Saturday, November 29, 2014


This season, I've had my fill of white people justifying the evident murder of a black kid in Ferguson, MO by a white cop, which outrages black people and anyone else with a clue -  not because it happened, but because it's routine, and so are the excuses presented for it.  When they're not making excuses in that way, they're focusing on the way some people have rioted - although I don't see them tongue-clicking and finger-wagging that way when fans riot for such weighty reasons as their team winning a superbowl.  Since that's regarded as good clean fun, I don't think the grave concern over people rioting in response to having it made clear to them that cops will never be held accountable for killing them without a cause is really anything but changing the subject.

Of course riots don't help, the same way that telling the spedhead in the IEP meeting to fuck off doesn't generally help either. I always discourage that style, teaching more effective advocacy. But those of us who have had some experiences in spedwo
rld should have no trouble understanding how we can be provoked to be that stupid.

You special ed parents see how it is when they rip off your kid, when they do outrageous and even criminal things to him and you know for certain that it will be difficult or impossible to hold anyone accountable. And the perps, doing this to your kid under color of authority, know that they have the support of their administrators to cover it up.

Now sit still a minute and grok how that feels.

Now consider what it's like for black people, who face this all the time and everywhere, not because it happens all the time, but it always may, and when it does, it's school district sly and the whole system will support it. How easy would you find it to play that right, knowing that it will never end, never be any different, that the majority around you will never get a clue, never have, and clearly don't want to?

As I reflected and wrote on these things the past few days, I understood that the way no one would listen to me when I suffered injustice as a little kid has given me the capacity to understand the elements of justice that we owe to black people.  I know on my own hide, intermittently, what black people endure all day, every day, and as a little kid I found even that slight and occasional injustice more than I could endure.  When I consider it, I don't know how black people have held it together in this place
for 400 years.

As I pondered these things, I saw that it's fitting for me to be thankful for these experiences.  They have enabled me to become somewhat human, not completely blinded and bewitched by my white privilege as most of my fellow white folks have proven in the past few weeks to be. 

And here's another thing.  By doing justice and speaking the truth in the past few days
about injustice to black people, I was made able to reprocess my own experience and become grateful for the instruction in justice and mercy that these traumatic things have given me.  Doing a little justice has helped me with some serious trauma in my life, teaching me gratitude in place of bitterness.

You never know what might happen when you do a little justice, but such healing is exactly what Isaiah 58 tells us to expect.  Try it a little yourself.  You'll be well compensated for putting up with the hatred of those who don't want to hear it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

November 11, once Armistice Day in which people celebrated the end of World War 1 and remembered how horrible and useless war is, was renamed Veterans Day in the US - though not elsewhere - and has become one of the high holy days of the religion of militarism.

Theologically, it is your standard pagan religion of human sacrifice.  Offer the holy blood of our children to the god, Molech or Baal Melkart, or in this case the national security state, and you will be blessed and prosper.  This holy blood ensures that we are safe and free.

All of this involves a lot of sentimental flattery of veterans, while carefully avoiding the reality that romanticizing their work in this way guarantees that more will be destroyed to no purpose in America's stupid and senseless wars without end.  How is that of any actual use to any present or future veteran that these devotees profess to love and honor?  Truly the proverb is fulfilled exactly upon veterans in this way: "A flattering tongue works ruin."

I was reminded today of how utterly impervious to reason the devotees of this cult are, and this made me realize in a new way what is at work here - survivor guilt.

Survivor guilt gets a lot of attention in the Bible, and rightly so, because it is one of the most powerful ways in which we are blinded by the fear of death.  Some examples:

- When Jesus told the apostles that he needed to die and that they could not follow, they just couldn't handle it.  First, they simply would not accept that it would happen.  "Far be it from you, Lord, that this should happen to you."  This led several times directly to arguments among them over who was the greatest.  And then when that truth could no longer be ducked, "Lord I will follow you to prison and to death!"  Which led directly to Peter forsaking Jesus and denying him.
- Moses survived only while other babies in his position died.  It's not clear, but that may have influenced his rescue of his fellow Israelite by killing the Egyptian.  Certainly his survival while his fellow babies died was something he had to look at.
- Jesus, too, lived only because Joseph had to take him out of town without warning other families of what Herod was likely to do to their babies.
- Before this, David in his own words occasioned the death of the priest Ahimelech and his entire family by showing up and getting help.  Saul's servant Doeg the Edomite was there, and as David said, "I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul."  David was unable to warn Ahimelech of his danger, but he knew what would happen, just as Joseph knew what would happen to the babies in Bethlehem.

We see here in Peter's case that survivor guilt, if not properly faced as David did, makes us absolutely stupid.  Mom says, "Eat, because children in Africa are starving," and this guilt trip works because the survivor guilt it creates makes the kid unable to ask how eating in the States when he's not hungry will keep anyone in Africa from starving.  His brain just turns off.

And this is an important part of why Americans simply cannot think when it comes to veterans.  These soldiers are occasionally killed, and quite often traumatized, in completely useless wars so that politicians - especially Democrats - can  show what big testicles they have,  so that war contractors can launder public money into their coffers, and to stir up trouble by the outrages that the American bombers and invaders commit so that the resulting blowback can justify more of the same.

None of this does a thing to make any of us safe or free, of course.  Had the US stayed out of Vietnam instead of going there and trashing the country while murdering around three million civilians, would the Vietnamese have robbed any American of his freedom?  If they had left Iraq alone instead of going over there and killing over a million civilians and driving millions from their homes, would we be any worse off than we are today?

All that this actually does is to cause our empire to be hated around the world, while giving our rulers ever more excuses to rob us of our freedoms and to plunder us for the benefit of the 1% who finance their campaigns and give them soft fat jobs when they leave office.  What in any of this does the average American have to be thankful for?

Bur survivor guilt makes the average American completely unable to even look at the obvious, never mind think it through properly.  Can this end well?