19 February 2009
Hey, It's Been Less than a Month!
Of course, many of us had very low expectations of President Bush's abilities on the job. I still fight the desire to tell some of those I know: I told you so, but you would not believe me! Oh well, I'll console myself very well by the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is now President of the United States.
18 February 2009
The Are Are We!
Dobbs had a bevy of predictably Ultra-Right commentators to support his view. I haven't heard such vitriol since 2002 when the Bush-ites branded as "traitors," "un-American," or "un-patriotic" anyone who opposed attacking Iraq pre-emptively. Put Dobbs at a table with Rush Limbaugh and observe a blatant display of jejunness. My taking offense at Dobbs and his group softened a bit when I remembered that Dobbs is an entertainer, as is Limbaugh. The problem of this kind of entertainment is that it is believed as a news commentary by the thousands watching Dobbs daily programs.
Just two days ago, I was shopping at Big Lots when I overheard two men, probably in their thirties, joking about the Stimulus Bill President Obama would sign the next day. One of them asked the other "how many days it will take the stimulus measures to fail;" the response was "I don't think Obama knows how to write a check. even." They both laughed loudly at that. I was reminded immediately that I no longer lived in Oakland or San Francisco, but in the heart of the Inland Empire, home for many fundamentalist Christians, far right Republicans and people for whom Limbaugh and Dobbs speak their truth. The Attorney General nailed it when, later in a rather brief speech:
Our history has demonstrated that the vast majority of Americans are uncomfortable with, and would like to not have to deal with, racial matters and that is why those, black or white, elected or self-appointed, who promise relief in easy, quick solutions, no matter how divisive, are embraced. We are then free to retreat to our race protected cocoons where much is comfortable and where progress is not really made.Since that television program and, after reading Holder's speech, I've been thinking about our nation's history of racial discrimination, discrimination in general and my own in particular.
A part of those thoughts was the question "why do African-Americans claim a unique status among other, smaller racial groups fighting discrimination?" Why doesn't the African-American community support gay rights as a discrimination like theirs? I think I have an answer to that: the discrimination against African-Americans boils down to race. Opportunities to discriminate are visual and aural. Discrimination against gays is due to imagination, fear and religious dogma--invisible. Among the immigrants who founded this nation, who lived and worked here, African-American immigrants were brought here as slaves, considered property, not as among the human belings who had written the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
African-Americans, as slaves, did not become citizens after 1787 although their White counterparts, the indentured servants, did. Slavery would not end in the Constitution until 1863's Amendment, but indentured servitude had been proclaimed illegal from the beginning of our nation.
The difference had to be a racially-based criterion of a human being entitled to inalienable rights. I would argue, despite how obvious my conclusion may be to my readers, that race, and only race, made the difference. Women were not slaves, by law, but women were tantamount to property in much of Europe and in the English colonies in 1776. White women may have been second-class citizens without the right to vote, but they were citizens and human beings nonetheless. Enfranchisement was not the basis of discrimination that has been a constant thread of our history. White women's right vote was established by amending the Constitution.
Establishing the right to vote irrespective of race only exists as the result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965--which must be renewed every 25 years. The insidious prejudice against African-Americans has yet to become a subject for amending The Constitution, especially since the definition of 'marriage' seems for many people to be a more urgent priority. Except for Mexican-Americans living in Texas, I can't think of another racial group who have been unable to vote as an automatic right of being a citizen.
The authority with which Attorney General Holder spoke comes not only from his office, but from living his life as an African-American who has known that whenever he entered a store, he would be considered a high-potential thief. Whenever he drove through predominantly White neighborhoods, he knew that strangers usually wondered if he had stolen that car he drove. I remember reading that Myles Davis was once stopped by police in Malibu or Beverly Hills, because they assumed that this Black man had stolen the expensive sports car he drove. I think the corrective step taken was for the local police to list Myles Davis as owning such a car. At the time, no one used the term 'racial profiling'.
The list of ingrained racial discrimination is too long to recite here. I will provide just two examples. One instance occurred when the New York Times reported on the 1995 Million Man March. The article's accompanying photo showed a part of the Mall littered with all sorts of paper refuse. That photo was the article's only visual depiction of that event. No photos of the participants, of fathers with their young sons, no other photos of the assemblage existed, apparently. I wrote the NYT editor expressing my disbelief that there was only one photo taken by photo-journalists to publish with its article. There probably was a lot to clean up afterward because of the thousands who had been there, so I didn't doubt that such a photo could have been taken. What I don't understand is why a photo of refuse was chosen to illustrate this remarkable and important event in our history. No response.
The second instance happened yesterday when a cartoonist depicted a chimpanzee within an opinion cartoon about the Obama stimulus plan. That this cartoon could have passed, without objection, through a number of people before publication shows how unconscious to and unaware of racial discrimination they were. This blatant lack of sensitivity clearly makes the Attorney General's point.
To conclude, you may assume that I won't be watching Lou Dobbs in the future. To read Attorney General's speech, please go to: http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2009/ag-speech-090218.html
10 February 2009
04 February 2009
03 February 2009
Hey, It's Only Been 11 Days
The President was elected in part for his pledge to bring our troops out of the Iraqi occupation. Now, the generals (who are very smart, political beings) will attempt to revise the President's January 29th statement of intent. We, the public, have insufficient information to believe the generals or to dispute them. The public does know, however, that every week that we continue a deployment of 160,000 military personnel in Iraq, millions of unbudgeted dollars sustain troop levels and operations, money needed for a greater crisis--the economy--than a tenuous attempt to establish a stable government in Iraq. As far as recorded history describes the most consistent, predictable governance in Southwest Asia as that of an autocratic monarch who is sustained by the merchant class and tightly controlled military force.
What rational argument can the generals make to try to change President Obama's mind on withdrawal within 16 months? It is a fear among the international corporations that Middle Eastern oil will become a volatile commodity without politial stability. Business hates unpredictability, so I think the pressure is really coming from the economic global economy's leadership, the oligarchs, not from any military need.
The neo-conservatives and the generals might recall that Barack Obama won, their candidate did not. The wasteful ongoing occupation and support of the Iraqi Government under occupation was and remains the major reason for Mr. Obama's victory at the polls. I think it is presumptuous to believe that the United States military could establish a model, secular democracy in a region of the world in which the only democratic process occurs among the tribal leaders sitting in council within an extended familial culture. Now that I think about it, democracy works best within an extended family social unit. Democracy requires mutual respect and trust of the other, not by dint of force.