Sunday, December 5, 2010

The other day I was asked about how to change her Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character. Naturally, I asked why. The response I received was meant to be a jab at me and my ilk, for sure, but I took it as a compliment when my Facebook friends and I were referred to as nerds. Presumably, this was supposed to mean that I (and others like me) don't interact well with the rest of the outside world either. That's fine, I can accept that. What I don't understand is why it is supposed to be a bad thing to not take part in populist cyber-movements that are only so effective. For that matter, there is no real reason for me to take part in any populist movement.

Let's face it, I could change my profile picture to Charlie Brown, but that won't really make some eight year old's life any better. Becoming a foster parent will. Becoming a social worker will. Becoming a teacher will. Becoming a friend will. Taking an active role in our communities and neighborhoods will probably make the lives of abused children better. Opening our doors (literally) and taking a look outside; or even better yet, going outside and being vigilant will probably do more to prevent child abuse than changing my profile picture. Making friends with our neighbors and becoming an active participant in our immediate communities will probably do the same because it is just too difficult to hide abuse from the world if world is sitting in the abuser's living room. Unfortunately, our lives are far too complex to ensure that even our direct involvement will make a difference, but at least it is an active attempt.

As a society, we really like to project our best intentions in ways that are not always the most fruitful. Changing my picture won't really make anyone's life any better. If anything, it will just give me a false sense that I have actually done something good for the world, when in reality I did something for myself. I don't want to rain on any one's parade because I am sure that all the cartoon character profile pictures are well intentioned, but I don't think it is fair for those of us outside of cyber-populist movements like this to be made fun of. In fact, maybe everyone who changed their profile pictures should also be required to volunteer their time with a socially conscious, people-oriented organization. Maybe every time we post something to "bring awareness" we should also automatically commit to volunteering for some organization or directly donate money that will actually do something in regard to that issue. Then it becomes real.

I do appreciate the idea of bringing awareness to something or working to prevent something else, but we know about the value of talk. All we need to do is look at the thousands who braved the rainstorms to raise money and take part in the Susan G. Komen walk. That is real commitment. Notice how many people walk for autism or give to food banks. If we really want to help the lives of children, then advocate for and raise funds to build shelters for families escaping abuse. Press our politicians to reinstate the funding cut from mental health services for children. How about unconditional free medical coverage for any child, regardless of socio-economics or medical condition? How about free counselling services for anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience? After all, many abusive adults have also experienced something devastating in their own lives that contribute to their own loss of control.

Yes, Charlie Brown would be much nicer than the mug I have on my Facebook right now, but what difference will it really make? Probably not as much as actually taking five minutes to talk to some child or parent who is having a bad day. Definitely not as much as actually doing something for those abused children instead of yourself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Season's Greetings

Although I didn't follow my mother's Christian faith, I still love this time of the year. And yes, I do call it Christmas, even though I don't practice or believe in any version of the Christian religion. The reality is that even secular-minded people like me can fully appreciate the good-will-toward-men mentality that presents itself from mid-November through the beginnings of a new year. It gives us all hope that, despite our differences, our more generous and humble nature will prevail to ensure that the world will survive for one more year until we can regain this feeling again.

Today at the grocery store I bought a bag of food for some nameless needy family, and had my son help me drop it into the collection barrel as we walked out the door. When he asked why we were leaving a bag of food at the store I simply replied that we need to help those who don't have enough food. The sad thing is that so many of us (myself included) don't do this enough throughout the year.

I've been poor and I've seen the sadness on my mother's face because of it, still I become so wrapped up in my own world that I seldom remember to extend my own helping hand. I do a lot of socially conscious work as a teacher, but I get paid for that so it really shouldn't count. But today at the grocery store I picked up a pre-packaged bag of food that cost me about six dollars to help another human being. It honestly isn't enough, so I am sure I will repeat the gesture a number of times in the coming weeks, but then what?

Like so many parents I'm going to spend more than I should at Christmas time on my children and on the children of those I care deeply about, but that isn't what this season is about. Throughout the northern hemisphere cultures have used this time leading up to the winter solstice to battle the the very real, increasing darkness; and this might be key factor to what has helped us survive. Regardless of a person's religious beliefs (or lack thereof) we, as a species, has found it in our hearts to help those in need. Some do it as an ulterior motive for some personal or collective gain, and I believe them to be down right despicable. Yet, others give just because it is the correct thing to do, with no strings attached, no pop quiz before you get your meal, no jibber jabber to earn a blanket and a cot. They just give because it is the human thing to do.

I hope that during the next couple weeks we all can find it in our hearts and pocketbooks to buy a bag of groceries, a blanket, or a toy for someone who has less than we do. I hope that I remember to do it enough that my children learn that giving is an essential part of humanity. I hope I can sustain my efforts beyond the new year, and hope you can too. Together, we just might make the world a better place. You never know, one day when you least expect it, you just might be paid in kind for your small sacrifice, and on that day, at that moment, you will realize how fortunate you were to give and how fortunate it can be to receive.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Its Academic

Yesterday I received the wonderful news that I was being recommended for tenure. Aside from helping solidify my future employment, this also makes me think of myself as an academic. That's a long way from the blocks at NASSCO, but maybe not so much.

I began thinking about the role of an academic and came up with the simple idea that one of the primary roles of academics is to maintain a healthy level of intellectual curiosity that is fed with truth, proof, and critical analysis. I must admit, this can be difficult to uphold for a number of reasons. As a father and husband, it is difficult in terms of time. Also as a father and husband, this can be difficult in terms of belief. As a colleague, this can be difficult in terms of professionalism. As a human being, this can be difficult in terms of how much can one really want to know and how will that inherently change your life? These are big issues because I must balance my intellectual curiosity with how much time I spend playing with my children or just enjoying my family. This intellectual curiosity has already ruined my ability to ever watch a light-hearted movie with my wife. It has compromised my ability to attend family functions without looking at sociological implications based on how people act. I must balance my wife's faith in a religion with my constant desire for some sort of proof that there is any basis in reality for that religion. I cannot look at a newspaper without analyzing issues. And don't even get me talking about a subject that I have ready anything substantial about.

So here I am excited about my life as an academic and simultaneously bothered by who I have become as a direct result of my intellectual curiosity. Unfortunately, I cannot stop the curiosity to know more, to have support of claims, to understand the power of the desire so many of us have to believe in something we know cannot be true, and my irrational desire to expose untruth as untruth. In some ways, I have become my own worst enemy. In others, I have become my sole friend.

If nothing else, the next few decades should be interesting.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Conservative Conundrum

For as much as conservatives work at being, well, conservative, I'm not sure they understand just how easy it is to be, well, conservative. Let's face it, life is easier when you just deny progress. Its easier when you deny people their rights. Its easier when you allow some entity to create the rules you live by and then swear that its the best type of freedom around. Its easy to deny the facts. Its easy to deny social convention. Its just too easy, so why do they work so hard at it?

I have no answer as to why they work so hard at being conservative but I have a theory. First, like most irrational actions, it takes a lot of effort to keep perpetuating the mythology they have created inside their own minds. Take the Founding Fathers, for example. None of today's current political pundits were around during the founding of the United States, so none of them truly knows what the Founders intended but they sure talk like they do. Even the most vocal of the conservative wing probably has actually read less than ten percent of the writings associated with the beginning of our republic (sorry, but for the most part we don't live in a democracy), the initiation and subsequent fighting of the Revolutionary War, the process of writing our Constitution, or the work that took place for about 50 years after the first presidential election. If someone actually had read and studied all of those writings, then that person would be considered a scholar of late Colonial America and the early American republic. We don't see those people on television advocating a one-dimensional view of our nation because they are smart enough to know that we have never been one dimensional. Hence, even the most conservative scholars of early America generally divide perspectives into one of two ideas.

Those who consider themselves conservatives tend to view our Constitution and its principles as static, whereas the liberals see the Constitution a dynamic. Again, we see where conservatives tend to take the easy way out, somehow believing that our Founding Fathers believed that the world was going to hit its pause button at 1789 and that was that. Except there was no such thing as a pause button. So how were we supposed to stop changing? We were no longer British subjects, but somehow that doesn't seem to conflict with the idea of remaining static? The logic doesn't add up. Same goes for the Second Amendment. If the Constitution and Bill of Rights are static, then why should people be allowed to bare any type of armament not readily available during the Revolutionary War? No semi-automatic handguns. No M-16s for deer hunting. No one would even be allowed to carry weapons with a brass cartridge casing, let alone an Uzi. But that doesn't apply to them because it is not part of their mythology. It is alright for old white guys to carry guns with a permit. They can even have a conservative revolution. But let the Black Panthers walk into the State Assembly in California during the Civil Rights Movement and suddenly gun control makes sense. How many conservatives support Malcolm X's By Any Means Necessary ideology? They should because it is supported by the Second Amendment. How many agree with the Latin Kings's ideology to sell drugs to whites if they give some of the money back to their home community and its schools? They should because it falls in line with laissez faire economics. How many conservatives agree with Tucson Unified's right to teach Raza Studies because it is truth, just not a truth oft spoken? They should. But they don't because they are hypocrites and the truth is too difficult for them to face.

So next time you see some partial truths posted by conservatives, ask them how blissful ignorance really is. Even more important than that, give them a short lesson in reality with the facts to back it. All one needs is a couple of books or an Internet connection to see how complex and dynamic the world really is. You might not win any converts, but that shouldn't be one's purpose, the real purpose is to expose the truth; and truth sure ain't an easy pill to swallow if you only believe in unsubstantiated mythologies. So here's to those of use who dine on the truth because it is good. Keep a healthy mind and keep on thinking.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Critical Left

Sure, I believe that Bill O'Reilly and other pop culture pundits like him are insensitive, antagonistic, and a general representation of where our nation has gone wrong. It is obvious that the culture wars of the Bush years have extended into the Obama years with a vengeance, and the rise of the TEA party is a shining example of the libertarian right's willingness to impose its will upon our nation. On the other hand, we have the lefties who, essentially, are unwilling or unable to fight back.

It seems that there are many reasons for this deficiency in the liberal camp, if it can be called a camp at all because there seems to be little cohesion on part of American liberals. Not only is this sad, it is also indicative of our nature. I don't mean this as a back-handed compliment, but when you look at a group of liberals and compare them to a group of conservatives, the visual differences are obvious, but it is the underlying differences that hurt us the most. Take, for example, work. The various earthen hues found across the liberal spectrum is generally busy at some sort of job for a large part of the day and/or they are attending school to improve their education. Of course, that's great but a bunch of liberal social workers and teachers talking to each other about the ills of the world does not directly engage the right in an all out match of wits, facts, and reason. In the public eye then, the left loses.

The right detests our ability to think and talk critically about what our problems are and how to solve them. They especially hate it when we try to get at the root of a problem becasue that requires too much analysis, which we are good at and they seldom care about. Plus, the right laughs at us because we are so busy trying to understand their position that we never go to battle about the issues. At some point we need to limit how much we take them into consideration and just accept the reality that the left and right are in an ideological war. The problem is that while the right is standing on the battle field, the left has its nose stuck in books. Hence, if we are not even in the same place, there can be no battle. The right has also become so adept at distorting language and ideas, and then presenting them publicly that the left doesn't even know where to begin when it is ready for a fight. Sometimes, we're just too damn nice, but the right regularly gets down and dirty and doesn't care whose toes it steps on, and they are quite good at using language to sway their masses whichever way they want. It openly promotes xenophobia and homophobia to the point that it has become a natural piece of American culture. It has turned uneducated people such as Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell into political heroes. It listens to and believes in Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly as though they carry some divine providence in their words. It probably is even safe to say that they believe they are somehow the "Chosen Ones", and regardless of what they are chosen to do, they are absolutely on the right ideological side.

When it comes down to it, the right is a camp based in faith. They follow their leader regardless of how ridiculous their requests or their ideas might be. They believe in religion. They believe in a nostalgic perspective of an America that was true only for a select group, and they want a return to their version of the American Dream. Most importantly, they are so entitled that they are willing to blame everyone who does not fall into their strict definition of who is worthy of success. They even trivialize the struggles of their own forefathers so the Other America takes the fall for any missteps. Tea Partiers come from folks who easily acculturated to America by willingly learning English and teaching their children the greatness of the American Way above all other culture. Although the left knows that this is nothing more than a myth, it openly does little to nothing to present another perspective.

We love to teach, and think, and read, and work with those who need the most help. We are teachers and social workers, but we are also business people working to help the little guy become established, we are the bankers who did not get greedy and give out loans to people who could not afford them. We work and we toil, and at the end of the day we are tired, obviously too tired to pick up the tools of our wisdom and beat the right at its own game. When we are energized we work for charities and attend fundraisers for breast cancer. When we are energized we engage each other in meaningful debates that show our intellectual prowess. When we are energized we create a more meaningful world through art, meditation, reading, and thinking. All the while we are preaching to our own choir and the rest of America does not see that as strength. Instead, we are attacked for it. We don't become the school administrators that can affect change because we love to be in the classrooms. We don't run the Department of Social Services because we are too busy helping foster kids. We don't own the construction companies that can build environmentally responsible communities because we are busy being good carpenters so people have a reliable house to live in. But some of this needs to change.

I do not have the answers, but there is a need for those of us on the left to engage the right at their own game, and then turn the game into our own. Maybe it begins with responding to the ignorant people who reply to articles in the newspaper. Maybe it means creating more progressive blogs and websites. Maybe it means bringing intelligent speakers to high school and college campuses. Maybe the problem is so big that we, as a whole, just need to begin somewhere. Even this blog has only a few followers, so how are the ideas supposed to be passed along when you read this and say to yourself, "Huh, he's got a point," and then close the tab until next time?

We can be both an intellectual and a critical force. Zack de la Rocha said, "Its got to start some place. Its got to start somehow. What better place than here? What better time than now?" I think he's got a good point.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


estas sombras salvajes
me chiflan desde lejos
desde alla
mas alla
por donde viven fantasmas
e ideas
y filosofia
y piel
y hueso colorado
sangre mezclada
descansando en charquitos
en el piso
donde pegan los tacones
y arrastran las plantas bailadores
al ritmo de la banda
amantes se abrazan debajo una luna llena
que brilla ojos danosos
labios mojados y hambrientos
almas arrimadas a una barra
un trago de tequila en mano
suspiran un brindis
caen lagrimas adentro
y gritan a los cuatro vientos
chiflan a los perdidos
como yo
parado en el horizonte
nada mas que un estranjero
pero me saludan
desde alla
mas alla
estas imagenes
estas sombras
estas memorias
frias como fiero
balanceadas como una navaja
me llaman
a mi

Friday, October 8, 2010

friends can do that

Last night I was chilling with my friend Ivan that I haven't seen in quite a while. After an hour or so of casual conversation we get into politics. Ivan's a smart guy and we can have meaningless conversation and meaningful conversations, and last night he helped put me in my place. That's what a real friend can do. After talking religion and politics and sharing how outraged I get at complete ignorance, and how I become even more outraged at people who willingly spread ignorance he said, "Hold on a minute. I agree with you. I've tried to fight it, too; but maybe you're doing yourself more harm than good." Then he makes the obvious connection between my insomnia and how often I become engaged in debates with the people I refer to a the fucking willing ignorants of the world. "See," he said, "I agree with you, but I can see how riled up you get." Connection. Bingo. Fuck.
I like politics and I like debating issues. I think it keeps me mentally sharp and forces me to look more deeply at contemporary problems of our time. It also makes me fucking crazy when I start connecting too many of the dots. Maybe he's right. Maybe I should relax a little bit. Maybe I just need some time preaching to the choir so I don't always feel like I'm going into battle. We'll see.
At least I have a friend who knows me well enough to tell me the truth. That's more important than politics.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've been reading things from the Skeptic, Richard Dawkins, and Noam Chomsky and all of a sudden something hits me. It so simple. So obvious. I've known it all along but it has finally come to a head like a zit on a 15 year old face. Kablam! And I said it aloud, "Trust Me are two of the most dangerous words known to mankind."
You see there's a big difference between trust and proof and a lot of people get sucked in by the whole "trust me" scheme. I'm not just talking teen pregnancy here, I'm talking everyday ordinary things that we base our lives upon.
Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The interesting thing about intelligence is that you need to engage in intelligent activities like reading or visiting meaningful places. Even more important is that you need to go beyond the surface facts and you need to explore over in the corners. Sometimes you need to walk into a bookstore and pick the book that repulses you the most. We need to consider the ugly truths as well as the beautiful ones. Possibly the most important act on the road to intelligence is learning everything you possibly can from as many points of view as possible. You can learn a lot by listening to another side of an argument, and then another, and then another, and then another. Before you know it, you have gained invaluable insight while everyone else was busy talking. Eventually, that insight will transform into the tools necessary to make informed decisions. They might even make you a few friends; however, he sad reality is that it will probably make you more enemies.

Oh, Those Silly Conservatives

I've been engaged in an interesting debate through email with, who I believe are a group of conservatives. I was sent an unsolicited email about the proposed Islamic center in New York so I responded. Thankfully, that has led to an even wider debate. The problem is that a response I received the other day was so full of. No actually it was empty of anything that even resembled a logic or rational thought process that it is going to take a series of responses to address this person's interesting point of view.

Here is my response to the first part of the email. I removed the person's actual name as well as any of the other recipients.

Thank you for the response. We obviously have two very different points of view on the matter. I will need to respond to you with a series of emails if I have the time because there seems to be a lot that needs to be explained to you.

It is really too bad that you don't understand liberalism. Let me explain a few things. Liberals generally support the critical analysis of topics, whatever they might be. Not only do liberals enjoy the intellectual exploration of topics, we also like to explore them from a number of points of view. This whole issue with the Islamic center is a great example. You, and probably many of your peers, believe that building an Islamic center two blocks from the former World Trade Center site is wrong. You have your reasons, and apparently they are anti-Islamic reasons, otherwise you would also be supporting demonstrations against the porn shops and liquor stores nearby. You also have your reasons for being ant-Islamic, and I don't want to speculate on the basis for those beliefs but your comments about Sharia law might have something to do with it.

I am sure you are also well aware that the United States has been involved with conflicts in the Muslim world for decades based on our country's economic and political desires. Therefore, you are probably well aware that people in those countries have wanted the US out of their own soverign lands for as long as we have been meddling in their affairs. Our citizens and military have been attacked a number of times in the previous decades, so it should come as no surprise that we were finally attacked on US soil. I'm sure the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon enfuriated you like it did me, but we have had different responses.

I am interested in the root of the conflict, which usually begins and ends with who gained the most monetarily. Those people are probably still making money from our current wars. I am just as angry at them because their greed caused us to be attacked. The other people to look at are those who gained ideologically. Our government has taken great steps to throw the Middle East into chaos, so politically we already won. Now there are American friendly leaders in places that once resisted us, but who is benefitting? Not the average person. We have been living in a state of perpetual fear for nine years. We have even given up some of our individual rights. The average American gained nothing so far. Finally, we need to look at who really wants war with the world's Muslims. Those who want war, and have always wanted war with the Muslims are definitely to blame. Every single person who supported armed conflict in Islamic countries is part of the problem. Everyone who supports prejudicial acts against Muslims in America is part of the problem because they don't want to be part of the solution. I'm not so happy with those folk either.

So a liberal considers things like that before making blanket statements about a billion of the world's people. Radical Muslims would ask questions about their own society and look for ways to fix it because radicals are generally rather intellectual, so violence is a last resort. Radicals look for real answers regardless of their theological leanings. Liberation theology did the same thing during the Cold War.

Maybe you should start considering a few things, too. So, I have a few questions for you and others to explore. First, have you actually read the Quran enough to understand the context of Islam's beliefs? Second, how many Muslims do you know personally, and what have they taught you about their religion? Third, have you taken the time to compare Sharia law and Levitican law? If you are a Christian, do you live your life according to Levitican law as stated in the Bible? If not, then why do you believe that all Muslims want to enforce Sharia law here? Have you taken the time to look into some of the history of the conflict between the US and Muslims?

I'm not trying to change your mind, I'm just trying to help you understand the liberal-radical thought process. If you can't understand why I am proud to be an intelligent, thinking person then you need to ask yourself why you don't believe that thinking is something to be proud of. Ignorance is the real hogwash.


You say of yourself, "I am a RADICAL. I am a leftist." Your proud declaration is inexplicable to me. Also inexplicable is your statement that, "Radical Islam would be working for things like equity in education, women's rights, freedom of expression, communality, and critiacal and analytical understanding to support more intelligent communication between divergent groups." Pure hogwash! You said, "Muslims are not the enemy," but radical Islamic terrorists are. Their guiding document, the koran, offers the infidel two choices, convert or die. You have aligned yourself with throat cutters and haters. Yet the 1st amendment of the Constitution guarantees your right of free speech, whereby you are certainly entitled to your opinion, everyone has them.

Your patronizing sadness smacks of superiority, but exposes ignorance, not an informed opinion. I read the signs too! Anger is not hate. Most signs were expressions of informed opinions, not nonsensical hatred as you suppose. "Sensitivity goes both ways. If you really care, build it elsewhere." That's not hateful. Some signs were statements of fact, "Imam Feisal’s Cordoba House mosque will demand sharia law.” Facts are not hateful. Imam Feisal said, "The only law that the Muslim needs exists already in the Koran and the Hadith.” For the full story and other "beauties" of his beliefs go here: What law of the Constitution did these demonstrators violate?

You speak with contempt of Christian love and pervert its meaning. Loving someone does not mean lying down without a whimper as they cut your throat for their beliefs. Jesus voluntarily laid down His life as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, but He didn't do it until His time had come. That is love! Laying down your life for another is Love. We will not lay down our lives simply to be butchered, as you seem to suggest. We will fight, as we should.

You are right you are a radical, you are a leftist, not terms of endearment I would want applied to me. I truly am sad for you because of your ignorance on the these vitally important issues of our time. If you truly want to be informed, please read the Constitution, please learn what sharia law really is, and most importantly please read the Holy Bible, which is the Word of God, which is truth, which contains the words of life, true spiritual life.

I will not lay down to sharia law, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Waving flags is as patriotic as doing jumping jacks. Each is an exersize, but neither one proves that you know anything about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, American history, or even the American present. In order to know these things, one must become exposed to the complexities of the American Experience.

Next time someone wants to wave a flag with the intention of presenting some false sense of superiority over anyone, then please ask them a few things:

1. Who were the Puritans? And in a time of such conservatism in England, why were they considered such nutjobs that they were unwelcomed in their own home? Why did the Dutch, a quite liberal society, later ask them to leave, also? Why, after returning to England, did the Puritans leave again? What are ten core beliefs of the Puritans that made so many people weary of them?

2. Quick, name ten nations that already exsisted before any Europeans arrived in what is now the contemporary United States . What forms of government did they practice? How did they sustain themselves generation after generation? Who did they trade with?

3. How many indigenous people died before 1700 as a direct result of contact with Europeans? What was the primary killing agent? If Hitler and Stalin were so bad, why aren't we taught about this in school?

4. Most likely, many of our Founding Fathers read The Magna Carta, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Adam Smith. Those are just some of the basics. Have you read them? If not, be careful what you say about the intentions of the Founding Fathers.

5. In many ways, those who began the American Revolution and became leaders in it were essentially middle and upper-class white males who didn't want anyone in a position of power telling them what to do. They stirred the anger of those in lower positions in society to support a fight for independence without regard to anyone who was non-white, poor, or a non-English speaker. Compare and contrast some of today's political movements.

6. How long did it take to write the Constitution? How many drafts were written before it was finalized? Who were some of the most outspoken opponents of the Consitution and why? How did their views differ from the mainstream authors?

7. Name everyone who signed the consitution and tell at least five politically relevant facts about each one. Who are some of the most important Founding Fathers who never lived to see the Constitution written? What did they believe and how did they put those beliefs into practice?

Next time someone invokes the Founding Fathers or the somehow implies that he knows so much about the soul of America, ask him just one of these questions. Then you can inform him that he doesn't know as much as he thinks, and politely ask him to shut the fuck up.

Profe Cheno

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Phaedrus

This is the home of my Phaedrus. He has a different name, but this is his home.
This is Cheno's home. This is Cheno's brain. These are his ghosts. His demons.
This is his home.

Ignorance About America

Below is my response to a very troublesome email I received recently. The email that was sent to me is below my response.

Sorry that the pictures don't show, but I don't know how to make them present.

Thanks for sending this. I found it very informative on a number of

First, I am very glad to see that, despite so many challenges in our
education system, an overwhelming majority still grasp the Constitution
and the Bill of Rights. With the population of the greater New York City
metropolitan area at over 19,000,000 people and the U.S. population at
over 300,000,000 people, those 10,000 demonstrators represent on one
half of one thousandth of a percent of the NYC population, and one third
on one millionth of a percent of the total US population. I sure am glad
that so few people in our country are that ignorant of the founding
principles of our country. People have the right to be angry and lash
out. They even have the right to blantantly disregard the Constitution,
its just sad that people consciously choose to be this way.

Another thing I would like to clear up, and please feel free to pass
this along to everyone, is that Radical Islam would be progressive and
liberal. Radical Islam would be working for things like equity in
education, women's rights, freedom of expression, communality, and
critiacal and analytical understanding to support more intelligent
communication between divergent groups. I am a RADICAL. I am a leftist.
I a person who knows the difference between radicals and reactionaries.
I am a radical, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are reactionaries.
Reactionaries are conservatives. These reactionary forces in Islam are
no different from the reactionaries in Judiaism or Christianity.

Actually, Islam is one of the three Abrahamic faiths (Judiaism and
Christianity are the other two) in the world. Their God is your God in a
different language and it has some additional books that neither Jews
nor Christians accept. Again, it is so sad that people do not understand
the difference between radical liberals and reactionary conservatives.
While on the topic of vocabulary, and therefore ability to comprehend
what is written or spoken, I believe that this will be a thirteen story
Islamic center that will also include a prayer room. That is something
very different from a thirteen story mosque. One should be able to both
hear and read the truth when it comes to real-world issues such as this,
especially when a group of people advocates violating the U.S.
Constitution. What's even worse is when people choose to disseminate
incorrect information with the intention of defaming a group of fellow
Americans and purposefully restricting their inaliable right.

Finally, although the email stresses how people from all walks of life
came together I sure didn't see that in the pictures. I saw an
overwhelming number of whites, and little else. I would even go so far
as to say that the three African-American police officers were most
likely on duty, so I have to question the validity of including them
with the protesters. I did see a lot of hate written on signs that
people were carrying, but I'm not exactly sure how hatred and anger
equal diversity. There were some Jews for sure, but I wonder where the
Christians were. Since, according to 1 Corinthians 12:20-26, Christians
are taught that there are many members of the body and that even though
various members have their differences, all are part of the same body,
the same grace of God. Later in 1 Ch 13 it goes on to state how God is
love, and love, and love. So where is the love here? Were there there no
real Christians at this event? I guess it would seems so. They must have
stayed home with the Buddhists and those who respect our Constitution.

We are probably at opposite ends of this issue, but I have stood silent
long enough and watched people trample on our nation because they are so
filled with hatred and fear, and so empty with ignorance that I will no
longer be silent. Muslims are not the enemy. Ignorance, fear, hatred,
nationalism, nativism, the belief in self-righteousness and superiority,
and close-mindedness are the enemy. Those are things I work diligently
to correct everyday.

I am becoming quite troubled by the number of people who's souls are filled with hatred, fear, and anger; and who's minds are so empty with ignorance. I find it insulting that you would categorize me as one of these hate-filled people who is so ignorant of what it means be American.


Here is the email I recieved:
> *Did** anybody see this on any of the major networks? I* *didn't*.
> * ( PLEASE go to full screen )*
> *Part II*
> *June 16, 2010, New York , N.Y. , by El Marco*
> *Americans Stand Up Against Radical Islam in New York. We Will Not
> Submit!
> *
> *Not one major network sent a satellite truck or camera crew to this
> event.
> Without bloggers this newsworthy event would have remained unknown to
> the
> public and history*
> *On Sunday, June 6th, a multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition of
> Americans
> opposed to Islamic violence and intolerance rallied at the site of the
> World
> Trade Center in New York City.*
> [image:
> -nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XETOXC3oi5rT7cY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJy
> s_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSknPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd4
> 0izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedECQT3qrxEVphppjdQRIGzN_W]> com/redir/?kNRXLccLCQT3hOOyM_sS02fHkHa17pP9-vXI-nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XET
> OXC3oi5rT7cY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSk
> nPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd40izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedEC
> QT3qrxEVphppjdQRIGzN_W>
> *9/11 families were joined by immigrants from India, Russia, Egypt,
> Israel,
> Africa, Iran and Europe to show opposition to the construction of a
> mega-mosque at Ground Zero. Others flew in from overseas to speak or
> just
> to share their particular ethnic communities experiences at the hands
> of
> Muslims.*
> [image:
> -nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XETOXC3oi5rFEFY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJy
> s_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSknPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd4
> 0izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedFCQT3qrxEVphppjd-TtJ6jyo]> com/redir/?kNRXLccLCQT3hOOyM_sS02fHkHa17pP9-vXI-nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XET
> OXC3oi5rFEFY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSk
> nPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd40izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedFC
> QT3qrxEVphppjd-TtJ6jyo>
> *These are parents and spouses of firefighters killed on 9/11. The
> rally
> took place just a minutes walk from Ladder 10 Firehouse, where their
> loved
> ones were stationed for duty that terrible day. Ladder 10 lost seven
> firefighters.*
> [image:
> -nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XETOXC3oi5rFL9Y8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJy
> s_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSknPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd4
> 0izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedICQT3qrxEVphppjdW8CoTpOi]> com/redir/?kNRXLccLCQT3hOOyM_sS02fHkHa17pP9-vXI-nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XET
> OXC3oi5rFL9Y8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSk
> nPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd40izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedIC
> QT3qrxEVphppjdW8CoTpOi>
> *Crowd estimates ranged from 5,000 (NYPD) to 10,000. The crowd
> overflowed
> the police barrier enclosures that ran the full length of two city
> blocks.
> This photo shows the enclosure in front of the stage at the
> intersection of
> Liberty and Church Streets. The second enclosure ran the length of
> the next
> block and can be seen on the other side of the traffic lights.*
> [image:
> fBYcb5XlxfUjNJo-KEkNeWdYKVwS4xmWdPhPMyIhdTVOXVEVKeppvsdTdCfwwmWByszQ36
> S9P-8amzmstc-va5KndIL8TphvdEFzxPObUUQsLCSnPob6Azh09v2Bo-wq80J6I_FcQgrc
> Qg1admU86y02vzkTfM-u0USMrjsdFK6zBB5BBcT5pk6KVAEEBo]>
> kNeWdYKVwS4xmWdPhPMyIhdTVOXVEVKeppvsdTdCfwwmWByszQ36S9P-8amzmstc-va5Kn
> dIL8TphvdEFzxPObUUQsLCSnPob6Azh09v2Bo-wq80J6I_FcQgrcQg1admU86y02vzkTfM
> -u0USMrjsdFK6zBB5BBcT5pk6KVAEEBo>
> *Thousands of additional participants filled the treed area of
> Zuccotti Park
> *
> *.*
> [image:
> DO-65yZGMDY9USIvnkaoDt6-nsMr2gHt5ZYkUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1z
> r4V_45bhHeeCvfB2TbCSnArIELCQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dC
> q80B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0srvdFK6QT3hOOyOOCrrfsuPPu8Vgwe]>
> kaoDt6-nsMr2gHt5ZYkUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr4V_45bhHeeCvfB2T
> bCSnArIELCQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dCq80B6Hs43h01fNGrD
> Uvf0srvdFK6QT3hOOyOOCrrfsuPPu8Vgwe>
> *Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller are the founders of STOP
> AMERICA, which sponsored the rally. Ms. Geller is a citizen
> journalist and
> blogger who runs the human rights web site Atlas
> Shrugs> mOd4XTLQOOTHqxO-rc_q2J2smOdcdTVOXVEVKeppvsdTdCfwwmWByszQ36S9P-8amzmstc-va5KndIL8TphvdEFzxPObUUQsLCSnPob6Azh09v2Bo-wq80J6I_FcQgrcQg1admU86y02vzkTfM-u0USUrjsdFK6zBB5BBcTzF9Z4h3216V>.
> Mr. Spencer is the author of several books on Islam and head of the
> influential web site Jihad
> watch> . *
> *Pamela Geller:*
> *Ground Zero is a war memorial, Ground Zero is a burial ground. We
> are
> asking for sensitivity. It is unconscionable to build a shrine to the
> very
> ideology that inspired the jihadist attacks at Ground Zero, right
> there. We
> are asking the imam Rauf and Daisy Khan to be sensitive. For mutual
> respect
> and mutual understanding that is demanded of us every day.*
> *There is a hair-trigger sensitivity in the Muslim world, you can't
> run the
> cartoons, you can't say Mohammed, this is offensive. This is an
> offensive
> mosque. To build a shrine, an Islamic flag of conquest on the sacred
> ground
> the cherished site, of a conquered land. This is historic, this is
> Islamic
> history. It's what they do. The St. Sofia in Turkey, the al-Quds, at
> the
> holiest Jewish site in Israel. Not here. This is where we take a
> stand.
> We must take a stand. We must say no.*
> *I do not believe that the landmarks commission controlled by Mayor
> Bloomberg, is going to stop this mosque. It's not going to happen.
> Here's Omar Muhamedi, on his human rights council, a CAIR lawyer, who
> sued the
> airlines and the Jane and John Does that saw something and said
> something
> <>on
> those airplanes, if you remember. That's who's on his human rights
> commission. It ain't gonna happen with Bloomberg. We have to make it
> happen. You have to get involved.(Pamela Geller) *
> [image:
> YLxxoLqI9_2udH7RR2C9ThLBTc6MAaThvvpUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr
> 4V_45bhHeeCvfB2TbCSnArIELCQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dCq
> 80B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0srd79JdMSCUqemkmmkPvT8oeWcT]>
> hLBTc6MAaThvvpUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr4V_45bhHeeCvfB2TbCSnA
> rIELCQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dCq80B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0s
> rd79JdMSCUqemkmmkPvT8oeWcT>
> *Police enclosure on left, with crowd flowing out of park on right.
> The new
> Tower 7 and World Trade Center site are in the background. The green
> tent,
> center, is located immediately behind the stage.*
> [image:
> vbUombSH2vMDzqNZtgFytQrVtP1I92JQQrY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJy
> s_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSknPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd4
> 0izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedETdFK6QT3hOOyOOCrVyxJOIcO]> .com/redir/?aoWZTC6nPqrxEVphovKr017RGlB0zIVA_fZSvbUombSH2vMDzqNZtgFytQ
> rVtP1I92JQQrY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdS
> knPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd40izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedE
> *Port Authority and NYPD officers kept watch over the rally and were
> well
> aware of the need for heightened security at this event. One of their
> own Port Authority officers, WTC Sergeant Alan T. De Vona was on duty
> at the
> World Trade Center on 9/11, 2001, and was one of the first to help
> victims
> of the terrorist attack. He spoke these words to the SIOA rally:*
> *It's almost nine years. I'm hoping that America is watching. I'm
> hoping
> that America is remembering. Because, make no mistake. September 11
> was an
> act of war. And thank the military that has lost almost 5,000 troops
> from
> that day, defending us. I don't know what to say to jar America's
> memory.
> I want America to remember.*
> [image:
> fBYcb5XlxfUjNJo-KEkNeWdYKVwS4xmZSkku4ly9K_envd7dNPbbXxKVINY42TkIjAuwoS
> NevN1iQqPzFDPVgJOVJBV6XabVJ5cseuhv76zBYSO-r1oQAq81bUkH7Q3h05ERDZ9Cy3pC
> y09hGT10Qg0jYqCV-7PM76QkjqrxJdMQsIEIIFCZQni8_LaSqYy]>
> EkNeWdYKVwS4xmZSkku4ly9K_envd7dNPbbXxKVINY42TkIjAuwoSNevN1iQqPzFDPVgJO
> VJBV6XabVJ5cseuhv76zBYSO-r1oQAq81bUkH7Q3h05ERDZ9Cy3pCy09hGT10Qg0jYqCV-
> 7PM76QkjqrxJdMQsIEIIFCZQni8_LaSqYy>
> *Port Authority Police and FDNY firefighters are seen here gathered
> beneath
> this banner.*
> [image:
> vbUombSH2vMDzqNZtgFytQrVtP1I92JQXTUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr4
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> 0B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0srhjdFK6QT3hOOyOOCrgpxtvqzS]> .com/redir/?aoWZTC6nPqrxEVphovKr017RGlB0zIVA_fZSvbUombSH2vMDzqNZtgFytQ
> rVtP1I92JQXTUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr4V_45bhHeeCvfB2TbCSnArI
> ELCQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dCq80B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0srh
> jdFK6QT3hOOyOOCrgpxtvqzS>
> *The issues at stake will certainly affect the heart of American
> freedom,
> democracy, cultural values and tolerance. America is a tolerant
> country
> that allows for the free worship of all its citizens. But our
> tolerance has
> limits. Do we have to tolerate intolerant Islamic ideology and
> Muslims who
> preach intolerant Islam?*
> [image:
> fBYcb5XlxfUjNJo-KEkNeWdYKVwS4xmZNPav2aN4TvDbLCzCUVBBZMTsSo-21rGm9Ofgcr
> oDfUwFqdpNQPVYEmVsSOYztB5YSyCe7f8LzzhO-rpvdwIqid40BYalzW1Ew2QqP-APh1IP
> h04ERrwwq809-djs_3VU3zqb9JdMSCUqemkmmkPrKWAU39e]>
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> zqb9JdMSCUqemkmmkPrKWAU39e>
> *Hindu human rights activists Narain Kataria, Prasad Yalamanchi and
> unidentified friend came from Mississippi and Chicago with banners and
> flyers highlighting the radical statements of imam Rauf and his
> jihadist
> roots.*
> [image:
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> [image:
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> [image:
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> [image:
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> [image:
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> [image:
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> [image:
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> -nsMr2gHt5cQsEY8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbO
> dSknPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd40izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwe
> dFECQT3qrxEVphppjdRFGy>
> [image:
> YLxxoLqI9_2udH7RR2C9ThLBTc6MAaThKy7Y8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJ
> ys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbOdSknPqaoUsYy-ed7bVJBYS2NF8Qg2nMFmfE6y0bhHfWjd46Pd
> 40izlK21Ew0DURdPYfDwedFFCQT3qrxEVphppjdClr_xckr]>
> hLBTc6MAaThKy7Y8H4jt-sK-qerzCmnT3tPpzU85KFoD8Z0NJys_y2BERD7jfDOxrBPrbO
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> dFFCQT3qrxEVphppjdClr_xckr>
> *Stephen Dyer and Gary Jules journalism students at York College, with
> Pamela Geller. **NOT** **ONE** major network sent a satellite truck
> or camera crew to this event. Without bloggers this newsworthy event
> would
> have remained unknown to the public and history.*
> [image:
> fBYcb5XlxfUjNJo-KEkNeWdYKVwS4xmZT7K4ly9K_envd7dNPbbXxKVINY42TkIjAuwoSN
> evN1iQqPzFDPVgJOVJBV6XabVJ5cseuhv76zBYSO-r1oQAq81bUkH7Q3h05ERDZ9Cy3pCy
> 09hGT10Qg0jYqCV-7PM76QSjqrxJdMQsIEIIFCS2JW-5jn]> .com/redir/?5ctuXP3bVJdMQsIEIfTdw0zWRaOwhSsOvD-XfBYcb5XlxfUjNJo-KEkNeW
> dYKVwS4xmZT7K4ly9K_envd7dNPbbXxKVINY42TkIjAuwoSNevN1iQqPzFDPVgJOVJBV6X
> abVJ5cseuhv76zBYSO-r1oQAq81bUkH7Q3h05ERDZ9Cy3pCy09hGT10Qg0jYqCV-7PM76Q
> SjqrxJdMQsIEIIFCS2JW-5jn>
> *Pamela Geller is greeted by Hindu human rights activists Prasad
> Yalamanchi
> and Narain Kataria.*
> [image:
> DO-65yZGMDY9USIvnkaoDt6-nsMr2gHt5Vzx5oyrLPBTPhPssOO-UrKrcv10JRb4V7E6dI
> jDYgkJ6IUWpY-kbsKrpuhKOy-rhj73DAnNNEVvdILCMmd96y0i-5aNZ0Qg1qdp_ipEwSpE
> w2kqJMgd404_6FKvxYY1NJdwSCUrjsd7babbapKx4Eos3gP0kB]>
> aoDt6-nsMr2gHt5Vzx5oyrLPBTPhPssOO-UrKrcv10JRb4V7E6dIjDYgkJ6IUWpY-kbsKr
> puhKOy-rhj73DAnNNEVvdILCMmd96y0i-5aNZ0Qg1qdp_ipEwSpEw2kqJMgd404_6FKvxY
> Y1NJdwSCUrjsd7babbapKx4Eos3gP0kB>
> *Bhupinder Singh Bhurji, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer. Singh
> Bhurji is
> the president of the NAMDHARI SIKH FOUNDATION. The foundation is a
> member
> of the Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (HRCARI). HRCARI
> is a
> coalition of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians from Sudan, Egypt and Iraq,
> moderate
> Muslims and Jews' who are victims and targets of radical Islam around
> the
> globe.*
> *He said, at another rally:*
> *Radical Islamists are killing people in India, trying to dominate
> that
> nation. And here too they come with violence against infidels. We
> are
> infidels united, standing together, brown, black and white, against
> this
> epoch's fascist movement. Radical Islam wants to dominate entire
> world.
> They want everyone to surrender. Islam radical or otherwise.* * *
> *They want to put the Islamic flag on White House.*
> [image:
> -nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XETOXC3oi5rFTvhUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr
> 4V_45bhHeeCvfB2TbCSnArIELCQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dCq
> 80B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0srjvdFK6QT3hOOyOOCr2c15]> m/redir/?kNRXLccLCQT3hOOyM_sS02fHkHa17pP9-vXI-nMMInJm4_xf6RzWWxj4XETOX
> C3oi5rFTvhUhm8CXYVtYQsT7cILK6XCP7MgbtiNehW1zr4V_45bhHeeCvfB2TbCSnArIEL
> CQkNMVV5YsqenPrbVI5zihEw4LxiIvgd40mzmvQCq8dCq80B6Hs43h01fNGrDUvf0srjvd
> FK6QT3hOOyOOCr2c15>
> *Because of Islamic terrorism, America and the world have seen massive
> new
> security measures become a way of life. Anyone openly critical of
> Islam, or
> terrorist ideology, must surround themselves with security, or live in
> hiding. Those courageous enough to confront Islamism are criticized
> by the
> cowards and appeasers of the left who seek safety by supporting the
> enemy.
> Moderate Muslims were silent when Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered
> in
> Amsterdam, just as moderate Muslims in the United States are generally
> reluctant to speak out against violent Islam. Moderate Muslims also
> face
> great danger in speaking out.*
> *Geller and Spencer will press on despite the danger. They hope to
> inspire
> Americans to stand up and say enough of political correctness and work
> to
> stem the galloping islamization of America and Europe .*
> [image:
> PVv32NuRoj-4YrmfHG5cjKzvbKodx8lLt-_2aN4TvDbLCzCUVBBZMTsSo-21rGm9Ofgcro
> DfUwFqdpNQPVYEmVsSOYztB5YSyCe7f8LzzhO-rpvdwIqid40BYalzW1Ew2QqP-APh1IPh
> 04ERrwwq809-djs_3VU3zqrxJdMSCUqemkmmkPuRcooZYpFn3p]>
> 5cjKzvbKodx8lLt-_2aN4TvDbLCzCUVBBZMTsSo-21rGm9OfgcroDfUwFqdpNQPVYEmVsS
> OYztB5YSyCe7f8LzzhO-rpvdwIqid40BYalzW1Ew2QqP-APh1IPh04ERrwwq809-djs_3V
> U3zqrxJdMSCUqemkmmkPuRcooZYpFn3p>
> *Have you seen anything about this story on the evening news? * *Of
> course you haven't!** So please forward this email to all * *you know
> who feel the way you and I do about this country . *
> * Thank you,*

Sunday, September 5, 2010

the liberal media is a myth

There are those among us who still believe in the existence of the Liberal Media, as though it is some giant monster fighting to feast upon the soul of America. Yet, all one really needs to do is look at and listen to the everyday media that millions of our citizens devour to realize that liberals, progressives, leftists, or whatever label you want to give, simply does not exist. Of course we cannot discount newspaper layouts and the order in which news is presented all day and night, but very little of it is news that is tantalizing to liberals.

For the sake of argument we should consider some issues that liberals might find interesting enough to examine on an ongoing basis and flood the American psyche until it becomes reality. Keep in mind, there is no large media outlet for the following stories, essentially debunking the liberal media myth.

Issue 1: There is no credible evidence that the world is going to end on Dec 12, 2012. Religious leaders have been using this End Days philosophy to control people for a long, long time. Do liberals believe in this? Not so much because there is no credible evidence to support it. Which leads to:

Issue 2: Humanity is overwhelmingly good; and not because of governments, gods, or billionaires. Humanity is a species of survivors, and in order to survive we need to cooperate. Its simple sociological truth: the more we help each other, the more comfortably we survive. Where are the articles about good people doing good things for people they might not have ever met. Cooperation is a dangerous idea.

Issue 3: In the arena of politics, there are usually more than two people running for office. In a world of liberal media, all candidates would be given equal access to the press, even the most extreme ideogogues might have something valuable to say. It would also open up a forum for honest debate if the electorate was shown multiple views on different topics.

Issue 4: A liberal media would do everything in its power to bring to light the shady dealings that brought about and keep us in a state of ongoing war in the middle east. There might be some articles about how Cheney and his buddies essentially constructed the war and then gave out government contract to even more of their friends. Follow the money, right? Plus, there must be something to do with oil, perhaps. So on to

Issue 5: A liberal media would constantly advocate for renewable energy sources and present feasible and responsible ways of constructing and maintaining these energy sources and still minimize the disruption to any flora and fauna in its path. Or it would look at large scale ways of recycling that might produce clean natural gas for vehicles, or ways to build neighborhoods that cut down on automobile travel.

Issue 6: As a liberal media outlet would connect with environmental issues, it would also address the living conditions of many people. The homeless, the inner-city poor, war veterans, and indigenous communities would likely be topics of discussion in a liberal newspaper. Self-determination would probably be a topic, even in small ways like growing food for you and your community. Plant more fruit trees in our yards and share the excess with those who need it the most.

Issue 7: It also only seems appropriate that liberal media would be fighting for what is best for the children in our schools. Information would be given that considers how and why students learn best, as opposed to how much money programs cost and what test scores do (n't) tell communities. It might consider the long-term sociologial effects of those who are taught to bank information vs. those who learn to analytically engage with information.

And these are ideas being hacked out at 1am during a bout with insomnia. This isn't even taking the idea very far. Who is dealing with these issues to the point that they are commonplace in our news outlets? The big three networks don't do it. The large newspapers don't do it. There is no media machine in the United States as powerful as the one created by conservatives. Liberals don't own the media, conservatives do, but they don't want anyone to know it because then they admit to being their own enemy. Maybe very few people care, but some of us do. That's for sure.

Next time someone blames the liberal media, ask for some proof that it actually exists. I bet they won't be able to do it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where's the Creativity

There has been movement for decades to seriously restrict our students' ability to interact creatively. It began when districts began cutting art and music from our schools. No more band or choir. No more learning how to play the recorder or how to keep time on a drum. No more making mom a crude piece of ceramic pottery that she will treasure forever because it came from her child's hand and imagination. How sad. Even taking a social and historical perspective, how do we teach children all the words to America the Beautiful or teach them songs that are relevant to the diverse cultural building of our nation? How do we teach the importance of songs that tell the history of millions of people who otherwise never make it into our textbooks? Who is responsible for teaching the value of interesting visual composition? Is there a school out there who can teach why we, as a species, have created murals from Lascaux to last night's graffiti? Maybe politicians have been restricting the arts because artists are somehow dangerous, but they have also put serious cuts into home economics classes, auto and wood shop, and physical education. Why shouldn't we know how to cook, change our oil, or play kick ball? The answer is often that there is not enough money and besides, we need to help our children pass the high stakes tests. Now, we are one step further away from creating well-rounded students as some districts are choosing to chop literature from our English classes.

Of course, we do need to improve our ability to read, interpret, and respond to non-fiction writing, but not at the expense of millions of pages of important literature. Getting rid of literature from the curriculum is not the solution for helping students become better writers, but having students read and intelligently respond to themes found in all types of writing will. And that isn't all, students also need to create their own pieces of fiction and non-fiction texts. Those of us involved in education know that according to Bloom's Taxonomy, being able to find information in a text is lower level thinking. On the other hand, being able to connect ideas found in both literary and expository tests, understand the relationship between both texts, and eventually create an entirely new text based on what was previously read, is a form of higher thinking. Simply sticking to non-fictions texts such as newspaper articles and informational essays is no better than restricting students to the study of poetry, novels, drama, or short stories. However, one important responsibility of all teachers is to be scholarly enough to expose students to creative texts and the informational texts that help support these works. It is equally important for students to understand how creative texts are also a response to very real issues in our world. One effectively cannot read Ellison's Invisible Man or Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God without understanding pre-Civil Rights America in the 20th century; and we can learn about the context of those novels through non-fiction texts. Although we can also read the non-fiction texts without the novels, students lose a valuable component when they are not afforded the perspective of the characters in those novels. Imagine the ideas that students will never be exposed to if they are never exposed to the voices of literature.

Many of the texts to be excluded are also the voices of those who are left out of our general curriculum. History classes do not teach us slave narratives, indigenous creation stories, corridos, or the stories of the poor and disenfranchised, but we have their narratives to add new dimensions to our understanding of American history. The same is true of world history. Numerous cultures have flood stories, Cinderella stories, and morality tales that humanize people across the globe that are nothing more than abstract ideas to children sitting in desks. This humanizing factor also creates empathy and sense of common understanding, and on higher levels students can trace how these stories spread from one place to the other over time through commerce and conquest; or they can consider how similar themes are central to many, if not all, sustainable civilizations. It is ridiculous to remove these from our schools.

If anything, we should be exploring a more integrated way of presenting fiction and non-fiction texts together. Although it would be difficult at first, imagine what students could learn from reading Isabel Allende while also learning about Salvador Allende, the US induced coup on Sept. 11, 1973, how the coup changed Isabel Allende's life forever, and how those changes influence her writing. Students might even come to see the irony of the 1973 coup and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The same could be done for Walt Whitman. We could look at his romantic view of an emerging nation, the myth of American rugged individuality, and study homosexuality in 19th century America. We could study Sherman Alexie and the lives of those we call "Indians" and look at the reality of life on the reservation and what happens when one leaves the reservation. We might even be inspired to look at the lives of local tribes such as the Kumayaay, so they are actually seen as a real part of our community. How strange that would be. And still, this does not even take into consideration the large community of Chicano and Puerto Rican writers.

When we begin to look at Chicano and Puerto Rican writers we also have the chance to look at Manifest Destiny, the relationship between identity and national origin, how the government officially categorized brown people from south of its borders, and offers a myriad of views into economics, conquest, and immigration. Starting with Americo Paredes, we are offered a very different view of the American West than that told in popular American culture. As students continue through the Chicano canon, they will undoubtedly encounter Santiago Baca, Acosta, and Luis Rodriguez. All three discuss open racism in our court systems, prison, gangs, and drugs. These authors beg for students to continue research into areas such as U.S. military operations throughout the Caribbean, and all points south of the U.S.-Mexico border to see how our own government has helped induce mass immigration from these places into the United States. Committed in the name of democracy, our government's intervention in Central America contributed to the formation of the Mara Salvatrucha 13 and the expansion of the 18th St. Gang, which built upon the Chicano cholos of the southern California barrios, and have become a near unstoppable force in organized crime. In addition, students could study the Iran-Contra hearings to learn how our government, through the CIA and military, dealt in many of the guns and drugs that flooded our streets. These are not some of Acosta's wild rantings of the 1960's and 70's, they are real parts of our history, and they add context for some of the Chicano cannon's greatest writers.

Even though Chicanos have an interesting history to look at, we cannot forget the Puerto Ricans, especially the NewYoRican writers. Piri Tomas and others are direct descendants from those who were told that they are Americans, but they are the "other" type of Americans. You get to be a citizen, but don't ask for too much. You can come to New York, but you don't speak enough English for a good yob. Students could read Pinero's Short Eyes and discuss the overwhelming problem of prison and poor youth on the East Coast. They could look at pedophilia in their own communities, consider how that effects how young males grow up, and look at how child molesters are dealt with in prison. In a larger sense, Pinero is talking about how so many people put their trust in someone or something, and are then betrayed. But life goes on, and Pinero writes about that, too. These can definitely be dangerous ideas, but not so dangerous as to get rid of literature.

Much of the literature that schools want to rid themselves of probably don't even include any of these writers. In the long-run, that ensures that millions of our students will never even be exposed to them in the first place unless they are lucky enough to make it to college. We need to find a balance that shows our students how to seriously dig into literature in ways that promote a greater sense of learning. By continuing along this path of ignorance, we only do ourselves harm by creating wider gaps between the informed and the uninformed. As this gap widens, so do other divisions, all one needs to do is watch the news to see how far we are growing apart from each other. Education is a way to narrow those gaps, but if we won't even teach the literature that tells our story, then how will anyone ever learn anything except what we are fed. It is logical enough to believe that our rebellious Founding Fathers never intended for an American public education system to become an instrument of tyranny; so it only makes sense to continue giving our students different ways of exploring the world around them, and like so many memorable things in this world, that probably begins with a good story.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Revelation and Acceptance

I was just watching a show on National Geographic about Revelation from the New Testamant and something very important occurred to me about who the people are that believe in the End of Days ideology and how they approach acceptance of Others. I don't claim to be any form of religious scholar, but I agree that religion has a profound impact upon our world, so I do try to learn what I can about different belief systems so I can have a better understanding of the world around me. Unfortunately, it seems that those Christians who believe that we are nearing the End of Days are not very tolerant of anyone who does not believe what they believe, in the way they believe it. In short, everyone who does not prescribe to their worldview, which appears to be built upon philosophy of very stark separation, are eternally damned. Whoah, slow down there Minister of Death, but that seems just a bit contradictory to the idea of love thy neighbor and turn the other cheek. What's worse is that this narrow vision of right and wrong is negatively effecting the immediate world around us by trying to force a singular point of view upon a nation that has been working for over 235 years to instill a sense of multiplicity when it comes to who we are as a nation.

As these bits of information about End of Days Theology sunk into my brain, this deep sense of division became apparent within the ranks of those who believe in some form of Christianity (not to mention any of the other Abrahamic faiths). Then, the show began explaining how the Rapture is a man-made contrivance based on the visions of a woman named, Margaret MacDonald, was spread throughout England and America by a man named John Nelson Darby, and later exploited by Cyrus Schofield who wrote the Schofield's Reference Bible. Before the 1830's Rapture-based theology was not even a regular part of Christianity; but, it was MacDonald's "vision" that was later passed-along to a new set of adherents and cleverly marketed as religious truth. There are those, however, who understand "visions" to be something altogether different. They might be dreams, delusions, schizophrenia, or just someone looking for attention from a miraculous story. For those who believe in prophesy and that God can talk to people, shouldn't the visions of all people in all faiths be accepted as truth? That would lead to too much contradiction, so it doesn't happen. But who is to say who's vision is the word of God and who's isn't? Well, it depends on who you listen to, and so few actually listen to one another. This same mind-set is also becoming a dangerous reality when it comes to creating public policy, and has become so much the norm that other voices are portrayed as treacherous or somehow un-American. However, according to the United States Constitution, those would silence alternate voices are the one who are the real traitors to the ideals of our nation.

This is also why we have the Separation Clause in the first Amendment, but these narrow-minded and self-serving groups often refer to themselves in one form or another as the "Chosen-ones", and create philosophies and ideologies to support their personal aspirations instead of looking for transcendence and bettering the world through the cultivation of a thorough and multi-faceted understanding of faith and national identity. Unfortunately, the United States is home to millions who believe in this sort of exclusivity, and so, I wonder how many of these End of Days adherents are also the driving force behind laws such as Arizona's SB1070? How many are against giving health care to everyone? How many wave their fingers and yell. "Socialist!" when we try to help our fellow humans when they need it the most? How many are against teaching more than one version of U.S. history? How many believe that English is America's official language? How many do not believe in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment? Or hide their bias against non-Evangelicals people by using the word "illegal" to describe immigrants, when what they mean is non-English speaking, middle-class, Protestant Evangelicals? How many of them believe in restricting the rights and lives of others as they see fit, instead of supporting actual freedom, such as the freedom to make your own decisions? How many of them believe they are better than everyone else? How many of them have trampled upon your life somehow?

When we look at the fight for the soul of the United States of America, maybe we should really look at who believes what, and how that influences the world we all live in. If the USA was completely in their control, I fear I wouldn't even be allowed to write this. That is not my America.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Ghosts in my Brake Pads

Sitting in the shade of the front steps, listening to Pancho talk about his tia's battle with cancer definitely stirs some emotion in my soul. He tells me about the effects of chemotherapy on her body and soul, and then balances it with the rituals she also participates in to cleanse her soul. Both take a heavy toll on her, and I can see that her demise is beginning to take a toll on Pancho. During the past 12 or 13 years that we have been friends, Pancho has become more in touch with his indigenous side through his tia by attending the danzas and temazcales she hosts in the mountains near La Rumorosa. He says that she seems to be more at peace with death these days, so maybe that is helping him a little, too; but death is a tricky thing and it always leaves ghosts, like shadows on the soul. He is in for a wild ride, and since he has help me over the past five years deal with my mother's cancer, her stroke, and eventual death, it is now time for me to do the same for him.

All I really wanted to do was get my breaks fixed. Jose had Thursday off, which he uses to help out friends with their cars, so I picked up Pancho and we headed to San Ysidro. Jose's house means beer, food, music, meeting new people, discussions about history, sociology, education, and even some some solid mechanics, but it moves at its own pace. "Can you wait a few minutes? Voy a cambiar el aceite de una amiga. Ella ya esta en camino y despues cambio tus frenos. No te preocupes, you got time. You don't pick up your kids from school until three, verdad?" "Yeah, como sea." What else am I supposed to say. Pancho points to the Tecate in his hand and I agree. As long as I'm going to be there for a few hours, i might as well have at least one beer, but at 10:30 in the morning I feel a bit like I'm back in my 20s living on Broadway with Guyo and my brother. Nostalgia is nice, and just a few days earlier I had the pulling desire for a beer at 10 in the morning, but didn't give in because there things to get done. Beer was for later. But in Sidro, with nowhere else to go, its easy to give in.

Al fin, llego la morra con totopos, ceviche, y mas cerveza. Jose wasn't going to even look at my truck for another hour, at least, so I might as well have another beer. And the conversation goes to Texas and Arizona, Mexicali, and a few steps south over the fence into Tijuana. Pinche cerca, we probably would have ended up in Dandys en la calle sexta por la Revu and never would have fixed my truck if it wasn't for that wall and all those officers and soldiers strutting around in their government issue uniforms with their guns, dogs, and laws that don't recognize the lives of everyday people here. So we stand and sit around eating ceviche and aguacate, drinking cold Tecates on a clear blue day, and things get taken apart and put back together.

Pancho works on deconstructing the past year and his tia's journey toward death and in doing so, he begins taking out pieces of his heart and lays them on the concrete next to a half empty bowl of cevice. He pokes at it a little bit and goes for another beer. I still can't touch it, and when he returns with two more beers he reaches in and pulls out chunk of his soul a little bigger than a baseball. It is uneven and examines it from all different angles using his eyes, his memories, and his words; finally, he begins to hear the music in there. The chants. The broken drum. The dusty weekend. La reunion. A conversation. And he stares off into nothing, possibly seeing more of the universe than the rest of us, but moments like that put a person in tune with something unseen and unscientific.

I turn to him and say, "Right now, at this moment, you made me realize someting about my mom's death. She was there for to bring me into the world and I was there for her when she was ready to leave it. That's the cycle of life." "Simon," he says, "You were lucky you were able to hold her hand as she passed. It takes a lot of strength to do that." "Yeah, I guess so. Maybe that's what you can do for your tia, he can help her into the next world." We both stare at my truck, lop-sided from the floor jack and missing one of the tires. Jose's drinking another beer, "No te preocupes, I'll be done in time for you to pick up your kids."

I guess it was a good day to get my brakes fixed.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Our individual explorations of the world are also a commentary on our perceptions of the world around us. Some are active participants, while others are merely observers; some are purely theoretical, while others are painfully practical; some are open to new experiences and ideas, while others consciously choose to only exsist within some pre-conceived notion of what they believe the world should be.

This is not to say one is better than the other, but it is a wonderful point to begin examining yourself. Like all great schools of thought (including religion), we must begin with a questions and an understanding that the world is far too complex for only simple answers, not becasue there are no simple answers, but because there are a multitude of points of view. Also, some of our most basic questions are also oversimplified in both the asking and the response because of there are so many possiblities and ideas to consider when sonsidering something such as, "What is the purspose of life?" or, "what is the best way to do "X"?"

Consider where you might begin to ponder the answers to such questions, and then create more questions. The ability to ask, the ability to ponder, and the ability to explore are some of our most powerful abilities. Ultimately, they may lead you places you never would have ever dreamed; but if they lead you exactly where you innitially believed, then that says something very important about who you are. Hopefully, it doesn't mean that you are too close-minded to see parts of the world for what they actually are, instead of simply reinforcing those already too narrow perceptions of our very intricate world.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Digging deep into who you really are is a very difficult thing. I often tell my students that it sometimes hurts to produce good writing because you need to be brutally honest with yourself, and in order to write something heart-felt, it must be authentic. In many ways, I feel like my entire life has been one lie piled upon all the others because truth is subject to perspective, and I seriously doubt that my perspective has been anywhere close to honest. That realization is difficult enough to admit to myself, but to admit it to the world is almost a relief. I am a liar. The truth about my life has been presented in bits and pieces where everyone is able to come to conclusions about who I am, but honestly, those are nothing more than the parts I have chosen to share. Is it possible for an incomplete story to be truth? Even more importantly, is it possible for a partial story to be The Truth? Doubtful.

So, I am a liar because I have never been comfortable with who I am. I have never been happy with the life I was dealt, and so I have never given the complete picture. This isn't anyone's fault, if anything its just bad wiring in my brain or in my soul, or maybe I'm just into suffering because its easy to be the misunderstood one. The real challenge is actually being a part of something. It is difficult to be accepted, and it is difficult to accept being accepted. The outcast is cool, the regular guy is so normal. The misfit doesn't have to stand up to norms, standards, or rules, he just has to be different and let everything fall into place without ever justifying a thing. Eventually, he finds other misfits and they get to justify each other. Now that's easy, they just have to say, "That's just how we are," and be done with it. That's what I did.

I remember crawling into the attic once when I was five years old and staying there for what seemed like an eternity. At one point I remember realizing that no one was looking for me. I was alone. I was sad. Later, it became a refuge as I began taking books up there to escape the feeling of being alone with others in the house, and I became a better reader, and I cultivated my imagination, and I created a different reality. But I did it alone, with no measure of who I was as a person. Unfortunately, I often still feel alone whether I'm with people or not, and I have become so accustomed to creating my own version of reality, that I came to believe myself.

I even came to believe in myself above all else. The ablity to believe in yourself above all else is possibly the most dangerous thing in our society because it means that no one, no thing, no ideology, or theology can is placed above your own personal beliefs. That, is what many call blasphemy. Many call it a lie. And so, whether in a crowded room or hiding away in some sanctuary, one of the most truthful things I can say about myself is that I am a liar.

The Night Can be a Freight Train

So I'm laying in bed and the nightime is mostly still, except for the cable box grindind away information onto some internal drive. Its just mashing and grinding the digital unknown like corn for masa. My brain wants quiet, but the innards of this box just keep grinding and grinding throughout the night. In the distance, a northbound freight train bellows its horn across western Chula Vista and I wonder why the conductor feels the need to wail out across the calm at 2:30 a.m. Does he feel the need to be heard, too? Maybe he is trying to warn the world about something that can only be told through the train's horn. Maybe his message is only meant for those of us laying awake as this mass of steel and cargo crosses H Street. Maybe the conductor is a woman and I have no possible way to translate her moonlit howl. At this time of night, the only thing that matters is that I'm awake again and the towel across my pillow and my shirt are so drenched in sweat that the fabric sticks to my body, and I can feel my neck become tacky to the touch as the skin cools and the sweat dries.

But my mind doesn't quite race, rather it lumbers at first, and gains momentum slowly, pondering not much of anything, but worried that I will wake Denise or the kids. I am ashamed that I cannot control this. Ashamed about how this hurts my family and everyone around me. Ashamed that I can't do anything right sometimes because my thoughts are scattered across my mind like embers and ash in the wind of an October wildfire, lighting the night orange and covering the day with delicate ash, soon to be trampled upon with the footsteps of the uninvited, eventually swept away, dropped into kitchen trashbags, and quietly dismissed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Here we go

So here we go. Everyone pretty much agrees that I need a good creative outlet to move closer to finding whatever in the hell I need to find. Maybe the whole thing will backfire, but maybe I'll find some real peace somewhere down the road.
This is to save my family and I hope it works.