Sunday, August 9, 2015

I didn't know Rev. Clementa Pinckney. I wish I had. He must have been a remarkable human being. He was a politician as well as a preacher. Those who actually knew him
seem greatly moved by his untimely demise. Those who  did not, not as much.
      It is clear that he was the main inspiration for the South Carolina Legislature to vote to remove the Confederate flag from in front of the Statehouse. He served there in the State Senate, and was apparently revered by all, from both sides of the aisle. Those in Congress who did not know him  did not ennoble themselves recently when they voted to keep the Confederate flag as a symbol in National parks and historic sites. They are attempting to lift back up what South Carolinians voted to take down. South Carolina for once is leading the way , but many of their Republican southern colleagues still haven't gotten the memo. 
     What is clear here is that when you can personalize the notion of oppression, it is much easier to oppose it. The importance of the message coming out of Charleston is that hate can't win,  grace is triumphant, and love , tolerance, and dialogue is the true answer for this country if we ever hope to return to being one nation, under God , and indivisibile, .
     . The tipping point in South Carolina was the tearful speech by State Rep. Jenny Hoyne, a Republican and descendant of Jefferson Davis ( Confederate President)  , who said it was time to take down this public symbol of hatred. It was a symbol of division,  not unity. 
     The lowering of that flag, which required a two thirds vote of the State Legislature , is a significant event. It only came about as a result of the actions of the victims of the church massacre in Charlestown, who responded to that tragedy with grace, charity , dignity and forgiveness, not hate and vituperation. The tragedy of the Emmanuel nine has given birth to a new spirit of cooperation and tolerance, in a way that hate never could.

     But, removal of the State flag is only symbolic. It is the hearts and minds of the supporters of that symbol that still need to be embraced by grace, hope, love and change. We saw how swiftly the walls of opposition to same sex marriage eroded when the debate was put in the context of being free to love who you love, and assuring equality for all under the law. In the same context, when the symbols of hate and repression are seen for what they are,  and not apologized for or papered over by justification of respect for history, real progress is possible. As Governor Nicky Haley said on signing the bill to lower the flag, reversing her original position on the matter, "
  ""We can continue to move forward in a country in a way that unifies people and that shows what real love looks like. That's what I want people to get out of this," she told Matt Lauer of NBC's today show.

"I don't want this to go away quickly. I want people to remember what today feels like and know that anything is possible with us."
My sentiments exactly, Governor.

Dead Right or Dead Wrong?

Dead Wrong? Or Dead right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. What part of wrong don't you understand? That is the message the American electorate needs to deliver to former VP Dick Cheney and his ilk, who were wrong in their assumptions of Iraqi nuclear development, wrong in their assessment of the costs associated with invading Iraq, and wrong in their assertion that taking out Sadam Hussein was a giant step forward for a stable and peaceful Middle East. Cheney et al were dead wrong then, and they are dead wrong now, in their opposition to the proposed Iranian nuke deal.

     If the Bush administration had not badly blundered, first in it 's decision to invade Iraq , and secondly in disbanding the Iraqi army post Sadam ( which set the stage for the rise of ISIS) , the Iranian influence in the area would have been held in check.   The Shia leaders who control Iran, and now much of Iraq as well,  would not be presenting us with such formidable challenges to peace.

    Actions have consequences. Bad actions have bad consequences. 6000 dead American heroes, and tens of thousands more maimed and injured with serious health challenges for the rest of their lives are ample evidence of that fact.

     We have experienced the result of bad policy, bad actions, and bad consequences by dead wrong political leaders who not only have not learned any lessons from their dead wrong doings, but are leading the charge of the less than right brigades to continue doing  dumb things which will redound to our national detriment. That goes for  the near term as well as the long run. How much wronger can you get?

    The doom and gloom crowd claims President Obama is dangerously naive and derelict in failing to use American military power to wright all wrongs . The problem is that it is they who are wrong and naive in their assumptions about the ability of military might to solve all the world's ills.

     Our military Is enormously potent and pre-eminent, but it cannot solve the centuries old rivalry between Sunni and Shia Muslims . It cannot
bring together the Turks and the Kurds , and it cannot guarantee peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It can,  however, protect and defend our homeland, and when used to intervene selectively on behalf of our allies and friends, be an enormous force for good in the world.

      It is not a universal panacea, but it can be effectively employed when selectively employed . Dead wrong politicians continuing to advocate for dead wrong policies, can only bring about deadly consequences. Our recent history, if nothing else , is a testament to that fact.