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Archive for the ‘Demonstrations’ Category

There is no way to write this piece without sounding like a racist and a hater. Those who really know me, however, will understand that nothing could be further from the truth. Should I use that old cliché that says, “I have a number of black friends,” or some other baloney like that? No, my friends are of almost all colors. I’m not so certain that any of my friends are true Native Americans although my companion maintains that there is some Cherokee blood in her family tree. As a consequence, I won’t apologize to anyone for what I’m about to put down on paper.

For seventeen years I toiled in the vineyards of higher education at Northeastern University in Boston. The school bordered on what was considered at one time to be home to “the blacks.” It was called Roxbury and that’s exactly how a lot of people referred to it. A friend of mine, Reuben Margolin, was attacked one day by four black youths from one of the projects. While Reuby didn’t look like much, the mistake these young men made was in not recognizing that (a) he’d been a Golden Gloves champion, (b) he’d grown up in a rather tough section of New York and was also a street fighter, and (c) that he wouldn’t take shit from anyone, especially four teenage punks who thought they had a chance. He left them all on the ground without suffering any injury to himself…and he was 54 at the time. It was that kind of neighborhood. On another occasion, I watched with a couple of colleagues as a pair of men threw another off the roof of a four-story apartment building. On yet another occasion, I was denied entrance to the “Afro-American Institute” building because of my skin color. I tell you these things because to me, racism is a two-way street.  However, the very second that one cites something that cries black racism, you become labeled as a ‘hater’ or a ‘racist’ or worse; it is just so much bullshit.

When I left Northeastern, things had improved to some degree. Today, the ‘black community’ or what is left of it in Roxbury…gentrification, you know…works closely with faculty and administrators at Northeastern to make community relations as pleasant as possible. There are still pockets of trouble but the real trouble has moved further away and is now more concentrated in another area of Boston known as Mattapan.

My career following Northeastern was spent in what I called a “Lilly-white community with a bunch of white bread kids and colleagues.” That too is a nasty thing to say but the truth of the matter is that there sure weren’t many black students when I arrived. The college later hired a minority student coordinator and Eddie did a wonderful job with the young men and women who sought her guidance. Funny story about that is that I was with her one day when several freshmen came in asking where they could get a good haircut. Stupid me says, “Oh, there’s a great barber right in town.” Eddie or Edwina as most people knew her, gave me a dirty look and told the kids where they should go in Boston. After they left, I expressed further ignorance by asking, “Why not the barber in town?” She then told me that the hair of black people and the hair of white people required different treatment, a fact I have retained to this day…it was humbling to say the least.

“Where is this all going?” you might ask. Welllll, it’s going straight to the University of Missouri and a bunch of stupid white folk, stupid black folk, and stupid folk in general. Let us take it from the very top: It would appear that President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, along with the director of Greek life on campus were walking around with their eyes shut and their ears plugged long before black and white students on campus called for the resignations of all three. Racial epithets and incidents and those relating to anyone of certain religious beliefs don’t occur overnight and turn the institution into a disgruntled campus. One event is too many, but when that single event occurs, it demands that a course of action be instituted and incorporate the education of the entire institution, e.g., the University of Missouri System; not just a main or adjunct campus but the entire system. Whether a residence hall director or monitor, someone in the dean of students office or wherever decided it wasn’t important enough to bring to the attention of the university leadership or whether that leadership pretended it wasn’t all that important is immaterial, I neither know nor care. At some point, somewhere on that campus, something happened and nothing was done to nip it in the bud. As a consequence, a wound, real or imagined, began to fester, ultimately exploding at a homecoming parade, with that particular event being handled clumsily by the president of the university.

If part of the blame for the explosion of problems at the University of Missouri lies with the administration, there is also an element of stupidity among some of the black students. Saying that “…the University remained silent after Mike Brown was killed,” is about as dumb as dumb can be. What the hell did Michael Brown have to do with the University of Missouri in the first place? The fact that this thug was killed in the same state as the University makes no sense. Why should the University administration have had anything to say about the death of Mike Brown? UM is not an all-black school like a Harris-Stowe or Lincoln University or any number of other all-black institutions. Black students make up seven percent of the student population at the University of Missouri, yet they are the ones who screamed the loudest for the ouster of the president and the chancellor. Terribly sorry, chaps, but you get no sympathy from me on that one.

The other stupid people in this situation are the Jewish students who complained that they had also been singled out for insults from others. Don’t they have a Hillel chapter? Where do they worship? Who is their rabbi? Did they complain to him and ask that he speak to either the president or chancellor? Or did they, like the members of the black community allow some insults to fester, turn gangrenous, and blow up when the other situation arose? We will never know.

Is the University of Missouri an unusual situation? No, not at all. I don’t believe there is a college or university campus in the country where there isn’t some form of racial or ethnic injustice being perpetrated or has been perpetrated. It’s what happens when it occurs that is important because what is done at the outset can set the tone for the institution for decades to come. Diversity is not just a word to which we should pay lip service; diversity means understanding that there are people out there who are different from you…different in the food they eat, the clothes they wear; the manner in which they worship, and a ton of other differences. However, they are Americans. You and I may not always agree with them and that’s fine; let’s have a discussion. But this is the 21st Century and everyone, all of us, should be above calling blacks the ‘n’ word or worse. We should be above posting swastikas anywhere; it’s a symbol of absolute terror to many members of the Jewish community, and if we can’t understand that, it’s our problem and our responsibility to learn why.

The University of Missouri turned a deaf ear and is now paying the price. They will continue to pay that price for years to come; in applications; in donations; in faculty disgruntlement, and in a number of other areas. How many other colleges and universities are in similar situations but have not yet faced that one back-breaking incident that will find them paying the same price as Missouri? It’s time to look inward, you collegiate geniuses, before all hell breaks loose and you suffer the consequences.

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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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Okay, here we go. Let’s get all of the members of the Asia and Hispanic communities across the country to protest the assassinations of Wenjin Lieu and Raphael Romero to get out there and protest. We can smash windows and loot stores and have Lieu’s new wife and Romero’s widow and children appear on television screaming, “Someone has to pay, and it has to be Black people because a Black man killed our husband and our father.” Then the President has to weigh in and say something like, “Wait a minute; these were police officers. They’re expected to go out and die for the city. Then Al Sharpton can get a few more minutes on the boob tube telling the public about what a great big, jolly fellow Ismaaiyl Brinsley really was and then the Blacks in Bed/Sty and other cities, particularly in St. Louis will have a reason to go out and break more windows and loot more stores and…ah, fuck it, this whole thing is just getting completely out of control.

Michael Brown was a thief and robber; Eric Garner was selling cigarettes illegally and resisted arrest; Tamir Rice was waving around a toy gun from which he had removed the orange cover denoting a toy. What the hell was the crime that these two police officers committed? Were they involved in the Garner takedown? I don’t think so. Was it because they were sitting in their patrol car in Bed/Sty trying to keep peace in the streets? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  I’m told that Brinsley had a long criminal record so what the hell was he doing with a gun? Answer that one for me NRA. I’m told he had an “undiagnosed mental illness.” What, in the name of God does that mean? If it was undiagnosed, how do we know that he had a mental illness? Behaving like an asshole does not necessarily qualify one as having an undiagnosed mental illness. I have an undiagnosed brain aneurism. Does that mean I have one or not. Well, I get these headaches so that’s what it must be. Now, if you swallow that one, I have a bridge in the Bed/Sty section of Brooklyn that I’m going to sell on the cheap. If you’re interested, drop me a line.

Seriously, the Michael Brown case is over. To Mom, Dad, and Step-Dad, the kid could do no wrong. The video of him shoving the store clerk shows a different side. To the family, he was just a big kid. To Darren Wilson, he was a credible threat. Eric Garner was a big man. He didn’t want to be arrested; wasn’t going to be arrested without a fight. The police jumped him. As I watched the video again, I heard him keep saying that he couldn’t breathe. If he couldn’t breathe, how come he kept saying it? Did the police overreact? Possibly, but why didn’t they just taser the guy and drop him like a sack of flour. “You’re under arrest” means put your hands behind your back after you’re down on your belly. It doesn’t mean, “Fuck you; stay the hell away from me.”

We’ve lost perspective in this country when it comes to law enforcement and how to react when people in law enforcement attempt to do their job to the best of their ability. “Put wings on pigs,” my ass. To me that mean that it was open season on Ismaaiyl Brinsley, and it’s just too damned bad that he got to fire the first shots.

I’ve got news for you Mr. & Mrs. Black America. Too many of you aren’t paying close enough attention to what your kids are doing. Those who are see their kids accomplishing great things. They see that because they are on top of their kids activities from the moment they leave for school in the morning. They pay attention to the report cards; they go to the meetings with their children’s teachers; They encourage their kids to do the right thing. How involved were you Mr. & Mrs. Brown? How involved were you Mrs. Garner? What was Tamir Rice doing out at night playing with his toy gun, waving it around in the park, and where were his parents?

Please, stop trying to excuse the actions of you and your children by telling me I’m white and don’t understand. That has been the bullshit excuse for decades. Just because the color of your skin is different from mine doesn’t mean that you “deserve” greater consideration or that you have “permission” to do things that would get my ass hauled into jail. We are people; you owe me nothing; I owe you nothing. What I do understand is that I know a hell of a lot of Black people who are smarter than I am, and I have great respect for them. I know a hell of a lot of white people who are dumber than I am and I say the same thing to them that I’m saying to many of you…”Get off your ass and do the best with what God gave you. Stop bitchin’ and start thinkin.’ Berry Gordy, Jr. was a prize fighter who was known as “Canvas Back.” He saw the light; borrowed $50 from his mother and if you don’t know the rest, go look it up.

Years ago, after being beaten to a pulp by some true idiots in the Los Angeles Police Department, Rodney King asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I don’t care about “getting along” with the Browns or the Garners or the Rice family. They screwed up…and they won’t take responsibility for screwing up. Wake up Black America. There are some fantastic role models out there for you to emulate. Get with the program and start emulating them.

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There is a war going on in America. It is a war that is so silent and yet so deadly that most Americans don’t even know it exists. The only public evidence of this war took place nearly ten years ago. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, an anti-government radical militant detonated a truck bomb that destroyed the north wall of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bomb killed 168 people. It wasn’t the opening salvo by right-wing militia groups but it was, by far, the most devastating to date.

We see on television the civil wars in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and other places around the world, but we rarely think of our own country as being in a similar situation. No, there aren’t rebel groups with tanks and surface to air missiles…that we know of, but there are any number anti-government groups, generally organized around the issue of gun control, that might at any moment decide to make themselves known via the McVeigh phenomenon.

A little over a year ago, Donna Leinwand Leger, writing for USA Today, noted that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “…the number of groups operating in the USA reached an all-time high in 2012.”  She added that, “The center tracked 1,360 radical militias and anti-government groups in 2012, an eightfold increase over 2008, when it recorded 149 such groups. The explosive growth began four years ago, sparked by the election of President Obama and anger about the poor economy, the center says. That growth is likely to continue as the groups recruit more members with a pro-gun message, the center’s senior fellow Mark Potok said.

As Congress continues its threat to impeach the President; as Secretary of State John Kerry returns home without any accord between the Palestinians and the Israelis; as we see the chasm widening between the one percent and the rest of the nation, it’s frightening to believe that we have over one thousand militias, any one of which could suddenly decided to attempt a takeover of a town or hold hostage a city by different forms of violence.

Perhaps one of the signs that the right wing militia is becoming more active took place last month when a married couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller killed, without reason, two Las Vegas police officers and an innocent civilian. Alter Net wrote, “Police say they proclaimed “the beginning of the revolution,” and laid an American Revolutionary flag and a swastika symbol on the dead officers’ bodies before turning the guns on themselves.” Incidents of this nature appear to be on the rise in a number of states across the country.

It seems to me that most of us just chuckle when we learn that one of our neighbors is a member of the such-and-such militia, and we may remark that he, or in some cases she, always was a little on the strange side…”if ya know what I mean.”  Please don’t get me wrong; I am not trying to cause a panic among the few folks who read this blog. What I am trying to get across is that we stand damn near as good a chance of having more idiots like the Millers, McVeigh, Dennis Marx, who attacked a Georgia courthouse and was killed, and many others doing their best to take potshots that undermine our way of government and life and diverting assets that could well be used elsewhere.

Americans are so used to seeing terrorism in other parts of the world that we have become, somewhat justifiably, complacent as well as ignorant to the fact that it could happen here. Even after the episode with Timothy McVeigh, people appeared to believe that he was just a nut, and we really had nothing about which to be concerned. Few even considered the fact that McVeigh had spent time with the Michigan militia which advocates armed resistance to federal authority.

Have I gone completely around the bend on this topic? No, I don’t think so. There are protests daily near several federal buildings in Washington. Thank God that they, while noisy at times, are confined to carrying protest signs against this thing or that. For the most part, protests appear to center on two major topics: guns and birth. Groups are terrified that their guns will be taken away and that the federal government will then control them by armed force and they will have no way of defending themselves. The pro- and anti-birthers protests center on whether or not a woman should or should not be able to do with her body as she wishes.

On a purely personal note, I often wonder if Homeland Security is fully aware of the amount of dissension there is in our own country. This group doesn’t want to pay taxes because they believe all of their money is going overseas to help some country in Africa…and they hate black people; or going to make the rich richer in Washington because they see how many Congressmen are now millionaires; or feel that they aren’t receiving any benefit from the taxes they pay because they won’t or don’t want to take the time to see where the money actually goes. There are any numbers of reasons why some Americans hate America. The federal government is too big and interferes with the states; the states are taking too much and giving too little. It goes on and on and on ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Mr. Lincoln hit the nail squarely on the head when he told us, “You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” The frightening thing is that some of the people who are not pleased any of the time appear to be growing in numbers. Until the government stops looking abroad for problems to solve and begins to look inward, USA could, in the near future, stand for the Ununited States of Anarchy, and that would be just too damned bad.

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The nation is more than 5,000 years old. It’s been fought over, pissed on, divided and subdivided. It’s been invaded by more conquerors than any of us can begin to imagine. And America, in its naïveté thought that they we, a nation formed by immigrants from all over the world, with our less than 400 years of experience and only one civil war thought we could bring a lasting democratic form of government to Iraq? What the hell kind of arrogance is that? Better yet, what kinds of stupidity is that?

America is a developed, highly technological, and somewhat futuristic nation. In parts of Iraq, they still stone people to death or cut off a limb. In its worst gangster days, Americans killed members of other gangs. In Iraq, if there is a feud, one kills not only the offending party but the entire family…mother, father, sisters, brothers, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nephews, and nieces. Why…Because they want no one left to ever come after members of their family. I don’t know about you, but that to me is just a wee bit obsessive. In America, we can’t remember who our BFF was a year ago. In Iraq, they remember offending remarks or actions that go back thousands of years.

When we went to war to remove the dictator Saddam Hussein, did we honestly believe that we were doing them a favor? If we did, it was even greater naiveté plus stupidity on our part. The pot of humanity is always at the boil in the Middle East. Are we so ignorant that we haven’t seen that during our brief history? Have our ambassadors and various secretaries of state had their collective heads buried so far in the sands of the Middle East that they haven’t understood the mentality that pervades the region? Forget the few civilized members of the population in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, for while the few are trying to modernize their countries, the many are at war with both the few and with other ‘tribes.’ That’s what they are…tribes. Only in this case, the tribes have access to modern weapons and are not afraid to use them. They are not even afraid to strap explosives to their bodies and kill themselves if it means they can gain an advantage over another tribe or another invader, an infidel if you will.

Being religious is one thing; being a radical religionist is something quite different. The people to whom America and its developed country allies are trying to bring peace and harmony are completely unaware of the meaning of either of those words. When we pull our troops out of Afghanistan, do we believe that radical Muslims won’t attack Kabul, Kandahar, Heart, or Gardez? How stupid can the leadership of America be?

“It is in our national interest to remain in Afghanistan,” says President Obama. “We must invade Iraq because they have weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us,” said President Bush. Both statements were bullshit; pure unadulterated, straight from the butt bullshit! I find it impossible to agree with Fox military analyst, Retired General Dr. Robert Scales, when he insists that we must stay in the area to prevent chaos and to keep an eye on Iran. Why, why must we do this? We have satellites; we should be growing our HUMINT; we should not be sacrificing the lives of young American men and woman simply to support corrupt administrations that we put in place and that are attempting to bleed American dollars from a budget that could be far better spent on home projects.

If we stay in the Middle East for any reason, any reason at all, we are making a mistake. There are enough people in the countries I’ve named who hate America, Americans, and everything for which we stand that the jihadists will never quit. Hell, they’ll never quit anyway. All we have done is to provide them with the weapons they can use to carry on their wars…and we gave ‘em the good stuff, too!

While it is difficult for most civilized people to believe that anyone would choose to live under a code such as that proposed by Shariah Law, particularly females, we should not forget that it wasn’t until 1839 that women in America were allowed to hold property; that their rights were subsumed to their husbands before that time. Today, we talk of equal rights for women in this country when we all know that equal doesn’t mean equal at all. Therefore, if the radical Muslims wish to fight and create a state where the laws of Mesopotamia and Methuselah once reigned supreme, fine, let them have it. Better that they should kill one another and wipe out their entire race of people than to have them continually pissed at American invaders or corrupt government in their own lands.

Am I saying that America should just pull all of their troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Sure; why not; I don’t see how things could get any worse. Children won’t get educated in the area; women will be treated like crap; men will get pissed at their neighbor for stealing some goat’s milk and they’ll feud over that until one family or the other is eliminated; there will be chaos that Ayatollah’s won’t be able to control. The nations will be composed of the haves and have not’s – oh, gee, that sounds like today’s America – and the anger will eventually be turned back toward the United States. It’s at that point that we unleash our technological fury in such a manner that not one city, town, village, or person remains alive. Will that start WWIII? I rather doubt it because enough cooler heads will have seen the idiocy of the Iraqi and Afghani immorality and agree that strong action was demanded. “What about the United Nations,” someone will doubtless ask. Certainly the UN has done some wonderful things to help nations that have evidenced a desire to be helped, but there comes a point when nations that demonstrate their unwillingness to follow a peaceful path to development must either be abandoned or destroyed. Both Iraq and Afghanistan have proven so inept in putting honest governments in place; have demonstrated a total inability to control their own people; have sucked so much blood from the young men and women of other UN nations that it’s time the UN cast them aside and let them destroy themselves as part of a natural order.

President Obama, please, please, please, get those soldiers, marines, airmen and women, as well as naval personnel out of the area and brought back home. We don’t need any more gold stars in windows. Let’s concentrate on what needs to be done in America for Americans. You have a year and a half left; let this be your legacy…you brought home the troops.

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I’m going to use this quote: “During the Iraq War, 4,475 U.S. service members were killed and 32,220 were wounded.”  It’s taken from Journalist’s resource, which also states that as many as 460,000 combatants and non-combatants may have been killed during the war and occupation. That’s a horrible loss of life…but what do we expect?

In Korea, we battled the “red menace,” and the same was pretty much true in Vietnam. In Iraq, we battled…what the hell did we battle in Iraq? We’re we battling to keep the oil flowing? Were we battling because Sadam Hussein was a threat to the United States? Did we honestly believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the means to launch them at the United States and our allies? Did we actually sacrifice nearly 4,500 of our young people because of faulty intelligence? Or is it, perhaps, that we hadn’t had a good war in a while and a group of idiots decided it was time?

Don’t tell any of the above bullshit to the kids who lost limbs; to the moms and dads of the young men and women who came home in a box. Don’t say that America and its friends kicked the crap out of the bad guys and now everything is peaches and cream…because it’s not true. Once again, the politicians have lied to the American public. The sacrificial lamb who threw himself on his sword was Secretary of State Colin Powell. How or why he did it is beyond me. Powell was an outstanding member of the Officer Corps of the United States Army. Somehow, the minions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue blackmailed him into making a presentation that was filled with lies and exaggerations as an excuse to make war on a dictator whom the incumbent President of the United States did not like. While it may have been a bit more complex than that – not really, but I have to make concessions somewhere – the fact of the matter is that we went into another unwinnable war against an opponent who has been fighting itself for somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 years.

Now, today, over this past weekend, Fallujah has fallen back into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Sunnis. America lost 1,500 soldiers to take Fallujah and to keep the Sunnis out. As one veteran asked on the Internet, “what it felt like for ’nam vets in ’75?” Another, a Marine vet, asked, “Why did they have to die?” They’re right. It makes no sense. However, it’s nothing more than we should have expected. It’s the manner in which war is conducted in the Middle East and Americans will never, under any circumstances, understand this type of war.

The Middle East, at least in many parts of it, are tribal. They still stone people to death and cut off the hands of thieves. They hold grudges for hundreds of years and then exact revenge. These people have different value sets than Westerners. By and large, they don’t give a good goddamn about weapons of mass destruction. They fight to keep their tribe together. They fight to keep their mud hut and their family alive. All we have done by going in and “driving out the bad guys” is to piss off the bad guys, helped to unite them into one cohesive unit and bring them back stronger than ever, particularly in terms of their hatred for “The Great Satan.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, says, “No boots on the ground.” That’s great, but at some point, if the government we put into power in Iraq is truly threatened by Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, what are we going to do? How will we justify not saving the people we put in power? What happens when the Iraqi Army looks around and sees their brother soldiers deserting because their families have been threatened? What do we do when it becomes obvious that the only way to stop this is by boots on the ground? Will we go back in, and if so, how do we justify it? There is no justification that can possibly put young American lives in jeopardy again…none. We lost…again. We lost because we are totally ignorant of how these people fight.

People who are old enough to remember still believe that the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. A small intelligence unit, of which I was a part, had just returned from a nine-month tour of duty at the Pentagon. We learned the year after the crisis that we were on the verge of being activated again…bluntly, that was some serious ‘stuff!” Today, we live in a world in which nine countries have nuclear capability, among them Israel, Pakistan, and India, and the last two are not all that friendly toward one another.

It was inevitable that someone would come up with an atomic bomb and that weapons would advance from there. It was inevitable that earth and its population would find some way to completely destroy itself. It’s sad to say that this world destruction may come about because a small group of ignorant people are unwilling to understand the consequences of their actions. Let the tribes continue to kill one another. Let them do whatever it is they wish to do as long as we are vigilant. Our job, America’s job, the job of any coalition forces is not to install governments that are friendly to coalition and American interests; our job is to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people who will not think twice before using them. Therefore, it is incumbent on the part of the United Nations, as ineffectual as its shown itself to be, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear capability by any more nations around the world. In addition, it should also be the position of the United States that we will no longer be the world’s policemen and will no longer place our young men and women in harm’s way. We’ve shown the way for too many years. Let some other nations step up; if not, bye-bye world!

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White people have to understand something that has not yet been made clear to them. Racism is a term that may only be used by Black people when referring to whites. After all, every white person who ever lived in America is or has been responsible for “keeping down” every Black person who has ever lived in America. Therefore, while the killing of Black Trayvon Martin by White George Zimmerman, a.k.a., neighborhood watch chairman, must be considered as the worst form racism. However, the shooting of White Australian student athlete by three Black teenagers who were either bored or undergoing a gang initiation rite is not racism, but is “frowned upon.”

Who-the-hell-is-trying-to-kid-whom? In my 78 years on this earth, I have known more Black people who pure racists than I most certainly have White people who are racist. Let me repeat: 78 years on this earth, I have known more Black people who pure racists than I most certainly have White people who are racist. Bill Russell, former Boston Celtic standout and for whom Boston is erecting a statue…major league racist. I say that from personal interaction with Mr. Russell.  I would call every Black person who spoke out against Zimmerman but who kept his or her mouth closed after this latest incident a bigot and a racist. That includes you Jesse and you Al and you Barack. It even includes you Mr. and Mrs. Martin.

I felt that George Zimmerman should be convicted of first degree murder, not because he killed a Black teenager. From what I could see, Trayvon Martin was a target of opportunity. Neighborhood watch does not mean that you should go out in your car, with a weapon, and instead of listening to a 911 dispatcher, you go ahead and kill. The fact that Trayvon happened to be Black has no bearing on this, and the fact that the prosecution phoned in their case is, in my humble opinion reason for them to turn in their licenses to practice. However, don’t get me started on that one.

There is no question that slavery was a terrible thing. Of course, few people mention that it was Africans selling their Black brethren into chains when it first got started. Oh, that’s just a horrible thing to say. And yes, on perhaps too large a percentage of plantations, Blacks were treated horribly. That was the eighteenth, nineteenth, and yes, even the twentieth Century’s. Lincoln freed the slaves, which didn’t make a hell of a lot of difference because White ignorance and ignorant Whites had trouble with the words ‘equal’ and ‘equality.’  Brown versus The Board of Education took baby steps in declaring that separate schools for Blacks and Whites were unconstitutional. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, and prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education, and outlawed segregation in public facilities.

I worked at Northeastern University in Boston for nearly 20 years. The University is located on the edge of Roxbury, long a Black neighborhood in Boston. For me to cite the number of times Whites were attacked by groups of Blacks would take many more words that I want to write or you want to read. Three Black kids demanding an NU student’s bomber jacket and then killing him because he didn’t get it off fast enough; four Black kids trying to rob a White faculty member as he was returning to his office from lunch…these are just two cases. Unfortunately, in the latter case, the faculty member’s former career was as a professional boxer; he knocked out three of the kids and the other ran away.

There are many colleges and universities in this country where White students are warned not to walk off campus at night. Temple, Yale, Providence College, Penn, and Trinity College in Hartford, CT are but a few that are considered on the edge of “dangerous neighborhoods.”

Racism is wrong. It’s wrong when it’s committed by Whites and it’s wrong when it’s committed by Blacks, but please, please do not try to tell me that only Whites can be racist. We should all be outraged by arrogance and ignorance, race, religion, gender preference, or whatever other phobia you may think of…we are people. There are enough people in the rest of the world who hate us. Why should we hate one another?

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My dear Mr. President…I’m certain that your intentions were wonderful. I know that you spoke from the heart. However, in your attempt to defuse racial tension over the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict, I believe you stepped into an arena where your wise counsel was unwanted, unnecessary, and somewhat inflammatory.

I wish that you could have had Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Sidney Poitier, and a few other Black males there with their spouses of many years. Perhaps you could have had a few nameless Black couples from Caprini Green, Watts, Roxbury, Massachusetts, or Bladensburg and New York Avenues to show that Black folks are just like White folks. It wouldn’t matter because, unfortunately, there are differences between the races. Some of them are good; some are bad. My personal experience is that my Black friends are ‘givers.’ They want nothing from me but would give me the shirt of their back. My only connection to a Black man and his wife who are currently in prison doesn’t change my opinion. This man was as kind to me as anyone I’ve known. Certainly, he might have had no compunctions for harming me if I got in the way of his ‘business,’ but then, who knows? My White friends, on the other hand, are about 70/30 takers. They want something; they want to know what I can do for them. Unfortunately, my sample is small and I am but one.

Life is confusing enough without attempting to say that one race is en masse bad and the other en masse good. Yes, our prisons are filled with more Blacks and Latinos than Whites; so what. Seems to me that Blacks have had fewer opportunities than Whites any way you look at it. Don’t hold yourself up as a shining example of what a Black man can achieve, Mr. President. You weren’t raised in the misery in which many of these other Black 17-year olds were raised. You didn’t grow up in the really bad parts of Detroit or Cleveland. You weren’t raised in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans or on the streets of Harlem “back in the day.”

Who is to say which stories are true? Was it originally a case of Blacks selling their brothers to the Muslims, the Dutch and into the Americas or was it white slavers who went into Africa and kidnapped men, packed them into ships like sardines and brought them to the Caribbean and North America. Oh there are records from here, there, and everywhere that tell one story or another. There is documented evidence in archives everywhere, but my bet is that there was a little bit of everything going on that caused slavery to flourish in Europe, the Middle East, and in the Colonies. We think we know the truth; we are positive we know the truth. We also thought that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.

Mr. President, you cannot speak up every time there is a Black/White court decision. If you were not in office, I’d say, “Great,” but you are in office and it’s not something on which you should be expressing an opinion. You may believe me to be narrow-minded by saying that but consider what your opponents will say: “See, he doesn’t recognize that White people can be right, even when they are acquitted in a court of law.” They’ll find some other racist nonsense to throw at you too, so hold onto your opinions about race until you’re out of office. Oh, and just as an aside, I personally believe that George Zimmerman got away with murder and should be serving a minimum of 25 years.

American fought the bloodiest and most costly war in its history in an attempt to gain equal treatment for all ‘men’ [we didn’t give a damn about women yet]; it didn’t work. We tried to integrate schools and colleges, not just in the South, but in America, and it took Federal intervention and armed guards to achieve that. We passed Brown v. The Board of Education and that really didn’t make a difference. Nothing has made a difference. Nothing will make a difference until grandmothers and grandfathers, racists like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and some of these fire-breathing Black pastors stop telling people that they have been “held down” by Whites. If anyone has been held back, it has been the immigrants who have come to our shores and been told, “Get the hell out; go back where you came from!”  Signs reading “No Irish Need Apply” didn’t stop the Irish from rising up and becoming a force in the American saga. Chinese who were worked to death building the railroads across this country have become a powerful influence in the growth of this country. Italians, Jews, Indians, and Lebanese, people of every race and color, including Blacks, have made tremendous contributions. Unfortunately, the riots in South Central, the pre-Halloween shenanigans in Detroit, the murder rate in Chicago, and our own problems in Boston created a stigma that have muddied the contributions of Madame C.J. Walker, George Bonga, and  James Beckwourth. Everyone seems to think of Oprah, Berry Gordy, and John Johnson, but few know of the efforts and giant contributions of earlier Black Americans who faced much greater hardships than the Black Americans of today.

Mr. President, the Black community has an image problem as well as a societal problem. Until both are solved, and I’ll be damned if either of us can answer those two, there will continue to be mistrust among Blacks and Whites in this country. It’s certainly going to be a ‘step-at-a-time’ solution. Why don’t we begin by banning the ugly music, associated largely with the Black community that uses language you don’t want Sasha and Malia to hear? I know and that would be called censorship. In the case of some of that music, censorship might not be such a bad thing.

I’m a nobody trying to tell a somebody to solve the problems he can solve from the position he’s in now. Take care of the big problems like uniting the country and getting our troops back home; like further reducing unemployment; like stopping terrorism on our own soil; like standing up to Congress and telling them to get their act together or find another job. We have a lot of work to do, Mr. President. Don’t let a pissant like George Zimmerman, a couple of prosecutors who probably shouldn’t have law degrees, and six people who tried to follow the law get in the way of what really needs to be done.

P.S. So what do we do now about the Quianna Tompkins’ of this world?

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The Declaration of Independence was written by a group of wealthy white men. It spoke of equality, yet the author was the owner of more than 200 slaves. There was one Roman Catholic and four members of the Protestant faiths who declared, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

I would posit that the current Congress of the United States of America, the legislative branch, the group that can control how much money you and I pay to the government to run the nation, have reached the point where you and I, the common people of America should “dissolve the political bands which have connected them” to us. I would further posit that this Congress does not have the best interests of its various constituents or the United States of America at heart but that they are more concerned with increasing their personal wealth and throwing this country into disarray purely on the basis of discriminatory practices. I would strongly recommend that we, the citizens of this country, demand a recall of every member of Congress who is recognized as a millionaire. Nearly 250 of the 535 members of Congress have an average of two and one half million dollars in net worth.  Comparatively, less than one percent of Americans fall into that category of wealth. I find it impossible to believe that they can understand the hardship imposed on average Americans just to put meals on the table and/or pay the monthly rent or mortgage payment. They just don’t get it. Congress, as well as the President is, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” That’s you and I, and I can’t speak for you, but I certainly am not happy about the manner in which I am being governed.

Are there other similarities between the original Declaration of Independence and what we are facing with today’s government? Given the time and the ability to fully comprehend the innuendos of that original document, I’m certain there are many. Fifty-six men attached their signatures to a document that could and in all probability would bring about their death for treason. I don’t believe there is one man or woman in Congress today who would have the courage to affix their signature to such a document. The sole effort of this Congress seems to be oriented toward disemboweling the executive branch of government, and you cannot convince me that there isn’t a certain degree of racism attached to the manner in which Congress is acting.

Barack Obama was elected by the people of this country. He came to Washington to do something that seven presidents before him were unable to do. He managed to get through both houses of Congress a comprehensive health care package. It was passed; it became law, and no less than thirty times has the House of Representatives attempted to dismantle it. It is not a perfect law; everyone including the President is aware of this, but it is the first comprehensive health care bill that has actually made its way through Congress and back on to the President’s desk for his signature. Why does the House keep attempting to raise issues that have been discussed and resolved? Have they nothing better to do with their time? Is the pharmaceutical lobby that powerful that they can continue to buy Congressmen to keep raising non-issues?

There are issues before Congress right now that need to be moved forward. There are bills in committee that may never see the light of day, not because they aren’t good pieces of legislation, but because, to quote one Republican House member, “We can’t let him have another win.” The ‘him’ in this statement was referring to the President of the United States. Why, why can’t the President be allowed to ‘win,’ have another important bill passed. Republicans in Congress will tell you it’s because he’s a Democrat. The honest truth is that they don’t want the first Black President to leave behind any kind of a legacy to which future generations will refer. There, I’ve finally put it on the table. Now everyone can yell and scream and call me names; say that I’m not right and all that bullshit. However, have you ever in your life heard of a Congress that has been so reticent to go along with its President? I haven’t and I’ve been around this barn for 78 plus years now. Never in my life have I seen such a do-nothing Congress and never before have I heard a Congressman yell out to the President that he’s a liar.

As I said early on, this Congress has to go…every single one of them. I will grant that there are some good people, but the problem is actually finding them. These characters are slick. They shovel shit in your face and will swear on a stack of Holy Bibles that it’s sugar. The guilt lies on both sides of the aisle. These people do not care about us. What is it going to take for Americans to wake up and throw these people out on the street? No more is the devil we know better than the one we don’t. The devil we know continues to be interested only in his or her salvation and they are laughing at us all the way to the bank.

Wake up America.

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Once upon a time, long, long, ago, in a country called America – actually, it was the United States of America but, hey, let’s keep things brief [ha] – there was a word that had a great deal of meaning. That word was “loyalty.” Actually, that’s bullshit. The word, “loyalty” was loyalty to your own clan or kind; it had nothing to do with being loyal to those who might be the slightest different from you or your family…in any way possible. The Puritans left the colonists because the colonists didn’t believe as they did. Those who were loyal to the crown, the Tory Conservatives felt that the Whig Patriots were traitors, which, truth be told, they were…or were they?

America has been about as screwed up a nation as one can possibly imagine. There were those who wanted to run the Colonies in much the same manner as the Crown ran the ‘home country.’ The wealthy controlled the land and all that was on it, from the fish in the streams to the animals in the woods to the villagers who worked on the land. It appears from my reading that rising above the stature of one’s birth was impossible unless it was done by deceit, rebellion, and murder.  Lincoln might have announced the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Congress didn’t make it a law. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white children was unconstitutional. Even then, many states fought the idea of integrating schools. That was two years after I had received my high school diploma and was already working on an undergraduate degree. Talk about living in a world of ignorance; mine was and, quite frankly, has remained a white bread world for well over 50 years.

When one (me) lives in total ignorance of the world around them, I’m unable to comprehend exactly what causes it. Certainly, I’d heard of the Bromley-Heath and Columbia Point housing projects in Boston. Hell, I even watched Columbia Point being built while on my way to classes, but it never occurred to me what the living conditions would be like. People used to tell me that I was crazy to hitchhike from Columbia Circle just about the project, but nothing ever happened except when a white man tried to run me down. I’d been picked up by blacks and whites and never had a problem in the world. By then, of course, there were no Tories or Whigs, and the Democrats and Republicans dueled in a gentlemanly fashion to ensure that what they were doing was best for the country and not for a political party.

It never really dawned on me that black people weren’t getting the same brand of education that white people were getting. Then integration hit Boston, and it became apparent that there were certain groups of whites who didn’t want their children exposed to blacks. They didn’t understand that there were an equal number of black people who felt basically the same way. In back of it all was the same old story; blacks were not being given equal education and whites didn’t want the black community to learn the truth…pretty goddamned sick, isn’t it?

We began to wonder why more and more black kids were dropping out of school and doing things like robbing and earning their money illegally. No one ever seemed to give a hell of a lot of thought to the fact that schooling was doing anything for them. The ‘niggers’ – that’s just a word but it’s exactly how some people thought of those of a different color – were still second-class citizens and anything that whites could do to ensure it would stay that way would be done. However, whites don’t deserve all of the blame. Mothers with six kids by different fathers didn’t seem to be all that uncommon in the black community. Don’t ask me why, but who’s going to discipline the younger kids if there’s no dad around to accept the responsibility. A quick fuck or two maybe fun and games, but it also entails a certain amount of accountability and responsibility. More and more, black leaders like Bill Cosby, Fifty Cent, Snoop Dog, and others are coming forward to chastise both black men and women for not accepting responsibility for their actions.

When drugs hit the streets of Boston –LSD was introduced around 1963 – Marijuana was already a money-maker, the drug having been introduced in the early 1900s to America. It was easy money, but money with a curse. One never knew whether or not the buyer or even the seller might be selling the ‘real deal.’ What better way for kids with a third-rate education or none at all to pick up extra money? To appropriately write on this subject would take volumes of both research and putting together a coherent piece. That is not what this essay is about.

This essay is really about me and the world of ignorance in which I have lived my life. I’m not proud of having not experienced some of the trials that people of different colors and ethnic backgrounds have experienced. I can now better understand why I sometime received strange looks when I’d make a comment that today sounds to me so stupid and insensitive. At Babson, our financial aid director was Edwina Middleton, a black lady. One day I was in ‘Eddie’s” office when a group of freshmen, all black, came in and asked if she had any idea where they could get a haircut. Without thinking, I suggested a place not far from campus. Both Edwina and the kids just stared at me. She then game them some suggestions while I sat there looking like Mickey the Dunce. After they had left, she asked, “Do you honestly think blacks and whites have the same kind of hair?” I had to admit that I’d never thought of it, but yeah, that’s what I thought.

In some ways, I suppose, it’s good to be deaf, dumb, blind, and ignorant. That doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.  Since that day, there have been plenty of opportunities for me to learn the differences between races…and I’ve damn well made it a point to do so. People really are quite worlds apart in the way they look at life and the way in which they live it. It’s no wonder that there is such confusion and anger of some toward others. It’s my belief that Christians wouldn’t react as violently to a video depicting our God as a buffoon; Muslims really get pissed (even though that particular video had little to do with the attacks on US embassies). Jews have been ridiculed for years about their business practices, their physical descriptors, etc. I’ve not seen the Jews go on a rampage against those they thought responsible. My message to the Muslims is, “Grow up and get over it. You have bigger problems. And if you let a small group of terrorists influence you so completely, you are just plain stupid!”

It’s taken me 78 years to learn the differences in people and their beliefs. Now if I could just understand why Democrats and Republicans don’t really give a damn about their own country, perhaps I could die in peace. Hmmm, I wonder…

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