Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 18, 2013

During the past week in Washington we were witness to a commemoration of heroism and also some craven, low grade behavior. Let’s take the high road. Meanwhile the D.C. Demolition Derby occasioned by the Teapublican Reign of Error clearly demonstrated something that has been obvious for a long time – the spirit of the Confederacy is alive and well and residing in the Teapublican Party. And finally, “Twelve Years as a Slave” is opening in movie theaters across the country – and as we go see this film we should remember that slavery is also alive and well throughout the world.

The Reward for Valor?

This past week President Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Captain (Ret.) William Swenson for his bravery and valor during an incredible battle in Afghanistan. Putting issues of this country’s foreign policy aside for the moment, there is no doubt that when one reads the account of Captain Swenson’s actions it is impossible not to be moved by his incredible courage and compassion in the most lethal of situations.

Here’s the thing – Captain Swenson is applying to be reinstated to active duty because………….he is unemployed. Incredibly, in a country where so many armchair war hawks and beer drinking flag wavers whoop and holler about “honoring our troops” that not one corporate titan couldn’t find the spare change rolling around in one of his offshore accounts to make sure that Captain Swenson never had to work another day in his life should he so choose.

The Romans and the Greeks and the Zulus used to honor their war heroes. It appears that here in the United States they get a hearty handshake and a medal.

Enough said.

Crouching Elephant, Hidden Dixie

During the Teapublican Reign of Error that just ended (for the moment) it was obvious that the tail wagging the Teapublican elephant was Southern in origin. With the exception of House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Minnesota) and Congressman Steve King (Iowa), just about every talking head was from one of the former Confederate States of America.

It is well documented that upon the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, white Democrats in the South deserted that party and fled to the waiting pachyderm that used to be the Republican Party and is now clearly the Teapublican Party. That these Southerners, these sour souvenirs of a damnable past, would now try to dismantle all the social progress that has been made since the end of the Civil War is no longer a secret.

The Southern Teapublican zealots are hell bent on turning back the clock and the tide of history and they seem to be wedded to the same suicidal strategy that resulted in Atlanta, Richmond and most of the South being razed in 1864. And in the process these sociopathic ideologues are willing to bring down the entire country in the process of achieving there damnable goals.

There is only one way to describe this crew – they are 21st century terrorists, plain and simple. And, as they have shown, they are capable of wreaking more damage than all the jihadist terrorists around the world in their wildest dreams.

Is it Time to Free the Slaves?

This week “Twelve Years as a Slave” is scheduled to appear in theaters across the United States. Reviews state that it is the most compelling and painfully accurate rendition of American slavery to ever appear in a feature film. Much like “Schindler’s List”, “Twelve Years as a Slave” promises to be a teachable moment for all American, black and white.

However, lest we think that the modern era is more advanced, the Global Slavery Index 2013, which is compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, estimates that there are 30 million people worldwide who are living under conditions of modern slavery. Some of the largest numbers of slaves, according to this study, are to be found in India and China. Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan had the highest number of slaves relative to the population of those countries.

Clearly, as a species, human beings have a long way to go.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Standard
Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 26, 2013

With his recent remarks disparaging Latino immigrants Congressman Steve King has once again proven that Teapublicans never run out of racist sewage. Meanwhile Attorney General Eric Holder has taken on the state of Texas and its vicious voter suppression plan. And finally, Jay-Z is a wealthy superstar, adored by millions of fans around the world, but he is no match for Harry Belafonte.

This King is a Pauper

In explaining why he opposes just about everything related to immigration reform except self-deportation and higher walls, Congressman Steve King slimed the millions of men, women and children who have come to this country in recent years as he neatly sanctifies his own immigrant forebears.

Serving a bizarre stew of fiction, fantasy and racism, Congressman King claims that most immigrants coming from Mexico are drug mules. He even went so far as to say that many of these immigrants “have calves as big as cantaloupes” from carrying so much drug weight.

Unfortunately, his employment of racist myth to support his lily white America fantasy is nothing new. And when questioned, King was unapologetic and repeated his slimy statements.

And sadly for this country, Representative Steve King is also representative of the new leadership in the Teapublican Party.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Immediately upon the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 states, counties and local governments rushed to implement some of the most restrictive voter suppression measures since the high cotton days of Jim Crow. That the paperwork was already completed before the Shelby v. Holder decision was even announced shows how eager some white people are to suppress the vote of anyone who is not white.

Now Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Department of Justice will take the state of Texas to federal court to challenge the transparently racial and racist redistricting measures that will ensure white rule even as the demographics of the state turn darker every day. For this Attorney General Holder should be congratulated since thanks to the SCOTUS VRA travesty the Department of Justice will have to fight for voter rights trench by trench, case by case – hand to hand combat in every courtroom in every jurisdiction where voter suppression raises its ugly head.

And this is a good time to ask what do you think an Attorney General appointed by President Mitt Romney would be doing? Playing golf or just working on his tan?

Harry Belafonte v. Jay-Z

During the past few weeks there has been a media match going on as a result of lyrics in a song recently released by Jay-Z. Leaving out the profanity and the self-hating racist references, it appears that Jay-Z is criticizing Harry Belafonte for criticizing him for not demonstrating enough social responsibility.

Referring to the iconic Harry Belafonte as “boy”, Jay-Z basically deflects Mr. Belafonte’s criticism by alluding to his own charitable contributions. And we can give Mr. Sean Carter the benefit of the doubt that he and his wife, Beyonce, give significant sums of money to charity.

But Mr. Carter misses the point of Mr. Belafonte’s criticism. Social responsibility is more than giving away turkeys or dollars to the needy. Al Capone used to do that and drug dealers and gang leaders still do it.

Because of his success and popularity Jay-Z has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Paul Robeson and yes….Harry Belafonte. But to do that he would have to contribute to the enrichment of the lives and environment of his fans and supporters and that would mean reversing the decades that he has spent writing and singing lyrics glorifying and romanticizing violence while demeaning and degrading women all the while turning an incredibly racist epithet into some kind of bizarro term of endearment.

That might be a lot for Mr. Carter to do – but wouldn’t it be great to see him try.

Have a great weekend and stay strong!

Standard