQ community and women, that God is not for them. It confirms for those already viewing Christians as all hypocritical, dangerous, and self-serving—that they are correct in this assumption.

You’re wasting your platform, failing your calling, and squandering an audience with millions of people by giving God credit for a madman’s success.

Stop it.

Stop passing the buck to God.

---  John Pavlovitz

~~~

Corporatism, Fascism, and Confirmation Bias

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s had three Vice-Presidents during his four terms in office. Henry A. Wallace replaced John Nance Garner in 1941, and was replaced by Harry Truman in 1945. Of the three, Wallace was by far the most articulate in his condemnation of the corporatist agenda that was the Republican Party platform.
In 1944 Wallace penned an opinion piece that would be published in the April 9 edition of the New York Times. The Republicans have never ceased in that agenda, and Wallace's words of over 70 years ago lend perspective to why we find ourselves with the current president, and why his often otherwise reasonable supporters cling so ferociously to the lies that were drummed into their heads.

“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity…"


"American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery..."


The full piece, entitled The Danger of American Fascism, along with other of his works, may be found at the FDR Presidential Library & Museum website.


I doubt any of my biased Republican friends will read it, or anything that might disagree with what they want to believe, but who knows? They are not necessarily stupid... just confirmed in their bias.


~~~

August 21, 2016

Some things never change

Ramblings on the value of a life and the perceived differences in humans...
It wasn't unique to Dallas, although the city's recent past reputation as a Klan haven brought much attention to the white-bread communities north of the Trinity. In those days the financing behind the fear mongering and hatred came from a pair of born-into-privilege brothers from an oil rich family (sound familiar?). Dallas was their home, but the virulence was all around. Dallas north of downtown was friendly territory for the John Birch Society. What was going on in Big D didn't come to my home. It was revealed to me later as I learned to dig deeper than the pabulum fed to us in carefully edited textbooks.
I grew up out in West Texas; in the middle of it all, or so it seemed at the time. Everywhere you looked across the dusty Texas ranch land and oil fields there were hand-scrawled placards hanging from barbed wire fences and professionally painted road signs shouting "Impeach Earl Warren!" I didn't know who Warren was or what impeach meant at the time, but I did know the seething hatred that could be found whenever a group of old, white men got together over cups of coffee down at Star's Cafe. It was a little later as I haired over and learned to drive that I learned how widespread was the evil. Just to the east of Dallas was a town with a banner hanging over the main street... bragging that it had "The Blackest Dirt, The Whitest People." Just to the west a diminutive but well cared for sign under an oak tree on the courthouse square made the bold claim that "The Last Nig*** Hung in Texas Was Hung From This Tree..." These are gone now, but the fear and hatred from which the emotion was born is still evident. In their place we see anti-Obama and increasingly anti-Hillary signs; we hear a constant barrage from the pulpits and from hate radio about the Muslim usurper in the White House and the greedy wench wanting to force "four more years" into our bleached white existence. It isn't a whole lot different now than it was in 1963. Only the targets have changed... the hate remains the same. Considering the seemingly never ending hatred of the "others" endemic in this state, in retrospect the Kennedy assassination seems almost inevitable. Much analysis has been done on that dreadful event... the murder of a president and the days immediately following that fateful November morning in 1963, but there hasn't been enough attention paid to what lead up to it. The linked article entitled A Month Before JFK's Assassination, Dallas Right Wingers Attack Adlai Stevenson - Remembering the ferment in the "City of Hate" was penned for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination by Bill Minutaglio, It offers a glimpse of how it was then. I don't see it being much different five decades later. Who will die, when and where seem to be the only things left unanswered. Dallas has mellowed much since those hate-filled decades, but the hate-filled people are still with us... they've just moved to the suburbs and surrounding counties. Witness the witless politicians they send to the Statehouse and to Congress; interesting folks like Louie Gohmert, Joe Barton, Dan Patrick, and Tony Tinderholt. Children aren't born hating. Hatred is learned, and in Texas it is learned at the knee of the father, from all the hate radio jocks, and in the pews on Sunday. ~~~

June 10, 2016

Bernie has more progressive ideas, but Hillary is too important an opportunity to miss

The Most Polite Debates on Record

The conversation I had a few weeks ago prompted me to pull out the soapbox. As I’ve made obvious in my many status updates on Facebook and the material I published in the Op Ed pages of various newspapers, I detest inequality and the suppression of humans based upon some mythological superiority system. It may make me sound socialistic, and of course I *am* socialistic on many fronts, but the truth is that I’m simply humanistic. Demographically, being an old, Caucasian male, I fall into the most common category of the oppressor. Life would be so much simpler if I was to just go with the flow and be just another echo chamber WASP… but I can’t do that.

We briefly discussed the role of women in society. The person with whom I was speaking felt sad that her friends, two long term progressive judges, lost their jobs to primary opponents. In a way it’s a shame, because they *were* quite progressive, but I still feel that raising the profile of their female and minority opponents should be a prime concern. The way to defeat Stone Age thought is to drive the Stone Age thinkers back into the caves from whence they emerged. The old, white, male, while progressive, were… well… they were old, white males. They lost to primary winners will have a larger effect on our society… if they manage to get elected… just because they are female and of minority origin. The day will come when that won’t be as important, but today… this election… is not that time.

It is very, very important to advance the historically oppressed into positions where they cannot be oppressed. Women and minorities in the background won’t get it done. We’ve got to get those demographics out front and center. Women, Hispanics, LGBT, the disabled, the non-dominant religions, and anything else that isn’t old, white male. The status quo has got to be busted down. If you don’t understand why, pull up any major newspaper’s web portal and read the comment to the articles and editorials.

In that conversation we also briefly talked about minorities in science and technology. Let me ask you, if you were forced to come up with the names of 10 female or minority scientists, could you do it? 10 white, usually European male scientists would be easy, but it seems the accomplishments of minorities are either kept quiet or usurped by a white male colleague. As an example I offer the Pythagorean Golden Ratio. This simple mathematical principle has been used by scientists, engineers, architects and artists for centuries and Pythagoras gets the credit for its discovery. But did he really discover it? Look up Theano, Pythagoras’ wife and see what the math historians say about it. Why do we not already know these things? Why are the accomplishments of women and minorities buried?

Other unheralded minorities have accomplished fantastic feats, developed vaccines, eliminated plant diseases, designed large buildings, made great advances in medicine, and generally contributed to our human society… all in relative anonymity. Had they been white males there would be books written about them. The list below was gleaned from Smithsonian websites. Each of these people made large contributions yet still suffered persecution for the crime of being different.

Sind ibn Ali – 7th century Muslim, developed the first known astronomical charts
Bertha Parker Pallan-Cody – Native American archeologist
Doris Cochran, herpetologist and Doris Blake, entomologist. Lesbian lovers married to men.
Janet Bashen – First black female software developer to receive a patent on a web-based application.
Harlean James – landscape architect and huge promoter of the National Park System
Valentina Tereshkova – Russian Cosmonaut.
George Edward Alcorn Jr. – Black male who gave us the Xray.
Libby Hyman – Textbook author and zoologist with the University of Chicago. She couldn’t get any other job because she was Jewish.
Keith Black – Black male who was doing neurosurgery before Ben Carson

And then there is Penelope Jo (Maddy) Parsons. She is my age and won the national Science Fair as a teenager with an amazing demonstration of mathematical aptitude. Four years later she was awarded some kind of recognition by a European group, and then she disappeared into the crowd never to be heard from again…because she is a woman… and women don’t do science.

I’ll summarize by saying that mankind has managed to shed many of the chains that have bound us to the past, but we still have a few we must address. The knuckle-draggers, perhaps fearing a loss of power or stature, have made an astounding resurgence over the last half-century (Taliban, Evangelical Christians, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Fox News viewers).

From my perspective those efforts are going to backfire and right now the time is ripe to push back. Minority children being born today should, by the time they reach my age, be enjoying equal stature with white men of the same age… with 100% equality… and no foolishness about some kind of supremacy based on stupid reasons. Society should be able to look back in shame at the way we treated our fellow humans over these previous decades, just as many of us do now with the genocide of Native Americans, slavery and civil rights.

President Obama shattered the myth that kept blacks held down… now is the time for Hillary to break the next barrier. In 30 or 40 years… who knows? Maybe a transgender, black, Muslim, woman will be judged on her merits as a leader and not considered inferior because she isn’t an old, white male.

Signed:

An old, white male who refuses to hate someone simply because they are different than me.