Category: the great divide


February 19, 2011

Hang On, Sloopy was a hit when I was in 7th grade. I was just becoming aware of the Vietnam War, but it wasn’t much on my mind; I had problems closer to home. Other songs I remember most from that year are Satisfaction, which played in heavy rotation in the little cafeteria where we waited to be picked up after the school bus dropped us off, and I Think We’re Alone Now, which suited my teenage desire for privacy and rejection of my parents and authority in general.

It’s interesting that, in the comments on this video at YouTube, some see it as promoting war or honoring vet, or condemn ruining a good song with unrelated pictures from a war — everyone seeing it in a different light, depending on their own world view and experience.

Fortunately, ignorant comments get offset by those from people who might have a better grasp on what they are talking about (and the world beyond themselves in general).

Grunt6869 says “I had ”[H]ang on Sloopy” written on my steel pot=helmet During my tour in Vietnam 68-69…” and fffreddie remembers that “[t]his song came out just the start of the Vietnam conflict. Our service men would play music to help forget the horror they were in. It still helps. Now some of the negative comments are from morons.”

I concur with fffreddie. If music was unrelated to current events, we would not have film soundtrack albums, or “hear” songs in our heads when we see old images, mementos or people. The video in my head for Hang On, Sloopy doesn’t have these images of a foreign war — it has school lunchrooms and buses, a pink bedroom and an AM radio — but this video might be a better reflection of the historical record.

“This is America …” – a memorable observation, but it’s by Allen Ginsberg, as recounted by Mark Shields

January 18, 2011

Ah, the internet, so democratizing, yet so capable of the almost-instantaneous propagation of a non-fact, even with well meaning intentions.

Take this nugget going around Facebook yesterday and today like wildfire:

“This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African American President.” ~Mark Shields, PBS

Except this is not a quote by Mark Shields, at least not exactly. He did say those words, but they were proceeded by a few others that are getting left out of the meme.

There was one observation that was made this week I just have to pass on to you by a friend of mine, Allen Ginsberg, who is an historian up in Maine. And he said, this week, we saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic woman, member of Congress, who was his friend and was Jewish. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student, who saved her, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon.

I found this out by going to the PBS web site and finding the transcript of the program where the words were uttered. Something all of us need to do more often, before making that too-easy click on “Share This.” (And, as I so often have to tell my email correspondents, just because an email forwarded from a trusted friend says that the content was checked at, it would behoove you to make sure before hitting ‘Forward’ yourself.)

A couple of months ago, a local school got tarred by an inaccurate or exaggerated accusation of GLBT discrimination because we (myself included) all jumped on the bandwagon of decrying the discrimination before we found out whether it was indeed true. It was a national scandal — those bigots in Oklahoma were at it again! It was on Daily Kos and countless other lefty blogs, sent out by Alternet, etc. etc. The Advocate deserves a lot of the blame for that, since it did some very poor (or you might say negligible) reporting on the matter, and silly readers thought they could trust a GLBT news magazine. I hope we all learned otherwise.

You know Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify” and that’s good advice. But we live in the fast food and quick copy age now, so let’s shorten that to “verify.”

In either version the quote recounted by Shields is wonderful, and I’m glad it’s getting shared widely, because this example of diversity, achievement and common cause is America. But I would prefer it get spread accurately. It’s too late, I fear, for this one to get corrected, but, while we are all committing ourselves, quite rightly, to more civil language, let’s also try to be more accurate.

Question for the Oklahoman re ‘What About Islam?’

December 29, 2010

This is an ad that was on page 5A of today’s paper. I wonder how much The Oklahoman charged and profited to print this piece of garbage. Yeah, I wonder that, but that’s not my question to them.

My real question is, if some similar nutcase bigot who happened to have an ad to run that was equally anti-Christian or anti-Semitic, would OPUBCO print it like they did this? Would they print it for the same price they got for this one (a full page ad is far from cheap, but maybe this “religious” group got the non-profit rate, and likely they did not pay any tax fee for the privilege of stoking hatred that will lead this state to spend a lot of money in a fruitless effort to stem the tide of diversity in this country)? Or would they add an editorial comment to the bottom like they do on letters to the editor with which they disagree? Okay, that’s three questions, and I’m barely revved up.

Note: I cobbled this image together from screen shots, so any visual irregularities are most likely mine. Click to get a larger image (you may then need to click yet again to get the full size version — it’s large and may take a while to download into your browser page.).

How I’ll get Sarah Palin and my pro-life brother to give a big donation for abortion rights

December 23, 2010

Just found out my rabidly conservative brother is sending me a signed copy of Sarah Palin’s book for Christmas. He’s also sending a copy to my other brother’s wife, who is conservative, but not very political and sweet in real life; I guess he’s doing his part to help with the lagging sales.

In the past, he’s sent me a book by Bill O’Reilly, which I tossed out with the wrapping paper and boxes. I didn’t want to even give the book to Goodwill at the risk of poisoning a potential reader with Billo’s lies and bullshit.

But I have a better plan for this year’s book gift from my Fox-News-victim sibling: The Google tells me that signed copies are going for over $100. But wait … being as I’m a godless pinko commie who will stop at nothing to destroy America, I also see that a copy of SP’s book signed by Tina Fey went at auction for over $2500. So, yep, now my quest is to get Tina to co-sign my book and then auction it and give the money to an abortion rights group here in Oklahoma.

Thanks and Merry Christmas, bro! Keep ‘em coming. Also.

Dangerous memories

December 14, 2010

I came across an interesting “diary” blog post at Booman Tribune, one of the sites I read daily, about a memory Rosa Parks recalled of an experience she had at about age 6. It’s on page 2 of her autobiography (Rosa Parks: My Story), so you can deduce the import it had for her.

“One of my earliest memories of childhood is hearing my family talk about the remarkable time that a white man treated me like a regular little girl, not a little black girl. It was right after World War I, around 1919. I was five or six years old. Moses Hudson, the owner of the plantation next to our land in Pine Level, Alabama, came out from the city of Montgomery to visit and stopped by the house. Moses Hudson had his son-in-law with him, a soldier from the North They stopped in to visit my family. We southerners called all northerners Yankees in those days. The Yankee soldier patted me on the head and said I was such a cute little girl. Later that evening my family talked about how the Yankee soldier had treated me like I was just another little girl, not a little black girl. In those days in the South white people didn’t treat little black children the same as little white children. And old Mose Hudson was very uncomfortable about the way the Yankee soldier treated me. Grandfather said he saw old Mose Hudson’s face turn red as a coal of fire. Grandfather laughed and laughed.”

Just in case it’s not clear to the reader what this story has to do with Mrs. Parks’ arrest in December 1955, she explains: “There had been a few times in my life when I had been treated by white people like a regular person, so I knew what that felt like. It was time that other white people started treating me that way.”

I have not yet read this book, so this particular reflection by Ms. Parks is new to me. But I completely understand how something that happens to you at 6 can be one of the most critical moments in your life (go read the diary to understand the point of my title here, “dangerous memories”). Here’s my comment to the post which hopefully explains how I can say I know that for sure:

This story is particularly interesting to me. When I was in the first grade, in 1959 southern Georgia, and just starting to learn to read and write, I went to a friend’s house to play and took up a blackboard to show off my new skills. I tried to write a sentence with the word “air” in it, but I didn’t know how to spell it. The only adult in the house was the black maid of my friend’s family. So I asked her how to spell “air.”

I remember distinctly that she was ironing sheets at the time — white sheets, ironically (all sheets were white and flat back in those prehistoric days) — I remember it because we didn’t iron sheets at my house (but then, we didn’t have a maid).

Anyway, I went up to this woman and asked her, “how do you spell ‘air’?” I didn’t think anything of it, I had asked such questions of all the adults in my life and been given unremarkable but satisfactory answers. But this woman paused and looked at me with a look I can’t describe, I think it must have contained both shame and anger, and said, “I don’t know how.”

Although I had never consciously considered the racist culture around me before, in that look and statement, I was stunned into an awareness of it. I knew without a second’s thought that the reason she didn’t know was that she didn’t know as much reading and writing as I knew halfway through the first grade, and I knew the reason for that was because of the color of her skin.

I don’t remember a lot of my childhood, which was not a very good one, but I have always remembered this incident. I’ve been a activist for peace and social justice practically all my adult life, and I see that moment as the start of that process. So I know exactly what Rosa Parks is talking about here. Sometimes it only takes a second for your whole life to be set in motion.

It’s kind of crazy that I clicked over to read this diary at all and found this treasure, because I actually never read the member diaries at Booman Tribune, just the front pagers. Any member can post a diary, and such diaries that are recommended by other site members are listed in the sidebar, and I rarely notice them, much less click the links. But this diary was authored by user “massappeal” and I took a couple of writing classes with the playwright who wrote a play called Mass Appeal that was made into a film starring Jack Lemon (one of my meager claims to fame, LOL). I had kind of schoolgirl crush on him. So I thought, hmmm, could it be …? Probably not (though the Catholic theology thrown casually into the diary suggests a remaining chance), but I got something good out of that click anyway. Life is funny that way.

There are (so far) two other diaries posted by massappeal that also look at some of Rosa Parks’ history from the book.

Just wondering

December 11, 2010

US Budget deficit chartConsider how our federal legislators voted on starting and sustaining our wars, how they voted for Bush’s tax cuts, and how they voted on recovery measures, then tell me, which of them are are deficit hawks?

Sustainability forum in Edmond disrupted by anti UN attenders

December 7, 2010

At least that’s how is sounds in this article:

Protesters cut short Edmond sustainability forum » Local News » The Edmond Sun.

Not only are they against anything with Democratic cooties, but the scourge of being ruled by an “international agenda.”

Clearly these people do not understand that the US is one of the “national”s in “international, just like they don’t get that the government they hate is all of us acting collectively.

They will cheerlead the decimation of the planet, with death to every living thing on it, as long as we all go down with them thinking they are living some kind of mythic individualistic ideal.

Arlo’s Thanksgiving classic, with illustrations by Andrew Colunga

November 25, 2010

This is a fun addition to the annual ritual of listening to Alice’s Restaurant on Thanksgiving Day — illustrations of the story. Now you can watch the story (as you are listless after gorging yourself), and it’s much like hearing a childrens’ fairy tale read to you, since the song is so iconic now. You sort of hear and think of things you might have glossed over during the last dozen or so years, LOL!

Only negative: There’s a rather unceremonious mid-line break between the videos for parts 1 and 2. Part 2 is also embedded below the fold.