Something Light

Karen said, “Write something light.”

At a class reunion Pete Jones shared this.  I take minimal license in the retelling.

Harry was in hospital with a fractured skull.

Pal Ben came to visit.  “Hey buddy!  Cracked the ol’ bean?  What happened?”

“Well Benny,” the patient hesitated, “it’s kinda fuzzy.  I went to church like always.”

Ben nodded.

“The pews was all took up.  So Usher Jim told me go sit up front with Pastor Mike and Deacons,” Harry looked up, “Like when they ain’t enough seats?”

A second nod.

“I was right behind the pulpit,” his head shifted slowly side-to-side, “with that big Bible?”

“The big Bible!”

“After the prayer,” the patient hesitated, “Miss Philips stood up, right in front of me, to lead the hymn.”

Ben saluted, “Colonel Broad Bottom.”

Harry went on.  “She was .  .  .  a arms-length away.  And I seen where her skirt was, you know  .  .  .  tucked in?  She had this little wedgie.”

His friend’s expression shifted from amused to concerned. “Okay?”

The man in the bed looked up.  “Well  .  .  .  it looked .  .  .  you know, uncomfortable!  Pastor Mike and the Deacons seein’ it.  So I just,” his hand raised, “reached  .  .  .”

Ben’s gaze shot to the ceiling.  “No!”

“And pulled ‘er out.  Well Miss Philips looked around,” appearing astonished, “Benny, on the farm, three years in the Army, ain’t nobody ever look at me like that!”

Ben shook his head.

Harry continued.  “By the second verse a that hymn I got to thinkin’.  Maybe it’s supposed to be like that; maybe it’s the style,” his hand raised.

A more emphatic, “No!”

“So I just, you know, tucked ‘er back in?”  The patient looked up.  “Last I seen Benny, is that big ol’ Bible comin’ at my head.”

Out of Fear

I’m puzzled and troubled by President Trump’s calling Congressman Elijah Cumming’s Baltimore district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”  Looking to shoot the President down, I Googled topics like violent crime, poverty and homelessness in Trump’s home town and Baltimore.  All those numbers made my head hurt—Why The Donald doesn’t bother with facts?  It appears, like New York, Chicago and L.A., Baltimore experiences it’s fair share of headaches and heartaches, sometimes more, sometimes less.

So what triggered this latest in Trump’s litany of insult and slander?  Of course, his egregious, un-called-for attack on Baltimore is not about rats or livability.  The Donald’s most recent temper tantrum arose from the taproot of anger, fear!

Perceived threat triggers the “flight or fight” response in our reptilian brain.  We run or attack.  Our back to the wall, we strike with any and all means available. When “civil” protocol precludes physical assault we insult, besmirch, and castigate; we attack our antagonizer’s character, appearance, home-town, whatever. Those most deranged or desperate shoot up synagogues, mosques, and shopping malls.

Without a “racist bone in (his) body,” despite attacks on one uppity black politician and four smart-assed, non-Caucasian Congresswomen—three native-born, one naturalized, told, “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”—Donald’s vitriol can’t be rooted in xenophobia.  With a third, glamorous young wife—requisite Rich-Old-Man’s “Arm Candy”—and numerous alleged and paid-off dalliances not misogyny either.

The truth is Elijah Cummings, Ilhan Omar, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Presley harbinger the exponentially growing fact that non-Caucasians and women are high-jacking Trump’s Good-Old-White-Boy’s Power Structure!

But why Congressman Cummings, why now?  As Chairperson of its Committee on Oversight and Reform, “one of the most influential and powerful panels in the House (Congressman Cummings) is one of only three in the House with the authority to issue subpoenas without a committee vote or consultation with the ranking member.”*  As sentiment for impeachment gains traction, Trump is terrified!

The Donald’s not alone.  Sensing their loss of power, a third of white Americans are desperate.  In The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump a white woman is succinct, “I want my country back!”—So would the folks who greeted Columbus sweetheart.

The Fundamentalist’s/Nationalist’s greatest fear is Change.  But it’s here folks.  Change!  Right here in River City!

World History is the history of change, of those holding power losing it: China, Attila the Hun, Ghengis Kahn, the Holy Roman Empire, the British Empire, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution.  Power never lasts!  Never!

If we think white male America can dodge the bullet look to our history.  In 1870, with the abolition of slavery, the Fifteenth Amendment codified “the right of citizens of the United States to vote .  .  .  (without regard to) race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  Ironically it took fifty years, exactly one century ago, before the Nineteenth Amendment prohibited “denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.”  Today there’s the real possibility a non-Caucasian woman could become President of the United States of America.  Something the Founding Fathers, bless ‘em, never imagined.

The impetus for Donald Trump’s scurrilous, as usual ill-thought-out and curiously-framed attacks on Baltimore, its black Congressman, blacks as a whole, and non-Caucasian Congresswomen in particular is clear.  Driven by fear, ignoring protocols of civil discourse essential to civil pluralistic government, sensing his back to the wall, a frightened Sixth Grade Bully beats up on and insults individuals and millions down in the trenches, slugging it out day-to-day, doing their best to earn an honest living, raise decent kids, make a better life, city and America.

With burgeoning signs the Old-White-Male establishment is loosing its grip, Donald and cohort are scared, very scared.  Clinging to the greased pole of bigotry, desperately they call out to white racists, Neo-Nazis, and anti-Semitics.  But they can’t hold on, not for long, and not-so-deep inside, they know it.

*********************

Googling this I stumbled on Jimmy Fremgen’s, Aug. 1 USA Today Opinion: “Dear President Donald Trump, let me tell you about my ex-boss Elijah Cummings.”  Fremgen experienced the Maryland Congressman as a hard driving, intelligent, honest, ethical, kind man expending every ounce of his strength and strategy to keep his America great.

With rapid-fire firings and resignations, “Acting” bureau and department chiefs—few rational persons want to work for Trump—with reported confusion and chaos in the Oval Office, with bizarre Tweets catching staffers flat-footed, scrambling to cover the Boss’s ass, I wonder who on Donald’s team—beside poor, adoring Kellyann—would describe their President in as laudatory terms?

*Wikipedia

Border Control

Mexico doesn’t appreciate its power over America.  If Mexico’s government ordered its citizens in America to come home and posted troops on the northern border to keep them there, it could guarantee that within weeks, if not days, the United States would be on its knees, pleading for fruit pickers, poultry and meat plant workers, gardeners, ditch diggers, dishwashers, and hotel maids to work at fair wages, with decent working conditions and health care, doing the essential tasks eighty percent of Americans can’t or won’t do.

I know little of world history.  Somewhere I picked up the impression that Rome’s downfall was triggered in part by lazy citizens relying on slave labor.  If I’m mistaken please correct me.  With Mexicans performing a significant part of the labor in our country and companies exporting jobs to sweatshops in China, Mexico and India, are we following in Rome’s footprints?

NRA . . . Again

On viewing the National Rifle Association’s stubborn opposition to reasonable firearms control—which seventy percent of Americans want—as a significant factor behind the now-weekly church and shopping mall massacres, could some frightened, angry citizen grab his AK47, charge into NRA headquarters, and blaze away?

Happily it can’t happen because individuals who would perpetrate such carnage are gun totin’ folks who, even oblivious to the NRA, tacitly support and facilitate its beliefs.

Assault Weapons Control

  1. U.S. Senators and Representatives sign a pledge not to accept money or gifts from the NRA or Assault Weapons and ammunition manufactures.
  2. Establish a government program to buy Assault Weapons for twice their purchase price.  At half fair market value, sell them to recyclers pledged to disassemble, crush, and put the materials to useful purposes.
  3. Ask your husband or wife to sell their Assault Weapons to the government’s program. The next massacre victim could be you or the seven-year-old sitting across the dinner table.
  4. Arms and munitions plant workers, refuse to make parts for or assemble Assault Weapons.

Fascism

Definitions are instructive: “Fascism, a political philosophy, movement or regime, (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race over the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader.”*  From “Fasces  .  .  .  a bundle of rods bound about an ax with projecting blade, carried before ancient Roman magistrates as a symbol of authority; later the symbol of Italian fascism.”**  As bearers of the fasces, i.e. authority, Fascists commit, ethically, legally or otherwise, to impose their beliefs and policies on others.

Next, “smug” the look of a “highly self-satisfied” individual.**  While most smug persons are not clever enough to be Fascists, smug is the hallmark of a Fascist leader.  See photos of Hitler, Mussolini, and the fellow currently preening for red-capped believers.

A century back, on the heels of a brutish four-year War and equally brutish treaty of peace, Germany was on it’s knees.  Within two decades a Fascist stood before delirious hundreds-of-thousands, arms-extended “Sig Heil!”, and pledged to make Germany great again!

Three years back, fed up with government seemingly unable to get anything done, a minority of Americans sent to the White House a man promising, paradoxically, to break the status quo and bring us back together.  Today that man stands before mesmerized minions pledging to “Make America great again!”

Many, like me, ask, “When weren’t we?”  Despite the curse of firearms, making American the most homicidal culture on Earth, folks clamor for legal American citizenship, some swim the river or crawl through the fence while a multitude pleads for asylum.  Ironically, President Trump’s biggest headache is keeping folks out of a country which he views as no longer great.

Our American Democracy sputters along as democracies do, two steps forward, one back.  It can be damn maddening!  “Why don’t those jerks in Washington do the right thing?  Why can’t they do anything?  Be reasonable, do it my way!”

In a pluralistic system the laborious work of expressing opinions and negotiating opinions through civil debate is key to peace and progress.  I may vehemently disagree with “My Friend From Indiana,” but, as is said, I will defend to the death—well at least vigorously—her or his right to articulate politics and policies.

A Fascist dictator makes it simple.  Big Brother knows best.  Do as you’re told.
I hope and trust our Government of the People, by the People, for the People will never be dragged down that dead-end road.

* Webster’s New Word Dictionary of the American Language
** Merriam-Webster on-line Dictionary