Breeding Terrorists

 I am convinced that random “terror” attacks like those in England last night are triggered more by personal grievances than by religious fervor.

After all, what does Islam stand to gain from such senseless butchery?

What does an “Islamic extremist” achieve by driving into a crowd of strangers and – usually – being killed in the process? Or randomly stabbing strangers in a crowd?

Such acts inspire only loathing.  Surely, they do more to discredit the Islamic religion than to promote it.

Obviously, the “terrorist” attackers harbor deep resentment against their fellow citizens.  They might be called “alienated.”  But they’re more than that. They’re full of bitterness and hate.

You don’t get that way by worshipping God – even if you call your God Allah.

You get that way by being shunned, ridiculed and belittled. You get that way by being called names like “towel head” and “spick,” by being made to feel less than human, by being taught to hate yourself for being yourself.

You get that way by being consumed by rage, frustration and helplessness.

Don’t get mad at me. I am not defending the loathsome attackers. I am only trying to figure out how they got so loathsome.

And I am trying to insert a word of caution in the crescendo of anger evoked by the attacks.

I know it’s hard – at this moment unbearably hard – to suppress the instinctive urge for reprisal. But reason says otherwise.

Obviously, armed assaults by groups like ISIS have to be countered by military force. But that alone will not cure the affliction.

Bombs and bullets do not win hearts and minds.

By striking back blindly at the attackers and the cause they say they represent, we fall into their trap.

Perhaps we should not only take the necessary steps to protect ourselves against further attacks. Perhaps we should also look into our treatment of minorities in our society.

That might turn out to be the most effective way of combating terrorism.

The London attacks

 

The Shaming of America

 

The bloated, red-faced figure standing in the Rose Garden and shown on TV screens around the world has become the symbol of America’s shame. Ironically, this is the man who promised to “make America great again.”

Obviously pandering to his oil and coal peddling pals – especially his oil dependent buddy in Russia – this sycophantic quisling announced that America is withdrawing from the Paris Accord.

The icing on America’s humiliation came from French President Emmanuel Macron, who took the trouble to use English in his pledge to pick up the environmental banner that Trump was trampling in the dirt.

America is now one of three countries excluded from the global agreement designed to save mankind from catastrophic climate change. The other two countries? Syria and Nicaragua.

As my mother used to say, a man is known by the company he keeps.

In his eagerness to please coal and oil interests, Trump displayed his disregard for humanity. As the New York Daily News put it:

Trump to World: Drop Dead

He is also inadvertently displaying his futility. While he (with Nicaragua and Syria) is abandoning the global effort to avert disastrous air pollution, other powerful forces are redoubling their efforts to save the world

.China is emerging as the nucleus of this movement. And US states such as California are joining China. So is Canada. So is Mexico. So is Western Europe. Trump and his America stand virtually alone in their defiance of common sense. And Trump’s America is dwindling daily as the sheer horror of his election comes into focus.

Trump dumps climate accord

China’s new role

Macron’s reaction

 

Come on Tiger! Be the Man.

Remember how they used to shout, “You the man!” when you blasted those mammoth drives, Tiger?

Remember the drills your dad made you go through, when he would cough or shuffle or whatever on your back swing? He knew what it takes, Tiger. What it takes to be the man, not only in golf but in life.

Look, I know this is a rough time. Your dad’s long gone. So is your marriage. Your sore back is taking so long to heal.  Your love life is in the dumpster.

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself at times like this, Tiger.  But that’s even more reason to be the man.

There are golfers out there – professional golfers – who are in worse shape than you.

Remember Erik Compton (photo at right)? He was working on his third heart while competing on the tour. I haven’t heard about him being picked up by the cops for DUI (yes, yes, it wasn’t alcohol, it was the pills your doctor prescribed but still…)

Life is tough, Tiger. Even for incredibly talented people like you (especially for incredibly talented people like you?) Body blows are as certain to come our way as death and taxes. But it’s only “a vale of tears” if we give in to it.

You’re not the only golfer with  a bad back, Tiger. We old codgers know what it’s like to play through pain. I’m 83 years old, and severely arthritic. But I’m out on the course twice a week. Pain or no pain.

Pain is part of life, Tiger. Adversity is part of life. Distractions are part of life.

So are triumph and disaster And, as Kipling observed, they’re both “impostors” to be “treated both the same.”

That’s what your dad was trying to drill into you. Remember?

So come on Tiger. Stare down the pain. Dump the pills. You’re better than that.

You can fix that back – even if the doctors can’t. You can be king of the hill again. You know you can. Give it one more shot.

After all, you the man!

Tiger’s tribulations

Erik Compton’s story

Tiger’s secret life

 

I Really am a Fall Risk

When I was in the hospital recently, I had to wear a wrist band that labeled me a “Fall Risk.” My bed had an alarm that went off if I tried to get up without first calling for a nurse to help me. I thought it was overkill at the time, but I am beginning to think those hospital people knew what they were doing.

Yes, I’ve fallen again. And again.

On Friday, I drove down to the imaging center to have some hip and back x-rays done. I got out of the car and hobbled toward the entrance. As I tried to step over one of those concrete barriers they put in parking lots to block the wheels of the cars, the toe of my shoe didn’t quite make it. I went flying in one direction and the shoe went flying in another.

I sailed through the air, landing on my left shoulder blade. As I tumbled, the back of my head came down hard on the tarmac.

My acrobatics attracted a crowd. I didn’t know so many people even lived in our little town.

“Don’t move, don’t move,” a lady shouted behind me as I tried to get up. “Here, lean against me.”

I lay back and leaned my throbbing (and bleeding) head against her leg.

Someone found my shoe and stuck it back on my foot. (Thankfully, that sock didn’t have a hole in it.)

By then, a spectator had called 9-1-1 and an ambulance was pulling up. The EMT pros swarmed out of the ambulance and ministered to me, bandaging my head and taking my blood pressure and other vital signs, even my sugar.

The EMT guys wanted to take me to the hospital (which was across the street), but I said no thanks.  So they left.

The crowd wasn’t about to leave. Everyone seemed eager to help me.

A young nurse was especially solicitous. She lifted me into a wheelchair and wheeled me into the imaging center, where I was checked in. Then she wheeled me to get the x-rays done. As I got out of the wheelchair, she noticed my elbow was bleeding.

“Oh look,” she said. “He’s hurt his poor, little arm!”

And she bandaged my wound with red elastic tape.

After a series of x-rays, she wheeled me out to my car and helped me get behind the wheel. What a sweet kid, I thought. Her parents did a great job raising her.

And, oh yes, I’ve fallen again since then. Trying to get my pants off in the bathroom, I tumbled backward into the bathtub. My head banged against the edge of the tub.  It’s a good think I have a hard head.

This falling routine is getting old. I’m beginning to think I should just stay in bed. And the bed should have an alarm.

 

I Wouldn’t Live in Montana

I’ve never been to Montana. And I know very little about the state. When I learned that the people of Montana had chosen body slamming Greg Gianforte to represent them in Congress, I was stunned. I wondered what kind of people could possibly be living in that state.

So I looked up Montana on the web. I learned that Montana is a relative newcomer to the Union. The territory was acquired in 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase and joined the Union in 1889.

You remember the Louisiana Purchase? Thomas Jefferson (one of my heroes) paid $15 million for the vast region between the Mississippi and the Rockies (see map above).  which worked out to about 3 cents an acre.

As well as Montana, that chunk of real estate now includes Louisiana (of course), Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Colorado/

Jefferson didn’t know that most of his purchase would turn out to be a bastion of Republicanism. So don’t blame him.

You think the French would give us back our money if we gave them back their land? (Just kidding!)

The area now called Montana was mostly wilderness. which Lewis and Clark risked their lives to explore. Native people had lived there for thousands of years, of course, but they were soon dispossessed by “civilization,” and now occupy “reservations.”

The first European settlers were Jesuit missionaries and fur traders, who seemed to live in peace with the Native People, but as more white people arrived, conflicts erupted (including one you probably know about – Custer’s Last Stand.)

Then gold was discovered and I’m sure you know the kind of lifestyle that brought. Next came the ranchers, bringing beef and mutton to feed the miners. But it was copper and silver that put Montana on the map.

Today, the state economy has moved away from mining, farming and other resource industries to become more service oriented. Tourism, for example, is its number two industry (thanks to natural wonders like Yellowstone Park).

Montana is an overwhelmingly white state – and a hotbed of white supremacy (photo at right), Calling Montanans conservative is like calling the Pope Catholic.

Having looked up Montana, I am still stunned by their choice of that awful Gianforte guy. But I have learned enough to know I wouldn’tt want to live there.

Gianforte’s election

White supremacists in Montana

More on living in Montana

 

The Thug Life Culture

If Trump’s underworld connections were not already widely known, his rude, ugly behavior would be a dead giveaway. That’s how “gangstas” behave.

The “made men” in the mob swagger, bully and brag, treat women with disrespect and tell fantastic lies. So do the “gangsta” rappers. So does Trump.

And so do his minions.

Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, provides a recent example of their thuggish behavior.

He is denying it, of course, but he body slammed a reporter last night, sending the poor guy sprawling and breaking his glasses. The reporter, Ben Jacobs of the Guardian, was  treated for an injured elbow.

Gianforte’s aides tell a totally different story. According t to them, it was the reporter who attacked Ganforte, pulling him to the floor. But Jacobs recorded the incident, and anyone hearing the tape will realize which version is true.

The evidence was convincing enough for Montana law officers. They have charged Gianforte with assault.

The Montana incident was not unique.

That’s the way Trump and his minions act.  They beat up protesters at their rallies, and they verbally and physically abuse media representatives. Several reporters have been roughed up by Trump supporters recently and one was arrested for questioning a politician too persistently.

Is this how America is evolving? Are we slipping inexorably into a Third World culture? Are we shedding our veneer of democracy and decency?

Montana’s voters may provide the answer to this question. They go to the polls today to choose a new congressional representative. If they choose Gianforte in spite of his “gangsta” behavior, we will know how far our society has deteriorated.

More on the Gianforte incident

Gianforte charged

 

The Futility of Terror

You are probably reeling from the latest horror inflicted on civilization by the terrorists. Who wouldn’t be shaken this morning? All those kids – preteens and early teens slaughtered and maimed in the Manchester bombing. It’s enough to leave anyone shaken

But I am sure the bombing hasn’t made you more sympathetic to the rogue Islamic religion the terrorists are trying to impose on the world.

Terrorists of various ideological sripes have been perpetrating atrocities for as long as I can remember. And I can’t think of one cause that won acceptance in that way.

What do terrorists achieve by acts of nightmarish horror? Publicity of course. The media helps them grab the spotlight. But what good does that kind of publicity do for their cause?

I would think those acts of terror make us even less receptive to the doctrines they’re supposed to be promoting.

Remember how the early Christians spread the word? By being martyrs, by kneeling meekly as lions were set upon them in Nero’s Rome.  It was their stoic submission to violence and their persistence in keeping the faith that won converts.

Remember Mahatma Gandhi (illustration at right)?  His passive resistance was key to freeing India from British rule.

And remember Nelson Mandela (photo below)? He helped heal South Africa’s wounds by forgiving the atrocities committed against the country’s black citizens by the earlier white regimes.

Considering the successful religious and social movements of the past, I wonder why anyone would resort to butchery as a way of furthering a cause – especially a religious cause.

And I have to conclude that their driving force is one of sheer malevolence, a sadistic urge to inflict suffering and spread fear. Obviously, the Islamic banner these terrorists assume is mere window dressing. They’re not followers of Mohammed – or any other prophet – they are possessed by the demons of hate.

The Manchester bombing

 

Trump’s Rock Solid Base

Do you take comfort from Trump’s historically low poll numbers? After all, with an approval rating below 40 percent, he is the most unpopular president in American history.

But don’t be misled. That base of his is rock solid.

A friend of mine, Christian McCulloch, posted an observation on Facebook recently that Trump’s base would turn against him only if he suddenly became black.

And that is disturbingly close to the truth.

Rickie, our neighbor across the street, is a Trump supporter, and he dropped by the other day to bend my ear.

He went on the usual right-wing rant about Hillary – and just about everybody else in the Democratic hierarchy – being child molesters and worse.  He repeated the right wing’s pet conspiracy theories – the “assassination” of that Democratic National Party worker who leaked thousands of damning DNC emails, for example.

Then he exposed the root cause of the Trump revolt.

“We white people have been pushed around for too long,” he grumbled.

I’ll bet that comes as news to anyone in America who has run into “white privilege.” And to anyone who has been prosecuted for driving while black.

I’m sure the loved ones of black victims of police violence – those hapless young men gunned down as a result of obvious racial profiling for example – don’t think American culture unfairly favors nonwhites.

But apparently, a lot of white Americans feel unfairly treated. I guess they’re upset at being told not to use the N word any longer. And they’re fuming over Affirmative Action and other political attempts to compensate for the horrors of slavery.

To these people, Trump is their champion. He could use the presidency to fill his pockets, trash our precious environment, fire anyone who dares to stand up to him – or, I suppose, even shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, as he once said.  None of those abuses would matter to the aggrieved white Americans who support him.

Of course this is shocking. Of course you and I find it hard to believe America is still so primitive. We had thought that the election and reelection of a black president meant the country had at long last emerged from the shadows of Jim Crow.

Sadly, we were wrong. America has come a long way, but the society still has a long way to go before it can claim to be completely enlightened.

More on the white identity crisis

An example of “white rage”

 

Suppression of Dissent?

If you’ve been wondering what happened to my blogs recently, the answer is very strange – and very disturbing.

A few days ago, the blogs disappeared and I could neither read existing blogs nor write new ones.

The Jamaicans.com web master, Xavier Murphy, told me the site must have been hacked. It took him a couple of days to restore the site.

I wonder why anyone would want to wipe out blogs on Jamaicans.com.

My blogs have been mostly political, examining American politics from one Jamaican immigrant’s perspective.

The blog I wrote just before the site crashed dealt with Trump’s attempts to muzzle the press, and in several blogs I tried to shine a light in the unsavory shadows of Trump’s past.  One of the comments I received – by a reader named Eddie – included a link to a Dutch video describing Trump’s underworld connections.

Would it be crazy to suggest this had something to do with the site being hacked?

I have been blunt in my criticism of the new American regime, and I have made no attempt to conceal my liberal-progressive convictions.

As you would expect, comments have been favorable and unfavorable. One reader even suggested that Jamaicans.com should stop publishing political blogs.

Of course I realize that criticism from a blogger on Jamaicans.com is not one of Trump’s major concerns. And it might be grandiose to suggest that shady characters involved in American politics would take the trouble to retaliate against us. But could some random Trump supporter be the hacker?

After all, who else would want to hack the site?

Anyway, thanks to Xavier, we’re up and running again. And I will continue to speak out whenever I notice something fishy in American politics.

 

Suppressing the Press

Thomas Jefferson observed that if he had to choose between a government without newspapers and newspapers without a government, he would unhesitatingly “prefer the latter.”

That’s how important a free press was to America’s founders.

A free press is an essential part of a democracy. And suppressing the press is an essential tactic in creating a dictatorship.

I’m sure you’ve noticed how Trump consistently belittles and berates the news media, calling them names and shutting them out of state events. But he has stopped short of jailing them the way his pal Putin has made a habit of doing.

Until now.

This morning, in the wake of James Comey’s firing. I came across a news item about a reporter being arrested for persistently questioning a government official.

How ominous is that?

The reporter, Dan Hayman of Public News Service (photo at right) , was yelling questions at Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was visiting Charleston, West Virginia.

Wow! If that kind of government had been in power during my time as a reporter, I would certainly have spent a lot of time in prison as I yelled questions at officials all the time.

I wonder what’s next. Voter intimidation perhaps? I read that Trump is setting up a commission to investigate “voter fraud,” which almost everyone else knows is virtually non-existent. What’s that all about?
The news story