Thursday, September 14, 2006

Finally, An Honest Answer—But Did He Think it Through?

As my profile says, I enjoy karaoke. I live in a small community that would be considered “rural” but in this homogenous country the only thing that separates rural from urban or suburban is whether you have farms on all four borders or whether you abut another town. While we’re only ten miles up the road from a major university, we still have our redneck element and you definitely meet them in the bars.


I was out last evening in a local karaoke bar chatting with a man who actually did justice to Hootie and the Blowfish. When he found out that I was a writer and an editor, of course he had an idea for a book that he just had to share with me. Actually, he was describing a movie which is a completely different kind of writing. I’ll call him “Bill.” After we talked about his idea for a Biblical epic/2001 A Space Odyssey, the conversation went something like this.

“Hey, Honey!” He nudged his wife. “This lady’s a writer!”

“Oh, really? What have you written?” Honey replied.

“My book is called Rock Bound. It's about political prisoners who are arrested at a demonstration in Washington and sent to mine the moon as slave labor.”

“You must have been a hippie,” Bill commented. Honey turned back to her drink and their friends.

“Actually, I joined the Navy,” I replied. “I felt then the way most people feel now. I didn’t think we belonged in Viet Nam, but I believed we should support our troops.”

“What do you mean we don’t belong there?” Bill asked.

“Do you mean Viet Nam or Iraq?” I asked, wondering about his choice of present tense.

Iraq,” he clarified.

I thought, Oh no, another redneck who thinks we should kill all people of Islamic belief because a few attacked us—or who still thinks Iraq had something to do with the attacks on 9/11. At least that stupid ABC movie clarified that much. But instead, I asked:

“Why do we belong in Iraq?” And was thoroughly startled by his reply.

“Well, I know they didn’t have anything to do with Osama Bin Ladin, but we need their oil.”

“Do you mean to tell me,” I asked, “that you would be willing to die so your neighbor can drive an SUV?”


“How does that make us different from—“

“And now we need Rochelle at the karaoke stage!”

By the time I finished my song, he was talking with his wife and their friends and he and his wife left before I could complete that sentence. But I was amazed. I couldn’t believe this man actually admitted we had invaded another country to get its oil and thought that was OK. Is that how the Germans felt when Hitler saw something in Poland that he wanted and invaded that country, killing anyone who got in his way—military and civilians alike? I really hoped that the ABC movie would finally dispel the belief that Saddam Hussein or Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks and that more people would question why we are in Iraq. But it appears there is another viewpoint that is even more deadly—the viewpoint of the arrogant American who thinks we have the right to take over any nation that has what we want if the government of that country is unwilling to hand it to us.

I was afraid when I thought the only Nazi’s in this country were the ones in the West Wing and a few skinhead gangs and survivalists who don’t bother to vote. But this man appeared normal—at least as normal as a native of this town can be. And I’m afraid that he and his friends vote. Sometimes I really wish I could take my kids and grandkids and migrate to Canada—at least until American voters come to their senses and realize that “manifest destiny” wasn’t the noble cause our history books make it out to be. It was patently unfair to the people who already lived here. And now it seems to be spreading to the Third World. Bush will keep fighting in Iraq and claiming that the Iraqis are unable to govern themselves until they agree to vote for a leader who is friendly to Bush’s interests. You see, the Iraqis were ready to vote as soon as Hussein was found and removed from his hidey-hole but the theocracy they wanted to vote in was NOT friendly to US interests, so Bush and his cronies decided they were not ready to govern themselves. Just as Eisenhower decided the Vietnamese were not ready to govern themselves when they voted for a communist regime after we helped the French retreat from their colonies in Southeast Asia.

So—look out Third World. Or for that matter, look out World. Manifest Destiny is again the war cry of the United States. You’re only safe if you don’t have a commodity we desire.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Black & White -- The Good Old Days?

There is a popular piece making its way around the Internet. My friend, Raymond Anderson, wrote a rebuttal to this piece and gave me permission to publish it here. Many thanks, Raymond.

Black and White

(Under age 40?

You won't understand.)

You could hardly see for all the snow

Spread the rabbit ears as far as they go.

Pull a chair up to the TV set,

"Good Night, David. Good Night, Chet."

Depending on the channel you tuned,

You got Rob and Laura - or Ward and June.

It felt so good. It felt so right.

Life looked better in black and white.

I Love Lucy, The Real McCoys,

Dennis the Menace, the Cleaver boys,

Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train,

Superman, Jimmy and Lois Lane.

Father Knows Best, Patty Duke,

Rin Tin Tin and Lassie too,

Donna Reed on Thursday night! --

Life looked better in black and white.

I wanna go back to black and white.

Everything always turned out right.

Simple people, simple lives...

Good guys always won the fights.

Now nothing is the way it seems,

In living color on the TV screen.

Too many murders, too many fights,

I wanna go back to black and white.

In God they trusted; alone in bed, they slept.

A promise made was a promise kept.

They never cussed or broke their vows.

They'd never make the network now.

But if I could, I'd rather be

In a TV town in '53.

It felt so good. It felt so right.

Life looked better in black and white.

I'd trade all the channels on the satellite

If I could just turn back the clock tonight

To when everybody knew wrong from right.

Life was better in black and white!


Black and White

(Don't know history?

You won't understand.)

I miss black-and-white times of 1950-some.

TV-Land is my friend, though some think it's dumb.

The innocent world that I knew in my youth

What's wrong with the values I swallowed as truth?

Everyone had two parents and a family car;

Only small problems and help never far.

A good little black-and-white Pleasantville town

And old fashioned values gave our country renoun.

No Black or Jew was in leadership shown.

Orientals exotic, gay men were unknown.

Fair or not, Indians lost every fight;

You could count on the good guys to always be white.

"The Untouchables" taught us of drink to beware,

So instead we took smoking for our lungs and the air.

The times were so simple, the lives were so clean

When poor colored folk had their separate latrine.

We rode in the front

And they in the back.

And they had their own schools

Don't blame us for their lack.

"Under God" was born of the Communist scare.

"One nation indivisible" apart did it tear.

McCarthy ruled through fear and brought on much woe

When a life was destroyed by all-American Joe.

Oh, we still had drug use, adultery, and VD,

But you never saw any on network TV.

We kept them invisible so good folks wouldn't mingle

With prostitutes, lesbians, and moms who were single.

Black and white times once again lie ahead.

"Either for or against", White House Occupant said.

“Hand over your freedom, we'll give safety for rights.

Then we'll know if you're part of the blacks or the whites.”

To return to the simple times we knew before,

Close your eyes to the world, facts of life just ignore.

There's no global warming, no gay marriage too.

The only people who matter are like me and like you.

Raymond T. Anderson