Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – February 1, 2013

The first month of the New Year has come swirling to a close and while spring may be a little less than two months away there is already something in the air – the sound of Teapublicans on the run. In the aftermath of Chuck Hagel’s Senate confirmation hearing two numbers come to mind – 19,000 (the number of females raped in the military in one year) and 2 – the number of times that senators asked about this issue. And make no mistake, the Teapublican madness is alive and well in states like Texas which has a lot to say about the textbooks that your child learns from, wherever you may live. And finally, “The Central Park Five”, a documentary by Sarah Burns has been released. Three words – “please see it”.

Chuck Hagel – The U.S. Senate – and the Numbers Game

Former Senator Chuck Hagel appeared before the Senate Armed Forces Committee regarding President Obama nominating him to be Secretary of Defense. All of the headlines had to do with Senator Hagel being “grilled” by the likes of John McCain (“….was the surge a good idea”) and Lindsay Graham (“……name a single war crime committed by Israel”).

The clear intent of the Teapublicans at the Committee was to embarrass Chuck Hagel and President Obama while defending long since dismissed neo-con policies that have cost this country thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. And this line of questioning neatly avoided the very real fact that the Secretary of Defense does not define military strategy or create foreign policy for the United States.

Meanwhile, only Senator Gillibrand of New York and Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut stepped away from the media sideshow to ask Senator Hagel about one area in which the Secretary of Defense does have total control over policy and its implementation – the safety of all military personnel.

The rapes and sexual assaults committed against female members of the military are appalling in their frequency, viciousness and institutional acceptance. A woman in the American military has twice the chance of being raped as her counterpart in civilian life. How can this be?

We can be glad that the point of was raised and Senator Hagel promised to make this item a priority. And that is a much more important priority than trying to prop up dusty and damaged neocon ideals.

Deep in the Heart of Stupid

No matter where you live in these United States, if your child goes to public school there is a very good chance that textbook choices made by the Texas State Board of Education will determine the books that your child reads. California and Texas being the two largest purchasers of public school textbooks have tremendous sway over what actually goes into these textbooks.

And we should be very wary that representatives of a state that elected George W. Bush two times and Rick Perry three times have anything to say about learning anywhere in this country. But they do.

In addition to the right wing revisionist claptrap that adopts a “Gone with the Wind” version of slavery the members of this board have sought to slam the door shut on basic scientific facts. Believe it or not the Texas State Board of Education is pushing for evolution to be taught as an alternative scientific theory right along with the theory that the earth was created 6000 years ago and that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs.

It would be funny if it were not so pitiful. American students already rank 27th in academic achievement in recent global surveys. It is bad enough that the second most populous state in the Union is churning out students who will have medieval notions about this planet. A few years of Texas style education nationally and we will see this country plummeting towards third world status.

Central Park Five

In 1989 a female jogger was raped, beaten and left in a coma in Central Park in New York City. Within hours five young men of color were arrested and eventually indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison. But…..they didn’t do it.

The so-called Central Park Five are lucky only in the sense that this travesty occurred in 1989 instead of 1889 where the extrajudicial response to an accusation that men of color had sexually attacked a white female resulted in pre-trial lynching.

Sarah Burns, the daughter of the legendary documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, has directed “The Central Park Five” showing how a combination of racism, panic and institutional inertia can result in a horrific miscarriage of justice. See the film – read the book – see what you think!

Have a great weekend!

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2 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – February 1, 2013

  1. Pingback: Weekend Edition – February 1, 2013 | Haiti News Plus (HN+)

  2. KR Ford says:

    Nice article. However, I would like to point out that rape/sexual assualt/harrassment are not “institutionally accepted” in the military. I doubt many civillian corporations have as many trainings, support, etc to help eradicate sexaul abuse in the work place. The DoD has a long way to go but the private sector does as well. Glad to read your commentaries.

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