Sunday, August 20, 2017

Comparing Antifa To World War II Veterans....

I hope people take the time to read this and don't simply respond to the title.

There has been a meme floating around the internet for the last few days of several World War II veterans with the caption that says something about how they fought against Nazis just like Antifa is fighting against Nazis.

The meme, created to be clever, was offensive to myself and many of my fellow veterans because the comparison was not even in the realm of reality. Without criticizing anyone who shared it or found it believable, I'd like to shed a little light on the real Nazis versus the wannabe Nazis in this country.

Hitler's Nazi Party began in 1919 following the end of World War I. Hitler was a member from the beginning and due to his charismatic speaking abilities he became the leader in 1921. Throughout the 1920s Hitler grew the party and in 1929, when Germany's economy tanked once again, he and his party began winning elections. By 1933 Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.

He immediately began building his military and opened Dachau, the first of many concentration camps in which were placed Jews, artists, intellectuals, Gypsies, the physically and mentally handicapped and homosexuals. Ethnic cleansing had begun.

The Nazis began rounding up Jews, killing many, confining others to ghettos where many died of disease and starvation, and putting others in concentration camps – using some for abhorrent medical experimentation.

From 1936 to 1939, Hitler retook the German Rhineland (taken by the treaty), and annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia (by force.)

Ignoring warnings from Great Britain and France, Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. This event began World War II.

Hitler continued to kill and imprison Jews in every country he invaded. When he invaded the Soviet Union, Nazi death squads machine gunned tens of thousands of Jews to death. All told the Nazis would exterminate over six million Jews during World War II.

By contrast, the American Nazi Party is a very small minority of racists. Their numbers nationwide might be in the thousands but in a nation with a population of 320 million they don't carry much weight. American Nazis pretty much hate anyone who is not white (although their website says they will gladly accept monetary donations from “non-Aryans” who want to contribute. What good guys, huh?)

They march in various places and try to spread their hatred in an effort to get more white people interested in their cause. Unfortunately for them, the overwhelming majority of Americans aren't interested in their brand of hatred so they are mostly ignored except on parade day.

And Antifa is fighting against them. Big deal.

World War II veterans voluntarily put on the uniform of the United States' armed services and went to Europe to defend freedom and to fight against an evil force that was systematically taking over Europe and exterminating Jews. They also went to the Pacific to fight against the Japanese emperor and his military that had launched a surprise attack on Hawaii and killed thousands of Americans.

Antifa, who likes to pretend they are boldly facing down Nazis and fascists in these United States, also wears a uniform of sorts. They dress in black for their demonstrations. They also cover their faces so they can't be identified and they carry weapons such as baseball bats, sticks, boards with nails driven into one end, rocks, bottles, tear gas and anything else they can assault people with. I've seen one carrying an ax and another making an improvised flame thrower with a spray paint can.

Antifa's stated goal of fighting against Nazis, neoNazis, racism, homophobes, Islamophobes, etc., sounds noble but their methods are more fascist than anyone they oppose. They say they “want to make America ungovernable" and their method is violence. Really? Do they have any idea what that would actually do to the nation and her people?

World War II veterans fought against an evil empire that was taking over Europe and murdering millions of people.

Antifa is fighting against their fellow American citizens in an effort to oppress the First Amendment rights of anyone with whom they disagree. They want to destroy the government of the United States. They are a terrorist group if ever there was one.

To pretend that the two groups are one in the same is not only ridiculous but an insult to the brave men who fought in World War II. And by being so it is an insult to all veterans.

I can't help but wonder how many Antifa members and followers are veterans. I would bet not many.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More Statues To Be Removed? Where Does It End?

John Breckinridge Castleman is an unfamiliar name to most. I certainly didn't know the name when it was brought to my attention this morning.

John Castleman was a soldier from Lexington, Kentucky. He studied law at Transylvania University in Lexington before joining the Army of the Confederacy when the Civil War broke out. He achieved the rank of Major during the war. Castleman was arrested in Missouri for attempting to destroy supply boats and was sentenced to death. He was pardoned by Abraham Lincoln.

Following the war Castleman was exiled from the United States and spent time in France studying medicine. He was pardoned by then President Andrew Johnson and returned to Kentucky in 1866 where he revived his old army unit and commanded the new First Kentucky Volunteers unit, fighting for the United States of America in the Spanish-American war. He was promoted to Colonel during that time.

Castleman was part of the invasion of Puerto Rico and after the war ended he was promoted to Brigadier General. He served as one of the military governors in Puerto Rico before returning to Kentucky, where he became the Adjutant General of Kentucky and served 25 years as the Commissioner of the Board of Parks.

John Breckenridge Castleman is becoming more well known in Kentucky these days, particularly in the citiy of Louisville. Activists in Louisville want a statue of Castleman on public to be removed because he fought for the South.

Apparently returning to the United States after exile and serving these great United States in the Spanish-American war isn't enough to forgive Castleman's transgression of being a Confederate for a few years. In my book his service to the United States should outweigh his service to the Confederacy. He put himself in harm's way for the United States.

Some Americans in 2017 can't find it in their hearts to care about his service to the United States. The Castleman statue in Louisville was vandalized over the weekend and activists are demanding it be removed.

In Lexington, Kentucky, there is a statue of John Castleman's distant cousin, John Cabell Breckenridge, who was the 14th and youngest Vice President of the United States from 1857 to 1861, when the Civil War began. He encouraged his fellow Southern politicians to maintain the union but when that failed to happen he went home to Kentucky to fight for the Confederacy.

Following the war Breckenridge had to flee the country. He returned to Kentucky after President Andrew Johnson granted amnesty to all Confederate soldiers. Yes, he was a Confederate. But removing his statue from it's current resting place is not going to change history.

The assault on historic monuments continues. In Durham, North Carolina yesterday citizens pulled down a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier and destroyed it. The bronze statue became misshapen on impact with the ground and the protesters began kicking it. (Watching them kick it was actually rather humorous. I would bet more than a couple of them are limping today.)

The statue was entitled “Remembering The Boys Who Wore Gray.” It wasn't an officer. It was a foot soldier put there in memory of all of America's Southern sons who were lost in the war. Now it's trash and I hope the people responsible for destroying it face criminal charges. It wasn't their place to destroy it.

Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally change America.” And in many ways he kept his promise. The entitlement generation who believe they have an absolute right not to be offended by anyone or anything is mostly a product of the last 8 years.

Safe spaces, hot chocolate, coloring books and puppies for college kids heartbroken over the election might comfort them today but it's not going to teach them how to survive in the real world. Ripping down statues because you don't like them is stupid. And I would bet very few of them know anything about the Civil War. I doubt they teach the truth about it anymore.

I'm curious and a little frightened to see where all of this ends. Who knows how far people are willing to go to correct their perceived wrong...?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Confederate Statues... Let The People Decide

Here is my idea for a solution to the removal of Confederate statues from public view in these United States. This will be short.
Rather than a mayor, a governor, a city council or whoever making the decision to remove a statue, why not put it to the people of the community for a vote? Remove or not remove; let the majority rule. Ensure all voters are legal residents of the community (I know, I know.... that's racist and hateful) so outsiders do not get a voice. We saw in Charlottesville what happens when outsiders crash the party.
A simple vote. If the majority of the citizens say leave the statues alone then leave the statues alone. If the majority says they want the statues gone - so be it. I'd be fine with that because it's fair to all.
Richmond, Virginia, was the capitol of the Confederate States of America. Accordingly, there are four statues of famous Confederate leaders on what is called Monument Avenue. The statues include Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, Robert E. Lee, commanding General of the Confederate Army, General Andrew "Stonewall" Jackson, and General J.E.B. Stuart. These men were a huge part of the Confederacy and having their statues in Richmond is fitting and proper in my book. They were an integral part of the history of Richmond and the South.
There are people talking now who want to remove these statues. Where does it end?
History should not be removed from public view simply because some people don't like that history. The saying "Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it" doesn't quite apply in this case. I'm pretty sure we won't have to worry about the slavery of black Americans returning to the United States. (Sex slavery seems to be alive and well, however.) But let the people decide the issue.
We live in a Constitutional Republic rather than a Democracy. That means that our rights are protected by the Constitution and cannot be taken away by a majority, as is the case in a Democracy. But this issue could be settled by a majority vote. Let common sense prevail rather than emotion. Decisions made on emotion don't always work out well. Let the people decide.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

White Nationalist vs BLM... Are They The Same?

I have been thinking about what I was going to say about white nationalist rally today in Charlottesville, Virginia. They wanted to call their final event "Unite the Right" but I can tell you that their version of the right is a far cry from mine. My version of the right doesn't hate people for their political views, their lifestyle, their race or skin color, their religion, or any of the other things that cause people to hate each other. We may disagree with you on things but hatred is not involved, regardless of what some may say.
Those marching in the white nationalist parade (if that's what it was) were showing their ignorance and hatred of people of color. That's just a fact. They're the first to decry the Black Lives Matter movement yet their marches are no different, except BLM often spews hatred of police as well as disdain for whites in general.
Now one person is dead and a couple dozen more are injured and we don't know which side caused it. Was it the white nationalists - many of whom showed up in camouflage carrying their AR-15s, as if that somehow made them impressive? Or was it a member of Antifa - the far left radical group that shows up to attack people in packs then runs away?
It's amazing to me that in 2017, civil discourse is worse than it was in the 60s. Hatred abounds in these United States and at least part of it began with the prior administration's failure to properly address hatred, racism and the consequences of each. Being the first African-American President, Barack Obama was the perfect person in the perfect position to address these issues and bring people together. I believe that's one of the reasons so many white Americans voted for him. They believed he could do what no other President could do for race relations. He failed miserably.
Instead of being the Great Uniter, President Obama began his first term by dividing Americans over an incident involving someone he knew, saying that even though he didn't have all the facts of the Professor Gates incident, "the police acted stupidly." It was absolutely the wrong thing to say.
He tried to make up for it with the infamous "beer summit" at the White House but the first blow had been struck. The Trayvon Martin incident didn't help him much after he said "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon." Once again he didn't have all the facts but waded into the controversy anyway. George Zimmerman, stupid as he was, was found not guilty of murder because he was defending himself - even after Attorney General Eric Holder opened a hot line for people to call and give him any information that might incriminate Zimmerman.
Fast forward to Ferguson, Missouri, where President Obama sent Holder with a group of FBI agents to find a reason to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. As it turned out, Brown more than earned his fate after physically assaulting Officer Wilson and trying to take his gun, then charging him in a last ditch effort to subdue him. Brown died because he assaulted a police officer. President Obama not only sent Holder but sent a three person delegation to his funeral - even though Brown was proved to be the aggressor and responsible for his own demise.
Things like this divided the country along racial lines. President Obama, the one who could have changed everything for the better, changed them for the worse because of his statements and actions. He even met with the Black Lives Matter organizers and encouraged them. And take a look at where we are today.
As much as I dislike the white nationalist movement, or the "Alt Right," as it has been tagged, is it any different than the Black Lives Matter movement? Both are extremist groups that breed hatred. And thanks to our Constitution, both have the same right to march publicly in support of their cause. So why is there a group of angry, masked and armed people opposing the white nationalists but noticeably absent from the BLM marches?
With all of the BLM activity in the last couple of years is it surprising that a white nationalist group would want to march publicly? They have done it in the past and they always get resistance but this time the resistance went a bit overboard.
I'm reading this morning that the people injured by the driver yesterday were left-wing counter protesters. So the guy behind the wheel was apparently one of the white nationalists, or at least empathised with them. This is speculation only at this point; nothing official has been publicized.
Hate filled protests solve nothing. They don't encourage positive dialogue but instead promote more hatred and division - regardless of which side you're on.
The purpose of the march yesterday is said to have been a protest of the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville. And while I disagree with the racist hatred demonstrated by most white nationalist groups, I do agree that removing historic monuments from public view is not only wrong but ridiculous. Regardless of what some may say - statues do not hurt anyone. Removing them from public view is pandering to the minority. But that's what we do in the United States. We make sure the various minorities are appeased instead of telling them to suck it up and act like educated adults.
I hope that the end of the Obama administration will bring healing to this nation - that we can move beyond the division and unite again as Americans. Unfortunately, I don't believe that's going to happen because of the rabid hatred that the left (and many on the right) has for the new President. Donald Trump may not be the best person to lead this nation right now. Or perhaps he is. Either way, he is the President right now and he is getting things done despite opposition from the left and right. Time will tell.
One thing is certain... we still live in historic times. Barack Obama was a historic first - the first African-American President. Donald Trump is a first as well - the first outsider elected President. Being an outsider draws worse resistance than being black. But that's because it's the left that is resisting. Progressives are more prone to violent protests than those on the right. Don't believe me? Take a good look at the protests of Obama's Presidency vs the protests of Trump's Presidency. It's not hard to figure out.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Can The NFL Dictate Law To States?

It seems that everyday life offers a lot of controversial topics for me to write about. This one is no different. The root of the topic is one of the most controversial things in the United States today. And the suggested solution, to me, is ridiculous.

I heard an advertisement on a local radio station about the “bathroom bill” working its way through the legislature. The woman speaking says (paraphrasing) “The NFL is bringing this year's draft to Dallas. Dallas also wants to host Super Bowls in the future. But if the bathroom bill is signed into law the NFL will pull the draft from Dallas and we'll never get to host another Super Bowl. Everyone needs to call their representatives and tell them to vote no on this bill, which doesn't keep anyone safer, and ensure that the NFL continues to do business here in Dallas.”

The advertisement is sponsored by some group of businesses.

So we have an advertisement that basically says the NFL will boycott Dallas if they don't like a particular law here in Texas, the same as they threatened to do in North Carolina over their bathroom bill. The governor of North Carolina backed off under pressure. Greg Abbott is not one to back off.

The woman says the bill “doesn't make anyone safer.” I would disagree with that. The bill says requires that people use public restroom facilities that coincide with their anatomy. If they have male genitalia they use the men's room. If they have female genitalia they use the ladies' room. Pretty simple and straight forward. It keeps some man from going into the ladies' room just because he says he identifies as a woman. In my humble opinion that keeps my granddaughter from having some male pervert in the bathroom with her one day in the future.

And here's the clincher... if you're a man and you dress like a woman and live as a woman and you go into the ladies' room and act like a woman no one is going to come and check your anatomy. It's likely no one will care. But if you're a man and you dress like a man and live like a man and go into the ladies' room saying you identify as a woman people are going to be suspicious and probably frightened. And rightly so. (Standing up to pee in the ladies' room would be a big giveaway...)

I have a difficult time believing that if one lives his life as a male for years before deciding he really should be a female he is suddenly uncomfortable in the men's room. Unhappy, perhaps – but uncomfortable? I doubt it.

My point to all of this is simple. Are we here in Texas going to allow the NFL to tell us what laws we can and cannot have? The NFL is supposed to be about entertainment, not politics. Personally I don't care one way or the other if the NFL boycotts Texas because of a law with which they disagree. I don't watch football anyway. But even if I did I wouldn't change my mind on a political issue or social issue because of what the NFL thinks or does.

I can't help but wonder what the NFL will do about the Dallas Cowboys if the bill is signed into law. Will they forbid other NFL teams from coming to Texas to play? Will they pressure the Cowboys' owner to move to another state if they want to continue as an NFL team? And if the owner refuses will they simply kick the Cowboys to the curb and dismiss them from the league? I don't think that will happen but it will be interesting to see what happens if the bill becomes law.

The NFL should stay out of politics, period. They need to stick to what they do best... entertain their fans and make mega bucks. And if the Cowboys want to leave Texas because the NFL is coercing them over a Texas law so be it. I won't miss them at all.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Truth About "The New Colossus"

What is The New Colossus, you wonder? It's a poem on a plaque that is mounted inside the base of the Statue of Liberty. But those words on the infamous plaque:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores -
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door,”

were not an original part of the Statue of Liberty and were put there as an afterthought because they seemed to fit in with the idea of liberty for all. The poem wasn't written as an inscription for the statue. It was written and donated to an auction of arts and literature to raise money to build a base for the statue.

When France decided to give us the statue in 1886 it was only a statue. The agreement was that America would choose where to put it and build a base for it. Donations weren't going well and Joseph Pulitzer led the drive to raise money for the base.

Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” and donated it to the cause. Her donation was solicited by one of the fund raising chairmen. She initially refused but another writer convinced her to try.

Her poem was the first one read at the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty” on November 2, 1883, the day the Exhibition opened. It played no further role in the mounting of the statue on the base and was not a part of the dedication ceremony in 1886.

In 1901, a friend of Lazarus who thought the poem and Lazarus should both be immortalized succeeded in getting her poem mounted inside the base of the statue on a bronze plaque in 1903. The poem began to take on the meaning of welcoming immigrants as time went by.

Journalist and historian John T. Cunningham wrote "The Statue of Liberty was not conceived and sculpted as a symbol of immigration, but it quickly became so as immigrant ships passed under the torch and the shining face, heading toward Ellis Island. However, it was Lazarus's poem that permanently stamped on Miss Liberty the role of unofficial greeter of incoming immigrants."

So while the last part of the poem is a perfect narrative for immigration, that was not its original purpose and has only become so as the country progressed.

As for the words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores -
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door...”

the United States has lived up to those words for two centuries – sometimes to the detriment of the country.

My last comment will irritate some and please others.

President Trump's proposal for immigration reform is common sense. There is nothing wrong with controlling immigration, limiting numbers of immigrants, vetting each one that comes here and ensuring they will be able to support themselves once they arrive. There is nothing wrong with insuring that immigrants will benefit our country instead of being a drain on our society. Other countries do it.

We've got enough huddled masses, wretched refuse and homeless. We don't need to be importing more.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Three Most Misused Words For 2017

There are three words in the English language that I would like to see removed from conversation, at least here in the United States. If removal is not possible, people should be required to use them in proper context or not at all. Those three words? Homophobic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic.

People toss the words around when trying to make a point against someone who has issues with homosexuality, Islam and/or immigrants. They don't realize that in nine out of ten instances they are likely using the wrong verbiage. Or perhaps they know and use it anyway.

Webster's Dictionary defines a phobia as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.”

Other dictionaries define it as an irrational fear. So let's put the definitions in context with the words above.

Disagreeing that homosexuality is a “normal lifestyle” or an acceptable practice, in most cases, does not involve fear of homosexuals. Most people who object to it can very clearly state their reasons why they object so it's not inexplicable. Neither is that objection exaggerated unless that person takes extreme action against the LGBT community. I don't really know anyone who has a fear of homosexuals. So the word homophobic is not accurate to describe someone who disagrees with the lifestyle.

Islamophobic is a word that has gained popularity since 9/11. And it is also substantially misused in today's society. Most people who speak out against Islam do not speak out in fear. They speak out in anger at the Islamic terrorists who are wreaking havoc all over the world. And since there is no foolproof way to properly vet Muslims entering the country as tourists and immigrants, to ensure they are not connected with a terrorist organization, they want to limit immigration of Muslims until such time a proper vetting can be accomplished. That's sound immigration management.

Is it fear and, if so, is it inexplicable?

I'd say if it's fear of a growing terrorist threat here in the United States it's certainly not inexplicable. Terrorism carried out by Muslims is real. A look back at Orlando and San Bernardino proves that very easily. So a fear of terrorism by Muslims here I the United States is not irrational – unless you lock yourself in a bunker and refuse to come out because of that fear.

The bottom line is that most people who label someone as Islamophobic are doing so incorrectly.

Xenophobia is defined as “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.”

This word is hurled at people who disapprove of illegal immigration or who support the travel ban issued by President Trump. That's because those who use the word are projecting their own beliefs onto those they label.

In the United States of America we have immigration laws. Within those laws are wording that forbids people from crossing our borders illegally and sneaking into our country. There is nothing irrational about wanting those laws enforced and wanting people to enter our country legally. To believe otherwise is ridiculous.

Many say our immigration policy is broken. I submit that the main thing broken about it is enforcement. If law enforcement and politicians would join together to ensure our immigration laws were enforced we wouldn't have eleven or twelve million (estimated) people in the country illegally.

Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to several million illegal aliens in 1986 with a promise from Congress that they would take action to secure our borders. Congress agreed... but apparently had their fingers crossed behind their backs. Illegal entry into the country has only increased since then with the worst incident happening in 2014, when unaccompanied children from Central and South America flooded over our Southern border.

President Obama pretended that he had “deported more illegal immigrants than any other President.” Except that wasn't quite true. Obama manipulated the numbers by counting those turned around at the border as deported – even though they hadn't actually entered the country.

Being a supporter of legal immigration does not make one xenophobic any more than opposing Islamic terrorism and supporting proper vetting makes one Islamophobic. And disagreeing with the LGBT community based on sound logic and yes, even science, does not make one homophobic.

If you're one of those who likes to use these labels please think about what you're saying and whether or not you're using the word(s) correctly. When anti-Trump fanatics go on a diatribe about him they put all these labels on him, along with misogynist, racist and sexist. It gets old.

Words are important. Misusing them to attack someone doesn't make the attacker look intelligent. The misuse of the words makes them look ignorant.