Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Confederacy: Guardian of a Crime Against Humanity

It could be that America has never truly cared about its slaves, except for how bad those slaves made America look. That’s why we can have this debate about monuments to Confederate generals, (when there should be no need for debate, at all).

America has consistently sought to portray the antebellum South in romantic terms – with its genteel aristocracy, southern belles… oh, and “soft laughter from the negro quarters.” It was all a veneer – an affectatious delicacy beneath which rolled the total dehumanization of an entire race of people. We know this. Yet, we, enlightened people, succumb over and over to the romance that gives high priority to the imagination, and little to reason. How else to explain a nation that will revile the infamous Revolutionary, Benedict Arnold, yet revere his traitorous Confederate cousins?

There are over 700 Confederate monuments, most of which are dispersed throughout the former Confederate states. These are not monuments to heroism, as most Confederate sympathizers would have us believe.  They are the face of America’s crime against humanity. 

For the Neo-Nazi, the White Supremacist, the KKK, the Confederacy is a shield. It is the symbol of their America – defiant white men standing up to a federal government that dare be inclusive at their expense; that dare put blacks and Jews on a plane meant to be the sole inheritance of white people.

The other night, on Fox News, Dr. Charles Krauthammer lauded a monument to Confederate soldiers for their valor against overwhelming odds. But, did those soldiers fight any more valiantly that did Hitler’s Wehrmacht, who were outnumbered by the Allies 5-to-1, and still nearly won the day?

The Nazi cause was no less ignoble than the Confederate cause. Yet, there are no monuments to Erwin Rommel, Heinz Guderian, or Eric von Manstein, arguably three of the greatest military generals that ever lived.  Why is that? Because no one is allowed – and rightfully so – to romanticize what the Nazis did to the Jewish people. Yet, it is okay to romanticize a Confederacy that propagated evils against an innocent race of people America is yet to admit to:  unspeakable acts beneath that veneer of Southern gentility – rampant pedophilia – visited upon chained black children; crimes chained mothers and fathers could not protect against. Erect a Confederate monument to that!

History exists. It cannot be changed, nor erased. Memory, on the other hand, can be formed and re-formed. Robert E Lee, as the military arm of the Confederacy, sought to defeat the United States of America so that slavery could survive and, ideally, spread. That is historical fact. Today, many American’s, nonetheless, memorialize Lee – call him “America’s most beloved general”; (even more “beloved” than Ulysses S. Grant, the Union general who defeated Lee and literally saved this country!) Reconcile that. 
Now, people across this nation – many young people who have already cast off their fathers’ prejudices – tear at these Confederate statues with their bare hands, as though they instinctively know it is their future they fight for; as though they know in their gut that for the future to be realized, all of the colors of America must be fully enfranchised. That can only happen absent the Confederate shadow that looms over this nation – a presence that has been elevated to honor when all it deserves is infamy.

Take down the Confederate monuments, now. Put them in museums. Then, let us all visit those museums, and show our children the truth of this nation – how it once condoned evil, and then fought mightily to vanquish it. Put the Confederacy behind shatterproof glass, and pray that the hate it represents never rises again. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Knowledge of Good and Evil

America does not want North Korea to have a nuclear weapon. Hell, North Korea does not want America to have nuclear weapons. What does that matter? This isn't Augusta, where gentlemen Confederates could bar the door against men of color. This isn't a gentlemen's club at all.

America did not let Russia into the nuclear club; it did not let Red China in. Those two behemoths barged in. Same for the rest of them. Do you think America would have agreed to India and Pakistan joining the club? Not on your life. They, too, had to kick the door in. North Korea has kicked like mad at that same door. For them, as for the other nuclear-armed states, it is an existential matter. Such matters cannot be decided by other men and other nations. Nations must decide that for themselves. Either way, there will be consequences.  

America opened this Pandora's Box in 1945 and immediately proceeded to drop her calamity upon the Japanese people. Since then, nations big and small have yearned for such power. Power. That's what it is. Of course, we do not want anyone else to have that power. But, it is not up to us. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil exists. America first plucked its deadly fruit, (but could neither fence it off or cut it down.) Others were bound to follow.  

Nothing is so coveted by the world's militaries as a nuclear weapon. The ultimate deterrent - it is the equalizer, like the Colt .45 of the Old West that made little men the equal of big men. Yet, nothing is so evil as a single bomb whose sole purpose is to incinerate millions, and make shambles of nations for generations, and beyond. 

That door will not hold. More nations will get this great and evil weapon. One nation will use it. Only God knows what awful chain of events that will unleash.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

No Such Thing as "Hot Justice"

They say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Perhaps, no better example of that is “Victims' Rights” – the politically correct practice of granting victims of crime influence over a prisoner’s fate.

Some say I remain imprisoned beyond my release date – August 8, 2013 – in part because the victim’s family so desires. I am aware of the practice. It is, nonetheless, a stunning suggestion: A modern criminal justice system turning the fate of a prisoner over to civilians. (Is that not a sterilized version of turning suspects over to a lynch mob?)

Nothing so corrupts the pursuit of justice as emotions. All people hold soft spots for the victims of a tragedy. But they do not owe special favors to these dear people. Victims of crimes are no more entitled than are victims of disease, or natural disasters. They are to be shown empathy and respect, but dispensing justice cannot become part of their repertoire. Society must never feel compelled to assuage a victim’s grief with a breach of justice, no matter how good such a breach might make us feel about ourselves.

A victim’s heart is immoderately skewed. As harsh as it may sound, the only role victims should play in the criminal justice process is as witnesses sworn to the truth, like everyone else. 

Justice is no popularity contest. It is a hard-earned virtue, fragile as man’s vanity – the cornerstone of societies everywhere. It is man’s earnest attempt to define guilt, and then levy the responsible consequences. “Victims’ Rights” inclusion into the mix is a capricious and fundamentally contradictory act – fancying-up with emotions what must strenuously be kept emotion-free. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Close the Book on a Golden Age in Sports

Baseball whiffed on Barry Bonds. They had the last great African-American baseball player in their midst. Instead of appreciating him, they colluded against him - refused him a a roster spot on a Major League team after he broke their all-time homerun record.

The owners had done it before - colluded against African-American ballplayers. That's how they kept blacks out of baseball the first 108 years of its existence. there was no definitive explanation given for why blacks were not allowed to play, but people understood. Neither was there an explanation for why there was no longer a place for Bonds in the game, though at the time of his exclusion, he arguably had more "pop" still left in his bat than most players in the league. Again, they left it to the public to presume the reason - that he tainted the game... cheated it by using steroids? Were they sure? Were they serious?

Major League baseball is the most insidious cheater in the history of American sports. It cheated an entire race of men out of the opportunity to compete in "America's game," and earn a living. This same league - with cheating in its DNA - looks at its players - past and present - and cannot be sure which, if not all, have cheated the game and one another - be it by steroids, corked bats, spit balls, amphetamines, stolen signs, etc., etc.; and whether they continue to cheat, still.

Now, it is over. Close the book on the great African-American baseball players: Josh, Satchel, Jackie; Willie, Ernie, Hank; Gibson, Henderson, Griffey, et al. It's over, America.

Imagine football - after watching Jim Brown, Deacon Jones, and Mean Joe Greene - ending with Lawrence Taylor, Barry Sanders, and Randy Moss. No Cam, no Zeke, no Beckham.

Imagine basketball - after Russell, Wilt, and the Big O - stopping with Jordan, Shaq, and Kobe. No Lebron, no Curry, no Durant. That is what has become of baseball in America. still a great game, but just as it was before Jackie Robinson, so much less than what it could have, and should have been.

I started watching baseball in the early 60's. The brothers were on a 50 year tear. Then, during the latter decades of the 20th century, African-American children stopped playing baseball - turned full-bore to basketball, which took less people, less space, and less time organizing.  And they turned to football, which represented a fundamental shift back to pure athleticism. The die was cast: When the nursery dries up, nothing grows. Add: Baseball is simply a more difficult game to play. Nothing is more baffling in sports than trying to hit Major League pitching.

It's over, boys. Barry Bonds is likely to be the last great African-American baseball player. (Never has Major League pitching seen the like. In one season, he not only had more intentional walks than any other player in baseball history, he had more than any team. They were not just afraid to pitch to Bonds, they refused.) For those of us who got to see him play, he was something to watch.  

Monday, June 19, 2017


They call him, “The Monster.” He is six-year-old Anthony Fremont, a child possessed of great powers with he wields viciously against anyone, or anything that doesn’t like him. His go-to move: Banish them “to the cornfield,” forever. 

Anthony is a television character in an episode of the popular ‘60’s series, “The Twilight Zone.” He could double as our own president, Donald Trump. All of those around Anthony must think happy thoughts and say happy things.

“I hate anybody who doesn’t like me!” he declares. 

“Everybody loves you, Anthony,” his father falsely, and fawningly assures him.

“That dog (barking)”, Anthony says, “doesn’t like me. He is a bad dog.”

Suddenly, the barking dog goes silent – into the cornfield. Afraid for his own safety, the father assures the boy: “That’s good what you did, Anthony… real good.” 

The father becomes a metaphor for Trump apologists across the country. They know that his actions – rescinding checks on Wall Street, rolling back environmental protections, spurning human rights, while sidling up to the dictators (perhaps for no other reason than that he is attracted to authoritarian rule) – are contrary to an enlightened society. The apologists choose to appease Trump, nonetheless – damn the collateral damage – to save themselves and their agendas.

When FBI director, James Comey, fell out of favor with President Trump, it was “to the cornfield” for him. But, it is not just that he was fired; it was tacky – meanly done, as if humiliation and denigration were necessary parts of the process. The apologists stepped forward:  “Well, you know Trump. He’s not steeped in the ways of Washington.” How about decency? Has he any familiarity with that?

Then, as though to outdo himself, the Trump administration went after Michelle Obama’s nutrition initiative for America’s school children. (What sort of people would interfere with children getting better nutrition?) The former first lady was more direct, asking of Trump: “What is wrong with you?” She might have added, “…Anthony!” 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cat's in the Cradle

“The Hermit Kingdom” – that’s what they call North Korea. Sounds enchanting, and endearing when you think of its inhabitants who have no one but themselves to rely upon. That raw independence has spawned a siege mentality, beginning with it impetuous leader, Kim Jong Un. Many see him as 27 year old despot with a nuclear arsenal at his fingertips. America calls him “irrational”. (He must be. He defies America at every turn.)

Speaking at the United Nations this past month, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said of North Korea:  “They don’t need nuclear weapons.” They don’t? Then who does? America has over 2500 nukes. We must need them. (Do we need so many?) And, you say North Korea needs none. Who’s being irrational? 

The U.S. wants North Korea to dismantle its entire nuclear program, (composed of six to ten warheads.) We want the Korean peninsula to be nuclear free. Are we so full of ourselves that we presume the right to set the parameters of another nation’s existence?

We have nuclear weapons to deter other nations from attacking us. Russia has the same nukes. Lesser nations – France, Israel, Pakistan have nukes for the same reasons: to insure their survival in the face of nations who only respect the ability of contrary nations to hit them back. It is called “Mutual Assured Destruction” – “MAD.” That is what N. Korea wants – what America has in spades: the surety of MAD(ness).

America claims Un threatens our existence. No, he doesn’t. Un says, “If the U.S. attacks us, we will fight back.” That is a simple assurance. We, Americans, can trace such assurances back to grade school – those of us, that is, who had guts to hit the bully back. N. Korea, with its nuclear program, seeks to keep the bully at bay, like everyone else. 

N. Korea saw what happened to Iraq and Libya. Neither of those countries threatened America. America made them disarm, nonetheless. Then, we killed both of  their leaders, and left their nations in shambles. “Irrational” would be for Un to disarm in the face of American intimidation., and expect a different result.

President Trump dispatched a nuclear-powered naval strike force to the Korean peninsula, ostensibly to intimidate Un into backing down from any more nuclear, and ballistic missile tests. A day later, Un tested one of his missiles, anyway. Two weeks later, on the 28th of April, as the U. S. naval “armada” drew nearer to the Korean peninsula, Un tested another missile. 

By the way, how does one use a nuclear-powered strike force to convince another nation to de-nuclearize? Weaker peoples might fold. A determined nation will respond, “I’m gonna be like you.” If nothing else, N. Korea is determined.

It is interesting that as the United Nations Security Council convened a special session to discuss N. Korea’s ballistic missile tests, the U.S. and India, that same week, tested ballistic missiles of their own. Unbowed, Rex Tillerson stood on the floor of  the U.N. and asked that N. Korea – already the most-sanctioned nation on Earth – be hit with ever more crippling sanctions for daring to do what we do. 

By its policy toward N. Korea, it is apparent that the U.S. wants to bring that nation to its knees – perhaps to total extinction, and subsequent absorption into a unified Korea dominated by the U.S.-friendly, non-nuclear South. Many in the world might say that would be a good thing for the impoverished N. Korean people. Perhaps…

But, what if that nation views itself as 25 million people operating as a simple organism, like a colony of honeybees. This is not to belittle, but to highlight the industriousness of this feisty people who, with less outside help than any other nation on Earth, strive with dogged purpose to fulfill its destiny.

As a people, Americans reject the notion – think: humans were not meant to conform, like bees, to a single purpose. How do we know? Were all humans meant to be like Americans – slavishly staring into their iPhones, worshipping money, fame; cramming gratuitous foodstuffs down our throats until the entire nation is awash in an epidemic of obesity? Are we so much better than they?

I have had the advantage of being raised in rural Michigan of the 50’s and 60’s. A hand-pump was our sole source of water, a pot-bellied stove our sole source of heat, an outhouse at the edge of our backyard our source of relief. Times were hard. We ate regularly, but food was never in abundance. 

When I hear of the dire straits N. Koreans face, I am reminded that our family was never closer, never so assured of who we were, then when times were hardest. Perhaps the hard times the N. Koreans know – the threats, the sanctions – has only made them more united/less divided than any other nation on Earth. 

Recently, the N. Koreans celebrated the anniversary of their republic’s founding with a splendid display of pageantry. Such spectacles, along with the nation’s expansive weapons systems, tax Un’s ability to feed his own people. Come nighttime N. Korea becomes a black spot on the global map, evidence of a modern nation that cannot afford to keep the lights on. 

Such failures make N. Korea a bright target for ridicule. Yet, even the U.S. must temper its mockery with a measure of respect. Earth abounds with nations that fail to feed their own; that have little to show for their existence besides hunger, squalor, and corruption. Through the hardships visited upon the N. Korean people, a poor nation has forged itself into a an advanced and nuclear state. 

Still, America cannot resist deploying her smug pit: “They have no access to the internet!” Big deal! Neither did we. Instead, my siblings and I were raised on the complete set of “Childcraft” books – children’s literature from “Bo-Peep” to “Rapunzel”, and beyond. 
Look, let not lean with our feigned pity. Ask: “Can the N. Korean children go fishing, play baseball, go for walks in the woods?” If so, then many of them are more free than our own children – chained as they are to their fancy computers and cell phones; addicts to technology that diminishes them where consequent time spent with nature would enrich their souls. 

This is no attempt to romanticize the tribulations of the N. Korean people. They suffer; who doesn’t. I wish all the world’s children were free from hunger. That will not happen, especially with world leaders like ours who feign commiseration out of one side of their mouths, while clamoring for ever more bone-chilling child-starving sanctions out of the other side. 

Leave the N. Koreans be. (Stop trying to make everybody like your sick selves.) They want to live, that’s all. They have a right to self-determination; the right to be different. They are a unique people – they are denizens of  “The Hermit Kingdom.”

Monday, May 22, 2017

"For Spacious Skies, For Amber Waves of Grain..."

America, "Land of the free, home of the brave," is bi-polar. At once, she professes to love freedom, and then she hates it. Her minority peoples of color have borne the brunt of this Jekyll-Hyde personality. It comes of a germ deeply embedded in America's DNA. How else to explain a history of confinement of innocents unparalleled among civilized societies?

America enslaved her African-American population for over 250 years, despite those unfortunate people having done nothing wrong. Again, she forced Native Americans unto reservations though they had done nothing wrong. She forced Japanese-Americans into internment camps though they had done nothing wrong. Today, America holds me in prison though I have served my time and have done no wrong since my initial offense.  

In all these instances, the State has made lame assertions to justify its prolonged confinement of hapless human beings. Of prolonging slavery, they said: "Imagine what chaos would ensue if four million people, ignorant and lacking in survival skills, were set loose upon the countryside." Similarly facile statements - made to play upon the public's own self-interests, and its fear of the confined - were laid at the feet of Native Americans, Japanese-Americans, and me. It has never mattered to the State that such assertions are without merit. What matters is that the State is vested with great power. The power to deny liberty is awesome.

What will it take to cease this endless assault upon precious liberty? First, it will take acknowledgement that such assaults have, and continue, to take place. A sickness must be realized before it can be cured. Then, it will take real people demanding that this aberrant nature be purged from our national psyche once, and for all.  

I was sentenced to parolable life in 1997. Explicit in that sentence was that if I served that time with good conduct, I would be eligible to go home in 2013. I went about serving my time with distinction. That was my plan. (What other plan is there for a serious man who needs to get home to his family?) Now, at the age of 66, I am in my 21st year of confinement, courtesy of America's sick tendency to defer freedom for as long as it possibly can. Again, there is no end in sight.

Today, we have the modern version of America's well-documented obsession with mass incarcerations. Over two million souls languish in America's prison - a quarter of all of the imprisoned people on Earth. There are even private prisons to complement the State's efforts. Yes, everyday Americans can profit, financially, from the imprisonment of their fellow Americans. (How sick is that? Out of the window goes any incentive to set men free once those men become inventory on the shelves.)

Americans are numbed to this nation's bent for mass incarcerations. They take solace in believing they will not become one of the confined. During slavery, whites were assured, by virtue of their race, theat they could not be enslaved. Likewise, whites - even blacks - were assured, when they saw Native Americans a being herded onto reservations. When the Japanese-Americans were rounded up for the internment camps, again it was race that saved everyone else from the same fate. 

Individuals manage to circumvent a sense of guilt for these mass imprisonings by casting the prospect of such guilt against their sense of relief that the same could not happen to them. As startling as this self-centeredness sounds, it is more astounding Americans' lackluster desire to redress this fundamental defect i its creed.  

I once was guilty. Then, I paid my debt to society. Now, I am owed my liberty - like the slaves were owed; like the Native Americans and Japenese-Americans were owed. 

Free me, and the many others like me who have served their time, and yet continue to be held in America's deep State. Let us go home. Then, let us all free America. Yes, this nation - guilty for so long of imprisoning innocents - must, and can be liberated from her compulsive need to confine. She, too, deserves a second chance.