Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Case for the Minorities

by Wendell L. Willkie
The Saturday Evening Post
June 27, 1942

Today we are living once more in a period that is psychologically susceptible to witch hanging and mob baiting. And each of us, if not alert, may find himself the unconscious carrier of the germ that will destroy our freedom. For each of us has within himself the inheritances of age-long hatreds, of racial and religious differences, and everyone has a tendency to find the cause for his own failures in some conspiracy of evil. It is, therefore, essential that we guard our own thinking and not be among those who cry out against prejudices applicable to themselves, while busy spawning intolerances for others.

In addition, as citizens, we must fight in their incipient stages all movements by government or party or pressure groups that seek to limit the legitimate liberties of any of our fellow citizens. For government, which should be the very guardian of these liberties, is frequently, through excess zeal or desire for quick accomplishment of a purpose, the oppressor. And political parties, overanxious for vote catching, become tolerant to intolerant groups.

I have noticed, with much distress, the excessive wartime activity of the investigating bureaus of Congress and the administration, with their impertinent and indecent searching out of the private lives and the past political beliefs of individuals. Such methods, of course, are employed with the excuse of protecting the nation from subversive activities. So are those of the Gestapo. I have been appalled at the callous indifference of high officers of the navy to the obvious and undemocratic discrimination against Negroes, and disturbed to find similar discrimination too often in the ranks of industry and labor. I have been shocked to read that the Department of Justice seeks to revoke the citizenship of naturalized citizens suspected of foreign allegiance, rather than forthrightly to prosecute such persons for whatever crime they may be guilty of.

The course it is pursuing casts doubt on the rights of all naturalized citizens to the same treatment before the law as is enjoyed by their fellows who were born here. I have been sickened to see political parties flirting with remnants of anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klanism and hesitating to denounce the anti-Semitism of Coughlinites and others.

For now more than ever, we must keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that whenever we take away the liberties of those we hate, we are opening the way to loss of liberty for those we love. Our way of living together in America is a strong but delicate fabric. It is made up of many threads. It has been woven over many centuries by the patience and sacrifice of countless liberty-loving men and women. It serves as a cloak for the protection of poor and rich, of black and white, of Jew and gentile, of foreign - and native-born. For God's sake, let us not tear it asunder. For no man knows, once it is destroyed, where or when man will find its protective warmth again.

Source: Spartacus Educational (UK). The above was part of the research I did for the Quote of the Day for November 17, 2012. This one was pretty tough because Google Books, normally a very good resource, wasn't much help. The one source I could find had the wrong publication date. (Surprisingly, getting the publication date wrong for periodicals happens quite a lot.) I was actually very lucky to have found it at this UK website and I wanted to post it here so that there was at least one other place on the web where this missive could live online.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Will

Mom and her older sister, 1937.

The conference room was ample
The lawyer droned on and on
The aide made endless copies
Which the accountants set upon.

We came to meet the men
Who bill by the hour
Who passed out streams of paper
And looked entirely too dour.

The will was probated months ago
The taxes were yet to be paid
The extensions were filed in triplicate
The piles of folders needed a spade.

Endless questions for these priests
Who control the language of our lives
Who scribble out the sacrifices
That are demanded by our gods.

These are the chores of the living
The ones who are left to grieve
All of us must persevere
Or so we all believe

She was more to me than parchment
More than life insurance and deeds
But the entirety of her financial life was
Spelled out on this pile of leaves.

I felt her last in her empty bedroom
Bereft of any evidence of her life
She must have been that spirit
That touched me in my heart.

My cousin and I shed tears that day
Remembering her endearing charms
But today she did not visit us
In that wainscot paneled room.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Content to Sleep

As the lights dim and the covers float
They settle down around me.
I begin to feel the faint weight
of feline paws as she walks towards
me imperceptibly light.

When she nears my waist she sits and
I can hear, mixed in the rattle
of the heating vent, her faint purring.
Telling me that she loves me.

I no longer reach out to pet her,
To feel her rub her cheek
against my fingernails,
because every time I do,
she is gone.

So now I just lie there
listening to the rattle of
her purring and feeling the
imperceptible weight of her,
lying next to me, and
I am content to sleep,
hoping that she'll stay.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Real Story

There's a real story here and anyone who isn't paying attention is missing it. Of course I almost missed it too, because like everyone else, I got attracted to the conflict and gossip:

But first the dishing: The last thing I expected, when I posted a link to a NY Times article about Obama getting interrupted while reading a statement, was that one of Grover Norquists's lackeys would be trolling Google+ looking for liberals to tweak with pithy comments. (see image to the right.)

Seriously, he doesn't have better things for them to be doing? My little corner of Google+ (a cyberspace backwater if there ever was one) is a bastion of angry liberalism and is in need of a terse bit of text to set me on the path of the straight and narrow? Who are they kidding? Is it an attention getting scheme? Will armies of conservative agents be descending on cyberspace to wreak havoc in the liberal-sphere just to draw attention away from the real stories?

And getting back to real stories: Yes, in this case the real story here is not Neil Munro's boorishness, Tucker Carlson's clueless response, or that legions of Grover-bots might be trolling the backwaters of cyberspace (as well as the halls of Congress, but I digress). The real story is that President Obama is committed to giving the children of illegal immigrants, who have grown up here and call the USA their home, a chance to become legal residents. At some future date we may even allow them to attain citizenship.

That's the real story.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Tears Won't Come

Morning Tears by Paul Binnie

The tears are not coming.
They have sent their regrets.
The weeping is on hiatus.
And yet I am so upset.

My sadness will not abate
Without an emotional release
But the S.N.R.I. I'm taking
Makes it hard to attain that peace

I used to cry quite often,
Others must have thought me weak,
But I regarded it as a blessing;
A badge of sorrow flowing down my cheek.

This day we celebrate mothers.
They who nursed us with great care.
Who praised and nagged and fed us
And told us what to wear.

The metastasized foreign colonies
Flourished under small domes.
Like little stationary marbles,
Up and down her arms.

My mother was so afraid
Of dying in great pain;
We spoke of it so often that
It's seared into my brain.

It was a kind of blessing
Among all the emotional boil
That the anesthesia induced dementia
Unraveled her mortal coil.

I really have to concentrate
As method actors do
To darken my mind even further
And bring the tears to fore.

But even if I succeed
In satiating this grief.
I know it'll be back again,
Bundled into sheaves.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Birthday Wish

For Dollface's birthday I gave her an extravagant and intangible gift. Placed in a small box, light as air, and wrapped in Sponge Bob birthday paper. In the accompanying card I wrote another poem to express my love for her and with her permission I'm posting it here:

"Erato, Muse of Poetry" by Edward Poynter

I don't know what to write.
I am at a loss.
My muse has up left me.
The writer has been blocked.

A birthday wish should be ethereal.
Light and full of joy.
For this, your birthday, I wish
To you, not a care in the world.

Such days are reserved for pleasantries.
Lighthearted fun and toys.
Candy, cake, and ice cream.
And other trinkets of joy.

Algea, goddess of sorrow,
is not welcome here.
Nor her mother Eris,
the spirit of discord.

We are gathered here to celebrate.
And to open a gift most fair.
For the birthday of my cherished love.
The Dollface that I hold most dear.

So have some cake and icing
And maybe a cookie or two
And open the gift before you.
From he, your love so true.

And remember these words I've written.
And remember the love we both feel.
For while the offering is intangible.
The extravagance is very real.

Have a little cake with your icing

The image at left is called "Rabbit's Delight" and it's the birthday card that I gave to Dollface. You may not be able to tell from the small image, but the rabbits are eating the icing flowers off of a birthday cake. The endearment inside reads "Have a little cake with your icing."

It was created by Maili Poag and you can see this and more of her beautiful anthropomorphic cards at Toadstool Designs.

Pre-Birthday Wish

Dollface had a birthday coming up and wanted something extravagant, so I came up with a gift that was both that and intangible. Because it was going to rain on her birthday we decided to have a dinner a day afterwards. I wanted to give this extravagant/intangible gift during dinner so I wrote a little pre-birthday poem in a kind of Dr. Seussian style to give to her on her actual birthday. (It's not as good as the least of his verse, but it was received warmly.)

"Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss

Dollface has a birthday that is significant,
so how did I choose to cel-le-brate it?
With bows and trinkets
on Jewelry and ingots?

Maybe some friends
will pay us a visit,
And accompany us
to a gallery or exhibit.

I might have sprung
for off-Broadway tickets.
Or bluesy music with rough hewn lyrics.
Or maybe even a museum of hieroglyphics.

On the other hand I can assure you that
it won't be furniture with rivets,
Or Gravy and biscuits,
Nor will it be Tofurky and giblets.

Whatever it is you'll
need to have patience.
And quietly, to yourself,
count down the minutes.

So no crying or screaming or
threats or ballistics.
Or the whining that
such conditions elicit.

For I won't reveal it.
No matter how much
you threaten or kibitz.

Until the appointed time
at where ever it is
that we're filling
our stomachs.