Saturday, August 22, 2015

Christians Opposing Gay Marriage Found Sneaking Around on Ashley Madison

I'm sure the psychiatrists have a sophisticated term for this type of behavior. But for convenience sake let's just call it "scapegoating".   I'm flummoxed by the growing list of names belonging to the kinds of gay-marriage bashing Christians, who are now turning up on the Ashley Madison list.  I believe that marriage is sacred and I'm also beginning to know for certain that these hypocrites are the ones destroying that institution, while blaming gays. Such heartless cruelty makes me physically ill.  

One of the first such names to turn up on the hacked list of Ashley Madison clients was anti-gay activist, Josh Duggar. He has now admitted that he made yet another "mistake" and while he was trawling for hot mamas, he somehow became addicted to porn.  Duggar lost his job as executive director of the lobbying arm of the anti-gay marriage Family Research Council, when the fact that he had molested his sisters came to light.  And now this.  Poor Anna Duggar is now stuck with no education, four kids and a child-molesting, unemployed husband, adulterer and porn addict. 

Sam Rader is a popular Christian vlogger, whose Youtube went viral  in a clip where he tried to convince his five year old daughter that gay marriage was a bad thing. He has now admitted that he too had a paid Madison Ashley account, but insists that he never used it.    

Perhaps hoping to blunt the impact of more such revelations from anti-Gay marriage Christians, a columnist for Christian Today has now denounced the leakage of the Ashley Madison list, declaring the sneaky behavior of the hackers, downright unChristian. 

Maybe we can find a morality tale in all of this.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reflecting on Ashley Madison's Leaked Names

Ashley Madison Leaks
I believe in privacy, so forth and so on. . . But I also believe in the sanctity of marriage, whether you're straight or gay.  We do not live in a religious society that mandates certain forms of moral behavior, for whom transgressors get their heads chopped off.  And our own home-grown Puritans are long in their graves.    But that does not mean that we should not choose our behaviors wisely.  Cheating destroys families.  Divorce does rip to pieces the vulnerable hearts of kids caught up in custody fights. If two people can't get along, each must ask what they're demanding of the other that they lack the maturity to provide for themselves.  I except of course cases of physical abuse, where the hateful behaviors are so deeply entrenched in the brain cells of perpetrators, that nothing will fix them.

Marriage is a spiritual journey, not a phony religious ritual for which pretense is the operative term.  When two people come together in marriage, regardless of what their physical age may be, it begins a process of growing into adulthood and healing the wounds locked up in their mutual child-like neediness.    Easier said than done, admittedly.  But romantic love does evolve into something more enduring as we fight our way through our mistakes, learning to forgive in the sure knowledge that two partners in a marriage don't grow together.  The trick is to give our partner a safe space to heal from a crisis, and they will do the same for us when our turn rolls around.  But how do I know that this will happen? It is because that is the way the human heart works. And this is also how the delicious narcissism of romantic love evolves into something unconditional and enduring.

These lessons I've learned from 28 years of marriage to a partner as imperfect as I. It has been the process of overcoming crises that has opened my eyes and heart to the fact that we do not find our soul mate. We sculpt them with the chisel hardened by acknowledging the pain our mistakes have caused others.      

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yes, There Really is a Simple, Low-Cost and Humanitarian Solution to the European Immigration Crisis

The European Immigration Crisis
The headlines from Europe are becoming ever more dire.  African and Middle East immigrants are drowning by the hundreds in the Mediterranean.  Smugglers are murdering the men and selling women into sex slavery.  Yes, this is a humanitarian crisis.  But it has escalated to its current state because  Westerners see immigrants not as fully-formed humans like themselves, but rather as sheep.

 Changing the European mindset is not as easy as it may seem because paternalism is so deeply embedded in the consciousness of Westerners.  These migrants may be poor and desperate for a better life, but they're neither suicidal nor stupid.  When bombs are falling on a Syrian town and the invading army is shooting everything in sight, civilians flee -- all of them.  This becomes a genuine refugee crisis. Anything short of certain death is a decision.  Some people choose to leave their homelands in order to follow dreams that have been concocted from rumors they have heard or drawn from imported movies and television sit-coms, which paint Europe as the promised land.  But most people stay put. In short, when hundreds of thousands of Africans and Middle Easterners pay their life-savings to smugglers from countries that are not at war, it is because they're following a dream.

These immigrants are not paying smugglers to take them to Japan or China because these countries have not woven a post-colonialist fantasy about their countries being nirvana with porous borders. 
The problem Europe has with immigrants is the same one America faces.  And that is dishonesty. If large numbers of migrants weren't being hired for their cheap labor, they wouldn't come.  The real problem is that cheap labor in the developed world is as addictive as crack cocaine.  But as with drug addiction, everyone is in denial. 

If Westerners don't want the cultural and economic strains caused by boat-loads of foreign migrants, then hire some local advertising agencies, probably the same ones that market Coca Cola and Marlboro cigarettes in these countries, because they're good at what they do. Broadcast news reports in the local languages of the regions that people are emigrating from.   Shatter that dream.  Announce that jobs will not await them.  Their wives and children might be sold into slavery, or there's a good chance they'll drown. If this is indeed the situation and not just media hype, then show them. Remember,  you're dealing with human beings not sheep.  If bombs are not falling on their village, eventhough life isn't quite what they would like for it to be at home, they'll shelve their European fantasies and create other, safer options for their lives.  But if Europeans get a silent thrill from wanting the developing world to believe that they really are Papa, then the European Union must shoulder that costly burden and stop grumbling about it.

RELATED POST:  America's Addiction to Cheap Labor: What Both Sides of the Immigration Debate Overlook

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why ISIS is a Creation of America Rather than the Muslim World

Kayla Mueller Murdered by ISIS

This is a painful post for me to write. But my discomfort is nothing in comparison to the horror and anguish the family of Kayla Mueller are feeling with the knowledge that their daughter was not only murdered by ISIS (also known as ISIL), but held as a sex slave by its leader for months before she was executed.  According to the headline article in USA Today:
Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker who died in February while being held by the Islamic State, was repeatedly raped during captivity by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the terror group's top leader, according to counter-terrorism officials and Mueller's family.


ISIS is the monster and we, yes we good citizens of the United States are its Dr. Frankenstein. In 2002, the Arab League pleaded with the Bush Administration not to invade Iraq. They warned that the unintended consequences would, and I quote: "open the gates of Hell".  According to a CNN report on September 5, 2002:  
- A U.S. war against Iraq would "open the gates of hell" in the Middle East, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Thursday.

These Muslim leaders were not just blabbering to hear themselves talk. Rather, despite their cultural pride,  they were begging George Bush and his neo-conservative cronies to reconsider and understand  the chaos such an invasion would unleashed.  

But in the end, the Muslim heads of state were slapped down by America, the mighty superpower, who doesn't have to listen to anyone.  We forgot the lesson our favorite superhero taught: "with great power comes great responsibility".   Of course self-knowledge can be a bummer.  The alternative is the growing number of American gun stores and shooting ranges calling themselves "Muslim-free zones".

While we may or may not be able to contain the Islamic State, we can begin the process of trying George Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney for war crimes.

RELATED POST:    America Needs War Crimes Tribunal: ISIS Beheadings Just Another Consequence of U.S. Invasion of Iraq

Friday, August 14, 2015

Are "Black Thugs" Target Practice for Anti-Abortionists


GOP Presidential candidate Ben Carson declared that the main cause of death for blacks was abortion.   While the Black Republican may have intended for his statement to generate sympathy for anti-abortionists, it merely got me to thinking.

The same GOP that is campaigning to close down Planned Parenthood and end all abortions, is composed of those folks, who insist on referring to unarmed blacks killed by cops as "thugs".  (Some of them even go so far as to call our Black commander-in-chief a "thug" but at least they don't do it in public.)

And that brings me to the point of this post.  If all blacks killed by the police for any reason are "thugs" in the minds of these white conservatives, why would they want to bring more of these people into the world?  Target practice comes to mind.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Did the Mathematicians Kill Theoretical Astrophysics?

Did Mathematics Destroy Astrophysics?
Ever since I read Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End" (four times) in sixth grade I had wanted to be an astronomer.  I yearned to understand life, nature, how we got here, by exploring the infinite cosmos. But life had other plans for me.  The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King during the spring of my sophomore year knocked that goal off course.  As a black student at Harvard and a product of the Civil Rights Movement, astronomy seemed too effete, too irrelevant to the needs of my community in distress.  I became a historian instead, seeking answers to life's existential questions in the narrative of human behavior.

To be honest, there were times when I regretted that decision.  But those feelings of nostalgia dissolved over the years as I watched astronomers and theoretical astrophysicists enter a realm of fantasy no less detached from the real world than religious belief.    String, superstring theory, the multiverse hypotheses were mathematical formulations that answered fundamental questions about the nature of the universe. But they were theologies, disguised as science.  Advanced mathematics was their "ecclesiastical Latin,"  used to keep their congregants in awe of, but unable to penetrate their foundational theories.  

It was in picking up a copy of Professor Lee Smolin's book, The Problem with Physics, (a book I read five times), that expression was given to my unease regarding the direction astrophysics had taken in recent decades.  Prof. Smolin, who founded the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada has since expanded on these ideas with two new books, Time Reborn and The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, written in collaboration with philosopher of Science, Roberto Mangabeira Unger , who teachs at Harvard Law School.  

These books are readable, but also depressing, in suggesting that for the past several decades, so little progress has been made in the search for a "theory of everything", which would unify quantum mechanics and the macro-world in which we live, because some of the best scientific minds have been hijacked by theories that, like religion, are unprovable by scientific experimentation. These theories, though glamorous, gained a powerful hold over university physics' departments, leading the most promising students to either sign on to them or risk having no future at all in the field.

If you want to know what's wrong with theories of multiverses, infinite universes, and the multiplicity of superstring theories that declare the world is made up of any number of hidden dimensions, please read Prof. Smolin for the details.  The basic issues are not, however, hard to grasp. Scientists had been stuck for decades in their search for a principle that unified the laws governing the world we see, with those of subatomic particles.  The behavior of atoms was determined by quantum mechanics, laws that seemed nonsensical in the observable world. How could light be both a wave and a particle?  How was it possible for an atomic particle to be at two places at one time, a process known as quantum entanglement.  These weirdnesses could not be dismissed, however preposterous they might seem, because the actual functioning of modern technology from radios to cellphones were based on them.

The mathematicians entered the confusion and began propounding numerical theories.  But the problem as Smolin points out in his work is the fact that the human brain can devise an infinite number of mathematical abstractions. Just because mathematical formulas can be constructed to explain natural phenomena, does not mean that these solutions are applicable to what happens in the real world.   As a consequence, mathematics gave us an infinite number of so-called real worlds. It is a beautiful notion that caught the public's imagination.  Who wouldn't want to believe so soothing a theology as that every bad decision we made in life was reversed in a different universe?

RELATED POSTS IN ASTROPHYSICS AND SCIENCE


The Death of "Anti-Semitism" as a Meaningful Term to Describe Hatred of Jews

The label "Anti-Semitism" has officially lost its moral imperative. Sadly, there are still people who hate Jews out of an ugliness of heart and scapegoating cowardice in facing their own demons. But Israeli Prime Minister. Benjamin Netanyahu has seen to it that the word no longer describes such folks. It is rather tossed about as a political label for whomever disagrees with his policy pronouncements.

Members of Congress who disagreed with the Iraq invasion were labeled "Anti-Semitic."  The fact that Democrats supported the worse foreign policy blunder in U.S. history was in large measure caused by fear that they would be labeled with that loathsome term. Since that time, anyone supporting Palestinian statehood, or denouncing extremist Jews building  settlements in the Palestinian territories, or supporting America's diplomatic victory in devising a peace agreement with Iran has been smeared with that epithet.

The term "Anti-Semitism" has become so misused that it is even being applied to progressive American Jews who support the Obama Administration's refusal to go to war with Iran.  I am not a lexicographer. But, without a meaningful label to identify people who really wish the Jews harm, the Netanyahu regime has become its own worst enemy.

RELATED POSTS ON "ANTI-SEMITISM"

Monday, August 10, 2015

Yellowstone Will Euthanize Bear Tired of Feeding Cubs from Stolen Picnic Baskets

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Grizzly bear with cubs
 Actually Yellowstone officials will probably put down both cubs along with their overprotective mother after a tragic incident in which a hiker was killed. I'm a suburban mom, not a wilderness expert. So I do sympathize with the argument of park officials regarding their concern for the safety of 3 million visitors a year. Their argument is that having fed off the hiker's corpse, the mama bear will teach her cubs to see all humans as fast food (click here).

I feel dreadful about this man's death. And yet the decision to euthanize the bears both breaks my heart and raises troubling questions.

 I apologize for not putting my queries more delicately. But aren't wild bears scrounging up food for their young supposed to eat mammals luckless enough to cross their path alone and without bear spray or any other defensive device? Does the "bear management program" at Yellowstone secretly tame the bears so they grow up believing that swatting trout from streams and stealing picnic baskets are their main food sources? In short, are our national parks just glorified zoos? Rather than keep the grizzlies in cages, are they instead cognitively conditioned in some artificial or even objectionable way?  Would it be through some kind of electroshock or aversion therapy by animal psychologists working at Yellowstone? Park officials could be  training these bears to feed their cubs on  leftover cupcakes tossed in the trash but not the walking steak dinners that threw them away? 

If such is the case, why not insist that all tourists to the park be given a 15 minute survival course and pepper or bear spray?  At least that way, the cubs could grow up to be bears rather than facsimiles of a Yogi the bear cartoon character for whom the consolation prize for those failing to make the cut would be death.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Trump and Megyn Kelly Don't Get Along Because They're Too Much Alike

Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump
Yes, Donald Trump's sexist quip to Megyn Kelly, accusing her of posing hard questions at the Republican debate because "she had blood wherever," was crude and unconscionable.  But let's be frank about this Donald Trump-Megyn Kelly rift.  Trump treats Ms. Kelly like just another high-paid stripper at one of his nightclubs, because, well. . . maybe that's the way he sees her.  The woman is not a journalist. She is a television personality, whose high-paid job has, for the past six years, been to fan white male rage at the Obama Administration, wrapped in pink lace.  A recent article in Media Matters laid out Megyn Kelly's long history of making offensive remarks about minorities.

Trump believes, whether or not it is true, that he knows Kelly, that he understands what motivates her. The billionaire businessman turned presidential candidate probably also thinks that he could buy her loyalty and respect if he were willing to pay the right price.   And whose fault is that?

For years, Megyn Kelly pulled on a short skirt, high heels, blond hair extension clips and traipsed down to the FOX News studio in order to sell her soul for money.   The target audience are the kinds of men  who would take a shotgun to the tv screen if the female newscaster looked and dressed like former first lady Barbara Bush.  So, maybe Trump and Megyn Kelly are just too much alike.

RELATED POST:  Fox News Pays Ambitious Young Women for Talking Dirty

Saturday, August 8, 2015

In America, Whites and Terrorists Get Trials While Cops Execute Unarmed Blacks on the Spot

Is America a Police State for the Underprivileged?
Regrettably, my patriotism has for years blinded me to the actual functioning of the American justice system. A foreigner who murders innocent civilians at a marathon, gets an agonizingly long and expensive trial. A white narcissist kills a dozen people at an Arizona movie theater. The nation follows the trial with bated breath. But when an African-American loses control of his car and crashes through the window of an auto showroom, or fails to show a permit to sell cigarettes he is branded a "thug" and executed on the spot. etc, etc. In fact, 19 year old Christian Taylor had a sense of presentiment so unsettling, that a week ago he tweeted: "I Don't Wanna Die Too Young" but he did anyway, at the hands of a police trainee. (Click here).


Okay, so life is what it is and sometimes the most valuable action one can take is giving an honest label to reality as it is experienced. America is a democracy, governed by the rule of law, for the privileged but little more than a police state for the most vulnerable members of society.

 I'm in no position personally to change the militarized violence targeting blacks. But I can damned well protest my tax dollars being wasted on America masquerading in global forums as a paragon of human rights.

RELATED POST:  State Department Human Rights Office a Racist Sham 
  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

State Department Human Rights Office a Racist Sham

Whose Human Rights?
Have you ever noticed that the only so-called violators of human rights are non-white nations? And yet the United States has for years tortured prisoners at Guantanamo and used its police powers to summarily execute unarmed American blacks with impunity?  The fact that police arrested a six-year old in Georgia for throwing a temper tantrum in kindergarten was even justified by the police chief  as  "assault and destruction of school property".

I believe in human rights. What rational person doesn't? But this business of squandering millions in taxpayers money to investigate only those countries whose skintones don't match that of the American majority is raw bigotry at its worse.

But surely the world is better off with the U.S. monitoring human rights abroad however imperfectly done. Is it? In the Mideast, ISIS goes around beheading innocent people on Youtube videos, having convinced some in the Islamic world that it has "the moral authority" to adjudicate good and evil in others. Its energy would be far better spent engaging in a few moments of honest introspection. And so would ours.

This is why I am launching a campaign to shutter the State Department's Human Rights Office. The U.S. has lost its moral authority to threaten Burma, Turkmenistan and Guinea-Bissau with sanctions after we've just finished killing 200,000 Iraqi civilians in a war that violated the Geneva Convention.

Our approach to human rights is little more than a moralizing ponzi scheme. Closing the State Department's  Human Rights office might at least be a start in opening our national consciousness to a painful  truth.  Human rights like any other charitable impulse begins at home.


RELATED POSTS:
In America, Whites and Terrorists Get Trials While Cops Execute Unarmed Blacks on the Spot


Have Americans Become Human Rights Zombies?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

It's Time to Ban GOP Voters from Juries Involving Minority Defendants and Police Brutality


The pretense is up. What is the likelihood that a white juror who believes the president of the United States is a Kenyan imposter has the reasoning ability to determine the innocence or guilt of a policeman accused of summarily executing an unarmed black?

 I grew up in a Republican family. But times have changed. The GOP has morphed into a white supremacist social movement as capable of respecting America's democratic ideals as its Mideast counterpart ISIS. While one GOP candidate is labeling all immigrants from Mexico, rapists and criminals, another one is advocating that we nuke Iran, while yet another insists that we call in the military to halt the pro-choice movement. The execution of unarmed blacks by psycho cops has either been ignored by the Republican candidates or shoved aside in jingoistic support for rogue executioners.

The GOP cannot have it both ways. It cannot expect to retain a legitimate role within a society based on the rule of law and democratic principles, while those aspiring for the presidency sound like the English-language propaganda arm of a crass Mideast regime.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Weep for Sandra Bland Knowing that Slaves Got Better Justice Than Blacks Today Because they were "Valued Property"

 
Sandra Bland Found Dead in Jail Cell with Dashcam Tapes Altered
Slaves on southern plantations had a better chance of receiving justice than African-Americans do today if only because they were considered valuable property.  
Nowadays, we're target practice for every psycho, unhinged, macho-challenged cop, district attorney, prosecutor, and judge in America.  Don't get me wrong. I could never condone the most evil institution known to human history.  But I must say that America, for all the progress it has made in so many other aspects of civil rights, our nation has slid backwards in the criminal justice realm since the Emancipation Proclamation.

The question is why?  The answer is "value".   As a historian, I would like to set the record straight. Yes, slaves were whipped and beaten.  But not all of them all of the time.  That would have defeated the purpose of what was an extraordinarily profitable labor system for slaveowners.  According to Professors Louis Cain and Samuel Williamson, plantation owners paid slavetraders in 1850,  $400 for a slave, which would in today's dollars amount to $12,000. The slave's profitability to the plantation owner would then rise to over $80,000 in today's dollars. The psychology of the system was the "seasoning" of the rambunctious ones in order to teach the others a lesson about boundaries and power relationships.

So now we see that a young black woman named Sandra Bland died in police custody after having been stopped for not signaling a turn.  She was a civil rights activist, who had just moved to Texas to take a new job at Prairie view A&M University.  The Waller County sheriff insists that the young woman committed suicide.  His Department just released a video of Ms. Bland's arrest, in which the tape was doctored. Should we now be waiting for one of those famed American grand juries, whose gullibility and/or racism in cases of police brutality would probably have them acquitting Adolf Hitler, if they could get away with it? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Greece and the EU: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but the Greek bailout crisis, and the prospect of that nation being booted out of the European Union, popularly known as "Grexit" has me in a chokehold and won't let go.  My head bobbles up and down as the news updates are refreshed on my computer, although I've never even been to Greece. And I would have to admit that the European Union (EU) is not a sexy subject unless some official or another is caught soliciting poor African maids as prostitutes.  Oops, that was the International Monetary Fund (IMF). My bad! In any case,  I've never felt any emotional draw or fascination with Europe (except for an enchantment with Paris, of course). That is, until now. And I'm stuttering to find the words to express what I am feeling.

It's hope, fear, and bearing witness to the transcendent power of love. In a marriage it is two people struggling to grow beyond the boundaries of their narcissistic egos, to learn to see and accept one another unconditionally.  In the case of a continent, the process is actually the same. In Europe's case, love defines an idea, the European Union.  Most observers and pundits have for years been saying that the enterprise will fail.  Launching it made no sense to anyone but a bunch of folk, who believed that the continent that incubated two world wars could re-configure itself so that unbridled nationalisms never again ripped the world apart.  Embrace of an idea doesn't have to make sense if enough people come to honor it.

But I had never given the EU a moments thought before now. Or to the degree that I did, it wasn't organic, alive, breathing.  It was just a bunch of technocrats with rules and money.  What grabbed my attention at first was the sheer craziness of what was going on.  A week ago, the left wing government of Greek Prime Minister (PM)Tsipras held a referendum asking the public whether or not they wanted to suffer the austerity and sheer inconvenience of paying back the $240 billion they owed the EU from previous bailouts.  Tsipras campaigned for a "NO" vote, which won 61% support of the electorate. But wait a minute. After reading more details of the referendum it turned out, that the PM was actually saying that a "NO" vote would be used as leverage to help them stay in the EU. That assertion wasn't true and of course the referendum proved counter-productive.  It enraged the Germans, who held most of the debt and a number of other EU countries, signaling that the Greeks had no intention of paying them their money back. Greece ran out of money and had to close the banks. People could withdraw $67 a day from ATMs, that is, after waiting in line in the summer heat for three hours, if the ATM machine hadn't run out of cash. 
Greek man weeping outside closed Bank

Just because you think people are doing something idiotic or suicidal, doesn't mean that you don't have basic human feelings for their plight.  In short, I made the blunder of glancing at a news photo of an elderly man, sitting on the sidewalk next to a closed bank, weeping. I couldn't expel that image from my heart.   To make matters worse,  I read somewhere but can't find it now about a little girl sitting in class drawing Euros (EU dollars) with crayons on pieces of paper and passing them out to her friends. I broke down in tears. What touched me so deeply was the anxiety these families with young mouths to feed must be feeling and inadvertently passing on to their children.

Yes, Greece is a mess, with most of its problems self-inflicted. It has borrowed $240 billion from the EU, with most of the funds coming from Germany and now is broke.  As for where all the money went, the Greeks blame the greedy EU bankers for making speculative loans that the country had no way of paying, ever. Of course, the Greeks cooked the books in order to get into the EU in the first place, conveying its financial status in more solid terms than was the case. The EU does recognize serious structural problems within the Greek economy. The political structure operates on "clienteleism," whereby people are given comfortable civil service jobs, with age 50 retirements at 80% of salary, for supporting the political parties. Eighty percent of the population works in the civil service.   Government pensions eat up much of the money.  Tax evasion is a deeply-embedded cultural practice. There is no industry and most food is imported. Entrepreneurial Greeks leave the country because of the onerous bureaucracy involved in gettng anything done   

Even so, I don't want for its economy to collapse and have the country further humiliated by being tossed out of the EU. The BBC has an informative article: Can Grexit Be Avoided?    Economist Paul Krugman insists that Europe is strangling Greece.   And some intellectuals insist that the Greeks would be better off going back to printing their own money as a way of getting out of this depression.  This may be true.  But Greece is the fountainhead  of western civilization.  I don't want to see her tossed aside because she is having to learn through trial and error how a healthy marriage works. Of course the same should be said of the EU as well. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Historians Lied: The Confederacy REALLY Did Win the Civil War

As a historian I should know these things.  But in truth, I woke up this morning, my mind stumbling around in its own swampy miasma.  We all know the adage:  "the victors write the history".  So, why in the South, had the losing side in the Civil War re-written the history to lie about it's cause (states' rights rather than slavery), lie about its name (War Between the States rather than the Civil War) and even lie about its outcome (We Fought Tyranny and Won).

The truth struck me like a whip's lash across my bare back.  After being defeated in battle by the Union Army, the Confederacy went on to win the war in the South.  I won't bore you with all the sad and somewhat sordid details that ended the period of so-called Reconstruction in the South (See below).  But suffice it to say, that the only losers in this war were the former slaves.  There was no land redistribution for these landless peasants. They became instead impoverished sharecroppers.  Jim Crow laws were instituted to take the place of the social rigidity of slavery.  The Ku Klux Klan, white citizens councils and other white terrorist groups lynched blacks as a way of stoking fear. The former slaves were then removed from the voting rolls with new tactics such as grandfather clauses, poll taxes and literacy tests, forcing them back into a state of disenfranchisement as real as what they had been during slavery.  

It was the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, that finally began fighting back against the Confederacy's victory.  Not surprisingly it was in 1962, that the battle flag that now causes so much contoversy became the so-called emblem of "Southern heritage".If the North really did win the Civil War, when will it be time to show it?  Not only the Confederate flag, but its accompanying paraphernalia needs to be retired to museums or the trash.  And even more importantly, the minds of American children in the South should no longer be filled with a false  narrative of American History, so that a fresh generation of  twenty-one year olds can, like Dylann Root, take it upon themselves to murder blacks based on false historical narratives. 

A PBS essay written by RicharWorsmer describes in brief what went wrong after the Civil War:

Reconstruction generally refers to the period in United States history immediately following the Civil War in which the federal government set the conditions that would allow the rebellious Southern states back into the Union. (The precise starting point is debatable, with some prominent scholars arguing that Reconstruction actually began during the war.) In 1862, Abraham Lincoln had appointed provisional military governors to re-establish governments in Southern states recaptured by the Union Army. The main condition for re-admittance was that at least 10 percent of the voting population in 1860 take an oath of allegiance to the Union. Aware that the Presidential plan omitted any provision for social or economic reconstruction -- or black civil rights -- the anti-slavery Congressmen in the Republican Party, known as the Radicals, criticized Lincoln's leniency.  The goal of reconstruction was to readmit the South on terms that were acceptable to the north -- full political and civil equality for blacks and the denial of the political rights of whites who were leaders of the secession movement. The Radicals wanted to insure that newly freed blacks were protected and given their rights as Americans. After Lincoln's assassination in April of 1865, President Andrew Johnson alienated Congress with his Reconstruction policy. He supported white supremacy in the South and favored pro-Union Southern political leaders who had aided the Confederacy once war had been declared. 
Southerners, with Johnson's support, attempted to restore slavery in substance if not in name. In 1866, Congress and President Johnson battled for control of Reconstruction. The Congress won. Northern voters gave a smashing victory -- more than two-thirds of the seats in Congress -- to the Radical Republicans in the 1866 congressional election, enabling Congress to control Reconstruction and override any vetoes that Johnson might impose. Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 that divided the Confederate states (except for Tennessee, which had been re-admitted to the Union) into five military districts. Each state was required to accept the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which granted freedom and political rights of blacks. 
Each Southern state had to incorporate these requirements into their constitutions, and blacks were empowered with the vote. Yet Congress failed to secure land for blacks, thus allowing whites to economically control blacks. The Freedmen's Bureau was authorized to administer the new laws and help blacks attain their economic, civil, educational, and political rights. The newly created state governments were generally Republican in character and were governed by political coalitions of blacks, Northerners who had migrated to the South (called "carpetbaggers" by Southern Democrats), and Southerners who allied with the blacks and carpetbaggers (referred to as "scalawags" by their opponents). This uneasy coalition of black and white Republicans passed significant civil rights legislation in many states. Courts were reorganized, judicial procedures improved, and public school systems established. Segregation existed but it was flexible. But as blacks slowly progressed, white Southerners resented their achievements and their empowerment, even though they were in a political minority in every state but South Carolina. 
Most whites rallied around the Democratic Party as the party of white supremacy. Between 1868 and 1871, terrorist organizations, especially the Ku Klux Klan, murdered blacks and whites who tried to exercise their right to vote or receive an education. The Klan, working with Democrats in several states, used fraud and violence to help whites regain control of their state governments. By the early 1870s, most Southern states had been "redeemed" -- as many white Southerners called it -- from Republican rule. By the time the last federal troops had been withdrawn in 1877, Reconstruction was all but over and the Democratic Party* controlled the destiny of the South. 
The Dixiecrats

Southern "race voters" known as Dixiecrats switched en masse to the Republican party as the Democrats began to embrace the Civil Rights movement. In fact Lucinda's blog in the Topeka-Capital Journal has a thoughtful and insightful piece entitled "How the Dixiecrats Became Republicans."  I am excerpting part of it below:
I grew up and registered the first time into the old Democratic Party, which was a remnant of the old Dixiecrat Party. They hated blacks. They hated Jews. They hated Catholics. I grew up listening to it. I personally knew KKK members. In fact, a boy I dated had an older brother in the KKK (big time Democrats). That older brother's name is online in articles that talk about the Bogalusa Race Riots of the 60's. He had his white sheet on, with at least a half dozen other KKK members that worked for my father and were at our home a lot. He tried to pull a black man out of a car to beat him up and the black man shot him.
You certainly don't have to tell me about the old Dixiecrats. I lived amongst them.
Today those same people I knew who hated black people and Jews and hated everything about civil rights are all Republicans. They're not JUST  Republicans, they're far right extremists.
I get their emails almost daily - emails full of lies about Obama, with caricatures of Obama and his family - and so much more. Lies, hatred and ugliness that is hard to imagine that a person can carry around in his or her heart. . . Civil Rights laws passed in the 1950s and especially in the 1960s, were championed by NATIONAL Democrats, but caused splits in the Democratic Party. Many in the South switched allegiance to the Republican Party which was seen as more conservative. With Reagan the shift in the South was fairly complete.

 . . As long as your party harbors and gives sustenance to the old Dixiecrats (and they are, by far, no longer just in the south - Kansas is full of them) - your party is not going to win a presidential race, again. The Hispanics and the African Americans and the Asians have woken up. They know now how important a single vote can be. . . As a Republican, you need to ask yourselves, are you happy being a member of a party that rivals the old Dixiecrats and their Jim Crow laws and attitudes? If so, then stick with it all the way to the bottom, 'cause, my friends, you are going down.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Confederate Flag Designed to Send Out Two Messages To Different Audiences Simultaneously


I've begun to lose patience with those continuing to defend the Confederate flag  as though we're caught up in an issue of moral, cultural or constitutional complexity. What we're dealing with here is actually rather simple.  This flag has a dual function and always has.  It is meant to express Southern ethnic pride, among those of European ancestry. At the same time, it is designed to convey a terrorist threat to blacks.  "You had better stay in your place or else."

The role of the Confederate flag is not unlike that of the Nazi swastiki.  To Germans it meant ethnic pride, while to Jews it signified horror.  Even at the end of World War II, most Germans insisted that Nazism did not foment anti-Semitism and that the Jews were safe.  It was only after the allied forced initiated what came to be known as a deNazification program and forced German citizens to view photographs of the death camps, that the unspeakable crimes of the Holocaust began to seep through their layers of denial.

So lets stop pretending that we can't for the life of us figure out which side of the Confederate flag debate is valid.   It is both an emblem of Southern ethnic pride and a threat to do whatever is necessary to "keep blacks in their place," so that whites can thrive at their expense. Whether the social structure involves slavery or merely discriminatory labor and social practices, this is the unspoken heritage of the South.

This particular Confederate flag design emerged in 1962 to counter the successes of the Civil Rights Movement.  It was flown over the state Capitol dome to mark the centennial of the start of the Civil War. According to National Public Radio:
. . . many saw it as a reaction to the civil-rights movement and school desegregation. For nearly four decades, it continued to be a controversial issue in the Palmetto State. A 1994 nonbinding referendum placed on the GOP primary ballot found that three-in-four voters said the flag should keep flying. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The FOX News "Nigger Brand" Just Ensnared Itself in Obama's Trap

Smart racists do not use the word "nigger" in public discourse. They have cobbled together a sewer full of terms, images and foul odors that evoke racial hatred, and even more importantly contribute to violence against as well as the disenfranchisement of blacks. The racially obsessed FOX News refers to blacks as thugs, even inviting guests on its programs to refer to the first African-American president thus. FOX distorts all of its newscasts in such a way as to leave the impression that Barack Obama might be affiliated with terrorists, is probably a Muslim although he goes to a Christian Church with an obnoxious preacher, has usurped the presidency because he is actually a Kenyan citizen and instigated voter fraud to get re-elected twice.

Thus the FOX News propagandists bent on instigating racial dissension can pretend as they have for the past two days that what influences people like 21 year old Dylann Roof to murder 9 black people in a church, is not the racial venom they spew forth, but  ill-mannered people like President Obama who uttered  the n-word.

But alas, the American public is finally beginning to identify the symbols and sources of hate within our society. Now that a consensus is forming around removing the confederate flag from South Carolina's State House, momentum is building to excise the same emblem for the same reason from Mississippi's state flag. An energized public seeking to heal our society rather than rip it apart in race war will soon enough turn its attention to FOX News, whose rotting core will not survive the sniff test.



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why Accepting Rachel Dolezal's Flirtation with Blackness is Racist

What if I woke up this morning and decided to be a Jewish Holocaust survivor?  What is the likelihood that so many Americans would find my declaration of self-identity so "cute" that I would even be invited on the "Today" show to spout my pathological lies? People associated with this ethnic experience would be enraged as they should be. And why is that? I would have turned their experience into a gabble of meaningless lies and caricatures. Being Black is not a frizzy wig and skin bronzer. It is a lived experience. And quite frankly, given the loyalty and tenderness that black families show one another in the face of adversity, just watching the sheer ugliness and lack of love this Dolezal woman and her family display towards one another, would be
the penultimate tip off to the fact that she has never lived the Black experience.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Is a Eurocentric Paradigm Widening Ethnic Disparities in Health Care?

   African-Americans consume substantially less than the recommended daily intake of calcium and yet have the densest bone mass of any American ethnic group, and are at the lowest risk of osteoporosis, fragile bone disease and other calcium deficiency disorders. Studies have shown that this occurs because blacks have higher rates of calcium retention and greater calcium utilization efficiency than other ethnicities. So what public health message is given to black parents?  It is that their children suffer from calcium deficiency and should therefore be fed more dairy products in order to prevent osteoporosis. But what might the implications be of pushing high sodium, high fat dairy products on a population that is not in need of supplemental calcium but that is suffering from skyrocketing rates of juvenile obesity and salt-sensitive hypertension?  The medical response is that those ailments are probably caused by a calcium-deficiency as well. 

A Population Genetics (But Not Racial) Approach to the Etiology of Salt-Sensitive Hypertension in African-Americans

African-Americans suffer one of the highest rates of hypertension in the world. Psychosocial stressors such as racial discrimination and financial strain have been identified by some researchers, while others have sought the answer in biological traits. This article targets  genetics as the primary factor for this condition, while at the same time repudiating antiquated “racial” classification schemes.  The ancestors of African-Americans came from West Africa.  However, it was not from the coast, awash in ocean salt, but rather from sodium-deficient regions as much as 1,000 miles inland.