R. I. P. Elijah E. Cummings

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America lost a great man today with the death of Representative Elijah E. Cummings from Maryland at the age of 68.

Mr. Cummings, a brilliant orator, was a tireless advocate for social justice, and he spoke for the causes of the poor and the left-behind in the United States of America. Among his causes were fights for health care and justice for all Americans, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

He spoke of the need for civility in the government but also the absolute necessity for the government to serve the people’s needs. He battled for justice and against injustice. He advocated for the defense of democracy. He was a tireless American patriot.

He will be missed.

He was a great American.

R. I. P. Elijah E. Cummings

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Quotations on Racism

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“Our true nationality is mankind.”

                                                                     H. G. Wells

 

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“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them”

                                                                    Elie Wiesel

 

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“First, you stoke hatred and fear of minorities. Then you round them up and put them in camps. Next, you send out raiding parties to get those who have been driven into hiding. The armbands come next right?”

                                                                  Stephen King

 

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“Never ignore racism; never discount bigotry. It is the lifeblood of fascism and tyranny, and it is crucial to remember that a dictatorship can happen anywhere, including in the U.S.A.”

                                                                 Charles F. French

An Attack On American Democracy

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American democracy is under attack–the threat of the bombs that have been found that were aimed at numerous people, including political figures, business people, artists, and leaders from national intelligence–has precedent only in the assassination of President Lincoln. That conspiracy intended to kill 3 other government figures and bring down the Union.

There can be no doubt that this is a domestic terrorist attack, and all Americans should be horrified by these actions. These are the kind of actions that put many people, including the people who work in the postal facilities and offices where the bombs were sent, into grave danger. This is an attack clearly focused on one political side. I would condemn this kind of action, no matter who is the focus.

We are supposed to be Americans, regardless of political party affiliation. After 9/11, we had a brief moment of unity. We need to end the hatred and divisiveness that threatens all of us.

I also want to commend the various law enforcement agencies who are investigating these horrific attempts at mass assassination, including the FBI, the ATF, NYPD, and other police forces. They are doing excellent work, and I hope they identify the person or persons behind this threat quickly.

I also pray that our country, The United States of America, can remember what unites us. We are stronger than anyone who would threaten or attempt to terrify us.

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What Have We Become In The United States?

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I have tried very hard in this blog not to be political. I have extremely strong views, but I have attempted to keep them out of this site. I no longer can.

The United States of America, which has been the beacon of hope to the desperate of the world, now have become the nation that rips children from their parents. What is happening at the southern border is inexcusable. No American, regardless of political leaning, no matter if Democrat, Republic, or Independent, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative,  should accept what our government is doing.

Attorney General Sessions used The Bible to justify these actions. I suggest he actually consider the lesson that Jesus gave in Matthew 19:14 “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.The action of the government, separating children from asylum-seeking parents, is an abomination. And Jesus would not have approved.

When did the United States of America lose its compassion? My parents were the generation that fought World  War Two, defeating the worst threat to freedom ever faced by the world: fascism, especially under Hitler. Let us remember that Hitler began with attacks on children.

If you have children or grandchildren and needed help to get them to safety, would you not expect aid from The United States of America?

Where is our decency?

It is time to stand up and say no more.

We will not treat families this way.

We will not take children from parents.

We say no more!

Importance of Freedom of the Press

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In our current political climate, in which the Press has been attacked as somehow against the people, it is important to remember that a free Press was seen by the founders of the United States of America as a crucial element to keeping the nation free. Other thinkers have argued for the maintenance of the free Press as a necessary aspect of battling tyranny and supporting freedom. The Press is one of the institutions that must be preserved if the nation is to remain a free democracy.

One of the writers whose work most clearly illustrated the abuse of power and the effects of the suppression of the Press was George Orwell.

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“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all,
means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”

                                                                            George Orwell

 

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In an example of the use of the free press itself, Teddy Roosevelt said, in an editorial in The Kansas City Star, 1918:

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

 

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Perhaps the most important words about the Press come from the paramount document for the country: The Constitution of the United States of America, The First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

 

 

Quotations by Teddy Roosevelt

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“To announce there must be no criticism of the President, or that we stand by the President right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American Public.”

 

“I believe that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.”

 

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official.”

 

 

Science Fiction Films of the 1950s: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

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The 1956 film The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is a seminal piece of cinema.  This movie combined the theme of alien invaders with that of xenophobia and the fear of communists infiltrating American society. Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter starred in the film, and directed by Don Siegel, in an Allied Artists film. The film was based on a novel by  Jack Finney called The Body Snatchers.

This black and white movie is atmospheric and establishes quickly a tone of distrust and disquiet, by creating a world in which normalcy seems just out of place. This questioning of normalcy, especially in  the context of 1950s America, in which conformity was seen as a virtue, is a strength of the movie. In post World War Two America, many people lived in a segregated world, divided by race, class, and religion.  Also, the United States was suffering through the hearings run by Senator Joe McCarthy, which were a modern version of witch hunts. The level of paranoia that was permeating American society is reflected in this film. Additionally, the possible effects of scientific research on humanity as well as the omnipresent nuclear threat also inform the tone of this film.

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Certainly, there were people who opposed the insanity of the time, people such as the writers Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman, and the journalist Edgar R. Murrow, but I will discuss their courage in another post in the future.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers has grown in popularity and has become recognized as one of the most important science fiction films of the 1950s, if not in American cinema as a whole. The idea of the loss of humanity behind the facade of a person’s face gives rise to the current explosion of zombie movies. This movie also gave America the term that would live in our consciousness of “pod people.” It is a brilliant movie, and one that I suggest that you see if you have not.