We are what we learn.

Sarvodaya

The Little Klansman

Georgia State Trooper at a Klan rally in the 1980s.

It’s hard to remember that bigots, tyrants, and criminals were children once, and that most of them endured abuse, neglect, and hate-filled indoctrination. The child in this photo has no say in what is being drilled into his head. He is at the mercy of his parents and community, whom he didn’t choose and couldn’t escape from for some time. Imagine how I’d turn out if I was raised in his place? I wonder who this little boy grew up to be?

View original post

https://valentinelogar.com/2012/11/29/2394/

All that is Good

Gratitude


Appreciation


Thankfulness


I allowed my anniversary to pass without much fanfare, mostly because I wanted to sit back and consider all that had happened in the past year. Where I began and why, what caused me to start and what has changed for me, in large part since I began exploring pieces of myself I didn’t think to explore. This past year has truly been an exercise in redefining my limits and boundaries. I have wandered paths I long since allowed to be overgrown and choked off. I also rediscovered my love of research, history and yes you might have guessed the sociology within politics.

There were things I knew, things I intellectualized but had never spoken aloud. There were other things I knew, a history buried so deep in my soul despite my tough girl exterior I still allowed those hurts to define me. In these pages I began to speak the words, some of them made me weep for days. Some of them made me so angry all over again I could not speak aloud for hours after writing them down. Yet I hit the publish button and it was as if each time I released a piece of myself, comforting myself there was another door in the oubliette of my mind no longer hidden, no longer under lock and key.

When I started I didn’t know I would delve deeply into my history. Even today I don’t know that I could tell you why I did, except it was time. I was made brave by others I met in this wonderful world, others who were not afraid, who stunned me with their courage and their kindness, such as:

http://runningfromhellwithel.com/ http://deborah-bryan.com/
http://onehotmessage.wordpress.com/ http://rasjacobson.com/
http://knowmyworth.com/ http://cheatbuster.wordpress.com/
http://linneann.wordpress.com/ http://rebelthriver.wordpress.com/
http://runningnakedwithscissors.com/

Then there are those perfect places of rest and peace. I find them and think, ahhh I am home for a minute and can breathe. When I see there is something from one of these wonderful bloggers I smile just a little then rush right over to read.

http://tasteoflifebysabi.wordpress.com/ http://dragoneystory.wordpress.com/
http://yourdailydoseblog.com/ http://notquiteold.wordpress.com/
http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/ http://adamsart.wordpress.com/
http://somkritya.wordpress.com/ http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/
http://totsymae.com/ http://catforsley.me/

We all have places to laugh, giggle, argue and debate. In some cases a mix of personal stories, political shenanigans and the world around us is just what is needed to keep us connected. Certainly, despite what it may seem like to some, even I need that cool wind to blow and make me giggle, some of these marvelous bloggers do just that!

http://carrierubin.com/ http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/
http://k8edid.wordpress.com/ http://sweetmotherlover.wordpress.com/
http://pegoleg.com/ http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/
http://howthehelldidienduphere.wordpress.com/ http://monicastangledweb.com/
http://thebyronicman.com/ http://shesamaineiac.com/
http://frigginloon.wordpress.com/ http://heyjay139.wordpress.com/
http://romneymanassa.wordpress.com/ http://chiefwritingwolf.com/

There is one other blogger who I have to send out enormous hugs and great heaping mounds of gratitude to, without her I might not have continued forward. Without her I would have given up, frequently. She has been my bulwark, my voice on the other end of the phone and I am afraid I have burned her ear sometimes with my rants.

Red over at http://mommasmoneymatters.com/

I wanted to say to all the bloggers who follow me, I am so grateful. For the time you take to read and comment, I appreciate it is your time and you give some of it to me. To all the bloggers who have given their time and energy, who have taught me to let go and soar, thank you; I will never be able to express what it has meant to me to learn, your lessons have been invaluable. To all my new friends, I am so grateful for your warmth, humor and welcome.

This past year has seen me let go of some very old hurts. No, it hasn’t truly healed them, simply allowed me to let them go. This year has also allowed me to find new pathways to old and slightly damaged relationships, without the lessons I have learned here and from some of you I might never have found the strength and courage to reach out and rebuild those bridges, for this I am grateful. Over this past year I have also learned, much to my chagrin I need to apologize more often for my razor sharp tongue, ouch. I have been reminded to say “I love you” and to hug, even if the hug is remotely.

Perhaps most importantly I have learned not to ignore my feelings. Not to find another room in the dungeon of my mind and throw those pesky emotions inside under lock and key. I have learned my emotions will not slice and dice me leaving nothing remaining of who I thought I was, or pretended to be. I have begun to be a complete person again, while I still don’t wear my heart on my sleeve I might consider a tattoo of one someday.

I let my anniversary pass, mostly because I wanted to think about the past year and what it has meant to me. What changes this year has brought about. I have been in a funk this year and couldn’t put my hand on why, finally last week I figured it out (more on this later). This post is all about gratitude, I have much to be thankful for; while I may never be enpoint again my soul has begun to soar.

No Restraint

Paul Ryan, the other half of the Romney ticket is an adherent of Ayn Rand and her watershed novel Atlas Shrugged. If you haven’t ever read Atlas Shrugged, you might wonder why this is so frightening and so at odds with his Catholic faith. The problem with the philosophy of Ayn Rand when applied to nations is its failure of compassion. Ayn Rand believed in Free Markets above all else, Free Markets and individualism. The philosophy of objectivism and selfishness, says the wealthy the “makers” have value and worth in society. Others, the “takers” have none. The entire premise of Atlas Shrugged is a nation, no, a world gone mad as the “makers” withdraw their resources leaving the “takers” to their own inept devices, incapable of managing without the direction and firm hand of those at the top in wealth and resource. This premise is of course faulty, it assumes the 95% without great wealth are incapable and unintelligent, but this was the assumption of Ayn Rand and it is also the assumption of Paul Ryan and his cohorts.

Paul Ryan would be Libertarian, except the Libertarian platform allows for the decriminalization of Drugs, Abortion and Gay Marriage. Otherwise, most of the Libertarian platform is based on the Ayn Rand philosophy of Free Market without regulations, no taxes and no government supports or safety nets. The other problem for Paul Ryan and those of his ilk, within the houses of Congress, those within the various state legislatures and within the various Governorships; well they simply can’t win without the support of their far right Christian coalitions today. Ayn Rand was an Atheist and the Libertarians believe strongly in keeping religion out of government but individual rights to worship protected from interference.

Paul Ryan’s budget, yes that infamous piece of tripe, the basis of the platform of the Republican Party the ineptly named Path to Prosperity, which has been vetted and rejected by every non-partisan group is based on the philosophies of Ayn Rand and the premise of Atlas Shrugged. It is nothing more or less than a GIFT to those who have no need and a THEFT from those who have great need. The GOP having failed to take heed of the results of the people’s choice in the most recent election have made Paul Ryan their lead negotiator for the next round of Budget talks. We will fall over the Fiscal Cliff; buckle up.

The real issue though, the real problem with all of this is the idea of Free Markets, markets without restraint or restriction. History is a strange thing, we forget if not constantly reminded. We jump up and down with glee, say hallelujah, amen give me unrestrained markets and let them go where they will. We say, Drill baby drill and bring down the cost of gas at the pump. We say, a person or corporation (oh forgive me I forgot they are persons too) should be able to do anything, say anything without restriction, restraint or regulation. We forget, perhaps we want to forget we have been down this road and brought this nation to its knees.

This is one result of the Free Market with no restrictions.

Image from the Dust Bowl, man-made disaster

Want to know about the Dust bowl? The disaster brought about by greed and unrestrained commodity markets, in this case wheat, do some research on the Dust Bowl. It took FDR investing in research and re-development of the region to change the Dust Bowl disaster. I recommend watching the PBS special now airing http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/

Seattle Hooverville, Great Depression

These tent cities were built outside of most large cities across the nation during the Great Depression. People thrown from their homes and migrating to find work, sound familiar? What brought on the Great Depression? All the money and resources held by a very small contingent and unregulated banking. It took a world war, horrifying loss of life and Glass-Stegall and the Securities and Exchange Act to bring an end to the Great Depression.

Cuyahoga River burns due to chemicals and pollution

Unrestrained the Cuyahoga River burned. Chemicals had been dumped for years and finally this river along with others showed the world what happens when man pays no attention.

Just one sign, unrestrained and state supported

Until 1964 business could do whatever they like, whether using public or private lands. Got an idea? Theater, restaurant, how about a water fountain in the deep south? No matter what it is, you only need provide it to White Folks, they are human the rest of humanity not so much. That was the reasoning of Jim Crow and it was not only allowed it was supported by law. Libertarians believe and it is stated in their platform; racism, sexism and gender orientation are perfectly legitimate reasons for bias and any business owner should be allowed to place a sign in their window, like this:

December 2011, Ohio

That date isn’t wrong, in fact both Ron and Rand Paul supported this business owners position.

Floating Pacific Trash Island

It is estimated the floating trash island in the Pacific is bigger than the state of Texas. It is made up mostly of plastics and destructive to sea life. Man could change this, we could replace nearly all plastics with Industrial Hemp products, instead we allow the natural product which has no pharmaceutical use to remain a controlled substance requiring a license to grow from the DEA. It is estimated there are at least 25,000 products possible to make from Industrial Hemp, many of these can be found in the Floating Trash Island.

BP Deepwater spill

This wasn’t the first and it likely won’t be the last as drilling continues off every shoreline where the potential for fossil fuels exist. With minimal regulation or oversight and massive profits just waiting to be pumped to the surface, why worry if a fuel lives are lost. Right?

This is the world, the world of Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan and Free Markets without oversight, regulation or restrictions. But is this the world we want? I can only say this isn’t the world I want to leave for my children or grandchildren.

Notions, Odds and Ends

soapboxpileIt has been a long slog through the muck. There were things left undone as my attention was diverted by both Campaign 2012 and blogging for Race 2012. I admit it, I love politics it is both an intellectual distraction and a philosophical passion, sometimes futile I admit but this time, I think we all learned a few things. Does the end of the campaign and the re-election of POTUS 44 mean I will stop bombarding you with politics?

Well no, probably not but what it does mean is I will stop blitzing you quite so much. My earlier intent to look at and compare the platforms of the two parties moving forward from 1900 to today hasn’t changed, I think this is remains an interesting subject. What about you?

The world we live in remains disrupted by stand your ground ideology on both sides of the aisle. For those of us who voted for the winning side, we can celebrate today but the heavy lifting is only just beginning. For those who voted for the opposition, I am sorry your team lost. I know you are feeling despondent even today the loss is still sinking in. The problem is we are all Americans; we have to find common ground and move our nation forward. We cannot afford to allow those we sent to Washington to set the agenda against our collective best interest.

We are not:

  • African (Black) Americans
  • Hispanic (Brown) Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian Americans
  • White Americans
  • Gay Americans
  • Young Americans
  • Older Americans
  • Female Americans
  • Male Americans
  • Christian Americans
  • Muslim Americans
  • Buddhist Americans
  • Mormon Americans
  • Atheist Americans
  • Deist Americans

Nor are we any other flavor of American the pollsters or for that matter, the Census Bureau can think of. We truly need to begin to think of ourselves not as special interests groups, rather simply as Americans, citizens of this nation. Do not mistake me, I fully agree we have not achieved equality and Civil Rights across the board remain elusive for many of our citizens. Some continue to believe Civil Rights should be a ballot measure, granted only if your neighbor pulls the lever and agrees you as a citizen should have the same rights they have.

This past few years has been ugly. We have seen billions of dollars poured into campaigns, dollars that could have been better spent to feed and educate children, create jobs, research new technologies or study new cures. Instead, these dollars were spent to divide the nation, spread fear and lies, clog our airways with party ideology that did nothing to move us forward, nothing to solve our nation’s very real problems. I along with others, watched in outrage and horror as SCOTUS passed Citizen United and the Super Pacs came onto the political field. My repulsion grew exponentially as gerrymandering became de rigueur and new voter laws begin to pop-up with regularity where there was no reasonable cause.

Worse still, we missed it we missed the most important SCOTUS decision possibly of the century in 2000, in Bush v. Gore while we rung our hands and whined the election had been stolen we failed to see the writing on the wall, the future of our great nation hanging in the balance with these simple words:

 “the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote.”

The state has preeminent rights, greater than individual citizens and greater than the federal government to direct voting. We, the people (remember us) do not have an affirmative right to vote in federal elections! Yes, you read that correctly. There are Constitutional Amendments, namely the 15th, 19th and 26th that prevent discrimination on the basis of Race, Gender and Age. These wonderful Amendments nevertheless do not provide an affirmative right to vote as an American Citizen, they only prevent discrimination where the State allows voting to occur.

What does this mean? Well, think of it this way, as a citizen you have the following:

  • A positive Right to own a Gun
  • A positive Right to Free Speech
  • A positive Right to Assembly and Protest
  • A positive Right to practice your Religion
  • A positive Right to Free Enterprise

You do not have the RIGHT TO VOTE. The right to vote, who will vote or how the electors to the Electoral College for your state will vote is in truth in the hands of your Governor and your Secretary of State. How do you like them apples? Everything the states did leading up to the Presidential Election of 2012, was legal. We might not have liked it. We might have recognized it for what it was and found it repugnant, but it was within the law.

What do we do now? SCOTUS said November 9th, they will hear a case on whether Congress exceeded its authority when they reauthorized the 1964 Voters Rights Act, specifically Section 5. This section requires States with a history of discrimination, gerrymandering and disenfranchising voters to submit changes to their voter laws to the Federal Government before they are enacted. Is there a correlation between the Courts decision to take this case up and the reelection of POTUS 44? The possibility certainly exists and we the people of this nation need to be watching this case along with others they have agreed to hear that quite possibly will change the will of the people as they legislate from the bench what is not the will of the people.

We have allowed this, in some cases encouraged this scourge on our national dialogue. We the people failed to see through bile being spread before us as Truth and the American Way instead we repeated it. We were sucked in. We engaged our friends and family members as if they were foes on the battlefield, all too often forgetting to dull the edge of our sharp tongues, forgetting sometimes we catch more fly’s with honey.  I am as guilty of this as many others, having had to fall on my sword more often than I can count. Having had to apologize to many I love for my acerbity.

We are a nation still divided. I am saddened by this great divide within our country. Separated not because we are really so different but rather because we have allowed those who do not have our best interest at heart to convince us we should be enemies. We have drawn lines in the sand and called them race, religion, gender, sexual orientation; what they really are the boxes others have placed for us to crawl into preventing us from getting to know our neighbors, preventing us from learning we might be friends. We have aligned behind ideologies, believing the talking points without digging down and asking questions and thus defending the indefensible. We have in fact allowed our great nation to be hijacked by two Parties the DNC and the GOP, two sides of a coin Heads I win Tails I lose, nothing in between no diplomacy, compassion or negotiation. Two sides embittered and embattled wanting nothing but power for powers sake, never mind the bodies left on the field in their wake.

Truly, is the middle so hard to find? I wonder, I do. So will I continue to write about politics, I will because I can’t help myself, it is my passion this nation of ours. It won’t be my only subject though, there are other things I think about, other passions I have.

So, for those I insulted with my acidic and barbed tongue, I hope you will forgive me. Believe me as often as I snap (I do I know despite my attempts to do otherwise) will be just that often that I will fall upon my sword and grovel for you forgiveness. My comments are never personal (well mostly never personal) and are never meant to attack anyone personally (mostly not).  

Race 2012: The Commons

What are the Commons and why are they important to civil society? We don’t speak of our public sector too often as The Commons anymore so many citizens don’t understand the term or what is included or why The Commons are such a vital part of our society. One of the keys to understanding The Commons, is first understanding the framework of our nation, the Constitution and its key structures, this is seen first in the Preamble;

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

And then next in Article 1, Section 8:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

With this in mind, what are The Commons? I suspect if I asked ten people I would get very different answers, these would be tinged by their political leanings, their understanding of history maybe even their age. We have forgotten though, truly failed in our memory in the past forty some odd years the meaning of the gift of The Commons we give to ourselves. We have failed to preserve the community that is The Commons and failed to

Boston Common, 1848

preserve the meaning of nation that is also The Commons. In this forgetting, we fail both what is the illustriousness of our past and sustainability of our future.

What are The Commons? These are what I think and in many cases what our Founders thought and earlier, greater presidents thought.

  1. National Parks, I do believe the preservation of great swaths of our nation is indeed vital to our heritage in our future. Some of these wonders of the our nation house also wonders of the world, worth our care for our children and their children; Theodore Roosevelt
  2. Food & Drug Administration, indeed I want the food I eat to be safe. I want there to be standards for cleanliness, packaging, distribution and telling me what any food product contains. I want these standards to be across the board and not-for-profit. I also want them to be up on the latest scientific knowledge not years behind! Similarly, I want pharmaceutical companies to have to follow tight guidelines when putting new drugs on the market, I don’t want them to be able to put just anything on the shelf with a warning label so long and in such small print even my glasses can’t help read it; Theodore Roosevelt
  3. Social Security, oh yeah I know it’s an ENTITLEMENT. No, no it is not unless you are thinking of an Entitlement as something you or I have paid into for our entire working lives and are now ENTITLED to collect in our retirement. Should we consider some reforms? Yes, we should but those reforms should not include anything even faintly smelling of privatization, this is part of The Commons, something we gift ourselves with to make our own and our fellow citizens lives better for: Franklin D. Roosevelt
  4. Roads, Interstate Highways, these are important not just for our driving pleasure but as a means of moving goods across the country. The Interstate Highway system not only provided a massive works program, it connects us to this day despite its terrible disrepair; Dwight Eisenhower
  5. Endowment of the Arts, no nation can call itself civilized that does not support the arts, that does not provide for theater, museums, music, writers to flourish. History tells us no civilization has ever flourished without art; Lyndon Johnson
  6. Medicare / Medicaid, one of the most despised but necessary of The Commons, especially needful for our aged and our young where the programs are most focused; Lyndon Johnson
  7. Environment Protection Agency, there was a time we held a first Earth Day. Many understood with rivers on fire, children dying of strange cancers and city skies black with smoke we had to do something to change our direction, to take care of our world. We didn’t call it Climate Change back then, we simply called it pollution and despaired; Richard Nixon
  8. FEMA, recognizing the need for federal intervention and support where Blood Drives, volunteers and the local first responders could not cover all the needs this agency was created and funded; Jimmy Carter

These are just a few that have recently been in the news mostly because they have been under fire. There are those who believe they should either be privatized or simply eliminated entirely. Here are some others though,

Privacy Wall

some you may not have considered;

  1. Privatization of Local, State and Federal Jails and Prisons:
    1. This is already underway in many states, the privatization of the prison system leads to fraud. Private systems will only build or take over systems with a guarantee of 90% occupancy rate. The Drug War and the crackdown on Illegal Immigration has been a boon for the private prison profit margins.
  2. Privatization of Voting Machines:
    1. This one is frightening but the states buy their voting machines from private industry. They are programed in closed source, the states cannot service them and do not understand the operating system or the programming that counts YOUR vote. There are no random spot checks, there is no validation there is no Transparency and SCOTUS determined in 2000 in Bush v. Gore, “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote”.
  3. Privatization of Education:
    1. Public education and schools have been a cornerstone of our Commons since 1647 when the Puritans established the first schools, albeit these were primarily for the teaching of Puritan values and the reading of the Bible. Beginning in 1785 the first land grant schools (University) were being established, open to all. In 1790 public education was being offered to all families who could not afford to send their children to private schools in Pennsylvania. By 1820, public education was the standard in all US cities and in 1851 Massachusetts is the first state to make education mandatory.
  4. Privatization of City Water Utilities / Supplies:
    1. It has been predicted by 2025 Water will be the new oil, with shortfalls worldwide. With this in mind it shouldn’t be a surprise the private sector is looking to privatize city water utilities. What does this mean to you or I? This would depend on where we live and how much we can afford to pay for our water I would suppose. My recommendation would be if your city is planning to privatize plan on rate hikes, degraded water quality and parts of your city with little to no service as infrastructure also degrades through ‘structural adjustment’.

Those are just a few, there are many more. The one thing the first list shared, there was a benefit to all citizens with their implementation, no person was left out. The one thing the second list shares, those who are already living in poverty, already struggling just to get by are far and away more harmed by their implementation. Is this a race issue? Only so far as today poverty and race remains closely linked in many areas of the nation. To ignore this is to turn a blind eye on facts. We cannot ignore where benefits are gained and who is harmed by any action or by our failure to act.

Tomorrow is our last day to vote in this election cycle. Tomorrow some will stand in very long lines and hopefully say NO to the dreams and hopes of the PRIVATIZATION crowd. Tomorrow perhaps, if enough people say no,

Florida, Saturday lining up to vote

we can begin to heal some of the wounds this election season has opened and begin what I think will be a slog through the muck toward a more civilized social dialog about how to fix what is broken. Tomorrow we elect our next President, several Senators and House members; all I can say I hope it is President Obama and enough new members in both houses of Congress to break the log jam of the past four years.

What is The Commons? It is the gift we give to ourselves to maintain a civilized society. I personally like paying taxes for the benefit of a civilized society that includes good roads, great art and a government that actually functions properly.

I leave you with this thought, voter suppression and repression isn’t this years fancy it was a long time in the making, listen to what Paul Weyrich said in 1980. Don’t know who he is? Mr. Weyrich is the founder of the Heritage Foundation, Alec and several other far right organizations.

Red Hat: Wag the Tail

My sister Red at Momma’s Money Matters comes to me today to share her discontent over the state of knowledge, especially about her wonderful home state of Louisiana. Red is a font of information, there is little she doesn’t know about her home, the people, food, music and its storied history. I also admit to taking a wee bit of pleasure poking and prodding her the day she wrote this (you will see). I am so glad my poking Red resulted in this marvelous Red Hat!

Red and I are of like minds in this area, we are so ignorant of our history and that ignorance is being spread. I hope you enjoy Red’s take on this particular and singular state of affairs, please do let her know.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Is my hat on straight? Oh, good. Let’s talk about what is making my tail the same color as my hair. History.

Sure. I should just get over it. It is in the past, and there is nothing I can do to change it, right? Wrong. Bear with me a moment (or seven).

We all want to believe no one would lie to us. We trust people. We care about people and want to believe they would never lead us astray. After all, for all the generations before writing was common, this was the way history was passed from generation to generation.

Knowingly, it is a pretty good bet they would not lie. Unknowingly, on the other foot, if they are regurgitating something they heard from someone they trusted not to lead them astray… And everyone now suddenly has a tin can on a ball of jute stretched over the generations and miles in a twisted game of telephone. No? How about an example from this week?

One of my friends from the blogosphere happens to live on the other side of the planet from me. He was interested in my heritage, and we began a conversation where he was going to dazzle me with his brilliant tidbits he had assembled from his travels and those who he trusted to teach him about the great big world outside Australia.

In our back-and-forth, I led each of my responses with the same word. “No.” Not one stinking thing he “knew” about the Free State of Louisiana was correct. Not from the immigration to the history to the present. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Rien. One giant honking goose egg.

Being a curious sort, I asked where he was getting his information. Hold onto your red hats. First, from his mate (That is the Aussie mate, not to confused with Mate, as in Val’s DB.) who has been a lifelong companion and globetrotter. Meh. I chalked mate up to tourist.

Second, his family. Apparently, someone was related to (third removed on the paternal, maternal side) someone who (This part gets kinda fuzzy.) either lived there or knew someone who was formerly married to someone who lived there. Is your tin can ringing yet?

Third, brace yourself… Wikipedia. O to the M to the G, are you effen serious?

Now, I do not claim to be an expert (in everything), but I can tell you with a large degree of certainty even studying things about history from viable sources can lead one astray. History is recorded by the victor, to whom go the spoils, including the bragging rights; however, blatant misuse of facts still in evidence is hardly forgivable.

Zydeco Joe Mouton

Case in point, we discussed zydeco music. He was certain it was played with specialized instruments. Well, I suppose you can call spoons and triangles specialized if you have the band’s initials carved on them.

Then, there was a discussion about Creoles. In the ultra-secret-squirrel discussion where he learned about the “American Negro”, he was proud to announce they immigrated in the 18th century. I cannot begin to tell you all the things wrong in that one sentence without a diatribe of over 2,000 words, so let’s move along. Shall we?

Now, my friend is blameless for everything before he opened his mouth. Except for the part about believing what he hears. And well, the part about not following up with someone else to see if the person who told him knew where Shinola was made. Oh, and the part about telling me the way things were. Then, there is that whole thing of reading it on the Internet. See, completely blameless. It could not possibly be his fault because these people would never lie to him, right? Hold on a moment; my tin can is ringing.

Oh, how could I have forgotten this part? There seems to be a show on television. [Brief pause for a caveat: I do not watch television.] The name of this production is Swamp People. It is a depiction of a breed of people Louisianans call River Rats.

Swamp People, Trapper Joe Tommy

Now, to the genteel this may sound harsh. Frankly, it is. They live in the swampy, marsh regions of the state and in the floodplains. (Look that up somewhere which is not Wikipedia.) They are mostly of Hispanic descent with enough French in the mix to still speak Coonass. They are categorized as Caucasian, but have dark, olive complexions, which tan dark roux during the summer; small, close-set, dark brown or black eyes; black hair; and elongated facial features set in small to average sized heads. In short, many have the appearance of the black rat which arrived in our fair state with the Spaniards.

Wait. What? No. Coonass is not a derogatory term or racial by any means. It refers to the Louisianans who are considered bilingual. I use the term “considered” because the language they speak is a pigeon form of both English and French, the official languages of Louisiana. See what I mean about rumors? Where do these things start? I know how they are perpetuated.

My darling (borrowed) audience, just because it is on television does not mean that it is true. (Adjusts hat to show tag which reads “Official Bubble Burster”.) In fact, what is on television is designed to engage you so you will sit still during the commercial, waiting on the edge of your seat for the program to return, thereby getting the advertiser’s message into your psyche which the show has peeled open.

Good advice is when you are showing off to someone about how much you know about where they grew up or spent the majority of their life, please, for the love of all that is holy, only speak about things you have personally witnessed or heard firsthand, since even these can be misleading. For cripes’ sake, do not ever quote something you see on prime time or syndicated television as fact. You are likely to get a different strain of hoof in mouth disease. Its main symptom is my size six stuck in your mouth.

Selected as perfection for curing foot in mouth

Instead, try reading a book published from your place of interest. Go to the location’s governmental website. View their onsite tourism information. Do not go to a website where anyone with an email address can “improve this article”.

My best advice? Ask questions. Nothing will animate your friend as much as giving up the floor for a rendition of When I was growing up in… There is a reason you have two ears and one mouth. There is an even bigger reason you were not born with a remote control in your hand. These are terrific examples of why.

I need to tip my Red Hat to my sister for pointing out, wait, that is not fair.

Not laughing at her, with her

She bet me Wikipedia would have the information wrong. During her drive home, she laughed at the string of obscenities and outbursts as I attempted to read the drivel-filled fantasy entry which passes for unsupported, unreferenced authority.

To say in the end I was thoroughly gobsmacked by the blatant disregard for facts which are readily available by natives in favor of engaging the Internet public at large (read writers who are in need of “web presence”) would be secondary to my righteous indignation at the utter lack of wherewithal of the administration of this site.

No doubt I am still…Red.

The perfect fit for my sister

%d bloggers like this: