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Finally Revealed – The Reasons for the Riots

Here’s a confession from the person responsible for all the violence and all the division in our once great nation.

Another man was shot last night. He probably deserved to die, at least in the minds of many “patriots”. Black Lives Matter is a Marxist organization; I know that because I heard it on Fox News. We’ve got to get this scourge of violence under control before America is totally destroyed, starting with the suburbs. Countless Americans are fed up with the division and the uprisings of those who want free everything.

Well, that’s one view of the picture. It’s carried on the banner of the comfortable. In violation of the unspoken rules of those with privilege, I’ve tried to research the matter so I can truly understand the sources of what seems to be tearing us apart. No, it wasn’t Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the wrench. You can rule out Colonel Mustard and the rope. No, after reviewing all the clues, I have come to the unavoidable conclusion …

It was Jerry, in the grill, with his “Malicious Disengagement”. And frankly, I was his accomplice. I’m betting you too aided and abetted.

Let me tell you about Jerry. Great guy! Friendly, outgoing, happy and cordial. At least, that’s how he’s viewed by his friends and acquaintances. I know Jerry. He’s a member of my country club. We golf thrice weekly. After every golf match, a couple dozen of us congregate in the member’s lounge at the club to review the game’s results, pay out the prize money, and discuss the world’s problems. Some enjoy a twenty-dollar glass of wine as they lean back with their five-hundred-dollar golf shoes and hold their thousand-dollar custom made driver or putter.

The discussions invariably wander from golf and drift into the realm of the world’s great problems. For example, John worried about whether or not his pool crew would show up on time this week. The cleaning people haven’t been doing as good of a job as they used to do. The Mercedes dealer won’t stand behind the tires they put on his $155,000 car after they began to wear out after only 20,000 miles had been driven on them.

One by one, the golfers slowly lift their key-fobs above their heads and click the buttons. Seventy-yards distant, the engine of a driverless Bentley comes to life and the air-conditioner begins to roar. It’s a warm day and these men have suffered enough on the golf course; heaven forbid they have to suffer getting into a car that hasn’t been brought to a pleasant temperature.

These are men who through a combination of good luck, hard work, and “privilege” have made it to Easy Street. Those who work are only pretending. After all, it’s not that easy managing a 30-million-dollar portfolio. These guys don’t know where their next meal is coming from; it could be any high-end steak house with a deep wine cellar. Or, if worse comes to worst, they could have their personal chefs prepare sushi and oysters on the half shell at home this evening.

I make it sound as if their post-golf discussions are vacuous ramblings about the challenges of having everything; that’s not true. There are times talk gets precariously close to the real world challenges of social discord, lopsided income and wealth distributions, global climate change, and other extant threats to the world. The last time such unpleasantries were broached at the club, I made mental notes of some of the statements of “resolution”.

With regard to climate change… Sure, the climate has always changed, but this isn’t man-made. Solution.. buy a fourth home in a cooler climate zone.

Racial unrest… It’s all because people like that diabolical Colin Kaepernick took a knee to show disrespect to our flag and our nation and we the people.

Black Lives Matter… Who are you kidding? All lives matter, especially blue lives.

Structural Racism… “Are you joking? There’s no such thing!” (actual quote). Everyone has equal opportunity. In fact, with affirmative action, blacks have more opportunities.

Poverty… Trump has made this the greatest economy ever. Look at the stock market.

Pandemic… It’s all fabricated. Fake news! People die from the flu every year.

I’m not making this up. These men are intelligent, mostly educated men. Yet their views of the world’s most pressing problems are so incredibly shallow as to defy explanation.

The stock market is the measure of our financial health? I don’t think so. It may be a measure of prosperity for those who are already prospering, but I can assure you the two women that have cleaned our house for the past twenty years really don’t understand the connection. The DOW Jones industrial average is something they don’t monitor closely in the neighborhoods where minimum wage workers with two jobs barely have time to manage their portfolios.

The boys at the club, more often than not, have shallow, poorly researched, self-serving views of the world around them. They’re unable and unwilling to have empathy for those that don’t share their routine levels of luxury. To a greater or lesser extent… no, I take that back. In the case of the boys at the club, to a greater extent, they CHOOSE to adopt a position of MALICIOUS DISENGAGEMENT. They don’t research issues beyond the erroneous stories they hear from the talking heads on Fox News. They make no effort to empathize or see the world through the eyes of others less privileged than themselves. They are truly disengaged – maliciously.

Why? Why don’t they seem to care? Why are they routinely maliciously disengaged?

Because they can be. It’s that simple. They don’t need to care. Their Bentleys still run. The servants still take care of their 12,000 square foot homes. Their yachts are still afloat. If their yard-workers don’t do a good job, they can always hire other ones. If police kill a man in Kenosha, it has no bearing on whether or not they miss or make that five-iron shot on the seventh hole. They simply don’t have a need to care.

Or so they believe.

At some point, what ails the world will ultimately catch up to them and they will begin to care. When it hits their lifestyle, their bank account, their level of luxury, then and only then, will they begin to care.

Perhaps those struggling on the fringes of society, those who have no choice but to care, have figured it out. Maybe they understand their lives will be devoid of hope until Jerry cares. It could be their actions in the streets are nothing but a plea, sometimes ineloquent, begging society to look, listen, and care. “Please”, they’re saying, “Just try to look at life through our eyes.”

It shouldn’t be a revelation to understand that if they don’t do something, nothing happens. So Kaepernick takes a knee – “Please notice”, he says. They march in Ferguson, Missouri. “Please look at what is happening”, they plead. They march in Portland saying, “Can’t you see? Won’t you see?” They battle in Kenosha, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta, and cities around the nation, begging for empathy.

“How did that ball not go into the hole. It was the perfect putt,” Jerry pleads to the heavens. He feigns indignance about how unfair life can be when a putt doesn’t fall, but he doesn’t know that George Floyd wasn’t a professional golfer. It’s called “malignant disengagement”.

So, who’s guilty? Who’s behind all this unrest? It’s Jerry. And it’s me. And it’s you. We could care more, but we don’t… because we don’t have to care. At least, not yet.

It should frighten us all, that an increasing number of Jerrys are buying into the populist “law and order” line now and believing we just need to get a bigger club and beat back the radical left, Marxists, ANTIFA members that aren’t comfortable with the injustice – not the missed putts, rather the dead people. At some point, the club needed to beat back the malcontents will be so big, we won’t be able to carry it. The nation dies.

Before meeting Jerry, I had a perception that Trump’s “base” consisted largely of uneducated, white guys driving around in big, manly pick-up trucks with gun-racks and the Stars-and-Bars trailing from the bed. I couldn’t understand how educated, upper and upper-middle class white men were on-board. Now I know Jerry. I understand. If I think about it too much, I get scared. So, I don’t think about it very much.

I don’t care. I don’t have to.

The Myth of Left and Right

Abstraction: A conceptual process where general rules and concepts are derived from the usage and classification of specific examples, literal signifiers, first principles, or other methods.

As human beings, we understand nothing without the ability to create abstractions. We take our observations and reduce them, abstract them, to a level of simplicity that allows us to believe we understand them. Often, we simplify matters beyond that point where we can grasp them; we simplify them to a point where we can understand them with little effort, without a need to perform mental work to deal with the nuances of the concepts we’re reducing. Maybe we’re mentally lazy or in a hurry. Perhaps we don’t have the cranial horsepower to deal with the subtleties of the concepts so we have no choice but to oversimplify them.

Unfortunately, when we oversimply something, our understanding ignites a conflict that bodes ill for ourselves and those around us. Here are some examples rampant in today’s world of oversimplifications that yield unnecessary discord and suffering: Republican versus Democrat, Black versus White, Liberal versus Conservative, Christian versus [Muslim, Jew, Hindu, non-believer], Blue Collar versus White Collar, Red versus Blue, Male versus Female, Straight versus LGBTQ. The list goes on seemingly forever. However, for the purposes of this discourse, I’ll claim one of the most odious and diabolical oversimplifications of our time is “Left versus Right”.

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It’s Time for Lee to Surrender Again

HistoriansRobert E Lee say Robert E. Lee was humble and gracious in his act of surrender at Appomattox in 1865. It’s time he and his worshipers do it again. Bow out and be gone. As did Grant, I’ll let it pass without harboring feelings of vengefulness. I promise I won’t carry a grudge. Quite the contrary, I continue to carry the same respect for those parts of reality that command respect. After all, many of my ancestors fought for and with Lee on the battlefields of Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, and many others.

As an avid student of history, the era of the Civil War has long been one of my burning passions. As a child, I was regaled with stories of my family’s participation in the conflagration that was the American Civil War. Many amongst my clan rooted in the hills of southeastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and western North Carolina referred to it as the War of Secession. Some still do. Many of my progenitors served in the 7th Tennessee Infantry and fought gallantly under Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson. I have long been intrigued researching my family’s involvement. Most of the stories can be found in the history books or other records buried in the archives. Some are available to me only because they’ve been passed down verbally from generation to generation.

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Burn Baby, Burn

I remember it as if it was yesterday. The acrid smell of smoke wafted through air. The hot and humid night made sleep all but unreachable. The skyline glowed with the orange light of burning buildings. Yet, I laid there with eyes closed hoping to slip through the gates of the dream state. But it was difficult with the distant sound of machine gun fire, the rumble of tanks and armored vehicles less than a quarter mile distant. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Division’s troops had arrived, but the violence was irrepressible. The official death toll was rising, but from a reliable insider, I learned it was much higher than the public was led to believe. I was living in a war zone and frankly, it wasn’t a lot of fun.

US-RACE RIOTS-DETROIT

Near my home (AFP/Getty Images)

This wasn’t Vietnam. It wasn’t the Middle East. The year was 1967. The city was Detroit. Riots engulfed the city. A police raid on a speak-easy sparked one of the deadliest and destructive riots in the history of the United States. I was a young, married man with an expectant wife. We were afraid that if “the time” came, we’d be unable to get to the hospital. It was an exciting time.

It was a time of turmoil and tumult as our nation was being transformed and awakened. Vietnam, civil rights, a music revolution, the space age, and people were turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. I was already pretty open-minded, even for a twenty year old. But it was hard to understand what’s happening on the inside when you’re looking in from the outside. I had friends in the inner-city. I spent time in the inner-city. But the fact is … I was a young white boy of some privilege cast into a bizarre reality and the best I could do was guess about what I was seeing and hearing.

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Trump’s Trolley Kills Five

trumpyWell, America … you have murdered the trolley workers. Their blood is now on your hands. Let me be clear; a minority of Americans can rest peacefully, albeit, fearfully. They at least tried to pull the lever. They just couldn’t get enough help from their fellow Americans who “voted their consciences” or didn’t vote at all.

Ok, I get the feeling your face is dressed in confusion. “What the hell trolley is he talking about? Who died?” Let me back up and explain.

The “trolley problem” is a well-known thought experiment in the field of ethics. You remember ethics? They used to be common in the halls of government in this country.  In the trolley problem, you are confronted with a serious dilemma.

A trolley car is out of control and careening down the tracks where five workers don’t see or hear it coming. If nothing is done, the five workers will assuredly die. You see this and happen to be standing by a large lever. If you quickly pull the lever, the trolley will be directed onto another track where you see one worker who will unquestionably be killed. Do you pull the lever to save five lives at the expense of one life?

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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

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Making Amerika Great One Swastika at a Time

aunt-beulahBy Aunt Beulah

Aunt Beulah is a former comatose pseudonym who woke from her slumber when the country lobbed a grenade through her nursing home window.

Is it not refreshing to see America and its citizens finally paving The Path to the Moral High Ground? It’s about time we jumped on High Horse and galloped over the Constitution of the United States of America. Just between you and me, I feel the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention the Declaration of Independence, are pretty lame. After all, the Founding Fathers of this country couldn’t even be bothered to establish a State religion or mention Christianity at all in any of these documents. I’m almost positive that was an oversight, although I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there and there was no Twitter. Perhaps they were sidetracked while separating church from state and couldn’t find their way back to the pew to ask for guidance. Damn Deists. Horrifying Humanists. Sensible Secularists.  What were they thinking by leaving the construal of those documents to the commoners?!

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Haunting Voices from the Holocaust

prisoners_1567234i

Most of my formative years were spent in a working class, Jewish neighborhood in Detroit. I went to a grade school that was overwhelmingly Jewish. I was immersed in the Jewish culture and knew it as my own. I’m a richer and better person for those experiences.

I vividly recall many discussions of the Holocaust. I can still close my eyes and see the number tattooed on the arm of Beverly Hearn’s mother that bore witness to her experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. I was aghast to see the pictures of the starving prisoners on their liberation day and of the trenches filled with the emaciated corpses that didn’t live to see the end of the war. We were told to never forget the horrors that had been perpetrated just a few years earlier. “It must be remembered so that it never happens again” we were instructed.

There was a very active group of Nazi war criminal hunters as I approached my adolescence. I still remember the publicity and excitement when, in 1960, Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann was captured in Argentina and taken to Israel to stand trial. He was hanged in 1962, but the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, continued to search for more war criminals. That search has continued well into this century.

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Corruption – It Couldn’t Happen Here

San Miguel de Allende (73 of 1220)“There’s too much corruption” said the cab driver. “It’s everywhere. People like me don’t stand a chance.”

We conversed in Spanish as Lalo wound his way through the narrow streets of San Miguel de Allende in the mountains of Central Mexico. Between heavy traffic and an excess of tourist for the holiday weekend, it was apparent we’d have plenty of time for our discussion of the life of a small business person in this beautiful city.

A cab driver in this and other cities in the area rents the cab. He has to put his own gas in the car, wash it and do the minor maintenance. The company takes care of any major repairs. Depending upon the demand for cabs on any given day, Lalo might or might not clear enough to pay the company. It’s in his last hours of work that he gets enough business to feed himself and his family. Lalo works twelve hours per day, six days per week.

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On the Failure (Success) of Cuban Communism

The first time I visited Cuba, I was just three years old. A young man named Fidel Castro had just graduated from college with a degree in law. Carlos Prío was president of a corrupt Cuban government. Bautista had not yet taken power. Even though I was a small child at the time, I still have some vivid memories of the Cuba of 1950, the narrow streets, the open stores and markets with meat hanging overhead, the sandy beach and a friendly police officer who carried me on his shoulders. This early experience in Cuba undoubtedly had a great impact on my lifelong love and intrigue with this beautiful Caribbean island.

Less than twenty years later, I had embarked on a career as a news reporter, writer and broadcaster. Thanks to the acrimonious relations between the United States and Fidel’s communist Cuba, I could no longer visit the island. Propagandists on both sides of the fence painted lurid pictures of their evil neighbors ninety miles away. As a reporter, I learned pure, unbiased, objective reporting was sometimes a noble goal, but was impossible to obtain. As often as not, it wasn’t even the goal. The news was and continues to be distorted with intent by the government, corporate sponsors and biased news reporters. I can guarantee you that our views of Cuba, the embargo and the people of Cuba are colored by the lenses we’re forced to look through as we try to interpret the island that has been taboo to Americans for more than fifty years.

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