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Archive for the ‘Bigotry’ Category

I must be going blind. This is not a literal statement, but in a figurative sense, there is no question that my vision has taken a bad turn somewhere. I cannot see why anyone in their right mind or with corrected vision would ever consider Donald J. Trump to be Presidential. Custodial perhaps, but Presidential? It’s not difficult to see why many Americans believe Trump to be a Messiah of some ilk. He boasts; he brags; he puts forth plans that, on the surface, appeal to those with little or no knowledge of how the plans would actually work. He’s a showman; a carnie man, a television personality, a failed businessman who bends the truth to meet his personal requirements.

Trump states that he inherited one million dollars from his family. History shows and Forbes Magazine confirms that the amount was closer to $40 million. With that money, he has amassed an enormous net worth of, according to him, $10 billion. Again, going back to Forbes, that net worth is closer to $4.7 billion. It’s still a lot of money but how it’s been garnered is open to question. In the 1980s, when Trump Plaza was being constructed, a sub-contract when to S&A Concrete, a company partially owned by the mafia. “Trump World Tower, supported by the Quadrozzi Concrete Company, is also tangentially related to La Cosa Nostra. The head of the company, John Quadrozzi Sr., was tied to the Lucchese crime family and indicted for making illegal payoffs to the mob in 1992.”1 The list goes on and on about Trump’s nefarious dealings with the mob. If one of the qualities of a President is assumed to be “A person of strong character,” Trump fails to meet the standard.

Let’s take a moment to look at some of Trump’s business failures: The Eastern Airlines Shuttle from Boston to New York and Washington ran for 27 years. Many was the time that I would hop a 6:30 am shuttle to head to either destination. It was a great convenience (plus free parking). In 1988, Trump purchased the service for a reported $365 million. He improved the look of the service by adding maple-wood veneer to the floors, chrome-plated seat belt clasps and gold bathroom fixtures. It didn’t work and the Trump Shuttle never turned a profit. The high debt accrued forced Trump to default on his loans, and the shuttle ceased to exist in 1992. In 2006, Trump introduced Trump Vodka, designed to compete with Grey Goose. If you happen to own a bottle of Trump’s vodka, hold onto it because it’s highly doubtful you’ll find it on liquor store shelves today…but you will find Grey Goose.

Claire Sudduth of Time Magazine noted in an article about Trump’s bankruptcies, “”I don’t like the B word,” Donald Trump said in 2010 while testifying in a New Jersey bankruptcy courtroom about his gambling company, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which had filed for bankruptcy for the third time. Given the number of times Trump has flirted with bankruptcy, you’d think he’d be used to that word by now.

“In 1990, the banking institutions that backed his real estate investments had to bail him out with a $65 million “rescue package” that contained new loans and credit. But it wasn’t enough, and nine months later the famous developer was nearly $4 billion in debt. He didn’t declare personal bankruptcy, although his famous Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., did have to file for it  Trump’s economic troubles continued through the early ’90s, while he was personally leveraged to nearly $1 billion. In 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts also filed for bankruptcy. The company was only a small portion of Trump’s real estate empire, but he did still have to personally cough up $72 million to keep it afloat. In 2009, the same company filed for bankruptcy again. Yet during all of this, no one ever told Trump, “You’re fired!” Probably because no one could.2 In case you weren’t counting, Trump has gone bankrupt four times. He later claimed that those were not his failures as a businessman but strategic decisions to help him make more money. In other words, he manipulated the system for personal gain. Gee, isn’t Bernie Madoff doing time for that, along with several other sleazebags?

Much more could be said about Mr. Trump and his potential candidacy for President of the United States. In truth, he’s a bully, a bigot, a racist, a sexist, a liar, and perhaps the worst individual ever to be considered for the highest office in the land. I never cared much for Mitt Romney when he was Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but you can bet your boots that should he run as a third party candidate, I will be checking his name off in the voting booth.

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  1. Politifact…a division of the Tampa Bay Times
  2. Claire Sudduth, Time Magazine, April 29, 2011

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There was a time when I was color blind. It’s only taken me something over 80 years to learn that perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps I wasn’t color blind all those years after all. Black people seem to have a greater propensity to commit criminal acts than other races. Jeff, Beshama, Jimmy, Ernie, Joe, Sandra,and so many more black friends can feel free to call me out on this, but I’m sorry folks, check the Department of Justice figures. I don’t believe they have been skewed or fiddled with or offset in any way just to make the members of our black population look bad.

I watched the news recently as a disgruntled V. Lester Flanigan shot a white reporter and cameraman on a local television station. No, admittedly, I didn’t see the actual shooting; I just heard one gunshot. The camera was then dropped as V. Lester continued his rampage. Now, I don’t happen to be gay and I don’t happen to be black, but I do know what it’s like to be fired without cause and without recourse. Disgruntled? You bet your sweet patootie I was disgruntled. I guess knowing where the next university president was having his affair, with whom and on what day was just cause to him, but it certainly didn’t appear that way to me. What the hell, I’d known for a few years what he was doing. If I hadn’t told anyone before, what kind of a fool would I have been to tell others now. Therefore, yes, I was somewhat more than irritated when I was informed that my job was being abolished (can you say “bullcrap”?). However, I didn’t publish a manifesto and I didn’t go out and shoot people. I consider that my regard for human life is just a little higher than that.

On that same television newscast, another black man was fighting with police as they attempted to bring him into court for arraignment on a second murder charge.  When they read the charges against him, I wondered how one human being could do that to another. There are times when I wonder just how my black friends must feel when one after the other of their own race gets paraded before the television cameras for some heinous deed. Hopefully, they just let it bounce off in much the same way I do when I see a crime televised that has been committed by a white idiot. That’s what I consider all of these people to be, idiots. Nothing, nothing in this world with the exception of war, justifies the killing of one human being by another…nothing. Losing a job does not; racial slurs do not; nasty comments about one’s sexuality do not; a perceived insult is not a cause for killing. You want to kill someone? Kill yourself, but what others say and do, while somewhat painful, is no cause for ending their lives.

I’ve searched and searched and searched for accurate statistics regarding violent crime by race in the United States. One study claims that,  “… during the 2012/2013 period, blacks committed an average of 560,600 violent crimes against whites, whereas whites committed only 99,403 such crimes against blacks. This means blacks were the attackers in 84.9 percent of the violent crimes involving blacks and whites. Interestingly, we find that violent interracial crime involving blacks and Hispanics occurs in almost exactly the same proportions as black/white crime: Blacks are the attackers 82.5 percent of the time, while Hispanics are attackers only 17.5 percent of the time.

“Some observers argue that what causes the overwhelming preponderance of black-on-white over white-on-black violence is “chance of encounter,” due to the fact that there are five times as many whites as blacks in the American population. However, there are only about 30 percent more Hispanics than blacks, yet black-on-Hispanic violence is almost as lopsided as black-on-white violence. This suggests blacks may be deliberately targeting both whites and Hispanics.”

This is all well and good except that the organization releasing this data is a conservative think tank, known for its right-wing thinking. I’m not saying that the data is wrong or right; what I am saying is that I’ve seen too many occasions when statistics have been twisted and skewed. Nonetheless, just looking at the raw data presents a frightening picture of black crime in the United States. And it’s as frightening to members of the black community as it is to other ethnic groups. Civil rights advocate, Van Jones, wrote in a 2005 article, ‘Are Blacks a Criminal Race?’ “African American youth represent 32% of all weapons arrests [and] were arrested for aggravated assault at a rate nearly three times that of whites. A 2012 study by the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention revealed that in 2010 black youths committed six times more murders, three times more rapes, 10 times more robberies and three times more assaults than did their white counterparts.

Similar statistics were released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the “Uniform Crime Reports.” They determined, “In the year 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58% for homicide and 67% for robbery.” By contrast, the only categories where white youths surpassed blacks were in liquor law violations and driving under the influence.

I don’t know the people who make up these statistics. I know plenty of black people. They don’t fall into any categories in this statistical data. So where are all these black criminals? People like Al Sharpton and other ‘injustice collectors’ will find every reason in the book not to blame crime of any kind on blacks but on the white society in which they live. To me, that’s just plain wrong. Is there greater poverty among members of the black community in the United States? Yeah, possibly. The bigger question is why? Although he’s no longer the hero he once was, Bill Cosby has made some good points. Black fathers should be assuming more responsibility for the children they create. Black mothers should be saying, “No,” and meaning it when more sex is going to lead to more kids and they can’t afford to properly raise the ones they already have. I think there is an innate fear on the part of white people in this country to confront the social ills that affect the black community. Black gangs form because there is safety in numbers; well, screw that. Let’s cut down the numbers so that black kids won’t have to worry about walking down the streets in their own neighborhoods. If more police are required, let’s get them; if more prisons are required, let’s build them; if stricter enforcement of laws are necessary, let’s enforce them. At the same time, however, let us not paint every black person we see with the same damned brush that says, “You’re black, therefore, you’re a criminal to be feared;” that, too, is bullcrap. Let us eliminate the United Negro College Fund and make it the United American College Fund with just as much money going all ethnic groups. Let’s eliminate Black Entertainment Network and Miss Black America contests, and let’s begin to unite, integrate, and truly integrate all races into one giant community. I’m not proposing that we gather in the circle and sing Kumbaya; that’s nonsense. But whatever we’ve been trying so far sure hasn’t worked. The black community and the white community are still miles apart in this country. Let’s stop talking about why we can’t do something better and let’s start talking about how we can do something better. Please, before I die, I want to be color blind once more.

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I have come to the conclusion that hatred really isn’t worth my effort. Oh, certainly, it’s a good thing to do every once in a while I suppose, but it takes more out of me to hate, and the person or thing – thing is the worst – doesn’t even know that I’m hating him, her, or it; how dumb is that? And what do we really mean when we say that we “hate” someone or something? Is hate the correct word to be using. In the case of these terrorists all over the world and the horrific acts they are doing, well, yeah, they are worth hating. A better way of putting it is that we shouldn’t really hate them; we should cancel them. It sounds so much nicer, and it eases the pressure on us. We don’t have to use all of our energy hating them…we just cancel them and not have to be concerned any more.

While I’m certain that psychologists and psychiatrists would disagree with me, I can think of only two reasons for hating. The first is if you suffered humiliation or harm at the hands of another, then you might develop a hatred for that individual or group. The second form that I define is learned hatred. Your parents, for example, might hate something for some reason, and they pass that hatred on to you. There is a song in the musical, South Pacific, You Have to Be Carefully Taught; its lyrics are absolutely frightening when thought of in the context of today’s world. This is not to say that they weren’t a bit scary back when the show originally appeared, but just read the lyrics:

 “You’ve got to be taught To hate and fear, You’ve got to be taught From year to year, It’s got to be drummed In your dear little ear You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade, You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

 The song was first sung in 1949. It was considered too controversial for the stage at that time. We lived in a different world then. For Rogers and Hammerstein, two Jewish song writers who had just seen the atrocities of WWII, it must have been a painful song to compose. For the show’s first audiences, it must have been difficult to accept.

The truth of the matter has become all too obvious; hatred abounds in the world today. Much of it is born out of fear. We all have our fears, whether it’s of spiders, of terrorists, of making it to the end of the month with food on the table; of the crazy neighbor across the street who manicures his lawn with cuticle scissors; or, perhaps, it’s of that other neighbor with a differently colored skin or eyes that don’t look like ours, or whose cooking gives off different smells than our cooking. We don’t know who or what they really are so we develop a fear that easily – too damned easily – turns into a dislike that turns into an avoidance that turns into hatred. Sorry, folks, but it’s a fact of life.

The time has come for us to stand up, as a multiracial group in Chattanooga, Tennessee has done and learn from and about one another. If you haven’t seen the story, don’t worry, it’s somewhere on line. Briefly, an elderly man was tired of people not talking to one another so he invited a multiracial group to his house for dinner. Blacks talked about what it was like to grow up black; whites talked about how they felt different. The first few dinners, held at different houses….well, let’s just say everyone was happy the elderly man was there because they all respected him and he kept the discussions on track. As he said, “I never knew what it was like to wheel my carriage down an aisle in a supermarket and be followed by the manager because he thought I’d try to steal something…just because of my skin color. I just never knew.”

The point is that until we understand and respect one another in this country, we can’t possibly expect to goes through the minds of people we “hate” from other countries. Change is a bitch, especially such a radical change as learning to accept the beliefs of others. But then, change has never been easy; just ask the first settlers; the men and women who put their lives on the line so that America could become an independent nation, etcetera, etcetera. Yes, black and red and yellow and gay and straight and transgender people all have different lives. So do the traditional “white” people who inhabit this world. We have done a piss poor job – all of us – of reaching out to one another to learn our differences; to respect our differences; and to stop hating one another out of fear.

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There was a time that a troubled youth over the age of 17 had two choices…you either went to jail or you went into the armed services. If the military couldn’t straighten you out, there was something wrong with your head and you deserved to be locked up and have the key dropped in the Marianas Trench. Today, we have a professional military so the option of sending them troubled kids appears to have gone the way of the Do-Do bird so we just give them a slap on the wrist and send them on their merry way.

I don’t know if you saw the most recent example of kids out of control but it happened on a subway in New York. A man was reading his paper. Two kids walked up to him and asked him what he thought about the Michael Brown killing. He must have said something because these two black kids started beating the shit out of him. Then they stuck their faces right up in the camera. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see those two young men put into a prison with a group of skinheads. Had they been white, I would just as soon they be sent to live with a group of brothers. Either way, they would become “bitches” for men much tougher than they ever thought of being, and their thoughts of being able to get away with whatever they wanted would soon be dispelled. Harsh? Unfair? Cruel and unusual punishment? How would you compare that to what they did to a man minding his own business on a subway?

When Boston Police were firing at a man who had just shot a Boston cop in the face this past weekend, people were booing the police. This guy was still shooting at the police and the cops fired back killing the son-of-a-bitch…but the cops were booed. It really makes me wonder what the hell is going on. Had the guy gotten away, would the crowd have cheered? Had he managed to hide in an apartment and eventually killed a mother and her four kids, would the crowd have then roared, “There’s never a cop around when you need one?” What in the hell is wrong with people?

One of my dearest friends was Muriel Snowden a black activist and social worker, who, along with her husband, Otto, founded Freedom House in Boston “as a catalyst for promoting equality and access to quality education for people residing in lower-income communities of color throughout Boston.” We would sit together at meetings and dinners just to laugh at each others’ jokes and kid each other about this, that, or the other thing. I loved Muriel and I think the feeling was mutual. Thank God she has passed on because it would absolutely break her heart to see the way that many of today’s black teens are behaving. I wasn’t a racist then nor am I one today, but why is it that when I turn on the television, the people I see appearing in Boston courts are largely Black? The answer to that question, I guess, is because a large part of Boston is black. If we were living in California, I’m told that we would see white meth-heads appearing on the television screen. If we were in Arizona, New Mexico, or the southern part of Texas, it would be Mexicans, and if we were in San Francisco’s Chinese section…guess what? You get the picture;

There is, however, a problem with the picture we think we see. How many of the police officers of the same ethnic backgrounds are serving in the areas where there is a large percentage of the same ethnic group? In Boston, we’re fortunate. We have a number of officers from a variety of ethnic families, and they are the ones who patrol the neighborhoods where there is a concentration of the same ethnicity. It really shouldn’t have to be that way, but…that’s the way of the world. The unfortunate part is that when the shooting took place, it was a white cop who had pulled over a car driven by a black man, and it was in a “black neighborhood.” The police officer was doing his job. Had he stopped the man in East Boston, South Boston, or another ethnic neighborhood, the shooting still might have taken place, but the booing certainly would not have.

Ferguson, Missouri was a powder keg just waiting to happen. The police force is 97 percent white and the population is 67 percent black. Combine that with St. Louis’ history of being segregationist and discriminatory – the city still ranks as the sixth most segregated in the country – and you have a formula that makes other minority neighborhoods look peaceful and serene.

Where, then, is the problem? A good part of it seems to be that there is a dearth of police officers that represent minority groups. Who wants to be a cop these days? The job is frightening and often underpaid. It’s not a particularly new problem; it’s been going on for years until now it has almost reached what we might call “critical mass.”

After WWII, the military discharged huge numbers of its own police from all branches of the service. Many of them became police men and women. But that was a long, long time ago. They have all retired and most are in the ground. When Korea rolled around, something similar happened, but the numbers weren’t quite as great. The numbers from Vietnam were even lower, and while Iraq and Afghanistan have supplied more officers, there is still a lack of qualified people to fill the quotas of too many cities and towns in the United States.

I don’t believe that anyone takes this problem seriously except the police hierarchies in some of the major cities. My question is what comes next?

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“They” said that Jack Kennedy could never be elected President of the United States because he was a Roman Catholic.

“They” said that Madeleine Albright would never be confirmed as the first woman to hold the position of Secretary of State.

“They” said that a Black man would never be elected to the highest office in the United States Government.

“They” sort of screwed up, didn’t “they?”

The Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, says that he is against discrimination of any kind and yet, he signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which the proponents of the act maintain is exactly the intent of the law.

“They,” in this case the Indiana legislature didn’t screw up; they screwed the Governor…and he’s a member of their own party. While he is now trying to backpedal on what he signed, the conservative Republicans in his state are going, “Yeah, baby, now we can nail those damned ‘queers,’ faggots,’ ‘lesbian bitches,’ etcetera, ad nauseum, and get ‘em to  hell out of our beautiful state.” This, my friends, is an absolutely perfect example of American bigotry. “Who are these bigots?” you ask. Well, let’s start with Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. According to one source, “Clark has been publicly advocating for the bill as a means for allowing anti-LGBT discrimination since December, long before the legislation was even drafted. This directly contradicts the claims made Monday by House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R) that the legislation never had anything to do with discrimination.”

Are “they” doing the same thing in other states? Well, yes and no. Nineteen other states have similar laws but none go as far as the RFRA in Indiana goes. My question is a simple one when it comes to all of these acts: “What ever happened to the concept of “separation of church and state.” The states won’t interfere with religion and religion won’t interfere with the state. The laws that have now been passed in 20 states – and Arkansas may become number 21 – are nothing more than the last gasp of anti-LGBT politicians who are unwilling to attack real problems and have to satisfy themselves by going after a minority group. Can you say, “Raus Juden..unt off to the camps!” These are the signs of a fading empire.

Will “they” convince the US Congress to take a hard look at the bill that President Clinton signed in 1993 and attempt to rewrite that to include this anti-gay verbiage? There are enough crazy conservatives in both Houses now that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. We are being laughed at world-wide for our stupidity and this whole Religious Freedom Restoration Act is merely adding fuel to the fire of laughter that can be heard in the camps of both our friends and our enemies.

Meanwhile, America has sent its Secretary of State to Switzerland to try to work out a deal with Iran not to proceed with making nuclear weapons. Secretary Kerry is a very intelligent man; however, he could better be using his time training for the Pan Mass Challenge which he has ridden “religiously” (oops, bad word) for a number of years or sitting in his house in Louisburg Square watching the Final Four. Attempting to negotiate anything with a Middle Eastern country – Israel included – is like trying to argue with a five-year-old screaming child…you will not; you cannot win, whether by reason or force, because they are not listening. They will do what they want to do and you cannot stop them. Sanctions mean nothing to them. “They” are sitting on the other side of the negotiating table attempting to keep from bursting out laughing at your ridiculous posturing. Would Iran like to be a player on the world’s economic stage? Sure, but it doesn’t matter; they’ll get there. They’ll play the little game that the Americans’ want them to play while back home they’re moving ahead with everything they want to do. Middle Easterners have very, very long memories. They have been around far longer than America. It may take a little more time – maybe a Century or three or four – but they’ll get what they want. Meanwhile, they’ll just sit back and watch the further decline of America as a world force because we’re too stupid to recognize the games they play. Come on home, Mr. Secretary; you’re wasting your time. Come on home and see what can be done in our own country, because at the rate we’re going and the people we have in positions of political and industrial power, we are in one hell of a lot of trouble.

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