November 6, 2007

the men who spurred us on
sit in judgement of all wrong

Roger Mayne, Southam Street, London W10, 1956

* Current drug laws destroy lives. excerpt:

"Newsflash: California authorities are taking children away from their families because of their parents' medical marijuana.

"Newsflash: The US federal government imprisons thousands of people for decades over minute quantities of crack cocaine.

"Newsflash: Indonesia's Supreme Court says it's okay to kill drug offenders.

"Newsflash: Anti-drug law enforcement crackdowns are driving people away from health services and causing more of them to get Hepatitis or AIDS.

"And much much more. Every day, more than 4,000 drug arrests are made across the United States, their targets often getting ticketed, fined, jailed, prosecuted, sentenced, incarcerated. Arrestees can lose their cars, their homes, their livelihoods, their families, their reputations; suspects or bystanders can get shot or traumatized by no-knock raiders. Yet the drugs continue to flow and it is all for nought.

"The more typical newsflash in the mainstream media is when someone was arrested or a drug operation was raided or some drugs were seized. But that's not really news, it's just the background of futile activity taking place all the time. When the dust settles, another family is reeling, another mound of taxpayer money is squandered, another Constitutional right has been sabotaged and undermined.

"Newsflash: It's wrong to attack millions of people in the ways the drug war does, and the drug war doesn't work. Prohibition needs to end."

* Easy Patriotism. excerpt:

"Those of us who watched the recently completed World Series know that during the seventh inning stretch, the network did not break for commercial, but instead featured a celebrity singing Irving Berlin's, 'God Bless America.' Berlin first wrote the song in 1918, but revised it in 1938 in response to the rise of Hitler.

"Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, this has been a tradition at many ballparks across the country. It has taken on the persona of a second national anthem. Though on the surface this may appear as an innocuous display of patriotism, it can also be viewed as an overt display of nationalism.

"Those in attendance are asked to stand in unison and sing a song that petitions for divine providence, based on one's love for the country. This doctrine of special providence finds its roots in the Puritans who settled in New England in the early 17th century.

"The Puritans held a belief, which many hold today, there was a divine influence in every aspect of their lives, and thus they were rewarded for their virtue and punished for their vices. And as long as they remained virtuous no harm would come to them. Over the centuries this belief has moved beyond the church and placed itself into our public discourse.

"A grotesque examples of this was when the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, immediately following 9/11, blamed the attacks on liberal forces because the culture they espoused had weakened the country."
"Whether it is singing 'God Bless America,' adorning a bumper sticker on our cars supporting the troops, or wearing a flag or a yellow ribbon, we are in effect asking for special providence without much participation. This is an easy patriotism that requires little effort on our part.

"This type of patriotism has the country singing a contradictory tune where the vast majority do not want their sons and daughters on the frontlines of Iraq or Afghanistan via a draft, but are perfectly willing for their children and grandchildren to pay for the war by opposing any tax that would subsidize it in lieu of the current practice of borrowing.

"Historically, our virtues and vices have been inextricably linked. Can the greatness that we ascribe to Abraham Lincoln for keeping the Union together or Martin Luther King's appeal to the country's moral conscience be separated from America's original sin of racism?

"The things that made America great historically also lead us today to be insensitive to other cultures and to overestimate our abilities to influence world events.

"This is the danger presented when we see America as a 'shining city on a hill.' It is assumes the rest of the world is looking up at us, while we benevolently look down. The gap between these two perspectives is filled with arrogance and hubris.

"If our patriotism can only be symbolic, what good is it? Symbolic displays, though they may be heartfelt, carry no moral authority for a country that has embraced the ideals of America while Congress, who is sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, cannot unanimously oppose the use of torture."

* Japanese man documents the life of a vending machine.

* "Art is the elimination of the unnecessary." -- Pablo Picasso


Blogger The Bird Man said...

I fully concur with this easy patriotism article. I said to my wife during the final game "What now we have to stand and salute during God Bless America too?"

I love that Obama has refused to wear a meaningless lapel pin.

4:51 PM  

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