At the end of harrowing journeys the children arrive at border stations. Forever marked by their exile from homelands and the travails of crossing; parched tongues nudge blistered lips to form fractured words from cotton lined mouths, “Yo tengo sed.”
INS border guards oblige the request with a plastic milkjug half filled with water and a welcomed sanctuary of incarceration. Other citizens meet the refugees with cocked Bushmasters and dogeared bibles righteously proclaiming the sanctity of property rights, taxation risk and exclusionary platitudes affirming legalisms of citizenship.
The Latin American children seeking refuge in the United States is the emblematic problem of our time. Images of frightened, emaciated children crammed like cattle into detention camps transcends the metaphorical symbolism of this lost generation. The children amassing at the borders are the disenfranchised victims of globalization. Severed from family, exiled from homelands these stateless souls roam existential netherworld’s in search of humane sanctuaries; only to find at journeys end the embrace of resent and acrimonious shelters optimized to efficiently consign distressed commodities to the discount bins of humanity.
Their arrival and the political response of our present day Know Nothings mocks notions of morality and how a civilized nation marks civility. Escaping the mean estates of a predatory economic system, suffering the chattel like abuse from rapacious coyotes and the burning hardships of the water less Sierra Madre crowned deserts; the world’s debilitated children have come home to roost. Arriving on the doorstep of the world’s neocolonialist powers begging for meager portions of subsistence gobbled up by the cool facility of imperial gluttony.
In our flat world, complaining about taxes being consumed by immigrants is a disingenuous cover for the social instability global resource capture has wrought on the developing world. Taxes are being consumed by corporate welfare (generous tax credits), crony capitalism (See Chris Christie) , wasteful war expenditures (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) and tax avoidance by the money class. All enablers of a predatory economic system.
The large corporations routinely leverage the “free social capital” of the developed world. Deployed to lesser developed countries (LDC) it extracts huge amounts of surplus value from LDC.
These massive capital infusions transforms subsistence economies, radically altering local industries and agrarian based institutions. The windfall profits however, never seem to make it back to its homeland except in the form of a soaring stock price on home based exchanges. Profits leave LDC like a royal progeny and find luxurious sanctuary in tax friendly offshore banks.
Today huge swaths of the world population are refugees. All capital seeks optimal return. Human’s are no different as they move across artificial political borders in search of subsistence. Wealth inequality and ruthless exploitation of economic and human capital has created this problem.
It poses an ironic conundrum for self serving libertarians. They welcome the bounty of freewheeling global capital and the risk free handsome returns it provides for the wealth of a nation. They are in full league with the march of multinational capital. They dislike the burden taxation has placed on their wealth and seek relief and investment opportunities in the privatization of government services. Prison Inc., Charter Schools LLC, healthcare, lotteries, social services, roads, parks anything save police and military functions are privatization targets. Privatization displaces workers and further rationalize government services to the primary benefit of shareholders much like the impact of global capital on the LDC economies. Already one can see its impact in the broadening wealth gap and the disappearance of the middle class in the United States.
The lost children wander the roadways in every country. They cast off on unseaworthy crafts hoping to make landing on a friendly shore that will recognize their humanity. The stateless children pilgrim across dangerous borders leaving footprints on pious souls asking them to offer more than an admonition to take comfort in Old Timey Biblical instruction that drove Hagar and her unholy progeny Ishmael back into the desert to hie with the wild asses.
Dear global citizens, we are all lost children. Refusing to recognize the desperate condition of our distressed children is a finely honed disease of our common troubled condition. No doubt true believers thumping the gospels of the finest MBA institutions enunciate high church managerial speak when we alight the human condition to the impaired value of human capital. It should not come as any surprise to witness the obstinate refusal to act on gun control because gun manufacturers profits are more important than the slaughter of innocents. Cutting food stamps to the children in poverty is critical to shave a few points off the capital gains tax. This gives license to Palin and Boehner in Unholy alliance with Faux News Philistines and Teabagging Falangists to paralyze the government over their insistence that healthcare should not be extended to the marginalized and poor in service to Obama’s socialist agenda.
Partisan blindness is a poor excuse for ignorance; and I’m sure Palin can see the wandering lost children from the back window of her plush new Arizona digs; seeking passages across the dangerous borders that exclude them entry and deny their humanity.
We cannot brand them “others”, unworthy of sanctuary. They are the victims, refugees from imperialist war, their livelihoods crushed by the march of predatory capitalism, their farms expropriated by GMO slinging multinational agribusinesses, their drinking water polluted by the flowing slush of strip miners looting the mineral wealth of communities; tribal lands and verdant rain forests clear cut for loggers as offshore drilling destroys aquaculture industries forcing boat people to cast off on unseaworthy rafts drowning in seas of indifference. We must throw them a life raft because someday soon we’ll be asking the same of them.
The problems of the world are human problems. Ignorance does not excuse blindness. As the world watched The World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, FIFA cleverly gleaned over the fact that it came at the expense of many thousands of Brazilian’s being displaced from their homes.
Tonight as you watch the news video from Gaza, don’t look away from watching a father furiously digging through the rubble, his hands and knees bloodied and shredded by glass and spiked rebar, his nostrils filling with concrete dust, he’s choking. Yet he still furiously digs for his trapped daughter. We hope he can extract her. The world rejoices in one less lost child.
Risk: morality, humanity, civility, compassion
The ones shouting loudest with greatest vehemency for liberty are ironically the proponents of its gravest threat. Rep. Peter King, the Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee has scheduled hearings on the radicalization of the US Muslim community and its threat to the homeland. Mr. King said the hearings are the result of a growing concern by law enforcement officials that the US Muslim community has not been cooperative in rooting out the home grown terrorists multiplying within their midst. In service to liberty’s highest ideals, the ever vigilant Mr. King looks to initiate an assault on the civil liberties of our brother and sister Muslim citizens.
A group calling themselves The Liberty Alliance are in full support of Mr. King’s ethnic profiling and the grave threat it poses to the civil liberties of all citizens. Mr. King’s committee hearings will be a resplendent grand standing platform for him to play to the basest prejudices of his constituency and stoke up the fear of American angst already overloaded with a symphony of terrors. Muslims, like the LGBT community and illegal aliens, labor unions and teachers make convenient scapegoats for the myriad problems confronting the nation. Mr. King and The Liberty Alliance would like us to believe that labor unions have plundered the wealth of the nation. Teachers have destroyed the schools. The poor have bankrupted our federal treasury while the LGBT and foreigners continue to undermine the true American Judeo-Christian culture by defiling the purity of its heritage.
Its a grand irony to witness self styled libertarians mobilized into action to attack civil liberties and right to privacy of their fellow citizens. They clamor for disclosure and transparency with the diabolical refrain, “if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to be afraid of.” Such seditious thinking undermines the spirit of liberty. It is a direct assault on a society governed by laws and its citizens shielded by due process and protected by a Bill of Rights. These democratic virtues once distinguished America as the shinning city on a hill. Now The Liberty Alliance denigrates it with an Orwellian platitude believing civil rights, privacy and due process are covers for terrorist cells that must be dispensed with at all costs.
It is not difficult to divine that Peter King’s committee will encourage a number of informants to come forward to meet a specified quota for stool pigeonry. A legion of rats and informants are the armies of despots not agents of democracies. But these are the same Real American Freedom Fighters who led the charge against American Muslim’s right to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Ask them about religious tolerance and the freedom to worship as guaranteed in the US Constitution and they’ll concede the point with the promise to serve Halal meals and build a mosque with extra capacity at Gitmo.
The ones shouting the loudest for liberty do indeed pose the greatest threat to it. The libertarians who opened the door to 527 llcs have turned Lady Liberty into a common prostitute hiring her out to the highest bidder. The zealots waving the Constitution with the fervor of a Red Book sprouting Maoist, forms a reactionary vanguard eager to deny the very same sacred civil liberties and rights to fellow citizens in their deranged constitutional republic of unfree and unequal citizens.
Despots and non-democratic societies do not offer or practice universal rights, freedoms and liberties for all its citizens. Pitting one group against another, scape goating, delineating special classes of people or dual classes of citizenship are hallmarks of repressive societies. Mr. King’s committee hearing of racial and ethnic profiling divides citizens and denies the constitutional rights and liberties for Muslims. This is apartheid. Gov. Walker’s and Chris Christie’s attack on labor unions and teachers as the source of our economic debasement obfuscates systemic inequities and masks the identities of the perpetrators who plundered the wealth of this nation. The economic elites are trying to beat the rap by forcing their public elected shills to make the working people of America pay the price for their own victimization.
Peter King’s sons of liberty are complicit agents of enslavement to the power and privilege of corporate oligarchs; hiding behind the billowing smoke of America’s civic strife and brewing internecine struggle. They are gravely mistaken in believing that they are safely ensconced behind the golden walls of their enclaves the piles of cash allowed them to build to protect themselves from the seething masses. Mubarak nor Gaddafi’s moat protected strongholds could protect them from the volatile tide of history.
Peter King opening up hearings on radical Islam and its role in creating home grown terrorism is of course just in time for the 2012 election. It will provide some red meat for rabid Teabaggers screaming for blood. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin and other righteous Falangist Crusaders can use the grist of Peter King’s xenophobic fear mill to paint our Mau Mau loving President and any progressive opponent a Fifth Columnist for the new Caliphate they are working to establish in the last stand of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
You Tube Video: James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Risk: tolerance, politics, civil liberties, Bill of Rights
March 7, 2011 Posted by riskrapper | Christianity, Civil Rights, class, conservatism, culture, democracy, economics, ethnic, faith, gay rights, government, labor unions, LGBT, Muslim, Palin, psychology, race, republicans, social justice, Tea Party, teaching, unions | 527 llc, Bill of Rights, Caliphate, Chris Christie, Civil Rights, Falangist, Gaddafi, Gitmo, Gov. Walker, Ground Zero Mosque, House Homeland Security Committee, illegal aliens, labor unions, Lady Liberty, LGBT, Maoist, Mau Mau, Mike Huckabee, Mubarak, Muslim, Orwellian, Peter King, public schools, Red Book, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, The Liberty Alliance, US Constitution | Leave a comment
Bill Maher recently did a bit on the Eco-friendly packaging of Sun Chips. In its desire to get down with the Go Green marketing trend, Frito-Lay developed a biodegradable bag. It was hoped the new package would alleviate some of the toxic burden traditional polyethylene packaging places on landfills. It was a great idea and a small sign of forward progress in developing environmentally friendly waste management solutions for our conspicuously consumer centric throw away society. Seemed like a good idea until Frito-Lay started to get negative feedback from its customers on its packaging. The crescendo of noise the crackling bags made was too much for the sensitive ears of Sun Chips consumers. In deference to their clients wishes Frito-Lay scrapped the Eco-friendly packaging and returned to the old polyethylene bags.
Its amazing how a small inconvenience compels us to to cede the pursuit of the better path. The paths that affirms our better nature and sustains life is abandoned because it is burdensome or makes too much noise. It pesters our ears, it hectors our comforts. We prefer to down our cholesterol in the silence of compliant bags rather then suffer the annoyance of a deafening crinkle to protect the environment and save the planet. We take the easier path that confirms the adage “have it your way”. In America the personal “my way” is the only way. After all this is America and that is what freedom is all about. My way or the highway. Can I get an Amen?
During the holiday season the big stink was about the Transportation Security Authority (TSA). The news was flush with reports of travelers outraged by how TSA personal were overly intrusive and overstepped the bounds of decency and deportment as they screened exasperated airline passengers trying to board planes. Travelers became angry and ornery complaining about the violation of their person and screamed violent threats at TSA personnel if they “touched their junk”.
I find it a bit curious that the response to this egregious violation of personal liberty fails to call for the repeal of laws that codify the erosion of our freedoms. In its stead we learn states are busy passing privilege and immunity laws that confer special rights to certain classes of citizens. The Arizona Immigration law that was enacted earlier in the year burdens Latinos with proving they belong to be living amongst us. Its a pathway to a softer kinder Apartheid that codifies a bifurcation of citizenship and the value and validity of a persons humanness. In its wake the value of liberty and our humanity both plummet.
The notion of Two Americas is not new. Its just that the glaring injustice threatening our society is becoming too stark to ignore. This pernicious sedition is the gravest threat undermining our democracy. It is a greater threat then any attack Al Qaeda could ever mount on America. In 1962 Michael Harrington wrote “The Other America”. It was instrumental in publicizing the pervasive poverty that existed in America. In response to the growing threat poverty and the cultural and economic fissure it created between the of “haves and have nots,” the Johnson Administration initiated a war on poverty. The Great Society legislation was enacted to insure that all citizens are enfranchised with the vote and that a social safety net would catch any citizen from being swallowed by the great divide. Today such notions are condemned as socialistic and unAmerican.
While the richest 1% of American’s continue to amass great fortunes for themselves gobbling up a disproportionate amount of income the much greater proportion of our countrymen sees its standard of living erode as the Two Americas drift further apart. The well off cash their fat dividend checks from a roaring stock market that has less to do with the economic development of America then the self enrichment of capitalist speculators. The greatest irony is that as they sit atop their piles of cash they remain convinced that their riches confirm the greatness of America and that their wealth is why America remains great.
When President Obama took office the country was in a terrible state. Two wars were raging, unemployment was spiraling upward, foreclosures were throwing millions of Americans out of their homes and an epidemic of small business bankruptcies was a plague ravishing Main Street USA. During times like these you would think patriotic minded citizens would come together to aid the country in its dire hour of need; but the GOP led a virulent opposition whose single goal was Obama’s failure. Their obstructionism added distance to the divide and America suffers for it. The ugliness of the debates concerning Health Care Reform spurred the creation of a political dialog that delegitimatized governing institutions. It made the ability to reach consensus impossible and prompted threats that Second Amendment solutions would be considered to remedy ill considered legislation.
In the aftermath of the Tucson Massacre, we dusted off the old debate about gun control and wheeled it on to center stage again. Many believe that the mentally ill murderer should have not been allowed to purchase a semi-automatic Glock and the 30 round clip that served to enlarge the scope of Jared Loughner’s terrible carnage.
All are thankful for Gabrielle Gifford’s miraculous recovery from her head wound. All hope for a speedy and full recovery of the thirteen wounded and offer condolences to the six citizens whose lives were senselessly ended. But all don’t believe the availability of guns should be restricted. In fact many believe that had more citizens been armed the death toll of innocents would not have been as great because it would have included Jared Loughner before he could finish his grim work. I’m not so sure. I believe it more likely that a widely armed citizenry encourages wanton barbarity then the well considered promotion of dispassionate civic discourse.
Differences of opinion are critical to a healthy society. The ability to have dialog and assimilate differences in a shared consensus in service to country is what makes democracies the best form of government.
If we are a people who prize freedom we cannot be complicit accomplishes in ceding our liberties. We must be vigilant missionaries seeking to enlarge the pallet of liberty for all people. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality” Affirming a respect for our shared humanity, equal rights of citizenship and sense of duty to one another in service to our country and democratic way of life is how we breech the walls that divide us and bridge the fissures that separate. These are the characteristics of a great nation and protecting them serves to maintain the greatness of its people. It is how out of many becomes one. It may require that you put up with the annoying noise of a loud obnoxious windbag but the savory delight of the bread of freedom is well worth it.
You Tube Music Video: Max Roach, Abby Lincoln, Freedom Now Suite, We Insist
Risk: democracy, civil liberties, culture, consensus
January 17, 2011 Posted by riskrapper | Civil Rights, community, democracy, homelessness, MLK, Obama, poverty, recession, social justice | "don't touch my junk", 2nd Amendment Solutions, 30 round clip, al-Qaeda, Arizona Immigration Laws, Bill Maher, Frito-Lay, Gabrielle Gifford, Glock, Go Green, GOP, hand gun laws, health care reform, Jared Loughner, LGBT, Michael Harrington, MLK Jr., obstructionism, President Lyndon Johnson, President Obama, priviledge and immunity laws, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Sun Chips, The Great Society, The Other America, Transportation Security Authority, TSA, Tucson Massacre, Two Americas, war on poverty | Leave a comment
The suicide of Tyler Clementi was more then a personal tragedy for his family, friends, those that loved him and the greater LGBT community. It was an event that forced America to hold up a mirror to itself and take a long honest look. It provided an opportunity for a nation that professes to uphold cultural tolerance and civil liberties for all its citizens to truthfully search its heart to determine how well America upholds these sacred ideals. I believe America found itself wanting.
The practice of self examination is not one of America’s strong points. We are much more comfortable living a life of convenient denial. The military practice of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) codified the plausible deniability of institutional ambivalence. It sequestered the need to act to address a nagging injustice. It held the truth hostage so as not to suffer the consequences of an inconvenient truth. It revealed a country in deep state of denial refusing to shatter the myths and the untruths it believed about itself. It pandered to the ugly fears and violent temperament of intolerant zealots that unleashed waves of hateful vindictiveness against the marginalized and most vulnerable. A lie in service to a myth creates and perpetuates a culture of delusion. It allows all citizens to hold tight to our national deceptions, celebrating broken ideals with the untruth of meaningless flags.
America took an important step this weekend with the repeal of DADT. The personal truth of who we are as individuals is now aligned with open and truthful institutions. This landmark legislation corrected a legislative injustice by addressing an institutional discrimination. America must be a place where civil rights for all citizens lies beyond compromise. That is the easy part. Now the hearts of American’s must change and learn to accept the justice that the repeal of DADT upholds.
God apportions equal amount of love to all his children. All are accepted, none denied the grace of light God asks us to walk into. All are fully enfranchised citizens in God Kingdom. The Perpetual Potentate governs over all in perfect justice. The People of the Way are called to be upright citizens in the City of Light. Citizenship requires the beloved “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patients, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
God is a radical affirmation of self, free to live in the unity of the Holy Spirit as we have been called. We are called to speak our truth to the power of earthy principalities as we are called to be the truth in the living power of God. Our freedom compels us to “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.
The earthly principalities may have lost the exquisite melodies of Tyler Clementi’s music; but the earthly silence is a resounding reminder to weave harmony into a cacophonous world crackling in ugly dissonance. Tyler’s violin may now lie entombed in its case; but it continues to implore us to sing the sounds of joy, enlightenment, revelation, and transcendence to those who refuse to listen to the symphonies of understanding, acceptance and appreciate the celebration of love. The beautiful music Tyler created and brought into the world will forever resonate from the highest peaks of joyous affirmation to the lowest valleys of pedestrian dread. The melody of his life will always be with us. This Advent we sojourn to the mountain to sing the wonderful harmony of Tyler’s life. We pray with expectant hope that those refusing to listen and those most needing to hear will open deaf ears and join the earthly chorus of all the beloved singing in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
absolution is sweet
Peace and prayers to all the beloved,
You Tube Music Video: Mahalia Jackson, Go Tell It On The Mountain!
December 20, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | Bible, Christianity, Civil Rights, culture, faith, gay rights, institutional, LGBT, politics, social justice | Civil Rights, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Ephesians 4:1-3, Go Tell it on the Mountain, LGBT, Mahalia Jackson, Tyler Clementi | Leave a comment
Charlie Rangel you stayed one term too long. Twenty terms in office has taken its toll on you. You have courageously fought for the marginalized in our society and have brilliantly served your constituency and country. But like Brett Favre you didn’t know when to call it quits. You could have gone out on top like a champion of the people you so ably represented during your four decades in public office. Now your left to tramp through the morass of pedestrian politics to defend your reputation and salvage a bit of your integrity.
I didn’t think it was wise decision to run for reelection during the last midterms. I thought it was motivated by a selfish ego. Your alleged indiscretions and misdemeanors have made you the poster child for all overreaching politicians and their supercharged sense of entitlement. As Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee your oversight to pay taxes on Dominican rental properties, improper use of mail privileges and your expansive portfolio of rent controlled apartments showed you to be a master exploiter of the numerous ways politician lose touch with the mission of service and the means by which they shamelessly serve themselves by using the power of their office.
Mr. Rangel you did your party and your president a disservice by running for reelection. This country needs new fresh ideas, youthful energy and representatives unsullied by the graft and excess privilege taking endemic to political careerists. Yesterday, a panel of your peers on the House Ethics Committee convicted you of numerous policy offenses and conduct unbecoming a congressmen. They did you and the country a huge favor. The swift dispatch of justice helps our country avoid the political theater of a national trauma that a Republican controlled and Tea Party inspired Committee hearing would orchestrate for the American people.
During your last campaign I recall some Eyewitness News video of you strolling down 125th Street followed by a courtier of staffers and hangers-on. As you waded through your adoring constituents they obligingly parted as if to make way for a royal prince. As you passed by you pointed with extended arm to individuals as if to say to each “‘I see you and you are mine, you are mine and you are mine.”
Clearly the good Bonnie Prince Charlie is beloved in his principality. Mr. Rangel has faithfully served the people of the 15th District of New York and brought home some major bacon. He has fought hard for the marginalized and working people to codify social justice as a law of the land. But as he pointed to exuberant constituents anointing them with a royal recognition I could not chase the thought of you holding leases on four rent controlled apartments. Given the national nightmare of home foreclosures and rising homelessness I couldn’t help but think of the families displaced from affordable housing by Mr. Rangel’s gluttonous pursuit of a radical entitlement. All the good work Mr. Rangel accomplished does not excuse a mindset that allows one to rationalize behavior that shuts out needy families from affordable housing. It’s an example of how power and privilege corrupts the best men and a symbol of all that is wrong with America and the leaders we chose that brought us to where we are today.
Thank you for your service Mr. Rangel.
You Tube Video: Bobby Womack, Across 110th Street
Risk: democracy, corruption, politicians
November 18, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | corruption, democracy, democrats, ethics, homelessness, politics, republicans, social justice, Tea Party | 15th Congressional District NY, Across 110th Street, Bobby Womack, Bret Farve, Brett Favre, Charles Rangel, home foreclousres, homeless, House Ethics Committee, radical entitlement, Tea Party, Ways and Means, Ways and Means Committee | Leave a comment
A few days after President Obama took office I remember him emerging from a meeting at the Pentagon. The summit was arranged to brief the Commander In Chief on the progress of the wars and to assure the nation that the new president was in-sync with his generals and admirals charged with running the war. Emerging from the highly publicized meeting America’s new war time president stated “as long as the generals take care of what they have to do, we’ll take care of what we have to do.” I found the statement to be unsettling. It implied that the new administration would not alter the course set by the previous administration insuring that the inertia of Bush’s policies and strategies would continue unabated. On another level Obama’s statement also seemed to suggest an abdication. I get nervous to think that the Commander in Chief has ceded civilian control of the greatest military force the world has ever known. The decision to pursue war or enjoy peace is too delicate a matter to be left to the decisions of an entrenched military-industrial bureaucracy. The abdication of assertive control, weather its born from the desire to get along, build consensus or a deep seated need for acceptance has been a disturbing custom of Obama’s presidency and the prevailing characteristic of the Democratic Party.
Obama’s easy surrender to established protocols, processes, precedents has been a hallmark of his presidency. It exemplifies the failure of the Democratic Party’s oppositional legacy to Republican rule during the two previous Bush Administrations. At every turn, the Democrats gave in to the Republican conservative legislative agenda with little or no dissent. The Patriot Act, the blind march to two unnecessary wars, the dismantling of government oversight and regulatory controls on business, the slavish submission to Republican led expenditures or tax cuts in service to corporate welfare and the tepid lip service to the struggle for social justice made the democrats complicit accomplices in America’s dramatic conservative swing.
The democrats failure as an oppositional force to counter the reactionary juggernaut of neo-conservatism has emboldened the reactionary impulses of the ruthless power elites. Threatened by economic distress and disintegration of our political institutions, Americas ruling plutocracy has spawned a malevolent Tea Party movement to crush any progressive populism that may arise to counteract their social position, economic power and political sovereignty. The democrats adamant refusal to stand firmly against the destructive impulses of xenophobia and virulent nationalism has allowed an ugly chorus of fear to become our new national anthem. The resentful voices of suspicion, intolerance and exclusion grows ever louder each day as emboldened Falangists and neo-fascists take center stage on a surreal commercial production of American political theater.
In defense of President Obama his presidential campaign and his administration have expressed a deep desire to pursue a political consensus. This sentiment is admirable and the ability to form a consensus is an absolute and critical virtue to the health of a democratic society. The freedom to express differing opinions, voice dissent, air grievances, petition, ability to listen, interest to hear, converse, change opinions and assimilate these competing impulses to form a consensus to express the common will are what makes democracies imperfect yet the fairest expression of governance. Mr. Obama has sought to pursue and build consensus with an opposition Republican Party that has been nothing short of obstructionist since the democrats assumed control of the Executive office. Rush “Country Firster” Limbaugh said it best “I hope he fails” set the tone and sealed the intractability of Republicans and any possibility of bipartisan cooperation to deal with the critical issues confronting the nation.
Last summers spectacle of town meetings designed to initiate a national conversation on Health Care Reform devolved into a partisan shouting match and an opportunity for the formation of the Tea Party galvanized by propaganda about a socialist takeover of the economy, death panels, and the idea that President Obama was a fascist dictator. At this point President Obama still took the opportunity to sit down with the leadership of the GOP in a televised discussion to initiate a dialog. The Consensus Builder in Chief was rebuffed again. The democrats responded by killing single-payer and backing down on universal health coverage. The watered down health care reform bill accomplished an extension of coverage for more, but not all Americans and eliminated preexisting conditions as a disqualification for coverage while also extending the power of insurance companies by making it mandatory that all tax payers purchase health insurance.
This reform is not a significant ground breaking legislative event. President Obama and the democrats should have recognized early on the inability to work a compromise with the obstructionists in the Republican Party. As is the case with Cap and Trade legislation, rescinding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan war, financial services reform, TARP and the economic stimulus bill; the GOP, “Party of No” has done everything in its power to derail the efforts of the democratic party to address the deep problems confronting America. The Democratic Party should have leveraged its control of the legislative and executive branch of the Federal Government to push through a program for a new America. The pressing circumstances of history required decisive leadership and bold ideas to address the complex problems confronting America. FDR’s “New Deal” or Johnson’s “Great Society” were ideas accompanied by innovative legislation to solve systemic problems. The democrats tepid response acquiesced to the conservative demands of the GOP. The Blue Dog Democrats yelped and barked louder then any rabid GOP hound subverting a robust game changing legislative response to the problems confronting America.
The democrats would again demonstrate their timidity in how they responded to the Gulf Oil Spill. If the free falling economy was the equivalent of economic Armageddon the Horizon Deep Water catastrophic oil spill was its environmental equivalent. In each case President Obama fashioned piece meal responses designed not to offend “free market evangelists” for fear of being accused of over reaching. Both instances provided opportunities to mobilize the nation and its significant resources in these titanic tests of national resolve. In both instances the cojones challenged donkeys failed to seize the reins of state to wield its power. I am still shocked by images of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein pulling the strings on Timothy Geithner like a marionette to exact concessions during the banking crisis. Or consider the high profile of BP CEO, Tony “I want my life back” Hayward mounting a $50 million PR campaign to quell any concerns that the benevolence of corporate capitalism will eventually “set things right.” The Republicans turned this into President Obama’s Katrina with Bobby “don’t spend no stim in Louisiana” Jindal taking the EPA to court for declaring a moratorium on deep water drilling. And the fattest of fat cats Republican Mississippi Governor Haley “rebuild the casinos first” Barbour shaming Obama to spend a portion of his non- Martha Vineyard family vacation swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was a PR disaster for President Obama because he failed to act with the resolve or manner of a strong decisive leader.
But now as the midterms approach the democrats must answer to a crumbling alliance of constituencies that they have taken for granted and failed to help. They are unable to see constituents as anything other then a demographic voting block devoid of a face, personality or soul. The democrats see stereotypes not people. Labor unions are blue collar voters that now approximate 7% of registered voters. This year the democratic controlled legislature failed to act on Card Check legislation that would protect the right of labor unions to vote and organize non-union companies. Another important constituency of the Democratic Party is the LGBT community. The military said it would comply with the decision of a California District Court that overturned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Incredibly, President Obama’s Attorney General appealed the decision and asked the court to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Teacher unions are also big supporters of the Democratic Party, but many democrats support school vouchers and Charter Schools and seem unconcerned that financial and institutional support of public schools continues to erode. Working class families and woman are under severe distress as unemployment rates approach 10%, home foreclosures rise , spiraling cost of living increases spike, the cost of sending kids to college slip out of reach and a marked erosion in quality of life and expectations for a secure future and comfortable retirement evaporate. The democrats did little to solve these pressing problems save the offer of cheap lip service that they understand their pain. Charlie Rangel secure in the refuge of his four rent controlled apartments will not feel the cold experienced by a homeless mother and her children this winter; nor will Hillary Clinton lose any sleep worrying about deploying Chelsea to fight an incomprehensible war in Afghanistan.
This mid term election democratic candidates are running away from their unpopular president. They will run on a platform of tax cuts and appear as local election district manifestations of gun toting patriotic Christophanies. The poverty of a party with no conviction of principle is made plain. Having no principles, Democrats have not offered a true alternative to reactionary Republicanism. Nearsightedness has robbed them of a vision for a new republic. They offer no demarcation with the broken policies that preceded their rule. The hallmark of their governance has been the complete compromise with an recalcitrant opposition; content to administer a broken and corrupt apparatus rather then chart a new path. The democrats remain shining examples of self serving politicians retuning to office on mythical inertia to secure rent controlled apartments while public housing remains an endangered and dear want for many. They believe themselves to be righteously led by the presiding shame of a president made possible by an epic civil rights struggle who cannot muster the fortitude or conviction to extend the equal right of marriage for one of his liberal constituencies.
We deserve better.
You tube Music Video: Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Compared to What
Risk: democracy, two party political system, liberalism
October 28, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | Bush, conservatism, culture, democracy, democrats, environment, labor, LGBT, Obama, politics, recession, republicans, social justice, TARP, taxation, Tea Party, unemployment | Afghanistan War, Barack Obama, Blue Dog Democrats, Bobby Jindal, BP Deepwater Horizon, Cap and Trade, Charlie Rangel, Compared to What, Country Firsters, DADT, Deepwater Horizon, Democratic Party, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Eddie Harris, EPA, Falangists, FDR, free market capitalism, George Bush, GOP, Great Society, Gulf Oil Spill, Haley Barbour, health care reform, Hillary Clinton, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq War, Jamie Dimon, Les McCann, LGBT, Lloyd Blank, Lloyd Blankfein, Lyndon Johnson, New Deal, obstructionism, Party of No, Pentagon, President Obama, Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, single-payer healthcare, stimulus, TARP, Tea Party, The USA Patriot Act, Timothy Geithner, Tony Hayward, US Miltary | 1 Comment
You hear it all the time. All the candidates running for office are horrible. The democrats and republicans both stink. But this guy ain’t as bad as the other guy. “He is the lesser of two evils”. So we make our choice based on two evils. We deserve more then the lesser of two evils.
When you think about it, a lesser evil is still an evil. Even if its a lesser evil, the essence of its nature will soon enough turn on us as it seeks to actualize the essence of its nature. It brings to mind Aesop’s Fable of the scorpion and frog. The scorpion comes to a river that it can’t cross and calls on a passing frog to let it ride on its back to the other side of the river. The frog was suspicious because it knew of the scorpions venomous nature but finally relented and let the scorpion mount its back for the ride across the river. When they were halfway across the river scorpion delivered a fatal sting to the frog, dooming them both. As the deadly venom took its hold, the frog asked the scorpion why it delivered its sting that would destroy them both? The scorpion answered “it is my nature to sting.” In a nutshell that is the nature of evil. It will eventually deliver its sting. So if we want to be safe we must avoid evil whenever we can. This is most true when we are considering political candidates.
In many respects The Tea Party has done this country a favor. They have energized the country by reigniting passion back into the political process. Their raucous demonstrations and appeal to populist sentiments has served to remind America of its activist heritage and the many protest movements that have been central to the creation of our republic. America, the great democratic experiment, is the result of a history of struggle to claim and extend democratic rights and privileges to all citizens. The great social justice struggles that fought for universal suffrage, women rights, living wages and labor laws, civil rights, environmental protection and antiwar movements are important chapters in America’s story that are often neglected and too often forgotten. The Frederick Douglas admonition that “power concedes nothing without demand” is a keen wisdom that Tea Party activists have taken to heart.
The Tea Party has adamantly asserted that the elite class of professional politicians is beyond reformation. The political elites cannot change their nature. The Democrats and Republicans are well beyond redemption. A more astute truism has never been spoken. Here the Tea Party rhetoric diverges from their practice because they advocate support for GOP candidates. So the first lesson we can learn from the Tea Party is to do what the Tea Party says “don’t trust either party,” not what they do, support the GOP.
I am convinced that both parties are totally bought and controlled by big money channeled through K Street lobbyists doing the bidding of large corporate interests. The final nail in the coffin was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This decision has altered the democratic scales of our Republic. They have been dis proportionally tipped against the individual citizen. The law of the land has codified this inequity by protecting the right of deep pocketed corporate institutions to purchase the favor of political elites that rule America. This will further strengthen the entrenched class of the two party monopoly. This leaves the citizen to content themselves in the illusion that America is still a participatory democracy. Dressing up in Minuteman costumes to pretend we are racing off to meet the dreaded enemies of our republic; and proclaiming an intention to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants makes for amusing political theater in a land where the value of one man one vote is severely distressed.
Here the mendacity of the Tea Party’s populism is made clear. Tea Party candidates are the principal recipients of corporate money. This money finances expensive media campaigns that flood the airways of critical electoral districts with advocacy ads in support of Tea Party sponsored candidates. This money is also used to attack liberal Democratic Party opponents. The populist claims of the Tea Party are bankrupted by the heaps of corporate gold flowing into their campaign war chests. This prompts conservatives to parrot “global warming is a liberal fiction” and “God placed oil on this earth for our use and its our divine right to extract it.” They condemn government regulations as an assault on the economic liberties expressly protected in the Constitution. It is as if they believed the natural resource of the land was theirs and not the property of a faceless global corporate entity.
We can also be thankful to the Tea Party for revealing how the core values of conservatism are put into practice. Property rights trump all rights. Militarism and nationalism is our salvation. Tolerance is the hallmark of ignorance. Compromise and negotiation is a sign of weakness and consensus born from a democratic process must be repressed. The stridency of their pronouncements seep with homophobia, Islamophobia and insistence on closing the southern border and eradicating illegals within our midst expresses deep cultural and racial fears born from an eroding cultural supremacy.
The geopolitical reality of the changing demographics of America’s ethnic and cultural landscape fuels a desire to arrest the democratic political process. The populism of the Tea Party is based on summoning the support of the declining population of Caucasian America. They give voice to the anger of the ebbing dominance of a demographic group; screaming, crying and cursing its economic, political and cultural pain. Barack Obama manifests the threat in a stark contrast of black and white. He fuels the fear that gives pointed political focus to the racial aspects of Tea Party politics. The nations first Afro-American President conveniently offers cover to an undercurrent of racial animus prevalent in Tea Party slogans and images.
The Tea Party’s professed love of the Constitution is disingenuous. I ask where was their righteous outrage as Bush and the Republicans violated some of the basic tenants of the Constitution. Most were out front cheering him and his fellow Republicans on. Their support of positions that deny the basic civil rights to the LGBT community; the clamoring silence concerning violations of privacy rights under the Patriot Act; the failure to recognize religious freedom and the right of Muslims to build mosques; their practice of advocating the selection of circuit judges on the basis of ideological commitment to the GOP and the endorsement of torture and unlimited imprisonment without due process for enemy combatants in the war on terror are examples of their disdain for constitutional protections and basic human rights.
Fundamentalism is a strain of thought that is psychologically appealing in a complex world with no easy answers. With fundamentalism the cosmology is all figured out. There is no need to ask any questions because the answers are self evident truths that confirm the ideology before the question is asked. The Tea Party raises the US Constitution with a fervor that rivals any Bible thumping Born Again Christian or Quran fueled Taliban operative. I heard a Tea Party member once advance the idea that no new legislation can exceed 30 some odd pages in length because that was the length of the original US Constitution. This thinking fetishizes the Constitution. It believes the original document to be a holy tablet that the Founding Fathers brought down from the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains. It fails to take into account that the United States of 2010 is a vastly different place then it was when it emerged on the world scene as the first democratic republic in the late 18th Century. This fundamentalism fails to remember that some of the original framers of the Constitution were slave holders, considered people property, disenfranchised women and perceived Native Americans as savages and worthy targets of genocide to annex their lands for the new and growing republic. No the reality of the 21st century nation state and the rights and responsibilities of its citizens in an interconnected global ecosystem has evolved and is vastly different from the time when the Constitution was authored. The foresighted crafters of our Constitution sat through a sweltering Philadelphia summer and sweated out this hollowed document through intelligent compromise and a respect for consensus and the democratic process. It is a vital lesson lost on Tea Party zealots content to wave copies of the document as some righteous proof of their love of country while they profane the spirit and enduring truths of the Constitutions essence.
The Tea Party’s political fundamentalism is mirrored in many respects by the religious fundamentalism held by many of its members. If the Constitution anoints true believers with political righteousness, religious fundamentalism provides theological justification for a social agenda advanced with nasty intolerance, celebratory bigotry and cultural exclusion. Religious fundamentalism has long been the cornerstone of the conservative movement. They attack secularism as an obscene manifestation of the liberal welfare state. It threatens civil liberties for everyone as it seeks to exclude the full rights citizenship for all citizens. It is a dangerous foil aimed at the heart of public education. It is a tool employed by education reformers to underfund school programs, transfer monies to charter and private schools and transform humanities based curricula. It seeks to replace science in our public schools with stories from the Bible. Evolution, natural selection, and big bang theories are replaced with creationism and a 6,000 year old world that was created in 6 days. Civil law and cultural mores will be guided and enforced by a moral code of prohibitions written 3,000 years ago to bring order to a nomadic tribal people assembling the nation of Israel.
The future competency of our nation and its ability to compete in a complex world is at stake. America cannot hope to maintain its leadership in the world economy if it allows science to be politicized, its schools to crumble and a segment of its people not fully enfranchised with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The greatest danger is the installation of a bifurcated society where well to do Judeo-Christian Caucasians are in a position to purchase the best education, access health care services and enjoy a full pallet of rights and freedoms not available to the growing stable of “others” lawfully excluded from their rightful inheritance of citizenship.
The Tea Party has crystallized the choice in the coming election. Beware of the Bible thumper. Beware of the Constitution waver. The stridency of Tea Party proponent’s and their religio-political fundamentalism may stand like “Old Hickory” on a timely quote from their sacred tomes but resorting to such a defense reveals an inherent weakness in their argument. No dialog, no consensus, no possibility of arriving at a democratic resolution to problems. Tea Partyer’s may offer factual recitations from the books but no understanding and less truth can be found in pronouncement of their words.
You Tube Music Video: Art Tatum, Tea for Two
Risk: Constitution, secular democracy, education, civil rights
October 21, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | Bible, Christianity, Civil Rights, class, culture, democracy, elections, government, labor, LGBT, politics, Quran, religion, republicans, social justice, Tea Party | Aesop's Fables, Art Tatum, Barack Obama, Bush, Caucasian, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Civil Rights, Democratic Party, Frederick Douglas, GOP, homophobia, Islamophobia, K Street Loobyists, LGBT, Old Hickory, Patriot Act, populism, property rights, Republican Party, Scorpion and Frog, slave holders, Tea for Two, Tea Party, US Constitution | 1 Comment
The Department of Homeland Security needs to raise the terror threat level to Severe Bloody Red. The escalation of attacks, intimidation and threats against the LGBT community is on the rise and taking a bloody toll. The most recent consequence of escalating harassment have resulted in the tragic suicides of two young teenagers and the curiously deranged and dangerous social media stalking of a gay university student leader by an assistant attorney general from the State of Michigan. These attacks pose a clear and present danger to the physical safety and emotional wellness of the LGBT community. It exemplifies the prevailing climate of intolerance and bigoted hatred exponentially spawning in the polluted vitriol of America’s political culture. It is clothed in the righteous banality of religious fundamentalism. Justified with the certainty of theological platitudes and enforced with the zealous sword of biblical scripture. It presents an extreme risk to the civil liberties of all citizens. It assails our right to freely associate, compels behavior and demands conformity of thought and adoption of a common belief system. It is a grave and looming threat to our democratic way of life.
Tyler Clementi was a college freshman at Rutgers University. Tyler, a gifted musician, diligent student, good friend and loving son jumped off the George Washington Bridge after Dahrun Ravi, his roommate of three weeks, surreptitiously videoed a sexual encounter Tyler had with another male and broadcast it on a social media site. To ensure the video attracted wide exposure, Mr. Ravi Tweeted to his followers that they should log on to the live stream. The horror and shame of being victimized by a vicious hate crime and personally violated in such a manner was too much to bear. Mr. Clementi chose to end his pain by taking his own life.
Understanding this event as the result of a misguided college prank gone wrong or an unfortunate consequence enabled by the misuse of powerful social media technologies misses the point. To do so would absolve Mr. Ravi’s distorted and heinously warped value system. His punitive glee in perpetrating the offense. His demonstrative lack of capacity to feel empathy or acceptance of his roommates sexuality. His failure to recognize his right to privacy. His lack of any sense of compassion. Mr. Ravi’s prurient pursuit of degradation and defamation of his hate crime victim and his intent to do extreme harm to Mr. Clementi is evidence of his deep rooted and socially acceptable homophobia that is shared with many people.
It is curious that one would expect that as a person of color, Mr. Ravi would have a heightened sensitivity to the poison of prejudice and the destructive capacity of hate crimes. Trying to understand Mr. Ravi’s motives for his action is an impossibility for anyone to fathom save himself; but one can surmise that as a person of color Mr. Ravi may have experienced a situation where he was cast as “the other”. The other is always an uncomfortable and dangerous geography to inhabit. The alien outsider, one who stands apart and is different from the dominate ethnic, racial, creed or sexual orientation is usually cast in shrouds of suspicion, fear and ridicule. Perhaps Mr. Ravi’s attempt to revile an LGBT person because of their sexuality was an attempt to gain acceptance with his classmates by victimizing Mr. Clementi in league with other straits? Mr. Ravi gets a pass and is welcomed into the inner circle as one of the good ole boys whose prejudices, fears and bigotries mirror the dominant culture. The price of admission for Mr. Ravi was the death of his roommate.
The other disturbing factor in Mr. Ravi’s assault was the use of social media technologies. Many youths enabled with powerful communication platforms like You Tube, Facebook and Twitter have a difficult time perceiving the boundaries of private and public life. The domain of the public persona and private life has become obscured and confused by the ethical vagaries and accessibility of a multichannel digital life. Since the time of their birth, today’s youth have been totally saturated, empowered and enraptured in the world of digital technologies and media. It has become the necessary open source to project your ego, display your passion and live out your angst as a real time avatar. The reality of interpersonal connections and human skills erodes in a universe of self seeking holograms guided by a radical social ethos to project power through the aggressive pursuit of self will with the ultimate objective to seek aggrandizement and demand instant gratification. Mr. Ravi used that power to devastating effect.
Mr. Ravi may believe that his technical prowess provided him license to pursue the character assassination of his victim. Questions will arise about the harm these social media technologies can cause. Many believe the power of the technology is to vast and dangerous for teens and children and provides tools for stalkers, predators and criminals to aid their enterprise to exploit others to do harm. A great example being the recent clamor about Craig’s List and its promotion and support of child prostitution and sexual slavery. The proliferation of online bullying, sexting and other pernicious uses of social media technologies are problems with no easy solutions. No doubt these are real concerns but it is not the inherent nature of the technology that is at fault it is the values and intent of the users of technology that are cause for concern.
The problem is not about having too much freedom, or having access to enabling technologies we don’t yet know how to tame. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging sites empower the user. Like the Luddites of old who believed machines were enslaving them the crux of the matter lied in the intent, use, control and deployment of the technology. These technologies are powerful tools to enlighten, cultivate, uplift and empower individuals but it can also just as easily be used as tools to harm, denigrate, enslave and oppress. Its all about human values. The values of a society that believes it has the license and the moral conviction to defame and destroy the lives of others because they have the means and tacit consent to do so is terrorism. The fact that one can quote Leviticus, or find the appropriate passage from the Quran or St. Paul does not justify nor confer the right to “righteously” expose, denounce or shame a perceived moral depravity in a secular society.
That brings us to the other tragic suicide, 13 year old Asher Brown, returned home from school last week, walked into his closet and used a handgun to end his life as a result of being terrorized by his Middle School classmates in Houston. Classmates of Asher bullied him and taunted him about his perceived homosexuality. On the day Asher took his own life, he admitted to his parents that he was gay. It is startling and comforting to learn that Asher felt safe enough in his own home to admit his sexual orientation to his parents. Asher’s mother and father accepted their son’s sexuality and did not scorn or condemn him. They continued to unconditionally love and embrace their son as all good parents do.
It is unfortunate that the boy’s tormentors did not share the same understanding and practice the acceptance of Asher’s parents. Children live and emulate what they learn from their parents and communities they participate and live in. If children are prisms of the families and communities that create them the bullying behavior and bigoted hated must have been a keystone of Asher’s tormentors homes. Public education is under sever pressure. Homophobia and bullying is not on the curricula of the public school system. Tolerance, diversity and secularism are values that public schools try to promote and are often the ideals that are derided by indidivuals and institutions that condemn public schools as propagators of these “liberal values”. In response to their abhorrence to these unsavory ideals they choose to home school their children and teach them to fear Ungodly secularism, be wary those who are different and condemn the sinfulness and moral depravity of same sex relations. Demonizing homosexuals and preaching distrust for people and persons who may not look or think like you do is fertile ground for a violent reaction to express the pent up fear and resentment of the alien and reprobate other.
Since No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the public school system has been directed to be a “value neutral” institution. It is pressured to reform its curricula to better reflect the prevailing conservative culture that demands creationism be taught as a science, Darwinism is dangerous and unionized teachers are fonts of liberal ideology that needs to be silenced. The learning experience in the public school system has devolved into a mundane exercise of preparatory drills to take commercially developed state examinations. Teachers and institutional effectiveness is quantitatively measured by a students ability to retain a series of specious facts. The quality of the educational experience, love of discovery, pursuit and exchange of ideas, respect for diversity and different points of view are lost in the “value free” world of pedestrian test taking and fact retainment. Had these children been schooled in the value of tolerance and the reality of diversity or had time and opportunity to interact with other children unlike themselves, the fear and resentment of Asher may have been lessened and the young boy may still be with us.
The crowning jewel in this trinity of hate has to be the State of Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell. Mr. Shirvell has engaged in a cyber bullying of University of Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong is openly gay and was elected by the university’s student body to represent them. This has not sat well with Mr. Shirvell a University of Michigan alumnus and a fundamentalist Christian. Mr. Shirvell has started a website, Chris Armstrong Watch where he unleashes a consistent homophobic fueled diatribe against Mr. Armstrong’s alleged “radical homosexual agenda”.
As a private citizen, Mr. Shirvell closely peruses Mr. Armstrong’s Facebook page to pick out posts and photo’s that raise his ire and uses the material as grist for his Chris Armstrong Watch website. The accompanying comments and altered reproductions of Mr. Armstrong photo’s scream about his elitism, sexual degeneracy and Nazi like political tactics Mr. Armstrong employs in service to the advancement of a radical homosexual agenda.
This is truly frightening stuff. A state Assistant Attorney General scouring Facebook pages and setting up a blog site dedicated to attacking and undermining a student leader because of his sexual identity is sickening and comes dangerously close to the abuse of office which I understand Mr. Shirvell was relieved of today. Mr. Shirvell defends his actions on the grounds that he is exercising his rights of free speech as a private citizen. Driven by his Christian fundamentalist faith and a reactionary political ideology, Mr. Shirvell’s political fixation and strident personal vilification of Mr. Armstrong are classic Rovian attack politics. Mr. Shirvell stands shoulder to shoulder with James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart. All three have shown a disdain for the truth, law and private rights of their targets in pursuit of a radical right wing agenda.
The values of a society that believes it has the right and the moral conviction to defame and destroy the lives of others because they have the ideological conviction, means and tacit consent to do so is the definition of tyranny and its pursuit is terrorism. The US Constitution protects all citizens from zealots emboldened by personal truths derived from their holy scrolls. A secular democracy protects the civil rights of its citizens and frees them from the righteous tyranny of others. The Constitution stipulates that there is a single law of the land and it is a violation of civil rights and a crime to expose, denounce or shame a person based on a theological interpretation of moral depravity. The Constitution is the final arbiter and surest protection of individual liberty for all; damning the psychological culture of extreme political egoism advanced by Shirvell, Breitbart and O’Keefe.
Character assassination and appeal to the baser instincts of fear and loathing help propagandists to demarcate the lines that separate groups, reinforce prejudice and make dialog and the formation of consensus all but impossible. Consider if you will a government administration populated with individuals with the temperament of Shrivell, O’Keefe and Breitbart. America would be ruled by a government that edits reality to conform to their ideology. It would propagate a political narrative that blindly pursues ideology by running rough shod over the personal life of citizens while resorting to character annihilation and entrapment tactics. It would truly be an embodiment of an Orwellian nightmare
The terror threat must be raised. Terrorists are harming our citizens. The world will miss the gracious presence of Asher’s beautiful smile. Asher will never anoint another with the promise of renewal again. The dear gift of youthful transformation is now lost to a world deeply in need of a rebirth. The precious resource of Asher is squandered and silenced by those clinging to the old ways of ugly bigotry. Asher’s spirit will remain with all who loved him and venerated by all who respect individual liberty.
We have also lost the exquisite melodies of Tyler Clementi’s music. Tyler’s silence will never weave harmony into a cacophonous world crackling in ugly dissonance. Tyler’s violin now entombed in its case will never sing the sounds of joy, enlightenment, revelation and transcendence to those who refuse to listen to the symphonies of understanding, acceptance and appreciate the celebration of love. The beautiful music Tyler created and brought into the world will never be heard again. Tragic that the wonderful harmony of Tyler’s life was quieted by the deaf ears of those refusing to listen and most needing to hear it.
Rest in peace beloved.
Youtube Music Video: Janine Jansen, Lark Ascending
Risk: LGBT, civil rights, constitution, free speech
October 1, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | Bible, children, Civil Rights, community, culture, democracy, education, gay rights, government, LGBT, politics, Quran, religion, social justice, teaching, terrorism, Uncategorized | Andrew Breitbart, Andrew Shirvell, Asher Brown, avatar, Bullying, Chris Armstrong, Chris Armstrong Watch, Civil Rights, Craigs List, creationism, Dahrun Ravi, Darwinism, Department of Homeland Security, Facebook, free association, George Washington Bridge, hologram, homophobia, Houston Texas, James O'Keefe, Leviticus, LGBT, Luddites, NCLB, New York Times, No Child Left Behind, Photoshop, public schools, Quran, Rutgers University, secular democracy, social media, St. Paul, State of Michigan Attoney General Office, The Lark Ascending, Twitter, Tyler Clementi, University of Michigan, US Constitution, You Tube | Leave a comment
Today is Gay Pride Day in New York City. The march commemorates the Stonewall Uprising by Gay men in a Greenwich Village bar over 40 years ago. Stonewall was a watershed event for everyone. It was a poignant reminder to all people that a specific population of our citizens were the victims of harassment and repression because of their sexual identity. Stonewall was a bold proclamation that the LGBT community would no longer suffer in silence and shame. Refusing to be victimized, LGBT people would courageously come out of the closet at great personal cost to claim their place at the table of the worlds great democratic republic. It is the very same spirit and motivation that led to the creation of the United States and its promise of liberty and justice for all.
Sodomy Laws prohibiting homosexuality and its practice has been on the books of state and municipal law since the founding of our republic. Jefferson wrote the first sodomy law in Virginia in 1778, proposing castration for those found guilty of the act. Pretty amazing that during the height of the Revolution, Virginia took time to write laws prohibiting homosexuality. I also find it a bit ironic that as revolutionaries were striking a blow to end the rule of a foreign tyrannical monarchy they would focus their attention to pass a tyrannical law aimed at repressing the rights for a portion of its citizens.
Sodomy laws find their inspiration and justification in a biblical certainty proclaimed by parties that remain painfully at odds with the promises and problems of secular democratic government. Proponents of laws prohibiting civil rights to LGBT offer a world view informed by Old Testament precepts and proscriptions authored two thousand years ago. Their moral compass seems to be ruled more by a dogmatic creed enforced by a vengeful deity. In their zeal to live a pious life they seem to miss the greater message that all God’s children enjoy full and equal rights in God’s Kingdom and that we demonstrate our love of God by extending that love to others.
Those that oppose equal and full rights of citizenship to all people are the avowed enemies of democracy. Democratic republics cannot survive if it withholds any right or civil liberty to a group of its citizens based on a legislative distinction of acceptability. Indeed, today’s proponents of laws like Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Laws, the prohibition of gays openly serving in the military or the denial of the right for a teenage girl to go to the prom with her girlfriend share a mindset more in common with the Taliban then our Founding Fathers. We recoil in horror as we witness the divinely inspired handiwork of the Taliban and rise to meet it with a national resolve to assert and protect the sacred liberties offered by secular democratic governments. Given a choice and a true understanding of what is at stake, I pray that my countrymen will join me in support of equal rights and civil liberties for all citizens.
Frederick Douglas’s famous quote that “power concedes nothing without demand”, is as relevant today as it was when the great abolitionist spoke these words. Douglas states, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
We salute the Gay Pride Marchers as they step off this morning to remind us that liberty and justice for all remain beyond compromise and an absolute necessity for America to remain true this promise for all its citizens.
You Tube Music Video: Bob Marley and the Wailers, Get Up Stand Up
June 27, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | culture, democracy, government, legal, LGBT, politics, religion, social justice | Bob Marley, Civil Rights, culture, Defense of Marriage Laws, democracy, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Frederick Douglas, Gay Pride Day, Get Up Stand Up, LGBT, politics, Proposition 8, Sodomy Laws, Stonewall Uprising, Taliban, Thomas Jefferson | Leave a comment
The Butterfly Effect is a component of Chaos Theory. A butterfly flaps its wings in a far away place creating tiny ripples that begin a flow of cause and effect energy that eventually creates a hurricane force wind. These tiny ripples, seemingly irrelevant can precipitate and contribute to a major event. The right set of factors comes together and a major event takes place. Can the humble service of an single person create a butterfly effect?
Last year President Obama designated Martin Luther King Day as a day of service. It seems a fitting designation for a day dedicated to a man who lived a life in service to others and willingly gave that life to realize his ideals. MLK, Jr. offered his life to the struggle for civil rights to protect the human dignity of all people. There is no higher calling for citizens of a democratic republic. Civil rights and the protection of human dignity is the foundation of a democratic society. Equal protection under the law for all citizens and unfettered access to all its rights and privileges are the surest safeguard of a peoples security and liberty. MLK, Jr. perished in the struggle to enlarge and protect that liberty for all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, creed or color. It is the responsibility of all citizens to place themselves in service to protect and enlarge the dream of liberty and freedom. A failure to assume this responsibility risks failure of our democratic culture and the relinquishment of personal liberty.
As individuals, we are overwhelmed by the massive problems that confront us. We freeze in place as we witness an avalanche of cataclysmic world events. The endless duration of incomprehensible wars, the vicious repression employed by intractable power elites, the posturing and threats of great nations intent on projecting their power, global economic calamity and disenfranchisement brought on by institutional excess and governance failure, cultural intolerance spawning sectarian violence and the massive natural disaster calamities intent on assaulting our humanity by delivering devastation to the most vulnerable among us; conspire to immobilize us. As a people we are left to stand mute unable to comprehend and unwilling to act out of fear of wasting good efforts to no effect. Ambivalence of conviction, vacillation of intent, cynicism in thought are subversive elements that are more powerful then 1,000 Al-Qeada cells because the subversion of terror nests securely in the minds of seemingly free people. These subversives incessantly whisper “distrust liberty for all and learn to loathe the responsibility that freedom requires of free people.”
This weeks Haitian earthquake is an event that startles, humbles and hopefully shakes us from our torpor and ignites a desire to serve. The massive destruction and sweeping misery of its aftermath is a clarion call for a humane response to address this assault on our shared humanity. Yet in its wake, leading televangelist Pat Robertson opines that the earthquake was God’s way of delivering retribution on the people of Haiti. Mr. Robertson believes the old Haitian superstitious folklore that Haiti made a pact with the devil to free themselves from the colonial domination of France. Mr. Robertson’s theology proves Thomas Paine’s wise maxim that “a belief in a cruel God makes for a cruel man.” Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of President Obama’s immediate call to marshal aid to the stricken country prompted the Ditto-head and Chief to state that the President’s call to aid Haiti was a political ploy designed to gain favor with the light and darker shades of people of color.
We recoil in horror at Pat Robertson’s vision of a God that keeps score. A God whose patience spans generations, eagerly waiting to notch another victim into the wooden handle of his deadly cosmic six shooter. Such spiritual poverty and moral bankruptcy is a self evident truth. We are equally appalled though hardly surprised at Mr. Limbaugh’s deep cynicism and his gleeful celebration of racism and partisan vindictiveness. What both pronouncements share is an offer of absolution for moral ambivalence to their constituents and a warning to remain politically suspicious of institutional response to this massive human tragedy.
God weeps at the peril of his children and the Beneficent One is moving nations and people to serve and respond to the pressing need of the Haitian people. Individuals from all over the world are giving time, treasure and prayers in response to this tragedy. People of good will everywhere are placing themselves in service to the people of Haiti out of compassion to relieve suffering and a compulsion to protect the sacredness of our shared humanity. The world goes up in a collective cheer each time a search and rescue team extract another small soul from the hell of a mountain of rubble. Refusing to walk away from the plight, refusing to avert our eyes from the pressing need of a people in need is a desperate rescue mission of a most fragile respect for our shared humanity.
Small people everywhere are flapping tiny butterfly wings, creating a gale force wind to knock down the walls that divide us. It is the only way to solve the massively complex global problems that work to undermine us. The collective desire to change overcomes the sense of our powerlessness to change. Just like a Baptist Minister from Montgomery, or a tiny woman who refused to go to the back of the bus, big things emanate from the smallest places. All one must do is begin to spread the wings and flap. Today is a very good day to flap our wings and offer prayers that our small individual actions taken together will blow down the barriers that divide and address the problems that vex humanity.
You Tube Music Video: Mavis Staples, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Risk: ambivalence, paralysis, cynicism,
January 18, 2010 Posted by riskrapper | Civil Rights, community, culture, democracy, faith, government, holiday, LGBT, MLK, politics, seasons, social justice | al-Qaeda, Chaos Effect, Civil Rights, day of service, Dr. Martin Luther King, Haiti earthquake, Jr., LGBT, MLK Day, natural disaster, Pat Robertson, President Obama, Rush Limbaugh, The Butterfly Effect, Thomas Paine | 6 Comments
We are committed to meaningful, frequent and timely blog entries. It’s a tough assignment trying to fit it in with everything else that is necessary to sustain our business and our lives but we think it important. Like Narcissus we too have fallen in love with our own reflections.
The purpose of this Risk Rap is to examine risk and its impact on our culture and lives. This presents a broad enough pallet that pretty much gives us carte blanche to opine on all matters concerning politics, economics, art, religion and social issues.
Without fear or favor we will try to offer measured sober assessments of a world at risk and point to solutions to temper the potentially negative aspects of risk while enhancing the positive results and benefits of taking calculated risks. That is our fondest hope and fervent wish.
Thanks for visiting.
You Tube Music Video: John Coltrane, Dear Lord
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