What Is It With the American Flag Fetish?


Americans’ Extreme Devotion to Their Flag Arouses Curiosity

One of the first thing visitors from other countries notice when they arrive in the United States is the abundance of American flags. They’re hanging all over the place, down to the facades of most houses. They figure in fashion and bric-a-brac, in sporting and cultural events, on bumper stickers, in products and the movies. The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is recited in American classrooms every day, as well as by all the legislators in the U.S. Congress. The United States is the only country in the world that celebrates a “flag day.”

In fact, the American flag fetish is just one aspect of an ultra-conservative, rabidly nationalistic mindset that has been nurtured in the United States over at least the past century. It goes hand in hand with racism, militarism, and predatory capitalism. The objective of this movement, planted and cultivated by right-wing politicians and fertilized by the usual suspects, is to stifle progressive government and forestall anything that even remotely smacks of  America’s biggest bugbear: “socialism.” Ironically, socialism is considered in the most civilized countries of the world to be a valued element in the democratic mix. It is thanks to socialism, in its different flavors, that Europe has set the world standards for the wellbeing of its citizens.

The American flag is the textile equivalent of the National Anthem and Mom’s Apple Pie. It is dragged out whenever the demagogue of the day wants you to fall into line. It never fails them. You’ve been exquisitely prepared for their call during your whole life. It’s the logo of Patriotism/Ultra-Nationalism/ Fascism, the chip that is planted in school children’s minds that later turns them into Manchurian patriots. For generations the flag has been preparing the yellow brick road to the Trumpish fascism that we see on the rise in the United States today.

Christopher Patella, lecturer in American cultural studies at Bates College, comments in the Washington Post on Nov. 3, 2017 on the intentions of the author of the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy:


Through the pledge, Bellamy sought to define “true Americanism” against the rising tide of southern and eastern European immigrants “pouring over our country” in the early 20th century from “races which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard.” Although Bellamy conceded that “the United States has always been a nation of immigrants,” he argued that “incoming waves of immigrants … are coming from countries whose institutions are entirely at variance with our own.”

Decrying the character and “quality” of these recent newcomers, Bellamy lamented that “we cannot be the dumping ground of Europe and bloom like a flower garden.” To him, “every dull-witted and fanatical immigrant” granted citizenship threatened the American republic.

The Constitutional Right to Disrespect the Flag

For years the disrespect of the American flag was penalized under various state laws. But on June 21, 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Texas v. Johnson case, the Rehnquist Court ruled that no laws could prohibit political protesters from burning or otherwise desecrating the American flag. That 5-4 decision gave new life to the First Amendment which, from then on, has protected the rights of political protesters to use the flag as they see fit in exercising their right to free speech.

According to the New York Times at the time, “In his majority opinion today, Justice William J. Brennan Jr. said, ‘We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.'” William M. Kunstler, the attorney who argued the case for Mr. Johnson, said today that the decision ”forbids the state from making the American flag a religious icon.””

The repercussions were immediate. Not only was the quasi-sacred nature of the flag discredited, but the extensive regulations and customs surrounding the flag were either derogated or cast into question.  The language of the sanctimonious United States Flag Code has undergone substantial changes. Instead of affirming that its regulations “must” or “will” be observed, it now states that they “should.”

Time magazine’s Walter Isaacson expressed the reverent ritual point of view in the weeks that followed the decision:

Reverence for the flag is ingrained in every schoolchild who has quailed at the thought of letting it touch the ground, in every citizen moved by pictures of it being raised at Iwo Jima or planted on the moon, in every veteran who has ever heard taps played at the end of a Memorial Day parade, in every gold-star mother who treasures a neatly folded emblem of her family’s supreme sacrifice.

So, the mothers of the fallen children get a “gold star” and a “neatly folded emblem.” But, even after investing their children’s lives, they do not get to participate in the benefits of the fabulous arms business.

Some of the Standards of Respect from the United States Code Regarding the Flag:

The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:

  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

Quite a lot of ostentation for a simple piece of cloth, if I’m not mistaken.

The Flag as Blunt Instrument

The American flag has long been a valuable tool in the uber-nationalist bag of tricks. Since the Court’s decision to de-sacralize it, the American flag has largely been relegated along with the other trappings of right-wing nationalism: the right to carry arms to church, the superiority of the white race and the legality of purchasing politicians and elections.

For some inexplicable reason, Americans have generally considered it a privilege to die for the flag. At least that idea has been promoted by the patriotism industry. The truth is altogether different. Young American men and women don’t “die for the flag.” Increasingly, since World War II, they die in pointless military adventures organized by the American military/industrial/congressional complex for its own ends: profit and the accumulation of power worldwide. It is, however, true that the flag is excellent window dressing for ceremoniously draping the caskets of the war dead when they roll off the cargo jets at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, en route to glamorous military funerals in their hometowns.

One night in early 1968, while sitting at the bar of the NCO club at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, after two tours of infantry duty in Vietnam, First Sergeant George G. Govan said:

Over there, on the ground, soldiers don’t die for the flag. They die attempting to stay alive and to keep their buddies alive. That’s the reality. The rest is patriotic claptrap.

Mr. and Mrs. America, your children are dying miserable deaths in far-off places in order to advance opportunistic politicians’ colonialist agendas.  The young people are fighting for the opportunity to get a job or a college education. Some of them actually achieve that. Many of them don’t. They come back in black body bags. No amount of flag voodoo is going to bring them back to life. Many others return home physically and/or mentally destroyed, their dreams dried up in the sands of some insignificant little oil-rich country. The flag won’t help them, either.

These remarks by Noam Chomsky were published in the Spanish newspaper, El País, on 10 March 2018 (my translation):

The United States is the only country where, for criticizing the government, they call you “anti-American.” And that means an ideological control, lighting patriotic bonfires all over the place. Nothing is comparable to what happens here, there’s no other country where we see so many flags.”

Do I fear nationalism? It depends, if it means being interested in your local culture, it’s good. But if it’s a weapon against others, we know what that can lead to; we have seen it and experienced it.


The President of the United States on respect for the flag:


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Teach Your Children Well


Give a Lift to the Future

What’s our greatest resource for the future–a future that you and I will not see and cannot possibly preconceive? Nuclear technology? Solar power? Rich farmland? The abundance of the sea? Low interest rates? No, none of the above, our greatest resource is our children and grandchildren because the future of human society would not be possible without them.

They are our treasure and the legacy that we bequeath to the world. They are the ones obliged to undo all of the damage we have done to the planet and all the living things on it. To some of our descendants will fall the monumental task of dealing with and–within the realm of the possible–undoing the wrongheadedness that 2,000 years of human folly have planted in the heads and hearts of people around the world.

So, the least we can do is to arm them with the knowledge and values to affront that awesome challenge. I think it’s clear that we have to start when they’re little shavers. Conventional wisdom holds that the most formative period of a person’s life is the first five years. Finnish education experts have recently extended this phenomenon to the age of eight, and the schools they have based on this realization are the most successful in the world. What do they teach in those first eight years? Mainly they teach creative play and the art of living together harmoniously.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic come later. First, they master kindness, patience, generosity, good manners, honesty and the sanctity of life, and not just human life. Honesty is critically important. Lies are such powerful tools in the hands of the unscrupulous. It is not a coincidence that Finland has the most honest government in the world.

Please don’t be tempted to think that this create-honest-citizens approach is anywhere near the default setting in the world’s schools. They reflect the often-questionable values of their own societies, values that can be retrograde and inhumane and tend to create citizens in that mold. The Finnish model, today, can only be considered utopian.

Teachers Mold the Clay of Childhood

Insofar as excellent teachers are the key to nurturing skeptical children, they are one of the most important professional sectors in any society and should be considered–and paid–as such. Finnish standards for teachers are extremely high and their salaries are on the level with those of doctors. Most of us have had both great teachers and mediocre ones, so I won’t bore you explaining the difference. Suffice it to say that the knowledge and values that teachers plant is immortal, transferred down through generations of children destined to become adults and have children of their own. Of course, teachers, especially the great ones, need the freedom to teach, a freedom that is being curtailed regularly in the most “democratic” countries in the world. Not only that but as teachers usually don’t determine their schools’ curricula, often they don’t have the opportunity to exercise their freedom. This happens most often in schools with religious agendas. Dogma always trumps truth in these settings.

Then there’s the problem of skewed textbooks. James W. Loewen dedicates his 1995 book, Lies My Teacher Told Me, a critical review of 12 American history textbooks, with this: “Dedicated to all American history teachers who teach against their textbooks.” Loewen’s 383-page book includes an impressive 56 pages of notes and bibliography and makes a detailed, ironclad case for the fact that none of these texts for American 11th graders provides a clear and complete picture of the reality of American history. Instead, they all cherry-pick the facts necessary to portray the United States as a near Utopia while leaving out all the less savory details, and there are not a few. For example, they omit the fact that Christopher Columbus, that quintessential hero for Americans, was guilty of genocide in Haiti, enslaving and killing between a million and eight million Arawak Indians. Ten of the 12 textbooks also skim over the most scabrous events of the 1960s and 70s. Loewen quotes Vietnam war veteran, George Swiers:

If we do not speak of it, others will surely rewrite the script. Each of the body bags, all of the mass graves, will be reopened and their contents abracadabraed into a noble cause.

Give Them a Clear Head

I am fond of saying that we are all victims of the lies we were told when we were children. It’s not only what we were told–essentially old wives’ tales and false magical thinking–but, perhaps more importantly, how we were taught to think. Instead of being taught to observe, question, doubt and investigate, we were gently coerced into just believing authority, without questioning “authority’s” agenda. Once that mode of thought is inculcated in a child’s thinking it’s unlikely that he or she will ever escape from it. This directed thinking, I maintain, is the root of most of the ills of societies around the world. Although thinking directed by authority annuls the child’s intellectual freedom it does make them future “productive members of society,” always under the watchful eyes of one authority or another. This imposed priority is the basis for untold repression, lost creativity and unfulfilled lives around the world.

As I see it the two most dangerous sets of beliefs foisted on children are revealed religion and lockstep nationalism, each with its own authorities, some of which children are induced to consider God-given and therefore “infallible.” Both of these belief systems, one religious, the other political, have something in common. They’re both “faith-based.” If you have never seen God, and he has never spoken to you or touched you, the only access you have to him is the faith that has been instilled in you by kindly clergymen with terrifying agendas.

Political indoctrination follows hard on the heels of religious guidance. To believe you are superior to someone else because you were born here and they were born there is objective insanity. But if you’re taught that by figures of authority it becomes just harmless, natural nationalism. You love your country, don’t you? But that harmless nationalism soon mutates into patriotism which will give your authority figures a moral license to send you abroad to kill those “other” people whenever they deem it “necessary.” Children who have developed a critical sense and the courage of their own convictions are less vulnerable to the nationalism/patriotism ploy and less likely to be manipulated into the inhuman acts that abound around the world today.

Wellbeing Does Wonders

Besides knowledge, young people need stable, loving home relationships. That is virtually impossible in societies afflicted with unfairness and inequality. First-world countries–not only Finland–assure all their citizens a living wage, health care and free education. Any country that doesn’t do so is necessarily degrading its youth and its future. A country that converts young people into fodder for the permanent war machine and profit-making prisons is on the fast track for the dungheap of history.

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The Children’s Crusade–3/3

Parkland School Shooting
Victims from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida

Recipe for a Well-Balanced Country

High levels of humanity, characterized by empathy, generosity, neighborliness, cooperation and collective solutions to the problems of their society, are essential to all well-balanced countries. These all-encompassing solutions in first-world countries include controls on political corruption, universal health care, restrictions on predatory capitalism, reasonable judicial procedures, humane prisons, etc. As a result, their indexes of violence are lower than those of the United States and they have fewer serious problems in their societies than the Americans. This wellbeing in countries that look after their citizens isn’t due to coincidence. It’s thanks to longstanding, constant and well-thought-out execution of programs for the common good of all their citizens. That is to say: healthy politics.

Are there remedies for this inhumanity plague in the United States? There maybe but, given the well-dug-in opposition there to humane collective solutions, they would be neither quick nor easy to implement. Embedded inhumanity has become a jealously-preserved American tradition.

What about the American Dream?

The American Dream, rags to riches through personal effort, is a lie. In reality, gaining fabulous wealth is more of a game of chance than a meritocracy. You’re more likely to win a lottery than to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Elizabeth Warren has an interesting take on “self-made men.” She withholds that, without the resources the society provides them–free roads, education, police and fire departments, national defense, etc.–they never could have “made themselves.”

The failure of most American young people to achieve that essentially-unachievable
American Dream is a source of frustration and bitterness–and the cause of no little anti-social behavior. The great irony in most of these cases is that a significant part of what these young people are striving for doesn’t go beyond facile low-level, consumer-society objectives. If they’re rich they devote themselves to acquiring pointless bling. If they’re poor they risk their lives trafficking dope or assaulting liquor stores in order to be able to buy happiness, when happiness can’t be bought. Why don’t most American young people strive for something more worthwhile, both for themselves and their society? That’s not easy in a country that lacks both noble ideologies and valid role models for its youth. The reigning objective there is to get rich ASAP and their role models are limited largely to rappers, hedge fund managers and people who are famous for being famous.

Religion and Other Factors in Solving the Problem

The failure of popular religious solutions is also disturbing. The consensus after the Parkland shootings is that “They’re in our hearts and prayers…” is more cynicism than solution. The question is further complicated by racism, hypocrisy at high levels and inequality on all fronts. Add to all this the insecurity brought about by poverty, non-functional families and the lack of a universal health-care program. This pressure cooker of unfairness gives rise to a vast menu of ills in American society, a list that goes far beyond school killings. Mass gun killings account for just a tiny percentage of U.S. gun deaths. Many more people are lost to gun suicides or gang killings. According to British Guardian reporter Gary Younge, toddlers with guns kill more people in the United States than terrorists. Until the root causes are dealt with there will be no hope for combatting these and other manifestations of brutality and insanity in the country. Americans will always be treating the symptoms, not the illness. The gun deaths, like fetid groundwater, will always find their way to the top.

The current gun-control proposals are pathetically inadequate. Even the most stringent regulations proposed today are not enough. Reducing the size of assault rifle magazines from 30 or 40 rounds to six or eight is not serious. Six dead schoolchildren instead of 26 is not a solution. It’s a parody. Even the elimination of assault rifles, which the Parkland students are advocating, falls short of the mark. Are we to overlook the number of school kids that can be killed by an assassin armed with a pair of semi-automatic pistols with standard 17-round magazines? Just for the record, President Barack Obama included a ban on gun magazines with capacities of more than 10 rounds in a list of gun-control laws he asked Congress to enact in January 2013, but the Republican Congress passed on his proposal.

What’s the Latest?

The NRA countered with a whinging Twitter tweet affirming that “bans do nothing but infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Hats off to the kids!
The Empathy Biz
President Trump takes the Sick, Sick, Sick prize.

In closing we must thank CNN for this priceless vignette of presidential empathy/opportunism:

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign used a photo of a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in an email Saturday that asks its recipients to donate money to the campaign. The email contains a photo of 17-year-old Madeleine Wilford in a hospital bed surrounded by her family, Trump and the first lady. The President visited Wilford on February 16, two days after the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead. Near the end of the message, there’s a link to the campaign’s donations page.

Note: The donations are for Trump’s election campaign, not the anti-gun campaign.

The latest, from Slate.comHow the student activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High demonstrate the power of a comprehensive education.

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The Children’s Crusade–2/3


Nothing New Under the Sun; U.S. Tried to Curb Gun Deaths in the 60s

Attempts at gun-control regulation have quite a long history in the United States. According to an article by Seth Cline, in U.S. News.com on Jan. 16, 2013, there was a major initiative in 1969. A commission formed by President Lyndon Johnson issued its own–admittedly timid–policy recommendations to address gun violence, which was rising amidst the social turmoil of the time. U.S. News and World Report said at the time:

Millions of Americans will be compelled to give up their pistols if Congress passes a law proposed by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. But Congress, it appears, is not at all likely to pass such a law—in this session, at least.

“Not a chance, none at all,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (Dem.), of Montana, when asked about the prospects of Congress accepting the Commission’s plan this year. Representatives of the Nixon Administration recently told a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee they saw no need for tighter gun laws now.

Pro-Gun Activists Respond with Fatuous Fire

The responses of the gun crowd were rapid and particularly ill-advised and seemed to delate their fear that the young people might put them up against the wall and win the day, or at least make it extremely complicated for the National Rifle Association and their Washington cohorts. The Washington Post commented:

As students were making their way to Florida’s Capitol in Tallahassee on Wednesday morning to demand gun law overhauls, a Republican lawmaker a few states away wrote a Facebook post that appeared to question whether the teenage protesters were, in fact, students. Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s comments came as right-wing media figures have attacked the credibility of a handful of students who have become the most vocal advocates for gun control since a lone gunman killed 17 people at their high school in Parkland, Fla.

Representative Metcalfe committed a grave tactical error. His comments, besides being singularly tasteless in the circumstances in which he pronounced them, left him open to easy rebuttal. It was a simple matter for the students to establish that they were, in fact, students and that they were serious about pursuing the gun-control issue to its logical end. The injured parties in this matter are, after all, the kids themselves. Theirs is the most cogent right to redress. They are the underdogs against one of the best-financed and most powerful lobbies in the United States. Nevertheless, they know they’re fighting the good fight and they’re determined to see it through. Over the past century nobody has managed it yet, but who is prepared to bet against these kids?

Metcalf was not alone in his below-the-belt attack on the student activists. The entire right-wing media machine had ground into action. The Guardian was following them:

The sleaziest and most direct attacks on individual students have come from the right’s more conspiratorial fringe. On Jim Hoft’s pro-Trump, conspiracy-minded website, Gateway Pundit, Lucian Wintrich performed a hatchet job on David Hogg, suggesting that he was “heavily coached on lines and is merely reciting a script”.

The survivors are not elementary school students, or public employees, either shielded from media intrusion or disbarred from speaking out. They are confident young adults, many of them media savvy, and more than capable of matching the president when it comes to online snark. Several made it clear that “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of slaughter isn’t welcome.

The reactionary media’s ignoble insinuations that the spokes-people for the students are actors are both naive and counterproductive. I suspect this behavior won’t take long to come back on them. In this CNN clip, recorded on 23 Feb. 2018, in a textbook case of the cynical inversion of reality, NRA chief, Wayne LaPierre, discusses the reactions to the Parkland shootings. There should be a law against this brand of cynicism. You have to see it to believe it.

President Trump’s own observations on the events were typically Trumpish. Elaborating on his proposal to arm schoolteachers he said, “This would be a major deterrent because these people are inherently cowards.” In fact, he doesn’t know whether they’re cowards or not. Some mass gun killers might not be. He’s just talking through his hat again. Then he assured us that he would have faced the killer himself, unarmed. This is what the Spanish refer to as. “…valor a toro pasado,” “bravery after the bull has passed.”

P.S. There’s a Gaping Hole in Trump’s Proposal to Arm Teachers

President Trump’s pretense not to notice the failure to intervene of four law officers on the scene is an eloquent indicator that his armed-teachers solution could never work. If four well-armed-and-trained deputy sheriffs are incapable of preventing a deranged 19-year-old from killing 17 people with an assault rifle, what can we expect an English teacher to do, no matter how big her gun? Trump’s “solution” is a sick parody of a remedial measure. It’s just black propaganda based on wishful thinking.

The President’s thinking on preventive measures is representative of most of the right-wing thinking on the subject of gun control. Instead of seeking valid solutions to the school shootings–and all shootings–President Trump and the gun lobby decide on the measures that benefit them–and the NRA–most and then seek arguments to justify them. Even they should admit that this is the shabbiest form of false problem-solving. But they can’t because solving the problem is not on their agenda. What’s on their agenda is preserving at all costs the grotesque, NRA-engineered status quo.

What’s at the Bottom of All This?

The underlying cause of America’s most serious problems is common to all of the society’s ills: poverty and racism, guns and knives, greed and corruption, militarism, inequality and entitlement. Those are all effects. The cause that underlies them is inhumanity, the coldness toward others which has been nurtured in the United States throughout virtually their entire history. And the election of President Donald Trump and the personalities he has selected for his cabinet have multiplied this inhumanity factor many times.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This lofty declaration is from the preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Today in America it sounds like black comedy.

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The Children’s Crusade–1/3

etaking back schools

Parkland Students Take the Gun-Control Bull by the Horns

After another horrendous mass school shooting followed by the usual limp thoughts-and-prayers condolences from right-wing politicians around the country, students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed on Wednesday, 14 February, decided to address the matter themselves.

On  Feb. 17, three days after the mass shooting, they traveled to Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital, to call for a statewide assault weapons ban. This direct appeal to the state legislature followed protests outside schools, social media activity, and national television appearances. The legislators’ response was short and sweet. The motion to introduce a law to ban assault rifles was defeated, 36 to 71, in a vote along party lines. The procedure lasted 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Most of the 71 state representatives who voted against the ban enjoyed an A rating from the National Rifle Association.

William Rivers Pitt, writing for Truthout.org, sums up the current school-shooting situation in the U.S. succinctly, and with admiration for the students who are taking a meaningful stand on gun control:

It has been 19 years since Columbine, six years since Sandy Hook, five months since Las Vegas and four months since Sutherland Springs. There have been 438 people shot in 239 school shootings since 20 kids my daughter’s age were cut down in Newtown by the same weapon that took 17 more lives in Parkland last week.

In all that time and after all that blood, the script has not wavered an inch: There is outrage, the National Rifle Association (NRA) digs in and reminds Congress of the fragility of their re-election prospects, and it all goes away until the bodies drop again.

Not this time. This time, there are these youth, who have lived their entire lives deep in the shadow of unchecked gun violence in schools, who have lived their entire lives in a country fighting permanent wars all over the globe, and with the threat of terrorism thrown in their faces on a daily basis. They do not appear to scare easily, and they have mastered the art of social media in a way their chosen adversaries will never know.

They survived a horror in their own school and are taking action to keep it from happening again. They have stout hearts, and will need them, because they have squared off against some of the vilest people this country is capable of producing.

An NBC crew recorded this declaration from one of the student survivors of the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting on Feb. 18, addressed to President Donald Trump: “You are in that exact position right now, and you want to look back on our history and blame the Democrats? That’s disgusting,” David Hogg told NBC. “You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you? Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that. Please take action. Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-Lago. Take action. Work with Congress.”

Solidarity with the Stoneman Students Quickly Materialized

Students from West Boca Raton High School were the first to react. They gathered in the courtyard of their school for a peaceful protest — 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims — but then someone opened a door and walked out, and others followed. “Everybody started walking,” one student told the local news channel. “It felt like half the school was walking.” As the students walked south on U.S. Highway 441 towards Parkland, 10 miles away, sheriff’s deputies lined the road to control traffic and protect them but did not interfere.

Students from around the country joined forces and forged ahead, convening two marches on Washington to demand congressional action on gun violence, the “National School Walkout” scheduled for March 14 and the “March for Our Lives” on March 24. According to the Huffington Post, two 16-year-old students from the Washington, D.C. area, Whitney Bowen and Eleanor Nuechterlein, founded Teens For Gun Reform just two days after the Parkland shooting.

NRA Financing for Legislators–and the President–Stickies the Wicket

Survivors of the Parkland school shooting have also expressed their disgust with President Trump and the legislators who receive campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. This fact proves to be an extremely tricky one for the politicians to refute. The Washington Post reports that Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School and one of the shooting survivors, boldly challenged the politicians accepting NRA financing:

“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should have never happened and maintain telling us that nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” declared Gonzalez, a senior at Douglas. “To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you! If you actively do nothing, people will continue to end up dead.”

Florida representative’s aide, Benjamin Kelly, claimed students interviewed by the news, including Emma Gonzalez, were actually actors.

The Solution to Gun Control Seems to Be a Different Kind of War

The American solution for the most varied and unlikely problems is war. They’ve got the war on crime, the war on drugs, on terrorism, on poor nations rich in resources, on their own poor… Now they’ve got a new war, with a new twist, new protagonists and new adversaries. It’s the war on legislators who are on the take–politicians at both state and national levels whose election campaigns are financed in greater or lesser degree by the National Rifle Association, and this war’s protagonists are American high-school students.

“But those campaign contributions are legal,” you protest. Yes, they are legal, because the members of Congress and the state legislatures legalized them themselves, for their own benefit and that of the NRA. But that doesn’t make them decent. As soon as the United States has a decent government that law will be repealed. (But then, as long as the law is in force, how are honest men and women supposed to get elected to office? That’s another problem to be overcome.)

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Iceland on Child Circumcision: They’re Against It


After Locking Up 26 Crooked Bankers and Refusing to “Rescue” the Debts They Incurred, The Icelanders Are Now Considering Banning Child Circumcision

This “row over religious freedom” article in last Sunday’s Guardian was an eye opener:

Iceland law to outlaw male circumcision sparks row over religious freedom

Iceland is poised to become the first European country to outlaw male circumcision amid signs that the ritual common to both Judaism and Islam may be a new battleground over religious freedom.

A bill currently before the Icelandic parliament proposes a penalty of up to six years in prison for anyone carrying out a circumcision other than for medical reasons. Critics say the move, which has sparked alarm among religious leaders across Europe, would make life for Jews and Muslims in Iceland unsustainable.

Continue reading “Iceland on Child Circumcision: They’re Against It”

What’s Gone Wrong with America? 2/2


Pandering to the Locked-In Electorate

What part of his locked-in electorate would he lose? He’d no doubt lose the men and women who give more importance to their guns than to their children. Among the hundreds of victims of school shootings in recent years there must have been some sons and daughters of hard-core gun activists? How did they feel about losing their children? Has anybody interviewed them? What did they say? Did they notice there were guns involved in the shootings of their children? What do they propose to do about it? If President Trump did a U-turn on his gun policies he would probably lose the Nazis and the white supremacists, the sociopaths and psychotics, the bombers of pre-school toddlers, the military maniacs, and a lot of desperate, ignorant people who have been drafted into the ranks of the alt-right in recent years.

President Trump expresses concern about the country’s mental health, a concern that seems to support his contention that the gun-death problems are due to crazies, not guns. He’s half right. The United States has a mental health problem that is so vast that the authorities there dare not even acknowledge it in its entirety: the country is half crazy–or half the country is crazy, my estimate. Either way, a huge proportion of the population is mentally deranged. Some of them are medicated, others run loose, untreated. Still others are treated with drugs that make them dangerous. What’s wrong with them? It’s simple: they have been born and raised in a dangerous, schizophrenogenic society (a society that fosters insanity) and they’re doing their best to swim in those fetid waters. They live in a world in which one must adopt some degree of insanity in order merely to survive. If not, how do you explain to a citizen that the carrying of lethal firearms is essential in a well-ordered society and that the remedy for the tragic abuse of those firearms is more firearms? In order for a citizen to believe that, he has to be totally detached from reality. I believe that’s an excellent definition of insanity. Continue reading “What’s Gone Wrong with America? 2/2”