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December 10th, 2014
Staring Into The Pit…
by Bruce |
I link to Andrew Sullivan reluctantly, Very reluctantly, but I have to give credit where it’s due too. This livestreaming he did on the torture report is very good, the outrage in it genuine and worth sharing. You should feel that outrage too.
“The barbarism was the very opposite from a few bad apples at the bottom of the pile, as they tried to persuade us at Abu Ghraib. The bad apples were at the very top of the chain of command, rotting this country’s reputation and honor from the top down. And those begin with Bush and Cheney and Tenet. They are now wanted men. And they will go abroad again – at their legal peril. And so America becomes a legal sanctuary for war criminals. As long as they are our war criminals.”
Like a lot of Americans, I believe in that liberty and justice for all stuff, and government of the people, by the people and for the people, and I want so much to be proud of the way my country embodies those principles. Civilization stands or falls on them. But it is not always so. Just ask the native Americans, just ask the sons and daughters of the slaves, just ask the peaceful protestors of any decade who felt the club and the boot. Mary Renault, at the end of her novel about the poet Simonides, wrote “In all men evil is sleeping; the good man is he who will not awaken it, in himself or in other men.” That sense we often feel among us, of American exceptionalism, ought rightly to impart a sense of obligation, as something every generation is called to live up to, because we are human after all, and with the potential for great good comes the potential for great evil. But too often powerful evil people manage to turn that sense of ourselves and our purpose into cheap bar stool nationalism, an excuse to congratulate ourselves as we look the other way at the evil done in our name, in the name of our country. They need to be held accountable. Or history will hold us accountable, and laugh at all the times we waved our flag as if it stood for anything more than a place on a map.
December 4th, 2014
What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love And Understanding? Let Me Explain…
by Bruce |
This came across my Twitter stream today…
@teamyasumura: “For Real: When first on TV in 1966, ‘Star Trek’ was not shown in many Southern states because it portrayed integration.”
I remember watching a broadcast of the Emmy awards when I was a kid. I Spy had only been on for one season but one of the production crew, not sure who now, won an award for the work he’d done on the show and on the podium after accepting his little statue said he wanted to thank the producer. “Sheldon Leonard”, he said, “has a lot of guts.”
I had no idea what he was talking about and I was 13 years old so I let it slide. It wasn’t until many years later, when I read about how some local TV station owners in some parts of the country would reliably get up in arms whenever a show wasn’t sufficiently respectful to race bigots, that I saw what he was talking about. Basically in 1965, by casting a black man, Bill Cosby, as one of the two series leads, he was thumbing his nose at a lot of TV station owners, who between them represented a lot of potential audience.
My generation thought we’d lived to see the day our country put all that behind us. We were wrong. Horribly, laughably, wrong. All that peace love and understanding stuff we believed in didn’t amount to crap. The bitter rage of the gutter only deepened, and bided its time.
I think some part of me did eventually see it, about a decade or so ago, when I first read about towns that buried their community swimming pools, rather than allow blacks to use them too. I remember being stunned. You buried…the whole goddamned pool?? We failed to understand the power…and the potent venom…of race hatred. We failed to appreciate how hate alone can sustain the hater for decades, for generations all carefully taught. And now it is all coming back. We achieved nothing. We were irrelevant.
November 19th, 2014
by Bruce |
You should read this by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Declining to seriously reckon with the rape allegations against him is reckless. And I was once reckless.
This entire episode probably grieves him and other black Americans worse than it does me, but I am put into a very dark place by it. I deeply respected this man, not simply as an entertainer but as a moralist.
Coates talks here about an article he wrote for The Atlantic that was published 2008, after following Cosby around the country for a couple years as he lectured the black community on morality. He writes that Cosby, “…was not speaking as a man sent to assure a group that racism did not exist, but as a man who sincerely believed that black people, through the ethic of “twice as good,” could overcome. That is the core of respectability politics. Its appeal is broad in both black and white America, and everywhere Cosby went he was greeted with rapturous applause.”
Perhaps there’s an answer in there, better than the cynical one; that when all is said and done, humans are no damn good. That’s almost where I wanted to go when it finally hit me that he really did these things.
Bad enough that white racists are going to be pointing at this as though it were proof of every filthy lie about black people they can imagine. Worse that everyone might take it as further proof that humans in general are no damn good. When someone you once idealized as an example of the better things within us turns out to be…this…it leaves you a little emptier inside, a little less reluctant to give up on the human race. But misanthropy is just another way of giving up, of taking the easy way out when you discover life is harder than you thought.
I was this same kid Coates talks about himself being. I have not been raped, but I have had the same experience with bullies he did. Maybe this is what gives the outcast boy a greater sense of sympathy with the fear women have to constantly live with…
Rape constitutes the loss of your body, which is all you are, to someone else. I have never been raped. But I have, several times as a child, been punched, punched/stomped/kicked/bumrushed while walking home from school, and thus lost my body. The worst part for me was not the experience, but the humiliation of being unable to protect my body, which is all I am, from predators. Even now as I sketch this out for you publicly, I am humiliated all again.
I know that feeling well. And this is why the accusations ring true to some of us, even in the absence of proof…
And this happened when I was a child. If recounting a physical assault causes me humiliation, how might recounting a sexual assault feel? And what would cause me to willingly stand up and relive that humiliation before a national audience? And why would I fake my way through such a thing? Cosby’s accusers—who have no hope of criminal charges, nor civil damages—are courting the scrutiny of Cosby-lovers and rape-deniers. To what end?
And this is why it is so excruciatingly hard for some of us to accept…
It is hard to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist because the belief doesn’t just indict Cosby, it indicts us. It damns us for drawing intimate conclusions about people based on pudding-pop commercials and popular TV shows. It destroys our ability to lean on icons for our morality. And it forces us back into a world where seemingly good men do unspeakably evil things, and this is just the chaos of human history.
I didn’t pay that much attention to Cosby’s moral sermons at the black community, because it felt like listening in on a family argument that really wasn’t any of my business. White Americans have their own house to clean up and that other Americans have their issues is neither reason nor excuse for ours. When Cosby’s moralizing to his black neighbors did cross my mind I felt torn. “Twice as good” isn’t fair, isn’t right, is proof if it’s anything of the pernicious failure of white middle America to look at the stranger’s face and see ourselves. But I believed in the principle right enough, if not “twice as good”, then good at the very least: that to change your world you must become the change you wish to see. Set an example. You can preach at people until you are blue in the face and it just goes in one ear and out the other.
And there’s the problem. Cosby went on a moral crusade. I stayed out of it, because I am white, and we have our own house to get in order. But how many times have gay people seen this behavior? And I despair whenever I hear gay people conclude because of it, that morality is nothing more than the bigot’s scold, a weapon the powerful use to keep the rest of us down. Morality is our friend. Right and wrong really do exist as objective concepts. Otherwise, why care about what Cosby did. A lot of people, a lot of the same sort of people, drape themselves in moral robes like they drape themselves in the flag. Patriotism isn’t the last refuge of a scoundrel, religion and morality are. Remember this: often, very often, people will go on moral crusades so they don’t have to look at the wreck they’ve made of their own inner lives. The true moralist preaches by example.
October 14th, 2014
by Bruce |
This was making the rounds this morning…
This is the gutter’s response to the head of the the National Institutes of Health’s comments the other day that a decade or more of republican assaults on science and research has had consequences. Oh no, says Erickson…we were simply reigning in all that wasteful spending on frivolous things like why lesbians are overweight.
Of course, obesity is a health concern, and it’s a fact that Americans are generally heavier now than in decades past, so that makes it a public health concern. And if we can get a handle on the causes of obesity we can improve the health of Americans and Americans can live longer and healthier lives and hopefully it reduces public spending on health care. But Erickson’s kind don’t think that way. To really understand how they think, you have to get past the gratuitous insult to lesbians in what he’s saying. Because beneath that what he seems to be saying is he really thinks it’s tragic the money didn’t go to an Ebola vaccine.
And if that doesn’t make you laugh out loud you haven’t been paying attention to Erickson and his kind, because without a doubt if that money Had gone to Ebola research he’d have been loudly bellyaching about all that money being spent on Africans and the republicans in congress would have gleefully cut the funding for it…ostensibly on the grounds that the money should be spend on the health of Americans instead. But of course…Africans!
Because disease doesn’t matter unless it’s killing people who matter, and black Africans don’t matter any more than homosexuals matter. And when disease Does start killing people who matter, then it’s Why Aren’t You Doing Something!!!
October 13th, 2014
by Bruce |
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.
“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,’” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
August 13th, 2014
The Gutter Speaks…
by Bruce |
“He had it all, but he had nothing. He made everybody else laugh but was miserable inside. I mean, it fits a certain picture, or a certain image that the left has. Talk about low expectations and general happiness and so forth…” - Rush Limbaugh on the death of Robin Williams.
I would rather suffer the burden Robin Williams had and let it beat me down like it did him, than endure that empty void Limbaugh has where a conscience ought to be and let it put a smile on my face while it tells me I’m so much better than all those bleeding hearts.
June 6th, 2014
The Degeneration Of The Republican Party
by Bruce |
In 2004 they swift boated a presidential candidate. In 2014 they’re swift boating a POW.
May 21st, 2014
A Wee Question…
by Bruce |
I’ve said this before, much to the distress of some liberal/progressive friends, but here it is again: I have no problem with private gun ownership, I see it as an eminently democratic right, IMO the second amendment does confer a right to individual Americans to own guns, and yes as a matter of fact I own a few myself. And I take responsibility for owning them seriously as I do my automobile. I obey the laws. I concern myself with safety. And I have nothing but contempt for people who use them recklessly, even if they’re not actually breaking the law. That goes for guns, automobiles…anything people use that can do harm to other people.
I’m an American liberal. I believe that public spaces convey public obligations. From respect for the environment to seemingly mundane day-to-day things like traffic safety, the common public spaces we share together are a mutual responsibility…and at minimum that means they are safe to use. Or to put it another way, the common ground that is too dangerous to occupy is more properly called a Battlefield. The last time the shared common spaces of Americans became battlefields we called it a Civil War and it killed more Americans than all our other wars put together.
As a liberal I go even further and insist that even the private workplaces must be at minimum safe to occupy too, since we all need to work to earn a living. I grant that some occupations are very dangerous but also very necessary for the good of all. That said, working in a fast food restaurant, let alone eating in one, does not strike me as one of those occupations.
So I hear Chipotle wants customers to not bring their guns inside their restaurants. So while I’m shrugging my shoulders and and thinking to myself, so much so reasonable, and moving on apparently other people are bursting veins and threatening boycotts.
What the hell is wrong with you? Just…what the hell is wrong with you? No…Seriously. What the hell is wrong with you?
If Chipotle said they wanted gays to stay out of their restaurants because Jesus! you’d be dog piling on it like you did Chick-fil-A. You’re bellyaching that same-sex marriage is going to destroy civilization….
…Does This Fucking Look Like Civilization To You!
They say guns don’t kill people, people do. And that’s true. It’s always the person. The idol is always false. We give meaning to our material objects, they don’t give meaning to us. A weapon, any weapon, finely, skillfully, beautifully made, by a master craftsman, is a noble thing. Until the moment a runt gets their hands on it. Because runts don’t build civilizations, they tear them down so they don’t have to know what runts they are. But let it be said that, unlike those two, not all runts look like they’ve spent their entire lives in mom’s basement. These guys for instance, bear a heavy responsibility for the decay of American society…
All these voices on the right bellyaching about Morals and Traditional Values, and Social Decay and really they don’t give a good goddamn about any of it. None of it at all. They get up on their stages in their suits and ties and slicked down hair and they wave the flag and talk about law and order and it’s all bullshit. Behold the new minutemen at the battle of Chipotle! I have a question…
Thank you NRA for turning a pastime that brought pleasure and even taught a few values to thousands of Americans into an idol for anti-government troglodytes. Thank you for turning the basic democratic right to own your own gun into a totem for ignorance and hate…the very things that kill democracy. You don’t love this country. You don’t even love guns. What you love is power. You loath the peace and prosperity and brighter future Americans have always sought, if it means everyone can have a share of it too. You’d rather it all came crashing down into anarchy and chaos if it means everyone can dream the American dream too, not just powerful white men.
April 13th, 2014
Merely Because I Put A Knife Into Your Heart Is No Reason To Call Me Hateful…
by Bruce |
It seems the militant homosexual conspiracy has caused some feelings to be hurt…
Correspondence from a reader with traditional Christian beliefs
One of the sophistries you encounter early on when you walk (or are shoved) into the fight for gay equality, is that treating bigots like bigots just makes you a bigot too. And sure as the rising sun they were canting it loudly after Brendan Eich resigned as CEO of Mozilla. Conar Friedersdorf, took to the pages of The Atlantic to wag his finger at all the militant homosexuals that wouldn’t gracefully forget the multi-million dollar child molester smear campaign Brendan helped to finance, and just let bygones be bygones. And low and behold, he gets fan mail from someone with sincerely held beliefs…
It’s so rare for me to see gay marriage supporters saying the things you have said, and I desperately wish more gay marriage supporters would say those things. You understand that being opposed to gay marriage does not necessarily stem from hate. Very few people seem to understand that, and I am so sick and tired of my beliefs always being misunderstood. It seems like gay marriage supporters never actually take the time to understand traditional marriage supporters. We’re all automatically labeled as “homophobes,” and that’s an excuse they use to stop listening to anything we have to say.
If only they listened, they would understand that we’re not the evil, hateful bigots they think we are…
Sick and tired are you lady? This graphic came across my Facebook stream just now…here, let me show you sick and tired…
I was fifteen when the Stonewall riots happened. This man would have been maybe 5. You’d think the world he grew up in would have been better to him than mine but it wasn’t all that much. And for those gay kids growing up in strongly fundamentalist homes still have this same life ahead of them.
But then, homosexuals don’t love they just have sex…so Friedersdorf’s starry-eyed fan doesn’t have to feel badly that the knife in that man’s heart has her name on it too. God made sex just for men and women to have in the context of a godly marriage and if homosexuals have their own special burden to bear…well don’t we all?
Everyone sins. Everyone has an innate desire to sin, unfortunately. Some people’s innate desire is for homosexuality. I understand when gay people say that they can’t help having those feelings. I understand that hearing “you can change if you pray and try hard over time” is extremely difficult. Maybe we Christians haven’t talked enough about how we believe that everyone is a work in progress, including ourselves.
This is arrogance disguising itself as humility. The wolf in sheep’s clothing telling itself that it really is one of them and just happens to have a taste for lamb chops every now and then. Lady, if you really thought you were no better than the rest of us you wouldn’t be treating your neighbors lives like they’re your stepping stones to heaven. Your Gay Neighbor Is Not Your Work In Progress!
So many desperately lonely people in this world. But if gay people aren’t lonely, love lorn and despairing then the righteous aren’t being righteous enough. Jack McIntyre, one of the first clients of the first ever ex-gay ministry, Love In Action, wrote the following just before he killed himself…
I am not asking you to sanction my actions. That is not the purpose of my writing this at all. It is for the express purpose of allowing each one who will read this to know how I weighed things in my own mind. I don’t want you to think that, ‘I alone,’ should have been the perfect person, without sin. That would be ridiculous! It is the continuing lack of strength and/or obedience and/or will power to cast aside certain sins. To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.
Sick and tired are you lady? Look at that…a gay man kills himself rather than make another promise god he knows he can’t keep and you are sick and tired of being called a bigot are you? You wish gay people would just listen to you do you? We listen all right. Jack McIntyre listened. The roll call of the dead is full of gay adult and teenagers that have listen to the likes of you. Perhaps it’s time you shut up and listened to us. We are not your work in progress. We are not your stepping stones to heaven. Listen to us if your conceits can stand to hear another voice besides your own. Your kind have been killing us for centuries. When you haven’t killed us outright than through that living death prison of the heart you demand we make of our lives so you can go to heaven. Stop. Just stop. The only thing being compromised by letting us live our lives is your hubris. Stop mistaking it for righteousness, it is turning innocent people’s lives inside out, it is killing people and it is dragging you deeper and deeper into the gutter.
Your work in progress needs a lot more work. Cutting your neighbor’s ring finger off isn’t getting you any closer to being a better person.
March 25th, 2014
by Bruce |
Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad. -Joseph Addison
I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. -Mark Twain
I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life. -Tony Kushner, “Angels in America”
In his book African Genesis Robert Ardrey wrote one of the more eloquent analogies for the grandeur of time and the curtain death places between us and the past, so often overlooked when pondering the origins of life. He asks the reader to place themselves on a lonely narrow California beach where foggy mountains slope down into the sea…
…let us make two assumptions. The first, not difficult, is that the visible horizon is just ten miles away. And secondly, we must assume that our sea is death, and that it is rising. This is not too difficult an assumption either, thanks to the lonely beach with the muted cries of a few distant gulls, and no other living thing. It is a sea of death that we face, stretching beyond the visible horizon to the other end of the once-living world. The death-sea rises, slowly and eternally as it has always been rising, covering all things that it touches. It laps now quietly at our narrow beach, the present.
Where the little waves fall back not twenty feet across the shining sand, we see revealed the rotting, moss grown, Spanish hulks of the Great Armanda…A gentle trough between two incoming swells reveals for an instant not a hundred feet from where we stand a cross…Hammurabi’s Babylon is lost beneath the water amidst shifting sands. We cannot see it, for the sea has risen too high. Eighty yards from our little beach, however, what seem to be three rocks break the incoming swells and make white water. They are, of course, the pyramids at Giza.
Nothing breaks the surface of time’s ocean beyond the pyramids…Had we the courage to wade out into this sea of no return, and to swim out a few strokes, we should find a sandbar just below the surface. These are the fields and pastures of those Middle Eastern peoples, nameless and forgotten, who domesticated wheat and barley and cattle and sheep… All that we call civilization stands between the sandbar and the shore…
…the beach we stand on is the precarious present. It will be swallowed before long as other beaches have been swallowed, and a new one will form just behind us…
I think of this image often when confronted by death. In Ardrey’s sea the ten mile horizon becomes a million years, and each one after that another million, and not many horizons do we travel before the short distance between the sandbar at the beginning of civilization and the shore seems almost laughably, terrifyingly small, let alone our lonely little beach. The joke I heard once is that it isn’t that life is so short but that we’re dead for so long.
I strongly doubt there is an afterlife and the concept seems awkward anyway. If you’re still there then there is no after, only metamorphosis of some sort. And even then the question becomes, of what sort. Do we still have anything left of us that can be thought of as human? In the end, what Tony Kushner said is true; what we want is not so much an afterlife as more life. But I don’t think there is even that.
But there is something. Our lives are as though little pebbles tossed into Ardrey’s sea of death. At the moment they hit the water and disappear we are gone. But there are ripples that fan out and away from our lives: The reputation we leave behind. The things we did to our neighbors in this life. The good and the bad.
There is no point in doing unto Fred as he did unto the rest of us because he won’t be bothered by it, he’s gone. You could think of picketing his funeral as a poke at the little tightly wound church of hate he left behind, but the point is without Fred that little ball of bile would not be. Fred was the problem and now Fred’s gone and he won’t care what you have to say about him now. His last chance of earthly redemption is gone. He done passed the Last Chance station and now it’s too late to get off. He will always be Fred God Hates Fags Phelps. Perhaps that was how he wanted it in the end anyway, to be remembered for what he hated, not what he loved. But at the end, could he even remember anything he had once loved?
There is nothing wrong with being angry at Fred. There is nothing wrong with that feeling of contempt for the man. He earned it, worked hard for it, and probably right up to the very end was immensely proud of it. But stand quietly at his grave, respectfully because this is your destination too someday, and let the life that once was be a warning. Hate does not share power within a heart. It will systematically kill every other thing you have in there, everything fine and noble you ever were or ever could have been, and take from you all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love you might have shared, until there is nothing left inside of you but hate itself. To picket a grave is pointless, there is nothing there anymore, only the ripples of what once was spreading gently across the sea of death. For all his picketing of the dead, and all the obscene hatred he vented at the mourners, he was powerless to stop or alter the ripples of their lives, and all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love that were shared, gently spreading outward in time. All Fred had within his power was to change the nature of his own reputation, his own life’s ripples and he did not. He hurt a lot of people, but he destroyed himself.
Stand quietly. Say a prayer if you have one in you. Will this world be better for your having walked in it? Then let him go. Don’t bury yourself along with him.
[Edited a tad for clarity…and some additional thumping…]
January 25th, 2014
Stare Fleetingly Into This Pit…
by Bruce |
If your German is nonexistent or as poor as mine you will need Google Translate to read this Der Spiegel article but I highly recommend it, and then following the link at the end to the more in depth article on this man’s life.
He signed with “Your Heini” or “Your Daddy”: In Israel, according to a newspaper report hundreds of letters from Heinrich Himmler have surfaced. The documents were apparently kept for a long time in a private household. The Federal Archives considers them to be genuine.
[Note: Google translation awkwardness in this post was corrected freely by me...my apologies to native German speakers if I got it wrong.]
Der Spiegel comes right out and says without Himmler there would have been no Holocaust, and their reasoning is that while yes the Nazi leadership were violent antisemites and ultimately on board with the final solution, it was Himmler who kept pushing mass murder as a policy forward at critical moments, simply by virtue of his utter remorselessness. He kept going where others hesitated, or simply never thought to go at the time. And that was simply, chillingly, because killing did not stir him emotionally one iota. He was neither attracted to it nor repulsed by it. It was simply a thing he regarded as necessary. That infamous quote of his, “It is because we can do such as this and still remain moral men, that we are great” captures him perfectly.
He was no raving vein throbbing ranter. Der Spiegel says of him:
Himmler is not a charismatic figure like the coarse and abusive Röhm, no pulpit thumper like Goering and no rousing demagogue like Goebbels. Steaming mobs, hypnotized masses – this is not the world of apparatchiks with pince-nez. He has other talents: He’s hard-nosed as Röhm, nerves stronger than morphine dependent Goering, and even more ruthless than the cunning Goebbels. This is where the evil hides behind the mask of the banal.
To the end he lived inside his own world, utterly disinterested in the human story beyond. To kill millions and then sit down to tea and cakes with your fellow Nazis as though nothing much happened, you need not to care that those people had lives, let alone thoughts and ideas of their own worth listening to. It is all just so much irrelevant static. A telling detail, according to Der Spiegel, is that after he’d concluded the war was lost he still believed he could work a deal with the allies to help keep the communists out of Europe. He bragged that after the war without him Europe would be in shambles and that he only needed one hour with Eisenhower to convince him of it too. But in the end he ducked down the same escape hatch Hitler did. I sometimes wonder if the prospect of killing himself moved him any more than the millions of others he killed, or whether in the end he simply did it because it was necessary.
I find it stunning there is not more written about this man who, in my opinion, even more than Hitler was the very heart itself of the Third Reich. That might be because the very banality of his person seems superficially to make him appear uninteresting. When you look inside the man, seeking to know what it was about him that was missing, that made everything he did possible, it stuns you to discover how little there is in there to begin with. And that leads to a very disturbing place, which may be the other reason he isn’t widely written about.
The myth that won’t die is the Nazis, and the War, and the Holocaust were possible because of an innate character flaw in the German people. It’s self serving bullshit. The reality more likely is that there are many Himmler’s walking among us right now, right this instant. Quiet, prim, orderly men of orderly habits, and what they’re missing only is the power to act on their belief of what is necessary for the greater good.
January 14th, 2014
So It Begins…
by Bruce |
This from Towleroad…
Dorothy Aken’Ova is executive director of Nigeria’s International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights. She said Tuesday the new law, already being dubbed the “Jail the Gays” law, will endanger and even criminalize programs fighting HIV-AIDS in the gay community.
She said police in Bauchi state have a list of 168 purportedly gay men, of whom 38 have been arrested recently.
There was a list all ready and waiting. How unsurprising.
So it begins, while the rest of the civilized world a) wrings its hands, b) issues a strongly worded protest, c) washes, rinses, and repeats. Practice makes perfect.
January 13th, 2014
The Long Memory Of Blood…
by Bruce |
I see they’re having trouble recalling how glorious World War I was Over There…
Germany yet to plan official WWI events
This year marks 100 years since the start of World War I, which began on July 28th, 1914, and lasted until November 11th, 1918.
The war saw the Allies, including the UK, France and Russia, fighting against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary, resulting in more than 37 million casualties.
Although there is much debate over the start of World War I, Germany has been largely blamed for the outbreak of war and as a result has been closely scrutinized over its plans for the 100-year anniversary.
But Schäfer pointed out that the centenary was not solely a German occasion, although it had “a lot to do with Germany”.
“What went massively wrong in 1914 also had a lot to do with Europe,” he added.
Just the kind of thing to get the victors all riled up, that. But one thing you have to bear in mind is who the victors in that war were, because it sure wasn’t the families of those millions of young men who died in it.
By jingo, Gove’s right – those leftie academics have hijacked the Great War
Now the centenary of 1914 has got going, we should do as Michael Gove suggests and celebrate the First World War, instead of taking notice of “left-wing academics”, who complain it was a regrettable waste of life.
But yesterday morning, on the radio, they played an interview with Harry Patch, the last man alive who fought for the British in the war. Harry said: “Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”
Who let him on Radio 4, the dirty unpatriotic left-wing academic? It was all right for Harry, swanning about the Somme with his Marxist intellectual friends, lazing in the trenches discussing “peace studies”, but to really know what went on you have to rely on those with first-hand experience, people like Michael Gove. Because as he made clear, he’s read a book on the subject and an article in a magazine…
…Those who fought were told that the war was against tyranny, dictators, terrorists, and to defend “brave little Belgium”, all the usual stuff that justifies wars, as well as the “war to end all wars” line. Most of the survivors spent the rest of their lives feeling they’d been duped. But if only they’d read that magazine article, like Michael Gove, they’d have known the nightmares and missing limbs were worth it…
Seems the upper classes resent being blamed for that war. But don’t they always…
But if the European aristocracy wanted a war, let it be said they had a lot of willing young men ready and eager to go to war. Der Spiegel is doing a series on the war that’s worth reading. It begins by noting that 100 years after the war we are still living with its consequences. Then it goes into the how and why of it as well as I’ve ever seen. They give the indifferent aristocracy’s pride and arrogance it’s due, but there’s also this…
…Suddenly it became apparent that right-wing nationalist groups had been banging the drums for the fatherland in Germany, but also in Great Britain and France, for years, and that significant portions of the European youth belonged to paramilitary organizations…
There was a great willingness to go to war for one’s country. In England, more volunteers reported for duty than the army could equip. Letters suggest what motivated the men, who were often spurred on by the thirst for adventure or the desire to prove their manhood in a seemingly noble struggle. “I think the war is magnificent. It’s like a big picnic, but without the superfluous trappings that normally come with it,” noted a British officer.
This notion began to dissipate within weeks. As in the days of Napoleon, the men stormed ahead, cheering all along — and encountered the weapons of the 20th century. Machine guns spat out up to 600 bullets a minute and field artillery fired shrapnel grenades in rapid succession, mowing down the infantrymen. “When a machine like that hit its mark, there was nothing but minced meat left over,” a German soldier wrote in a letter to his family.
The dynamics of the industrial revolution had once brought Europe control over a large portion of the world, and now it was striking back…
It wasn’t after all, just the upper classes leading the masses by the nose.
Sometimes I find myself reading the histories of the origins of that war and its consequences and wondering if in an equal amount of time we’ll come to see the beginnings of world war II in the same light. But no…the crucial mistakes of that war were in not taking the threat seriously enough, but the threat was real. World War One it seems to me was a perfect storm of aristocratic ego and arrogance and a disastrously naive romanticized ideal of war that had apparently taken hold in young men all over Europe. Why that happened I still don’t understand…maybe it was always there in European cultures, or perhaps the human male psyche. In his book “Defying Hitler” Sebastian Haffner writes that the majority of Nazi party recruits were young men too young to have actually fought in the war, and knew it only from newspaper dispatches that kept telling people Germany was winning gloriously right up until the surrender. Those were the ones blindly eager for the next war to end all wars. I remember feeling a chill as I read that as the 101st Fighting Keyboarders were at that moment cheering on Bush’s excellent Iraq adventure, and the corporate news media was happily going along with the storyline. Got a lot less glorious as time went on didn’t it?
This poor world is still suffering the consequences of the war to end all wars, let alone all the other wars that came afterward. Yet I lived through a time in my country’s history when the people told their leaders they’d had enough of one war and it stopped. Regrettably, but instructively, that one was followed by one in which, as in Haffner’s Germany, so many young men who’d never gone to war had come to see it as a glorious thing, and couldn’t wait for the next one.
All adolescents, but perhaps especially boys, need to learn the reality of what war does, not just to a human body but also to a nation. When choosing books to feed high schoolers bear the following in mind: Tom Clancy’s poor vision made him ineligible for service, Kurt Vonnegut was a soldier and prisoner of war during world war II, and as a German prisoner witnessed the firebombing of Dresden with his own two eyes. Listen to the stories of men such as Harry Patch, and keep them close, because when the last soldier who fought dies there will be lots of older men, some rich and powerful others merely small, bitter and resentful of their own existence, more than willing to tell the next generation of young males all about how glorious war is, and that it will make men out of them.
January 7th, 2014
Let Us Give Them Comfortable Little Graves…
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
Lawmaker questions including gays in human trafficking anti-discrimination regs
A lawmaker who helped author Kansas’ constitutional amendment banning gay marriage questioned a state official Tuesday about why his agency included sexual orientation in an anti-discrimination clause for safe houses for victims of human trafficking.
Now why on earth, you may be wondering, would anyone object to telling people who are providing services to kids who have been rescued from human trafficking rings to not discriminate against the gay ones? You may be wondering that is, if you hadn’t been paying attention to the bottomless abyss that is the anti-gay industrial complex…
After rattling off a series of nondiscrimination categories for admission to the secure facilities that included gender and race, Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, asked Smith why sexual orientation was also included.
“I wasn’t sure what your origin was on listing sexual preference,” Pauls said. “Gender covers a lot of the sexual discrimination, potentially. I just wasn’t sure why the sexual preference was added.”
Smith said it was a safeguard to ensure homosexual victims get helped.
And there’s the problem right there. There are no homosexual victims, there are only victims of homosexuals…
“The issue is, if you have a homosexual child who was prostituted out there, you don’t want a facility denying treatment to that child,” Smith said. “Not that we believe anybody would deny services based on that.”
But then, what do we mean…really…by “denying services?” We give them a place to stay. That doesn’t mean they have to feel comfortable here does it? Behold:
Pauls also said she didn’t believe any human trafficking victims would be denied access to a safe house on that basis, but she said including it in legal nondiscrimination regulations could pose problems for religious institutions providing help, whether they be Christian, Muslim and other faiths that oppose homosexual activity.
“They might refuse if part of the followup treatment is to make the person comfortable in the alternative lifestyle they may have been forced into,” Pauls said.
You would expect that child services professionals would be making very sure every kid rescued from this sort of thing, not just the gay ones, knows in their heart that they aren’t to blame for what they were made to do. Every kid was forced into it. There is no “may have” about it. But there’s something else going on in this woman’s line of questioning. Something those of you reading this who haven’t been fighting this fight for so long may be missing here. Homosexuals you see, don’t reproduce, they recruit. There are no gay kids, only heterosexual kids that were abused by homosexuals and “turned”. So really every gay kid was forced into that “alternative lifestyle”. See how that works?
We are not denying these kids services, we are denying they are gay. And these children need rescuing too…from the homosexual agenda. So the religious institutions providing services to exploited children need to be able to tell those kids that Change Is Possible. For God sakes don’t make them comfortable with being turned into homosexuals. Tell them they are not homosexual, that their homosexuality is only the damage their masters inflicted upon them. And never mind this might only make them even more suicidal than they already were.
Those men who did this to you…they made you think you’re homosexual…but God can heal you… And when the healing doesn’t come, when the sexual attraction to their own sex does not go away, because homosexuality is a real thing and some kids after all really are gay, what is that kid supposed to think, except that the men who sold them, and the men who exploited them, damaged them beyond repair. Raped once by the peddlers of children, raped again by the peddlers of righteousness. And then what do those kids do? They do what bullied gay kids do year after year after year after heartbreaking year.
And thus the safe house becomes the final nail in a little coffin that didn’t have to be, but for the ignorance, but for the unmitigated unforgivable arrogance of some theoretically devout people, who just knew they knew better than that kid’s maker what that kid was meant to be, whose arms that kid was made to be embraced by, and loved.
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. We can’t let them just be homosexual. We can’t just tell them they’re loved just as they are. Dear Lord don’t tell us we have to let them be comfortable in sin. Better dead than that…
December 10th, 2013
The Persistence Of The Closet…(continued)
by Bruce |
Slate today runs an article riffing on the New York Times article I linked to yesterday. They headline theirs The American Closet Is Bigger Than We Thought. I assume the ‘we’ in that headline is “heterosexuals’, with maybe a side of ‘those of us also in the closet’, because you don’t live in this country as a gay person without seeing or at least glimpsing that vast nation of the closeted first hand. No kidding there’s more of them than you thought…
But if that Times article helps the heterosexual majority to see, really see, the damage that was done, and is still being done, then good. Seems a lot of folks are noticing that bit in the Times article, about wives in less tolerant states checking Google for advice on whether their husbands are gay. But there was also this…
Craigslist lets us look at this from a different angle. I analyzed ads for males looking for “casual encounters.” The percentage of these ads that are seeking casual encounters with men tends to be larger in less tolerant states. Among the states with the highest percentages are Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.
Back in the 1980s, what I think of as the BBS days, I did volunteer work for a gay community BBS whose creator intended it not to be a hookup site but a serious information and educational resource for gay people. He realized back then, as I did when I connected to those first primitive amateur computer networks, what they could do for us as a people. The BBS advertised in the local gay newspaper, and I think in one of the alternative City Papers, and the ads included a phone number for help getting connected. He told us he would get desperate phone calls on that number in the middle of the night, from men who’d been caught in police vice stings…trolling the parks or some public lavatory…needing emergency legal advice. He said without exception, without exception, those men were all married, and none of then identified as gay. At least, they wouldn’t over the course of that phone call. That was the 1980s.
It’s still going on…
One could leave these findings angry at all these men for not coming out, but Stephen-Davidowitz’s concluding anecdote—about a retired professor who has been married to a woman for 40 years and “regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions”—articulates my overwhelming emotion: sadness.
That’s fine, but anger is still a good reaction to have and I hope the heterosexual majority cultivates it…not at the closeted, but at the Righteous and the Upstanding who keep teaching young gay people to hate themselves, so that they can have scapegoats, someone to gloat over, so they don’t have to look at their own failures of moral character. Be angry at them. Ask yourselves what kind of person turns anyone’s basic human need for intimate companionship against them, makes them deeply ashamed, even fearful, of their own human heart…
Sometimes even I get tired of looking at aggregate data, so I asked a psychiatrist in Mississippi who specializes in helping closeted gay men if any of his patients might want to talk to me. One man contacted me. He told me he was a retired professor, in his 60s, married to the same woman for more than 40 years.
About 10 years ago, overwhelmed with stress, he saw the therapist and finally acknowledged his sexuality. He has always known he was attracted to men, he says, but thought that that was normal and something that men hid. Shortly after beginning therapy, he had his first, and only, gay sexual encounter, with a student of his in his late 20s, an experience he describes as “wonderful.”
He and his wife do not have sex. He says that he would feel guilty ever ending his marriage or openly dating a man. He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions.
He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions… What kind of person does this to another, takes pride in doing it, and can look in a mirror and see a righteous person? Look at that. Really look at it. It’s okay to get angry after looking down into that Pit. But don’t look into it for too long, because Nietzsche was right about an abyss gazing back into you. Just remember what you saw the next time you hear one of them yapping about their sincerely held religious beliefs.
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