DONALD TRUMP RACIST? STILL NOT THE PROBLEM

I wrote this piece eight months ago, well before the events of yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I did update the post and believe my words rang true eight months ago and ring true today.

Countless people are pointing a finger, no not that finger…ok, maybe that finger…. Starting over, countless people are pointing out the racism seemingly enabled by President Donald Trump. Over a thousand documented examples of hate crimes have occurred since his election. Some people seem to believe somehow, this one man is responsible for it all. I also heard a similar argument regarding our previous executive, President Obama. “We are more racist now than ever” resounded through my social media accounts. Remember the old quote, “When you point your finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you?” I’m sure you do.

I believe both arguments are misplaced. I don’t know when the concepts of racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry, or any other -ism or -phobia de jure came into being. They may well have been around since a Neanderthal looked at a Cro-Magnon and said, “Hey man you are different.” Yes, Neanderthals had a language and could have said such although I’m sure we would have needed a translator.

I believe our bigotry, anti-Semitism, etc., etc., etc., were just covered up in the same way that a person might add a layer of fresh kitty litter to a soiled cat box. Everything appears well, might even smell well…until your favorite feline steps in and begins to cover up its leavings. The more it tries to cover, the more the unsavory stuff gets uncovered. When Felix gives up, nobody is happy including the cat.

Our racism, bigotry, etc., etc., etc. simply got uncovered. It had been just under the surface waiting to be exposed to the light of day. No amount of legislation or executive action can actually bury it until those three fingers point in some other direction. We must want to change and some of us have tried. The problem is, when the litter box gets uncovered, even those of us who are not overtly racist, anti-Semitic, etc., etc. etc., suddenly feel the need to defend ourselves with statements like “Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)” or “People just need to let go of (fill in the blank)”

Just because we have a few (fill in the blank) friends doesn’t mean we are not part of the problem, so just quit trying to deflect from the problem and quit pointing fingers at Donald Trump. He is just the enabler.  The Alt-Right was there all along, they have simply embraced President Trump.  The League of the South or people like them have been there all along and they too have embraced him. Fear bred hatred of people not like us, has been there all along, President Trump’s campaign message just allowed it to uncover the litter box.

Our country has been anti-whatever since before we were a country. Until we actually believe, deep in our hearts, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men (women and those unsure) are created equal” it really doesn’t matter who is in the White House. We should worry about the cleanliness of our own litter boxes (hearts) before we point out another needs cleaning.

Blog Picture from ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/US/unite-rally-virginia-sparks-counterprotests-state-emergency/story?id=49176243

More of Don Miller’s misplaced rantings may be accessed at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

HERITAGE, HATE AND THE LIBERTY PLACE OBELISK

I’m not sure where I stand on the removal of monuments celebrating the “Lost Cause” mentality of the War for Southern Independence…well I guess I am sure. People have pontificated about the removal of monuments as being paramount to removing history itself. I doubt it. Jefferson Davis is still going to be the only president, ever, of the former Confederacy, Robert E. Lee, it’s most noted general and P. G. T. Beauregard, the commander of Confederate forces who first fired upon Fort Sumter, regardless of what monuments are removed. Southern history will remain, including Southern history contained within the pesky primary documents written prior to 1866. I view the dismantling of later memorials as removing the CELEBRATION of certain histories not removing the history itself. I view the Liberty Place obelisk, recently dismantled and removed from Iberville Street in New Orleans, as one of those monuments which should be hidden from sight…except for those who WISH to see it in a museum somewhere…and yes it should be treated with the respect it deserves.

We Southerners WILL continue to wage war defending our heritage, but the monument celebrating “The Battle of Liberty Place” had LITTLE to do with our late great, great grands attempting to stem the tide of a Federal invasion in 1861. Rather, the obelisk had everything to do with the memorialization of white supremacist attempting to disenfranchise one group and re-establish a government run by and for whites just before the end of Reconstruction. The original inscription, added by the City of New Orleans in 1932, leaves little confusion as to why the 1874 battle was fought. An all-white militia, made up of members of the Crescent City White League, fought a pitched battle against racially diverse metropolitan police for control of the city of New Orleans. The inscription stated, before being covered later, the battle was fought for the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers” and that “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.” No confusion at all.

With the Compromise of 1877, Reconstruction ended and Federal troops marched out of Southern states leaving the Redeemers to usher in constitutional changes reflecting their beliefs; disenfranchisement, Jim Crow and placing whites back on the top of the pyramidal pecking order. It was not only true in Louisiana but true in most, if not all, Southern states after President Hayes ended Reconstruction as part of a backroom political deal even modern Americans should be familiar with. This is a part of OUR Southern heritage and it too should not be erased…or ignored.

MY DIFFICULTY with monuments which praise of our Confederate forefathers, including the Battle Flag, has much to do with the other side of the coin. If we embrace our heritage, do we not have to recognize the other side of the argument? I read posts from many ardent supporters of Southern heritage espousing the “need for some people to just move on.” Isn’t “moving some people along”, while wrapping ourselves in the Confederate Battle Flag and lamenting the removal of memorials such as the obelisk, a bit hypocritical? Shouldn’t we just come out and say, “Our glorious heritage is MUCH more important than the pain YOUR forefathers experienced?” If we are going to own one side of the coin, do we not own the other?

For more of Don Miller’s writings please visit https://goo.gl/pL9bpP on Amazon.

IN PRAISE OF DIVERSITY

I thought I would avoid this question but I got the dreaded “When are you going to teach white history?” Why are some of “white” America so “butthurt” over Black History Month? I have seen social memes and comments that have included “When is White America going to have a Month?” “Black History Month is Racist!” “Why do we have to have a Black History Month?” In a perfect world, YOU WOULDN’T. Nor would you have Women’s History Month, in March, a Native American Heritage Month, in November, a Hispanic Heritage Month beginning in the middle September or any of the others you can take the time to look up…including Irish-American Heritage Month in March. Unfortunately, we are not, nor have we been, living in a perfect world. To quote a former student, “We celebrate white history in all months which don’t begin with F.” Well, there are those two months teachers are NOT on vacation.

As a retired, high school history teacher I know history books are written from a decidedly European-American point of view…well…at least where I taught and if any of the research I have done is to be believed. Asians are mentioned about four times. Transcontinental Railroad, Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese involvement in World War Two and China goes communist and the Cold War. That makes five. Hispanic contributions, maybe a bit more. Spanish colonization, Mexican-American War, Imperialism, Pancho Villa, and then a jump to NAFTA and the question “Why are they taking our jobs?” Notice, these are all mostly decidedly negative when viewed from a European point of view. Native Americans are prominent but disappear after Wounded Knee unless you happen to bring them back up in the Sixties with the many social movements. Again, until recently, Custer’s Last Stand was viewed negatively by European America. Damn Redskins stepping on our Manifest Destiny and the only good Indian…! I digress.

I rarely taught Black history during Black History Month. I was wrong. I deluded myself into thinking I taught ALL HISTORY ALL YEAR LONG and didn’t need to focus on Black history. Then I began to assess what I had taught. I’m not happy. Kind of like ALL HISTORY CAN’T MATTER UNTIL BLACK HISTORY MATTERS. Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Harriett Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, W.E.B Dubois versus Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King and maybe Malcomb X. There were others but most were only related to only two aspects of African-American lives and American history, slavery and Civil Rights. Decidedly important aspects but besides George Washington Carver and Langston Hughes there little about other contributions.

Black History Month should be viewed as an opportunity to spotlight contributions by African Americans. Musicians, artist, writers, poets, inventors, explorers, scientists, business people, soldiers, etc. As a teen, I picked up one of my father’s books, Foxes of Harrow. It was written by Frank Yerby. I read all his books my father had and along the way picked up a few more. They featured historical fiction and a bit of…latent eroticism. Nothing graphic! As a young adult, I was looking for more of his books and found out he was bi-racial and from Georgia. Who knew and it didn’t matter. Just like celebrating Black History Month shouldn’t matter to those railing against it. It should be a positive educational experience.

Three of my last four years teaching were teaching “cultural” geography. I loved it. One, I had no end of school testing pressure and could go off on any tangent I desired to go off on. I could be creative and allow creativity from my students. It became about cultural diversity. It also reminds me of a paragraph I wrote in a story about a former student. “Today I look at diversity as a smorgasbord of delights. I believe we should just focus on how diversely different people party. How can you be distrustful of people who produce such wonderful food? My life without Latin, Soul, Oriental and Cajun foods would not be life ending but life would not be as joyous, especially without a Belgian, Mexican, Jamaican or German beer or maybe some Tennessee whiskey to go with it and a Cuban cigar for afterward. Someone might as well play some Blues, Reggae or a little Zydeco to help the atmosphere along. It is just as easy to focus on the positives about diversity as it is the negatives and again with knowledge comes understanding.”

I realize I am a social liberal and make no excuses. I believe the rights someone else is given doesn’t take my rights away from me despite what I might think, including the right to celebrate Black History Month…or Cinco De Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day for that matter. In fact, I have joined in. Who knows? This old dog might just learn a new trick or twenty.

Uniquely Southern, uniquely insightful, books by Don Miller can be bought or downloaded at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

CHANGE IS GOOD….

I so want this election and its aftermath to go away. I want to start 2017 refreshed and renewed…less depressed. I want to set goals and resolutions that I can break within the first month of 2017. I keep telling myself “change is good.” Give the guy a chance…maybe he will be the breath of fresh air. Then I realize change is only good if the change is good.

There is nothing I’ve seen or heard…in my narrow frame of reference… to make me believe “America will be great again” and yet I am willing to give the guy a chance. As much as I hate it, HE IS MY PRESIDENT. The problem is, I vizualize us circling the toilet, an orange man with bad hair peering into the bowl until he lowers the lid upon us, closing out what little bit of light is left. Honestly, I don’t blame him I blame “We the People.”

As a coach and teacher, as well as in the normal world, I heard repeatedly “Practice makes perfect.” Well that only works if the practice is perfect. Bad practice creates imperfection. The same can be said about change. Change is only good if it is needed, and if it is for the good. I don’t deny we need change but what I am seeing and hearing tells me “this change can’t be good” and it feels like “just a different kind of” poop. Unless you are growing tomatoes, dog shit and chicken shit are still shit or “shit by any other name is still….”

Our new president appears to be a serial liar and a thief…even more so than the run of the mill politician. My dad always said, “There are two types of people I cannot abide by, liars and thieves.” I agree but what bothers me is “we are allowing him to get away with it.” Critics are met with a Twitter “shit” storm or a belief the “media is out to get me.” Paranoia? Sorry, I believe all of us are biased, including the media, but the truth is still the truth, wherever it might come from. This goes beyond not liking the President-elect’s choices for high level positions, building walls, draining swamps, grabbing people by their privates or even being vindictive, another of the President-elect’s charming character traits. A vindictive thief and liar…and not very charming one. Can you at least kiss me while you “screw” the life out of me or should I just “lie back and enjoy it?”

Please don’t assume I want the election results thrown out. No, he won the electoral college “fair and square” but please admit a nearly three million deficit in the popular vote is not a huge mandate to lead…and no I don’t believe there is wide spread voter fraud…at least not three million votes worth. Admit the Russians played a role in this victory and that it was evident the election was being manipulated as early as October Seventh…as the evidence supports. Unless you are comfortable speaking Russian or writing in Cyrillic, admit we have a problem we must address. Not democrats, not republicans, all of us.

I grew up during the height of the Cold War. Cuban Missile Crisis, Viet Nam, “In case of nuclear attack…”, shoe pounding “We will bury you”, wait…did that not happen? I did not trust the Soviets then and I still don’t trust former Soviet, KGB officers who just happens to be the President of Russia and who appears to be as vindictive as… the orange guy with the bad hair.

I am just saying, for change to be good, we must ask questions and we can’t ignore the answers just because the answers don’t fit what we want to believe. Call me cynical but I quit believing in the “White Hatted” America during Viet Nam and Watergate. Nothing about 2016 has restored my belief “in truth, justice and the American way.” Where is Superman when we need him?

For more of Don Miller visit his author’s page at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

“AND HEADS EXPLODE”

“Social commentary is the act of using rhetorical means to provide commentary on issues in a society. This is often done with the idea of implementing or promoting change by informing the general populace about a given problem and appealing to people’s sense of justice.“ Credit to Dictionary.Net.

I keep waiting for Beyoncé and her half-time show to go away and slope off into the sunset but she can’t because “heads are exploding” everywhere. I hate that description. Social media trolls, left and right, need to find better descriptors…as do I. The fact is the vast fabric of social media won’t allow her fade away.

I don’t dislike Beyoncé…or her hubby Jay Z. I don’t know them well enough to dislike them. I don’t buy their music simply because “it’s not my cup of tea.” It has nothing to do with boycotts. Their music simply justifies my belief that very little good music has been produced since the Eighties. Give me BB King, Taj Mahal or Jimmy Buffett any day but that is nothing more than personal preference and the fact they go well with Jack Daniels and a cigar. I know Beyoncé less than I understood the half-time show. I didn’t understand the show at all because the poor audio combining with my near deaf right ear made it impossible. I also would suggest that I might not have understood it due to my age and race. Visually, that part I got…the forms not the uniforms. The next day, after heads began to explode, I decided to educate myself by cueing up her video so I could run back any portions I might have missed in real time. It was a mistake for sure because of the thoughts that began to percolate in my head. My thinking probably is better characterized as fermenting rather than percolating.

One of the thoughts fermenting in my head was that many artists have used their particular mediums to make social comments since…since…since Homer penned “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Martin Luther’s “Ninety-five Theses”, along with a printing press, helped to bring about the Reformation and was considered radical at the time. Many writings led to our own American Revolution along with one in France. There were a couple of monarch’s that didn’t agree with those “liberal” social commentaries including one whose head didn’t explode but ended up in a basket.

During my own lifetime many famous people have provided commentary on issues to promote change. In the arena of sports, Cassius Clay burned his draft card in protest of the Viet Nam War and racism. That was before he became Muhammad Ali. John Carlos and Tommie Smith, fists raised in the Black Power salute at the Olympics, were branded, along with Ali, as being un-American for speaking out against racial injustice. War protest songs like Buffy St. Marie’s “Universal Soldier” or “For What It’s Worth” sung by Buffalo Springfield were not well received by the “Establishment.”

Songs of the Civil Rights Movement like “The Times They Are a Changin’” by Bob Dylan and Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” supported one “radical” position and made the status quo very uncomfortable. That was the point wasn’t it? MAKE SOMEONE UNCOMFORTABLE! Even the Academy Awards were used when American Indian activist, Sacheen Littlefeather refused Marlon Brando’s Oscar when Brando staged his own boycott in 1973. With many other examples it is my opinion that Beyoncé is simply joining a larger group of social commentators using song or dance to make her point.

During the years of my youth, as the social, civil and political struggles played out on my black and white television set I remember the heads of my father’s generation exploded to…we just didn’t get to see it play out at the push of a finger or click of a mouse nor did everyone have a computer to make their feelings clearly known. Terms or statements like “thugs,” “has been bitch with thunder thighs” and “trash” have replace terms and statements like “uppity Negro” or “don’t know their place” but the intent seems to be similar. For some reason my parents made few, if any, comments and seemed to be more concerned with whether or not I was wearing socks with my Weejuns than activities playing out in Oakland, California.

Questions, so many questions. Was her show appropriate for the Super Bowl? Where else are you going to have a “gazillion” people to promote a cause to? Could she have dressed differently? Sure but it’s really not my place to be a fashion NAZI. Was it anti-cop? Maybe. It certainly was anti-BAD COP! If that is bad I guess I am bad because I stand with everyone who is, against bad cops including, I hope, the majority of cops who are, in fact, GOOD COPS.

Are the Black Panthers or Malcomb X anti-white? I don’t believe promoting your own race or ethnic group is anti-another race or ethnic group. The hardest point to admit for some of us is that there were and are valid reasons for what both the Black Panthers and Malcomb X were promoting, using rhetoric similar to modern secessionist and militia members operating today.

Before you say it, the Black Panthers’ original ten points said nothing about killing whites or the police, they proposed using the Second Amendment to protect their race. It is also not against the Constitution to say you are a socialist or a Marxist. Seems like I’ve seen something written recently about both of those points…and others. Were cops assassinated, yes and I despise that fact along with the Black Panthers who were assassinated by the FBI. Actually I abhor all violence in any form, for any reason.

Lastly, and my cynical petticoats are getting soiled, both Beyoncé and Jay Z are smart business people. You can call for a boycott if you want but something tells me their bank accounts are going to increase rather than decrease. Seems like the members of The Beatles did okay even after my brother and two cousins burned all their records when the group announced that “they were bigger than Jesus.” I see the Dixie Chicks have made a comeback. What did they do?

So ends my social commentary and I hope your head doesn’t explode as you read this.