Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Council This Week: Race Relations; a Memoir; and Options in Iran

Watcher's CouncilThe Watcher of Weasels has a fine selection this week.The voting pattern in the Council posts was unusual: the top two winners took the majority of the votes. It is not usually this one-sided, but this phenomenon speaks to the subject matter both winners presented.

First place went to Done With Mirrors for his essay, "Chaos or Community." He speaks of two pictures of the same people. The pictures are separated by decades and the two women have since changed a great deal:

Almost half a century after the event, many people are still familiar with the Little Rock desegregation picture of a neatly dressed young black girl walking to school with a white girl following her, her face twisted into a mask of spitting hatred, shouting, "nigger, nigger, nigger!"...How many have seen the photo taken years later, by the same photographer, of the same two women, now matronly? They are chatting cordially on the high school steps about mutual friends.
Such has been the deep, lasting change in relations between the black and white people of America. If I had known back then that I would someday have African American nephews, a niece who is part black and part Asian, I'd have had more hope for my country than I did then. I'd have known it would be okay eventually. Of course, problems remain:

So much was accomplished; it was fast and amazing work, and by the early '70s the goal seemed in sight. Jim Crow was dead, and it must have seemed that one more push would bring America to racial equality.

...we've been stalled on the edge of that dream for more than 30 years now. Busing was a deadly wrong turn. Nothing much since then has panned out. One wonders if we haven't abandoned the dream altogether. What would Martin Luther King make of our fetish for "diversity" and "multiculturalism"?
Who knows? Would he have bought into it? My disappointment in Dr. King's decision to copyright his "I Have A Dream" speech and make it available only to those who could buy it took away some of my hope. So did the racism conference leader who informed me that only whites could be racist; blacks were excused from any such designation. I left the conference after he announced that -- I knew then that getting together to discuss "RACISM" was a dead end waste of precious time and would solve nothing. So far this has proved to be the case.

Done With Mirrors has a fine recommendation for a book written by a woman in that era:"Everybody's Grandmother & Nobody's Fool," by Frances Freeborn Pauley. Scroll down to read his quotes from her.

Nowhere, however, does he mention Daniel Patrick Monyihan's predictions all those years ago about what would happen if we adopted the socialist welfare system of Europe. We would, he predicted, destroy the black family. And he was right.

Now we have a huge and resentful underclass, filled with both black and white professional victims. I call them The Resenters. They are willfully uneducated, suffer from a bad case of living solely in the present, and spend their days in idle bread and circuses entertainments.

What a waste.

Dr. Sanity placed second for her moving remembrance of meeting Ronald Reagan in a brief moment during a tragic time: the Challenger disaster, which happened when she was the crew's surgeon for that mission. When Reagan came to honor those who had perished in the explosion he stopped to speak to her:

As the crew surgeon for that mission, I accompanied the families of the crew to a private meeting with President and Mrs. Reagan before he spoke to the large crowd of employees and officials. I felt a little out of place at this private meeting, so I tried to stay off to the side as, one by one, Reagan greeted all the immediate family members and talked with them.

Much to my surprise, after he visited with them for a while, he walked over to where I was standing. Apparently he had asked who I was, because he addressed me as "Doctor" and held out his hand, saying, "It must be especially hard for you today to have lost those who looked up to you as their doctor and who put their trust in you." He said it very quietly and his sincerity and genuine concern for what I was experiencing resulted in bringing tears to my eyes. Until that moment, I had managed to keep it all together and not show my feelings in public.

The next thing I knew, the President of the United States had put his hand on my shoulder and was comforting me; telling me that he understood my loss and that he knew I had been trying to be strong and take care of all the family members of the crew; but that he could see I was suffering too.
It's amazing how closely her memory aligns with that of others who met him in similar circumstances.

The Non-Council first place overwhelmingly went to the nonpareil Winds of Change for the submission, "Just A Second – It’s Not That Dark Yet (And We Have A Really Big Flashlight)." Written by Armed Liberal, the essay is an examination of our options in Iran and whether or not it is a good idea to pre-emptively strike that country because of our fear of their nuclear capability:

We’ve made a series of errors that have gotten us to this place; for convenience’s sake, I’ll start with Carter’s ineffective nonresponse to the taking of our embassy in Iran – which in my mind marks the real beginning of the modern Islamist war against the West. Since then, we’ve done nothing to lessen our dependence on imported oil, across three Presidents. Most recently, I’ll lay blame at the feet of President Bush, who missed two clear opportunities: to build the strength of the military over the last four years – which would have required sacrificing domestic programs plus a real effort to spend political capital building support for the war, and to engage the Iranian regime and reach out to the non-insane citizens and politicians that make up a large part of the Iranian polity.

But we’re here, now, and no where else.

Could we smash the Iranian oil infrastructure, depriving them of cash and Europe and China of fuel? Of course. Child’s play. Could we drop the Iranian electricity grid, possibly slowing the centrifuges to a halt? Sure. Could we destroy the Iranian army, and do a smash-and-grab raid on the suspected weapons development sites? Probably.
So given all this, why not just get it over with? Well, as AL says "then what?"

He gives four steps, more or less in parallel, that we could start right now. His first step, a good one, is this:

First, we need a national energy policy. It’s not a matter of saving trees, it’s a matter of national defense. We should have done it a decade ago, but tomorrow's the soonest we can start. Doing this not only has real impacts, but sends clear signals about our intentions and capabilities as well.
This is a damn good idea except for one thing: reality. The fissures in the political/cultural ground of the American experiment have never been deeper, more hysterically reactive, or less amenable to reasonable dialogue. We need to do this, but I'll be damned if I know how we'll accomplish it.

I like his ideas but they don't seem doable right now. Of course, I never could have predicted the fall of the Soviet Union or the crumbling of the Berlin Wall.

So maybe Armed Liberal is right and his four steps can be accomplished. I hope and I pray.


hank_F_M said...

Baron and Dymphna

I just finished listening to the esteemed Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia respond to the President.

Is he for real?

I shouldn’t talk, we have Blogoivitch here, but couldn’t someone suggest to him that “there is a better way” like offering a program rather than warmed over platitudes.

Baron Bodissey said...

Hank --

Oh, he's for real, all right. The Commonwealth elected him for the usual reasons, one of them being disgust at the way the Republicans raised taxes the moment they got full control in Richmond.

Why do they always do that?

One thing you'll notice about Gov. Kaine is that he's pretty mild, as liberals go. You have to be in order to get elected as a Democrat in Virginia. Hence the platitudes.