Politically correct. What outrage that term produces! How dare anyone tell me how to behave, how to speak? I can say anything I want. I mean … look at our president!
Yeah. Look at our president. Take a good look.
To be politically correct means to tread carefully on other people’s feelings and sensibilities. I’m for that.
Around here, “P.C,” means you can’t go around spewing racist epithets thinly disguised as humor or these days, as pure hatred. PC is designed for all the morons, bigots, racists and the socially challenged. It is a simple rule: “DON’T SAY THAT,” works much better than sensitivity training.
So many amongst us have no sensitivity to train.
Even if the morons who insist they don’t mean it — in which case why are they saying it? — I feel any rule or law that protects me from having to listen to hate is political capital well spent.
I would not call it political correctness.
I would call it civility.
If anyone feels that not calling other people insulting names is cramping their style, these are the exact people for whom these rules were intended. These are precisely the folks who most need them. Normal people have enough intelligence and good manners to know when to shut up without being told. They don’t need those rules. They already “get it.”
For everyone else, we have rules. Call it whatever you want. PC, good manners, civility, sensitivity, or politeness. It’s the same thing.
When we are amongst friends and we know each other well, we relax, let out guards down. Especially when we are a minority among others like us with similar culture and history, it’s all good. We are family, we act silly like family. But if you are not one of us, leave your mouth outside. I don’t need to be insulted. I don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Many people still think racism is sort of cute. I think they should be eliminated from the gene pool.
A friend today posted a review on Facebook about the film, “Schindler’s List” which he had just seen for the first time, 25-years after the acclaimed movie’s release. My friend talked about the film’s haunting power, its narrative about one man’s brave quest to save a number of Holocaust victims from death.
It’s based on a true story and Schindler holds a special place in Israel for his efforts.
Stephen Spielberg said he made the film to honor its hero, Oscar Schindler and remember all the Holocaust victims, those who were saved and the many who weren’t.
The film — with current headlines about neo-Nazi and white-supremacist rallies in the United States and elsewhere — feels more relevant than ever. The recent attacks on Synagogues in Pittsburgh and anti-semitic incidents in Massachusetts — leave people wondering: “Have we forgotten?”
Wounds are raw from last year’s ugly Charlottesville KKK rally that claimed one life and left our President issuing comments about “perpetrators on both sides.” Antisemitism and racism continue to be headline stories more than 75-years after millions gave their lives in a war that should have ended those injustices.
Obviously not. There have been a few “message” movies that deal with those still festering issues which many insist no longer exist. Dissidents say it’s more “fake news” from the liberal media. So many ostriches with their heads in the sand.
The other night I revisited the movie “Crossfire” which was released by RKO in 1947, the year before the more acclaimed “Gentlemen’s Agreement” was released. This drew public attention and “surprise” about Antisemitism in post-war America.
“Crossfire” is an excellent, understated film about this virulent subject matter. Its director, Edward Dmytryk (a victim of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s infamous “Blacklist) used the plot of a small group of GI’s, just mustered out of the war and trying to fit back into society.
They encounter a friendly civilian at a bar who listens to their complaints about readjustment and offers sympathy where others just tune them out. One of the GI’s — lonely for his wife and exhibiting PTSD symptoms — is befriended by the civilian who invites him home for drinks and quiet conversation.
The other soldiers – uninvited — crowd into the apartment and lap up the booze. One of them, a very obnoxious vet — sneers at men who avoided combat, who got rich running banks and law practices. He looks at one of his confused pals and yells: “Jews, man! You know those people! They get rich while we fight and die. Jews!”
The civilian referred to as “Sammy,” is tolerant. Veteran actor Sam Levene who played many similar roles is perhaps overly patient with the bigoted GI. This is Robert Ryan in one of his most chilling villain roles.
The secondary plot has “Sammy” murdered by one of the GIs. The PTSD soldier is fingered as the suspect but we know better. Robert Young, in a pre “Father Knows Best” role, plays the tough, weary cop who sifts through all the alibis. This is one of Robert Mitchum’s early films. He is excellent as the soft-spoken, no-nonsense veteran who is suspicious of the venomous Ryan character.
Ryan is ultimately outed as he rants about “those people.” He gets what he deserves and is gunned down during a police chase on a rainy New Orleans Street.
The final scene with Young and Mitchum in conversation about Ryan’s demons ends quietly as they go their separate ways, both wondering what World War Two was really all about.
In an early 1970s interview, Robert Mitchum remembered “Crossfire.” He was in Boston shooting “The Friends Of Eddie Coyle,” so I had the good fortune to spend a long afternoon into the evening over drinks with “Mitch.”
In a wide-ranging conversation, Mitchum recalled what it was like working in the 1940s, especially with “The Blacklist” hovering over Hollywood. He said some pals urged him not to do “Crossfire” because it would hurt his career.
“Mitch” grinned at me “You know what that was all about, Don’t ya?” I nodded. Mitchum continued, “There were so many hateful bastards — there were always dissing Negroes (he looked at me and I nodded an ‘okay’) and Jews. They always thought I was with them. I had a few fights and dumped a few jobs because I couldn’t stand the two-faced bastards.”
I looked at Mitch and confirmed: “Not much has changed.” He shook his head sadly and ordered another round.
That was almost 50 years ago. No, not much has changed. Not on the silver screen or in real life.
Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all, By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed, For heaven approves of each generous deed.
-John Dickinson, The Liberty Song, 1768
Throughout the history of this country, the concept that we stand together has been expressed in song, in writing, and at the podium in speech. It was the rallying cry of the Revolution and the days following 9/11. It was spoken during the Civil War and the armed conflicts since. It was the thought of trade unions fighting for better working conditions. We may never have all stood together, but we were never divided at critical times in history. Until now, that is.
From the opening of his campaign until the present day, the leader of our country has worked hard to divide Americans with an “Us versus them” attitude. He speaks it, he tweets it, he lies about it.
In the opening salvo, he started by trying to assert that many of our neighbors who came from other countries were the enemy. Of Mexico he stated: “They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.” You likely know the most egregious things he said about Mexico. Let’s consider another statement.
Dividing us from other friends, 45 went on to say: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening.” This was stated despite a strict immigration policy under President Obama. Ask anyone who entered (or was deported) at that time.
Also at the time of his announcement, China and Japan were particularly criticised, along with the leaders of our own country. It is not unusual to criticize the other party during a campaign, but consider carefully the deals the country made during the Obama presidency and the comments made by Trump, the candidate. There is campaign rhetoric, and then there are falsehoods and divisions. The announcement of candidacy is filled with quotes that are not attributed to specific people and many statistics that raise questions of accuracy. Did he portray us correctly?
After a campaign of insults and hateful comments, 45 has spent a great deal of time on his twitter account blasting out hateful and divisive comments among people here and abroad. How do we feel about this? Early in the year the Quinnipiac University National Poll found that the Tweeter in Chief is dividing the nation. While polls results show that the majority of Republicans do not feel this way, Americans by 64 to 31 per cent feel that 45 is actually doing more to divide the country.
Worse yet, many are unsure if the man is actually stable. “President Donald Trump can’t seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. But apparently, some of those voters are willing to stand by him anyway.
He tried to change the narrative on the NFL anthem controversy, perhaps because he could not get an NFL franchise years ago. The NFL commissioner and the NFL Players Association fired back. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” commissioner, Roger Goodell, said. NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith, indicated that they would not back down.
NFL QB Tom Brady, believed to be a Republican, responded “I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. I just want to support my teammates.”
Last year in September, the New York Times’ Peter Baker provided this news analysis, “Never in modern times has an occupant of the Oval Office seemed to reject so thoroughly the nostrum that a president’s duty is to bring the country together.” Isn’t it troubling that our leader has so many negative things to say?
Baker also noted, “In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of “Hamilton,” the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” the pope and now professional sports. ” Is this presidential?
While the tweeter is in a rage, outside forces are also trying to undermine American life. Fake social media accounts have reportedly planted fake stories and memes meant to drive a wedge between parts of our society. Apparently it has been working. If you have been a regular user of facebook or twitter you know exactly what the problem is. As these fake stories pop up, unwitting supporters retweet, reblog and share these items on their news feed. Do you think foreign influences are behind this?
Social media believes we are under cyber attack. Google, the parent of YouTube and other media platforms, deleted Iranian accounts. Facebook and others have removed Russian accounts. These accounts were there to influence opinion and perhaps even divide Americans through fake stories. Was there collusion by 45 and/or his minions to help spread lies posted by Russians? Time will reveal the answer.
With full-blown propaganda wars in play, some started by and perpetuated by our leader, our enemies must be rejoicing. They see the unraveling of the American fabric, aided by our own leader, allowing them to advance to a stronger position in the world. If they can divide us and turn American against American, with Trump’s help, then our foes will watch as we stumble and fall in the eyes of the world.
Because most of us are rational, we not only loathe the guy running our government. We also really want to know how he became such an awful person. We all know people — some of us are those people — who grew up with abusive parents. Desperately poverty. Rich and privileged, lower, middle, or undefined class. One of many children. An only child. Male. Female. Other.
Most of us turned out okay. Even those who have (had) (still have) a lot of issues were never completely loathsome. All of us had a few good points. Someone thought we were okay.
But then, there’s Donald J. Trump.
So I thought I’d run a little survey.
His father was a pretty ugly guy in his own right. A racist slumlord, I’m sure he passed his beliefs to his kid. But other people have rotten parents and they don’t grow up just like them. Rich and poor, children can grow into decent people, no matter how they began.
What made the difference? If it wasn’t a contract with the dark one? A television renewal failure? What happened to turn a rich asshole into the pit of evil?
My marriage is fine. My house is not falling apart. The car was repaired and runs well. Yet I feel quite unhinged. A prisoner of war in my own country. Or that’s how I feel.
The World is killing me. I live in a country where the courts think it’s okay to kidnap and cage children. To put five-year-olds in front of a judge — without a lawyer.
There was another mass shooting today.
If somewhere there exists a particularly reactionary and stupid lawyer, Trump will appoint him or her and while I won’t live forever, my kid and granddaughter will spend the rest of their lives in this oppressive world we have created.
My world is crumbling. So is yours, even if you don’t know it.
I am troubled. I have nightmares. Small things which would normally not bother me are making me crazy. I feel damaged as if I’d been in a car accident.
I have trouble finding anything funny because today there was another mass shooting and there are thousands of children in cages.
The world is broken; I am bruised all over. I feel helpless to fix anything. It’s a bad way to feel. It’s also weird. I’ve always been able to separate the personal from “the rest of the world.” Somehow, I can’t seem to do that anymore.
You don’t need to try to find the soul of every evil person and group on the planet. It’s perfectly fine to recognize evil when you see it and walk away. This is the point when I begin to get edgy, worried, and frankly irritable.
If it isn’t Twitter’s place to suspend a hate group operating on their system, who else should do it? Would you prefer the government stop it?
Hitler could have been stopped. There was more than enough time to put an end to him, but no one did it. No one stopped him. Everyone was worried about protecting Hitler’s freedom of expression. You wouldn’t want to impinge on the man who hates everyone’s civil rights, would you?
I’m sure these same people who hate all the rest of us — and if in power, would probably kill us — will now take legal action because their “civil rights” are supposed to protect them from … what? Spreading the evil they spew? But of course, they entirely object to us — “those people” — having civil rights at all. Dig into the irony. It’s a deep, profound irony.
There has to be a stopping point. There must be a “no more” point.
I get civil rights better than most people, but I also understand that failing to have a “stop, this has to end” point has had catastrophic results not only in England, but everywhere.
Someone has to say “No more. It’s over.” I’m glad it’s Twitter because it is their company and they do have the right to shut them down. If there’s one plus to private industry, the right to not serve parties who do not observe company policy has got to be a big one. If a cake maker can refuse to bake for a gay couple, I’m pretty sure Twitter can stop propagating a hate group.
You want my opinion? I think any group which objects to others having civil rights and First Amendment protections should be relieved of their own. After all, they don’t need them anyway. They said so.
“He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.” — Old English proverb, dating to the 14th century.
Mass suicide at Jonestown – Nov 18, 1978
There has been an upsurge of interest in Jonestown over the past few years. This post went by with little notice when I wrote it — about 4 years ago. Since then, it has developed a life of its own. Not surprising given the current state of disunion in this country and elsewhere. Jim Jones and Donald Trump share many traits. More importantly, so do their followers.
This is a cautionary tale, an urgent warning. Talk is not harmless. Lies matter. Corruption kills. To those of you who blindly follow, I hope you’re keeping the long spoon handy. I have a gut feeling you will eventually need it.
Tomorrow is the 39th anniversary of the massacre. A good time to remember.
From Nothing, Something Terrible Comes – Remembering Jonestown
If you are my age or near it, you remember the Jonestown Massacre. Even if you are younger, if in 1978 you were old enough to watch TV or read a newspaper, you could hardly forget it. With fundamentalism enjoying a rebirth among our politicians and so-called religious leaders it’s a good time to remind everyone where this kind of thing has led in the past and where it could easily lead in the future.
There is nothing remotely amusing about this story. It was horrible when it happened; time has not made it less so.
The Road to Jonestown
The phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” has become common parlance in American business and politics. Roughly translated, it means “to blindly follow.” It usually carries a negative connotation. The “Kool Aid” references go all the way back to the 1950s when it was the typical drink for children on suburban summer afternoons. The origin of the saying is something else — darker, and different. It has become the kind of bland rhetoric about which we don’t give a thought, but its roots lie in horror.
Before we talk about Kool-Aid, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane to that particularly awful episode of American history.
Jim Jones, cult leader and mass murderer, was a complex madman. A communist and occasional Methodist minister, he founded his pseudo-church in the late 1950s. He called it the “Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church,” known in short as the “Peoples Temple.”
The lack of a possessive apostrophe was intentional. The name was supposed to be a reference to “the people of the world.” While Jones called it a church, it was closer to a warped version of a Marxist commune. Initially, it combined a hodgepodge of Christian references that Jones used in his diatribes … supposedly sermons.
It was never a real church. The Peoples Temple was a straight-up cult. It required a level of commitment and financial support from members plus a degree of obedience that’s the defining quality of a cult.
Jones was the cult’s leader — and a homicidal maniac. But he had positive attributes. Jones and his wife Marceline were in favor of racial integration. They adopted a bunch of kids from varying backgrounds and were the first white family in Indiana to adopt an African-American boy. Other adopted children included three Korean Americans, a Native American, and a handful of white kids. They also had a child of their own.
The “Rainbow Family”
Jones called his adopted kids the “Rainbow Family.” He made a name for himself desegregating institutions in Indiana. Before you get all dewy-eyed about this, note this story ultimately climaxes in the murder of all the Jones children by their parents.
The Peoples Temple continued to expand through the 1960s. Jones gradually abandoned his Marxism. His preaching began to increasingly focus on impending nuclear apocalypse. He even specified a date — July 15, 1967 — and suggested afterwards, a socialist paradise would exist on Earth. Where would the new Eden be?
Jones decided on Redwood Valley, California and before the expected apocalypse, he moved the Temple and its peoples there. When the end-of-the-world deadline passed without a holocaust, Jones quit pretending to be a Christian and revealed himself as an atheist who used religion to give his own opinions legitimacy. Jones announced that “Those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion must be brought to enlightenment — socialism.” Prophetic words since Jones was a drug addict who preferred literal to metaphorical opiates.
As media attention increased, Jones worried the Peoples Temple’s tax-exempt religious status was in danger. He was paranoid about the U.S. intelligence community — probably with justification.
In 1977, Jones moved the Temple and its people to a different site that Jones had been working on since 1974. It was located in Guyana and he modestly named it “Jonestown.” It was a bleak, inhospitable place. Built on 4000 acres with limited access to water, it was much too small and seriously overcrowded. Temple members had to work long hours just to keep from starving.
Nonetheless, Jones decided his people would farm the land of his utopia. He had put together several million dollars before getting to Jonestown (he confiscated all his followers’ money), but wealth was not distributed. He barely used any of the money for himself and lived in a tiny, bare-bones shared house.
All Hell Breaks Loose
U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown in November of 1978. Rumors of peculiar goings-on were leaking out of Jonestown. Ryan decided to investigate rumors of abuses in Jonestown. Ryan didn’t travel alone. He took a contingent of media people including NBC News correspondent Don Harris and other reporters, plus relatives of Jonestown residents. He assumed that this would protect him — a major miscalculation.
During his visit to Jonestown, Congressman Ryan talked to more than a dozen Temple members, all of whom said they wanted to leave. Several of them passed a note saying: “Please help us get out of Jonestown” to news anchor Harris.
If the number of defectors seems low considering the more than 900 residents of Jonestown, remember they had not been allowed to talk to most of the “fellowship.” The number of those who wanted to leave could have been much more. We’ll never know.
Ryan began processing the paperwork to repatriate Temple members. In the middle of this, Ryan was attacked with a knife by temple member Don Sly. This would-be assassin was stopped before Ryan was hurt. Eventually the Ryan party decided to leave. They and the Jonestown defectors drove to the airstrip and boarded planes.
Jim Jones had other plans. He sent armed Temple members — his “Red Brigade” — after the Congressional party. These creepy “soldiers of the Temple” opened fire on them, killing Ryan, a Temple defector, three members of the media, and wounding eleven others. The survivors fled into the jungle.
When the murderers returned to Jonestown and reported their actions, Jones promptly started what he called a “White Night” meeting. He invited all Temple members. This wasn’t the first White Night. Jones had hosted previous White Night meetings in which he suggested U.S. intelligence agencies would soon attack Jonestown.
He had even staged fake attacks to add a realism, though it’s hard to believe anyone was fooled. Faced with this invasion scenario, Jones told Temple members they could stay and fight imaginary invaders. They could take off for the USSR or run into the jungles of Guyana. Or they could commit mass suicide.
On previous occasions Temple members had opted for suicide. Not satisfied, Jones had tested their commitment by giving them cups of liquid that supposedly contained poison. Which they drank (???). After a while, Jones told them the liquid wasn’t poison — but one day it would be.
Jim Jones had been stockpiling poisons — cyanide and other drugs — for years. On this final White Night, Jones was no longer testing his followers. It was time to kill them all.
Don’t Drink It!
After the airstrip murders outside Jonestown, Jim Jones ordered Temple members to create a fruity mix containing a cocktail of chemicals that included cyanide, diazepam (Valium), promethazine (Phenergan — a sedative), chloral hydrate (a sedative/hypnotic sometimes called “knockout drops”), and Flavor Aid, a beverage similar to Kool-Aid.
Jones told his followers they should commit suicide to make a political point. What that point was supposed to be is still a matter of considerable debate. Temple member Christine Miller suggested flying members to the USSR.
Of course, Jones was never really interested in escape. There was only one answer that he would accept. Death and lots of it. He repeatedly pointed out to his followers that Congressman Ryan was dead (and whose fault was that?) which would surely bring down the weight of American retribution. An audiotape of this meeting exists. It is just as creepy as you’d expect.
Then it was time for the detailed instructions which — still baffling to me at least — the followers did as they were told. I will never understand why. Probably that’s a positive sign indicating I’m not insane.
Jones insisted mothers squirt poison into the mouths of their children using syringes. As their children died, the mothers were allowed to drink poison from cups. Temple members wandered out onto the ground where eventually just over 900 lay dead, including more than 300 children. Only a handful of survivors escaped — primarily those who happened to be away on errands or playing basketball when the mass suicide/massacre took place.
Jones did not drink poison. He died from a gunshot to the head. It’s unclear if it was self-inflicted. Jones probably died last or nearly so and likely preferred the gun to cyanide. He had witnessed the horrendous effects of death by cyanide and preferred something quicker.
What’s With the Kool-Aid?
In the wake of the tragedy at Jonestown, the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” became a popular term for blind obedience, as Temple members had apparently accepted their cups of poison without objection. According to various accounts, the primary beverage used at Jonestown was actually Flavor Aid (sometimes “Flav-R-Aid”) — although both Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were used.
Kool-Aid was better known than Flavor Aid. Kool-Aid was introduced in 1927 in powdered form. When Americans thought about a powdered fruity drink mix (other than “Tang”), “Kool-Aid” came immediately to mind. Therefore, although Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were both present at Jonestown, the phrase “(don’t) drink the Kool-Aid” has become entrenched in popular lingo.
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