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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

I have had many reactions to my writing about inclusion.  I have been told that only Muslims are terrorists and that we can’t come up with any proof that Christians are terrorists.  Well, they are out there, but no one wants you to know about them.  Especially Fox News.

There is a small town outside of Hancock, NY known as Islamberg.  It is gathering of American Muslims, mostly black who left other areas of New York because of prejudice against them.  What they did not expect was to be the target of an horrendous attack by so-called “Christians.”

Robert Doggart, 63 is a man who lives in Tennessee.  As a matter of fact, he ran a failed campaign for Congress on far right-wing ideology.  I guess he decided that a town called Islamberg was a threat to his way of life.  He was captured on a wiretapped phone planning to go with his friends to Islamberg to burn down the mosque, school and cafeteria.  He also said they planned to shoot anyone from the community who planned to stop them.

“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God,” Doggart said in a Facebook post, according to court documents. “We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”

Doggart was arrested April 10 by the FBI on charges that he solicited others to violate civil rights, attempted to damage religious property because of the religious character of the property and made threats through interstate communication.  He pleaded guilty to the charge of  interstate communication of threats.  A judge is still to accept the plea agreement and pronounce a sentence.

Do you notice anything funny here?  He was charged with soliciting other to violate civil rights, attempt to damage religious property and made threats through interstate communication.  Where are the charges for soliciting others to commit an act of terrorism?

Another funny thing here.  This story was never given a press release.  That is why you probably have never heard about it.  None of the major news outlets have had a single word about this case on the evening news.  Fox News who is convinced that terrorism will signal the death of us all, has said not one word about it either.

Why hasn’t Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly screamed at the top to their lungs about this terrorist plot to kill Americans?  Where is their outrage that the government isn’t charging these people with terrorism?  You won’t hear them say a single word because these “terrorists” are white Christians.

Of course others at Fox have called Islamberg a “terrorist training camp.”  No one who lives anywhere near the place believes that stupidity.  The town is actually peaceful.  But, anything called Islamberg MUST be a terrorist training camp.

“It’s kind of perplexing to us,” local Police Chief Craig Dumont said on New York’s AM 970. “All this recent media attention in regard to potential terrorist training camps and things that are going on there. We don’t see it. We just don’t find any of that to be valid at this time. … There are no active threats that we are aware of at this time.”

Do you really believe that if a Muslim did this kind of action the media wouldn’t be screaming about it being a terrorist act?  Of course it would, and Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity would be screaming the loudest.  Here is a case of a white so-called Christian planning to take a militia group with a cache of arms to a small town to commit a terrorist act, and no one seems to know about it.  Fascinating!

“Doggart is an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community,” the organization’s public relations director, Mathew Gardner, said in a statement. “This man plotted to mercilessly kill us, kill our children, and blow up our mosque and our school. We have sound reason to believe he has already visited our other locations around the U.S. What other murderous plans do he and his private militia have and where are his accomplices?”

“All would agree, if a Muslim did this, the perpetrator would be immediately identified as a terrorist then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The examples are numerous,” Gardner said. “Therefore, we call on all branches of justice to see to it that this man is prosecuted for planning a heinous hate crime and terrorist act.”

That is still the unanswered question.  Where are his accomplices?  Why haven’t they been charged yet with any crimes.  To date, only Doggart has been charged.  He wasn’t planning on going alone.

This case brings up another point.  Why is it that no press statement or release was given over this incident?  Why has it been kept so secret by the Judicial System.  I am happy the FBI was able to head off this terrorist attack, but why did they keep it all so quiet?

Yes, Christian Terrorists are alive and well in the U.S.  The problem is we can’t see them because when they are busted, law enforcement won’t tell us what happened.  They won’t let it out that another Christian terrorist has been caught planning to kill American Citizens simply because they are Muslim.

Tell me again how the only terrorists are followers of Islam.

 

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It has happened bit by bit.  We have seen little breaks in the seams of our fabric.  As time has gone by, we have more and more of our liberties taken away from us.  We have seen NSA spying on our phone conversations and gathering huge amounts of data on everyone.  We have seen anti-abortion activists place huge burdens on the process that in many states it is almost impossible to even get to a doctor that performs abortions.

We have seen the anti-LGBT movement start calling discrimination a “religious liberty” so they can discriminate against LGBT marriages simply because they “don’t believe in it.”  We have seen public education under attack and have seen their budgets slashed to the bare bones.  This even includes higher education budgets at our state universities.

We have seen attacks on pay equality.  Women are expected to do the same job as a man and get paid less for their labors.  We have seen attacks on contraception measures designed so women can choose when to have a family.

We have seen attacks on the poor.  Welfare cuts, SNAP cuts, WIC cuts, even cuts to the agencies that are supposed to protect us from bad foods and drugs.  There has been a constant attack on the less wealthy, blacks, Latinos, gays, and women for over 30 years.

At the same time, we have seen the top 1% wage earners get richer all the while claiming they are the ones under attack.  They claim they pay too much in taxes when in fact, their percentage of income going to taxes are lower than the people who work for them.

Some say this is a “conservative movement” that has gained traction.  They claim that people would not vote for politicians who are forcing these issues on the American people if they did not agree with them.  I say it is something far different, and far more insidious than that.  It is a marriage between Conservative Christians and what is quickly becoming the American Aristocracy!

It is no coincidence that the Conservative Christian movement gained strength at the same time the American Aristocracy began to become more of a reality.  In fact, it is the American Aristocrats that are actually funding the Conservative Christian movement.  That funding does not come because the Aristocrats actually believe in all of that guff.  It is because they want to use Conservative Christians to gain power, and nothing more than that.

When our country was founded over 200 years ago, the world was made up of kingdoms.  Our own “mother country” was a kingdom.  These kingdoms were left over relics of the “dark ages” when it was determined that “God ordained” certain people to be kings and lords.

The simple act of being born into a certain family proved that God had ordained you to become the king.  That fact proved that God had ordained you to be a lord with life and death powers over your serfs.  Religion backed this notion.  They told their followers that it was their duty to follow their ruler because he was “ordained by God.”

Our founding fathers believed this to be nonsense.  They believed that who was governing was up to the people who were being governed.  They turned away from the “God ordained” leaders and set up a government meant to be run by the very people who are to be governed.

The “separation of church and state” in our First Amendment was to insure there would be no “God ordained” leader in America.  They went even further to ensure that no Aristocracy was able to rise in America.  In England, the “old families” owned most of the country’s property and money, and still do.  They made up their own rules.  The founding fathers decided that was not good for the country.

As a result, they established the “estate tax” in America.  By placing a high tax on inherited wealth, they planned to make sure that Aristocrats could not wield so much power.  In their opinion, being born to a rich family did not make you “ordained by God” to be rich for the rest of your life.  You had to earn your own way.

And it all worked for over 200 years.  Yes, there were a lot of hiccups along the way.  But by and large, the non-aristocratic government they established worked.  Then came along Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Ronald Reagan did not see why it was so bad to let an aristocracy rise in America.

He wrapped his message in what was to be known as “trickle-down economics.”  He said that if the really rich were given huge tax breaks, they would invest in business.  He said that if the estate tax was cut, or better yet, eliminated, these rich brats would invest in business.  Of course it never happened that way.

At the same time, the Conservative Christian movement began to gain traction.  Their preachers went to the pulpit every Sunday claiming that we should all be thankful to the very wealthy because they made our miserable lives possible with jobs.  They preached that these wealthy people should not have to pay any estate taxes because God had blessed them by putting them in their family at birth.

They also preached that not blindly following these “leaders” of industry, we would be guilty of disobeying God.  Since these people were all blessed by God with their wealth, we must follow their lead or face eternal doom after we die.  It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

During the “Dark Ages” these lords and kings didn’t give a damn about the poor.  They did nothing to ensure their lives got better.  Instead, they relied on keeping them uneducated and poor.  That was the best way to keep control.  And, since these “lords” were ordained by God, it was not a sin to kill off their serfs if they didn’t obey the lords.

Today we see similar comparisons to those times.  We are told that the wealthy control our lives.  They are the ones who should determine “fair wages” because they are th ones with the money.  Since they were “blessed by God” we don’t have any right to fight them.

Furthermore, if you don’t make a living wage, you are on your own.  Well, that is what they want things to be like.  That is why they are continuously slashing budget items associated with the “social safety net.”  If you are poor, it is because God wants you poor.”  So, just shut up and do as you are told.

Conservative Christians and the Aristocracy are behind the cutting of education funding.  They are terrified of an educated population.  Just like the “Dark Ages” if the people are kept uneducated, they won’t be able to think for themselves and realize that this is all nonsense.

The Conservative Christians preachers are telling you all of this because it the Aristocracy that is funding their churches and allowing them to live in luxury.  But you shouldn’t worry.  According to their philosophy if you suffer in this life you are sure to have it better in the next.  That does a lot to help feed your children now.

That is what this is really all about.  People like the Koch Brothers and the Walton Family are only interested in power over the minions of the world.  They are not alone either.  You can find these vultures around almost every corner.  You can especially find them behind most conservative politicians and all of the Conservative Christian politicians.

Democracy is hard.  People actually have to pay attention to what is happening around them in order to make an informed decision on who to vote for or against.  Having more than a fourth grade education helps too.

The Conservative Christians and the new Aristocracy have teamed up to deny you your freedoms.  They have wrapped themselves up in religion to scare the shit out of believers.  They don’t want educated people.  They don’t want unions.  They don’t want equal rights.  They want an aristocracy in America because they believe themselves to be that aristocracy.

The elections next year will have a direct impact on which direction we go.  Will we return to our democracy or will we allow the American Aristocracy to rise even farther.   If they win we will see Christianity as the “official” religion of the nation.  More freedoms will be stripped, and we will become no better than the serfs of the Dark Ages.  That is not what our founding fathers envisioned for America.

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The violence that erupted in Baltimore yesterday is a tragedy.  I also believe that it serves no purpose in changing opinions and/or views.  I have always spoken out against violence.  I lived through the riots in the 60s and I was against the violence then.

I did participate in protests in my past.  I protested for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.  But, I refused to partake in any violent act.  I considered violence as counter-productive to any cause.  Violence will only turn independent thinkers against what you are trying to achieve.

I supported Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his non-violence approach to civil rights.  As a truth in that struggle, the violence that was perpetrated against the non-violent protesters helped sway the American people in favor of backing the Civil Rights Bill.

Unfortunately, what has happened in Baltimore was bound to happen.  If not in Baltimore, it would have happened somewhere else.  In the last ten to twenty years, we have seen a dramatic increase in deaths during arrests.  I am not even going to suggest that all of these deaths were the result of bad cops going beyond their authority.

However, I am going to say that way too many of these deaths were a direct result of bad cops going beyond their authority.  The fatal blow came when the police departments failed to take credible action against those bad cops.  It came when prosecutors refused to press charges against these bad cops.  As a result, these bad cops received indirect approval of their bad actions and they continued.

This is not something that has taken place in the last couple of years.  It has been going on for at least a full generation, if not longer.  Police Officers have a very difficult job.  They actually do put their lives on the line for the general public.  But, when bad cops abuse their power and target any specific group of people, then go unpunished for their acts, everyone loses.

I have worked closely with several police departments across this country.  I personally know there are bad cops in every police department.  I have met them.  I have heard them.  However, police departments, in the cause of unity among its members, are very slow to punish these bad cops.  It is almost like they are afraid that if they punish the bad cops, it will put everyone else in a bad light.

Quite the opposite is true.  If a police department refuses to punish their bad cops, it makes the public believe all cops are bad.  It makes the public very suspect of anyone in a police uniform.  As a result, when something like happened in Baltimore takes place, the public is suspect of any “investigation” the police department may conduct.  It will also make the finding of such an investigation suspect.

When you put together that with the over-militarization of police forces, something is going to break.  When people feel helpless against the very department that is supposed to protect them, violence won’t be far behind.

I am sure that the violence in Baltimore has nothing to do with the case.  It is as the mayor said thugs taking advantage of a bad situation.  Those people should be caught and held accountable for their actions.  On the other hand, it will be unfair to categorize all protesters as violent extremists.  Until yesterday, all of the protests were peaceful.

It is time that this country has a real dialogue on police activities and police extremisms.  Every person who puts on a police uniform is not a “good guy.”  Many people who wear a police uniform should not be allowed to because of their bigoted views.

It only exacerbates the situation when departments and unions defend bad behavior simply because the bad behavior was conducted by someone in uniform.  The uniform should not be a shield used to protect bad behavior.  It should be used as a symbol of what good behavior is supposed to look like.

Violence is deplorable in all fashions.  That includes the riots that have taken place in Baltimore.  It also includes the violence perpetrated against the civilian population by bad cops.  Both have to stop.  Both have to be addressed properly.

In order for a police department to be successful in reducing crime, it needs the help of the public.  How can police departments expect the help they need when the public doesn’t trust them?

In a lecture I once gave, I said that perception is the driving force behind whether or not crime is a problem.  I told the audience that if people perceive that there is a crime problem, there is one.  If people believe there is no crime problem, there isn’t one.  That perception cannot be changed regardless of what the statistics say.

That includes whether or not the public will trust the police as well.  Until police departments start proving they will weed out the “bad cops” the perception will be that all cops are bad.  We all know that is untrue.  But, perception of things drives our trust.  As an unfortunate result, Baltimore may not be the last place we see violence over these kinds of cases.

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Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on same-sex marriage.  It is expected that by late June, it will render its decision declaring whether or not same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states.  A lot of experts are saying it will rule in favor of same-sex marriage, but I am not so sure.  I never try to figure out how 9 people will rule on any issue.  I hope they rule in favor of same-sex marriage, but I won’t hold my breath.

According to last weeks ABC/Washington Post survey, a full 61 percent of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage.  That is the largest margin in favor of the subject in history.  Republicans like to say that they only support “what the people want.”  Yet, the vast majority of Republican Candidates are opposed to same-sex marriage.

I have never understood the reasoning behind their utter hatred for the matter.  They often come out with ridiculous commentary about how same-sex marriages will “ruin the very fabric” of America.  Just how two people who love each other getting married will “ruin the very fabric” of America seems to escape me.

They claim their opposition is religious.  They cite the bible as the reason for their hatred against homosexuals.  Yet, in the New Testament, the testament that is supposed to be the one that Christianity is based on, has no such discriminatory language against homosexuals.  It takes some real “poetic liberty” to claim that any passage in the New Testament says homosexuals are “sinners.”

Besides that, this was the same type of argument that was used in order to ban bi-racial marriages in the past.  The haters then claimed that the bible said that blacks and whites were not to be married.  In truth, the whole Jim Crow laws were based on this false claim of biblical justification.

These candidates also say that our country was founded on the Judeo-Christian values.  That is not true.  The mere fact that the founding fathers needed to include the “separation of church and state” in the constitution says that they intended this to be a secular country that allows religious practice no matter what your religion is.  That is a far cry from being a Judeo-Christian country.

One of the funniest arguments to me is that same-sex marriage will destroy traditional marriage.  No one on that side of the argument has ever pointed to one definitive fact that makes this claim even remotely plausible.  I am still waiting for that nice Christian family to have a divorce because a same-sex married couple moved into the area and that caused their marriage to break-up.

I believe that if you really look closely at the demise of the “traditional family” values in America, it isn’t because of homosexuals and their desire to be married.  It is due to the simple fact that over 50% of marriages in America end in divorce.  The number one cause of divorce in America isn’t the homosexual “agenda” it is infidelity!  On top of that, many of the fighters against same-sex marriage have been married multiple times.  Isn’t that something that is against religious beliefs?

The purveyors of this hatred towards homosexuals has nothing to do with religion.  It has to do with politics.  Pure and simple.  According to Ted Cruz, if same-sex marriage is legalized in all 50 states, “religious liberty” will absolutely go away.  His stupidity is based on the fact that he thinks anyone who favors same-sex marriage is part of the “fascist liberals” who hate Christianity.

Of course, Ted Cruz’s idea of “religious freedom” is that you are allowed to discriminate against anyone you don’t like, as long as you can say “the bible tells me so.”  He constantly talks about the constitution, yet he continuously puts his interpretation of that book ahead of the constitution.

This hatred towards homosexuals, as I said, is pure politics.  In that survey I mentioned above, a full 70% of conservatives are opposed to same-sex marriage.  Since it has become necessary to gain the conservative support in order to win the Republican nomination for president, it is no wonder this topic is front-and-center in their debates.

I don’t know which rings more hollow.  Ted Cruz and his opponents ramblings about “religious liberty” or Ted Cruz’s comment that he would love his daughter just as much if she came out as homosexual.  That, at least to me, was a stunning comment on his part.  He may love his daughter as much if she were homosexual, but he would still fight to place her in a second-class citizenship position without all the rights of everyone else who isn’t homosexual.

Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, this hatred will not go away.  You will see Cruz and others on his side of the aisle try to pass a Constitutional Amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage.  Of course, they will be doing this in the name of “religious liberty.”

The term “religious liberty” has been dusted off by today’s conservatives in order to sway you into believing that discrimination is “constitutional” in America.  They want you to believe that they are the only people who are “smart enough” to decide who shall benefit from civil rights.  You simply have to sit back and let them make the rules, even if you don’t agree with them.

And, that is the definition of fascism!  In spite of what Mr. Cruz says, there has never been a “liberal fascist” regime in the world.  Even the Communist regime in Russia and China were not based on liberalism, it was based on conservatism.  Liberalism is allowing people to live their lives with civil rights protections so they cannot be discriminated against because they are different.

I am not a member of any religious group or sect.  Yet, I do not favor the idea that the state should order religions to perform same-sex marriages.  That should be left for them to decide.  There are Christian churches that do recognize and even perform same-sex marriages.  That is true “religious liberty” that is protected under the Constitution.

On the other hand, I do not believe that any religion has the right to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else.  That is not “religious liberty,” it is “religious dictatorship.”  In its Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court opened up our electoral process to the highest bidder.  Something that Campaign Finance Laws were intended to prevent.

What will be the fallout should the Supreme Court uphold the bans on same-sex marriage?  Which “different” group will be next in the crosshairs of the conservatives?  Will it be immigrants?  Will it be women?  Will it be blacks?  Will it be Catholics?  Will it be Muslims?  Will it be Methodists?  How soon will it be before only “White Conservative Evangelical Christians” are the only group protected by the Constitution?

If you wish to scoff at these questions, you are probably part of the problem.  If you scoff at these questions and are not part of that “White Conservative Evangelical Christian” group, you will not scoff for long.  A ruling against same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court will mark the opening of further legalized discrimination laws in many states.

When the haters win, society loses.  When haters win, the end of our democracy isn’t far behind and the beginning of Christian Sharia Law with its terrorism will follow quickly behind!

 

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It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  This has become a true statement, especially when it comes to race relations in America.  Throughout our history we have seen everything from slavery to legalized segregation to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today we sit 50 years removed from the civil rights movement.  50 years ago this past weekend we witnessed the Selma March.  We saw the marchers being attacked viciously by police of the time.  We witnessed similar beatings during other civil marches.  We saw “freedom riders” be murdered simply because they wanted to help blacks gain the right to vote.

Those times were filled with violence against protesters seeking the same civil liberties that were afforded to others but denied to some because of the color of their skin.  We saw four little girls killed when their church was bombed.  We witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.  Worse we witnessed those caught committing acts of violence walk away free because of a corrupt judicial system.

I was in high school during much of these troubled times.  I saw first hand the hate and violence perpetrated against people.  I witnessed the hatred even among my own neighbors.  No, I did not grow up in the deep south, I grew up on the South Side of Chicago.

It was during this time that I began to seriously question religion.  I saw so-called Christian Preachers teach that segregation was “God’s Will.”  I heard comments on the church steps after mass by my own neighbors complaining about the “blacks.”  The “N” word was used regularly.  I questioned how could someone spend time in church praying and still harbor such hatred.

I attended a private high school in a predominantly black neighborhood.  When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, we saw hundreds of people basically surround our school.  We were an integrated school, but like the rest of the city the majority of students were white.  School was let out early and fortunately there was no violence as we left the neighborhood.

As the 60s came to a close, things calmed down some.  People thought that we had finally crossed the line and that we had defeated racism.  That was a fanciful dream, but not reality.  Anyone who rightfully remembers those times remembers Richard Nixon and his “Southern Strategy.”  That was a strategy that basically said if he could carry the South, he could win the election.  Since the South was against the Civil Rights Bill, that wasn’t hard for him to do.

We also remember that George Wallace ran an independent campaign for President based on a racist platform.  Both Nixon and Wallace not only railed against blacks, they railed against the “Hippies” as well.  There was a clear “divide and conquer” mentality to that election.  Nixon based his coalition on segregationist of the deep south and on the Conservative Christian Cult.  It was during this election we first heard the term “welfare queen.”

Nixon won the election.  Some were concerned that George Wallace even ran with his racist platform.  The only thing about Wallace’s campaign that worried me was that over 9 million people actually voted for him.  The thought that over 9 million people were in favor of an American version of Apartheid was worrisome by itself.

As time went by, the Republican Party moved more right, especially on social issues.  The party that claimed Abraham Lincoln as its hero, and had a history of fighting for equal rights, sold its soul for votes.  It began to demonize Blacks and Latinos.  It began trumpeting fear in its platform.  And of course, if you weren’t on their side, you must be a Communist.

It has come to the point where today, 50 years after those troubled times, we see the Republican Party mired in the politics of hate.  They have taken up the mantra of the “Old South,”  they just don’t use the exact words.  As a matter of fact, if Ronald Reagan were to run for President on the Republican side today, he would never get out of the primaries.  He would be branded as a “Republican In Name Only” because he wouldn’t be “conservative enough” for the Tea Party and their Cult cronies.

It is true that we have more Blacks in CEO offices than before.  It is true that we have a Black man in the Oval Office.  But, it is also true that Blacks are still proportionately more unemployed than whites.  It is also true that Civil Rights are still under attack from the Cult and other wackos.  It is also true that unarmed black men are being shot and killed by the very Police Officers who are supposed to protect them.

We are seeing cuts to welfare, food stamps, WIC, and other programs designed to help the poor.  We are seeing education budgets for public education cut dramatically.  We have seen a dramatic rise in income and social inequality.  How can this be happening in a country that was founded on the principle that “all men are created equal?”

It is because hatred and prejudice are still rampant in too many parts of this country.  Hate seems to be the only thing that has remained constant with too way too many people.  That is a very harsh indictment on us as a whole.  We see it everywhere.  We see it on TV in speeches.  We see it in laws being passed that legalize discrimination.  We see it in racist emails that get passed around.  We see it in voter suppression laws.

Don’t think that conservatives just came up with their voter suppression laws that have been passed in far too many states.  They have had plans to make things tough for people to vote for years.  They were simply waiting for the right opportunity to put them in place.  They call it “True Vote.”  That is just code words to make sure Blacks, Latinos, Elderly, and Young Voters don’t get to vote.  These “Photo ID” laws are intended to make it difficult for these groups to vote.  They place another burden on them to “prove” they are citizens and are actually who they say they are.

These laws cost the individual time and money.  Many members of these groups don’t have a driver’s license and are being forced to spend money to get copies of their birth certificate in order to get their “Photo ID”.  Many also have to travel tens of miles to get to an office where they can get their ID.  Some as much as 250 miles.  Without a driver’s license, that is a very difficult thing to do.

These laws were not designed this way by accident.  These laws were designed to make it more difficult for them to vote because historically these groups tend to vote Democratic.  It all boils down to the same thing.  Voter Suppression.  That was proven in Pennsylvania when the Republican Leader of their legislature stated very dramatically after a similar law was passed “Photo ID law that will ensure Mitt Romney wins Pennsylvania.. Done!”

During the 50s and 60s people were murdered over their desire for equality.  Thousands of people were injured when police charged the lines and began mercilessly beating people.  Thousands of people were arrested for daring to march to protest inequality.

If we could speak to those people today, what would we say?  How could we explain to them that although there has been some little progress in race relations, we are reverting back to the days they marched?  How is it possible that America has lost its soul, again?

I guess the only thing we can actually say is “We’re Sorry.”  But that rings very hallow.  We must take up their mantle and continue the fight until racism really is a thing of the past.  We owe them that much!

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I think it is time to ask a very dangerous question.  I do not do this lightly, but I believe it is time.  The question is this.  Is it un-American, even treasonous, to pass laws based on religious belief?  As I said, this is not an easy question to ask, and it is probably even harder to answer.

We are seeing a lot of state legislatures around the country trying to pass legislation that would basically make it legal to discriminate against another group of people.  The purported basis for these laws is called “religious freedom.”  I say that the real reason for these laws is bigotry!

This attack on the Constitution is not just in the deep south either.  We have seen legislation in states like Nebraska, Arizona, Kansas, and even Hawaii.  We have entered a stage in our history where people want their religious beliefs to become the “law of the land.”  Isn’t that being un-American?  Isn’t that attacking the Constitution?

Not far from where I live there was a controversy a few years ago at a veteran’s cemetery.  The controversy centered around the so-called “Christian Flag” flying from the flagpole at the cemetery.  Many people wanted it taken down, but the Cult wanted it displayed.  There were even threats of violence against anyone who disagreed with it being there.

A co-worker at the time asked me what I thought about the issue since I am a veteran.  I told him I was against the flag.  Not because of any religious implications, but because those of us who served, served the U.S. Flag and not a foreign flag.  Since this flag was not the U.S. Flag, it should be brought down.  I also considered the flag a slap in the face to the veterans buried there who were not Christian.

In Arizona, a law was passed that made it legal for business to discriminate against gay couples.  In their law, if a baker claimed “strong religious belief” that baker did not have to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.  Fortunately, the bill was vetoed by the Governor.

Recently in Oklahoma, a similar bill was introduced.  State Sen. Joseph Silk, the Republican chief sponsor of the bill, said:  “gay people don’t have a right to be served in every single store.” He then added:  “People need to have the ability to refuse service if it violates their religious convictions.”  Now if this sounds familiar, remember these were the same arguments used to justify the Jim Crowe laws prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Bill.

As I wrote the other day, a wing-nut in California has submitted a ballot initiative there that would make being homosexual, or at least engaging in homosexual conduct, punishable by “a bullet to the back of the head.”  Under this extreme law if you sell magazines considered to be homosexual in nature, you would face a $1 million fine and possibly be exiled from the state for life.

In Alabama where the gay marriage issue is complete mess, GOP State Rep. Jim Hill has introduced legislation that would allow judges and religious leaders not only to opt out of performing marriages that defy their religious beliefs, but also to choose not to recognize them — for the sake of “religious liberty.”

There is a very real possible side effect to this bill known as the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act.  Although intended to stop same-sex marriage it could also pave the way for probate judges not to grant marriage licenses (or divorces) to couples of different religious backgrounds.  Wouldn’t this law also allow a Catholic judge, for example, to refuse to marry a Hindu, Muslim or Jewish couple?

Senator Inhofe the other day brought a snowball onto the floor of the Senate to prove that climate change was a hoax.  That was bad enough, but he then went on to “quote scripture” to support his claim.  We have had several members of Congress quote from scripture on the floor of both chambers.  Yet when an elected member of congress used a Koran for his swearing-in ceremony, the right-wing went bonkers.

Contradictions like these have always made me ask if we are a nation based on the belief that “all men are created equal” or are we a nation based on the belief that “all men we accept are created equal?”

We are constantly hearing terms like “Christian In Name Only” and “Republican In Name Only” and “Communist Left.”  These are nothing more than code words to say that the person being referred to is not a “Real American” because they are not “Real Christians” and only “Real Christians” are “Real Americans.”  Of course, the side caveat to that is left out.  Only “Real White Christians” are “Real Americans.”

The First Amendment gives us the “freedom of religion.”  That means that every citizen can believe or not believe in whatever religion he chooses.  That does not give them the right to discriminate against someone with a different religious belief, because that would be infringing on that other person’s right to their religious beliefs.

These are all very disturbing signs to me.  If you look throughout history, countries formed either monarchies or dictatorships based on the premise that one group was better than another group.  That is not what America was founded to be.  It was founded to be a country where everyone could live in peace with equal rights.  In other words, it was founded to be a secular country.

God did not become part of our national politics until the 1900s.  “In God We Trust” was not on our money until the 1920s.  The term “under God” in our pledge of allegiance did not appear until the 1950s.  I have heard outcries from the Cult that military chapels don’t have crosses on them.  They claim this is a new phenomenon.  It isn’t.  When I entered the service in 1970, there were no crosses on military chapels because they were used by just about every denomination, even non-Christian.

It would be just as much a violation of the “freedom of religion” clause for the government to force religious leaders like Priests, Preachers, Mullahs, Rabbis or any other  minister to perform same-sex marriage in their churches if it goes against their religious beliefs.  That is their right under the constitution.  However, that right does not include Civil Servants charged with performing non-religious marriage ceremonies.

If laws like these are allowed to be introduced, passed, signed, and stand what group of people will be next to be “legally discriminated” against?  If you think these laws are “absolutely wonderful” how will you feel when your group comes under fire?  Bigotry and ignorance never rest.  They are always on the hunt for another victim.  Which means that no one is safe from their arrows.

I served the United States of America, under the Flag of the United States of America.  When the call for help came across the radios I was monitoring, I never asked that person what nationality, race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation they were.  I simply put the mechanisms in place to save their lives.  I believe that America is based on equality for all of its citizens.

You have probably figured out my response to that question.  I believe that any elected government official, regardless of political affiliation, who legislates religious beliefs into law, regardless of which religion is being used, is violating the Constitution of the United Sates.  As a result, that official is guilty of violating his Oath Of Office and should be impeached.

Let your arrows fly.

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We keep hearing the right-wing use the term “American Exceptionalism” anytime they want to criticize something.  When the AP History curriculum was unveiled, they cried that it didn’t offer enough history about “American Exceptionalism.”  Whenever they get the chance to use the term, they jump on it.  But, what does American Exceptionalism really mean?

Is it supposed to mean that Americans are an exceptional people?  Is it supposed to mean that America is an exceptional place?  When they use the term are they saying that all Americans are exceptional regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation?  Maybe they think that America can do no wrong and that is why it is exceptional.

Actually, “American Exceptionalism” is just another meaningless term that gets thrown around to make people feel good about the country.  It has no definition because it doesn’t exist.  In order to be truly exceptional, a country needs to learn from their past faults and correct them.  Have we really done that?

If you listened to Bibi yesterday, you could easily come away with the idea that he doesn’t think America is so exceptional.  Basically, he told us that we are not smart enough to understand how to negotiate with an enemy.  He even told us we were naïve about trusting other countries.  That doesn’t sound like he thinks very highly of “American Exceptionalism.”

In order to better understand this false term, we need to look at some of the less than exceptional things we did as a nation.

We are a country that held slaves.  Our Founding Fathers owned people in order to farm their plantations, serve in the house as maids and other servants, and complete general duties they were too lazy to do for themselves.  I never understood the economics of slavery, but they seemed to think it was cheaper to own slaves than to pay others to do the work for them.  As a matter of fact we were one of the last Western Nations to abolished slavery.

After slavery was abolished, discrimination was institutionalized through what became known as the Jim Crowe laws.  These laws made it legal to discriminate against people because of the color of their skin.  During World Wars I and II we drafted African-Americans into the army but segregated them from the regular, or white, troops.

When I was in school during the 1950s, we read a lot about World War II.  The Bataan Death March was very prevalent in our history books.  That was an atrocious, brutal violation of the Geneva Convention which the Japanese had not signed because they believed that they were exceptional.

On the other hand, there was very little mention of the “Trail of Tears” we forced upon Native Americans.  President Jackson decided that Native Americans were not welcome on the East Coast.  So, he rounded them all up and deported them to the Oklahoma Territory.  Thousands of Native Americans died along the trail.  Our history books said very little about that.

Although our history books talked about the Holocaust carried out by Nazi Germany, it did not talk about the genocide that America committed against Native American Tribes once we began expanding westward.  Our history books talked about Native Americans as “savages” who needed to be “tamed.”  They talked about the Indian Wars and how the Indians slaughtered hundreds of settlers.  They failed to mention that America slaughtered thousands of Indians in the name of progress.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from High School that I read about the atrocity at Wounded Knee.

Things like the AP History curriculum allows for discussions about these issues and others in our past.  What is wrong with that?  Look, America has done some wonderful things both at home and abroad.  But, we have done some horrible things both at home and abroad, too.

Our government was involved in overthrowing other governments, like the democratically elected government of Iran in the 1950s, because we were afraid they may get closer to the Soviet Union than us.  How is that exceptional?  Iran wasn’t the only country this happened in either.  We supported brutal dictatorships in Latin and South America that killed thousands of their own people.  How is that exceptional?

How is it exceptional when too many of our children attend underfunded and dilapidated public schools while states keep slashing education funds?  How is it exceptional to allow corporations to get rich, while paying their workers wages at or below the poverty line while refusing to raise the minimum wage?  How is it exceptional that too many people including low-income families, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled are forced to live in poverty and not have enough to eat while cutting food stamp funding?  How is it exceptional when it is necessary to put labels on people so we can differentiate between groups?

How is it exceptional when women get paid less for doing the same job as a man?  How is it exceptional when there are laws restricting voting rights?  How is it exceptional when legislatures pass laws that allow discrimination against our fellow citizens?  How is it exceptional when there are laws to ban people of the same-sex from getting married thus getting the same rights to inheritance, health insurance coverage as other married people?

We have heard other nations talk about their exceptionalism or superiority in the past.  Alexander the Great’s Empire, the Egyptian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany all claimed to be superior to everyone else.  All claimed to be a “master race” of some kind.  Or, they claimed that God, or the gods, was on their side.  Now we are hearing how “God Blessed America.”  Is that why we are supposed to be exceptional?

Only when we recognize that we are all part of one race, the human race, when we recognize that religion is a personal belief and allow each other their own beliefs, when we recognize that all humans deserve the same civil rights as everyone else regardless of race, religion, sex, nationality, or sexual orientation, can we then maybe claim to be exceptional.

When I hear someone talk about “American Exceptionalism,” I only hear them claim that we, America, is better than everyone else.  That sounds too much like all the other nations and empires of the past.  They all ended up the same way.  Just a few pages in the history books.  Once America becomes exceptional at home, the world may then see us as exceptional as well.

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