The Proclamation

Last week’s submission for my fiction class. Enjoy.

As the time for him to walk onto the stage drew nearer, Philip’s deep sense of pride at having been chosen to read his essay at the town celebration became all the more completely eclipsed by his intense nervousness. This year was a big celebration—one hundred fortieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation—so everyone was talking about how the crowd would be the biggest one until, of course, the big one-five-oh. Among all the seventh graders in Hardin County, Kentucky—proud birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, only Philip had been ballsy enough to write an essay about the vast differences between what it meant to be a Republican in Lincoln’s time and what it means now.

Of course, he knew better than to submit that essay. The essay contest was judged by several prominent Republicans, so he submitted instead an essay about how proud Hardin County should be of having such an integral connection to the only United States President yet to have had a patent in his name. In the “ringer” essay, as Philip liked to call it, he wrote extensively about how shameful it was that the commercial boating industry of Lincoln’s time had failed to pick up on his ingenious ballast tanks, which would have worked wonders to help buoy ships over shoals. The essay judges fell for his trick, and now he was set to read his real essay in front of this large crowd.

As he waited in his seat, next to the podium on the rickety stage in the hot Autumn sun, Philip felt a drop of sweat dribble slowly from his knee down the side of his calf. He knew he shouldn’t have worn his favorite black corduroy pants. Would the man at the podium—an ass of a man with an ugly bowtie and a bushy moustache—ever just shut up and introduce him already? At least the white button-up shirt he’d worn wasn’t soaking up as much heat as his pants. He wondered if these Republicans knew his father was a die-hard Democrat; it would explain why they hadn’t given him a bottle of water, or anything at all to help with his parched throat. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Finally, the bow-tied brustache man introduced Philip to the crowd and initiated a round of applause. Philip stood up slowly, clutching his essay tightly in his sweaty left hand while the brustache man overzealously shook the right one. He stepped up onto the small box they had provided for him behind the podium, set his papers down, and looked out at the crowd. Now standing, he could clearly make out the scent of funnel cakes and corn dogs, and he felt a drop of sweat form on his temple and roll slowly down his cheek.

“Republicans,” he said, not yet looking down at his paper. He had memorized the entire first paragraph. “Republicans are not today,” he said. He stared out at the crowd of people who had come to celebrate Lincoln’s birthplace, and he didn’t see a single person who wasn’t white. The edges of his field of vision, too, began to go white, and he felt the box below slip out from beneath him as he collapsed behind the podium.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just read this book for my Literatures in Translation class, and I have to say, it’s better than any world history book that claims to be such, without even claiming to be such. It contains an astounding amount of facts and information about world history, all presented in such a way that it effectively undermines the typical western historical narrative familiar to so many of us. I recommend it to all.

View all my reviews >>

Gone Fishin’

Gone Fishin’

Last Friday I went with some friends down to San Pedro, where we hopped on a boat and went out into the ocean for some evening fishing. It was my first time on the ocean, which was quite a pleasant experience. It was also my first time fishing since my early teenage years, and I can assure you that there is quite a difference between fishing on the ocean and fishing in a small Midwestern pond. Once I got the hang of it, I began reeling ’em in. I managed to catch six fish total, two sculpin and four halibut. One of the sculpin was too small so I had to throw it back. I had the other filleted on the way back to shore and ate it for dinner Sunday night. The fish was tasty and the fishing trip was a lot of fun.

In other news, I recently stumbled upon the following quote from Alec Baldwin:

“What Vick did is, obviously, senseless and reprehensible. But I believe Vick, as a wealthy and talented athletic superstar who performs his job out in the open before crowds of amped-up and highly opinionated fans, suffers an unfair disadvantage as compared to, say, the heads of a meatpacking plant or the directors of a medical research lab where animals are suffering the cruelest imaginable abuses behind walls and doors that remove them from our sight and, therefore, judgments.”

Alec Baldwin expressing his views on the Michael Vick case in the Huffington Post.

While on one hand I tend to agree with the spirit of what he’s saying here, he does seem to oversimplify a bit, lumping arguably legitimate causes (food and medical care) in with much more difficult to defend practices, namely a barbaric entertainment ritual and senseless gambling. Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting topic.

And finally, via greenlagirl I found this fascinating site that serves as irrefutable evidence that democracy is a farce: Enjoy!

A Myspace Exchange

I should seriously consider deleting my myspace profile. Too frequently I encounter “bulletin” messages that make me sad for our country. And occasionally I choose to respond, which quickly eats away at my already non-existent free time. But if I’m going to waste time with something like this, at least I can get a blog post out if it 😉

Here is the text of a recent exchange with someone I knew in grade school, in which I don’t even bother discussing the complete unreliability of the Bible:

—————– Bulletin Message —————–
From: XXXX
Date: Oct 9, 2008 3:24 PM

I was stunned to hear these words from Barack Hussein Obama . . .

“we are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, . . .

As with so many other statements I’ve heard him (and his wife) make, I never thought I’d see the day that I’d hear something like that from a presidential candidate in this nation. To think our forefathers fought and died for the right for our nation to be a Christian nation—and to have this man say with pride that we are no longer that. How far this nation has come from what our founding fathers intended it to be.

And just to know that so many people are blinded by who he truly is, is completely scary!

I don’t believe any Christian could possibly vote for Barack Obama with a clear conscious. He is in favor of abortion, even giving doctors permission to kill living babies that suffer from a botched abortion. And he doesn’t believe this a Christian nation anymore.

I just ask everyone to commit to praying about this matter for the next 19 days until the election. Truly commit to praying for God’s guidance in the way you vote. And when election time comes, only vote how God leads you.

Love you all!

—————– Original Message —————–
From: Chris
Date: Oct 9, 2008 11:20 PM

It makes me sad to see you spouting this ignorance. I will pray that you are able to see past the manipulative lies spread in the name of Christianity today and open your heart to Jesus’ real message: universal compassion, which has no room for hate and judgment.

—————– Original Message —————–
From: XXXX
Date: Oct 10, 2008 12:53 PM

i don’t base my thought on “manipulative lies”, i have studied the Bible for myself. you’re right, we are not to judge, except for righteous judgement. we are to stand for what Jesus would stand for. and gas prices and the economy are definately not something He really cares about. one day when we stand at the judgement, He won’t ask if we our economy was good. He’ll wonder why we let our country kill babies that He created.

—————– Original Message —————–
From: Chris
Date: Oct 11, 2008 12:30 PM

In an effort to keep this focused on the original topic I had responded to, I must simply point out that the men who founded this nation recognized the supreme importance of freedom of religion. After all, the very reason for so many European immigrants at the time was that they had not been free to practice their religion of choice. So it is disturbing that an American would say that “the scariest thing Obama has said” is that non-Christians are just as welcome here as Christians.

When I referred to manipulative lies, I was referring to the many ways in which corrupt politicians and rich religious leaders work together to sway the votes of well-meaning Christians by distracting them with hot-button issues such as abortion. The simple truth of the matter, and something that most evangelical church leaders will not break ranks to admit, is that the outcome of this election will have very little, if any, impact on abortion laws. So regardless of whether or not you’re willing to recognize the fact that our stone-age, religious-right inspired “abstinence only” sex education is a major factor in the reason for a vast number of unwanted pregnancies that end in abortion (most of which would happen regardless of whether or not abortion was outlawed), abortion is being brought up only to change the votes of those who are concerned about doing the right thing but don’t realize that they’re being manipulated.

If Jesus were really to see the state of our nation today, he would be much more appalled at how we treat our poor. Rather than loving our neighbor, we live in a nation that caters to the greed and decadence of the rich. Our government has for a long time been in the hands of the super-wealthy, who can afford to manipulate the politicians and church leaders, so that no good can be accomplished without capitulating to some extent to the wishes of our corporate overlords. As a result, we turn a blind eye to much of the suffering in our country and around the world, and instead of investing in the health and well-being of everyone, the majority of our population toils away to generate outrageous profits for the wealthy few.

Topics like abortion and homosexuality are brought up as red herrings to convince otherwise good people to vote for those who will ensure that the exploitation continues. It is not very expensive to stir up unfounded fears among Christians that their faith is under attack in order to sway the vote. It worked in 2000 and 2004, and the unbridled greed was permitted to continue while we continued to neglect the well-being of the general public.

If we put the same money into educating our public and providing proper healthcare to those who are sick that we put into deposing a leader who was not in any way connected to the atrocious attacks we suffered in 2001, our nation would be strong, and vibrant, and capable of being the beacon of hope to the rest of the world that we once were.

It’s not about gas prices and the economy. It’s about whether or not our nation is working to love our neighbors, in and out of our own borders. The driving force of conservative politics is the protection of those who refuse to do so. When it is convenient, they call upon Christians to help them stay in power, appealing to them with empty promises that are tossed aside once the ballots are cast.


I recently came across this little gem on, the repository of wisdom that it is:

You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you, so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?

You have the United Negro College Fund.

You have Martin Luther King Day.

You have Black History Month.

You have Cesar Chavez Day.

You have Yom Hashoah

You have Ma’uled AlNabi

You have the NAACP.

You have BET.

If we had WET(white entertainment television) …we’d be racist.

If we had a White Pride Day… you would call us racist.

If we had white history month… we’d be racist.

If we had an organization for only whites to “advance” our lives… we’d be racist.

If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships…you know we’d be racist.

In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights…you would call us racist.

Did you know that some high school students decided to make a club for only the white students because the other ethnicities had them… they all got sent to court for being racist but the African American, Latino, and Asian clubs were not even questioned.

You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you’re not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.

I am white.

I am proud.

But, we get called racist for it…

Why is it that only whites can be racists?

Now watch, I’ll be a racist for posting this…

So what?

I am anything but racist.

People just get mad because they know it’s the truth…

I would think that most reasonable people could very easily see this ignorance for what it is, but the scary truth of the matter is that there are far too many people in the US these days who buy into this sort of thinking. There are two different issues at hand in this statement or declaration: the issue of culture and ethnicity, and the issue of power and privilege.

Where culture and ethnicity are concerned, it seems that the fatal mistake the author has made is that of equating race with ethnicity/cultural heritage. As a white male who grew up in the rural Midwest, I certainly understand what it’s like to have no concept of cultural heritage. I once held this same view, that if the Asian Americans and the Mexican Americans (etc) could have groups at school, then why couldn’t we have a club for White kids? The fact is that White people do have various groups to celebrate their heritage; as a matter of fact, my hometown still celebrates Swedish Heritage Days. But in my experience, whenever my White friends have expressed pride about being White, it had nothing to do with culture and everything to do with not being racially “other”. As far as I can tell, it’s been fairly rare that any of my White friends have much or any sense of connection to their ethnic roots. Of course, most of them have been quick to claim either their Italian or Irish blood, but wouldn’t be able to tell you much/anything about those cultures that isn’t common knowledge. I would think that one of the reasons for having clubs that celebrate ethnic backgrounds would be to help preserve and show appreciation for cultural traditions and background. Many White Americans probably have grown up with very little cultural heritage or tradition that is not a part of the larger dominant American culture. People whose cultural roots aren’t as well-represented (or represented at all) by mainstream culture are forced to make special efforts to preserve their traditions and find others who share their culture. The message in this statement above seems to come from a place of fearing or feeling threatened by efforts to cherish or preserve culture that is not yet a part of the mainstream, as well as an underlying suspicion that White Americans don’t have much culture to celebrate. I’m sure that’s much truer for some White Americans than for others. As for myself, I feel that I have a wealth of cultural heritage that was bestowed on me by my family of origin, my upbringing, and the place where I was raised. However, unlike many groups who have heritage clubs, my ethnic background hasn’t really had a whole lot to do with my cultural heritage, and my cultural heritage is very well-represented in mainstream culture. Why would I need a club?

The issue of power and privilege is a little different. Like I said before, it would seem that most reasonable people would have no problem recognizing that our system affords many advantages to both those who are economically privileged and to people whose own cultural background is best aligned with mainstream culture. I still find it surprising when I meet young White upper-middle class males who are very resentful at the idea that any privileges or opportunities could be given to those who have been underprivileged in some way. The part that baffles me most is that these young men can be so blind to just how much they have had available to them that is simply not available to so many other people, or would require a tremendous deal of effort for other people to attain. I grew up in a single-parent home below the poverty line with five siblings, and I believe that the fact that I grew up in a middle-class community with a decent public school system has had a very serious impact on my ability to complete a bachelor’s degree and begin work on a master’s degree. Many people do not have that privilege, and I firmly believe that efforts should be made to remove barriers that prevent many underprivileged students from pursuing an education, be those barriers economic or cultural.

Finally, the post included an interesting selection of religious holidays. The author seems to have forgotten that “we” have Christmas and Easter, among other things. California may have Cesar Chavez day, but in my native Illinois we had Casimir Pulaski day, to honor a Polish-American figure from the Revolutionary War. The author also seems to ignore the fact that the vast majority of television already caters specifically to White middle class viewers. It wouldn’t make much sense to create a “WET” when most channels already constitute White entertainment television. All told, it is the author’s inability or unwillingness to grasp the differences between race, ethnicity, and culture that are at issue here. While it may not constitute blatant racism, it certainly does indicate a very unfortunate lack of sensitivity to and understanding of the issues at hand.

Kill whitey! 😉