Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I am Afraid

I am afraid.
Afraid for my country and the road that we are slowly, steadily, joyfully walking down.

On Monday, a bomb went off in New York City’s Chelsea Neighborhood injuring 29 people.  Thankfully, reports are that no one was seriously injured.

Trump (and Hillary as well) has used this event to cast more aspersions on Muslims here in America. He called to close the border to Muslims, again, and to propose greater security on the members of that most maligned and misunderstood of non-Christian sects.

Never once did I hear him say that oh, by the way, the accused terrorist is a naturalized American citizen. That a closed border would have done nothing to stop this particular tragedy. Or that, quite possibly, the accused was radicalized after becoming a citizen. No! He simply continued to show his hatred, prejudice, and ignorance against a religious sect whose vast majority of members simply want to live in peace.

Instead, his followers, a staggering 42% of the US population (according to the latest New York Times poll) are calling for a total ban on a religious sect. When will they call for the same against Christians because of the Westborough Baptist Church I ask you?  The result would be the same.

How long before they decide that all of “them” and “their kind” need to be watched or maybe forced into abandoned walled up cities?  Detroit anyone?  They all seem to like walls so much.

Or maybe forcing all of the Muslims into camps would be easier on all of us.  “Arbeit Macht Frei”?

Am I being unfair to 42% of my countrymen by jumping from proud American to Neonazi so fast? How do you think it started in Germany all those years ago?  Financial crisis, followed by ultra nationalism, followed by scapegoating. Sound familiar?

Yes, a Muslim made and set off the bomb, allegedly. (Innocent until proven guilty, right? It’s a fundamental human right and has been since Roman times, but we seem to forget that here in the land of fundamental human rights.) But does that make all Muslims culpable?

So yes, allegedly, a fellow American who happens to be a Muslim is accused of the bombing and Trump is complaining that since he was shot during his arrest, that the accused is not allowed to have basic health care. In fact Trump said "Now we will give him amazing hospitalization. He will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world. He will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room. And he'll probably even have room service knowing the way our country is.”
Let's analyze this quote for just a second and see it for what it really is.

The accused  (not convicted, and so presumed innocent, for now) will be taken care of and have the best doctors, which is his privilege, as an American. In a fully modern hospital. Unfortunately not everyone in America has that. Some of our inner-city hospitals are lacking, but they are still far better than what you would find in the 3rd world. But I digress.
“And he'll probably even have room service knowing the way our country is.” Are you kidding me?

  1. He has a gunshot wound.
  2. He's most likely handcuffed to the bed since he is under arrest.
  3. Who has ever been made to get up out of their sick bed, and walk to the hospital cafeteria for meals?  Answer: Nobody!

How else is he supposed to eat? Trump has got to be one of the most ignorant and asinine people I have ever heard of, and 42% of my fellow Americans are mindlessly agreeing!

“Ya! He’s getting special treatment!” As if they have ever been in the hospital and been made to walk to the cafeteria for meals. How often does that happen?

So yes, I am afraid.
I am afraid of what this country is becoming.
I am afraid that 42% of the voting public are so mindless that they would vote for a buffoon like Trump.
I am afraid that 48% of the voting public are so mindless that they would vote for a criminal like Hillary.
I am afraid that if Trump gets in, he’ll have my children spying on me and reporting my statements to the secret police (I guess that they could just read my blog).
I am afraid that soon there will be camps for the unwanted, the undesirables, the "other.".
I am afraid that soon there will be an entire generation of PTSD victims from our endless wars.
I am afraid that there is nothing I can do about it.

In his book 1984, George Orwell wrote:

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

I think that my next post will be about how true these words have become.

Monday, September 12, 2016

My view on Kaepernick

It seems that everyone has an opinion about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem.  Any quick google search of “Kaepernick” in the news feeds will reveal extreme opinions on both sides of the debate.
Some see him as a traitor to his country and condemn him in the strongest possible terms. Others support him and agree with his protest.  And still others, do not agree with his protest but understand that he is simply exercising his right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by the first amendment of the constitution.
It’s funny, though, that those who are condemning him as a traitor are, usually, the same people who are the first to proclaim the constitution as being divinely inspired and absolute.
Strange how things work sometimes.
As for me, I will willingly take a knee with Kaepernick.
I have been silently protesting the Pledge and the National Anthem by non-participation for 5 years now.  Why?  You can read more about my protest Here.
It’s pretty simple.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that cares nothing for its people.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that actively denies the right of solemn franchise to many of its citizens.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that actively disrespects and discards its veterans.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that routinely sells its influence to the highest bidder or highest donor.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that harasses and guns down its citizens because of their race and color.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that will tax its middle class into poverty while giving the top 1% (ie. themselves) a pass.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that strives to keep the masses uneducated and deceived by making college education expensive and therefore unattainable by a vast majority of the populous.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that gives greedy corporations a pass on price gouging life saving medications to its people.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that has turned its back on God, whatever God may be.

What frightens me the most, is the anger heaped upon Kaepernick and those of us who agree with him or maybe think like him.  It’s an instantaneous thing that seems to ignite with furious force.

"If you aren’t going to honor the flag then you'd better get out of my country!"
"If you aren’t going to honor the flag then I’m going to kick your ass."  

It reminds me of a grade school game we used to play where we would change the words to songs to make them funny.

“This land is my land,
It isn’t your land,
I’ve got a shot gun,
And you ain’t got one…”

So on and so forth.  Isn’t very funny anymore. Is it.

Those of us who conduct our silent protests by not standing for the National Anthem are well aware that there are consequences to not conforming to the nationalistic norms around us.  That there are consequences to exercising our rights of free speech.  We do not intend to demean or  disrespect the sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed services.  On the contrary, we hold them in the highest regard, we only want to make their sacrifices mean something by bringing awareness to the problems that the US has, and seems unwilling to fix.

The first step to fixing any problem is in recognizing that there is a problem to begin with.
Phrases like “The USA is the greatest country in the world,” “Land of the free and home of the brave,” and “The shining light on the hill,” are all denials of the problems faced by this country. 
Maybe if we could let the nationalistic pride go for just a few minutes and humble ourselves enough to recognize that the USA has some significant problems, that we are no longer the shining light on the hill, and that we are not the greatest country on the planet, then maybe we could actually fix a few things.
And maybe, if we actually took some time to consider our votes, that we actually voted for someone instead of against the other.  If we disregarded party and elected good people who would actually roll up their sleeves and work for the good of their constituents instead of the corporation with the largest check-book.
Maybe if we all worked for the good of the country instead of the good of ourselves, maybe we could relight that shining light on the hill.
Until then, I will sit through the national anthem and take the abuse from the flag wavers.

Friday, September 09, 2016

I’ve been reading back through my posts as of late, and realize that I haven’t written anything hopeful lately.
But I ask you, is there anything to be hopeful about?
I look at the four candidates for President, (two of whom have a snowball’s chance of getting in, and the other two are a combined disaster) and I ask, “What have we become?”
Forget the President, what about the Congress?
Fools and liars so embedded with the big corporations that they could care less about the people they supposedly represent.
Yesterday, my daughter went in for her middle school checkup.  She has a strange allergy to chocolate, and we are supposed to have an epipen for her.  We had to tell her doctor, that we would not be filling that prescription because we could not spend $200 out of pocket to fill the prescription (my insurance would cover the other $400 or so, luckily).
A life saving medication and device that reportedly costs $30 to manufacture and place on pharmacy shelves, marked up to $600?
Greedy Bastards!
Congress says, “There’s going to be an investigation!”
Right, there will be a pretend, dog and pony show of an investigation, the drug companies will write large checks to congressional incumbents and super-pacs, drug prices will continue to go up in order to pay for those congressional bribes (er, I mean, donations) and the American people will continue to take it in the shorts.  Life will continue to go on it’s merry way and nothing will change.

And you wonder why I am so disgusted with my country?
You wonder why I don’t recite the “Pledge of Allegiance?”
You wonder why I don’t stand for the National Anthem?

Why should I?  Why should you?
Am I the only person in this God-Forsaken country who can see the corruption?

So, I’ll tell you what.
You go ahead,
Wave your little governmental logo and sing your little national theme song.
Go on pretending that the USA is still the greatest country in the world.
Me? I’ll do what I can to make real change, even if I have to turn my back on the rest of you.

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