Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Divided Country

Some claim that our country is divided because many have forsaken God and evil forces have taken the commandments out of public places. Evil forces have taken over the executive branch of our government, far more than 3,000 young Americans continue to be killed and maimed in Iraq in an unnecessary war. Compassionate conservative has become an oxymoron. The words that best describe the Bush regime are stubborn, inconsistent, opportunistic, hypocritical, deceitful, and above all dangereously arrogant .

The root cause of our divided country goes back to the words "under God" being added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Thereby, it became both a patriotic oath and a public prayer. Claiming "evil forces" are responsible for our divided country ignores the fact that by it's very nature, religion is extremely divisive. Religious extremist believe their religious views should become the law of the land and apply to everyone. By insisting that their alleged superior, righteous and infallible religious views be made law, a division is created which they hope will result in a theocracy. A Christian form of government not unlike the taliban remains a possibility.

The motto on the great seal of the United States is: "E Pluribus Unum", which translates from Latin as: "diversity with unity"; or "out of many, one". Our nation has always been one of religious diversity. The present animosity and division will continue until religious extremist comprehend that strict separation of church and state is essential to healing any divided country.

Those insisting abortion is murder and homosexuality is evil are responsible for this divisive intolerance. By seeking to impose their religious views upon everyone, they have divided our country; but more importantly created a convenient diversion for self-serving politicians to shove fundamental problems under the rug.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Freedom of Speech

A million dollar survey found that almost one third of high school students, upon hearing the actual text of the First Amendment, thinks it goes "too far." Perhaps, they should consider the following:

In John M. Barry's "The Great Influenza", we learn that even before entering World War I, Woodrow Wilson warned Congress: "there are citizens of the United States...who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the arteries of our national life...Such creators of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out."

In 1918, our government controlled freedom of speech in ways, not known in America before or since. Before television or radio, most political discourse went through the mail. The Postmaster General was given the power to refuse to deliver any periodical he deemed unpatriotic or critical of the administration. The post office stopped delivery of virtually all publications and any foreign language publications that hinted at less than enthusiastic support of the war.

During, Wilson's administration the Sedition Act made it punishable by twenty years in jail to utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the government of the United States. One could go to jail for cursing the government, or criticizing it even if what one said was true.

A journalist close to Wilson argued: "Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms...There is nothing in experience to tell us one is always preferable to the other...The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false."

"Democracy is not about trust; it is about distrust..." -- Michael Parenti's "Superpatriotism"

There is nothing like a war to reduce citizens to mindless conformity, ready to play follow the leader.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Respect

A published letter declared: "It makes no sense and scares me to think you have voting power ...the most far -fetched and despicable idea I have ever heard in my life... Sometimes it's better not to speak and let people think you are a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

We have all felt like saying or writing something similar to this rant. Fortunately, my wife helps me avoid being disrespectful, sarcastic or intolerant of the opinions of others. Personal attacks such as the above can have unintended consequences.

A year ago, I wrote my first letter to an editor and received an anonymous phone call two days after publication. The caller questioned my credibility, but any intent to intimidate me from exercising my First Amendment right; freedom of speech, was unsuccessful to say the least.

The unintended consequence of that call was inspirational, because my first letter would most likely have been my last. Instead at 69 years of age, I was compelled to read more books in the past year than in any year of my entire life. Never would I have realized what a wonderful resource we have in our Four County Library System. I have entered the amazing world of the computer and have this blog with fifty essays and counting.

Liberals and Conservatives and especially young people must not be intimidated by those that don't fully understand the First Amendment is our most important defense against the tyranny of fascism.

Try to focus on concepts and not the person with whom you disagree. By being tolerant of the opinions of others and making an effort to be persuasive, you might become a unifier.

Our current administration seeks division. A unifier listens to the opposition, respects their opinions and seeks compromise as opposed to being divisive.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Flag

Charlotte Aldebron wrote "What the American Flag Stands For" at 12 years of age. It brings to mind Hans Christian Anderson's : " The Emperor's New Clothes" in which a child is the only one to speak the truth.

"The American flag stands for the the fact that cloth can be very important. It is against the law to let the flag touch the ground or leave the flag flying when the weather is bad. The flag has to be treated with respect. You can tell just how important this cloth is because when you compare it to people, it gets much better treatment. Nobody cares if a homeless person touches the ground. A homeless person can lie all over the ground all night long without anyone picking him up, folding him neatly and sheltering him from the rain. School children have to pledge loyalty to this piece of cloth every morning. No one has to promise that people will get a fair wage, or enough food to eat, or affordable medicine, or clean water, or air free from harmful chemicals. But we all have to promise to love a rectangle of red, white, and blue cloth."

In his book "Had Enough?", James Carville tells of Conservative Alabama Governor Riley; who cites his Christian faith; and called for the largest tax hike in Alabama history, largely on the backs of the wealthy for the benefit of the poor. Riley wrote: "Alabamians are faithful people who believe that creating a better world for our children and helping our neighbors are both sacred duties...Jesus says one of our missions is to take care of the least among us." The tax plan lost because of Republicans.

Unconscionable tax cuts has become a sham for wealthy corporate greed, which tarnishes both "Old Glory" and Christianity.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

American Fascist

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...or of the press or the right to assemble."

Hamilton College found it necessary to cancel a panel discussion with a professor who compared 9/11 victims to Nazis. School officials said they had received multiple death threats against college officials and guest speaker Ward Churchill. The college president was quoted as saying: "credible threats of violence have been directed at the college and members of the panel... these threats have been turned over to the police."

This is a major violation of civil rights under the First Amendment to our Constitution. Multiple death threats are nothing less than domestic terrorism and reek of fascism.

My intent is not to ratify Mr. Churchill's hurtful remarks about the victims of 9/11; nor his controversial praise for the perpetrators of the attack, but simply to emphasize that he has a constitutional right to make those remarks. More importantly, the college students, faculty and members of the panel have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble and evaluate the validity of Churchill's remarks.

We are told that our goal in Iraq is to bring them freedom. Ironically, our troops are being killed in Iraq trying to provide freedom of speech and assembly, while at home fascist successfully intimidate a college with death threats.

Some question the judgment of college administrators for allowing students to hear Churchill's remarks. At eighteen years of age, they are adults and the purpose of a college education is to learn critical thinking, evaluate information from a variety of sources and come to a reasonable conclusion.

Can students be old enough to die in Iraq, but too immature to reach reasonable conclusions? Have the terrorist been swallowing and then violently regurgitating the pap, Russ Limbaugh has been foisting on the public? Is a constitutional amendment needed to deny college professors and radio propagandist freedom of speech? The sword of censorship cuts both ways.

In his Feb. 7th. column in a daily paper Bill O' Reilly commented extensively about the Hamilton College situation, but neglected to mention the death threats. Instead, he used the term "major angst" as the reason Churchill's appearance was canceled. So much for fair and balanced news reporting from Fox News.