Flying Their True ColoursD

I saw an interesting sight the other afternoon.  While driving along US-1 in an urban area of very South Florida I noticed a large white pickup truck with large tires (the type of vehicle that, with or without a gun rack, would be attributed around here as being owned and operated by rednecks, or should I say white males with plenty of Southern Pride).  Waving proudly in the back was a very large American flag.

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
By “American” I specifically mean The United States Of America, not any of those other North American countries who’s inhabitants, if you’ve been listening intently to Donald Trump lately, are almost all scumbagsA.  (But don’t worry, scumbags, if you are willing to work for the Donald for next-to-nothing, I’m sure he will still like you – unless you are capturedA (by immigration perhaps).

Although I’ve recently expressed my view on the display of the Confederate flag, the flag that one is most likely to see in these parts would be the flag of our nearest Latin American neighbors (you’d better check the map; around here that wouldn’t be Mexico).  As it turns out, when you are as far south as you can possibly get inside the continental limits of the United States, the traditional southern white folk no longer represent the Majority.  That title was seized several decades ago by Cubans displaced by a communist regime at home.

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
I realize the term “communist” or its significance in this instance may cause confusion.  When I was young (which is probably long before your time), we were taught that communism was very, very bad.  Many Cubans came here during that era.  But as we’ve learned from the Chinese experience, one’s political circumstances aren’t really all that important as long as one is willing to work for next-to-nothing.  Just ask the Donald.  Then you can be our buddy (sorry, I mean BFF).  In fact, to avoid offending our BFFs, we don’t even use the word “communist” anymore unless we are talking about our political opponents (of just about any flavor) or the PopeA.  So apparently, their government still won’t allow the people in Cuba to work for Americans for next-to-nothing, and those that moved here wouldn’t think of doing that either.  So there is a lot of hostility between the Cuban residents of the two countries, even now as our President tries to restore relations, just as his (Republican) predecessors have done with milder, less oppressive or objectionable countries like Russia and China.
What really pissed off the locals as this power shift was taking place was that the newcomers weren’t assimilating the local culture.  They weren’t bothering to learn English, they weren’t renouncing the corruption or other values of a third-world country, and maybe most important, they kept waving that damn Cuban flag.  This has been going on for over fifty years now.  If the local Cubans had assimilated, then they would have known that the flag they should have been waving was from a group that actually attacked and declared war on the United States to preserve their enlightened principles, and only after a long, devastating struggle was the group soundly defeated and erased from existence over 150 years ago.

Anyway, when I saw the American flag in the back of the pickup truck, I know it wasn’t that big a deal, but I found it refreshing.  Maybe that guy finally found something he could be proud of.  Lately the only ones you see flying the American flag, the largest they can possibly find, are used car dealerships.  And how many times have you heard on the news about the veteran who tried flying his flag, but was denied or thrown out by his condominium association, which was exercising the same rights to protect their residents from offensive material that he had fought so hard for (and that some of his friends no doubt died for).  But this is America, after all.  It almost brought tears to my eyes.

DIn the time several centuries ago when the British Navy ruled the seas, “colours” meant “flag”.

Return to top

The (Southern) Emperor’s New Clothes

I had always thought this story written by Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark in the early nineteenth century was mere fiction created for small children.  Yet they seem to be reenacting this tale in the state of South Carolina as I speak.

The Plot

The original story is about a vain Emperor who had been duped by a pair of swindling weavers into thinking he was getting an extravagant new outfit and was later climactically called out by a child as being completely naked when the emperor paraded his new clothes down the streets of the capital.  The swindlers depended on observers’ pride and ego to make them unwitting accomplices to the crime by claiming that the Emperor’s new clothing would be invisible to anyone that was unusually stupid.  But this summary doesn’t do the tale justice. The story is short, so check it out yourself at The Hans Christian Andersen Center website.

How It Applies

In this month’s reenactment, the swindlers are played by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SOCV), who have considered it their job to convince us that the Confederate flag is not being used as a symbol of racism and hatred, even though it was resurrected throughout the South in the 1960’s (one hundred years after the Civil War) specifically as a protest against federal laws giving blacks some of the rights they thought they had won a century earlier.  No, according to the SOCV, that’s not the case at all.  In fact this flag is THE ONLY true symbol of Southern Pride.  The Governor of the state is not playing the Emperor, as some might think (or hope).  That’s not because the Governor is a female, I’m sure, but because the legislature somehow made her powerless in this instance.  The star role is played by the state lawmakers, who have been solidly Republican, and solidly white, and solidly male since about the time the flag returned to prominence.  The child is aptly played by 21-year-old Dylann Roof.  Some might consider him too old for the part, but because of the culture he grew up in and the current state of our education system (which he dropped out of in the ninth grade), I would argue that he is every bit as qualified as that young child in Denmark from a time just a little bit before the South’s finest hour.  In a dramatic and tragic fashion, Dylann demonstrated that he knew the true meaning of that flag based on the context in which it was used.  He was not buying any of this Southern Pride crap.  And neither should you. 

 

Where I Fit In

I’m not originally from the South, but have lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else and like to consider this home.  I’m really saddened by these recent developments.  While I’ve always been puzzled by all of this Confederate pride stuff, now I’m starting to question my own actions, or lack thereof.  There is no telling how many lives could have been saved if I had the heart, or is it the balls, to break it to y’all many years ago that the Confederacy actually lost that war (go ahead and Google it), which means there are a lot of losers down here worshiping bigger losers.  But that has always been their right, and I’m a big believer in personal rights and freedoms, brushing their obsession off as harmless fun.  I may even owe my neighbors and all true followers of the Lord an apology for misjudging the harm in this ruse and for my inaction. But then again, my voice may not have made a difference. In Andersen’s original story, only a child would have been able to expose the Emperor (no pun intended). Any adult making the claim the child did would have been dismissed as a simpleton and subjected to ridicule (OK, now maybe I’m just making excuses for myself again).

So What’s The Point?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the good guys win every war.  This isn’t Hollywood.  But in this case, if it’s not bigotry and hatred, exactly what ARE the principles (which are lacking in those “damn Yankees”) that we are really trying so hard to defend here?  And although pride is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”, there are many who consider it a virtue A.  Either way, it has to be acknowledged as a basic human characteristic.  But it is just so very sad that in the last 150 years (and probably the 150 years before that), we have found absolutely nothing else around here beside the Confederate flag that we could possibly take any pride in.  That certainly didn’t change this week. (Or did it?  Could it be possible you just don’t know where to look?)

So What Happens Next?

Hans Christian Andersen was no Walt Disney; his story ends long before they reached “Happily Ever After”.  In fact as the curtain dropped, the Emperor, after being outed as an idiot, was determined to continue on, “so he walked more proudly than ever”.  What that means for the Confederate flag, or human decency, or the citizens of the Great State of South Carolina I have no idea.  That is all up to you.

Am I Becoming An Insensitive Bastard?

My lifetime partner might think so.  Here are a few articles that have come to my attention in the recent past that may (or may not) support his/her view:

  • Beyoncé Slammed for Sampling Shuttle Tragedy on New Album
    To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
    For putting a six-second audio clip of an official mentioning the Challenger disaster at the beginning of her song, “XO”, twenty-seven years after the incident, Beyonce is considered extremely insensitive for mocking the crew’s sacrifice and opening “fresh wounds”. Really?
  • JetBlue just made the ultimate faux pas on Twitter
    To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
    JetBlue is forced to apologize for tweeting three words that reminded people of the Hindenburg disaster, which occurred seventy-seven years earlier. The life expectancy in the United States is currently 78.74 years. What is the normal mourning period (especially for someone who was less than two years old at the time of the tragedy)?  Looking at this from a different perspective, the article notes that 36 people died in the tragedy.  I’m willing to bet that over a million times that number have died tragically since then.  How long will you be able to devote to grieving over each one of these people?  Are some really more worthy than others?
  • Coke pulls Fanta ad over Nazi controversy
    To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
    Apparently, it is now considered completely thoughtless to reminisce about the Good Old Days if there was strife anywhere in the world during that time period. In how many years during the last century would such recollections still be possible?
  • Under Armour pulls controversial ‘Band of Ballers’ T-shirt
    To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.

    The T-shirt was deliberately made to resemble the photograph of the raising of the American flag at the battle of Iwo Jima that “promptly became an indelible icon — of that battle, of the Pacific War, and of the Marine Corps itselfA“. The article notes that “more than 6,800 American troops died in that battle”. Not mentioned, by the way, is the fact that the United States actually won that battle and thousands of old geezers still take great pride in their part in defending our American way of life. The T-shirt, on the other hand, is about basketball. Lighten up!
  • US Senate Candidate Apologizes for Offensive ‘War Cry’ Comment
    To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
    In the video clip, this lady is making fun of herself, not any minority group, for her own misunderstanding of the term “Indian American”. The “offensive” gesture lasted maybe two seconds, during which time all five fingers were extended (as opposed to just the longest, as would be displayed in a gesture that I have become much more familiar with).  The event clearly shows her ignorance, not her animosity.  I’m inclined to think “no blood, no foul”. It’s clear that the offended parties take themselves much more seriously than she takes herself. Probably too seriously.

I’m sure there are many other examples, but you get the idea. I know, I know – you have to take these stories with a grain of salt; there are some in the media who know they can sell more ads by fanning the flames of controversy regardless of how small those flames really are, and the outrage in at least one of the stories may be politically motivated. Still, I’m beginning to see a trend, and it’s not a good one.

Here are a couple of seemingly unrelated situations that may metaphorically give hints as to where I’m going with this.

  • FCC Part 15, which applies to many consumer electronic devices, says that the equipment must meet two requirements: (1) The device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) the device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation. To me this just makes sense.  Radio interference degrades the ability to communicate.  First, in consideration of others one should create as little interference as possible.  Second, since there will always be some interference, if your equipment can’t accept interference it may be worthless.
  • When operating a boat, “the vessel’s wake must not be excessive nor create a hazard to other vesselsA (See also A).  That sounds entirely reasonable to me.  On the other hand, any vessel that cannot handle the ocean’s waves would not be considered seaworthy, so while a ship is responsible for any damages caused by its wake, those damages would be harder to prove and collect when they occur in the open ocean.

It has been reported that “real men” don’t cry.  Even though that is erroneous, I can assure you that real men do not go looking for things to cry about. And while, contrary to popular belief, real men are not defined by what they wear or what they do or don’t eat, it is entirely fair and reasonable to judge a man by how they behave.

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
Here, as you should have guessed, I am using the more general definition of “man”, as in “mankind”, which includes both sexes.
I propose the following rule of manhood:

A real man needs to be able to take more #$@! than s/he can dish out.

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
And what are MY qualifications on this matter?It shouldn’t matter whether I consider myself a contender, a shopper, or merely a bystander, the statement should be able to stand on its own merits. If these rules are too stringent for you, sit back down with the wannabes.  If you have a better rule or argument, let’s hear it.
It grieves me to see people racing to find new ways to be offended. These are clearly haters and wannabes instead of problem solvers, and should not be taken seriously.  For example, the first four of the above examples involved alleged insensitivity to the tragedies of others.  We have all lost loved ones.  Those who claim to be hurt and offended that long after the catastrophe, in my book, are either faking it (in some sports they would be called floppers) or they need serious professional help.

Now that you know how I feel, what is the answer to the title question? Is it me or “them”? I think everyone needs to continually ask themselves this question. You should always allow for the possibility that you are wrong as a first step in reducing your own error rate.  Although being politically correct is obviously not one of my objectives, I do actually believe in considering the needs, rights, and points of view of others in my decision making process. It seems to me that following the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) should be sufficient.  But then again, if one actually were an insensitive bastard that wasn’t easily offended, treating others in the same callous manner that one finds tolerable toward oneself just might not be enough.  Unfortunately, we are all burdened by our own biases, so finding the answer to this question is not easy, and may not even be possible without the help of friends.  That’s why I’m turning this discussion over to you.  Thanks in advance for your help.

The Statue – A Modern Fable (or Allegory?)

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, in the land of Euwessovay,

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
The anglicized version of the Greek word Euwessovay would be “U.S. of A.”

a huge island far off the coast of ancient Greece, there lived a great sculptor, who came from a long line of great sculptors descended from PygmalionA.  This sculptor was commissioned to create a statue for the leaders of the Scotus Society,

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
One club in the new land was so enamored with this ancient society that they made their name a backronymD of the older group. They now call themselves “The Supreme Court Of The United States”.

and as you’d expect, he did an outstanding job.  The Scotus Society was a powerful group of old men, who were considered to be the wisest in the land, and as many of you know, “statue” is an ancient Greek word for corporation.  Everybody in ancient Greece knew that a statue, although created by humans for the benefit and enjoyment of humans, was not really human; even Pygmalion knew that.  Unlike the famous work of this sculptor’s ancestor, this statue was not in the form of a beautiful woman.  To ensure his commission, the sculptor took a lesson from another compatriot of the old country, NarcissusA, and made the statue in the likeness of the society elders.  When they received the statue, the members of the society each saw himself in the statue and immediately fell in love.  They loved the statue so much that they unanimously decreed that it would thereafter be considered human with all of the rights and privileges thereof.  And thus was the law of the land.  Not quite satisfied, they later decreed unanimously that this statue would be granted the highest honor and privilege in the land, specifically the right to completely disregard the “Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness”
To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
This quote is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, who in the Declaration of Independence claimed these terms were unalienable Rights endowed by our Creator.

of all lesser humans, namely women, and to ignore all of their needs and individual religious beliefs, as his gods commanded him.”

Nobody yet knows how this story will turn out.  Although it was born from the mind of men, this statue is no AthenaA. And in this version of the Incarnation, it is the mother’s role that is missing instead of the father’s; maybe this new human will be the atheists’ answer to Jesus Christ.  Nonetheless, this statue is now a proper and natural citizen of the great island state of Euwessovay, which means that because it is male, this statue could well be declared the country’s next Grand Commander.  And because statues never die, we could all be serving this great leader for years to come.

How The The Hobby Lobby Decision Affected Me.

I had probably been growing disgruntled long before the Supreme Court made this decision,

To see the Note click here.To hide the Note click here.
For those of you who haven’t heard, the Supreme Court just decided that corporations who state at the beginning of their articles of incorporation that their only purpose is to make gobs of money now have more religious rights than you doA.
but that was the event that triggered my first ever effort at political creative expression – a short allegory (or is it a fable?), which may be what led to me starting this blog.  Although my faith in the Supreme Court was completely shattered (for the moment), the world has not yet come to an end as predicted.  Still, for me this was worse than learning that Santa Claus didn’t exist.  In that earlier instance, the realization finally came after discovering several aspects of the story that just didn’t add up, so it wasn’t that big of a shock.  My biggest concern then was whether or not the presents would stop coming once I admitted that I knew the truth.  Now after this latest event, I have to ask myself whether any of our personal liberties are safe, and even more important, was ANYTHING my parents taught me really true.

For example, when I was young I remember hearing about how one person’s rights end when the next person’s begin.  And then there’s the one about how with rights come responsibilities (try telling that to the gun worshipers).  And what about those history lessons; the way I understood it, our forefathers came to this country to get away from other people telling them how and to whom they should worship.  Had they been greeted upon arrival by a delegation of natives assuring them that although the government here could not dictate such things, it could hold you down while you were pummeled into submission by your boss, I’m sure they would have reconsidered.  I believe the pilgrims would have either

  1. turned around and gone home (we have too many immigrants in this country anyway),
    To see the note click here.To hide the note click here.
    Do I need to give some sort of signal when I’m being facetious?
    or they would have
  2. used that as an excuse to massacre the current residents and steal all of their land (the American dream, and probably the true motive right now behind Israel’s foreign policy (we may talk about this more in a later article)).

After I wrote my allegory/fable, I showed it to a very small set of carefully selected friends.  Unfortunately, most of these friends were too polite to comment.  One brave soul suggested I was too esoteric. That could explain why I never quite made it as a math teacher.  Their critique is the reason I provide extra notes and footnotes to explain some of my terms and references.  If you are already familiar with the terms, you might want to skip the references to maintain the flow of the prose.  None of my friends even hinted that it might be safe to give up my day job, and so I haven’t.

Look for this allegory/fable about “The Statue” here soon.