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Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word.

To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad Astra books, order Wendell Berry's book "The Hidden Wound," and read it. As Berry himself notes, it will be work. But you will be far better for it. In the interim, I offer my poor, feeble glimpse (inspired by Mr. Berry) into our "hidden wound."

Racism is not a racial problem. It is a cultural problem. An economic problem. An environmental problem. And most of all, a human problem.

The root of our "racism" is not racism. Rather, it is our desire to be superior to our condition. We whites brought Africans here for one reason: to exploit and dominate this New Earth. We discovered early on that living upon this sacred ground requires work. Hard work. Back-breaking work, at times.

Early on, we created a society which values 'beautiful people' who need not work. Picture old-time Plantation owners and Southern Belles. Fast forward to today. Whether buying vacation timeshares in order to make ourselves into leisure kings and queens once a year, or buying homes and cars we clearly cannot afford--or simply dreaming of it--we conjure a life vision devoid of drudgery. This remains the American Dream.

The back-side Janus-face of our forward-looking, hoped-for prosperity, however, is cast in a shadow of darkness. In our pride, we assigned hard work (deemed demeaning) to black Africans. We could only bring them here against their will, utilizing extreme force, by convincing ourselves they were inferior. By circular logic, they were inferior because they did the work--and they did the work because they were inferior. Thus did we become prisoners of our self-created fiction.

Separated from hard work and clear insight, we lost our connection to the land itself--a connection sustained by slaves we regarded as chattel. (Biblically, women were referred to as chattel. That status surfaces innumerably in tragedies such as the Bangladesh clothing factory collapse, death toll now nearing one thousand, where our "cheap, chic" clothes from Wal-mart and the Gap are made.)

Our lost earth-connections have caused us to create the term "nigger." A nigger was someone of inferior status, yet knowledgeable in the ways of the earthy world. Nigger street sense, however, escaped the effete sensibilities of masters in ivory towers. And it still creates a dynamic bond with fellow niggers, who get what the white mastuh has no clue about.

Thus a book well-read by the rebellious scholars of my generation was "The Student As Nigger." In an academic world controlled by administrative masters of various stripes, the metaphor was contagious and powerful. As a master text of 60's student movements, it challenged us to escape--or embrace--our niggerhood. We learned a lot about the world's realities in the process.

It approaches blasphemy to imply that those of us in the student movement encountered anything like the oppression visited upon our black brothers and sisters. But our awareness of nigger-ism, a sense of brotherhood with those "under the yoke," remains vital to this day. As the priorities of the powerful take ever-greater precedence over everyday citizens, we are now paying, and have perhaps always paid the price.

As blindingly stupid as it was for whites to enslave the black man, it took equal stupidity to fail the lessons of the indigenous about living in, on, and with this land. Our very structures, aimed at freedom, instead consigned us to our own prison. Elevating an assortment of minorities into a racially equitable distribution of college degrees and professional salaries has not elevated our understanding of the problem.

We could have kept our connection to the very ground we walk on.

But we did not.

Slavery came too easy, and we have been trying to shed its yoke ever since. If we completely accepted the black race's humanity, we would not accommodate an alien people--we would receive into ourselves a poignantly missing half of our own experience, vital and finally indispensable. We have so far denied that, at great cost to ourselves and everyone.

We are not able to 'set free' our red and black sisters and brothers, let alone any other fellow-creatures of whatever size, shape, or hue. Until we recognize in them their distinctive full strength and grace, we will not set anyone free--least of all ourselves.

Yes, the n-word holds power over us--but only because we have let it.

BASEHOR, Kan. - I'm a somewhat reluctant subscriber to the Wall Street Journal.

I say "reluctant" because the tenor of the paper has changed now that it's under control of Rupert Murdoch, et al. Reading the Opinion and Editorial pages, I fume, snort, yell, laugh, shake my head, and occasionally nod my assent. Thank goodness for my unused frequent flyer miles that I regularly trade for a WSJ subscription, otherwise I couldn't bring myself to purchase it.

On July 20 David Wessell, economics reporter for the Journal and one of the rare voices of reason among the Journal's regular staff, took a fact-based, relatively dispassionate look at where we are with federal government spending. He has a book titled Red Ink that will be out tomorrow.

Without further comment, I'd encourage folks to read his short piece and then consider his book.

Basehor, Kans.--Read The Republican Brain on the Republican Brain and laugh, weep, or scream.

For an even more nuanced approach, something that conservatives in general and Republicans in particular don't seem very capable of, watch a video of Jonathan Haidt's work.

As Justice Learned Hand once penned, "The mark of a free man is that ever-gnawing inner uncertainty as to whether or not he is right." And Julian Huxley, "To become truly adult we must learn to bear the burden of incertitude." This idea seems to be almost anathema to conservatives, who see the world in black/white, right/wrong, either/or, yes/no, my-way-or-the-highway terms.

tent-revival-3.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Is the Catholic Church above the law and therefore, exempt from the law? We can't have a stable society if we allow a religious group that has set itself up in the secular world with its hospitals,charities and other organizations, to run for cover under the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion protections.

The 1st Amendment is about the right of individuals to freely believe what they wish to believe without the government arresting an individual for their personal religious, or nonreligious beliefs. It is about the freedom to worship in one's house of prayer without the fear of a government entity barring the doors and preventing such access, or forcing those of no belief to attend services or face a heavy penalty.

The 1st Amendment is not about allowing a giant religious conglomerate to operate in the secular world with the mindset that any citizen who enters a Catholic hospital or works for a Catholic institution, must obey the teachings of that church regardless of their own beliefs.

BOGUE, Kan. - A Jan.11 writer to Reader Forum [Hays Daily News] blustered about "non-factual distortion" by the Obama administration and supporters, then made his own claims.

[CLAIM: "All the money from the richest 400 Americans wouldn't pay our bills for a week."] In 2011 the richest 400 were together worth $1.5 trillion. (Forbes Magazine) Current annual federal spending is estimated at $3.6 trillion; state at $1.43; local, $1.63 trillion. So, the 400's wealth would fund all federal spending for 5 months, state for one year, local for 11 months. All federal, state, and local spending for about 3 months.

Incidentally, the richest 400 gained 12 percent. from 2010 to 2011. Since 2006, their net worth increased by $250 billion, about 17 percent. On the other hand, "Over the past five years Americans, on average, have seen no disposable income growth if you adjust for population and inflation. This also explains why they're spending like it's 2006 -- because they don't have more money to spend. No wonder the recovery continues to feel like a recession: that's an awfully long time to go without a raise."

Capitalism, Socialism, Redistribution

COLBY, Kan. - If readers go back and read Bob Hooper's A Message from the SEA Party, they'll find these snippets in Hooper's article: "Then with a wide grin, 'You think the millionaire ought to pay more taxes than the bus driver ... or less?' A thunderous 'MORE!' from the crowd... It's Obama and his class war .... W-w-w-wait. You're shaking your head. Not Oba..? Wha... Reagan? Reagan, a Marxist economic justice'er? Well, indeed. It was Ronald Reagan. He was speaking at Northside HIgh School in Atlanta on June 6, 1985, shortly after starting his second term."

And then a little snippet from an anonymous commenter named Jonathan in reply to Hooper's article, " ...take your anti-capitalism message and go home - before somebody gets killed."

I say, "Jonathan, did you forget that the 'great communicator' was a Republican capitalist? He apparently didn't hear or interpret the thunderous response of the crowd. Instead, he came up with his famous 'trickle down theory'. How did that work for you, or anyone else reading here in Kansas Free Press?"

America Today: Us'ns vs. Them'ns

BOGUE, Kan. - There's a lot of stuff goin' around these days. I know because quite a bit comes my way intended to set me straight.

One recent email forwarded from a persistent lady in eastern Rooks County (forwarded to her from a guy in that neck of the woods, endlessly forwarded to him by... etc.) provided a quote claimed to be from Norman Thomas. It went:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

If you're a 'righty-fighty' you probably got it, too, since fellow travelers are usually targeted. And you like it because, yeah, you know, there's black and there's white. There's 'us'ns and them'ns.' Us'ns is good and them'ns is evil. Socialism is them'ns and capitalism is us'ns. Us'ns is goodness incorporated. Socialism is ... Well, you can figure it out. Wait. No you can't.

BASEHOR, Kan. - The Wall Street Journal editorial in the August 6-7 edition, titled Repatriation Games, extolls the economic miracles that would abound if U.S. multi-national corporations were allowed to "repatriate" their foreign-earned capital to the United States at atrociously low tax rates. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, in spite of his everyman-champion image, is a shill for Wall Street and has proposed a one-year, 5.25% repatriation rate. Economist Allen Sinai, in the same editorial, is reported to have estimated that there is more than $1 trillion abroad waiting to be repatriated -- if only the rates go down.

Unfortunately, the editorial leaves out one inconvenient fact when it comes to the argument that repatriation of foreign capital will produce jobs: lack of customer demand.

Voter ID: Let's Pick Our Battles

BASEHOR, Kan. - The August 3 Wall Street Journal opinion piece Bill Clinton Does 'Jim Crow', seems to present a straw issue with little substance in the larger scheme of things.

I realize that some on the Left see any attempt by charlatans like Kris Kobach to impose voter identification as un-American, but is this really an issue that Progressives want to go to the mat on?

If I have to produce ID to set up a bank account, write a check at a retail store, get on an airplane, rent a car, stay in a hotel, or even obtain a library card, I can't for the life of me see why I shouldn't have to produce identification if I'm going to exercise my most fundamental right as a citizen. I understand the argument that, as a fundamental right of American citizenship, the right to vote should not be infringed.

old-glory-forever.gifSALINA, Kan. - The Fourth of July and its accompanying outburst of patriotism are fast approaching. Unfortunately, the word "patriotic" is quickly becoming bastardized in popular culture. We have tea partiers and Sarah Palin to thank.

Look back at coverage of tea party rallies this past spring. Inevitably you'll see a quote from a speaker or an attendee about how great it is to be with so many "patriotic" Americans. By implication, if you're not one of those who buy into the bogus notion that most of our country's debt and other problems were caused by Barack Obama, you're not considered patriotic. That, of course, is pure nonsense.

These self-described patriots are suspicious of Obama in part because he lived four of his grade school years in Indonesia. Having been corrupted by exposure to another culture he possibly doesn't share "our values." Indonesia is the world's fourth most populated nation and has the world's largest Muslim population. It can't hurt to know a little about it.

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