Wanting America Back

I was in a high-end restaurant, waiting to have a meeting with a friend, and arrived before he did. I was led to our table, which had already been reserved.

Our table was next to one at which four white women were already sitting. They were older, looking to be in their late 70s and/or early 80s. It felt like they were engaging in a “girl’s day out” kind of time. They were laughing and sharing, talking about their husbands, their children and grandchildren, their charity work, and their professions, from which they had all retired.

I couldn’t help but hear everything they were talking about, and found myself chuckling from time to time at some of the things they shared. Privacy was not an option or a concern for them.

So, when they started talking about politics and the current slate of GOP candidates, the fact that they were sharing their views for all to hear was not surprising. They were Republicans, committed Republicans, that was for certain, because they said so, out loud.
The GOP candidates were interesting, they said. Carly “what’s her name? Is she still in the race?” Fiorina didn’t impress any of them, nor did Jeb Bush. They never mentioned Ben Carson, and kind of skated through their opinions of the candidates who have now left the race, including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul.

But then they got to the meat of their discussion: the top three candidates, according to the polls, plus Chris Christie. Trump, they said, was OK. Rubio was not; he was in favor of “bringing all those immigrants, or letting all those immigrants” come into or stay in this country. “Oh no, no immigrants,” said three of the women in response to the now-emerged spokeswoman for the group. One woman weakly tried to say that the immigrants who have been working here should be allowed to become citizens, but she was shut down.

Chris Christie should not be president, said the “louder-than-the-rest” woman because “he hugged Obama. That did it for me. He hugged Obama after Hurricane Sandy.” She said it in such a way which indicated she wanted everyone to know that yes, she said it, and yes, she absolutely meant it.

Obama, she said, was evil. Someone mentioned that Obama had visited a mosque, and had reported that Muslims were “good people.”

“Of course,” the ringleader said, “he would say that because he is a Muslim. Everyone knows that. He doesn’t go to church. He…is…a…Muslim.”

There was a pregnant pause while everyone pondered her pronouncement of “truth.,” but then the women got back to the other GOP candidates. With Trump being a little too over the top, and Rubio being in favor of keeping immigrants here and letting more come in, the only viable candidate, said the ringleader, with the other three women nodding their heads in agreement, was Ted Cruz.

“He is honest and loving and believes in the Constitution,” said Ringleader. “He is our only hope.” And then she said, quietly, “We have lost our beloved America. Our children’s children will never know the America we knew.”

Ah, the “give us our country back” sentiment took center stage. If Cruz could help bring sexism and racism back, and put all of the “isms” back in their places on the shelves of  American values, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could get rid of Obamacare with no thought of how millions who now have health care would feel or survive, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could make it so that police could have free reign with arresting and brutalizing people, then he would have to be president. If Cruz could get the military up and running like a good American military should run, and “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” as Donald Trump has said, then Cruz would have to be elected president.

I sat there, not surprised at what I was hearing, but a tad irritated that they talked so loudly so that everyone would have to hear their political discourses. They were bemoaning the threat they and many white Americans feel from forces larger than them and their remembrance of an America where bigotry and privilege went unchallenged. They were bemoaning the fact that being “politically correct” means respecting people of different religions (Islam) and colors and nationalities. They were tired of it. They wanted the voices of white people to be heard again, loudly and clearly, putting everyone and everything that wasn’t white in their proper places.

To heck with this being the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” They were not interested in living into that pronouncement and they sure were not interested in nurturing the American value called pluralism.

I heard that in their discourse. I don’t think I was wrong. I wish I were…

A candid observation…


The water situation in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been receiving lead-filled water resulting in serious effects on people, especially children, has brought to light a troubling thought: that water, or the restriction or, as is the case here, the compromise of quality of water given to poor people, is too often used as a weapon against them.

Everyone knows that in order to live, humans must have water. We are told from a very young age that people can survive longer without food than they can without water. Dehydration can cause a person to die a painful death. Water is a necessary element in order for there to be life  …and yet, governments, here and elsewhere, are using their power to restrict or compromise the supply of water to people whom they do not value.

In this country, it is no secret that black, brown and poor people are not highly valued. Some of the entitlement programs, which Republicans want to pare down, were put in place precisely because black and brown and poor people were suffering because of policies designed to limit their capacity to thrive in these United States.

But as this Flint water crisis has unfolded, it becomes clearer than ever how water is being used to compromise the lives of marginalized people here and elsewhere. In Palestine, the Israeli government, which is occupying Palestine, restricts the amount of water Palestinian people can receive. They do not supply water to Palestinian villages, while they readily supply water to Israeli settlers. Palestinians must buy their water on a scheduled basis, and their water is held in black tanks which one can see atop their houses. The Israeli government is in total control of whether or not they get the water they need in order to live.

Even if a Palestinian village is closer to a water treatment plant than is a newly formed Israeli settlement, the pipes supplying fresh water have been laid so that they bypass the village and go straight to the settlements.

It is appalling.

It is no less appalling that an emergency manager in Michigan, who had power over the local government to make decisions, decided to redirect the water supply for Flint residents from Detroit to the Flint River – to save money. It is highly troubling that no such diversions were ordered for people who live in wealthy suburbs. Flint is reportedly has a sizable black residency – over 50 percent. That, apparently, in addition to the fact that Flint was financially strapped, was enough to make the emergency manager decide that the residents of Flint could survive with water coming from a different source, which was cheaper than the water they had been using for years.

The lives of the people who would be affected by the water switch didn’t matter. It was all about the money.

In Israel, it is about the Israeli government, wanting its own homeland, compromising the lives of the Palestinians.

In Flint, insult has been added to injury as the government has continued to charge residents for water they cannot use or drink, and which has already irreparably damaged their children.

The city of Flint, and other cities in this nation, are violating the basic human rights of people by sending them poisoned water and making them pay for it. The Israeli government is as well compromising the human rights of the Palestinian people, making them pay for water in their own land while freely supplying Israeli settlers as they move into Palestine to start a new life. The restriction of water is basically being used as a weapon against poor people. http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/us/flint-michigan-water-crisis-race-poverty/)

The situation is so sad, so wrong and so indicative of the depth of racism that pervades not only this country but this world, that it is hard to write about.

But we need to look at what is going on, and, in the case or Flint, get water to the people and filters even as we press for justice, making the local government back away from its insistence on charging people for poisoned water.

It is the least we can do.

A candid observation …

The Saga of Thomas Eric Duncan

OK. I am trying not to be bothered, concerned…angry. But I am failing.

I am all of the above.

Thomas Eric Duncan died of the Ebola virus this week, despite being in America where, supposedly, one can receive the best health care. He came here showing no symptoms. When he got sick, he went to a hospital. He told them he had recently arrived here from Liberia. Didn’t matter. They didn’t admit him. They sent him home with antibiotics.

Kinda like, “take an aspirin and call me in three days.”

He went home and came back a couple of days later. Only then did someone think he might have Ebola. He was admitted …but he wasn’t given any of the experimental drugs the two previous Ebola patients received. Nor was he given a blood transfusion, using the blood of people who had the disease like the patient in Nebraska had.

No, for a week, he really received no drug or treatment that was specifically shown to have helped beat Ebola in other persons.

His systems began to shut down. He was put on a ventilator and then on dialysis.

And then he died.

And I am angry.

I am trying NOT to think that he was given different treatment because he was black. Someone said he didn’t have a social security card/number, or health insurance.

Maybe that’s why he was sent home.

Who knows? Well, that’s not such a good question – because SOMEBODY knows.

When health care people finally figured out that he might have Ebola, his apartment was …targeted.

I could not believe my eyes as the media splashed images of the apartment building where he had lived, along with the name of the complex, the address of the complex …and the door to his actual apartment.

His family was quarantined for a number of days. That’s good – except they couldn’t go out and nobody could get in. His family said they had nothing to eat.


Some people immediately throw off the suspicion that some of this disparate health care was because of racism.

It’s easier to deny racism’s existence than to come face to face with it, and its consequences.

Thomas Eric Duncan should not have died. He went to the hospital early in the onset of the disease. He told the hospital that he had recently arrived here from Liberia.

He should at least have been placed in isolation for observation.

But nothing.

Yes, I am angry. I am trying not to be …but I am failing.

A candid…and personal …observation.