Acceptance—What The World Needs Now

vcxa8286With the senseless killing of Black men by white police officers in the United States, at a rate which has not been seen since the racial unrest of the sixties, to the ISIS bombings in France, Yemen, Turkey, Afghanistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, and Brussels, etc., to the endless bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelis, (this war has been going on my entire life, I am 71), to the kidnapping of 200 young women in Nigeria and murder of 45 schoolchildren in Mexico, to the harassment and murder of men and women because of their sexual preferences in Florida and Brazil, to the shooting of white police officers by a crazed Black gunman in Dallas, we are a world in turmoil.

This turmoil has existed since the beginning of civilization because we have failed as citizens of this planet to accept the differences in our fellow human beings and ourselves. We make one way the “right” way, one belief the “true” belief. One government, the only government. Who are we to deny any human on this planet the right to his/her own choice to believe what they choose to believe, to engage life on their own terms, and to express those beliefs however they choose within the framework of doing no harm to others? We all want the same thing – to be free to live our own life. We must learn to accept our differences rather than use them as wedges to divide us.

Acceptance is difficult. Our nature is to pass judgement on our fellow humans, to convert, or to conquer. We see things in the dualities of good/evil, black/white, right/wrong, or love/hate. We pass judgement not only upon philosophical concepts but also with color, people, and religions. Black people are…Italians are…Mexicans are…Jews are…Christians are…Muslims are…. According to the Bible stories I grew up with, no duality existed before Eve bit into the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. She and Adam were unaware of their nakedness, unaware of opposites because no knowledge of duality existed in the garden. Everything was one. Our mythology of Heaven is based upon what we were told about Eden. We want to get back to the one.

I am not blaming Eve for the problems of mankind. I simply use this story as a metaphor to illustrate the nature of duality and why it has created this mountainous barrier to acceptance. An accepting individual sees beyond the duality to the singularity and unity of all things as they are. Eve did not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, from a philosophical point of view. She and Adam, you and I are the fruit of the tree. Only the tree in this instance is the Earth. Just an an apple tree apples, the Earth peoples, and fishes, and birds. We all come from the same mother but we have never in the history of this planet accepted our kin as brothers and sisters. Instead we see them as Black, white, yellow, red, Catholic, Jewish, Moslems, straight or gay, Russians, Swiss, and or Chinese. However we see them, we see them as different from ourselves and as a threat to my way of life.

Siddhartha in the book of the same name by Herman Hesse uses these words to describe acceptance of the nature of duality to his friend Govinda.

The world is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment: every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people — eternal life. It is not possible for one person to see how far another is on the way: the Buddha exists in the robber and dice player; the robber exists in the Brahmin. Therefore, it seems to me that everything that exists is good, death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me.

In following the doctrine of acceptance one doesn’t manipulate or interfere with another’s way of life or another’s beliefs even if he believes his motivation is from his own higher spirit (A justification used by the Catholic church to convert many of the worlds indigenous people to Catholicism and by Hitler to conquer most of Europe.) A person who practices acceptance refrains from giving advice unless asked but is not indifferent to providing aid when needed or requested. He eliminates the fanatic in himself. He kills the one in himself who must change others to his beliefs, his way of life. He accepts the differences in the world without judgement and without the need to convert anyone or anything for any reason.

The words attributed to Voltaire,

I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it

are very appropriate for this day and time. I do not agree with many of the words and practices used by most of the various social, political, religious, and economic organizations in the world today. I do not condone the murder, imprisonment, torture, or social rejection and isolation of any group or individual by another individual or organization because of their beliefs, race, culture, religion, or sexual preferences. Yet, I will defend the acceptance of any group or individual having different beliefs as long as I am free to choose and to follow my own beliefs in return. When one’s beliefs, religion, race or culture are attacked it becomes an inhibitor to one’s existence. This in its essence is the doctrine of acceptance.

Maybe this is all a dream in the mind of a philosopher, but I believe it is worth thinking about.

** Note: Within the last decade, the Pope has apologized to the cultures and religions of the world that were destroyed or eliminated because of the acts of Catholic church in the attempted conversion of these cultures to Christianity. The governments of Australia and Germany have apologized for their treatment of the Aborigines and the Jews respectively for their government’s genocide and attempts at cultural cleansing. The United States however has never issued an apology or any acknowledgement of wrongdoing to the Native Americans for the ravage destruction and rape of their lands or to the Negro slaves for their brutal mistreatment, repeated lies of equality, or utter failure to incorporate people of color into mainstream white American society. I still have not received the twenty acres and a mule promised my forefathers after the so called emancipation of slavery. I believe we need more acceptance of differences, but must admit, I am not yet at a place where I can accept America for the daily acts of violence, racism, and lies upon its own people and around the world. This is the difficulty of acceptance.

Donald Trump Is A Tyrant — Beware!

Make the lie big, keep it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.

Joseph Goebbels  (October 29, 1897 – May 01, 1945)

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24Joseph Goebbels was the head of Hitler’s Propaganda Ministry after the Nazis took control of Germany in 1933. He was also Hitler’s named successor and was Chancellor of Germany for one day after Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945. On May 01, 1945 Goebbels and his wife killed their six children and then themselves committed suicide.

This piece of history is important today because the world is getting more tyrannical leaders and Donald Trump, the electoral elected president of the United States, (he lost the popular endorsement by almost 300,000 votes) is one of the most dangerous tyrants in the world today. Trump claims this loss of the popular vote was due to illegal immigrants voting in California, which he lost in a landslide, but did not provide any evidence to back up his claim. The investigation by his own party dismissed the claim as unfounded.

There are of course other tyrants Vladimir Putin of Russia, Kim Jong Un of North Korea, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Xi Jinping of China, Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, and Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan who along with Trump top the list. They all support each other and have nothing but praise for their fellow comrades. Trump wished for the same lifelong appointment as Jinping when Xi’s party gave him that position.

Fortunately so far the judicial and legislative branches of the US government have been able to hold the power, self-absorbed, fame seeking Trump partially in check but only after he, not the Republican party, lost control of the House but for how long? Trump held the entire nation hostage for over a month because he, like a two year old toddler having a temper tantrum, wants his signature wall on the border with Mexico. He likes seeing his name on buildings and fought the removal of his name from the hotel in Panama despite the efforts of his legal team to maintain his name on the hotel.

Trump has and still hold thousands of children from Latin American families in makeshift tent prisons along the border in order to deter immigration. He has already threatened a repeat of the shutdown on February 15, 2019 if he does not get his way. A true leader does not lead with threats but tyrants do. Trump creates false and misleading information of the real situation. The only crises is the one he creates in his own deranged mind. According to the chart below, the apprehension of immigrants at the US Mexico border has been going down since 2012. 

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TechCrunch by Jonathan Shieber

The information is confirmed by the Department of Homeland Security that fewer apprehensions mean few immigrants are attempting to cross the border.

What makes a person a tyrant? An untamed ego is primary, and a disrespect and demeaning of any authority figure who disagrees with his plan for how things might otherwise be. He gave all of those who disagree with him a demeaning name. The same tactic countries use against an enemy during times of war. How many of Trump’s cabinet members have been fired or quit because they had a different approach or solution which was not in alignment with his own ego driven desires?

To emphasize more directly his disrespect of anyone who does not agree with his point of view, I offer this CNN segment from today’s news:

On Tuesday, (January 29, 2019) Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said this: “We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking the key activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

This is, of course, shocking. From Coats to CIA Director Gina Haspel to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Trump picked most of the people who make up the upper echelon of the intelligence community. Presumably he did so because he trusted their judgment and knew that he needed experts in the field whose decades of experience could and would provide him the necessary context to make decisions on massive geopolitical issues.

To then not only disagree with the assessment of those experts — the experts you chose! — but do so publicly (in front of your 50-plus million Twitter followers) simply because their conclusions don’t jibe with your own is absolutely unreal.

No, for Donald Trump this action is not unreal. It is the methodology of a tyrant.

In addition to surrounding himself with yes men and women, (remember Trump’s first cabinet meeting when he asked each member to say something good about him?) the tyrant places his own personal and financial goals ahead of the well being of the people of the nation he rules. How else could someone like Maduro amass over a billion dollars in gold on deposit in an English bank while the citizens of Venezuela are unable to find the basic goods needed for survival? Who, other than Trump’s rich cronies  and corporations, benefitted most from his tax cuts? Definitely not the poor or middle classes.

Another indispensable tool of the tyrant is the absence of truth through control of the media. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law abridging the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Since he cannot control the news, other than Fox News, Trump admonishes the news media as fake news, but he also uses the media to his advantage by being the source of most of the fake news himself. He likes to see his picture on the front page under the old adage “any publicity is good publicity”. The tyrant wants to keep himself front and center and sulks when some other event upends his headline. Trump takes credit for any good that happens but none of the blame or responsibility for anything not on his agenda. Remember when he took credit for their being no major airline crashes in 2017, but blames the Democrats for the break up of families at the border when it was solely his own political policy being enforced?

The tyrant also focuses his attention upon the single act of an individual as a characteristic of the masses. Also a key ingredient of racism. He called Mexicans, “thieves, rapists, and killers”. Trump continues to make broad generalizations and allegations against large groups of people. Black Americans, Africans, Muslims, Puerto Ricans, without any rebuff by his party members or congress in general. I still do not understand why congress lets him get away with such dishonesty. He wants immigrants from Norway not from “shit hole” (his words) countries in Africa. He will take white immigrants but not Black or Brown. 

Trump held a news conference to point out the murder of four people in Nevada viciously robbed and killed by an illegal immigrant who “should not have been in our Country,” while saying nothing about Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein (all of whom are white) who were convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction at a Muslim prayer center and had planned attacks on churches that aided refugees. Nor is there any mention of Dakota Theriot, also white, who recently killed his parents and three other people near Baton Rouge. Nor does he mention James Jackson a self declared white supremacist who admitted he was driven by a plan to murder scores of black men to spark a nationwide race war or Zephen Xaver, 21, a resident of Sebring who killed five people in a bank building. Other than their horrendous crimes, the other thing these men all have in common is they are white. No mention of either by Trump.

I do not expect Trump to comment on every crime committed in America nor would I want him to, but he only comments on crimes which aid his cause to instill fear and hatred in the pursuit of furthering the racial divide of the United States. Another tactic used and embraced by tyrants. Barack Obama came forth and spoke to the nation after the murder of Trayvon Benjamin Martin by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, but he used that tragedy as a learning, educational experience for a nation in need of racial healing, and not to incite more racial discord. Those who commit terror and crimes are just as easily homegrown (Oklahoma City) as they are immigrants from other countries (9/11).

Trump is no more than a white male racist in a business suit in place of his pointed sheet. His lies and actions can not hide that truth. He seems to forget, the United States is a nation of immigrants built upon the backs of slaves. His grandfather was an immigrant along with his three wives, but of course they are white.

In fact checks from different sources it is known that Trump has told over 10,000 lies in his first two years in office. Trump said, “The State of the Union has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth.” The truth is he does not know the truth, nor is he able to tell the truth. Trump is the boy who cried “wolf”. If the time ever comes when he needs the nation to believe him, no one will because they can not believe any words coming from his mouth. At one inch growth per lie, Pinocchio Trump’s nose is now over 1.66 miles long.

Donald Trump has worn the shoes of Joseph Goebbels every day of his administration. He averaged  six point five lies per day during the first eighteen months of his tyranny and continues to divide the nation and its citizens, pitting them against one another so they cannot unite against him. Even after his lies are called out, he continues to repeat them over and over.(tactics also used by Goebbels, Hitler and the Nazi Party to justify the extermination of Jews and to retain power leading up to WWII.) Trump continues to live in his own egocentric tyrannical fantasy of supreme ideology and not for the well-being of the citizens of the United States.

President Ronald Reagan said, “You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right.  There is only an up or down — up to a man’s age-old dream; the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”

The United States under the failed leadership of Pinocchio Trump is headed on a downward course. Beware!

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Please Do Not Call Me African—American

There are many labels used to describe people of color living in America today. I grew up with the terms Negro and colored. Later the terms to describe people of color living in America became African-American or Afro-American. Later Black became an accepted description.

During my time living in Fiji, people would ask me where I was from and what was I? The question confused me at first. They were not use to seeing Black Americans other than President Obama on television. They wondered if I had an African mother like he did. They saw people in terms of the country they were from not in terms of color. I told them I was from America and preferred to be called Black rather than African-American as the president was known.

I do not like the term African-American. It denotes to me something other than who I am. At one point in my life, I was proud to say I was American, but that is no longer true. America has a color bias which constantly underscores what it means to be an American citizen. In his essay “The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American,” published in 1959, James Baldwin notes:

America’s history, her aspirations, her peculiar triumphs, her even more peculiar defeats, and her position in the world — yesterday and today — are all so profoundly and stubbornly unique that the very word “America” remains a new, almost completely undefined and extremely controversial proper noun. No one in the world seems to know exactly what it describes, not even we motley millions who call ourselves Americans.

With people who accentuate the color/racial lines running for political office and the disproportional killing of unarmed Black citizens the racial problems in America have come front and center again. This occurrence seems to take place during every election period when white candidates seek the minority votes. Americans are seen by politicians in groups based upon color. The white vote. The brown vote. The Black vote. No one seeks the red vote because they no longer exist in the minds of politicians.

The term African-American does not denote where I came from. I was born in Trenton, New Jersey. It does not denote my race because that would be Negroid if I wanted to be politically and scientifically correct.

I prefer the term “Black” (capitalized because it refers to a people and not a color) over African-American. I, too, wore a dashiki during my college days as a symbol of African identity because as Black people living in an unfriendly country, we sought to establish roots with a motherland somewhere. I had an afro hairstyle which we called “natural,” but there was nothing natural about it. The afro required a lot if work to maintain and sparked an unprecedented growth in Black hair products. I was a member of the Black Student Union and participated in protests to bring about equal representation and rights for Black students and citizens, (the same things Black students are fighting for today, almost 50 years later), but I had no direct ties to Africa. As Black students, we greeted each other in Swahili and a secret handshake, but those few phrases were the only words we knew of an African language. The handshake was later co-opted by whites and lost its significant.

My great grandfather was a Cherokee. He married my great grandmother who was Black. His picture hung on the wall in my grandparents home for many years before one day I asked my grandfather who was that “Indian” in the picture and he said, “He is my father, your great grandfather.” My grandfather considered himself to be Black. He would rather be referred to as a “negro” than a “halfbreed.” My uncle John often told tales of how he passed for white in order to get into the “white only” movie theaters in Virginia. I had cousins from the same parents who could “pass.” One would only date white men and the other would only date Black women. In those days your complexion carried more weight than the name one used to identify him/her self.

I will never be just an “American.” The racial prejudice of America is too ingrained for that to happen and now I have made the decision to no longer live within her racist boarders.

An Indian (the nation) friend living in Fiji described herself as a Black Indian which in the caste system of India made her different from the lighter skinned Indians. Her black skin made her feel the same as women in America confronting the corporate glass ceilings. She was restricted socially, politically, and economically by an old unwritten system even in Fiji.

“Why would you want to call yourself Black, your skin is not black like mine,” she asked?

I explained to her how Black people in America had also discriminated between ourselves based upon shades of color as they did in India. American society had made exceptions for lighter skinned Blacks over darker skinned Blacks. In the 70’s we adopted the term Black as a unifying factor within our own race. I prefer the term Black because of its power. We took a term used by white people to identify us in a negative manner and converted it to a term we used to identify ourselves in a positive manner. That choice, for me, makes the term Black more powerful and identifying than African-American. It also has no physical connections to America.

I do not see an end to racial identification. Our world is one of borders where the differences between people and nations are more accentuated than the similarities. I would like to see a world where all of its citizens are classified as human, but I will not see that in my lifetime.

So, “Say it loud…..!”

James Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006)

Listen to James Brown sing I’m Black and I’m Proud here.

The Growing Racial Divide In America

In my entry Why Ecuador? I revealed something to the reader that I was not myself aware of until the words were typed upon the screen.

“Another reason for my being here is that as a Black man who has lived for sixty plus years in America, I am 99.9% positive I will not be shot, beaten, or accosted while walking the streets of Ecuador simply for being Black. I can not say the same for any city I have resided in while living in America.”

Although this statement was not part of my initial reasons for coming to Ecuador, the truth of the statement remains. Upon further self examination, I realize part of the reason I no longer wish to live in America is due to its policies of institutionalized racism, its mistreatment of all minority groups, and its historical failure to change or improve the situation. That is not merely an injustice. It is a travesty.

As a college student during the sixties, while others were protesting the unjust war in Viet Nam and burning their bras for Women’s Liberation, I was marching for the civil rights of Black Americans as a member of the Black Student Union. The ideologies of the Black Panthers and Martin Luther King were at odds. The politicians praised one and demonized the other. In a similar manner, today’s politicians are attempting to demonize the Black Lives Matter movement which is a grassroots reaction to the numerous killing of unarmed, non-threatening Black citizens by white police officers.

Although the politicians praised the non-violent philosophy of Martin Luther King, it took the civil acts of disobedience in Newark, Watts, Detroit, Chicago and other American cities during the summers of 1965 and 1967 to open America’s eyes. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 looked good on paper but it was not until the EEOC was establisher a year later to put “teeth” in the law that we begin to see change in the hiring and promotional practices of Corporate America. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was supposed to end racial discrimination in state and federal elections but we still today have states attempting to circumvent this law in every possible manner. You must of course realize all of these laws were put into effect one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed granting equality and equal rights to Black citizens.

Why, after all of these laws were passed to provide equality to all citizens of the United States, do we still have this growing racial divide in the country? Prejudice and discrimination are inborn in the history of this country and they cannot be controlled by the passing of laws. Prejudice is a feeling. It is a psychological preference. One can be prejudiced for or against something, as with a favorite sports team, without causing or bringing harm to anyone else. Discrimination, on the other hand, entails an action. One might passively engage in racial prejudice, but one must actively engage in discrimination. The United States has a history of racial discrimination based upon skin color. Following the annexation of Texas in 1845 the U.S. and Mexico went to war. Following the defeat of Mexico in 1848, the U.S. Congress debated the annexation of Mexico as part of the nation’s Manifest Destiny policy. The Federalists who controlled congress at the time voted against the annexation of the Territory of Mexico because they did not want “to absorb those dark skinned peoples into American society.” Racial discrimination is in the blood of American society and the only possible hope is for this institutionalized racism to wane in future generations, but I have little hope based upon the events of present time.

During the last presidential primaries Donald Trump and Sarah Palin criticized Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish in response to a question he was asked in Español. They each urged him to “speak American in America.” Perhaps it was because of their own inability to speak or understand another language, but I believe it is just one more example of the racism in the country. English is the official language of the United States but with a growing segment of Spanish speakers, it might be advisable for each of them to learn Español. There is no “American” language. A citizen in Boston has a different language accent from someone in New Orleans, which has a strong Creole and French influence. People in Hawaii have a language of their own as do the indigenous peoples of Alaska.

Another reason I came to Ecuador was to learn another language and culture. I read learning another language is good for keeping the brain in shape while aging. While I am learning Español, my attempts to communicate with the citizens here have not been hampered by my lack of language skills because they make every effort to understand. No one has ever said to me, “When in Ecuador, speak Español.”

America was once the land of many cultures and languages. The quotation at the base of the Statue of Liberty welcomed those from other lands. Now, the politicians want to send undocumented people back to “where they came from.” The U.S. was very critical of the European Union for its handling of the migrant crises in Europe, but I have not read anywhere of the U.S. offering to take in some of the immigrants. In fact the U.S. has some of the strongest immigration and visa requirements of any nation in the world. The words at the base of the Statue of Liberty should be removed as we no longer live up to them.

One of the people who befriended me here in Ecuador recently traveled to Guayaquil to apply for a visa to visit relatives in America. Upon his return, he informed me his visa application had been denied.

“They made that decision in one day,” I asked.

“No,” he said. “They made it in two minutes.”

“Why?”

“They said I was a flight risk because I had no solid reason to return.”

What the people at the U.S. Embassy failed to realize was that my friend has many reasons to return. The primary one besides his family is that here in Ecuador he is at least free. In America, he would always be an illegal immigrant should he chose to remain. He would be the subject of racial discrimination even though he speaks perfect “American” because his skin is brown.

Flags As Symbols Of Racism

Flags are soaring symbols of pride and community, as well as emotional, incendiary sparks for those on the other side of the barricade. They are among the most immediate, primal, and communicative forms of design. They are made of icons and become icons themselves — even more so when they come to represent a long struggle. — Paola Antonelli

President Obama recently said that the Confederate Flag was, “a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation.” Those same words could be an adapt description for many flags, current and past, depending upon one’s perspective and upon which side of the “barricade” they stand.

Symbols, particularly those on the flags of nations, have always stood in the center of controversy as to their purpose and meaning. There is  currently an ongoing debate in our legislative corridors, internet chatrooms, and city streets as to the meaning and purpose of the Confederate flag. Those in favor of maintaining the current status quo believe the flag is a symbol of southern pride. Those who demand the flag’s removal from government buildings and properties see it as a symbol of our country’s continued institutionalized racism. This debate was most recently stirred as a result of the killing of nine innocent Black members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina by a self proclaimed white supremacist, Dylann Roof.

Personally I am in favor of removing the flag because to me as a Black man growing up in America it represents the same racist attitude as the white gowns and pointed hats of the Ku Klux Klan, and I offer this caution. **Removal of any symbol whose interpretation is so widely diverse is not the solution to the inherent racism in America today. It does not even scratch the surface. I caution against interpreting the symbol, in this case the Confederate flag, for the real problem, racism in America. Amazon and Walmart can remove the flags from their stores but what does that do as far as changing the racist mindset of American society and institutions? Nothing! Absolutely nothing.

The first African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. When the Confederate flag was created at the outbreak of the Civil War, America had been importing, torturing, raping, hanging, and selling slaves for 240 years. The racism existed long before the Confederate flag was ever created. George M. Fredrickson, a former Stanford University Professor of History and best known for his work in the fields of comparative history, and the study of racism and white supremacy had this to say about racism in America.

People everywhere, through history, have sometimes been beastly to members of groups they though of as different. What is distinctive about racism in the West is the development of a full scale systematic ideology to explain why these others deserved bad treatment. And that theory was necessary only because modern Western society was unlike most others and did not share the assumption that human beings were created equal, and thus had nothing to explain away.

The Confederate flag is merely a symptom of a deeply ingrained disease imbedded in the core of American society. Removal of the flag from government buildings is paramount to treating cancer with an aspirin when only removal of the cancer can possibly save the patient.

The Rainbow flag of the LGBT movement was the symbol referred to above in the quotation by Paola Antonelli. As Curator for The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA),  in New York City, she was responsible for adding the original Rainbow flag to the museum’s collection. The flag itself was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 as a symbol of the struggle for human rights by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals following the Stonewall Inn riots in New York’s Greenwich Village, Manhattan in June of 1969. The Stonewall Inn was recently given Historical Landmark status as the birthplace of the LGBT movement in America.

Prior to the recent controversies over the Confederate flag, this flag was and is still, in many countries, responsible for generating the greatest social divide between world  cultures. Many nations such as Russia, some nations of Africa, most Middle Eastern  nations, and many Malaysian nations ban all LGBT activities on the grounds of moral and religious laws, and social standards. This flag is both a symbol of pride for constituents and of distain for those who oppose the rights and recognition of members of the LGBT movement.

The two World Wars generated the most hatred between our global societies until the recently US led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the second World War following  the bombing of Pearl Harbor the red circle of the flag of Japan became a much hated symbol. The United States interned more than 120,000 US citizens of Japanese heritage, seized their land and personal belongings, and removed all rights to equality under the law from our own citizens. It was later determined by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) under then President Jimmy Carter that the US government acted based on **racism** as no proof was ever found of disloyalty by these citizens. Over 1.6 billion dollars was paid in reparations to the remaining survivors and their families under President Reagan when he sign into law the Civil Liberties Act and apologized for the mistreatment of American citizens? To this date no  apologies or reparations have been made to the indigenous peoples from whom this land was taken under the guise of Manifest Destiny nor to the families of former slaves upon whose backs this nation was built. Racism was the major theme in both the occupation of this land and the building of this nation. Under the belief of Manifest Destiny the United States government engaged in a genocidal war against the indigenous nations of the country.

Those who survived the only wartime use of nuclear weapons will never forgive the US government for its actions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For all practical purposes, the war in the Pacific was over and won following the fire bombings of Japan, but the United States bombed these two cities which were not military targets to improve their bargaining position at the peace table, and to show Russia what awaited them if they continued advancement into Europe. It was a military test and show of strength for which over 130,000 citizens, not soldiers, lost their lives.

The two other players whose national symbols became symbols of hatred and  genocide based upon a belief in a superior race and a desire to rid a nation of unwanted elements during the second World War were Nazi Germany and the USSR (Russia). The history and genocide against the Jews is well known and document but the swastika of the German flag was also a symbol of hatred and fear to those living in Eastern Europe as Hitler’s troops invaded country after country along its eastern boarder. Today I have Dutch and Jewish friend who will not associated or talk with German friends seventy-five years after the war in Europe ended. Wounds of hatred are not easily dismissed even though the flag no longer represents Germany today and my friends were all born after the war’s end. The symbol was removed but the hatred lingers.

In October, 1962, I went to my gym class expecting to go outside during a crisp fall morning to play soccer as usual but instead of going outside to play, the gym teacher,  a former officer in the army, had us line up and begin teaching us how to march in formation. I was fourteen years old. The Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, 90 miles off the coast of Florida and the next thirteen days would be the most tense for the nation in the twentieth century. Even after the Cuban blockade ended and the missiles were withdrawn by Russia we still had daily fire drills. When the bell sounded we were to “duck and cover” which met we were to get under our desk and cover our heads, not that any such gestures would save us from a nuclear attack.

The evening news showed films clips of Soviet Prime Minister, Nikita Khrushchev, speaking before Western Ambassadors in 1956. We saw newsreels of him pounding his fist against the podium and saying, “We will bury you.” ( meaning the US.) The hammer, cycle, and star of Communism took on a totally different meaning for me. The media had made the flag a symbol of fear and hatred as the evening news showed people building underground bomb shelters in their back yards and men signing up for the armed forces. The news showed photographs of the fallout area if a bomb landed in New York or Miami, etc. I learned that a symbol whether it was the pointed hat and gown of the KKK or the hammer and cycle of the Soviet flag could instill hatred and fear all by itself. It was only years later that I was able to accept a symbol as just a symbol in the same way a word is just a word. Neither can carry fear or hatred unless I put it there.

Religious symbols are the most dangerous because they pit one’s god against another’s god, and so many wrongs have been committed in a god’s name. So many people have died, and so many cultures destroyed, all in the name of some god. It is still genocide and racism but backed by a religious doctrine or belief. Each side believes its god is in the  right. My invisible god is better and more righteous than your invisible god and to prove that I am going to eliminate your heathen kind. That was the purpose of the Crusades whose symbol was the Christian cross. A symbol proudly displayed not only on the flag but also on the clothing of the knights. They were fighting for religious dominance of the world and at the same time calling themselves saviors of mankind. Even after the Crusaders were driven out of the Holy Lands by the Muslim armies two hundred years later, the symbol of the red cross remained.

At the turn of the last century, Pope John Paul II apologized to the world for the 2000 years of wrongs done in the name of God under the veils of Christianity and the Catholic church. He apologized for the denigration of women by the Catholic church. He apologized for the role played by the church in the destruction of so many other world cultures, for its promotion of racism, for not taking action during the Nazi invasion, for the bloody Crusades, slavery, and the Spanish Inquisition. He acknowledge the church had not always been at the forefront of good for the world. His actions took a lot of courage and angered many in the Church membership. In the years to follow Australia would also apologize to the Aborigines for their mistreatment by the white citizens and government of Australia but still no apology from the US government for its genocide and racism.

Another flag which uses a religious symbol to justify its actions and destruction of non  believers is the flag of Israel and the star of David. To Jews it is a symbol of religious obedience and national pride as the Confederate flag is to some southerners, but to the people of Gaza, the star of David is a symbol of death and destruction. A symbol of anger and fear. Israel uses its military might much like its strongest supporter, the United States, to dominate and to take what it wants in terms of land and resources, to control and subjugate a race of human beings whom they systematical eliminate and crowd closer together simply because they believe in a different god. They justify their actions to no one and they are pulled on the ear by no one.

Why does a Dylann Roof kill nine innocent people because they have Black skin? I do  not know. I do know, however, that symbols have existed since the dawn of mankind and that the elimination of the symbol does not eliminate the belief or the fear associated with either side of the symbol. Even though a symbol or flag may not be seen or in the news for over well over forty years, it can still maintain a hidden impact stronger than the symbol itself. Just ask Patty Hearst what she feels when she sees this flag.