Terrorism rears its ugly head again


This time it was in a mall in New Jersey state.  We were fortunate no one was killed except the terrorist, but he leaves behind a thousand or more on the scene people who will never be the same and a society that is losing this war of attrition on its collective psyche finds itself unnerved again at how unsafe ordinary activity has become.

shoopA 20 year old young white man using his brother’s firearm decided to terrorize the citizens at Westfield Garden State Plaza because, some say, he wanted to die.  What’s troublesome is the way in which he chose suicide….by scaring, frightening, terrorizing Americans.  He probably didn’t consider himself a terrorist; most white people don’t and that begs the question why don’t they?  I think I found the answer

They (white males) didn’t start out mad. No, they were driven crazy by the sense that the world had spun so far off its axis that there was no hope of righting it. Underneath that sense of victimhood, that sense that the corporations and the government were coconspirators in perpetrating the great fleecing of the American common man, lay a defining despair in making things right. And under that despair lay their tragic flaw, a deep and abiding faith in America, in its institutions and its ideals….. they believed that if they worked hard and lived right, they, too, could share in the American Dream. When it is revealed that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, that dreams are for Disneyland, then they morph into a tragic American Everymen, defeated by circumstances instead of rising above them.

In the near–ghost towns of America’s factory cities, white workers seethe into their beers, wondering where it all went wrong—and how it all went to hell so fast. Perhaps more menacingly, some of these obedient men have now been replaced by violent men, who lash out at their spouses, while their sons learn their lessons well, as they drive through suburban neighborhoods looking for immigrants to beat up, and even to kill…..

The white working class and the white middle class have rarely been so close emotionally as they are today; together they have drifted away from unions, from big government, from the Democratic Party, into the further reaches of the right wing. Together they listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. And together they watched Brad Pitt initiate Ed Norton into “Fight Club,” searching for something— anything—that would feel authentic, that would feel real. Middle-and working-class white men—well, they just are beginning to actually understand each other.

Add to this mix belief by far too many that Democrats, government and America’s first black President are intent on taking away their guns along with their  money and redistributing their wealth to those who don’t deserve….to those who they fear…..to Americans who they consider a threat to their very existence, then you can see why and how America’s white males strike out in ways that are reminiscent of terrorism. Yet because we don’t label these acts of murder and mayhem what they are, there is no need on the part of anyone to denounce them…far from it.  In fact to do so with an emphasis on the method of terrorism has been vehemently opposed by people on the right because it strikes too close to their notions of gun control.  So we are stuck in a cycle of violence, some say it is as American as apple pie, and terrorism and has been the case for most of our existence as a Nation, our biggest threat is ourselves.

 

A Reminder of the GOP’s platform


Don’t think the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots? You don’t think America still has a long way to go before it fully realizes the dream of most of the people who elected Obama, or to realize this country’s potential?  Take a look at the video below!

Why bring this up now you ask?  Sarah Palin is still commanding attention and speculation about whether she will run in 2012; Donald Trump has decided to throw his hat into the politcal ring and he began with the same time worn cliches about Obama that defeated the GOP in 2008 and he’s had a strong showing in polls of Republican voters.  The tea party was formed in response to the GOP loss in 2008 and many of its members, a few we’ve talked about here, have continued the racist rhetoric that is evident in the video below.

No doubt the GOP will present itself as the party of fiscal conservatives, responsible government, etc.. but that’s a facade.  The real face of the Republican Party is the one that pushes people to the brink of fear and panic with overt and indirect references to race, religion and offers itself as a panacea for all that ails the country.   They see nothing wrong with doing that and have enlisted the help of women, like Palin and blacks like Herman Cain, Allen West, et.al who can make the ridiculous claim that because they are saying such dastardly demagogic speech  it’s not racism or bigotry.  In reality, such people, photogenic, sophisticated looking people are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.  No matter how you dress it or who you use to spout it it’s still ugly, virulent and yes protected free speech, that is xenophobic and divisive.  What such forces of darkness are counting on is an ignorant, fearful, wanting to be led by the nose electorate who will believe anything they are told and produce the desired results at the polls.  Aren’t we better than that?   America, deal with your problem!

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Letter from a Birminham jail revisited


Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party is the latest person in Obama’s party to undercut the commander-in-chief by saying the supporters of Cordoba House, while they have the RIGHT to build their community center where they want, should  build it elsewhere.  Harry Reid, running for reelection in Nevada as well as Dean are more concerned about their party’s health than the health of the Nation and are the worse examples of political hacks, people who live to advance the cause of a special,narrowly defined  interest not taking into account the greater good of the citizenry of the entire country.

In the face of such flight from principle it is apparent  that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may acknowledge the legitimacy of the Constitution’s right to religious expression  but when these very same individuals begin identifying with a group other than the entire citizenry of America they tend to dilute their position with the caveat ‘but they should build elsewhere’ thereby negating completely their concession and in the process become immoral.

Such was the conclusion arrived at by Martin Luther King as he sat in a Birmingham city jail in 1963, confronted by fellow white Christians who wanted to encourage him to go slower in his quest for overthrowing segregation in racist America.  The people he addressed in his letter  who agreed with the principle of desegregation were not throwing their weight behind King’s action of non-violent protest and social agitation because they didn’t want to upset the status quo, although that is exactly what they were doing  by agreeing segregation shouldn’t exist.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

In the parallel universe between 1960s  Birmingham, Alabama and 21st century America, “freedom” becomes freedom of religion and religious expression and “segregation” becomes denial of a place to worship at the place of one’s choice.  The comparison is real, palatable, and in all the fervor caused by the controversy very few people have spoken out against the Islamophobia that has embraced the opposition  movement to build the Cordoba House at another location.  Some people have even taken to a wholly unconstitutional position of building the cultural center on land provided to the developers by the state of  New York in what would clearly be a breech of separation of religion and state.  No one has thought for a moment about the ramifications this has for other faith communities that may be considered more main stream?  What would you say to a evangelical church that has permission to build on a property while government officials insist they build elsewhere or prominent members of society insisted such abrogation of that church’s decision.  Would that be considered coercion?

For those who say it is insensitive to build such an establishment close Ground Zero, that it’s presence exacerbates emotions towards Muslims and this should be avoided King answered that concern while sitting in a Birmingham jail so many years ago

I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

If you remove the adjective “white” every time it modifies moderate and replace “Negro” with Muslim, and where you find names of obstructionists who opposed King in his day you replaced with the Republican or Democratic party you would have the essence of the argument against those who say Muslims have the right, but……

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

Dean, Reid, Clinton and Bush (the latter two having not made any statement on this issue) have done a disservice to citizenship and betrayed the trust they have to America to represent all of its citizens.  The rights given to all of us were unconditional and that as long as the citizen was in good standing with the law they are expected, nay encouraged, to practice those rights to the utmost of their ability.  Those who say, ‘yes, but……”  are the same obstructionists faced by King during the dark days of American segregation.  It is up to Muslims and other freedom loving Americans, freedom riders/fighters to agitate for total and complete freedom of expression for which they are entitled.  Nothing less is acceptable now as it wasn’t acceptable then.

The Dance of Denial


danceIt has been very revealing watching members of the Right deny the responsibility of their ideology for two tragic murders that have recently occurred which captured the attention of the Nation.  First came the cold blooded slaughter of an abortionist, Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas followed up shortly by the brutal killing of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

Dr. Tiller’s death is troubling because he had been the target of anti-abortionists’ rage before. The person charged with his murder had been known to stalk and even vandalize  the clinic where Tiller worked in the days preceding his death.  Several people in the clinic have gone on record saying they knew about Scott Roeder’s attempts at disrupting the operation of the clinic and notified the proper authorities yet nothing was done to apprehend Roeder which could have possibly prevented  Dr. Tiller’s death.  Such ineptness on the part of the federal bureaucracy does not mean that even more layers of government are necessary to protect the citizens but rather irresponsible civil servants need to be replaced with more diligent and efficient ones.

The death of Stephen Jones at the National Holocaust Museum at the hands of a white supremacist is a tragedy underscored by the fact his murderer had a long history, easily documented that could have possibly pointed to such a heinous crime being committed by his hand, age notwithstanding, yet he very easily walked down a metropolitan city street with a .22 caliber rifle and shot and killed an armed federal agent.  The reason why I mention again both of these crimes is because of the contortions those on the right are taking to distance their ideology from these two men who claimed to hold that ideology near and dear to them.

Political pundits are taking great lengths to say that these murderers aren’t from the right at all but rather from the left of the political spectrum, despite the fact they, the perpetrators clearly identify with the Right.  Punditry has managed to make actions a mark of political persuasion and not words.  Pundits have told their admirers that death and killing are marks of the political left, terrorism is identified with Muslims and Islam.  The Right claims  any action that is noble and necessary to save America from its enemies upto and including wholesale slaughter and invasion of countries like Iraq and Afghanistan as virtuous, and therefore worthy of being called conservative.

This was the kind of meme advanced by Dick Cheney, more recently, and the entire Bush administration before which reduced all argument to ‘with us or against us’ sloganeering.  In that small universe built by the likes of the triumphant Right there wasn’t anything that we did to  those ‘against us’ that could be considered illegal or immoral behavior.   The concept of “exceptionalism” had been developed to the point that meant even the boundaries of legality didn’t apply to our behavior, or we made every attempt to legalize illegal behavior in order to legitimize our unlawful actions.  This flouting of the law for suspect political aims is a vicious circle we continue to go around when we obscure  the motives of these latest criminals for their criminal behavior.

News accounts and political commentators have taken great pains to classify these murderers as lone gunmen who are completely separate and detached from the environment which they have enveloped themselves.  By doing so they hope to further distance themselves from the effect their rhetoric has on the people who listen, subscribe and eventually act on  it.

In our system of law as it pertains to capital crimes unless there is a conspiracy there is no guilt by association. Conversely there is also no innocence by association. Christian leaders and conservative citizens in general have jumped at the chance to label Mr. Roeder a vigilante, a monster and things far worse.

Regrettably this tactic is only applied to people from the right who spent an entire two terms of a right leaning Republican administration painting with the broadest of brushes entire groups of people based on the actions of individual(s).  This has been a common practice of demagoguery; the politics of the many condensed into the actions of the lone individual.  Cries, which were raised at the turn of the century, of bombing the institutions that are symbolic of political ideology have given way to the absolute negation of ideology and their import on an individual’s actions.   Murderers on the right have suddenly appeared on our political and national landscape to kill their perceived foes because these killers were inherently defective and acting completely on their own.  Conversely the last eights years of a Republican administration were spent literally trying to root out whole communities of conspirators who lurked in every corner of our country waiting for a chance to reap their collective death and destruction at the earliest possible moment on an unsuspecting public that need the invasive protection of a government bureaucracy, because of the actions of a few.

Finally the absence in many cases of condemnation from the people who claim allegiance with right leaning philosophy  for the  murderous tendencies of their co-ideologues is another characteristic of the sudden revisionism going on in Obama’s America.  During the Bush years people were always challenged to condemn the acts of coreligionists or fellow party members whereas today’s America sees there is no need for condemnation because such doing so rarely accomplishes anything and not worth the time spent.

Condemning Roeder doesn’t add anything to the pro-life cause. Pro-abortionists are always quick to remind the Christians of Christ’s rule of not judging or condemning. Why add fuel to the fire by condemning Mr. Roeder, isn’t it just a matter of six of one and a half dozen of the other? Both Tiller and Roeder have One that will be their final judge and he is neither hot under the collar, biased or partial. Why don’t we leave all that to Him?

In many ways such ideas mirror the current glossing over done by the Obama administration vis-a-vis Bush Administration crimes.  The motivation for such an attitude is clear; it absolves ideologues from the  responsibility of their actions of the past or the future while still holding on, in their own minds at least, to a perceived higher moral ground. Gone are the litmus  tests that were applied to every ethnicity before which required a strict adherence to the law on the part of every member of a political, ideological group or the utter abandonment and banishment of that group in the absence of a vociferous outcry and condemnation of any of its members, however tangential that connection may be.

Finally, there is the absence of a cry for governmental insertion in the settlement of accounts for anti-social behavior.  Instead, the right has resume its position they so recklessly abandoned during the 911 era and want no government interference at all in protecting society.  Instead of wanting the affairs of the country to be overseen by a white haired Bush, the right blames a black haired Obama, as if he were the trigger puller of these two most recent attacks on the national consciousness.  The turnaround of the right on a dime as it were, is one more indication of the bankrupt philosophy it harbors.  That no one from that side of the political spectrum can see the sudden hypocrisy of their positions is another indication of just how low they have sunk in abandoning principle.  There is no indication that the Left is or will be any better; their actions to date have only enabled the right to the detriment of us all.

The Republican Epiphany


It’s a bit too late and dishonest, but it’s now being said that Bush is a socialist.  Progressives and people on the left have been saying the same thing but were excoriated for it, accused of being traitors and in so many words told to leave their country.  However, the signs of Bush’s socialist leaning tendencies have been apparent since 911.  That marked the beginning of big government, although that may not quite be the “big government” Republicans now have in mind.

“We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,” said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries.

What seems to have particularly drawn the Republicans’ ire is the financial bailouts and that indeed should be enough to upset EVERYONE within the borders of the US.  The Republicans however, are responsible for the mechanism behind the bailouts and how it works.  Although the country has been in a recession for over a year, the Bush Administration made the economy a priority only within the last 6 months and hurried initiatives through Congress, much like they did after 911, scaring all who opposed them with dire political consequences (this was an election year) as well as economical ones for the country.  In that kind of atmosphere all felt obliged to give the Administration what it asked for, but this is how Bush has worked throughout his two terms, turning every issue into a national crisis which could only be solved through the immediate and direct involvment of Government.  At every turn Democrats and Republicans participated in this turns towards “socialism” and very few people, except those on the fringe, complained.

Now, Republicans are claiming Bush is a socialist? Bush is NOT the target of this resolution being mulled within the RNC, rather it is Obama.  In fact the resolution itself won’t be considered until after Obama takes office, but what party officials want to do is tie Obama to Bush’s policies and plaster the “socialist” pejorative to the Democrats to use against them in ’12.  Republicans are quite happy with the big government they voted in during the last eight years and they know much of what they instituted will not be rescinded.  Government rarely if ever gives back power, and Bush has done a very good job of handing Democrats hot button issues that are irreparable in the short term so Republicans can position themselves as a “viable” opposition party….much like the Democrats did in ’06, and regain control of the executive and legislative.  Why anyone would want to be President under these circumstances is beyond me.

So the Bush is a socialist accusation is only window dressing to ensnare the Dems who will be forced to defend what transpired during Bush’s term, because once government gives, they can’t taketh back, while they, Republicans argue what they indeed voted for is no good and irrelevant.  A neat political trick.