Category Archives: heritage

Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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Filed under Foreign policy, heritage, immigrants, Immigration, Iran, Islam, logic, Politics, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, United States

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happy Fourth of July.

We all know the words….”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. From the Declaration of Independence. 240 years ago.

According to Tom Jefferson these are three of the inalienable rights all human beings possess. (He made a few exceptions in regards to “human beings” which we need not go into at time). In the Lincoln-Douglas debates Old Abe often referred to this phrase and included ALL men, even 0nes not recognized by Tom. A different time.

And anyone who listens to politicians today, especially those on the right side of the political spectrum, certainly recognize the call for “liberty”. Freedom ! Freedom ! Freedom from tyranny. Freedom from Obamacare. Freedom from big government. Ad nauseum.

So, we agree that all men should have life and liberty. Those rights are explicitly mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

But that third one? The pursuit of happiness? Seems like our modern right wing scholar/politicians are ignoring that third  “inalienable right”. Nothing new there. After all, they ignore half of the 2nd Amendment…the part about “a well-regulated militia”.

The idea that people should be able to be “happy” seems foreign to them. People should be free. People should be rich. People should be able to raise their kids as they see fit. People should not have to pay taxes. People should fight terrorism. But happy?

Happiness is just not part of the right wing equation when it comes to rights. Jefferson and the other men who voted to leave the British empire did so , primarily, because they just weren’t happy. And, gol darn it, they thought every man had the right to pursue happiness. That may have been a more radical idea than the right to life or liberty, which most people readily accepted. Happiness was one of the big three. Important enough to mention in the seminal document in US history.

Watching the “Make Him Fail” haters and the “Make America White…er..Great” chanters you would think that happiness is the last thing on their minds. I would guess that if all the terrible “liberals” like myself disappeared tomorrow it would not make a bit of difference. If all the soft, commie-loving “libtards” suddenly became invisible, it would not change a thing.

These sour politicians with their sour view of life would find something else to be angry about. The very idea of people pursuing happiness seems to bother them. They want laws about everything , from conception to birth to the grave. While they claim to want freedom, they really want to make sure others do not pursue too much happiness. Wipe that smile off your face and salute the flag.

They want to punish women who have sex. They want to punish people who smoke dope. They want to punish hardworking (illegal) Mexicans who are trying to make a living. They want to punish gays for..well.. being gay. Happiness is not in their Declaration of Independence.

I wonder what Jefferson would make of these folks. After all, he did write that we have inalienable rights, and AMONG THEM are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, he did acknowledge that those three were not the ONLY rights. He understood that we have many rights, some unwritten.

I suppose if he lived today he might consider the feelings  of the right wing politicians and add a fourth right. The right to be miserable. And I accept that people  have a right to be miserable. They have to right to emphasize the negative. To be nasty and insulting.

I just wish they would not exercise that right  on the rest of us.

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Filed under Congress, Constitution, government, heritage, liberals, neoconservatives, Politics, Society, United States, US

Carolina on My Mind…or in My Toilet

North Carolina just passed a law about using public bathrooms. I assume LGBT folks using bathrooms has become a statewide epidemic of sorts! While I usually don’t care what kind of genitalia anyone else in the bathroom is packing, I thought I better clarify some issues so I don’t break any laws. Or customs.

This is a copy of a letter I submitted to the Charlotte Observer.

 

Dear Folks. I am coming down to North Carolina this October to play some golf and am a bit concerned about the new bathroom law just passed. I guess I don’t understand it so maybe you can answer some questions so I don’t make a fool of myself. Or break any laws.
1. When I enter a restroom will I have to drop my pants so the attendant can see whether or not I have the proper equipment? If so, would you suggest boxers or briefs?
2. If I suspect the “guy” (or maybe not the “guy”) in the next stall is not really the “guy” in the next stall, should I dial 911 to handle the emergency?
3. Will I need to bring a birth certificate to verify that I was born with the right equipment and have not just added it later on a whim? Will a photocopy be acceptable? (I don’t want another Obama situation!)
4. Can I ask a fellow toilet user to produce his (or “her”) equipment if I suspect he (or she) may be hiding, or not hiding, something? Like a “citizen’s arrest”?
5. Are the public restrooms now clearly labeled: Men, Women and Other? And do you still have some labeled: Whites Only?
6. If my equipment is challenged by another “guy” will I have to appear in court and produce proper evidence?
Not being a lawmaker or a lawyer I am afraid that I might inadvertently make a “faux pas” by using an inappropriate facility.
I am really looking forward to heading into North Carolina. Up here in Yankee land we are dealing with unemployment, poverty, gun violence, high taxes, etc. It will be a real pleasure to relax in a place where the biggest problem is determining the sex organs of fellow facility users.

(signed) Joe Urban

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Filed under gay rights, gays, heritage, homosexual, logic, neoconservatives, news, North Carolina, Politics, Society

Advice To My Black Son

Since today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice to my black son. Advice on how to live a long life in a hostile nation.

Problem is I don’t have a black son. Both my son and daughter are white. As is my wife. And we have a long history of ancestors who were also white. Quite a coincidence. Being white, there was never the necessity of having this little talk with him or her. But I digress.

To my black son or grandson. First, I will make some assumptions about you, most of which are not true.

You live in poverty (actually 73% of African Americans do not live in poverty, but the percentage IS higher for children and young adults)  http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/

Your parents do not own their own home (55% do not, but 45% do).    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883976.html

You will be  arrested for a violent crime this year . (about 1/2 of 1% of black youths will be arrested for a violent offense, so 99.5% of black youths will NOT be arrested for a violent crime)    http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05261

You are most likely a high school “drop out” . (The drop out rate for African American males is approximately 7%, so 93% are NOT drop outs)    http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16

Enough of statistics. And stereotypes. I want you to live a long and happy life. Keep in mind the following.

First of all you  have rights. The right to free speech. To drive. To assembly. To individuality. To be young. And to be stupid at times. To walk down the street. To carry a gun in some states. To use a cell phone.

My Rules for my black son. Listen carefully:

1. Take that last paragraph about your rights and forget it. Assume , instead, that you have no rights. Accept reality. Act like you have no rights. You will live longer.

2.If the police stop you in your car or walking be respectful. Don’t argue. Be polite. “Yes, officer. No,officer”. If you see the cops driving around in your neighborhood wave and smile.

3.Sew your pockets shut. So you cannot possibly reach inside them. Don’t carry a cell phone. Or comb. Or knife. Or anything.

4.Don’t be out after dark. If you are a friend’s house, call home and tell ma and pa that you are sleeping over. Do the same for your friends when they are visiting you at night. Don’t be out after dark.

5.Don’t go to places where you know drug dealers hang out. If drug dealers show up where you are hanging out, go home. Now.

6.If you are arrested for some reason say nothing. Nothing. If you are put in a cell do not talk to your cellmate. Be polite and ask for a lawyer. Say nothing.

7.Don’t wear bling. Don’t wear a hoodie. Don’t wear your cap backwards. Don’t argue with anyone about anything. Swallow your pride. Often. Regularly.

8.Act like you are a Jew in Nazi Germany. Pretend you are a foreigner with no rights.

Should you have to follow these rules? No. But in reality these rules will give you  a much better chance of making it to adulthood than the Bill of Rights. Or the Voting Rights Act. Or any other legal protections. Sorry, my black son, but that is reality.

As MLK, Jr hoped, someday you WILL be judged by the content of your character and not by the color of your skin. But January 18, 2016 in America is not yet that day.

 

 

 

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Filed under african-american, blacks, crime, government, heritage, police, police brutality, Politics, Society, Terror, United States, US, violence

My Heritage: The Flag of Freedom

My  battle flag flies proudly over my front yard. It is my heritage. My flag of freedom.

Some say it represents racism and repression. I disagree.

My battle flag was flown over great victories … although in the end it was flown sadly in defeat. Still, I am proud of the men who  fought for that flag. They died for their race. The white race. They died to defend their way of life from those who would oppose it.

The heritage behind my flag is a long and honored one. It goes back for centuries. Respect my heritage. Thousands died in battles against those who would take away our way of life. Some said that our way of life was wrong because we enslaved others. But that was our right. Under the law. All was legal. Who has the right to change our laws?

Some say my flag represents racism. Nonsense. It represents the way things are or should be. Those who are inferior were given jobs to do. Life time employment. Those laborers, who some called “slaves” helped make us economically strong. We needed their labor. And , as the superior race, they accepted their place.

Until the outsiders caused problems. The so-called “democracy” lovers who said we should not enslave others because of their skin color or ethnicity. The buddinskies.  Those who wanted everyone to be “equal”.

Some say my flag is a flag of violence. And terror. Yes, sometimes we  had to destroy the elements of rebellion among the inferior population. We have had to keep them at bay with whippings and hangings and fear.  Otherwise these inferiors would overrun the masters. So be it. What some call “terror” we call “law and order”  No society can exist without it.

My flag recognizes that we are not all born “equal”. Some deserve to be master. Some are born to serve as workers and slaves.

I am proud of my ancestors who died fighting for those ideals. For the rights of the white man to be master.  For the right of the state to determine its own system and not be imposed upon by others. The flag of freedom flies proudly from the flagpole in my front yard.

It is my heritage. I am German. My flag is the Swastika.

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Filed under blacks, civil war, confederate flag, flag, heritage, nazi, slavery, south carolina, swastika