I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
August 22, 2017 - 11:46 a.m.
I didn't go out yesterday; I stayed home and spent many hours with a cold pack wrapped around my knee. It still hurt when I went to sleep but when I woke up it was fine. The problem was a sore anterior cruciate ligament. The heating pad on the back and neck was not as effective. They still hurt. I have to go shopping today in the extreme heat. I should probably minimize the weight I have to carry.
I watched Marvel's The Defenders last night. I heard the reviews aren't favorable but I love it. It hits a few of my sweet spots; it takes place in New York, crossovers make all the shows more real, and I love stories of motley crews of misfits forming a team.
Now to turn simultaneously political and personal. There are some attitudes that are deeply ingrained in childhood. The events in Charlottesville and the responses to it brought back childhood memories.
I know you'll find this shocking but I was a bit nerdy as a kid. Every year I'd look forward to the day my father would bring home that year's almanac. I would devour it. I was fascinated by some weird things, like ranking countries and states by their production of resources. I wanted to know who made the most gold, oil, wheat, and cars. I'd pour over the list of populations and areas. For every state, it would give a little blurb listing things like the state bird. I remember my joy in discovering that the state insect of California was the California Dog-Faced Butterfly.
There was a list of all the holidays celebrated in the US and what states they are celebrated in. I was shocked and somewhat horrified to discover that for the most part the former confederate states did not celebrate Lincoln's Birthday and did celebrate Jefferson Davis and or Robert E. Lee's birthday. I was a kid, maybe 8 years old when this happened. I asked my father about it. This was around 1965, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were new. The South was fighting to keep segregation and once again disguising it as State's Rights. My father explained and I believed him but had trouble accepting states would honor traitors, people that fought against the United States, and they did it to protect slavery. How could anyone justify that in this day and age? This was history to be ashamed of, not proud of? How could this be allowed?
My father had a coin collection that he gave me. He always regretted that he gave part of it away before I was born. The prize he gave away was his 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar. Stone Mountain is the site of the largest bas relief in the world, a Monument to the Confederacy that was built to honor the KKK and with their collaboration. It features Davis, Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. The coin was commissioned to fund its creation. The federal government raised money to honor people who tried to break up the country. It's not like these were great men who did something wrong, these were men who were being honored for their enormities. To honor them was to honor the enormities. I have heard people defend the statues by saying that they weren't hurting anyone. They hurt me. They hurt me more now that I know more. As so often happens with these big projects funding was disrupted and it was put on hold. When was it started again? 1964, a direct response to the Civil Rights Movements. If these statues hurt me as a child, imagine how much they hurt a black child.
I try to not preach to the choir and I'm not. I have friends who are defending the statues. I would like to think that if they thought it through they wouldn't. I don't expect this to change anyone's mind on its own but if it contributes a small amount to one person gaining understanding I'll be happy.
Now to try and help far more of my friends gain understanding. My father told me stories. It's why I tell stories. It's how I learned about things I had not yet encountered in my education. My father was a war hero, literally. My family jokes that he single-handedly defeated the Nazis, with maybe a little help from others. The reality is that he did earn a bronze star for his actions in the Battle of the Remagen Bridge and was one of the Battered Bastards of Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. My father fought Nazis.
He told me often about the war but he also told me that in the 1930s the Bund, the American Nazis, marched through Astoria, where he lives. They held a rally that filled Madison Square Garden. We put an end to that without anyone punching Nazis.
Going back to the events of my childhood, the Klan rose again to fight the Civil Rights Movement. They burned churches, killed children, and young men coming from the north to register black voters. The southern states turned their police and national guard on protesting blacks. Were they defeated by punching Klansman? No, they were defeated by the non-violent protests of millions of people and by the courts. Don't tell me that we have to punch Nazis. We defeated more powerful Nazis and white supremacists without punching them. My father was a Nazi fighter, and you are not my father.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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