A Link for Our Future: An Independence Day Address to the People of South Carolina

  An address presented at the Take the Flag Down South Carolina Unity Festival, held upon the South Carolina State House Grounds on Independence Day 2015   I stand before you, honored and humbled that you would hear my words. If I have a title worth mentioning, it is “father of a young South Carolinian.”   Today I address many parents—mothers and fathers upon whose shoulders weigh the responsibility of interpreting for our children the many active symbols that surround us.   Not just interpreting, but guiding interpretation as well—as it is crucial to teach our children how to interpret symbols for themselves. Accurately. Wisely.   And for those who are not parents, we all share the experience of once being children. Once upon a time, parents, grandparents, family members, teachers and other adults guided us.   …   On Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few years ago, my daughter and I climbed the State House steps—there are 42, in case you ever wondered—and had a little picnic.   It’s a marvelous view, by the way. Head up there sometime with a snack and a thermos of…

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Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization: South Carolina, Take Down That Flag

  Click to read Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the “Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization” series.   The eyes of the world rest upon South Carolina. I would say the eyes of the “civilized” world, except I have a little trouble using that descriptor for any planet that has had so many global genocides in the past several centuries that its online encyclopedia requires an alphabetize function for users. And don’t even get me started on the fact that it takes a full minute to scroll through Wikipedia’s “List of Serial Killers by Number of Victims” article.   We’ll get to the Confederate Flag, positioned like a racist hood ornament on the South Carolina State House grounds, in a moment. By the way, I took the photo used for this article. That devil-begotten quadrilateral piece of fabric flies about two miles from where I’m typing this article. For years, I have passed that flag multiple times every day. I have walked within spitting distance of it countless times on the way to work meetings.   I even took this video of Ole Dixie a few days ago during the historic Take the Flag Down Rally. “TAKE IT DOWN! TAKE IT DOWN!” Has a…

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Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization: Part I

  Click to read Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the “Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization” series.   Despite such advancements as the particle collider and Lean Cuisines (not to mention Steak-umms), humanity, it seems, is not quite ready for Civilization.   In fact, I am beginning to realize that Civilization is only now just being born.   …   Last summer, my young daughter and I sat on the steps of a local community pool, resting in the shallow water following a rigorous swim. Nearby were several young adults, a man and two women. They were tan and fit—seemingly invincible specimens of our species. Exemplars of Evolution. Soaking in the rays of the modest star that nurtures life on our world.   A honeybee alighted upon the rim of an empty soda can at the pool edge. Apis mellifera. A most innocent winged creature—for millennia, a pollinating friend of human harvest. And at that particular moment, fatefully tempted by the wafting scent of high fructose corn syrup.   One of the female hominids in our company spotted the insect and shrieked. The adult male toolmaker grabbed the can, flipped it over and…

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“As-salamu alaykum, What’s up, Bro?” The Many Graces of Allah

    “As-salamu alaykum, What’s up, Bro?”—The Many Graces of Allah (CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE)     I have been in many mosques, but I have never truly been to a mosque—not as a worshiper of God…     April 27, 2015 /…

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“Litten’s Passion”: A Screenplay Teaser

. Litten’s Passion is the forgotten true story of the First Victim of the Holocaust.   Hans Litten was a saintly German attorney who worked tirelessly for the poor and was opposed to the rise of fascism in Europe. In 1931, Litten interrogated Hitler in court, and embarrassed the future Führer before the entire German nation. After the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, one of Hitler’s first acts of power was to arrest Litten and several dozen other “political trophies.” These were the original concentration camp prisoners.   For the next five years, Litten was mercilessly tortured and told he would be the last prisoner ever released from a camp. Meanwhile, his mother, Irmgard Litten, and prominent British pacifist, Lord Allen of Hurtwood, led an underground, “Schindler-esque” struggle to free Hans Litten. Lord Allen met with Hitler several times, and urged members of the Nazi Inner Circle to release Litten. Irmgard bravely defied many Nazi officials and pulled many strings to stay in constant contact with her son.   Hans Litten was murdered at Dachau in February 1938. Soon thereafter, Lord Allen rescued Irmgard from…

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Reading the General, or Ixnay on the “Sherman Didn’t Burn Enough” Bumper Sticker

  Then sang we a song of our chieftain That echoed over river and lea; And the stars of our banner shone brighter When Sherman marched down to the sea! *   One-hundred fifty years ago this week, General William Tecumseh Sherman sat on a log on the Broad River—not far from where I type this evening—and watched a pontoon bridge being built. Soon his 65,000-soldier Union army would cross that river and enter Columbia, “the capital of the haughty state that instigated and forced forward this treason which has brought on desolating war.” That is how General Sherman’s aide-de-camp, George Ward Nichols, described the South Carolina capital, at the time a critical Confederate administrative city.   (What a coincidence that Columbia now serves as a Tea Party mecca and political funding guinea pig. Perhaps that fate could have been prevented had a mysterious match never been struck.)   While on the west bank of the river, Sherman ordered a soldier to cross and send assurance to his family friend “that we no destruction of any private property in Columbia at all.” In his memoirs, Sherman states that he caused no deaths in the city to…

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“Papa, if God wants to bring us peace and light, why did he…”

      Papa, if God wants to bring us peace and light, why did he… (CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE)         I don’t always allow my daughter, who is seven, to read during church service. Technically, it’s Mass, as we are Roman Catholic. But I grew up in an Evangelical charismatic church, and sometimes it still feels funny to use the “M” word…         February 5, 2015 /…

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Je Suis Charlie / Je Suis Satirist / Je Suis Jesus

  for the brave men and women of Charlie Hebdo, and other fallen victims in Paris, plus Erin Nanasi, top-notch satirist   JE SUIS CHARLIE.   JE SUIS SATIRIST.   JE SUIS JESUS.   In its heyday, Columbia City Paper was like a journalistic Roman candle borne from a twisted Hunter S. Thompson dream. How to explain? Perhaps as such: once upon a time, three of us associated with this once-and-former, infamous South Carolina alt weekly paper sat at a bar with columnist Dan Savage. While we downed beers, he congratulated us on what we had been able to accomplish on a shoestring budget in a capital city where the Confederate Flag flew defiantly upon the State House grounds within our sight.   It meant a lot for someone of Savage’s caliber to pat us on the back. However, I was drinking bourbon that night, not beer. I felt so guilty when Savage picked up the tab that I later mailed a $20 bill to his editorial offices in Seattle. Scout’s honor. Those were the days.   We were engaged in such gonzo journalism at the time that I had to hide my identify. This made for some pretty fun pseudonyms. I was J. Pelikan…

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Today, the Revolution Did Not Happen (but it May Have Started)

  An Argentinian Catholic, a Tibetan Buddhist, a Pakistani Muslim and an American Lesbian Talk Show Host walk into a bar.   Bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here.”   The foursome exchanges looks and replies, “Well, damn! Then who do you serve?!” . …   Today, the Revolution did not happen.   (But it may have started.)   Instead, injustice continued to reign because human beings allowed their self-interests to be quashed—including such basic self-interests as equitable access to education, healthcare, even shelter and food and water. Though perhaps we’ve had it when it comes to not being allowed to breathe.   Many of us allowed ourselves to be sheep-penned by the invisible American caste system. We allowed pastors and aldermen and Morning Joe talking heads and any number of other system shepherds to convince us that Jesus or Mayor Rahm, or sometimes both, want us to be on the outside looking in. It’s our destiny. If we only had more faith and less melanin and the right parents, things might be different. Ho-hum.   I don’t mean to discount the efforts of the…

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The Tenth Crusade: ISIS, Senator Cruz and the Military Industrial Complex Walk Into a Bar…

  To His Eminence, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi, Supreme Puba of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:   We all know that a Tenth Crusade benefits us all. You kill as many of us as you can; we’ll kill as many of you as we can.   Let’s keep the machine of war well-oiled, then spoil some virgins together in the afterlife and count our coins. And all that jazz.   Sincerely,   The Pentagon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Pat Robertson, Senator Cruz, et al.   … . This evening, I was contemplating the bizarre events of the Fourth Crusade, and how Christians intent on “liberating” the Holy Land made a pit stop in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1204 and proceeded to sack the city, raid the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia, and rape and murder fellow Christians in such a bloodthirsty manner that more than one historian has described these events as the worst crime spree in recorded history.   One could argue that it’s senseless—even perverted—to rank massacres. Even so, I imagine that historians who know something about the Rape of Nanking might challenge the…

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