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by Tzvi and friend

In 1949 my parents and I arrived in New York City bypassing Ellis Island and docking at a Naval base. This was a new adventure for my parents especially; the home of a yet new democratic experiment; a quiet place without guns or stomping boots outside of the occasional parade. Going to school, while I had no animosity toward black people, there was a curiosity in the back of my mind about them sitting at their own lunch tables and not mixing in too much except of course on the football field or on the basketball court. I didn’t know any black person myself but there was one guy in my Electronics class, a class I failed, that mocked the teacher relentlessly. But it was more like a standup comedy routine and he had every one rolling on the floor day after day. I admired this comic but I don’t remember his name. I think today I would.

My sixth grade teacher made a strong impression on me. She was one of the best in every way and many years later I made a special trip to play my violin at her funeral.   One of the few things I remember about her was her warning that a sixth grader was about to arrive who was a mix of white and black. He was said to be not very pretty and we should not say anything. Of course this was not true. It’s just that we weren’t used to seeing a person of this ethnicity. Today it’s no big deal and many of our most cherished citizens are a handsome and beautiful mix of color. I believe that it is this mix of color just like the mix of diversity that keeps us safe; there are not too many of one kind or another.

There were many Mexican families in my neighborhoods but no African Americans. I grew up, unfortunately, with some degree of disrespect for Hispanics. Only later would I learn what they didn’t know: many were from families of displaced Jews whose ancestors had been threatened or murdered during the Spanish Inquisition—an event produced by the mix of politics and religion, apparently — not a new thing in human history.

Our nation’s past is not blameless, but we have always striven to fulfill the promise of our founding principles.  In the past, we tore men and women away from their African families, chained them in boats, and shipped them so far away from home that they would never see their shores again. We told them they were worth nothing and forced them to work long hours to create wealth for a few people.  Finally there came a man and a movement whose intelligence and compassion caused him to stand up and say enough! He freed the slaves, forcing a total restructure of society. This caused problems but not ones that an industrious people could not overcome. Things simply had to shift into a new order … and then we had the industrial boom and became the greatest country on earth. This sifting process is not new to society. Take away their square peg and people figure out how to do even more with the round one. The stage coach lines are no more. The railroads are not what they once were. The horse driven mail system is gone. No more telegraph. But, with each demise there is a rebirth for the better.

Because of our diversity and our desire for success, I have no fear of change in our nation.

What greater response to our history and what greater crowning glory to show the world how it’s supposed to work, than for someone whose ancestors could have been slaves and put him in the white house as the leader of the free world. You may not like him – that’s okay – but you have to admit, he is a good man with a good family and good morals. And perhaps most importantly for a President, he is a true believer in American democracy.   There is a firm belief there in truth and justice, and not a cynical bone in his body about the American Experiment.

And now for the bad news: there are real cynics about our grand experiment.   There are those who seem not to understand democracy; the will of the majority; that whoever wins gets their turn at the helm without fear of violence or regression. Some believe this only so long as they come out the winners. And if they don’t, they begin to wave their guns. They speak of insurrection. They threaten. They talk of things they don’t even understand like socialism and the anti-Christ. We should be celebrating the victory of democracy at work, not spewing fear and hate. The irony of all ironies is that those who scream that the republic is going down in flames and that we will find ourselves in a civil war, these people will of course be the cause of it themselves. Careful what you wish for.

I say take down your silly gun signs. Put down your weapons. If you don’t then we should stop being international hypocrites and stop involving ourselves in other countries under the false premise of promoting democracy for others. If we really believe that our democracy is the example then we ought to grow up and show it. A flag on a pickup truck doesn’t do it for me. Being helpful to a friend or neighbor is where it’s at; teaching your children right from wrong without being judgmental. Removing ugly signs from your front door and your bumper would be a move in the right direction. Turning off those screamers of hate on the airwaves will lower your blood pressure and give your brain enough time to regenerate lost cells. No need to wear your false sense of patriotism on your sleeve.

Can’t we just be friends and work this democratic process by having sane discussions to work out compromise and make changes at the ballot box…hopefully without certain people trying to stop you by using their brand of “democracy”?

 

 

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I won’t wear a bracelet. I won’t put a ribbon on my car. That doesn’t make me an enemy of the state. And you may be the uniter, or think you are, but you’re not the decider. And don’t send me those ugly emails with battleships and planes and flags that portend patriotism at work but are actually and subtly attempting to rally against Muslims, or Mexicans, or Gays, or Liberals, or anyone else you think doesn’t deserve to live here. I’m not impressed. Don’t tell me to stand behind the troops or in front of them.  These emails and posts are ugly. They are not patriotic. They are not scriptural. They are not excerpts from the gospels. They cannot be found in the Talmud. This is an affront to all religions and to me. They are divisive. You know, that word the Republicans keep using against Obama. If you are a mother or a brother or a child of a military person, then you are certainly someone special. We have a reason to hold you in high esteem. But you ought not be using this as an excuse to go to the dark side. You can be a relative and still be a listener. You can be a relative and still be a thinker. You can be a relative and still be against a war. You can be a relative and not lose your religion or alter it for your own means. Listen to my words: WE ALL SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. Just not the way you may think it’s supposed to be.

There are a lot of fans for Fox Noise. This fabricated news agency is really just Pravda for modern-day Republicans. MSNBC is the liberal version of commentary but there is a big difference. Fox relies on unvetted stories, unreliable sources, biased commentary, pushing hate, suspicion, lies, and whatever else creates energy for their audience. They have no really world-class journalists. They have no desire to help the poor, speak to those in need, work toward compromise, find scholars or citizen heroes. When they interview someone they don’t care for they are rude as Bill O’Reilly was to our president. They don’t know how to act in public. When they interview their friends, no matter how ignorant they are, such as Sarah Palin, it’s stupid questions and big smiles. When MSNBC presents their biased stories, they are based on fact, backed by documents and videos and they have many world renown journalists on staff. They know who the intellectuals are and they don’t mock intelligence. When Fox News lies, you will see documentation and video evidence to back up MSNBC statements.  For examples of the differences: Fox “News” posts Republican or conservative events on their website completely destroying any semblance of “you decide” journalistic honesty. They recently were the only news agency in the world that called the many political poles twisted and made up. The only one. They didn’t even believe their own. On one occasion their anchor trounced into the data room where their pollsters were asked to defend their results. One of their favorites, the vulgar Carl Rove, swore even after the bell that Romney had won. News or noise? When Obama was first running or was first elected, Fox News made a big deal of the “fist bump,” a many-year old tradition among many people. Why? Because the evil-eyed blond on Fox and Friends said “Isn’t this a terrorist greeting? You’re kidding right? No, this is the truth for people who don’t want to know. You decide. When Ben Stein, an actor and economics expert and analyst for Fox News talked to Fox and Friends about the fiscal cliff he stated that taxes HAVE to go up on the rich. But he preceded this with an apology to his long time friends at Fox for having to say this. Are you smart enough to read between the lines? He apologized because his acknowledgement is not generally an acceptable one at Fox and what he was about to say would embarrass them. After all it’s a fact. But people on the right defend this rather than coming up with the obvious: if you can’t see the truth how can you be trusted? The worst part of this? When people use Fox as their main source of news, not only do they get damaged information, they miss much of what is actually happening or being said. And worse, yet, they become angered, they yell, and then they cling to their guns and their religion. Oops, do I have permission to say that? When Fox Noise becomes a real haven for journalism I will be the among the first to destroy this blog and become a fan. But that will be a cold day on this globally warmed planet. Oh yeah, that reminds me. Remember when that great thinker, Shawn Hannity, stated that the winter storm was proof that global warming was just a socialist plot? No, I’m not kidding. As an aside, the spellchecker asked me if I wanted to ignore “Hannity”. I said yes.

President Obama won an election by most of the people in America two times. And two times the following has occurred: 1, Instead of the Republicans saying okay you won lets see how we can help or get something done, they are making threats. They say their constituents didn’t vote them in to make compromises. Clearly they do not understand democracy and shouldn’t be quoting the constitution to anyone. 2, People are packing guns, slinging guns, putting up signs about guns, making threats with guns, buying more guns. They are threatening insurrection and cessation. They are giving aid and comfort to the skin heads and Nazis whose membership is growing. GROW UP KIDS. Here’s what they don’t get: Their ugly manners may or may not end in violence but it certainly will not lead to peace. And it may cause the crazies out there to start shooting. Again, I say that the right, because of this language and action, will be responsible if anyone is hurt. The truth is not always politically correct.

As an introduction, my writing may include thoughts about religion. I should also mention that I beleive in our democracy. I believe in the rights of people. I believe in being a good neighbor and helping your neighbor. And I believe that a neighbor is not simply someone who lives next door, but someone who lives across the ocean, someone with a different skin color, a different language and a different religion. I mean no disrespect to any religion but when someone uses theirs as a tool in congress or in a football stadium or in a classroom, then they are disrespecting mine. I’m not an expert in religion but I do have common sense and a concern for our country and civil discussion as well as separation of church and state. I believe our recent political struggles have been due to individuals and groups who want not to put religion into politics, but THEIR religion. Either is not good as our forefathers understood and the right-wing should know this because they deem themselves to be experts not only in theology but also in history and the constitution. They keep putting religion into the forefront so it’s really impossible any more not to mention it as part of the point or counterpoint. This blog serves to channel my anger at the dissolution of civil discourse and the new racism and threats that have become prevalent in our country since the election of a black president. … [Spell checking is appreciated.]

When our president faces, with great dignity and restraint I might add, such vitriol and fantasy accusations as I have never seen in my lifetime there is only one possibility. That is that the losers are, at least many of them, suffering from racism. Birth certificate? Transcripts? Hidden Muslim (after first objecting to his Christian minister). Place of birth? Listen all you with a low threshold for intelligence, history and understanding. There’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim. The terrorists were Muslims, or so they call themselves. But what they were and are, more importantly, are fundamentalists and this may be the most dangerous element on the planet. It leaves no room for discussion. It sees everything as black and white and it claims that only it has reality and truth. If you are going to label all Muslims as terrorists and then in an accusatory manner as if it were a bad thing identify our president as a Muslim then you better rethink history. Who fought the Crusades? Who burned Jews in Spain after the Muslims befriended them? Where did the Nazis go to celebrate Christmas? Germany is filled with Catholic and Protestant churches. Does that make Christians Nazis or terrorists? Of course not. And within these questions is one terrible reality. Religion and Politics is NOT a good fit. When will you learn that? It’s not good in Afghanistan and it’s no better here. We just think we’re better no matter what we do. Not true.