Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Somber Anniversary

"Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out." ` Sydney Smith

On this 1 year anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, I thought I would re-post a previous post. Out of all the events since September 11, 2000, nothing has impacted me or made as significant a change in me as Hurricane Katrina.

I'm not the only one. Blogger buddy
ER was also profoundly impacted by the catastrophe. He and I were effected by it differently, and it led us in different directions ideologically, but none can deny the profound impact the event had on our lives. Perhaps you readers can site similar ephiphanies.

The following appeared on my blog on September 8, 2005. This is how it changed me:

Stay with me on this posting. Read it all the way through. It is important to me for you to understand what I am trying to say, so don't read a few lines and then skip to the comments to leave a comment about how I am a Nazi or something.

The hurricane last week has made me rethink some things. As I said in a previous post, it has laid bare my heart.

Also, in a previous post, I mentioned that my son calls me a racist.

I guess I am.

See, I grew up in a different time, another place. There were no black people where I grew up. At least not any that I knew personally. In the neighborhood where I grew up, there was a low income apartment complex a few blocks away. Only black people lived there. I don't remember my parents ever saying anything about them, good or bad.

All I knew about them was what things I noticed about them:

They stayed up all night.
They slept late in the day.
Their yards were messy.

They were scary to me, a child with no knowledge of them. I stayed away from them. I never actually had to interact with a black person until I was in high school, and I was surprised. They were pretty much the same as me, except for their color. And an attitude. I think it was the attitude that made me a racist. They seemed to carry chips on their shoulders. That is, of course, no excuse.

I didn't know at the time that my chip was bigger than theirs.

Anyway, most of my life I have known many African Americans, some good, some bad. Since high school I have had to interact with them more and more as they have assimilated into society. Then, I came to the conclusion that I didn't like them unless I got to know them personally. Once I got to know one, I always liked them. Always. But I had to get to know them first, and I didn't go out of my way to do that.

Still, I was wary of Black people. Distrustful. Even after I learned that there were no big differences between them and me. I learned to get along with them and be nice to them. I learned to interact with them in business, at sporting events, in recreation, and in church. To all observers, I was not prejudiced. I tried hard to treat them with respect, and the way I would want to be treated.

But whenever a crime was committed by a black man or woman, I would think to myself, "Of course, it is a black person". Whenever I found out some black person had a different last name then his daddy, I said, "Of course, he is black." And so on.

I hid my prejudice well.

In spite of my attitude, I began to accept them as equals. I made friends with some of them. Once my black friend Tim and I went to a singles bar. (that was when I drank) He was going to show me how to pick up girls. He had a really good sense of humor and he was slow to anger. That evening someone in the bar called him a nigger to his face. He just smiled and motioned towards me and said, "Yep, and this is my Massa" Later, he told me that whenever some white guy called him a nigger he got himself a white girl just to spite them. Except he didn't say "got himself". I think you know what he really said.

I laughed but secretly I said to myself, "Of course."

I had another black friend when I lived in Lubbock, Texas. His name was Kevin. He took me to Odessa to visit his mom and siblings one time. Man, that woman sure could cook! It was in his mom's living room that he told me that black people were taught from birth that they were supposed to always lie to "whitey".

Stupid me. I believed him. I remember I thought, "Of course...He's black!" He probably laughs about that to this day.

So, over the years I have learned that black people aren't really different than white people. It has been a long difficult lesson to learn. I have lost out on a lot of rewarding experiences because of my prejudice. I have missed out on having a lot of loyal friends, too.

Still, now and then, inside my pointy little head, my racist brain screamed, "Of course. He Is black".

There was one reason that I have continued to be racist over the years. It is those people, white and black, that maintain the division between the races. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Lewis Farrakhan, Teddy Kennedy, Dick Durbin, Robert Byrd, etc. They maintain the division by spreading hatred between the races. They do that by accusing people who aren't in the least racist of being so. It's hard not to be racist with all those influences.

Then came Hurricane Katrina.
Look at this picture. What do you see? Do you see a black woman? So do I. But I see a black woman who is hurting. She hurts. We hurt. I hurt. All God's children hurt.

My heart goes out to this unnamed woman. My heart goes out to all the victims of Hurricane Katarina. It matters not if they are black or white. They are people. People who live, love, hate, laugh, cry, worship, interact, suffer.

People who die.

I don't think I am racist anymore.

Friday, August 25, 2006

How To End The GWOT

"Power never takes a back step - only in the face of more power." ~ Malcolm X

This post will make our Liberal friends, namely Dan, spit nails, but I have been thinking about this for some time. I believe there is a solution to this war on terror thing, but it involves taking some rather drastic steps that we so far have been unwilling to take.

I think Osama bin Laden gave us the answer to this particular problem himself, when he said, "America is a paper tiger."

Years ago I was the manager of a marketing office in a major nationwide corporation that was mired in a slump. Sales were lackluster and it seemed, despite my best efforts, my employees were becoming apathetic. My boss called me in and told me, "You need to fire someone. Who are you going to fire?"

He went on to explain that something drastic had to be done to shake the employees up, and get them out of the doldrums. All the motivational techniques had failed to elicit the proper response, so he decided that what is known in the business as a "public execution" was in order.

A "public execution" in our business meant firing someone in front of everyone else, not behind closed doors, which was, of course, the typical method.

So, I selected an employee (who, incidentally, later became my wife) and, in the morning sales meeting, I fired her.

It had the intended effect. After sitting in stunned silence for a few seconds, the remaining employees were noticeably shaken, but I could tell, impressed. After that fateful meeting, personal performances among my employees improved dramatically.

This is something like what I think should be done to end this seemingly unending struggle against terrorism.

Do the terrorists indeed think that America is a "paper tiger"?

If so, I believe it's time to show them what America can do. We need to show them that not only can we annihilate them, but are willing to do just that in order to stop this scourge.

Here is my solution:

Using all the intelligence information that we have on the possible whereabouts of bin Laden, hit that particular area with a nuclear bomb. Whether we kill bin Laden or not is immaterial. We will have shown the world, particularly the terrorists, that this paper tiger has iron teeth.

Would the terrorists continue to murder innocent men women and children in the name of Allah?

I don't think so. Once they realize that America not only has the power to wipe them out, but the willingness to unleash that power, they will surrender.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mel Gibson

"...every day I'm more confused as the saints turn into sinners
All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay..."
~ From "Show me the Way" (Styx)

I used to drink alcohol. I used to drink a lot. Maybe alcohol affects people differently, but I know when I drank to excess, I would often say things that I later regretted, too, as Mel Gibson claims. The difference is that I never said anything, as far as I know, that wasn't something I didn't think.

For instance, I remember once being in a bar with a friend getting sloppy drunk and telling him I loved him. Well, I really genuinely liked him as a friend, but if I had been sober, I never would have voiced that opinion to him.

It's a guy thing.

My point is, I wonder if maybe Mr. Gibson really is anti-Semitic, as many have suggested.

I remember before his film, "The Passion Of The Christ" was released, many "Hollywood insiders" were suggesting the movie was anti-Semitic. I saw the movie and I saw no hint of anti-semicism therein. But I have been thinking.

The aforementioned insiders know a thing or two about Mel Gibson that the rest of us don't know. They know him personally. They have presumably had many off-the-record conversations with him. Perhaps he has made anti-Semitic statements to them in the past.

If a reviewer reviews a film, (especially a reviewer with personal issues with the filmmaker) and already knows Mr. Gibson has made insensitive statements before, it would not be not unusual for said reviewer to see anti-semitism in the film. My point is: Perhaps Mel Gibson is indeed anti-Semitic.

That said, although it lowers my personal opinion of him a great deal, I will not participate in any sort of boycott against Mel Gibson's movies.

I don't like the politics of many of the celiberals in Hollywood, but I enjoy much of their work. I can separate politics from entertainment.

I don't like Sean Penn's politics, but I like Jeff Spicolli.

I don't like George Clooneys politics, but I like Ulysses Everett McGill.

I don't care for Natalie Maines' political statements, but I enjoy the Dixie Chicks music.

I don't like Rosie O'Donnell's Liberal viewpoints, but I love her comedy.

Barbra Streisand has a beautiful singing voice. Should I refuse to enjoy her singing because I happen to disagree with her politics?

I had tremendous respect for Mel Gibson. I thought he was a cut above the rest. Perhaps I have been wrong about him. Perhaps he is not exactly what many of us had envisioned. But is that not partly our fault? Are we not guilty of trying to elevate mortals to immortality?

So, the bottom line is: Mel Gibson is human.

Who knew?