Monday, January 19, 2009


Juxtapositions: Today is Martin Luther King day. Tomorrow, we inaugurate the nation's first black President, Barack Obama. Yes, to some folks, technically, he's only half-black - but the whole concept of racial identity is a myth. Yesterday, a relative sent me the following (verbatim):

----------begin forwarded email--------------

Red versus blue counties - 2008 Presidential election
Interesting Statistics

Professor Joseph Olson of Hemline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out facts of 2008 Presidential election:

Number of States won by:
Democrats: 19
Republicans: 29

Square miles of land won by:
Democrats: 580,000
Republicans: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by:
Democrats: 127 million
Republicans: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Democrats: 13.2
Republicans: 2.1

Professor Olson adds:

"In aggregate, the map of the territory Republican won by Republicans was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.

Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare.

Professor Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal's and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years

Pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.
------------end forwarded email--------------

This morning I watched a replay of MLK's "I have a dream" speech from 28 August 1963 (the year I graduated from high school). He talked of America "becoming" a great country when it began to live up to its stated ideals: liberty and justice for all, all men are created equal, and so on. Will the United States of America ever live up to those ideals? I certainly don't know.

The divisive propaganda so deeply embedded in the email forwarded to me by my relative seems to bode ill for us ever achieving that goal. Fear has been the watchword of the outgoing GWB administration. Fear of many things characterizes the bigoted America I grew up with and where I now live, deeply embedded in a "red" state (somewhat ironic, that choice of color - given the now obsolete fear of communism that permeated my youth through to my high school graduation). I seem to live on a tiny atoll of blueness amidst a surrounding ocean of red.

Juxtapositions: Rednecks, Commie reds, red states and counties, the red Menace, red dirt, red blood, the red-white-and-blue, white power, black power, bloods and crips, bluebloods

During the past 8 years, it seems that we as a nation have been goaded by fear-mongers into surrendering our civil liberties in the name of security. The only seemingly inviolate right is the 2nd amendment – are gun-bearing societies all that secure? Do we really feel safer as a result of these measures? Was this undermining of freedom and the encouragement of gun proliferation the best way to “save” the USA? From where I sit, these measures are steps toward reducing the difference between the USA and those nations (and movements) around the world that crush any hint of dissent amongst their own people and use violence freely to further their own political ends.

Martin Luther King was inspired by the nonviolent methods of Gandhi, and his dream was to achieve social change the same, nonviolent way. He was gunned down – a fate he shared with Gandhi – and violence continues to be the American way, it seems. Look at our movies – surely a mirror of our national psyche – if you’re wronged, virtually any violent response is justified. Gang violence is spreading dramatically. Terrorism as a threat has increased, not decreased, as a result of the “war on terrorism” started by GWB and his cronies. We live in a perpetual state of yellow/orange threat. But I'm not so sure the threat is external ...

Even now ... as our national economy collapses from moral corruption in our monetary institutions, our national infrastructure crumbles for lack of investment, environmental degradation threatens the future of the world, an energy crisis looms on the horizon, our sons and daughters are dying or coming home - crippled in mind and/or body - in a pointless occupation and insurgency after a war justified for reasons that proved without foundation ... we mostly seem more concerned about ensuring our personal comfort and entertainment than in tackling our national issues. Can our new President change all of that? I don’t know, but it seems vastly more than any one man can do.

Our new President is a symbol of something good in America, but I’m not so confident America really believes in its own ideals enough to do something about those things that threaten our future. I don’t know if “red” America even understands the significance of our national problems – they’ve been lied to and bamboozled by the outgoing administration, to the point where these serious problems have been marginalized in the name of corporate welfare. Welfare for poor people is bad, but welfare for corporations is just fine. It’s critical for propping up the teetering mess we call our national economy. The division between haves and have-nots grows, with inevitable consequences …

It’s hard to be optimistic that America will become “great” by the standard set by MLK before it collapses from the multiple blows it’s setting itself up to experience. We would be better off embracing the contributions from all our citizens, rather than bigotry toward those not like us – blaming them for our problems, just as dictators like Hitler have done since time immemorial. Am I justified in such a dark vision for our future? I don’t know … I hope I’m wrong …