Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Honoring The Star Spangled Banner

The Protest of the Week actions by certain sports players and celebrities who kneel or otherwise rebel against paying traditional respect to our national anthem is beyond “stupid”, as Justice Ginsburg initially labeled it.  It is a disgrace to our flag, our nation and to We The People.

Certainly we are imperfect here in the United States. We are still a work in progress with a long way to go. But trading one injustice for another does not move things in a positive direction, particularly the shining cause of equality and justice for all. If there ever was an Original Sin for this country, it was slavery.  Anyone who knows history knows that slavery didn't start with America. But with our unparalleled promise and prosperity as a people we certainly ended up as the poster child for continued oppression. And prejudice, especially racial and religious bias, is the jewel in the Devil's crown.

There are millions and millions of Americans who are hungry and hurting today. There are millions more who are angry both with and without cause. If you were not here on our planet for the 2016 presidential campaign, take my word for it.  If you were here and awake, you know exactly what I am talking about. Divisive actions, words and gestures only deepen the divide. If there is an example for all of us it is our military, the men and women in uniform who have time and again placed their own bodies in harm's way to protect us. That defense line is made up of all sizes, shapes and, colors – white, black, brown, red, yellow skins and those who are combinations of the former.

Here's a math lesson for all who never knew or who have forgotten:   442.

The 442nd Infantry Regiment of The United States Army served in World War Two. Read about it. 700 killed in action, 9500 Purple Hearts. The 442 was made up of Japanese American who were uprooted from their homes, rounded up, and forced into internment camps. Imagine US citizens being subjected to such outrage! Then the offer came to their young men for US Army service in the European theater.  Beyond outstanding, they became the most highly decorated unit in US military history. (Part of their outfit released the Jews at the notorious Dachau concentration camp.) When these warriors came back home they faced subtle and sometimes outright bias. Still they soldiered on. And so should we.

Disrespecting the National Anthem and our flag plays right into the hands of hatred. It's far worse than stupid.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Donald Trump

Politics and politicians are not normally on my “Must see, Must listen to, Must read” agendas. This year's election campaigning may not be a fair example of why I feel this way for there are many other reasons including near-terminal boredom. Still 2016 is such a staggering mess it has discouraged men and women all across the spectrum, including the most ardent disciples of our political process.

I come from a family of Republicans. As a kid, I can clearly remember my parents' dismay at Wendell Willkie's 1940 loss to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  When I was old enough to register for voting I immediately did so. As I came back home that day, my mother and father, feigning casual interest, asked me how I signed up. I replied “Communist.” If you listen carefully, you may be able to hear the echo of Dear Dad's roar to this day. It was also an early indicator that my career path did not lead to stand-up comedy.           

No hero, I.  But at the same time my military service involved three years of my life dedicated to protecting our national cornerstone -, personal freedom and the privilege of voting. Now we are all witnessing the nadir of political activity in the Clinton-Trump campaigning. For starters, neither candidate attracts me.  As “T”, a close and respected friend, said to me about Hillary; “I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her'. I feel that way too. As for Trump, I believe he is certifiable, ready for a padded cell. His recently released comments on women I took as a direct assault on my mother, my wife, my daughters and the other female friends we hold dear. Unforgivable.

Some argue that principles underlying the philosophies of the Democrat and Republican platforms are bigger than any one man or woman standing as a candidate. Perhaps this is so. My very small collection of admired politicians includes the late (and surely great) Thomas Phillip “Tip” O'Neill who memorably said “all politics is local.”   I'll take that remark and apply it to the importance of candidates on the “under card” here in Florida. We have critical offices to be filled this election cycle.  

On the national scene however, the people of this great country deserve better than the two presidential candidates we have been offered this time round.  That's the biggest history lesson of all from 2016.