Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are We Teaching Hate?

My daughter Jenny has a blog, the Jenny Life. It is good. She is creating a phenomenal history for her children as most of the articles include pictures and a description of activities the family has participated in. I cannot imagine the value to those kids in 20 or 25 years. From time to time she posts an article that gets me thinking, probably far more or deeper than I should. A recent article is titled the exact title of this blog, Are We Teaching Hate? The gist of Jenny's blog is she was concerned that a book that her daughter brought home about MLK might awaken in her mind the fact that Blacks look different than White, Latinos or Asians. There were pictures from the civil rights era showing dogs attacking civil rights marchers, water cannons being turned on protesters and other pictures showing the tenor of the times. I believe Jenny believes that her children don't see Black, Brown, or Yellow. I do not know if and/or when children notice we are different one from another. I never had the opportunity. I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan, we had no TV, at least not until I was twelve years old. News of the world was simply not known to me. So I was naive.

As I moved on I learned. I spent the better part of Friday evenings at college talking with a black librarian named Mr. Scott who took the time to talk about the similarities in our families, black and white not the differences. He told me of the social culture of blacks and that in many ways it was learned just as white people learn their social culture.

I took part in college wide discussions and programs on civil rights and the right of equality. Nigger was a word I thought of from time to time, but it did not come out of my mouth. It is kind of like we learn all those words we associate with prejudice, stereotypes and hate, Kike, Mick, Wop, Dago, Spic, Chink, Zipperhead, Slant eyed, Jap, and on. Dustin Hoffman in a 1974 film titled :Lenny" played Lenny Bruce, the idol of none other than Richard Pryor. In one scene Lenny is playing in a smoke filled club and starts saying, "Are there any Kikes in here, any Niggers, how about some Wops or Mick. Any Spic's." He zeroes in on a black man and his date sitting at a table, and he says again, "How about some Niggers, you a Nigger there?" The Black man is infuriated, humiliated and about ready to pounce when all of a sudden Lenny says, "I wish we would use these words and make them part of our everyday vocabulary so they become acceptable. Perhaps then a black child might not run home from school crying because she was called one of those terrible names."

Point made, point taken.

We all have prejudices. We all have stereotypes. They are taught us by being around our parents, our community, our teachers, and those we grow up with. Do we teach hate, We can.. We can teach it in our homes, we can teach it in our schools, we can teach it in our churches, and we display it in our actions. I think prejudices, stereotypes and differences between people need to be discussed and talked about. I think we need to emphasize that we are truly equal, I can use any other human blood in my body for a transfusion. Race plays no part in that. We can fall in love with people from different races. We owe it to ourselves to understand our prejudices and stereotypes so that when we come up against one we can make a choice. For if we make a decision about a person based on race, color, creed, religion, etc., without thought we fall victim to our prejudices and stereotypes and deny ourselves the opportunity to have a wonderful human experience.

Values are learned close to home and at a young age. Our values change over the years as we grow and mature, but our beginnings are right in front of us.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gingrich Wins South Carolina

I watched some of Newt Gingrich's victory speech last night and heard the cries of USA, USA and the humorous one of "A Newt Beginning." Several people have asked me could I vote for Newt. Frankly, yes I could. Could I vote for Obama, frankly yes I could. They certainly don't sound alike and obviously have different ways of viewing the same issue. However, Newt has in the past been a fiscal conservative but a pragmatic progressive. I think he articulates good judgement on the immigration issue. We could not stand the economic impact of losing 14 million people who fill jobs none of the rest of us don't want. Many of the industries in our area cultivate Latino workers because the generally exhibit and outstanding work ethic and work very hard. The fact that some of employers take advantage of them is wrong, but they are a good labor market.

I don't have a big problem with the Health Care Plan, I'm 67 and want health care. I think everyone should participate in the premiums. I think it is patently unfair that some people in good health opt out of health insurance and then when they have an issue use the emergency room and I end up paying for their care. Baloney, we all should be in that pool.

Most economic writers agree, the president has little to do with the economy. In fact, the slide happened years ago and if we remember the end of the GW tenure in the White House he proposed and got passed the first real stimulus package. When you read about how to solve recessions and depressions most experts agree that governments have to go on a spending spree to get people back into the market. It is said that 70% of our recovery in the economy will be lead by the average consumer. We need to get money into their hands so they can spend The conservatives want to put the money in the hands of business and rich folks who aren't going to hire people until the economy expands. The money is in the wrong place.

Finally the issue of Newt's personal background. He's been married three times. Apparently his second wife has some ax to grind. I am not so sure we have to have a pasteurized President. Maybe a guy who has stumbled, tripped, been arrogant, prideful, selfish, and hit his head on the bedpost a few times might be the right kind of guy to lead this country. I sure as hell couldn't cast the first stone. I also don't believe the President has to line up with the country on every issue. I'm Pro-Choice. I don't think that is an inherent contradiction with family values. After all, what are family values. Ten years ago 60 some percent of the folks between 18 - 25 were married, now only about 40 some percent. Divorce is rampant, marriage is falling off and so is the birthrate. So family values are different today. Newt may fit that new paradigm better than Romney or Obama.

So yes, I could be comfortable voting for either Newt or Barack. I just wish we had some better names, what the hell happened to Tony, or Jack, of Frank, or Bill, or Ron. Christ, I feel like I'm voting for a lizard or a belch.