Friday, February 16, 2018

Fallacy of "Good Guy With a Gun" Theory

By Mildred Robertson

The wounded cry of aggrieved mother Lori Alhadeff reverberates throughout our nation as she prepares to lay to rest Alyssa, her murdered 14 year-old daughter. Alyssa is one of 17 deceased victims of the February 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Fla.  

We are stunned. We are angry. We are overwhelmed with the senseless slaughter that appears to stalk this country. Yes, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this massacre. But that is not enough. Even the Word says “Faith without works is dead.” It is time for action.
It is time that the weak, pitiful leaders elected to serve and protect us be challenged. It is time that our communities stand up to the gun lobbies and match them dollar-for-dollar in a campaign to shed light on the true nature of the gun issue in our country. It is time for politicians to put the good of the citizens they serve above that of money and power. It is time that conservative politicians, like Rachel in the bible, say “If I perish, let me perish” by speaking truth to power.

It is unthinkable that one would trade the safety and security of American citizens going about their daily tasks of praying at a church, reveling at a concert or studying in a school, above the Wild West concept that every American should have a gun on his or her hip.

Recently I watched the “Magnificent Seven.”  It was a sprawling epic that glorified the fight of good over evil. It struck me that the only difference between the “good” guys and the evil ones was their cause. In the end, bodies of both the innocent and the guilty were scattered across the town square. The show glorified violence as an answer to injustice and seemed to infer that the carnage was worth it.

While this story is rooted in our history as a nation, is that what we want for our future?  Do we want to barricade the town square and have a shooting match with the bad guys? Is it okay to see our streets littered with the remains of the good and the bad as we seek vigilante justice? Or do we want to figure out a way to thoughtfully examine our 2nd Amendment rights in the context of their creation by the Founders? 

The British are no longer standing at our gates with regimens prepared to overrun us. The Native Americans, who were enemies of our own making, are no longer a threat. We do not have to call up militias when our sovereignty is threatened…we have the most well equipped military on the face of this planet.  Our cities and towns are protected by well-armed police forces, and the National Guard stands ready to assist when called upon.

This nation’s love affair with guns runs far too deep to imagine that there would ever be a time when guns are outlawed, but it is insanity to allow the proliferation of military-style weapons to continue in America. It is time that we dispel the glorified myth of the “Magnificent Seven” and embrace a common-sense, civilized approach to gun ownership in this country.

I challenge politicians to have the strength of courage to refuse the money and tell the truth. I challenge the public to seek out their legislators and let them know that you will be at the polls in November and that you will remember their answer to the question, “What ACTION did you take to end gun violence in America.”

I echo the words of Lori Alhadeff. We can tolerate no more mass shootings. The time for action is NOW!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump's America-A Cautionary Tale

By Mildred Robertson
As I swipe through my Facebook feed, I am taken aback by the similarities between the German horror that ended with the murder of millions, and the systematic erosion of democratic principles in our society. It as if Trump has taken Hitler's playbook, and is using it to push America over some totalitarian ledge. I understand better now how many Germans did not fully understand the horror, until it was too late to avert it.

Under our current administration we have seen attacks launched at all levels of our society. He attacked the first African American President; called Latino immigrants thugs, rapists and murders; disrespected women, denigrated Muslims, slurred all nations ruled by those of African descent as "shitholes," slandered the FBI and specific individuals who have dedicated their lives to its service; attacked peaceful protestors,  declared Nazi terrorists as "good people," and  waged all-out war on the media and the judicial system.

Trump has presided over the inhuman destruction of family units under the auspices of homeland security, He has engaged in race-baiting on numerous occasions during his tenure. His administration has been riddled with scandal, and he himself stands on the verge of being charged with improprieties at the least and criminal misdeeds at worse in the Russia scandal.

While all of this turmoil churns around and within the Whitehouse, those elected to protect and serve our democracy stand complicit as this administration destroys the very foundation of our nation; attacks every aspect of our civil liberties and systematically eliminates obstacles standing between it and total authoritarian rule.

Our senses have become dulled to the accusations of misdeeds, scandal and criminality attributed to this administration. We turn off the news. We tune out the protests. We seek peace by pursing other activities. All the while, this administration is ruthlessly and systematically chipping away at the institutions meant to protect us and maintain our freedom. 

I am a partisan. A liberal. A "snowflake." I do not embrace this administration. But my position is not anchored in my progressive leaning. It is based upon this administration's ruthless and systematic attempts to destroy institutions such as the judiciary, the FBI and the media. No matter how much folks like me push the brakes, there is very little we can do to stop this push toward totalitarianism. Unless the Grand Ole Party decides that our nation is more treasured than Supreme Court justices and gerrymandered voting districts, we are doomed to suffer the loss of democracy as we know it. Republicans must decide that their oath to their country outweighs their oath to a partisan agenda. They must determine that the end does not outweigh the means. The power lies in their hands to avert this disaster.

I am sure that many Germans never expected what started out as foolish taunting and hyperbole to end up in gas chambers with the ashes of millions drifting down upon them like fallen snow. At what point do you say stop?  When they beat your sons and daughters in the street?  When they murder your friends and neighbors without retribution? When detention centers are full to overflowing? When mothers and fathers are ripped from the arms of their children and shipped off to a place they never knew?

Trump is attempting to create a society where only he and people of his choosing will thrive. That is his one and only vision. He has no policy and no principles other than total acquiescence to his will. If he succeeds he will have destroyed what our forefathers fought and died to build. America will no longer be that "Shining light upon the hill," referenced by President Reagan.

Our light is already dimmed. I beseech those Republicans who still believe in democracy to resist the darkness. Do not be like the Germans who finally smelled the stench of death, but found themselves powerless to stop it.  Forsake party for country before we experience our own holocaust and are buried under the ashes of democracy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Donald Trump-Hateful, Vile and Racist

By Mildred Robertson
The revelation of Trump's vile profanities toward people of color in this world is not an “ah-ha” moment for those of us who have been paying attention. It comes as no surprise to black and brown people that the President of the United States participates in hateful, vile and racist speech.  But his speech is the least of our problems. Trump has rolled back protections for children, single parents, veterans, the elderly, and people of color; and continues to chip away at the very fabric of our society.
While we are raptly watching for his next text and respond to the various idiotic statements he makes on an almost daily basis, his compatriots in Congress are deftly dismantling the social safety net that has stood as a beacon for the rest of the world regarding how government should service its constituents. The attack has been precise, targeting those safeguards which have protected our democracy from its founding. Trump and his gaggle of anti-democratic lawmakers first targeted the media, then the courts, then peaceful protestors, labeling them un-American, biased or both. While they join in his attack on these American institutions, they remain silent in the face of his vile remarks, his un-presidential tweets and his confused and confusing political agenda.
His attacks have left his adversaries weary as they face a full assault on all sides, not allowing the resolution of one conflict before another equally or more dangerous assault is launched. While I agree that the president is a fool, there is, it seems, some clever strategy to his madness. He has kept his opponents off balance; both Republican and Democrat.
Democrats do not know whether to work with him to push through a DACA strategy or shut the government down because they know he is not negotiating in good faith. Does he really want a wall, or will the appearance of fulfilling that campaign promise work? And if it will, would it best serve the Democratic constituency, or would it look like caving?  Does he understand the peril of playing with politics in the Middle East, or the imminent danger of nuclear war with Korea? Would he really launch a nuclear attack on a whim? Or is he even engaged in any of these real-life threats other than to respond to Fox News reports about them?
It is really too much to consider. There is too much at stake. There is no underlying policy to attack or support. It is governance atop shifting sand.
While democrats and progressives are trying to find firm footing, Republicans are standing in the midst of this upheaval, systematically deconstructing our nation’s underpinning. They either remain silent, or tacitly support his foolishness while systematically carrying out the desires of that small minority of Trump supporters who want to destroy our current system of government. They call it “draining the swamp.”  
What it actually represents, however, is the institution of authoritarian government policies that will benefit the few while decimating the masses. They are snatching away the safety net represented by programs such as CHIP, attacking social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. They are targeting immigrants who provide an invaluable service to this nation, and without whom our economic system would falter. They are giving life-long appointments to young, un-qualified conservative judges who can negatively impact our nation’s social and political trajectory for years to come. Their attack on the judicial system targets the only system that has to date safeguarded us against Trump’s madness. 
It is imperative that we take a breath…focus…and take a long-range view of the options to save our nation from sure destruction if we fail to wrest power from Trump and his followers. We cannot afford infighting among the opposition. Dominance among factions cannot be our goal.  If there has ever been a time when we must learn to compromise among ourselves, that time is now.
Whether you are just slightly left of center, or you are hanging on the edges of the progressive left…you must know that we MUST do better than we did in 2016. We have to realize that we have to make the BEST choice, even if we don’t like any of the choices. We have to know that a failure to vote is a vote for the person you would least like to win. 
If we do not show up in 2018, I am not sure where this leadership will take us. It is surely a place that I do not want to go. And if they accomplish their goals of deconstructing our nation’s underlying principles, I do know when we would be able to reclaim them, or if we ever will.
Is the 45th President of the United States hateful, vile and racist? Absolutely. But that is the least of our worries.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Reaction to Texas Massacre Colored by Divisive Environment

By Mildred Robertson

Yesterday when I returned home from church, I was appalled to find that a church in Texas had been attacked and that an untold number of people had been killed and/or injured. The first thought that raced to my head was, “God, don’t let it be a black church.”  Then when I discovered it was not a black church, I prayed, “God, don’t let it be a black or brown shooter.” My prayers were answered…but what a horrible prayer.
It does not matter what color the victims or the perpetrator were. It is a heinous act. It should be abhorred by all Americans…all people.
This brought me to a sobering realization.
I have allowed today’s divisive racial politics to affect my thoughts and infect my humanity. This realization caused me to see that, while this horrific shooting is not directly born of any particular political viewpoint, my reaction to it is.  My reaction is based upon the ethnic violence engendered by the hatred and distrust that permeates our country; feelings emboldened and normalized by the President of the United States.
Trump should not have even crossed my mind in this situation. My focus should solely have been on the victims of this tragedy. But this age of Trumpism has effectively subdivided us from our humanity, causing many of us to look at everything through the prism of race. Unfortunately, it seems, I too have succumbed to the unforgiving onslaught of divisive media reports of the misdeeds of a hateful minority which have led to racial distrust and outrage.
Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty to distrust, and much over which to be outraged. But we cannot let Trump and his band of deplorables drag us down to their level. We cannot lose, or misplace our humanity to the extent that we paint everyone in a category other than our own with the same brush. We must not care less for the pain and suffering of those who differ from us than the pain and suffering of those with whom we identify.
America has always had its problems. That is not an accusation. It is a fact. Our history speaks for itself. But we have been better than this. In the face of Bull Connor, the water hoses and the dogs, America stood up and said “no…enough!”  When our youth were sent to be slaughtered in Vietnam, the masses rose up against it. Even when Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot down on the hotel balcony in Memphis, we had leaders like Bobby Kennedy who felt our pain and called on America’s better angels to calm our hurt and anger.
But today there is no such leadership. Today we are sent to our respective corners to prepare ourselves to come out fighting. While many hope and pray for the America that we know and love to come forth, to stand against the onslaught of cultural hatred, injustice, racism, violence and fear-mongering, we are simply tired of the fight. Tired of waiting for American values to once again take the fore-front…for American politicians to be patriots…for the American justice system to be just.
In the famous words of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer, “I am just sick and tired of being sick and tired.” But if we give in to the fatigue, we lose. America loses. We must not become like them. We must not embrace the politics of division.
I do not know what answer will make America realize its glorious potential. I don’t know what it will take for us to return to our nationhood and pursue the common good. There is not a solution on the horizon that I can see. All of our politicians have failed us…Democrat and Republican; black and white; conservative, liberal and progressive. There are no acceptable answers found among any of the current players on the field of politics. But an answer must be found if we are to survive.
I cannot change the world, but I can change myself. I refuse to let Donald Trump and his ideologues dictate my perception of the world and those around me. We cannot afford to ignore the caustic comportment that permeates our current politics. But each of us must search for a way to lock out the clutter and dig down to the hard facts. We must identify the many corrupt, unscrupulous acts that taint our current political climate and demand just punishment for the perpetrators. That is the only way to maintain our common humanity.
My heart goes out to the souls who were lost, wounded and aggrieved in that little Texas town. They are my brothers and my sisters. They are Americans. And they deserve better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump is Apologist-In-Chief for Racism

By Mildred Robertson
Charlottesville is the site of an open wound. It is a festering sore that has plagued our nation since the first slave ship arrived on our shores in 1619.  Let us put into perspective the origin of this wound enflamed by the KKK, Alt-Right, Neo-Nazi march that exploded into violence on August 13, 2017.
The confederate monument they assembled to protect is symbolic of an ugly time in our history that has been rewritten to reflect a genteel past. You see, America’s passion for bygone days when slaves purportedly frolicked with glee on the plantations of their slave masters is in direct contrast to the reality of the past. This storied past which Southerners and many others throughout this nation cherish is no more than a lie to cover the true nature of not just slavery, but the people that perpetrated it.
Slavery and the slave masters were harsh, hateful, inhumane, cruel, cold-hearted, cold-blooded, callous and uncaring. Slaves were tortured, mutilated, starved, denied adequate shelter and clothing, raped, murdered and had children ripped from the arms of loving mothers and fathers, had fathers torn from their families…all in order to make a profit.  It is irrelevant whether the slave-master’s name is Robert E. Lee or Thomas Jefferson. There is no such thing as a benevolent slave-master.
The vicious treatment of American slaves would be good fodder for a Stephen King movie…except that these acts are not fiction. They are historical outrageously cruel acts endured by the ancestors of almost every African American in this nation.  And it did not just dehumanize the slave, but also the slave-master.  
So as an American…a descendant of slaves…I was refreshed and uplifted to see white Americans, many of whom I assume could chart their lineage back to a slave master, stand and say, “I wish to be freed from the depravity of my ancestors’ legacy.” Charlottesville’s decision to take down the monument was an acknowledgement of the wrong it represents and the hurt endured by every minority who views it. It was an acknowledgement that the history of the South’s secession was nothing to be glorified—that it was traitorous; that it was unjust; and that it was ultimately defeated.
Yet the President of the United States chose to embrace the lie rather than the historical truth. He became the Apologist-In-Chief for racists. He embraced his own personal depravity and his family’s legacy of hate and put it on international display. He equated those who stood against hatred and intolerance as equal to those who would tear down our democracy, discriminate against American citizens, and wreak violence and havoc within our communities. He further encouraged and gave the racists permission to rise up, move forward and continue to spread hatred and discord in our country.
It is now up to our nation’s leaders to wrest the reins of power from this man who will clearly go down in the annals of history alongside individuals such as Adolf Hitler. It is up to our leadership, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, to ensure that we do not go down the path taken by Germany and many other nations who acquiesced power to dictators and madmen.
Our future depends on it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump Brings America to a Spiritual Crossroad

Battle to Govern More Spiritual than Political

By: Mildred Robertson
Daily we are bombarded with the most recent missteps of our misdirected government. We endure a constant barrage of lies, intrigue, accusations and misinformation from a White House besieged from without and within.  The media battles daily to dispense some measure of truth among all the falsehoods and innuendos that float out of the Washington beltway. Words, it seems, cannot halt the downward spiral that has engulfed our country. At least, that is the way I felt until scripture began to speak to me.
You see, over the past month our Sunday school lessons have focused on the prophets who proclaimed Israel’s downfall. Isaiah…Jeremiah…Ezekiel…Amos; all were oracles who beseeched God’s people to hear His voice and follow Him. They railed against a corrupt government and an incorrigible people.  Their words, it seems, echo down through the ages and ring loudly in the ears of a nation whose actions mirror those of a fallen Israel, and whose hard-heartedness places us in the cross-hairs of God’s judgment.
I hesitate to even take this path, in that I do believe in the separation of church and state. But as I witness those who call themselves “the evangelicals, the religious right, the moral majority” bow down at the feet of the hedonistic usurper Donald Trump, I cannot help but believe that the battle we face is far more spiritual than political.
Everything he stands for is antithetical to basic Christianity. From his border wall to the deportation of mothers and fathers seeking a better life for their children, Trump has displayed his abhorrence to the basic tenants of religion. His zealous fight to strip healthcare from millions of Americans, and his desire to further enrich that top 1 % of Americans who enjoy this nation’s bounty testify to his total disregard for the needs of the common man. He has proven himself to be common, uncultured, sexist, racist, dishonest, ignorant, ill-equipped to lead, and possibly even deranged. Yet religious leaders across this nation profess that he is called of God.
How is it that those who profess to know the word of the Lord can condone this man’s behavior? How can they embrace a national agenda that values profit over people, hate over love? Psalm 82: 2-4 says it thusly: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?” It further exhorts:  “Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” It is as though the Psalmist stood beside us today and penned these words in the midst of our current national upheaval.
Prophetic scripture foretells a nation’s downfall, outlining death, destruction and exile. The prophecies were a call for change. That unheeded call resulted in a nation’s demise. America would be wise to be mindful of the warning. There is still time for us to chart a better course. There is still time for us to heal.
It is late…but not too late.
The Word also says, “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Acidic Discourse Tears at Nation’s Fabric—Precursor to America’s Demise

By Mildred Robertson

Free speech. It is the bedrock of our democracy. It is what sets us apart from most other nations in the world. It is also what has helped create a chasm so wide between ideologies that our Union is threatened. Not since the civil rights movement has our nation been so divided, so hateful and mean-spirited.
During that period the media held up a mirror to America. What she saw shamed her. That shame led to action that created a new progressive era of inclusiveness; a time when many leaders strived to level the playing field for blacks and others who had not only been excluded from the American dream, but nearly decimated by it.
Because of the noble efforts of the media to live up to its high calling as the 4th Estate of American democracy, it was lauded and held in even higher esteem. Over the years it seems that once vaunted profession descended to a place ruled by ratings and advertising dollars; giving little thought to the need to guard the doors of our democracy. The meteoric fall of the mainstream media coupled with white backlash over civil rights concessions have left America vulnerable to the ravings of fringe elements that blame “otherness” for all of America’s ills.
Fox News, Donald Trump and others like them crept inside that open door to pimp the First Amendment and the values upon which it was based. The mainstream media, like a deer caught in headlights, failed to see that danger barreling down upon both it, and our nation until it was too late. The result has been the rise of entities proclaiming 1st Amendment protections while tearing at the fabric of our nation by spewing hate and divisiveness. They engage in hateful discourse and encourage violence against anyone who does not look or think like them.
Now we live in a nation wary of not just the media posers; but all media, including what many call “the mainstream media.” People have taken to social media to not only find, but to create their own truth. They have fashioned tribes that practice group think, and refuse to consider that the real truth may be found outside their twitter feed.
It is against this backdrop that we see raucous town hall meetings, angry protestors going after one another and representatives being shot down in a ball park. Americans seem to be armed with their own individual facts that leave no room for discussion or dissent; with some willing to kill for them. 
If we are to survive this current attack on our democracy we must somehow go back to the time when we realized that facts are facts, whether we agree with them or not. We must return to a time when those in power spoke the truth, and the media called them out when they did not. We have to somehow learn to put news gathering above garnering ratings.
If we cannot somehow find our way back to an America where truth and integrity are honored, and national discourse is respected, we are destined to go the way of many other historic empires. We are destined to fall.