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“Allow me to quote that classic philosopher known as The Poster for Death Wish 2: ‘First his wife. Now his daughter. It’s time to even the score!’ Well, in the wake of a terror attack, Step One is to forget about ‘the score’ completely…
“That scoreboard, it turns out, is nothing more than a manifestation of the most primitive, violent, reptilian part of your brain. Seeing someone wrong you and then letting it slide — letting that ‘score’ stay in their favor — is almost physically painful. So, yeah, if SEAL Team Six had exploded bin Laden’s skull on September 13th, 2001, we would absolutely have still gone to war. We’d have still been 3,000 deaths down on the scoreboard. No way we’d let that go.
“So the next time you turn on the news and see that terrorists have blown up 10 children with a car bomb, that’s the first step: Realize that the scoreboard lies. It will tell you that winning the game means dropping bombs that you know full well will splatter ten times as many children as collateral damage. The score — the real score — would then be:
“America’s distance from the military makes the country too willing to go to war, and too callous about the damage warfare inflicts. This distance also means that we spend too much money on the military and we spend it stupidly, thereby shortchanging many of the functions that make the most difference to the welfare of the troops and their success in combat. We buy weapons that have less to do with battlefield realities than with our unending faith that advanced technology will ensure victory, and with the economic interests and political influence of contractors. This leaves us with expensive and delicate high-tech white elephants, while unglamorous but essential tools, from infantry rifles to armored personnel carriers, too often fail our troops.
“We know that technology is our military’s main advantage. Yet the story of the post-9/11 ‘long wars’ is of America’s higher-tech advantages yielding transitory victories that melt away before the older, messier realities of improvised weapons, sectarian resentments, and mounting hostility to occupiers from afar, however well-intentioned. Many of the Pentagon’s most audacious high-tech ventures have been costly and spectacular failures, including (as we will see) the major air-power project of recent years, the F-35. In an America connected to its military, such questions of strategy and implementation would be at least as familiar as, say, the problems with the Common Core education standards.
“Those technological breakthroughs that do make their way to the battlefield may prove to be strategic liabilities in the long run. During the years in which the United States has enjoyed a near-monopoly on weaponized drones, for example, they have killed individuals or small groups at the price of antagonizing whole societies. When the monopoly ends, which is inevitable, the very openness of the United States will make it uniquely vulnerable to the cheap, swarming weapons others will deploy.” — James Fallows, “The Tragedy Of The American Military”
An African-American sportscaster recently dismissed the impact of slavery on contemporary American culture. Senator Hank Sanders of Alabama wrote and posted an open letter to the sportscaster. I’ve taken the liberty of redacting the sportscaster’s name and replacing it with America; I think that makes the senator’s message more personal and pertinent to the majority of our citizens.
I write you out of love. I write you out of profound pain. I write you out of deep concern. I hope you accept this letter in the spirit that I write.
America, I understand that you said, in so many words, that slavery was not so bad and that you were tired of people bringing up slavery. I was shocked by both statements. Then I was mad. Then I was terribly disappointed. Finally, I was just in deep hurt and great pain. Now, I am trying to help you and all those who may think like you.
America, allow me to tell you why slavery was “not so bad,” but very, very bad. First, African people were snatched from their families, their villages, their communities, their tribes, their continent, their freedom. African people were made to walk hundreds of miles in chains. They were often beaten, poorly fed and abused in many ways. Women and girls were routinely raped. The whole continent was ravaged and still suffers to this day. America, this is very, very bad.
Second, African people were placed in “slave dungeons” for weeks and sometimes months until the slave ships came. They were often underfed, terribly beaten, raped and stuffed together so tightly they could hardly move. African people were packed in the holds of ships with little space to even move. They performed bodily functions where they lay and then lived in it. They were oftentimes beaten, raped and abused mentally, physically and emotionally. Many died from disease and broken spirits. Some were so terribly impacted that they jumped overboard and drowned when brought to the deck of the ships. Millions died during the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. America, this is very, very bad.
Third, African people were broken like wild animals. They were stripped of every element of their identity. Their names were taken. Their languages were taken. Their religions were taken. Their histories were taken. They were forbidden to have family. They had no rights to own anything. They were considered property. Their personalities were permanently altered. Their freedom was taken. They became chattel sold from “slave blocks.” This crushing of identity impacts us to this day. I call it the psychology of the oppressed. America, this is very, very bad.
Fourth, African Americans were worked from “kin to can’t;” that is from “can see” in the morning to “can’t see” at night. There was no pay for their long, hard labor. Many were poorly fed. Most felt the lash of the whip. All felt the lash of the tongue. Many were repeatedly raped. Their children and other loved ones were sold at will. Some mothers killed their baby girls so they would not have to endure the ravages of slavery. America, this is very, very bad.
Fifth, African Americans had no right to defend themselves no matter what was done and how wrong it was. By law, they could not even testify against their abusers. As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Toney said in the 1857 Dred Scott case, “A Black man has no rights a White man is bound to respect.” This became the law of the land and its legacy bedevils us to this day. America, this is very, very bad.
Sixth, African Americans were perceived and treated as sub human. The only way enslavers could square this terrible treatment with their Christian beliefs was see us as less than human. Therefore, they could proudly place such beautiful words in the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution with impunity: i.e. – “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To them, African Americans were not human so these beautiful words did not apply. Even the U.S. Constitution designated us as 3/5 of a person. That’s why White terrorists, in and out of uniforms, can kill us without punishment. The legacy of being less human lingers with us today. Black lives are worth much less than White lives. America, this is very, very bad.
Seventh, it required great violence to implement and maintain the worse form of human slavery known to humankind. It required unbridled violence by enslavers, slave catchers, local, state, federal governments and the entire society. Maintaining the institution of slavery created a very violent society that infests us to this day. That’s why the United States has far more violence than any country in the world. America, this is very, very bad.
Eighth, even after slavery formerly ended, we still had Jim Crow. These same imbedded attitudes generated state-sanctioned terrorism for nearly another 100 years. The Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups hanged, mutilated, maimed and murdered without any punishment. It was state sanctioned terrorism because the “state” did not do anything to prevent it. That’s why even during the Civil Rights Movement murders took many years before even a modicum of justice was forged. Just look at the deaths of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, the three little girls murdered by the bombing of a Birmingham Church and so many others. That is why today Trayvon Martin could not walk the streets of his neighborhood and Jordan Davis could not play loud music in his car and Eric Garner was choked to death and Michael Brown was gunned down. America this is very, very bad.
America, if you knew your history, you would not say slavery is not so bad and you are tired of people bringing up slavery. The legacy of slavery is everywhere. However, you are not totally to blame because you were deliberately denied the opportunity to learn your history. That is one more legacy of slavery. I hope you will seek the full history for yourself so that you will not ever say such things again.
In deep concern,
“A majority of nearly every group — non-whites, women, young adults, the elderly, Midwesterners, suburbanites, Catholics, moderates, the wealthy — said that torture of suspected terrorists can be often or sometimes justified.
“A majority of only one other group beyond liberals and Democrats disagreed: people with no religion.” — Emily Badger, Washington Post article “From moderate Democrats to white Evangelicals, nearly every demographic group believes torture can be justified”
“Friends, I want to submit that our society suffers from a collective Borderline Personality Disorder writ large on a massive, macro, scale. We’re overly-rigid, hyper-vigilant, unduly wary, and reticent to see and embrace the messy merits of others. We all too readily dehumanize vast groups of people and consider them dogs or monsters. Arguing this case doesn’t involve a PhD thesis. One need only to watch the news – and look in a mirror.
“Until we can see God in everyone, until we can see the face of God in “the other,” until we can flip the script and see God in those who we tend to write-off and not expect to see Godliness in — we have work to do.” — Rev. Roger Wolsey, The Holy Kiss
Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts has described the black man killed Monday by soldiers in Boston as “a common thug” and “a fugitive from the law” who brought about his death by attacking lawful authorities, refusing to disperse, and resisting arrest.
Attorney John Adams, representing the soldiers and officers who have been accused of manslaughter, said the slain man had precipitated the conflict by his “mad behavior” at the head of a crowd of “motley rabble.”
William O’Reilly, a well known town crier, observed that the soldiers were assaulted by “saucy boys, negros and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs” and thus forced to defend themselves.
Sean Hannity, another well known town crier who works the same side of the street as Mr. O’Reilly but at a different hour, claimed the dead man had “undertaken to be the hero of the night” and had paid the price for his arrogance while Ann Coulter, a notorious scold, said the soldiers were the true victims in this case as they were accosted in performance of their legal duties. Spinster Coulter also noted that the man was a fugitive with a price on his head having fled his lawful owner.
(William Cosby, the noted educator, was also scheduled to speak at the press conference on the matter of how the victim’s fashion choices had led to the behavior that resulted in his death, but the appearance of a large crowd of angry women carrying pruning shears prompted Mr. Cosby to hastily leave the stage.)
Governor Hutchinson promised Bostonian citizens that the government and military would maintain order in the face of such lawlessness as exhibited Monday, and prevent any further rioting or looting. He also decried members of the so-called “patriot” movement for attempting to capitalize on Crispus Attucks’ death, saying by definition anyone who refuses to pay his royal taxes unless he is allowed representation in Parliament is no patriot but merely a rebel.
“[Adolf] Eichmann and his friends firmly believed that, suitably cleansed of its tainted leaders (Himmler in particular was singled out as being beyond redemption), Nazism could be revitalized as a political force. ‘You can lose the world war, but you can be a winner if you are able to write books,’ said [Bettina] Stangneth. ‘And this was the plan. To make the propaganda for the next hundred years.’” — Saul Austerlitz, “No Banality in This Evil”
“When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before…So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.” — Chris Rock (interviewed by Frank Rich for Vulture)
“The white people in Gone with the Wind aren’t necessarily good people, but their badness as it is understood in the film has nothing to do with the lives of black people. Their dramas float over the suffering of the slaves and then over the suffering of the free black people indifferently.
“This is the underlying reality of the racism in Gone with the Wind: its abstractness. The War is an external force outside of the personal dramas of the players. Slavery, hatred, prejudice — all may well exist but not in any personal way. The crimes of Gone with the Wind all spring from that original sin: the failure to recognize that there’s a problem at all.” — Stephen Marche, The Racism Of Gone With The Wind Is Still With Us