Posts Tagged ‘race’

My Top Ten Wish List for the U.S. in 2015

January 5, 2015

I wish that…

!.  The United States does not get into another war. 

2. The United  States Congress concentrates on working for what’s best for the country instead of what’s best for members of Congress.

3. The astronomical cost of healthcare stops rising.

4. The cost of education for physicians is greatly reduced, bringing the cost more in line with other countries, many of which provide free education for physicians.

5,  American universities put more emphasis on lowering the costs of education than adding administrators and new buildings.

6.  That we start valuing excellent educators more than football coaches.

7. American news media return to the days of responsible journalism, concentrating more on stories that affect people’s lives and less on sensationalism and that we produce more journalists like H. L. Mencken, Ida Tarbell,  David Halberstam, Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite,  Ben Bradlee, and Woodward and Bernstein. 

8.  That our economy continues to improve.

9 .  That we continue the trend toward producing more renewable energy.

10.  That more of us follow Martin Luther King, Jr.’s admonition that we judge people “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

What do you wish most for in 2015?  



Why the 20th Century was the Most Violent in History

June 18, 2012


The 20th Century was not the century of two World Wars and a Cold War, but the century of a single Hundred Years War.

Nationalism didn’t cause the conflicts. Empires did. It wasn’t ideologies of class or the influence of democracy or socialism that drove the century. It was race.

Though we thought the West had triumphed, the truth is that power moved towards the Eastern empires.

Those are the controversial assertions of Scottish historian Niall Ferguson in his documentary series War of the World, which is also a highly acclaimed book.  I saw three of the documentary episodes on Netflix, but there is also a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers it free.  You can check it out by clicking this link.

The Ferguson doc is not only exceptional for the creative way it is written and produced, but for a new way of understanding why the 20th Century is the most violent in history. 

One of his interesting claims is that World War III is not in the future.  It started right after World War II.  In other words, the Cold War was actually hot. The United States and the Soviet Union couldn’t fight directly because of the guaranteed mutual destruction that a nuclear exchange would engender.  They fought it through proxy countries.  A couple of good examples were Korea and Vietnam. 

The shift of empire power to the East  started in 1905 when the Japanese sank two-thirds of the Russian fleet.  Up until then the West truly dominated the world, with its empires subjugating  the East. Those empires have since been demolished.  Nations like China and India are ascending.

 And he points out that  war can cause the good guys to be bad guys as they adopt the tactics of the bad guys, using as examples the massive killing of civilians by bombardment from artillery and the air in World War II.

His findings are controversial, but he has a good case for his positions.  Watch the series and tell me what you think.   

Thursday Special at the Friends Bookstore: “The Help”

August 22, 2011

Some rare times movies are actually better than the books from which they were adapted. That was not the case, in my view, as far as The Help is concerned. Not that the movie wasn’t good. To me, it was very well done.  I never expect a movie to be exactly like the book. Each has its own appeal in its own way. 

The biggest difference to me was that the book, brilliantly written by Kathryn Stockett, was more subtle.  The movie was anything but subtle. Another big difference was the way the  story was told.  Sections of the book are narrated by the main characters.  In a way, Stockett’s technique reminds me of Mark Twain’s telling of Huckleberry Finn, arguably the  Great American Novel, through  the words  of Huck.  I thought  she did an excellent job with the dialects.

When I heard the movie was coming out, I rushed to Barnes and Noble and got my copy because I always prefer reading the book before I see the movie.  To me, books usually offer so much more detail and, quite often, insight than movies, but movies, when done well, bring books to life.

Quite often when I see the movie first, I don’t read the book. But, sometimes I do. In this case, I would recommend that you do. As I said, it is brilliantly written. I think you’ll be glad. I’ll even make it easy for you. I’ll bring my copy with me Thursday when I start my Friends of Libraries Bookstore shift at 2 p.m. the Columbus Public Library.  The cover price is $16.  You can buy my copy for $4. First come, first serve

Fortunately, there is a little controversy about the book. It’s hard to get around that when you write about the Jim Crow South.  I say fortunately, because controversy sells, and this book is a runaway best  seller.  That’s as it should be.

Colin Powell on Columbus, Phenix City, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh

December 12, 2008


Gen. Colin Powell Parkway, Phenix City, Alabama
Gen. Colin Powell Parkway, Phenix City, Alabama

 Colin Powell Parkway in Phenix City, Alabama signifies how much has changed since 1963.  Former Secretary of State  Powell, who became a four-star general and Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when serving on active duty in the Army,  was pleased by that  honor because it demonstrated how much Phenix City and Columbus has progressed in race relations since he was at Fort Benning in the 1958 and 1963.

  In an interview on the Academy of Achievement website in 1998,  Powell recalled his experiences in the Columbus-Phenix City area right after he had returned from Vietnam.  At Fort Benning, “You could go anywhere, live anywhere, do anything you wished to do. But as soon as you went over the hill, and down into Columbus, Georgia, it was a totally segregated existence.”

  It was duirng that time that  he lived in Phenix City, where he is now honored, because housing on post wasn’t available.  One day, working on his house, he  decided to take a break to go to a drive-in restaurant in Columbus to get a hamburger.  He said a young lady came out to take his order.  She looked in the car and asked him if  “I was a Puerto Rican, and I said ‘no,’   Then she asked me if I was an African student studying at the Infantry School.”   He told that he was an American, to which she replied that  she was sorry but she couldn’t bring the food to him, that she couldn’t serve it to him in his car,  that  he would have to go around to the back to be served.  He told her, “Thanks, but no thanks,”   and left.

    When he came back to the Columbus-Phenix City area a few years ago, he found different cities, cities that honored him for his service to his country. I heard him speak at the Rotary Club of Columbus during that visit, where he was roundly applauded, and after that, went to Phenix City to be honored in a ceremony naming the parkway after him. 

  He stayed in the  news after he retired from the Army when President George W. Bush appointed him Secretary of State.  Powell was, and still is, a Republican.  But, he thinks the party must change if it  is to remain viable, and that it should stop following the advice of Rush Limbaugh, who, he said, “appelas to our lesser instincts, not our better ones.”  He also thought it is a mistake to follow the leadership of Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin.  He  told this to  CNN’s Fareed Zakharia  in an interview that will be aired Sunday at 1 p.m.

Few Showed up for a Big International Show

September 22, 2008

  In this world of racial and ethnic strife, one has to support efforts to lessen and even prevent that strife by bringing people of different races and cultures together. That’s why I support One Columbus and that’s why I went down to the Columbus Civic Center to attend the International Festival, which is sponsored by the Mayor’s Commission and Unity and Diversity.

 A lot of different cultures and countries were represented with booths and entertainment groups.

  When I walked in a Japanese contingent was performing a dance. They were giving it their all and I enjoyed it.

Japanese Dancers, Columbus Civic Center

Japanese Dancers, Columbus Civic Center

Japanese Dancers, Columbus Civic Center

Japanese Dancers, Columbus Civic Center

   Afterwards I went over to the Japanese booth and chatted with Kazue Schmitz, who is married to Kurt Schmitz, WTVM weatherman.  She was writing people’s names in Japanese for them to take home as a souvenir.  She was pleased with the idea of diverse people gathering for a festival, but she was disappointed with size of the crowd. She and Mirta Fortin, originally from Guatemala, and now a teacher of Spanish at Columbus High School, who was hosting the Guatemala booth, who agreed with her, said there was just no advance publicity.

Kazue Schmitz, Columbus Civic Center

Kazue Schmitz, Columbus Civic Center

Mita Fortin, Columbus Civic Center

Mita Fortin, Columbus Civic Center

  You can’t expect people to come if they don’t know about it. The person in charge of sending out news releases said she sent them to the newspaper, radio and TV stations, but for some reason they didn’t seem interested. She said some showed to take some pictures at the event. That’s nice, but they could have gotten better crowd shots if they had let people know about it in advance.

Korean Fan Dancers, Columbus Civic Center

Korean Fan Dancers, Columbus Civic Center

    You hate to see people put out a big effort to share their cultural backgrounds with dances and displays and have to play to a lot of empty seats.

   I wouldn’t known about it if One Columbus Executive Director Ken Crooks hadn’t told about it during a speech he made Sunday morning at the Unitarian Fellowship of Columbus. He talked about diversity and unity combining in a community. More on that in a future post. Stay tuned.