You have to be carefully taught

On the news today, I saw the UK Labor Party has been accused of having a few anti-Semites. Not to be outdone, the UK Conservative Party has been accused of Islamophobia. And, as I wrote last week, hate crimes are on the rise in the US largely due to a rise in white nationalists who feel more empowered these days.

People are not born hating. They have to be taught. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote a key song in the musical play and movie “South Pacific” called “You have to be carefully taught.” The lyrics are noted below, but I wanted to mention the context of the play first.

“South Pacific” is a play about the idiocy and harm of bigotry. It was written in the 1949 as a clever metaphor to address the Jim Crow period in the US. Rodgers and Hammerstein knew they had to use a different setting to get their point heeded.

These lyrics are powerful. Please let them sink in as we all need to counter bigotry and racism we see and understand some of our own prejudices.

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

Let’s use this Thanksgiving to be thankful for and embrace our diversity. In fact, the first Thanksgiving brought two different groups together.

Letter to editor – as a Republican, I won’t follow blindly

A letter to the editor in my paper today was entitled “As a Republican, I won’t follow blindly.” The following are his first two paragraphs:

“Why are American citizens turning a deaf ear to the obvious wrongdoings of the president of the United States.

As a registered Republican, I am appalled that my fellow American citizens aren’t ashamed of the total disregard for the truth that is being emitted from Washington.”

This emperor has no clothes. He is also a national security risk as he belittles and embarasses an ally in need of our help for personal gain.

Wednesday walkabout on a cold November day

Stay warm everyone in the northern hemisphere! A cold spell has blown in from Siberia here on the North American continent. Brr.

So, bundle up for today’s walkabout with a few topics wandering around in mind.

A 17 year-old vaper had a double lung transplant. Read that statement again. Ironically, I watched a tongue-in-cheek movie about a smoking lobbyist called “Thank you for smoking.” The punchline is if you don’t like the debate, change the argument. Eventually the argument was lost when a whistleblower noted the tobacco industry knew nicotine was addictive dating back to 1964. Now, we are at a deja vu moment with vaping.

Today the House impeachment hearings begin with several credible witnesses who have already raised concerns under oath. I want people to remember the “under oath” part as the accused tweets away. The president testified under oath once when deposed and the attorney got him to admit to over 30 lies. There is a reason White House attorneys did not want Robert Mueller to depose Trump.

The timing of the impeachment hearing is unfortunate as it takes the spotlight away from the Roger Stone trial. Stone is a self-proclaimed dirty-trickster, which speaks volumes in and of itself.

The hearings also overshadow the news out of New York where Donald J. Trump admitted to using his charity as his personal piggy bank. He agreed to repay the charity $2 million and his kids on the Board have to go to Board training. It should be noted Trump’s CFO was on the Board and did not know it. This is a microcosm of how the boss operates.

Finally, I predict three things. The House will impeach the president, but not enough GOP senators will convict him. Rudy Guiliani and Mick Mulvaney will serve as scapegoats for the Teflon Don. Each tribe will claim victory, but American democracy will lose as our guardrails of governance with this ungovernable incumbent will collapse.

You don’t have to be an expert to make a difference

“You don’t have to be an expert to make a difference.” Gerald Durrell

Who is Gerald Durrell? If you watched the BBC show “The Durrells in Corfu,” you would know Jerry was the young boy who loved all animals, birds, reptiles and insects. This true story was based on this progressive zookeeper’s book “My family and other animals,” which was a best seller in the UK in the 1950s.

The context for the quote was his warning that humans were destroying the forests to harvest the wood and farm the land. We were killing off the homes to many animals. This was prescient and could reemphasized today.

Yet, the quote applies to so much more. We do not have to be expert on climate change to make a difference. We do not have to be expert on the long lifespan of plastic to use fewer plastic contsiners. We do not need to be an expert to know we need to use our water resources wisely.

And, to Durrell’s point, we do need to be an expert to preserve and replenish forests. Trees, mangroves, etc. are also carbon eaters, so it is not just the animals we are protecting. Remember the title of the best seller above.

Greta Thunberg joins a ninth grader in Charlotte for climate change strike

Her words were clear. We must “unite behind the science.” Sixteen year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg joined ninth-grader Mary Ellis Stevens in Charlotte along with 1,200 other people for a climate change strike. I was one of the 1,200. Several young people spoke, with only a few adult voices making it to the dais. The crowd was multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-racial. It was wonderful to witness.

Below is a brief article from The Charlotte Observer on the strike. I was struck by several things she and others said.

– Thunberg made a point of referencing many of the indigenous tribes from our area. To me, this is representative of the saying “we are not inheriting our land from our forebears, we are borrowing it from our children.”
– a young UNCC student activist who is African-American noted that people of color are more impacted by climate change than other groups, yet they get under-represented at these events. The reason is the events are held during the working day, and not everyone has the luxury of getting away from work or school.
– Thunberg handled a heckler with the aplomb of a seasoned politician. After listening for a few seconds, she said why don’t you come back stage afterwards and we can talk about your comments?

I was incredibly proud of the young folks in attendance. I think Thunberg is a hero for her courage and candor. My favorite sign was from a young adult woman standing near me that said “You cannot renew lost time.” I told her that her sign was excellent. In my view, we have lost eleven years due to the Bush/ Cheney White House and the Trump White House. Good things have happened in spite of their lack of leadership on this topic, but these efforts could have been leveraged even more by concerted federal action.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article237108539.html

Climate change shout out

Earlier this week, the US president began the official process to abandon the rest of the world by leaving the Paris Climate Change Accord. As a response, I posted the following on the websites of many Democrat presidential candidates. Please feel free to modify and use accordingly.

“Please shout from the roof tops that if you win the presidency you will have the US rejoin the Paris Climate Change Accord the day of your inauguration. Leaving this agreement is poor stewardship of our planet and detrimental to our global leadership.

In less than three short years, we have recurringly ceded our global leadership role forsaking our allies and trading partners. We have also become less trustworthy because our president cannot be trusted. Rejoining Paris would be a huge step back to being a good neighbor.”

A white nationalist changes his stripes

Derek Black was raised and groomed to be a white nationalist. His father had a provocative radio show and he has been pictured with David Duke. Why is he in the news? Because he renounced his white nationalist upbringing and has embarked down a better path.

The attached link will take you to an interview that appeared on PBS Newshour earlier this week. Rather than say too much, I encourage you to read the transcript or watch the interview. In short, he said the belief that whites are under fire is strong, especially with the changing demographics. But, he said it is “not real.” It is a mantra sold on fear.

When he got to college, he was ostracized by people he respected, once they learned he was a white nationalist. They told him his stance was hurtful to them. It bothered him more than he thought it would. He was also invited to attend a weekly Jewish meal of fellowship. It was light on questions and heavy on welcoming. It changed him.

Please spend a few minutes to watch or read the attached piece.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/derek-black-grew-up-as-a-white-nationalist-heres-how-he-changed-his-mind