Monday, February 29, 2016

Questions in Black and White

The "black vs. white Oscars" made me feel like it was the 1960s again. Even in Hollywood, it seems we're back to the whiny "you dissed me because I'm black" atmosphere that permeated the country forty-to-fifty years ago.

How ironic--and sad--that, far from being the crowning achievement in a long, courageous, bloody path to equality, Barack Obama's presidency has returned the nation to a color-conscious, sniping, and resentful collection of malcontents.

I suppose that Chris Rock did the best he could as host of the awards show. But, despite a few chuckles, it was painful to watch. I don't think I'm alone in my weariness of the word "racism." It's thrown around with such boring regularity that it's become virtually meaningless. That's the real injustice, because true racism is a powerfully destructive force that gets no clarity today. Any perceived slight is deemed "racist"--the "all-white" Academy Awards being a prime example.

In my book, deliberately causing harm to people because of their color, that's racism. Leaving them off a list of Hollywood award nominees, for whatever reason? Is that really "Racism"? After stars such as Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman, Stevie Wonder, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jennifer Hudson (complete list linked here) have taken home the golden prize? Not so much.

Do we now need Affirmative Action for the Academy Awards? Will the Motion Picture Academy be required to nominate people based on race, regardless of the quality of their work? If so, then why don't the African American performers just stick with the Black Entertainment Awards and leave the Oscars to the white folks?

In 2016, when the United States has established a distinguished history of diverse racial achievement at the highest levels of government, industry, academia, literature, and art, why are we even talking about "racism," let alone letting it dominate our culture? What is to be gained by this? A more urgent question perhaps is, what is to be lost?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Virtue and Liberty

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

 ~ Benjamin Franklin

I watched Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral today, and it was quite poignant to watch one of his sons, a Catholic priest, celebrate the Mass. Watching the justice's small-army-sized family and listening to Father Paul Scalia speak about the strong faith his father held, it reminded me of how important the respect of religion and its principles was to the Founders of our nation.

The Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute website has an excellent posting from April 2011 on the significance of morality and virtue to a free republic. Virtually all of our Founding Fathers had something to say about the necessity of virtue. George Washington said that "Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people." Madison stated that "liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people" was unattainable. Jefferson asserted that people educated in "habits of virtue" were necessary to maintain our good government. John Adams said "public virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private Virtue," and Samuel Adams wrote that "the truest friend of the liberty of his country...tries to promote its virtue."

I recommend reading all of the full and direct quotations, linked here, especially in light of the power struggles and ideological battles to come over Justice Scalia's replacement. At this crucial time in our history, its vitally important that Americans become reacquainted with the historical cornerstones of our nation's founding, not the political fads of the moment.

We need a new Supreme Court justice of high virtue. Great care and ample time should be taken to ensure this outcome in order to preserve and strengthen our eroding liberties. Based on the writings they left behind, I'm sure the Founders would agree.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mysterious Ways

Justice Antonin Scalia
The news of the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came like a clap of thunder on a clear sunny day. It almost had the feel of a divine judgment, something straight out of the Old Testament. After my initial shock, I felt as though it was a kind of heavenly rebuke.

OK, America, the Lord says; you remove me from all public discourse, you scratch my name from buildings, ignore and scoff at my Commandments, denigrate and ridicule the God that the Founding Fathers honored and respected in the nation's framing documents. As punishment, I'll take away your greatest constitutional hero, Justice Scalia--the man who fought fiercely for three decades to preserve the original meaning of the United States Constitution.

But the more I read and watched the endless news and commentary about Justice Scalia, the more I began to see a glimmer of light in this terrible loss. Scalia's death illuminates the importance of the Supreme Court, something many Americans often overlook when casting their votes. His loss elevates the nomination of justices to an urgent election issue that will stay at the forefront, as it rightly should. While we will never see his like again, if his loss reminds voters to consider the crucial balance of the Supreme Court on Election Day, the death of Antonin Scalia could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Doing the Work

John Kasich
For awhile now, I've thought that John Kasich is the one to watch in the presidential contest. Last week I was talking with a friend about him as a good choice for the Republican candidate, and she wasn't really sure who Kasich is. This happens often, I notice when I mention him. People don't know him. Kasich doesn't grab headlines or attention. He just does his job.

Kasich (rhymes with "basic") is a workhorse candidate who doesn't seek the limelight, just does what he needs to do to succeed by inches and keep going. He's a bit rumpled looking and has an Everyman-style delivery when he speaks--ordinary, plain spoken, down-to-earth. He's blunt without being insulting, critical without being nasty, specific without making outlandish promises. Kasich is kind of a Donald Trump who has graduated from charm school. Furthermore, he's got more political chops than most of the Republican candidates combined.

Currently serving as Ohio's governor, Kasich has been in government since the Reagan years. He served 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee and six years on the Budget Committee. Kasich is also a best-selling author of three books. I read Every Other Monday soon after it was published in 2010. The man is interesting, sincere, and underestimated. Tonight he came in second in the New Hampshire Republican primary. Keep an eye on him, and watch out for some more surprises as the primaries continue.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Technology Troubles

Life happens. "The Kids" were visiting from the East Coast, we celebrated my birthday and enjoyed some family time, so I've been offline for awhile. When I went to log back in, I was locked out of my website account.

This was no small matter. First I had to change my Google password, then update my cell phone number, then check my email to get my secret log-in code. After entering the new password and the secret code, I then had to sign in twice--just to get into my blogsite.

Although I was planning to launch on current events tonight, I'm somewhat distracted after twenty minutes of electronic red tape. We'll catch up another time. If, of course, I can remember my new password.