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FatherCoughlinAs usual Sherry’s recent posts have made me think. As a white man I feel embarrassed when I see the subtle and even overt racism that has recently been displayed on our political stage. The question isn’t, “Is there any racism or bigotry being displayed?” Or even how much. The question is how do people of intellect address it?

When I returned from Vietnam I had had my fill of violence and liked to describe myself as a pacifist. The problem with that was that I was angry for a whole variety of reasons. I forgive myself because I was young, in my early twenties; I did not understand that passivity and anger mix worse than oil and water. It took me several false starts to realize that it is impossible to defeat violence using violence as the weapon. No matter which combatant wins the contest, violence has the final victory. Further, it is equally impossible to hate hatred and hate mongers out of existence. Simple math tells us, add even a small amount of hate to hatred and you multiply the monster.

I am disappointed that all the news outlets prefer to report on the personal conflicts rather than the policy differences. I am fairly aware of the world, but have only a vague idea of how other countries handle health care. Most of what I do know has been filtered through the lenses of the right or the left. Why couldn’t one of the major networks spend some of the time they talked about who called who what, and tell us how Japan, Germany, England etc. etc. handle this issue. Wouldn’t we be better served and more informed if this approach was taken.

I understand the importance of an individual, who feels his position is moral, voicing his views to the majority. Silence in the face of oppression by the masses is being a coward. However, that is not our present situation. Last November we all cast our ballots and elected Obama as our president. Therefore I offer that the bigotry of the present is a small, albeit vocal, minority. At his peek in the 30’s Father Coughlin was able to reach as many as 40 million Americans, with his smears against Jews and FDR. Many many more than our current simpletons advise. Our nation survived Coughlin we will survive this. I don’t diminish the ugliness of the racism. I am only pondering a response.

I am a professional football fan. Better said, I am a Green Bay Packer fan. In the early seventies many times televised games would be interrupted by some idiot (clothed or not) running onto the field until he was finally captured by security. These single individuals were able to disrupt the entertainment of the many. When all of the networks agreed to quit showing the morons it ended. It seems we live in a country where some people are not satisfied being cretins, they want spectators. My suggestion then is simple, I refuse to be the audience to dimwits. I choose no longer to respond to the stupid signs or the stupider talking heads who encourage them. I will try to not even mention their names or organizations. They spend enough time and money promoting themselves, they do not need my assistance. If there is disagreement on policy I will answer, but if the discussion becomes ad hominem, I will return to the silence of our meadow. I will try to do this no matter if the personal attack come from either the left or the right.

I say “try” because it is a continuing hard lesson for me to accept that, “I’ll become my enemy in the instant that I preach.”

*My apologies to Bob Dylan for borrowing a line from his song “My Back Pages.”

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ‘neath heated brow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

Copyright ©©1964; renewed 1992 Special Rider Music

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