Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Sherrod-Shariah Charade

Poor Glenn Beck. He should have one of those Tea Party signs that says, “It doesn’t matter what I say on this program, you’ll still say I’m a racist.”

I first noticed the Sherrod story on the Drudge Report, with some sort of disclaimer that there was more to the story. It certainly was horrible (and dangerous) that Sheryl Cook of the White House ordered Sherrod to pull over in her car to resign over her Blackberry, “because you’re going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

We assumed she was telling the truth. Maybe we gave her the benefit of the doubt because she was black. We are racists, after all. Only the story didn’t appear on Glenn Beck’s show that night. In the next hour, it was on Fox’s 6 p.m. newscast, but the lead was that the president had fired this woman so abruptly.

Rush Limbaugh is now up in arms (and probably correctly) that no one bothered to question the story at all. At 7 p.m., Fox News notes that anchor Shep Smith refused to report the story because they couldn’t confirm any of the details. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity followed.

When I had a chance to read more about the Sherrod story, it sure sounded like she’s still a racist to me. Anyone who would accuse Glenn Beck, who’s invited so many black guests and audiences onto his show, of being racist must be listening to the Woo-Woos.

What he did say of the story, the next night, was in support of her. What a terrible thing, to be pulled over to the side of the road and be fired by no less than the White House itself. The Secretary of Agriculture did the apologizing, although he was in Ohio at the time.

Belatedly, President Obama called to apologize to her. Meanwhile, she refused all offers to appear on Fox News, which had defended her. She even went so far as to accuse Beck and Fox News of being “racist.”

This morning’s Bergen Record carried an editorial cartoon depicting Sherrod as a dove of peace triumphing over a fox, labeled Fox News. Yet all Fox reported on was her forced resignation by the White House. CNN reported, it too, with Sherrod on camera.

She’s threatening to sue everyone in sight, though she claimed that her particular target was and others. What a coincidence that Fox News and the Conservative media are also the target of the socialist Left. Control the means of communications – that’s one of the tenets of the Communist Manifesto.

Glenn Beck said last night there was something not right about the story, but that he’s a commentator, not a journalist. There’s something not right about many things that have been going on this week, journalistically.

A group of socialist bloggers managed to take down a post on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page opposing the Ground Zero mosque. It appeared earlier in the week. I wanted to throw in my two cents’ worth and discovered it was suddenly not there.

This group responded en masse with automatic complaints – “Offensive” or some such thing – that Facebook claims caused an automatic shutdown of that page. The leader of this pack of hounds exulted in his success.

Facebook says it apologized to Palin and she was able to repost her message. Her new post only noted that there had been a glitch. However, Conservatives4Palin gave her Facebook fans a much more detailed explanation of what happened to the page.

We’ve come to an unfortunate pass in American history, where race and politics have become blended. It’s a volatile combination because it enables one side to oppress its opponents with no proof of wrongdoing other than their own sense of offense. Freedom of speech means that an author can express an opinion, regardless of how certain readers may feel about it.

The only proof of racism that the socialists have against Glenn Beck is that he is blond haired and blue-eyed. The only proof of bigotry they have against Sarah Palin is that she opposes building a mosque on the site of a building that was damaged in the 9/11 attacks and will be, in all probability, visible to visitors to the future Ground Zero memorial.

WOR radio commentator John Gambling, speaking in defense of the mosque, asked this morning just how far away it would have to be to satisfy the critics. Far enough away to not be visible. That’s really not so hard amidst the towering buildings of Manhattan. From two blocks away, this thing’s dome would be hard to miss. Only the cultural center is planned for 11 stories. Goodness knows how high the mosque will rise, but no doubt it will be visible beyond the 30 or 40 story building that houses the N.Y. Department of Health on Vesey Street.

Sarah’s message includes information about just what bad news this Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, the sponsor and benefactor of the mosque, is. He refuses to reveal his source of funding. One has only to read the international news to know just what a danger Islam poses to the free world. India, the Philippines, Turkey, Bosnia, France, England, Denmark.

Sarah is bigoted is she, because she doesn’t want to have to wear a hijab someday, give up her driver’s license, or never own a dog again? Those are some of the milder infractions of Islam. New York and America are in a quandary indeed over this mosque. Religious freedom is one of the foundations of our nation (not to mention property rights). The question is: who’s the real threat to that religious freedom?

The American Muslims plead innocence, that they only want peace. Peace pundits tell us we mustn’t judge them. No one watching American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11 knew its course for certain. Officials were helpless to do anything about it. Shoot down a passenger plane when they didn’t know whether it might simply land? No one knew its final destination until it plowed headlong into the North Tower.

We had plenty of warnings all summer long in 2001. We either didn’t heed them or couldn’t do anything about them. We’ve literally had the ton of bricks fall on our heads and we still don’t seem to get it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Journelites

So the Journelites have been exposed at last. Some Conservative pundits are trying to cut them some slack, theorizing that they found one another “accidentally”, that they’re no more guilty of corroboration than Conservative journalists and commentators would be, if there were enough of them to actually constitute a cabal.

I’ve been trying to convince my mother for years to turn off the major networks and tune into Fox News. Turns out she’s got a problem with Fox’s sexy female anchors. Their skirts are too short for my mother’s tastes (she was raised by a Victoria-age grandmother wouldn’t let my mother wear red shoes).

Still, she admits Fox News is more accurate. Whenever I go to her house, and inevitably find her reverting to her CBS News habit, I grab the remote control and switch over to Fox. She wanted me to come over for dinner last night, but I wasn’t feeling well. She invites me over once a week for dinner and company, but I wasn’t feeling. But I should have gone, or she’ll fall back into her old habits.

I’ve also given her my copies of National Review. She admits she’s tired of reading news and magazines with nothing but the same liberal slant that she’s been reading since she was young. She thinks Obama is terrible. Well, I tried to tell her (don’t worry; she voted for McCain). She figured he was young and maybe the blacks needed to have a chance at office.

Blacks, certainly. Asian-Americans. Native Americans. We nearly had our first Eskimo-American First Gentleman. Or First Dude, as some wanted to call him. A vote for Sarah is a vote for Todd! Yeah!

But if you don’t think the Journelites don’t all flock together, go onto one of AOL’s political chat rooms some night. If you go into the Left chat rooms, you’ll see them congratulating one another. In the Right rooms, you’ll find them degrading Conservatives (though with less success than they used to).

I haven’t gone into the chat rooms in months. I’ve been too busy with my blog, catching up on my reading (I’m reading Atlas Shrugged at home and Economics for Dummies at lunch at the moment), and of course, making music, to be bothered with them.

They’re a thoroughly vile bunch. They used to employ the most profane language possible until I started taking them to task for it. In those days, very few Conservatives spoke up, even in their own rooms. This was the War on Terror chat room, though, so no one really “owned” it.

But the Journelites claimed they did. I ventured to make a comment and they told me I had no right to post a comment until invited to do so, until the rest of the room got to know me. My first response was, “Oh yeah? Well, too bad about that. I pay my monthly AOL fee and I’ll post whenever I darn well feel like it.”

So much for chat room etiquette. In those days, they were fond of Goebbel-esque postings, repeating them over and over, like a mantra. “Bush Lied, Troops Died.” So I’d return something on the order of, “The U.N. Lied, Saddam Cried.”

The Journelites also enjoyed questioning educational levels of other chatters. I knew the Journelites were simply political hacks sitting in some room together with multiple computers, with their talking points in front of them. Anyone who has ever engaged in a debate knows how difficult it is to argue point blank with someone with a sheet full of notes and a head full of steam. The chat rooms are not for the light hearted.

So I learned to keep my best reference books at my side: dictionary, thesaurus, world almanac, (which contains the Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and all four verses of the Star Spangled Banner), atlas, and the Communist Manifesto (very useful book for arguing with socialist idiots).

Nearby are my volume of Shakespeare and a few of my other favorite works of literature, plus the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, Mao’s Little Red Book, Das Kapital, Wealth of Nations, and the Road to Serfdom. The Journelites are fond of demanding instant definitions and even spellings of words (although they didn’t recognize the word “repudiate” even though in its misspelled form, it was still easy to comprehend),.

For those on the go, who are using Twitter and other such forms of electronic communications, I recommend getting one of those Kindle devices, and permanently uploading the most important of the reference books for easy access.

We have a few message points of our own now, thanks to the Tea Parties, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and others. Where the Internet was once the province of liberal high school and college students, since computers have become widespread in the workplace, even senior Americans have Facebook pages, if only to keep up with the grandkids.

The Internet is how the Tea Parties became so widespread. The socialists have discovered that we’re actually pretty well-educated. Roland Straten, running for the 8th Congressional District in New Jersey, has a master’s degree in economics and was the econometrics expert (I think I got that right) at Union Camp, a paper company. He’s outlined a whole economic plan which I imagine you can find on his website or in his weekly campaign newsletter.

Now there’s a candidate who knows his stuff. Voters in N.J.’s U.S. 8th District should definitely check Roland out! And he very proudly proclaims that he wrote the literature himself. No journalista helped him with it. Not bad for a first-timer and an engineer!

The postings that you read about in Daily Caller, from the now-extinct Journolist website, are typical of their ill-natured raillery. Nauseating, self-aggrandizing, obsequious, and misleading. Their objectivity, if they ever had any, was lost in the Propaganda Sea. They’re no better than sanctimonious zealots proselytizing for a substitute religion. I believe I was the first writer to accuse them of “cheerleading”, in a post in one of AOL’s political chat rooms.

They were outraged. One respondent had to repeat the charge in increasingly large font: “Cheerleaders? CHEERLEADERS?! CHEERLEADERS?!!!!” I think I struck a nerve. Now that we’ve exposed their Achilles heel, it’s time to go after them full force.

I have a concert tonight, but maybe I’ll take a few minutes beforehand to go to one of the chat rooms and chortle at them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rich Man, Poor Man

The race card ploy seems to have backfired on the NAACP in its salvos against the Tea Parties. Turns out, the Tea Parties have been telling the truth: it’s about the economy, stupid, and the size of the government, not race. It’s all about freedom.

Class envy is an easier card to play. The faces can be any color and the poor can excoriate the wealthy with impunity. The neighbor with the expensive car, the co-worker who just got a raise, the radio commentator whose salary is in the double millions, the relative who takes frequent trips to exotic locations: they’re all fair game.

One afternoon after a tea party rally, I stopped at the Burger King in Morristown. The restaurant is located in a section of town known as “The Hollow.” It’s the poorer side of town, a neighborhood of mixed ethnicities, mainly black and Hispanic.

As I ate, a black young man entered and went to the counter. I didn’t notice him particularly because he was black (nearly everyone in the restaurant was), but because he was pulling a string bass case behind him on wheels. He was one of “my kind” – a musician!

He was also dressed in a tuxedo, which meant he was a professional musician, placing him many castes above my musical station in life. The train station is just down the street. I figured he was headed either for Newark or the City, for some professional orchestra. Or perhaps he was playing at a wedding or some other black tie affair.

He certainly wasn’t dressed for the Broadway pits or a jazz club. There are levels of attire for musicians, and the tuxedo is the ultimate. And he certainly wasn’t dressed for Burger King. Wherever he was headed, there wasn’t going to be any food for the musicians, or it might be a long rehearsal before the performance (which often happens).

His order was to go. He grabbed his food and he and the string bass headed for the other door to go to the station. In between him and the door, however, were some street thugs who’d been loitering in the restaurant for some time. There was no food on their tables; only newspapers and magazines which they’d been scanning.

When the musician headed for the door, one of them jumped up and ran behind him, aping his walk in mocking fashion. His companions laughed and hooted. The musician gave no notice of them but kept on his way until he reached the door and left.

Evidently, the musician hadn’t read the rules that state the poor must remain loyally poor. Any attempt at success betrays the people you’ve left behind. You’ve become one of “them.” I can’t help thinking that had a white musician passed through that Burger King, they wouldn’t have given him a second thought. But a black man in a tuxedo, going off to play white, European music with a European style orchestra or ensemble was beyond their level of tolerance.

Never mind that he was one of the tuxedo-clad performers, not the audience. That never bothers us musicians. We’re doing what we love. Music is a life and a universe all unto itself. The only black and white we care about is the musical notes on the page.

Maybe someday this fellow will compose a piece of music for string bass or cello about “The Hollow.” Who knows.

In any case, what’s going on today isn’t about black and white. It’s about the redistribution of wealth and the Tea Party isn't about to sing along.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pick a Little, Peck a Lot

“I can see Russia from my house.” Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live

Repudiate: v. to refuse to have anything to do with it. Sarah Palin almost got it right; she was only off by two letters – a p and a d instead of an f and a t. For this literary offense, her critics are drubbing her for inventing words and also for the high crime of trying to imitate Shakespeare. Of course not getting the word right, she thought she was just making up a word from the root word, “refute”. But actually the word she was looking for was already in the dictionary. She was twittering remarks about the Ground Zero mosque and asking good Muslims to build their mosque somewhere not quite so sensitive and so repudiate the crimes of the radical Muslims who destroyed New York’s Twin Towers.

Palin takes a lot of guff from all sides, even her own party, but she still comes back, fighting. That’s probably what drives her critics crazy. They knock her down, but the woman just won’t stay down. I just finished reading her book, “Going Rogue.” Anyone who reads it will quickly discover that she’s intelligent, she was a good student, she worked her way through college, transferring from one school to the next not because she couldn’t hack the grades but because she couldn’t hack the tuition.

She’s thoroughly knowledgeable about her state and serves as a terrific spokeswoman for Alaska. She’s your typical mom and not-so-typical politician. “Going Rogue” sets the record straight. When the book came out, pundits like Rush Limbaugh read the book and immediately came to her defense. But when I spoke to women at my local tea party only a few women had read it (it had just come out), and even I took awhile to get around to it.

Rush Limbaugh’s listeners have known the truth but I suspect the rest of the country is largely ignorant of the real Sarah Palin, either through neglect or willfulness. The lie about her having said, “I can see Russia from my house,” was so widely perpetrated that even the faithful, like me were surprised to learn that it was actress Tina Fey who said it, in her impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Sarah’s family moved to Alaska when she was an infant. Her father was something of a disciplinarian. He expected his children to read and study and get good grades, which she did. He wouldn’t allow a television into the house. When the kids wanted to watch tv, they had to go to an unheated room above a detached garage, huddled in sleeping bags, arguing about who was going to get up and change the channel.

Sarah was a jock, not a cheerleader. She entered the Miss Wasilla Beauty contest because it offered a college scholarship – and she won. She loved basketball and soon earned the nickname “Sarahcudda”. Todd was her high school sweetheart. They worked together in the fishing industry to make a living. She was out there on the ocean alongside her husband, catching fish and slicing them open on the dock. Those who are queasy about her hunting activities gain a new understanding about Alaska. No supermarkets, certainly not when she was growing up. It’s a long way up through Canada to Alaska (think “Ice Road Truckers”). Alaska is do-it-yourself country. If you want meat that night, you go out and hunt it. Game is plentiful while the human population is small.

The Palin Family was by no means wealthy. Her father was a teacher in Wasilla (they originally lived in Skagway) and Todd, when not fishing, worked on the North Slope for British Petroleum. Fishing is the major industry in Alaska and the state’s residents were hard hit by the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Sarah has a new video out called, “Mama Grizzlies”. I haven’t seen it but she’s supposed to call upon the women of America to get out of their kitchens and defend their country and their children’s futures from the ravages of Obama’s socialist agenda. However, in the Miss Wasilla contest she said wouldn’t vote for someone just because she was a woman; the candidate had to share her political values. That was precisely why she was sought to run for the Wasilla Town Council.

It was her first taste of politics. At the time, she had no higher aspirations. During college, she’d planned on being a sportscaster, although her minor was political science. She even did some work for a local Alaskan television station and wrote for a local newspaper. She was busy raising her children, being a mom, when a friend who was running for town council convinced her to run for one of the other six seats. The party wanted her because they considered her a “progressive” but Sarah had a different notion of what progressive meant. To them it meant growing the government. Sarah thought it meant growing the town and its businesses.

Sarah campaigned for office towing her two toddlers (Track and Willow) behind her on a sled. Somehow that paints a more indelible and endearing picture of her than any glossy campaign poster ever could. Her biography goes on to talk about her career as mayor of Wasilla, governor of Alaska, and vice presidential candidate.

"Going Rogue" is not Shakespeare, though there’s plenty of drama. She writes about the pettiness of Wasilla’s hometown politics with its jealousies and scandals. She was appointed by Gov. Murkowski to the Alaska Gas and Oil Commission, a three-member board that oversaw oil production in the state. The major oil companies held leases on properties on the North Slope which they weren’t developing. Sarah insisted the leases be renegotiated so that they could be opened up to competition. BP, in particular, was notorious for cutting corners on maintenance.

Her explanation of Troopergate is concise and plausible, and she defends her right as governor to fire the Public Safety Commissioner, who she says was using political tricks to pressure her into including funding for some public unions in her budget. As governor, she retained an office in Anchorage where she would be closer to the people (and to her own home and family in Wasilla). Juneau, Alaska’s official capital, is remote from the main population and inaccessible except by boat or plane. Alaskans are accustomed to traveling long distances of course, and they probably would – if a road led to Juneau. One wonders how much that remote location had to do with the corruption there, much like New York’s capital of Albany, tucked away near the Adirondack Mountains.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, opponents had little trouble finding adversaries willing to dish about Sarah in Wasilla. Alaska has a law that allows citizens to make charges against its public officials with no cost to the citizens, but plenty of cost to the public officials. Led by Rahm Emmanuel, they filed every charge they could find against her, and Sarah was obliged to foot the legal bills, which ran into considerable money, for every single charge. The state picked up some of the bills; the GOP very few. They told her that if McCain had won, they could have helped her. Since he lost, she and her husband were on their own.

She knew it couldn’t continue; Alaska now has a debt per citizen second only to New York. So she resigned as governor. If you read her book, you’ll learn the truth about the clothes, the airplane flights, and all the rest. Not a single charge stuck legally, but she’s still bearing the burden from a public relations perspective. She makes no mention of the famed Bridge to Nowhere, the planned bridge at Ketchikan, the port of entry for the Inside Passage. As I recall, the Alaskans turned it down and probably the cruise lines breathed a sigh of relief (as did certain politicians who no doubt have money invested in the cruise lines, as they did in the Havanna lines back in the Thirties).

You’ll also learn how infamously McCain’s campaign staff – at least, his main campaign staff – treated her. She says the “B Team” which was assigned her was kind. But orders kept coming down from someplace called “Headquarters” muffling Sarah anytime she wanted to say anything or went off point. You really have to wonder what kind of favor McCain (whom she says treated her with the utmost respect and kindness) did her, pulling her off governor duty to run for the thankless office of vice president.

Just what was the GOP machine thinking? We Tea Partiers have been wondering that ourselves this last year or so. They’ve been quite as much trouble as the Democrats. Instead of ending with a solid record (I think she’d have been re-elected as governor very easily), and going on to a seat in the Senate or Congress or, if the Republicans somehow managed to win, some Cabinet post (Energy Secretary would have been a good fit for Sarah) or ambassadorship, she’s been cast adrift.

The Tea Party has offered her a political haven of sorts, but she has to be careful. It’s still a new movement and the pieces are, indeed, jockeying for position, as Rush Limbaugh noted on his show about an article in The Spectator. There are a lot of mystery people running around wearing masquerade Tea Party masks. We don’t really know who they are or what they honestly plan to do (the Morristown Tea Party found that out the hard way right after their first tea party).

For awhile, they had me there to help defend the conservative voice. I could spot phonies and where possible, took them out, metaphorically speaking. But my obligations wouldn’t permit me to attend regularly and the meetings started to get too large for my little voice (well, it’s not little when I yell). I didn’t want to interfere too much with how the party organizers conducted their meetings. Fortunately, they knew me from early on and have pretty much taken the advice I gave them. When I can, I go to their meetings and I always make it a point to attend their rallies (though I’m often late because the rallies are usually the same day as my band’s parades – but the parades are always in that same vicinity).

I read somewhere that Sarah’s now heading up the Anchorage Tea Party. Originally, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska Senator) led them, but judging by their website, which hasn’t been updated since 2009, I’d say Murkowski quickly the dropped the ball. Anchorage seems to be a relatively quick drive from Wasilla, so it would be a good spot for her.

But she’s got to stick to it. We all do, really. In any case, she has a big family that needs her attention. While it’s true that women can do both – hold office and run a family –it’s not necessarily true that a family can hold public office and run together. She can take the time to rebuild her credentials, do some more good for Alaska and the Tea Party, and raise Piper and Baby Trig.

If we don’t do something, there won’t be a White House for her to move into. There may not be a Congress for her to serve in or preside over, as Vice President. There may not be an America for her to lead. Wasilla is as good a place as any (like Morristown) to help save the country. From Wasilla, she may be able to organize a proper National Tea Party (depending on how tethered she is to the GOP). The ones running now are too corrupt; they’ve forgotten all about the people who started them. They trust too much to candidates they don’t know and are too dependent upon party machinery.

Can the voice of the people be heard over the grinding of the political cash machinery, their glossy radio and tv ads, and so forth? Can they dodge the fifth columns attending their Tea Party meetings, racist phonies of all stripes, and the straggling college students on the periphery? Can they convince their family and friends who regard their activities doubtfully? Nobody was listening when I said Scott Brown was a fake, phony fraud (I didn’t have a blog at the time).

I wish I could meet her. She’s in Alaska and I’m in New Jersey, but what the heck. Incidentally, maybe Sarah’s from Alaska, but I was born in New York (Yonkers, actually – one city north), and some 800 9/11 victims were from New Jersey, both in the Towers and on at least one of the planes. It wasn’t called the WORLD Trade Center for nothing.

Now the whole world has its eyes on Lower Manhattan. I’ll tell you something: the contemporary residents of Lower Manhattan don’t want any commercial buildings there. They never did. They never wanted the World Trade Center built there. They protested it, complaining that the Towers would interfere with their television reception. But by 1974, along came cable television and they had to find another excuse to gripe. They’d as soon the entire island south of Chambers Street be declared a residential zone. And it is a nightmare to drive in. It would be okay by me. My company has an office there. I hate going there.

But it’s too late for them to decide they didn’t like the World Trade Center and don’t want anything else built there, either. That they don’t want the buses that will inevitably invade their “paradise”. The restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that will likely sprout up (even though they know perfectly well that, commercially speaking, the Lower West Side is dead). They want nothing that will bring Lower Manhattan’s business district to life. But they will suffer this affront to the memory of the World Trade Center. Not only suffer it, but welcome it. It’s said that Manhattanites’ view of the country is Manhattan, the Hudson River, a blank space, and then the Pacific Ocean. They’d just as soon pretend the rest of the world doesn’t even exist. Or at least the rest of America.

They’ve done everything possible to delay the resurrection of that site and discourage the free enterprise (and the admittedly monstrous traffic it entails) that would follow. But, freedom-haters, they welcome. They’ve placed traffic lights in the middle of blocks for the convenience of pedestrians (which only clogs their narrow streets further). Sarah was too kind in begging them not to build that mosque two blocks north of the WTC.

Technically, there’s nothing the mayor can do. He can’t stop the property owner from building what he chooses (within whatever zoning ordinances they have in Lower Manhattan). The city would probably be sued on grounds of religious discrimination. Still, the city didn’t have to grant its consent; that’s what cities have zoning boards for – to apply good judgment. The only thing we can hope is that some benevolent, patriotic real estate magnate will purchase the building across the street from this mosque and replace it with something so high that the mosque will see nothing but glass and steel.

We can’t stop them, especially if they have the blessings of the LMDC. However, we can still remind them that there’s a whole world between the Hudson and East Rivers and beyond New York Harbor. People as far away as Japan and Germany mourned on 9/11. A Japanese/American worker was greeted the next day by a line of his Japanese co-workers offering their condolences. The German people laid a ring of flowers around the American embassy in Berlin. And these countries were former enemies of the United States.

Meanwhile what do New Yorkers want to do to a building that suffered damage when the landing gear of one of the planes crashed through right to its basement on 9/11? Perhaps rebuild poor little St. Nicholas Church, which stood at the feet of the Twin Towers and was utterly destroyed? No; they’re going to allow the Muslim owners to build a mosque. Are they for real? Are they kidding with this peaceful purpose rubbish? The owners quietly changed the name of the building when someone revealed the history of Cordoba – and the damage the building suffered. Funny how its proponents failed to mention those details. That should tell you the whole story, right there, whether they’ve changed the name now or not.

New Yorkers may live in Lower Manhattan. But a whole lot of other people, from all over the world, died there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let It Go

My maternal grandmother never learned to drive. Being New York City born and bred, she never needed to learn the art of driving. She could always take the ferry, subway, bus, or trolley. Or walk. But then my uncle and his wife and my parents all moved to New Jersey. If Grandma and Grandpa wanted to be where the grandkids were, they’d have to move. And they did.

Now Grandma was stuck in the ‘burbs with no way to get around. The supermarket and post officer were right around the corner, but that was about it. Good luck trying to get Grandpa to take her anywhere, even though he was retired by then. More often than not, my mother would take her where she wanted to go, whether it was shopping or visiting friends back in the city.

Mrs. K. looked perfectly normal at first. When she opened the door, one eye peered nervously out into the hall before she unchained the last latch. That was to be expected. This was New York City, after all.

She sounded perfectly normal at first, too, as she invited us in. Grandma re-introduced Mom and me and my brothers. As she set up for tea, she and Grandma talked. Mrs. K. asked how Grandpa was doing (“What are you still doing with him, E.?” I believe was the exact question, followed by, “And you tell me I’m crazy.”). Then Grandma asked how she was doing.

We children hung back at first, ever mindful of our Momiquette. Wait until you’re asked to sit down, asked if you’d like something to eat or drink, and wait for me to tell you what to say to any question you’re asked.

Mrs. K. was eager to talk to us and she invited us into her kitchen to chat. We got the all-clear from Mom and we went in. She showed me and Big Brother her radio and her notebook. She was on a mission, she told us. Her job was to take down coded messages on the radio.

She read to us from her transcripts. It sounded truly frightening and quite believable. Big Brother’s eyes were wide and he listened attentively. Something bothered me about that notebook of hers, though, with its coded messages. I still don’t know what it was exactly.

I was five, and typical of that age, quite dubious. How did we know she just wasn’t writing things down that she’d made up in her head? Boldly, I asked if the secret spies were on the radio now and if we could hear them?

“Oh they’re always on!” she replied, two seconds ahead of my mother’s frantic efforts to stop me. She produced the radio, an old-fashioned, 1950s style radio (well it wasn’t old-fashioned back then). She invited me to sit beside her as we listened.

Static. She had tuned in between radio stations to a static-filled void. “Well, can you hear them?” she asked. “Those are the Woo-Woos. They’re going to take over the Earth.”

“I don’t hear anything,” I protested. “There’s nothing but static (yes, I knew that word at the age of 5). All I hear is noise.”

“That’s them!”

“That’s noise.”

She jumped up from the table with a cry and started running around the apartment, babbling and shouting about the Woo-Woos. My mother and grandmother gave me a stern scolding. My mother quickly hustled me and my brothers into our winter coats and out the door. My grandmother apologized to Mrs. K. and stayed behind to calm her down.

Back in the car, my brother was howling with laughter. He was nine and knew what mental illness was. I was five and didn’t. I knew what Downes Syndrome was (our neighbors’ adult son had Downes Syndrome – they called it mental retardation back then – he was very sweet and gentle, totally harmless). I felt terrible about upsetting the woman, but I didn’t realize there was something wrong with her. It’s just that she was telling a fib.

She didn’t scold me again, though. Instead, my mother explained how to Mrs. K., the Woo-Woos were real, that her brain had an illness, just the way people can get the chicken pox or measles. It made her see and hear things that weren’t there, somewhat like a delirium when people have a fever.

Whenever I hear people carry on about race, I think of Mrs. K. Groups like the NAACP want to know why we don’t confront such people. Well, it’s because they’re like Mrs. K. and the Woo-Woos. It’s best to just leave people like that to their delusions, unless they actually try to hurt someone. Then, it’s time to dial 911 and let the men in the white coats deal with them.

It’s static. We had one loony tune running around in witch doctor’s garb at one of our tea parties. Everyone kind of gave him a wide berth and sidestepped him. Finally, a friend who was with me, and was a member of the Tea Party’s Intervention Squad, went after him to politely invite him to leave.

A very few may remember that at the very first Morristown Tea Party I warned against this very thing. That it’s very easy to get caught up in past arguments, to lay blame, to be seduced by extremists who tell us we’re in the very danger they predicted (which we pretty much are, in terms of becoming a socialist country), and that now, the only answer is violence. That we’re at war.

I said we had to rectify the situation now, peacefully, politically, before we got to the point of no return and violence would be, by necessity, the only answer. I said we shouldn’t have to apologize for the errors of past generations – and that in doing so, we’d gotten into our present predicament - but that we shouldn’t repeat them, either. Social division is the hallmark of socialist politicians. Both sides were being herded by extremists.

The organizers didn’t like any of that too much. That’s when they pulled me off the stage. They said if they’d known I was going to say that, they’d never have let me speak. I was supposed to be talking about taxes. Not education and history and social problems (which aggravate our tax problems). And certainly not to a few racists who I suspected might be out there, trying to take advantage of our gathering and derail its real purpose of protesting an ever-growing, omnipotent government and restore the values that had made America great, like honesty, integrity, free enterprises, and individuality. I just wanted to make sure they knew they weren’t welcome to the party. In the end, they’re no better than the Liberal socialists we were protesting.

Originally, while we were all still just mulling this tea party thing online, someone had the idea to hold our rally in Newark, which is New Jersey’s largest – and predominantly black – city. Our Queen City (that’s a state’s largest city apart from its capital). My immediate response was: “Are you out of your minds?!”

It would be like committing suicide. How would we like it, indeed, if say, the Black Panthers came and demonstrated on the Morristown Green? It was too dangerous, too inflammatory. It was also too far away. The rally was scheduled for noon on a workday. Who was going to make that 45 minute or so trek from, say Morristown (it’s a big county; some people would be closer to Newark)?

Most of the online tea partiers agreed and we decided to stay in Morristown, where we belonged. Morris County was our home (or in my case, where my employer was located). We also knew that we had a problem with white supremacists as well as Liberals who would try to disrupt our events (did they ever).

I knew they were out there. I’ve known some of them, I’m sorry to say. But it’s like my father said, you have to listen to the enemy to know how to counter him. They make a compelling case for white, European culture (about how it’s being suppressed) – until they come to the part about throwing everyone else out of the country, or worse, killing them.

Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is said to have made precisely those kind of arguments and seduced many people into belief in an Aryan supremacy. The idiots. That was the one book my father told me not to read. National socialism is no better than liberal socialism or communism. They’re all fancy words for the same thing – Big Government.

These are people who judged not just the color of someone’s skin, but the degree of its shade, the precise color of the eye. They measured the distance between the eyes and the size of a person’s skull. They believed wholeheartedly in eugenics.

Hello? Calling the Woo-Woos.

One particularWoo-Woo believed that welfare should be entirely cut off, blacks and Hispanics barred from employment, and all sent back to Africa. He knew the whole white supremacy creed by heart – white America for white Americans, said he. I agreed that welfare was wrong; that it was an unfair burden on taxpayers. However.

“Just send them all back to Africa, just like that?” I cried. “Are you crazy? And don’t hire them, either?”

“No, absolutely not.”

“Just let them starve in the streets?”

“I don’t care.”

Reasoning with this man was impossible. I would have had a better chance talking to the Woo Woos. Whether you like them or not, I told him, the black people are here. They’ve been born here for the last 200 years. This isn’t the 18th century. You can’t just put them on a boat and ‘send them back’ like used baggage. They’re not aborigines in loincloths with painted faces, carrying spears.

I don’t know, I went on. I’ve seen them. I’ve worked with them. Except that their skin is dark, they look just like everyone else. They sure look and act like normal people to me. They’ve got all their arms and legs. Maybe I don’t like their politics, particularly, but I know an awful lot of white people who are voting the same way. As for their music (we were all musicians), I’d much rather listen to Michael Jackson than the Grateful Dead.

In my job, I have to deal with all sorts of people, and I don’t have time for, and can’t afford, a racist attitude. If you stand in front of my studio camera, I’ll take your picture. My concern for your skin color goes only so far as it is affected by the lighting, and that’s it. If you have a company event, I’ll cover it (especially if there’s food involved). If it happens to involve dancing (we’re not supposed to be talking about those kinds of events in this economy but we do have holiday parties), I’ll do the dance with you. Whether those other guys like it or not (and the “other guys” know it, so they never bother me about it).

Still, the racism is out and about, in my neighborhood and still among friends. I just try to bring them gently along. They’d simply dig in their heels if I fought with them. They’re appalled when sometimes my work brings me into dangerous neighborhoods in the City. For that matter, so are the residents. Their eyes pop wide open (what’s a blonde, blue eyed suburban gal – well, now my hair is more or less gray – doing HERE? Is she out of her mind?).

My dad wouldn’t like it if he knew I was writing this. In fact, I have a picture of him and Mom (Mom’s wearing her leopard skin dress and he’s looking very pleased about it) at my desk, and I think he’s scowling at me. When HE was five, he was beaten up by a gang of black teenagers. He never recovered from the trauma, as I’m sure many black people who suffered from abusive discrimination will never quite recover from their experiences. It’s seared into their minds and who can really judge them? One would hope they could learn to forgive, but that’s between them and God.

My philosophy is, leave them alone. As long as they don’t behave like lunatics like Mrs. K, with her Woo-Woos, or the guy in the witch doctor get-up, let them be. That doesn’t mean they have, pardon the expression, carte blanche to go out and hurt and kill each other. However, it’s not likely that they’ll just get over it, that their minds will be changed.

The radicals, on the other hand, are a different story. My father wasn’t a radical. He kept what he felt to himself. Neither was the black lady at the water fountain. She just wanted a drink of water from a working fountain – that her taxes helped pay for. The radicals have more on their minds that skin color. They’re concerned with power, and if racial division will bring them to that power, they’re more than happy to build the bonfire.

That doesn’t mean any of us, black or white or whatever, have to volunteer to be the kindling. Even now, with this recent NAACP business, we’ve got stokers busy fanning the flames, challenging one another to a racist duel. The NAACP finally backed down, but now we’ve got the Tea Party Patriots, I believe, calling them out. That’s one of the reasons I never thought a national Tea Party organization was such a good idea.

We don’t really have an “official membership card” and so it would be impossible to elect such leaders, for one thing. Remaining relatively independent also offers the groups protection from group think (we all have to think the same thing the same way at the same time – i.e., some town in California is in favor of abortion, some group in Kansas is against it), brush fires (like the North Iowa Tea Party billboard), and centralization, the very thing we’re fighting against!

Really, guys. Give it a rest. We’ve got better things to do and better ways to do them. Let it go. Reach out to every American who believes in individual freedom and liberty, who believes in the U.S. Constitution, and the principles of the Founding Fathers. This is a political battle and there are enemies of all stripes. You won’t need to identify them by the color of their skin or their eyes or even their tee shirts. All they need to say is the secret password, a word America’s enemies are unable to utter without choking on their contempt.