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dedalus

When here IS there ...

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dedalus

Ghosts arise on the roadside,

dim figures in the lightless black:

they bear no runic inscriptions,

no banners, no murmurs, no sound.

A summer rain falls on Alabama,

falls between the trees, on vacant lots,

springs high on the concrete roof

of a chained and disused gas station

 

and I think, yes, this is America,

this is Dixie, the Deep South,

where they used to lynch niggers

and had finger-lickin’ good food

 

and it reminds me of East Berlin.

There are no collapsed old buildings,

no bullet holes in the suburbs,

but the air is thin and uneasy

 

as if something fearful or terrible

is about to happen, perhaps not now,

but around that next blind corner,

the next neon splash of a town.


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Benjamin

A ghostly reminder of the vastness and cultural differences in the USA though could apply elsewhere as the title infers.. Interesting reference to East Berlin. B.

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tonyv

This is very good writing, Brendan, and an interesting perspective. You offer a powerful, unique parallel (Deep South/East Berlin) that works incredibly well poetically. It may be an accurate representation of how the speaker, an outsider, might have felt, but it's not quite an accurate comparison.

 

Nobody sane denies that slavery, though legal in some southern states a couple of centuries ago, is a shameful mark on America's past, or that lynchings are wrong. Lynchings happened in the South, but in America, mob rule was never the rule of law. Furthermore, though often associated with the American South, mob justice was taking place long before America existed. From the wiki article on lynching:

 


Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that arise in communities, such as charivari, Skimmington, riding the rail, and tarring and feathering. Lynchings have been more frequent in times of social and economic tension, and have often been the means used by the politically dominant population to oppress social challengers. Lynching is sometimes mistakenly thought of as an exclusively North American activity, but it is found around the world as vigilantes act to punish people outside the rule of law; indeed, instances of it can be found in societies long antedating European settlement of North America.

 

I've lived in America my whole life, and I've sensed very little racial (or religious, or political, etc.) tension. In fact, most people seem to get along with each other. The media sensationalizes these kinds of issues, antagonizes the people, and provokes stupider, more easily influenced people to do stupid things. I'll elaborate.

 

The other night there was a shooting on my city street. Some thought it was fireworks which we hear all the time, but I recognized the gunshots. At first I thought Aaron Hernandez was loose in the 'hood, and I watched the drama unfold from my balcony: police cars from three towns, five ambulances, and a fire truck providing illumination for the investigators searching the ground for shell casings and other evidence. Then, I saw two of the riffraff participants being wheeled on stretchers to separate ambulances. Neither looked very hurt. One of the problem-causing resource-wasters was even in a seated position and blabbing on his phone the entire time. The news reporters arrived, and I heard them asking young people in the neighborhood for comment. The reporter was coaching one, "Just say something generic about how scared you were." Had she asked me, I would have told her I wasn't scared at all and that I'm far more scared of the "moms" from upscale communities who, emotional about the recent Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, are currently trying to limit the rights of non-criminal gun owners in my state. My point is that the incident could have been about anything, drugs, one piece of garbage disrespecting another piece of garbage, gang nonsense, etc., and the media still could have twisted the whole thing into something about race, "assault weapons," and so on. The shooters obviously weren't law abiding gun owners, and the Framers of our state and federal constitutions saw fit to enumerate Americans' right to keep and bear arms so that we may protect ourselves, and our families, from these criminals and from foreign and domestic tyrants who might try to oppress us. And frankly, with the political turmoil taking place in much of the world today, unarmed populations who, deluded, think that they're "free," should all be glad that much of America's population is armed. Can you imagine what the criminals acting in the name of this government might do with zero checks and balances in place from a citizenry that, for now, legally and practically is still able to keep it reigned in even the little bit that it is?

 

In the international realm, I've always favored isolationism. That said, yes, there are bad things America should not be involved in. But more often than not, Americans are stepping up to help the people of other countries, for example, during times of natural disasters, whether through direct physical aid, or by proxy, by taking out their wallets. Americans helped my parents and grandparents to legally immigrate when they were war refugees in Europe's displaced persons camps. Yes, I'll help a homeless person I see on the street, but I also see my fellow Americans donating money at the grocery store and the coffee shop to help the victims of some tsunami or hunger in some far away country they probably never even heard of. Yet what do many people in various "progressive" nations (who also have benefited from American generosity and aid and who themselves do less to help where there's need in the world) do when something bad happens here? Nothing, except maybe talk smack about us, as if their own leaders (and citizens) haven't been going around enslaving people, and committing genocide and lynchings since before Jesus asked who will be the one to cast the first stone. I'm an American who is (and will continue to be) critical of America's bad acts, but to Eurotrash calling the kettle black (no pun intended), I say let's see what you got. Let's compare the good for good and the bad for bad.

 

The criminals acting in the name of the United States government are committing acts of aggression in various parts of the world, and they are essentially at war against the American people and what Americans, in my experience, generally stand for. The American government warmongers are joined by other aggressors with aligned interests who, for the most part, have their own respective unarmed populations subdued. Still, there are other smaller countries who want to sit at the big kids' table, and they go along with it out of fearfulness or kowtowing. A few months ago I went to the Estonian Independence Day commemorative ceremony in Boston where I had heard, while growing up, speeches about Russian, German, Swedish, Danish, and other countries' historical oppressive occupations of Estonia. This year's speaker (some diplomat) talked about how Estonia's government has decided that it's in Estonia's interest to be "aligned" with NATO and how proud he was to see Estonia's flag flying over Kabul. I sat there disappointed and disgusted, thinking, "Congratulations. Estonia is now part of the problem, an invader, not the invaded." (Or perhaps they see themselves, as the Russians purported to be when they occupied Estonia, like "liberators.")

 

All that ranted, the nice thing about being American is that you really don't have to care what anyone else thinks. July 4th, Independence Day, weekend is here -- always a favorite of mine while growing up. It's summer, many people take the long weekend, or even the entire week, to relax, enjoy, and celebrate. I haven't been in the spirit of things these recent years, because, for me, the bad acts of my government at home and abroad kind of put a damper on things. But if Germany invades France this weekend, I can't say that personally it'll make any difference to me. All I'll be saying this weekend is, "

." (Does anyone out there really still think that Cuban-descent Pitbull, African Americans, or some other racial or ethnic groups are oppressed in America?) Did I remember to say "When here IS there" is an excellent poem?

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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fdelano

Thank you Tony for your eloquent defense of the American zeitgeist. Your thinking is straight to the heart of PC misinterpretations. I am of an earlier age and still think there is value in our Declaration of Independence and the beautiful and unique Constitution, the basis of all our laws and system of government. No, the philosophies have not been followed in numerous cases, but they remain as our intentions and goals for our country. I personally think the rewards and progress far outnumber our stumbling on important issues. At least we keep trying to be just. The political situation relates to military actions, in that the grunts--the tip of the spear--put their lives on the line, not for the politicians but for the words in that sacred document that they have sworn to protect. I could cast dispersion on Irish, British, Japanese, Russian, et al, but what would it prove? That all men/women are capable of heinous crimes? I love the unique words from my comrade, Brendan and his immense knowledge of the way of things, but sincerely wish that he not throw shit on the wall to see what sticks. Still, I love the old fart who seems to be educated beyond his capacity. ;>) This is likely outside the bounds of commenting on poetry, straying into political stances, but the poem was about political stances. Hello.

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tonyv

And thank you, Franklin. I know that you're an American through and through.

 



Thank you Tony for your eloquent defense of the American zeitgeist. Your thinking is straight to the heart of PC misinterpretations. I am of an earlier age and still think there is value in our Declaration of Independence and the beautiful and unique Constitution, the basis of all our laws and system of government. No, the philosophies have not been followed in numerous cases, but they remain as our intentions and goals for our country. I personally think the rewards and progress far outnumber our stumbling on important issues. At least we keep trying to be just. The political situation relates to military actions, in that the grunts--the tip of the spear--put their lives on the line, not for the politicians but for the words in that sacred document that they have sworn to protect. I could cast dispersion on Irish, British, Japanese, Russian, et al, but what would it prove? That all men/women are capable of heinous crimes? I love the unique words from my comrade, Brendan and his immense knowledge of the way of things, but sincerely wish that he not throw shit on the wall to see what sticks. Still, I love the old fart who seems to be educated beyond his capacity. ;>) This is likely outside the bounds of commenting on poetry, straying into political stances, but the poem was about political stances. Hello.

[emphasis mine]

 

Hear, hear! I understand this. And though it happens, I will continue to speak against it: no American soldier should ever be placed in harm's way for globalists' schemes, banksters' money, or to do the dirty work of other nation-states. It is those at the higher levels of the civilian authority who are most culpable, guilty of sedition, and in direct violation of their oaths of office.

 

As for getting into political commentary when a poem is presented, well, Brendan is no stranger to that. I'm sure he welcomes it, lol.

 

Happy Fourth, Franklin

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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fdelano

My 4th is chili, (mine) hotdogs, beer and the solemn reading of the Declaration of Independence, an occurrence prior to the war of revolution and the writing of the Constitution. Like the bugling of Taps, the words of the Declaration never fail to refresh my emotions of the unique stance against totalitarianism. Okay--shutting up.

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tonyv

^ If there was a "like" button built into the board software, I'd click it for this post!

 

Tony :happy:


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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fdelano

I find it irresistible to respond, against my better judgment, that I chose, some 15 years ago, to obtain a concealed carry permit, primarily because my life had been threatened, but also because I heard the faint callings of those who knew they must arm themselves against an oppressive government. The amendment that assures the right to "own and bear arms" is not about hunting or even self-protection, as many interpret, but to protect our nation against tyranny. My sidearm has not been fired over these years, but I am intimate with its usage. AS I SHOULD BE.

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tonyv

I find it irresistible to respond, against my better judgment, that I chose, some 15 years ago, to obtain a concealed carry permit, primarily because my life had been threatened, but also because I heard the faint callings of those who knew they must arm themselves against an oppressive government. The amendment that assures the right to "own and bear arms" is not about hunting or even self-protection, as many interpret, but to protect our nation against tyranny. My sidearm has not been fired over these years, but I am intimate with its usage. AS I SHOULD BE.

 

I'm with you on this. It irritates me when I hear gun supporters treading lightly and walking on eggshells, talking about their right to hunt. That's a weak argument, easily defeated: here's your bow, arrow, and slingshot so you can hunt. No, the Second Amendment is what guarantees all the rest. Without it, all the talk in the world about rights is just that: talk with nothing to back it up.

 

I lived in Massachusetts for about thirty-two years of my life. To legally possess my shotguns, rifles, and ammunition I had to have a renewable "FID" (Firearms Identification Card). With just that card, it was not lawful for me to possess or carry a handgun. For that, a "license to carry" was necessary, and that was a lot harder to get. I never did petition the chief of police in my town of residence for that four-year renewable permit. When I moved to Rhode Island ten years ago I was overwhelmingly pleased that I didn't need any card for rifles and shotguns, and I could legally purchase and possess handguns in my home and transport them in my vehicle, safely stored, upon passing a basic gun safety course. To legally carry a loaded gun around on the street or in my vehicle in Rhode Island I would need the "license to carry." I haven't needed that till now, but the option is there. Rhode Island is a "shall issue," not a "may issue" state. Chiefs of police are directed in the law that they "shall" issue the LTC to applicants who complete a safety course, fill out the proper forms, and are not somehow disqualified (convicted felon, judged to be insane, etc.). Nevertheless, the people who would disarm us are trying hard to pass legislation to further limit Rhode Islanders' gun rights and to convert the state to "may issue" so that it's entirely arbitrary (up to the Attorney General) who is allowed to carry a loaded firearm.

 

I don't fear my fellow Americans with loaded guns. I fear and loathe the despots who would take our guns away. They say stuff like, "The children should feel safe." Ridiculous propaganda. "Feeling" safe is not being safe. Any child in the home of a law-abiding gun owner is safe. A home invader who kicks in the door of a law-abiding gun owner is going down and not getting up.


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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dedalus

Hello there, Tony

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post which came across as a small essay, and I particularly liked the sequence where you dryly discussed your local street shooting. The image of one of the "victims" sitting up on his stretcher and gabbling into his phone was a case of truth being better than any fiction!

 

With regard to the poem itself, there was no intention of drawing a political parallel between the American south and totalitarian Germany (either Nazi or communist) because it simply doesn't wash for any number of reasons. For one thing the toleration of lynching in the south during the 1920s and 30s was recognized as illegal, or extra-legal, and did not constitute a state policy of lethal ethnic persecution as it did under Hitler. More importantly, the south was completely engaged in the democratic process of challenging and compromising with the federal government, a constitutional give-and-take which simply didn't exist in Germany. My intention was more "atmospheric", if you like, a suggestion of evil or a hint of foreboding which is nowhere explained. The poem is quite short and a great deal of it is taken up with scene-setting or just peripheral description and this is where its power, if any, comes in.

 

As usual, I got a chuckle out of Franklin's kick-ass assumptions and can just see him wobbling to attention, an enormous drink in his hand, as the band strikes up a Sousa march. But, of course, he's dead right on the money about smartass Europeans!

 

All the best,

Bren


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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fdelano

Hello Bren. Glad to read your reaction to our unchallenged ranting of patriotism. No doubt you have similar gut feelings about Irish independence. I have to admit that I did not see the juxtaposition of Nazi Germany to the Jim Crow South, which, btw, was state condoned and even written into the laws, (eg. Niggers to the back of the bus, and separate water fountains.) Those days, I hope, are past, as are the years of the Raj in India. The responses of me and Tony, I believe, are not about the merits of your poem, but of our perception of its ideology. It's okay; I still love you, you bastard. ;)

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fdelano

You have elevated my stance, my friend. But I never mix enormous drinks, just lots of small ones. I never wobble to attention anymore, as I might once have done. Still, I do salute those who patriotically put their lives in harm's way for their beliefs. I praise individual bravery and patriotism, not the political forces that dishonestly guide them, as they did me. I resent being portrayed as a comical old patriot, even though I did that to you. ;>)

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tonyv

Hello there, Tony

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post which came across as a small essay, and I particularly liked the sequence where you dryly discussed your local street shooting. The image of one of the "victims" sitting up on his stretcher and gabbling into his phone was a case of truth being better than any fiction!

 

With regard to the poem itself, there was no intention of drawing a political parallel between the American south and totalitarian Germany (either Nazi or communist) because it simply doesn't wash for any number of reasons. For one thing the toleration of lynching in the south during the 1920s and 30s was recognized as illegal, or extra-legal, and did not constitute a state policy of lethal ethnic persecution as it did under Hitler. More importantly, the south was completely engaged in the democratic process of challenging and compromising with the federal government, a constitutional give-and-take which simply didn't exist in Germany. My intention was more "atmospheric", if you like, a suggestion of evil or a hint of foreboding which is nowhere explained. The poem is quite short and a great deal of it is taken up with scene-setting or just peripheral description and this is where its power, if any, comes in.

 

As usual, I got a chuckle out of Franklin's kick-ass assumptions and can just see him wobbling to attention, an enormous drink in his hand, as the band strikes up a Sousa march. But, of course, he's dead right on the money about smartass Europeans!

 

All the best,

Bren

 

Brendan, your poem is perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. And I did get the part about the mood; it's an almost "wild west" type of feeling like anything could happen, a risk of liberty, reminiscent of Adams' mention of "the animating contest of freedom":

 

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

 

--Samuel Adams

 

I also detected the sense of "skeletons in the closet," a dark side of history hanging over a culture's head. Reality? Sure. And yes, with liberty comes risk but also comes responsibility. I consider my fellow law-abiding Americans as mostly responsible and would trust any of them with guns.

 

As for lynchings, they are never within the scope of the law and especially not so when done for unjust reasons. Though it does seem that in some cases justice was done in the "wild" west where criminals were very difficult to manage by process of law, and people ended up taking matters into their own hands to solve a problem. So, rule of law? No, but on some occasions the outcomes may have been just.

 

When it comes to the gangbangers shooting in my neighborhood, I was more disgusted than anything. I don't want to call an ambulance even when a legitimate need arises! I fear the at minimum five or ten thousand dollar hospital and related expenses that would arise from one incident which, by good fortune, doesn't turn more serious. Not these waste products, though. They think nothing of directly causing problems ... when someone else will pay. To be blunt, I wish they had killed each other. Can you imagine what it must have cost to have at least ten police cars, five ambulances standing by, and a large fire ladder apparatus on site for several hours just for these idiots? And that's only the beginning. There's hospital, then court, and on and on. A total waste of resources.

 

I totally understand the poem wasn't expressly stating a comparison between Nazi Germany and the South. Nevertheless, I felt the things I had to say were close enough in scope and important enough to get out there. Usually I stay out of the political discussions that take place in the various topics, as I don't see the need to get on my soap box every time, lol, but this time I saw an opening and capitalized on it. In my view, to generate a need in a reader to do that is a good result for a poem every time.

 

Tony :happy:


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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fdelano

Chuckling in my enormous drink, I suspect our dear friend Bren is having us on, as Brits say. Are you "taking the mickey" with us, you dirty bugger?

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dedalus

I like the way many Americans get aroused over political non sequiturs: it's like watching a beehive or an ant colony under glass. Irish independence is so completely taken for granted these days that we simply ignore the years (the centuries!) of oppression that constitute the previous 500 or 1000 years of our past - take your pick. We have a written constitution just like you (the Brits don't) but nobody ever refers to it. When we run into difficulties we depend on the judicial system which is remarkably liberal and geared to individual rights. At other times we simply ignore the law so that, for example, if you want a gun you simply go out to some pub and get one or if you need an abortion (still illegal) you send the girl to England. Obedience to the law, or any authority, has never been a pronounced trait in Irish life. Everyone understands the system so people carry on willy nilly. The only inescapable problem is that the country is so small it suffers periodic hits from overseas events such as international banking recessions or the intrusive foreign policy aims of larger nations, by which I do not mean Russia or China.

 

What has this to do with the poem? Not much, directly, but in a sliding angular way with regard to the dangers and pitfalls of life. Plus it's a rather slow Wednesday in Nippon.


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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fdelano

I take it that you are not a modern admirer of Cromwell. lol

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tonyv

... We have a written constitution just like you (the Brits don't) but nobody ever refers to it. When we run into difficulties we depend on the judicial system which is remarkably liberal and geared to individual rights. At other times we simply ignore the law so that, for example, if you want a gun you simply go out to some pub and get one...

 

... Plus it's a rather slow Wednesday in Nippon.

 

That sounds quaint, but it would be hard to do that here. It would amount to putting a lot of faith and trust in those attorneys who sport black dresses and preside over courts from the bench. Without the written law to point to with which we try to maintain a sense of accountability, the corruption would be too much, and their decisions would become increasingly arbitrary. Even with the written law in place, sophist judges will twist it to hand down unjust rulings and sometimes just blatantly disregard it. The battle to save individual rights is ongoing as some groups of people and forces within the government are working hard to erode them every day.

 

With what you said about guns in Ireland, well that's how the shooters down on my street obtained theirs: not through legal purchases. They are not law abiding to begin with, and gun laws do absolutely nothing to deter them when it comes to obtaining guns and using them to commit crimes. Take Hernandez for instance. He lives fifteen minutes away from me in Massachusetts -- well, now he lives further away in a Massachusetts jail -- and he had several guns. Remember what I wrote in one of my posts above about the Massachusetts gun licensing scheme, FID card versus the license to carry? Well, needless to say, he and his homies were not in possession of those guns pursuant to the law. They face serious charges even if they didn't commit the murder they're accused of being involved in. If I remember correctly, Massachusetts has a mandatory one year jail sentence for firearms violations.

 

Slow night here at home, too ... Fireworks finale raging outside my window. I probably should go out on the balcony. At least it's not gunshots this time, lol


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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dedalus

Cromwell and gunshots, ah, the wicked old days. Thanks be to God they are gone. But where is the guarantee that the evils of the past are enclosed, and indeed quite gone forever?


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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fdelano

Nor here, dear friend. The killings of JFK, his brother and Martin King have been told as inventions, not shown by facts. We Yanks live with a history of what we are told, not from the facts that some uncover. Don't get me going. A flat Earther.

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dr_con

Bren- Poem was incredibly good and heartfelt. The inspired rants = Awesome! I've long been obsessed with the 'American Dream' being second generation Latvian, with a mom who fled Soviet invasion. I believe in the dream, still, seeing in it the 'universal' impulse for liberation, but now cynically refer to its co-option, more so than its origin. Having said that and adding my poor 2 cents to the erudite ranting above, the emotive humanness' of the opening stanza and the almost naturalist reflections on the south, to me, comes from that very same impulse as The Dream, the desire to be free of Joyce's 'Nightmare of history' while acknowledging its ever present threat.

 

BTW, speaking of Joyce and the privatized version of the 'Dream':http://www.warscapes.com/literature/cryptogams-nsa that should add a little weight to the millstone...

 

And Tony, while I agree the person on person racial divide seems to be lessening,(back East this is more apparent than West): Institutionalized Racism is doing quite well, and is growing by leaps and bounds:

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Crow-Incarceration-Colorblindness/dp/1595581030

 

To a recent documentary by an acquaintance http://throwawaysmovie.com/

 

 

Juris

:


Join the Voodoo rEvolution. Classes forming now: http://www.integralvoodoo.org/

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David W. Parsley

Hi Bren, I like the poem and the political commentary it ignited. I, too, have experienced this sense of oppressive undercurrent that still exists in parts of the American South. Your poem captures it well. Much of the "ranting" confirms my view that the most ardent patriots often are those closest to immigration from other lands. (Other than Snowden, Oswald, and a few others of notoriety, how many huddled masses emigrate from America to seek justice from other regimes? But I digress.)

 

Though never enlisted in military service, I can say that I have done my own part to help keep America safe and strong whenever I could, and leave it at that. Mine is not an immigrant's grateful zealotry, but the legacy of generations of free men and women going back to the Revolution. I was nursed in the shadow of the Tree of Liberty, raised in awe of such names as Nathan Hale, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and their like, the concurrent existence of which the world may never see again.

 

Having said that, I am not blind to the excesses of American capitalism, as great a despot as any other and one that must be monitored and sometimes opposed by a vigorous public. These are the string pullers behind the scenes and it will likely require the services of another Teddy, Taft, or Wilson to break their iron grip on the limits of liberty and justice as they now exist. We have the permanent legacy of theft and genocide so long veneered by the name of Manifest Destiny. Nor is it clear that we have yet fully shaken the shackles of racial divide that enslave our nation to its dominance (thanks for the link, Doc - about time somebody wrote this book). But this IS the land most empowered by constitution and citizen resolve to address such injustice and we have the track record to prove it.

 

Thanks for providing the forum for all this (whether you wanted to, or not...)!

- Dave

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