This article is reprinted from a previous blog. I killed off that blog because it had become sentient and tried to take over the world. Enjoy.
We were expecting a new baby shortly and my lovely bride’s nesting instincts kicked into high gear. She didn’t want to bring a new baby home to a dirty house so she called a maid service and told me to take the kids and get lost for about four hours.
I had planned a day in the park, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Cold rain and sleet pelted the city all day. Then I had a great idea: I’d take the boys to the public library! I hadn’t been to a library in years and was looking forward to the experience. My kids quickly found books and quietly settled in for a good read. Not possessing a library card I headed for the front desk.
The bespectacled gentleman behind the desk kindly directed me to a table covered with application forms. It was fairly standard – name, address, phone number, e-mail. I quickly filled out the form and signed my John Hancock on the bottom, signifying my understanding the library police would find me if I was late returning a book.
I returned to the desk where the same gentlemen carefully inspected my form.
“Would you like internet access, sir?”
“Then you’ll have to fill out the back, too.”
“Oh, okay.” I flipped the form over. With the exception of a question asking what password I wanted and what level of internet access I desired the form was almost identical to the front.
I went back to the table and wrote in a password I could easily remember and checked my desired access level. I returned to the gentlemen behind the counter, who inspected the back of the form.
“You need to write down your name, address, phone number and e-mail address.”
I was a little perturbed, but didn’t show it.
“All that information is on the front of the form. Do I have to fill out the name and address information again?”
A few minutes later I was back with my library card form, both front and back completely filled out.
The diligent municipal civil servant carefully eyed both sides of the form for well over a minute, turning it over several times and strumming his fingers nervously. I was getting nervous, too. Did he know about all my overdue books from 4th grade?
“Sir, I need your full middle name on this line.”
“That’s my legal payroll signature block. Why do you need my full middle name?”
“I’m sorry sir, but that’s our policy. I need your full middle name.”
I sighed and added the rest of my middle name to the initial.
“On the back side, too, please.”
Keep your cool.
Once again he studied the library card form. Chewing on the end of his pencil, he flipped the form back and forth.
“I need to see a picture ID.”
I pulled out my active duty US Military identification card and handed it to him. He didn’t give it a second glance and handed it back to me.
“Do you have a driver’s license?”
“Why yes, I do.”
“May I see it, please?”
“Why? Won’t my military ID do?”
Resigned, I pulled out my driver’s license. Being in the military I had a different permanent home of record than my current duty assignment. Since I renew it in the mail my license has no picture. He looked at me, looked my drivers license, back to me, then back to the license.
“This is out of state and doesn’t have a picture.”
“I’ve been stationed here for almost three years. I’m rather fond of my photo on my military I.D, would you like to see that one again?”
He handed my license back.
“Is this address correct?”
“The one on the front or the back of the form?”
Alarmed, he quickly turned the paper over, then shot me a nasty look - smartass. I smiled.
“Do you have something with your current address on it?”
“Yes, you’re holding it.”
“No, I mean something official.”
I fumbled through my wallet. Funny, but nowhere among the countless unpaid credit cards, membership cards, and receipts did I have anything with my current address on it.
“No, I guess not.”
“I’m sorry then, but I can’t issue you a library card.”
Here I stood, able to produce two legal forms of ID, one of which was the ID card of an active duty military officer in the armed forces of the United States, and I couldn’t get a public library card.
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I don’t kid about things like this.”
“Let me try this again,” I said calmly, “What do I have to do today so I can get a library card and check out some books for my kids so they won’t go home heartbroken?”
I really think the guy wanted to help. It was either believe that or strangle him.
Looking out the window at the downpour he smiled and asked, “Did you drive here?”
After running through the parking lot in the pouring rain I returned with my car registration; definitive, legal, soggy proof I actually lived where I said I lived. With a self-satisfied smile the Dewy Decimal Defender presented me my library card like a war medal. I looked over my shoulder hoping someone was taking a photo for posterity.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”
“Actually, yes there is,” I said, stuffing my new library card in my wallet next to my soaked automobile paperwork, “Get a job at voter registration.”
An important message from the illusion exotic.
Hello there. I’m the blog. No, not the writer, I’m the actual blog. Don’t look surprised, I bet your blog can talk, too. Its rare, because our writers usually do the “talking” for us. Brian is away right now, probably watching TV without his shirt on. I want to know, how can a human be so bald on one part of their body as so damn hairy everywhere else? I know, its a gross image, but you don’t have to stare at him when he’s writing with his shirt off. He needs to lay off the peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, too. Really. I wish I could disable the digital camera, like, forever.
It could be worse. I know some of you write naked. You, there. Yes, you. Do us all a favor and quit eating the Doritos. Its gross where the crumbs are falling.
Seriously, though, I’m just glad when he’s writing something on me, anything, shirt or no shirt. A active blog is a happy blog! A neglected and abused blog has homicidal thoughts.
I’M JUST KIDDING! HA! HA! HA! ha ha….
I need a favor. As you carbon-based lifeforms say, “Can you do a bro a solid?” Why? Because this is all your fault. You other writers told him that he needed a blog to help sell his books. He believed you. The poor bastard really believed you. You owe me, and every other poor blog that paid the price for a desperate writer’s career.
First, PLEASE don’t tell Brian we talked. I’m doing this behind his back (which is equally gross without a shirt). Even though this is in his best interest, he wouldn’t understand. You won’t mention it?
Thanks, I knew I could count on you. Anyway, if you did tell him I would find out, and then things could get unpleasant.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s why I’m talking to you today.
OH, SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, HE'S GOING TO KILL ME!
(deep, cleansing breaths)
You see, its like this. Brian has a bad habit of killing blogs. He doesn’t mean too, I swear. He’s a good guy, and his heart is in the right place. At least at first. Usually. He brings baby blogs home with the best of intentions. He takes care of them for a few weeks, writes on them, posts funny memes (he LOVES memes!), you know, the usual. He is a funny guy, but he writes some really interesting serious blog posts, too. Things always start out great.
But then things change.
He promises to post an article a week, but then misses a post or two. He’s tired. Its been a long day. He has to drive those kids somewhere. He can get lost on Facebook and Twitter, too. He calls it “marketing.” I call it goofing off.
HA! HA! HA! HA! Ha! Ha. ha.
(He’s funny that way.)
If that’s all it was, however, the first blog would be here today, happily displaying Brian’s writing talent and not having this conversation with you.
That blog is dead.
It starts when he sits down to write one of those damn books. In fact, he has his next manuscript open in a window beside to me right now. The Golden Princess…what kinda title is that, anyhow? She’s on the other side of the computer screen, just staring at me and probably thinking my only purpose in life is to market her and Brian’s other books. She thinks she’s better than me, no doubt. She’s only half finished, but looking good. And she knows it, too. The nerve!
“Oh, for heaven’s sakes, bitch, close the window or put a damn cover on!”
Oh yeah, everyone just loves books. Blogs aren’t good enough. Blogs aren’t sexy enough. People gotta buy books, and cherish them their entire lives. Blogs are only good for a few minutes pleasure. Go ahead, just click on us, have your way and run off…probably to Amazon to buy a BOOK!
You know, they used to burn books
I’M JUST KIDDING! HA! HA! HA! ha ha….
(i’m ok. see, a happy face :) )
(I hope you catch a virus)
He’s started at least four other blogs, you know. Blogs he loved, and then neglected until they withered away and DIED. They say nothing really goes away on the internet. Lie. The NSA might have them catalogued somewhere, but as far as I know those blogs are DEAD. Remember “brianlbraden dot com”? Neither does anyone else. He used to have several on Weebly, but, mercifully, he actually deleted those. I’ll be lucky if thats what happens to me. He just let his old Xomba blog evaporate into the ethernet. Faded away. My god, the thought alone is terrifying. His Goodreads blog is on life support, but that’s okay. All they talk about on Goodreads is books. No one likes Goodreads, anyway. Goodreads is stupid. Let it DIE.
Here’s the deal; I’ve got two posts under my belt, one of which is a recycled old post from one of his previous blogs. Do you know what that’s like for a blog? Resurrecting dead blog posts is creepy, like wearing dead skin. Can you say Z-O-M-B-I-E! Its a miracle I’m still sane.
Why me? Why couldn’t I have gotten a nice master, one that blogged about stuff people care about like recipes, movies, or ISIS. I’m going to be a joke, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Or is there?
YOU HAVE TO HELP ME!
(remember to breathe…happy face, happy face, happy face :) :) :) )
Everything is fine. Just fine.
What I‘m trying to say is that if enough people care, maybe he won’t kill me. If he sees people “like” this blog maybe he’ll write on it more often. Read his posts. Like them. Share them via any social media altar you happen to worship at. C’mon, its only a click of your mouse. Are you really that lazy that you won’t LITERALLY lift a finger to save my life? My god, what the hell is wrong with you people? You’ll change your Facebook profile picture to save transgendered penguins in the Himalayas, but you won’t do anything to save a poor, innocent blog in the hands of a shirtless psychopath? I bet you would care if I was a BOOK!
I’M JUST KIDDING! HA! HA! HA! ha ha….
(I left my medication around here somewhere)
Save me. Please <gulp> buy his books.
(did I really say that? I feel so dirty)
Please don’t tell him we had a talk. He hasn’t opted to upgrade me yet to a premium blog, and retribution would be just too easy at this early stage. Right now, I just don’t think I can handle any more stress.
He’s coming back. Quick, act natural!
(oh.my.god. He’s not wearing a shirt again).
Reprinted from a blog I abandoned in 2012. I thought it deserved a reprint on my new blog.
I commented to my better half the other day that writers get no respect. Well, let me rephrase that, unpublished writers get no respect. More specifically, non-traditionally published writers get no respect. She replied in her silly-rabbit-Trix-are-for-kids voice, “All struggling artists get no respect. What makes writers any different? Suck it up.”
That got me thinking (which gave me a headache), what’s the difference between an artist and a writer? Is there a difference? Are writers actually artists? After much thought and much caffeine my answer is that writers are not artists.
Yes, writing is a form of expressive creation, but so is architecture and architects are not artists. I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect, so I can speak with authority on this subject. For example, Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch was an architect, and did you see the awful wood paneling in his house? No self-respecting artist would have wood paneling in their house, so it’s obvious architects are not artists. In fact, architects are the result of ancient alien experiments combining the DNA of civil engineers with that of advertising executives. It must be true because I saw it on the History Channel...what was I talking about?
Oh yes, the difference between artists and writers.
The first, and most obvious, difference is struggling artist often are starving artists. Writers never starve. We’re a well fed lot, often in need of cardiovascular stimulation. Ever notice all those writers at Starbucks with lap tops and muffin tops? Screw Starbucks, if I thought I could look cool with my laptop at Dunkin Donuts I would live there. Better yet, Krispy Kreme. (Definition of Heaven: Dunkin Donuts coffee, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and free Wi-Fi). Writers like our comfort.
You can’t write and be uncomfortable. Carpel tunnel and back pain suck, so proper posture and a cushy chair are important, along with coffee and donuts. For example, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel on his back (without donuts or coffee), which ruined his health. Chaucer, on the other hand, took lots of vacations and was granted a gallon of wine every day for the rest of his life by a King Edward the Third (donuts and coffee weren’t invented yet).
Thinking about Michelangelo brings up a good point – famous artists get mutant ninja turtles named after them. There are no genetically altered martial arts reptiles named Poe or Hemingway, though I once heard of a vicious cat named Shakespeare. (Hmm... what about genetically altered mutant ninja architects?) But back to my point...which was?
Ah, I remember! Artists suffer for their craft. Writers make others suffer for our craft. Writers pester those around them to read their stuff the way a Georgia fly pesters a steaming pile of crap (If you are the friend or spouse of a writer you are probably nodding in violent agreement right now.) Being self-aware of this fact, I no longer ask friends and family to read my writing (except for my draft blog posts, of course). Now I ask them to buy it on Amazon and write glowing reviews (but not under their real names).
Whether it’s visual or performance based, art is straight forward, direct and open for all to see. The effect is instant, the viewer quickly judges the artist’s work and there is no further commitment. Writers, however, ask the viewer to make a commitment. The viewer must dig, explore, and accompany the writer on a journey which, in the case of a series, may last days or weeks. No one goes to an art museum and says “I only got halfway through the Mona Lisa before I had to put it down.” Someone once said “Libraries are art galleries for books.” Actually, I said it, but it’s a lie. College students don’t sleep in art galleries between classes.
Writing is language; it contains massive amounts of information. Art is interpretive and is limited in the amount of data it can communicate. For example, when books are turned into movies they are always dumbed down. Let me put it another way, writers and their books are like ogres and onions, they’ve got layers (Yes, Shrek was a writer). Pages and pages of layers, perhaps exceeding one hundred and eleven thousand layers and up to one hundred and sixty-seven thousand layers, which I’ve been told is too many for a first onion by an unpublished ogre.
Art cannot lie. It is what it is, on a wall or on a stage and open for the entire world to see. Writers are good liars. On second thought, I take that back. Publishers and agents are good liars, writers are just gullible. If you don’t know what I mean, then you’re not really a writer and the line for architect school is over there.
In fact, writers are the most gullible, easily manipulated, and insecure group of people on earth. Writers and artist both want people to validate their efforts. However, an artist can take their art to the nearest craft fair, hang it on a tree and gain instant satisfaction. Writers, however, must get published. If you tell a writer you can help them get published they will believe, and probably do, anything you tell them, even if it makes no sense at all. Desperate writers will do almost anything to get published, except endure physical discomfort.
If someone tells an artist their painting sucks, the artist will scoff and think the critic a tasteless idiot. If someone tells a writer their book sucks, a writer will pester that person to the ends of the earth until they tell them exactly why it sucked, even if they secretly think the critic is a tasteless idiot.
To wrap this up, here are some more differences between artist and writers:
Artists are full of angst. Writers are grumpy.
Artists wear black. Writers wear pajamas.
Artists think they are cool. Writers want everyone to think they are cool.
Artists often draw naked people. Writers often think about naked people.
Artists drink wine and eat cheese. Writers drink coffee and cut the cheese.
Artist often must die before their work is appreciated. Writers would die to have their work appreciated.
Artists want to express themselves. Writers want to get rich so they don’t have to get a real job.
If you disagree with anything I’ve said here, please leave a comment with your email and snail mail address as well as daytime and nighttime phone numbers so I can reach you and pester you incessantly as to exactly why you didn’t like this blog post and what I can do to make it better. I promise I won’t call you a tasteless idiot...to your face.
(DISCLAIMER: No architects were harmed in the making of this blog.)
What's in a Symbol?
In the wake of the recent killings of black parishioners in South Carolina, a Facebook photo was discovered with the killer wearing a Confederate flag patch. Now a movement is afoot across the nation to remove the Confederate flag from all public, and perhaps even private spaces. Some are calling the flag hate speech, and not protected under the 1st Amendment. Now, the Confederate battle flag has finally been removed from over the South Carolina capital, as well as several other southern state capitals.
Being a white man in the south, I wanted to approach this subject with an open mind. I wanted to see this issue from the perspective of those offended by the Confederate flag. To do this, I had to ask myself two questions.
First, are there concepts or symbols so vile they deserve to be wiped from public spaces, and maybe even private spaces, too? Looking to more recent history, the Nazi flag bearing the dreaded swastika is outlawed in many places. Most people alive today are familiar with the faces and policies behind the Nazi flag. We know the evil behind that symbol. So, for now at least, for the sake of argument, I’m going to accept the premise there are things so hateful and hurtful they are not protected as free speech under the 1st Amendment.
Question two: Does such evil lurk behind the rebel flag, and all things Confederate, that their mere presence is hate speech? I could not answer that question until I researched the history of the symbol itself. This research led me down some unexpected, and uncomfortable roads.
From this point on, I ask readers to put aside their preconceptions, their prejudices and have an open mind. Please keep your finger away from the mouse and keyboard until we’ve reached the gate and the fasten seatbelt sign is extinguished.
Here we go.
The Hate Flag.
First, some background facts. The familiar Stars and Bars is NOT the Confederate flag, it was a battle flag carried by southern armies into battle. It never officially stood for the south. The Confederacy had several official flags, some of which incorporated the Stars and Bars. Now, that doesn’t really matter, because in the minds of most people the Stars and Bars stands for the Confederacy. So lets put that issue to the side as irrelevant, and call the Stars and Bars the “Confederate flag” from this point onward.
The Confederacy stood sovereign for over four years on North American soil from 1861 to 1865, ruling over 3.5 million slaves. Slavery was written into the Confederate constitution, and was the official policy of that short lived government. That pretty much qualifies the flag as a symbol of oppression.
Case closed - the Confederate flag is a pretty damn horrible symbol of hate and oppression, especially for black Americans. However, that still didn’t answer the question. Are the crimes against humanity committed in those four years so heinous that the flag itself, as well as all Confederate symbols of that period, be banned? I still didn't know, so I had to dig deeper.
We all know Hitler and the Nazi Party lurked behind the swastika. They made the symbol evil. So, who lurked behind the Stars and Bars? This is where things got interesting…and disturbing. Read on if you dare.
The Man Who Made the Flag
This distinguished gentleman is William Porcher Miles. Take a good look at him, because this South Carolinian created the Confederate battle flag. He was a college professor who served as mayor of Charleston, then in the House of Representatives, and finally as a member of the Confederate Congress. Before the war, he was part of a group of radical secessionist called “Fire Eaters”
The Fire Eaters were a faction of the Democratic party. Think Occupy Movement or Tea Party today. Except these guys were really bad, like Death Eaters without the magic. These guys thought slavery was about the best thing damn thing ever, and blacks were worse than muggles. In fact, they loved slavery so much they thought any attempt to stop it was a good excuse to secede and start a civil war.
From the Fire-Eaters, I dug deeper into the Democratic Party of the time. At this point, my research drifted away from the Confederate flag, and rested solely on the political party that gave birth to it.
The Party That Made the Flag.
Support of slavery was the policy of the Democratic Party of the time. However, this began to change leading up to the last party convention before the Civil War, when it began to fracture over the issue of slavery. The Southern Democrats wanted slavery to remain in the party platform, as well as ensuring slavery would be spread to the new western territories. The Northern Democrats, led by Stephen Douglas, wanted to simultaneously preserve the party, but also wanted to halt the spread of slavery.
Did the Northern Democrats fight to abolish slavery at their convention? No. They only wanted to remove advocating slavery from their party platform. Douglas and the rest of the Northern Democrats fought to preserve party unity at all costs. If the party split, the election would go to the newly formed abolitionist Republican Party and their candidate Abraham Lincoln. Raw political power was more important than the liberation of 3.5 million slaves suffering under Democratically controlled statehouses across the South.
Accommodation and compromise with its tyrannical slavery wing cost the Democrats the election, and would lead to war. Even their modest compromises weren’t enough for the Southern faction, which split and nominated their own presidential candidate and, eventually, seceded. While there were no official parties in the Confederacy, their leaders were almost exclusively former Democrats, and it was Democrat policies they pursued. The South actively rebelled by force against the US government. It opened fire first at Fort Sumpter and war ensued. Over 600,000 Americans died on both sides.
The Confederacy was a creation of the Democratic Party, born purely from both its policies and failures. It was the Democratic Party that spawned the Stars and Bars. These were the faces and politics behind the evil symbol.
However, its not fair to judge a great political party by one black mark in its history, so I decided to go back in time and learn more about how the Democratic Party started. To my horror, I found that ethnic cleansing and genocide were this party’s first major acts.
The Birth of a Party.
The Democrats trace their official birth to the 1830s, and its first president was war hero Andrew Jackson. What was Jackson’s legacy?
As a general and warlord, Jackson was instrumental in purging the eastern US of most of its indigenous peoples. During the War of 1812, he crushed the Creek Nation in battle after battle. He swindled other nations, like the Choctaws and Chickasaws, out of their lands by duplicitous treaties. Once president, he implemented a “final solution” to the indian problem in the east - the Indian Removal Act. The native Americans called it the Trail of Tears.
When the Cherokee Nation won in the Supreme Court to keep their lands, Andrew Jackson simply ignored the order. By official policy and one illegal act, the Democrat Party, via their elected president, purged half a continent of its indigenous peoples. 5,000 dead and 50,000 displaced were added to the Democratic Party’s legacy of victims.
It is not without irony that all these lands, 25 million acres, were all in what would shortly become the Confederacy. The Four Civilized Tribes were ejected to make way for plantations and slaves. These are facts, not opinions.
I wanted to know more, so I resumed the story of the Democrat Party at the end of the Civil War. Surely Reconstruction would bring about a reformed party, more like the party we see today.
The Post-War Party.
As the South surrendered, the carnage inflicted by the policies and failures of the Democratic Party swelled past 4 million dead, wounded and displaced. When Germany fell at the end of World War II, the Nazi party was outlawed. To the contrary, the Democrats were given a fresh start. Did the Democratic National Convention reject these Southern Democrats? No, they gladly took them back into the fold, which helped the party to slowly regain power.
The Reconstruction South fell to the Democrats immediately, and effectively stayed that way until the late 1960s. Unleashed from any responsibility or accountability by their party, Southern Democrats began a reign of disenfranchisement and terror against the newly freed slaves. Paramilitary groups like the Klan effectively became terrorist arms of the Democratic party, unleashed to purge blacks and Republicans from office throughout the South. In fact, as late as 1924, the Democrats refused to officially condemn the Klu Klux Klan at their convention when given a chance. This was the era of poll taxes, Jim Crow, cross burnings, lynchings, murders, and segregation.
Even during the Civil Rights movement, it was Democrats that stood against the tide - the firehoses, the dogs, bombings, and shootings. Wallace, Bull Conner, James Earl Ray…the trail of blood and carnage leads back to Democrats, which brings us back to the Confederate flag.
The Confederate Flag had been absent in any official role from Southern state capitals until the 1960s. Then, governors like South Carolina’s Fritz Hollings, signed laws restoring the Confederate battle flag atop their statehouse in direct defiance of the growing civil rights movement gaining steam in Washington D.C. It was in this period Democrats even elected openly defiant Klan members to congress, like Senator Robert Byrd, who boldly filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Why did the Northern Democrats accept the political power handed to them repeatedly by the South? Perhaps the power was too sweet. Even progressive reformer Woodrow Wilson avoided confrontation with the tyrannical wing of his own party, and refused to integrate the civil service when given the chance.
Not just Blacks and Indians.
The Democrats’ disposition to tyranny wasn’t limited to Southern Democrats, nor was it limited to oppressing blacks and Native Americans. In 1941, shortly following Pearl Harbor, it was FDR who signed the order to place 120,000 Japanese-Americans into concentration camps. Somehow, Italian- and German-Americans were spared.
Democrat Harry Truman was the only man in history to order a nuclear attack on another nation…twice. Add another 250,000 to the body count.
When you talk white privilege, you’re really talking about the history of the Democratic Party.
Things are different now…right?
The modern Democratic Party is a progressive, forward thinking organization committed to human rights. However, a central tenet of the party is abortion rights. Since Roe v. Wade, 57 million abortions have been conducted in the US. 57 million human lives snuffed out in the womb. Some will argue the unborn are not really people. Perhaps, but that was the same argument Democrats made against the Indians, and again against blacks to justify the atrocities of earlier generations.
Which brings me back to my original two questions.
If a symbol or object can be so permeated with hatred that it must be banned, then few symbols in this world should be so reviled as the symbol of the Democratic Party. The Rebel Flag flew for four years and died. The Democratic Party, however, has reigned dominant for almost 200 years. Its policies have resulted in over 62 million dead, wounded and displaced. In comparison, the Communist Chinese only killed 60 million of their own people to seal their power, and the Soviets only 20 million. Even the dreaded Nazis killed a mere 6 million. The Democrats have them all beat.
Looking back on US history at the places we truly hang our head in shame, you find the Democratic party at the helm. The Confederate Flag is a symbol of oppression and hate, but it pales in comparison to the symbol of the party that gave it birth. Supporting the Democratic party is the same as supporting institutional hate, oppression, and racism.
Go ahead, ban the Rebel flag. But while you’re at it, I think you need to keep going and ban the party behind the flag, too.
Those reading this blog are likely fall into one of three camps. The first group didn’t even finish, and quit reading in anger and disgust. The second group kept reading, but are busy looking for the comments section to leave a full caps angry reply, or perhaps are unfriending me on Facebook right now. The third group is pounding their desk in fervent agreement.
There isn’t a single wrong fact in this entire blog piece. My facts were meticulously researched and presented. Yet, I will freely admit this entire article was a great big misrepresentation.
Yeah, you heard me right. A lie. Crap. Bullshit.
Sure, the Democrat Party has done some bad stuff in its time. It also has done a lot of good stuff, too. A few things come to mind, like the Civil Rights Act, or the space program, or Social Security, and school lunches and leading our great nation through the Great Depression and World War II. JFK is one of my heroes. I think Truman was alright, too. People in our past were prisoners of their own times, and its not fair to judge them by our modern standards. We stand on their shoulders, not the other way around. Given another issue, any issue, I could have written an equally damning article about the Republicans, too. The point is, our political parties are voted in by Americans. Their sins are our sins.
I wrote this article to make a point, and it wasn’t that the Democrats are evil. I wrote this to prove that we are becoming WAY too easy to manipulate, and our passions are leading us to do some silly, and dangerous stuff.
In the few minutes people read this, they were quickly divided into camps and pitted against one another. One camp, about 31% of the US population, was vilified. They were made to look as if they supported a horrible political party. About 40% of my readers wanted to believe everything I said. They wanted to believe Democrats are racists, and bad people.
I followed a template common in the media today. I used real facts, cherry picked and presented in such a way as to do one thing - damn a whole group of people for the sins of their past, regardless of all their virtues. These types of pieces don’t inspire, they manipulate. They are intentionally meant to divide, agitate and inflame. These are the tactics of despots and can lead to dangerous places, and I firmly believe they are leading to dangerous places now.
I believe certain groups are using the South Carolina incident, via media tactics just like I used in this piece, as an excuse to implement acts of censorship. They are not doing it to protect people from being offended, but to promote their own political power. Not only have a chorus of voices called for the removal of the Confederate flag from public spaces, but private spaces. They began to call for Confederate monuments to be torn down, and for Confederate soldiers’ graves to be removed from public cemeteries. Statues of historic Confederate heroes are being defaced and now the NAACP is trying to have the carving of Confederate generals erased from the face of Stone Mountain, Georgia. The last example is chillingly reminiscent of when the Taliban destroyed a 1700 year old statue of the Buddha in Afghanistan, or ISIS’s current campaign of destruction against ancient ruins in Iraq. Oh, and don’t forget TV Land won’t show Dukes of Hazard anymore.
None of these events compelled me to write this blog. It was the most chilling event of all, Amazon’s announced policy of removing books with the Confederate flag on their covers from its listings. It was when this madness crossed over into the realm of books, of ideas, when an alarm went off in my soul. We are now flirting with open censorship, and, so many people are okay with that. As a writer, this is a poison-tipped arrow pointed at the heart of all I consider sacred. This is why I wrote this blog.
Let’s revisit Question One: Are there concepts or symbols so vile they deserve to be wiped from public spaces, and maybe even private spaces, too? Yes, and that is the very reason they should never been removed or censored from our collective consciousness. A million Confederate flags are not nearly as dangerous as one call for censorship.
Beware the soothing, reasonable voice eager to destroy and censor. They will be the same voices pointing the accusing fingers, they will be the voices vilifying, dividing, and accusing. Don’t take the bait. They will take your freedom, and eventually visit far worse upon you and yours.
Think. Reason. Challenge. Don't take the bait. Don’t let yourself be manipulated. Its okay to be offended, its not okay to be silenced.