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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Will we EVer get this stuff right?

Uploaded: Jun 20, 2015
Two race-based events, one ridiculous and the other horrific, occupy the national consciousness this week. They demonstrate that we can't even get the questions right when the topic involves America's Original Sin, much less begin to formulate cogent answers.

Let's start with the easy one, wherein the head of the NAACP's Spokane branch was 'outed' as Caucasian. The media, predictably, focused on the fraud of an individual of European ancestry passing-herself-off as African American, and the apparent (to some) absurdity of her leading an organization devoted to "the advancement of colored people." The derision and runaway implications went on from there -- they are shallow and uninteresting.

The commentators seem blissfully unaware that the NAACP itself was born in 1909 out of a meeting among four leaders whose race we define as Caucasian, and that 53 of its original 60 founders were white. This is not to say that their race was necessary ? it's rather to indicate that it's irrelevant. Goodwill knows no race; white folks hold no monopoly on racism, nor are they, or any other human beings, disqualified from waging the fight against it.

Further, what IS 'race,' anyway, other than a cultural construct -- a way of dividing 'us' from 'them?' Search the human genome for the defining Asian gene, or the African-American gene, or the white gene and you'll come up empty. The biology is trivial. Indeed the EEOC, the organization established to overcome racial discrimination in employment, includes each of ancestry, physical characteristics, culture, perception and association as among the factors any one of which can encompass race (which is otherwise undefined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that established the agency). They get it right ? the evil is the conscious or unconscious racism that foments discrimination, not the biology of anyone -- perpetrator, victim, or advocate.

The Dolezal teapot tempest is a private, personal and family tragedy, played out in the prurient, simplistic and distorting glare of publicity. As such, I wish for all concerned that it would go back to the shadows. The private affairs of intimates are seldom clear-cut, or uncomplicated. The best thing we could all do is to leave their situation to any tender mercies available to the participants.

What I'd like to know, and might rightly ask is: what did Ms. Dolezal do as a person devoted to her chosen cause? And what I've gotten on that point is: crickets. We're interested in the wrong things and asking the wrong questions here.

And so it is as well with America's latest horrible, dismal mass-shooting ? an execution orgy that left nine Americans dead. Here again, the focus is misplaced because it fascinates on race. Yes, they were all black, and the confessed murderer is white ? but so what? The simplistic focus on race misleads us from the issues.

Let's say that instead the victims' heritages perfectly mirrored American society, and the gunman was a zealot of something ? anything ? pick a cause. He would then be viewed as what he is: a terrorist. That's especially true if he was a Muslim adherent, as a minuscule minority of them are our contemporary threatening zealots-of-choice. They used to be called 'anarchists,' or 'immigrants' or other popular labels of other days. There'd be demands to beef-up law enforcement, suspend civil liberties, tighten the borders, deport lawful similars and bomb somebody back to the Stone Age. But none of that happens here.

By emphasizing race, the frame and the narrative both change. The victims can be converted into "theys" rather than "we's" and the perpetrator becomes a 'troubled" "loner," misunderstood, misguided, discarded, crazy -- and an isolated case. He's not. Terrorists come in many stripes ? religious, political, ideological, environmental, racial, animal rights, etc. They are all of a piece, motivated by a blinding zeal. Our responses to their threats need to be similarly forceful across the range of their motivations.

Instead, as Jon Stewart indicated in his achingly somber monologue earlier in the week, we will shake our heads, feel badly for 'those people' who died (but not 'us'), and not call for anything, in any organized way, that will make the next such terrorist act less likely. The race characterization contributes to that impotent inaction.

This was an attack on America, by somebody who hates us for our freedoms. Us, not 'them.' Our freedom, not 'theirs.' We need to start thinking straight about it, asking the right questions, and come up with actual answers, for All of us.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

"Two Race Based Events" June 2015!

TWO events described as "Clashes Of Culture"!

Sand Creel Colorado November 1864.
Wounded Knee South Dakota December 1880.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Japanese Internment Camp: Web Link

Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Denial of rights to LBGT Americans.

As great as America is, it ain't perfect.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Yup -- people being people, America (and every other society) will always chase its promises. I'd just like to think we're on the right road.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Mass murder of Gays in New Orleans: Web Link

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm

I believe that Senator Ted Cruz is very dangerous. At times he seems to be a reincarnation of McCarthy.

I have a hunch that he would reopen concentration camps and deprive millions of Americans of their civil liberties and dignity. a spooky person...hope he goes away soon...real soon how could he have convinced anybody to elect him?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Torturing of Children: Web Link

It seems to me that most people are not too concerned?

I don't understand how it can continue on such a massive scalle?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Interesting news item this morning.

Pope Francis speaking in Italy Sunday morning about German concentration camps and the slaughter of millions.

Where were the "great powers, they were looking the other way" the Pope said. "Why didn't they bomb the railroads"? The Pope asked.

Pope Francis forgets. It was the church, Pius the XII that looked the other way.

Posted by JessieMackinnon, a resident of John Baldwin Elementary School,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 11:40 pm

[spam ad removed]

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 7:11 am

Without an exception every Israelite I have met always says how they are fond of Ireland as historically it is one of the only countries that never persecuted or condoned discrimination of Jewish faith people. Ireland is largely a Catholic based country. Catholics for centuries have been discriminated against, including in the U.S., and many younger Americans are unaware of the open " Catholic need not apply" signs in the 1930\'s and 1940\'s in the U.S. For reasons unknown to me, students are not taught about this open discrimination against Catholics in U.S. schools.

All hatred and discrimination is wrong, and I am thankful the horrible church massacre has brought people of all races and religions together. Sometimes it takes the worst from a person or small group to bring out the best in the rest of us.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

Am: One of the clearest, very best speeches I've seen is JFK's relatively brief address on 'the religion issue' (his Catholicism) in the 1960 campaign. Web Link He starts speaking at about 3 minutes, but the discomfort of his hosts at this meeting of Protestant clergy in Houston from the outset of the video is worth seeing.

And apropos of the blog topic, at about 5:40, he says he "believes in an America ... in which religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against ONE church is seen as an act against ALL." Amen.

(He also says that he believes "no religious body [should] seek to impose its will, directly or indirectly, on the general populace, or the public acts of its officials." Me, too.)

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 10:30 am

Amen, Tom, Amen.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 11:26 am

Pope Francis and General Videla were like to peas in a pod: Web Link

General Videla was an evil man who was responsible for the mass murder of tens of thousands of the DISAPPEARED - students, businessmen, university professors, artists, intellectuals, homosexuals, innocent families, etc. Cardinal/Pope Francis befriended Videla and even reported fellow priests to Videla who were then tortured.

There is ample documentation online re: RCC cooperation with Hitler/Franco. It's similar to the genocide in the Americas. Catholic missionaries wreak major havoc on the psyches on indigenous people where ever they go...see what happened in Hawaii, CA Missions, etc.

Pope Francis is gonna have to wake up way early to fool everybody on this planet with his non-stop verbal slight of hand (lies).

[intemperate comment deleted -- careful, Cholo]

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 11:45 am

Terrorists? Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 2:23 pm

When tragic mass killings occur it's difficult to know what to do. I walk my dogs, stay off caffeine, eliminate sugar in my diet, increase exercise, don't isolate, don't argue with others, cut down on TV news, avoid news papers, go swimming at the J if I can get a ride, and I find certain books restful. Sitting quietly is also extremely relaxing!

What do other folks do to chill? I usually ride it out.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm

I find Hayom Yom by Rebbe Schneerson extremely helpful..it help me feel balance.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Hayom Yom by Rabbi Schneerson, of righteous memory:

Web Link

It's very comforting at a time like this.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Is there a Lone Shooter Preparedness Plan that the public in this area are familiar with and can rely upon for increased safety? One for schools? Houses of worship?

There are lots of folks with guns in the bay area. It seems to me that it's always open season for somebody with a gun. There must be scads of mass killings waiting to happen. Is anybody safe anymore?

Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 23, 2015 at 10:31 am

Check out the gun laws in Japan - no civilian can own a handgun, only shotguns can be owned for hunting, trap and skeet shooting.
Licenses are handled by the police who visit your house, do a background check of you AND your relatives and receive a mental health report from the local hospital confirming you aren't crazy.

The license expires after a period of time, then you have to do this all over again. What an idea!

Consequentely, gun violence is close to zero in Japan. Japan has the lowest gun violence rate in the world but is by no means the only country that has far lower gun violence rates than the US.

Granted, we've had an open gun society for 300 years so it's a little late
for a Japanese style policy here but we have to do something - other countries have figured it out.

If we all say "well, it's always been that way, can't change it" we're never going to get anywhere. Thank goodness men like Martin Luther King and Ghandi didn't think that way.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Jun 23, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker: Web Link

[on gun control] All the facts are in; all the social science is long settled; the constitutional positions are clear, if contested, and the wiser way known and shared by mankind. On one side are facts, truth, and common sense. On the other, an obsession with dark fantasies of individual autonomy and power?the sheer fetishistic thrill of owning lethal weapons. On one side is the sanity and common sense shared by the entire world; on the other, murder and madness and a strange ongoing American mania. If we don?t change, then, well?it will happen again, again. And then again.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 26, 2015 at 9:46 am

This morning another 28 shot dead by a gunman in Tunisia who hid his machine gun in an umbrella at beach resort.

Not the US but it illustrates Cholo's point that we're all at risk, everywhere, at anytime.

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