Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Then They Came For Me

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 | 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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Boards the Peace Train

Though the recession and other pressing domestic issues are the prime focus of the Obama Administration it has been an active week for foreign policy issues as well. Moving with dispatch to show that his administration has turned a page on how America engages the world, Obama has made some important moves to show the global community of nations a different face of power.

During the week, Obama signed orders to close the Gitmo internment camp. He has asked the military to develop an exit strategy from Iraq. He has appointed retired Sen. George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East to revitalize the art of diplomacy in the region for the US. He has instructed Mitchell to listen and not to dictate. Most significantly, in his first post inaugural interview, Obama spoke directly and plainly to the Arab world through the Al Arabiya network. President Obama seems intent on becoming an arbiter of peace in the clash of civilizations.

It is a new day and a new way in Washington DC. The trains at the station. We hope everyone gets on board this train.

As Salaam Alaikum

You Tube Video: Yusef Islam, Peace Train

Risk: war,

January 28, 2009 Posted by | folk, Obama, Palestine, war | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Perfect Christian Gentleman”

The BBC News Hour ran a piece on US citizens reflections on the Bush Presidency. One woman from Ohio referred to Bush as “the perfect Christian gentleman.” Her point that Bush restored the morality and integrity of the Office of the President after the tidal wave of sin Clinton unleashed in the White House with his sexual dalliances and uncontrollable peccadilloes. According to this fundamentalist Christian woman, Bush achieved this do to his steadfast faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. She even cited Bush’s refusal to covert to Islam after he received an urgent appeal to do so by the Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ I take great exception to the characterization of George Bush as a “perfect Christian gentleman”. First I must say that my understanding of Christianity is that as human beings we are imperfect and need to be ever mindful of the mistakes and shortcomings we as human beings exhibit and practice every day of our lives. During the past couple of weeks Bush’ has been on a farewell media tour. He has been asked by many correspondents about any mistakes he might have made. To date Bush has not come up with anything of significance. I guess Bush believes himself to be the perfect Christian gentleman. But I believe that any cursory examination of the Bible revels that Mr. Bush has severely fallen short of the glory of God as advocated, taught and lived by Jesus Christ.

We not going to get into a theological debate concerning what a Christian is or what makes one perfect or imperfect. What I wish to convey is my understanding of what the ministry of Jesus Christ is all about and why I believe that George Bush and the rest of the religious right that thinks Jesus Christ is the Chairman of the GOP are dead wrong and misguided at best and damnable propagandists at worst for cooping a great faith tradition to serve their narrow political interests.

The first damnable indictment of Bush is his pernicious use of fear. Anyone with any knowledge of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ are aware of his consistent message of not to be afraid. Mr. Bush and his Republican party propagandists have fed the citizens of this country a steady diet of fear laden manna since 9/11 to justify their radical reactionary political agenda. Fundamentalists codify and justify their view of the world, actions and narrow beliefs with biblical certitude by citing chapter and verse. They turn the Bible or Quran into ideological dogma that protects the powerful and justifies their actions to protect their privilege. Jesus Christ took this world to task. He would not approve.

Another damnable indictment of Mr. Bush and the claim of his perfect Christian gentlemeness is his insistence on war as a means to project power and engage the world. Their are numerous examples of the Prince of Peace teaching that violence is not the chosen way Children of God engage the world. One can start with the Beatitudes and conclude with the night Jesus Christ was taken into custody in Gethsemane and one will have a pretty good insight about his position on violence and war. I often think of St. Peter greeting Mr. Bush at the gates of Heaven. I believe he’ll be asked about the lives of over 4,000 service women and men and significant collateral damage he initiated by his invasion of Iraq. He may also be asked about the 2 mn Iraqis that have been displaced by the war and the hardship it has wrought. Bush is convinced that history will absolve him for his actions. I wonder if St. Peter will do the same?

Mr. Bush’s justification of torture, his obstinate refusal to free the prisoners of Gitmo, his policies to exclude Gay people as equal citizens of our “One Nation Under God” in my opinion are additional examples of how our current president falls short in the perfect Christian gentleman category. Jesus Christ was about respecting life. “Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done to me,” he said. The idea that Bush tortured, imprisoned or excluded Jesus Christ is most unsettling.

As a Christian I am aware of the log that is in my eye. After 52 years on this earth its as big as a Sequoia and in desperate need of removal. But I am comforted in the faith and knowledge that redemption is available to everyone. All it takes is some self knowledge that we are not perfect, that we have turned from our sinful ways and we put ourselves in service to God by helping others. Mr. Bush still has a shot. I’ll be praying that he becomes painfully aware of his imperfections and takes up the task of rectifying his shortcomings. Perfect Christian gentlemen? Don’t think so, not yet anyway.

You Tube Video: Cool Hand Luke, Just a Closer Walk With Thee

Risk: myopia, fundamentalism, dogma

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Bush, Christianity, faith, gay rights, LGBT, politics, Quran, religion | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defending Our Four Freedoms

“These are times that try men souls, ‘begins Thomas Paine’s The Crisis papers. Paine wrote these lines as General Howe’s Redcoats and their paid mercenary armies of Hessian’s were chasing the rag tagged band of revolutionaries through the meadows and marshes of Hackensack, New Jersey. General Washington and the Continental Army had just lost battles in Long Island and Brooklyn. They fought the Hessians to a standstill in Harlem, then got routed in the Battle of White Plains. In order to survive Washington gave up control of Manhattan for the duration of the war; barely escaping General Howe and total destruction by slipping across the Hudson to the safety of New Jersey. Thomas Paine realized that the Revolution was in trouble. The egalitarian dream of a people yearning to be free from the shackles of monarchism and colonial rule was in dire jeopardy. America’s war for independence was on life support and the slightest added tribulation could have crushed our beloved republic while it was still in the womb of Mother Liberty waiting to be born.

Thanks to patriots like Thomas Paine the revolution survived. Paine’s clarion call to his countrymen exhorted them not to shy away from the call to struggle for liberty.  Paine writes,“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

Common Sense December 23, 1776.
The Crisis 1, Ft. Lee NJ

What an inspiration this foreign born American provides for his fellow countrymen 232 years after he has penned these words to call compatriots to action. It is with great reverence that I evoke Paine’s words hoping that it will stir my countrymen from ambivalence and apathy. Paine’s words reach across two centuries to call his countrymen to take action to defend our country from the threat of unending military conflict, economic debasement, vanishing liberty, cultural warfare and growing civil strife.

On this 232nd anniversary of our nation’s birth I call on my country’s patriots to come to the defense of our beloved country for which so many gave the last true measure of their devotion. This day is not about presidents, political parties, social classes, religious affiliation, generals or statesmen. This day is about the American people. This day is about our ideals, values, faith and the actions and sacrifices we are prepared to make to protect these values to guard our liberties. All societies are judged by what they value and uphold. America’s values are a bright beacon for the world. America is a nation of laws.

We are a participatory democracy. We uphold freedom of expression and the free practice of faith. America is a country of opportunity. America is a country of free people. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms offers fundamental freedoms humans “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear are values we must jealously guard with constant vigilance. Our freedom does not consist in our ability to choose from six different brands of breakfast cereals. Freedom to consume what we choose to purchase is not the liberty that we are speaking about.

Our freedoms cannot be devalued to reside in a Dollar Store discount bin. Our freedoms are beyond a value recognized by a bar code scanner at Wal-Mart. Our freedoms were purchased by generations of struggle and hardship on battlefields, factory shop floors, class rooms, pioneer trails, Native American reservations, cotton fields, company board rooms, inventor’s tools shops and in so many everyday extraordinary places. Our country is confronted with great challenges to the economic security of the people. We are threatened by crisis’s in devalued housing prices, rising prices for gas and energy, creeping inflation for foodstuffs and uncertain credit and labor markets.  Patriots must come together to share responsibility to solve these problems and equitably share access to our country’s resources and abundant bounty to assure freedom from want for everyone.

American’s freedoms are based on law. We are a country of laws. Our law is based on constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens. That right includes trail by a jury of our peers and the right of habeas corpus. We do not practice vigilante justice or the right of the stronger. The genius of our constitution is that it confers no special privilege to the strong and extends the same rights and protection to the weak. As a nation of laws we allow no gulags or special prisons. We uphold the right of trials for individuals and the Supreme Courts decision that ruled Gitmo unconstitutionally withheld this right was an affirmation of this American ideal. Patriots guard their civil liberties and fight to protect these liberties for their countrymen. As patriots we must ask why America imprisons more people then anywhere else in the world; and why are these people primarily people of color?

Freedom of expression extends to unpopular ideas, faiths and beliefs. Subversive ideas run counter to the norm, the prevailing state of conditions. If people surmise that the prevailing state of being is intolerable subversion is well advised. What some consider subversive today becomes the law of the land in the future that enriches the liberty of everyone. Abolition of slavery, women suffrage, 40 hour work week, ending of Jim Crow laws, social security and environmental protection laws were all once considered subversive. Who among us today denies how these movements extended freedom for all Americans; and upheld our country as an example for freedom loving people throughout the world?

The FISA law is a threat to individual’s right to privacy, speech and free association. Patriots must work to protect these freedoms. Freedom from fear can only be realized through the courage carried in all patriots’ hearts.  FISA is born from fear and begets fear. American’s are not fearful people. It is our birthright to be free from fear.  FDR exhorted his countrymen to action to meet the challenges of The Great Depression with the reminder that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” How prescient is this advice for American’s today?

Our country was the crowning political expression of the Age of Enlightenment. Ours is a land of opportunity. America values and rewards risk takers and entrepreneurship but opportunity is not solely defined by the ability and talent for acquisition and control of hard assets. Opportunity is an egalitarian idea where society offers all people the basic tools to succeed and thrive. Those include education, health, safety and equality of access. Blind pursuit and acquisition of wealth is a poor mans treasure. Freedoms value is not measured by the ledgers of commerce but what people will sacrifice in the service of their country. America’s celestial balance sheet of service and liberty has enriched our nation beyond all measure.

Real patriotism is not demonstrated by wearing a lapel pin, flying flags from your side car windows or claiming with bravado that America can conquer the world with its army. Real patriots dutifully serve on jury duty when they are called. They make it a point to vote in elections and take time to study the issues and deliberate the problems that confront our nation. Patriots make their voices heard in the marketplace of ideas and listen to the voice of others and respect the right of dissenters to freely express theirs.

Patriots don’t exploit low information voters. They don’t guide them to a decision with clichés and guile that appeal to baser instincts and prejudices. Nor do they use obfuscation and empty symbolism to cloud issues to confer power to a stronger party. Patriots protect the weak, speak truth and place the interests of our country above party interests. Patriots need to be conscious stewards of our land.

We honor our founding fathers enduring contribution to our republic because they created and framed our constitution. We can make an enduring contribution to the future generations of Americans by protecting and preserving the natural beauty of this country. We cannot ground down our purple mountain majesties to crumbling bits of rubble to squeeze out the last bits of shale oil. Nor can we drill in Anwar and lose our abundant natural bounty of beauty nor drill off the continental shelf to forever stain our shining seas. We must believe and understand that America is a sustainable dream that can be lived by our many generations that follow. Patriots need to employ our God given talents of industry, diligence; focus and creativity to solve our energy problems to wean ourselves from our dependency on fossil fuels and create an energy infrastructure to assure that the next century continues to be America’s century.

Patriotism requires commitment to our unique social contract. Lady Liberty asks the world to send us your poor huddled masses yearning to be free. We cannot wall off our ideals to others and must join the community of nations as a sovereign dignitary and light to the world. Patriots affirm in practice that indeed America is a special place. America guarantees all citizens equal access and the rights and privileges of all its citizens.  The full enfranchisement of our LGBT citizenry is the civil rights struggle of our day.  All freedom loving patriots who love liberty must stand to achieve those rights for all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.  Patriots must become mentors, teachers, Sunday school instructors, coaches, helpers to the poor and homeless to insure that our social contract is a rock solid commitment to the value and sacredness of each and every life.

Patriots must secure and protect the secular nature of our political system. Tyrants and dictators use religion and state ideology to rule over oppressed and exploited people. Free people cannot be imprisoned by the whim and fiat of oligarchs, castes, privileged classes and philosopher kings. Theocracy endangers democratic ideals, principles and practices; and should be relegated to history’s dustbin with the other relics of the feudal era. The horrid excess of religious fanaticism visited the shores our country on 9/11 with terrible and catastrophic effect. The Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrate how theocracies denigrate the human spirit and demand servitude and compliance to a potentate’s interpretation of God’s will and enforces it with stick and sword. Such practices are antithetical to our understanding of how religion intersects and informs our principles of governance for free people.

We must not allow our revulsion to the excess of theocracies to impede the free practice of faith or non-faith by our citizens. Religious liberty needs to be protected and strengthened. Our faith traditions call us to be more and America is a special place on God’s earth where we are allowed to be more. No religion or unbelief is Un-American or dangerous as long as it remains a personal guide to a life of faith and is not used as a political ideology. Lastly patriots need to work for peace. The world is more interconnected today then at any time in its history. The promotion of peace that embraces the community of nations and engages individuals, communities, corporations and nation states need to become sustainable enterprises that can build and deliver the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the many generations to come is a divine endeavor.

To close we’ll salute one of our nation’s greatest native sons with Aaron Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” Abraham Lincoln is “everlasting in the memory of his countrymen. Abraham Lincoln, protector and savior who fought to insure that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth. I offer prayers and extend best wishes of our fondest hopes for my beloved country and fellow countrymen and to all people yearning to be free and the patriots working for liberty everywhere. God’s blessings to all.

Risk: political apathy, totalitarianism, social unrest

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Bush, Civil Rights, classical, culture, democracy, FISA, history, holiday, LGBT | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment