Posts tagged with Making A Difference

The Symbols and Substance of Barack’s bow

Rich Lowry and the hundreds of others who becry Obama's breach of the unstated rules of Presidential conduct fail to realize that these very rules, originally initiated for outdated purposes, have to be challenged and broken in order to bring about progressive change, inside and outside of American affairs.

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Official White House photo of the first White House seder dinner (2009, public domain)

For persons and nations, history offers clear insights and examples of rules challenged and broken to bring about greater freedom and progress. Obama breach of the old rules is not do to ineptness, defiance, or indifference—or inexperience. Instead, his actions are part of his clear pattern of redefining the symbols and signals of American power to enhance and extend its reach and influence by a new matrix. More than anyother American leader, Obama is comfortable with power, and uses its trappings to serve purposes beyond previous limits. Obama willingly fits his actions into the new international framework; he has the keen good sense to see opportunities and prosperity for America on all shores.

In looking at the old standards and assessing change, it is important to separate appearance from actual essence, signals from real substance, form from bonafided content, puffery from sincerity. The current moral intuition of America is strongly tied to appearances. But Barack's instincts take him in another direction. He relaxes the elements of imperial behavior that have caged the conduct of American Presidents, court rites, in effect, borrowed from Europe's monarchies. In doing so, he radically alters the sense of democratic relations and standings among world leaders.

While many at home are shocked by the bow or the smiling handshake, world leaders saw the gesture in a different light. By stepping down, Obama was actually stepping up. He signaled not weakness or disrespect, but began a new phrase of American national conduct: one of open regard; problem-solving rather than mischief-making, exchanging mutual dialogue rather than mongering in power. Simply, it's the carrot rather than the stick.

Obama is creating a new nuance in American foreign policy, separating his actions and personal gestures in meetings and conferences from his executive actsas head of state. It is a tactic Bill Richardson used successfully in international negotiation and one Ollie North attempted to use when he flew to Tehran, personally carrying a Bible and a key-shaped chocolate cake for the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in a deal in which President Reagan ended up swapping guns for hostages, sending the Iraqis more than $8 million in missiles.

The difference is Obama is President, and is skilled in the politics of personal statecraft and is willing to break with conventions to advance his policy goals. And he has not offered any regime a thin dime. Don't think the world is laughing. They, are, in fact, applauding.

McClatchy Newspapers reports:

“Obama returned from his first trip overseas Tuesday confident of at least one thing: He had managed to put his face indelibly on American foreign policy for much of the rest of the world.

Using personal diplomacy to advance his broad policy goals, Obama charted a new course as he moved rapidly across the continent, attending three summits, visiting six countries and meeting at least 15 foreign leaders, wrapping up with a surprise visit to Iraq on Tuesday.

Everywhere he went, Obama was a figure of fascination to foreign leaders eager to take his measure, as well as to everyday citizens.

"It was so easy to work with him," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

"He's a great, great man," said Elisabeth Vogel, a teacher from Colmar, France, who came to see Obama when he appeared in nearby Strasbourg.

"Obama No. 1," said a broadly smiling taxi driver in Istanbul, flashing a thumbs up.

Jordan's Queen Noor acknowledges and supports the potential global impact of Obama's new direction, fully endorsing Obama's commitment to ending the spread of nuclear weapons.

“I, and all of the 100-plus leaders of Global Zero, are thrilled that Presidents Obama and Medvedev are demonstrating bold and historic leadership on this agenda, and taking an approach that is fully in line with the plan we presented at the launch of Global Zero in December 2008.”

Queen Noor goes on to say: Today, nine countries have more than 23,000 nuclear weapons. Terrorist groups have been trying to buy, build, or steal nuclear weapons, and in the last two decades, there have been at least 25 instances of nuclear explosive materials being lost or stolen.

The two presidents -- the first to ever jointly commit the U.S. and Russia to work for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide -- declared that they had "agreed to pursue new and verifiable reductions in [their] strategic offensive arsenals in a step-by-step process . . .”

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Queen Noor, without a hijab, shaking hands with Peace Corp trainess, 1997 (educational use)

In her praise for Barack's position, Queen Noor, often criticized for not wearing a hijab, the traditional head scarf worn by women of Muslim faith, a religion and culture that also finds women shaking hands as taboo, makes no mention of the bow.

Around the globe, government and citizen leaders understand this. The content and view of his actions in world capitals is at odds with the American perception that his gesture implied obeisance.

Actually, it was Obama being Obama. He loves the quip, the vocal repartee, the exaggerated gesture, the grand overture, he is playful and mocking of symbols that he believes are empty of meaning. His essence, core, and substance come into play when he makes decisions, and Obama relishes the tough call.

President Barack Obama bows his head to composer and performing artist, Stevie Wonder (Official White House photo, public domain)

I, for one, believe, imperial notions of American power and pomp need to end. Just as the social and legal rules that denied women the right to vote and denied equal opportunity have been banished. Just as its okay to work in the White House in shirt sleeves.

Rules based on intimidation and power flexing have no place in modern diplomacy.

In fact, a Nigerian pundit, Okello Oculi, writing in the Abuja Daily Trust, called Obama a “charm weapon, a diplomatic warrior.” He went on to say: “The very sprouting of Obama himself into America's presidency [begins] a dawn of hope for change, not only for Americans but for a world citizenry disgusted with arrogant criminality and morally blind impunity.”

This change of tone is an important first step to re-asserting American leadership.

Another report read, “Clearly the big stories coming out of the Trinidad Summit revolve around what is being called a “new beginning” for US relations with the hemisphere, particularly with Latin American states.”

Chinaview.com quoted one Latin American leader as saying, “the summit successfully led to a new atmosphere."

Barack's cool has given him enormous street-cred, at home and abroad. Another story offers compelling evidence of how Barack's greetings and his coolness under fire has been internalized into the behavior of inner city youth.

In Albany, NY, Sam Fullwood at Politico.com reports, middle school African-American males are peer-correcting each others behavior with the phase, “Barack's in the house.” Imagine the former extremes to which this same group might carry issues of respect for symbolic slights.

For the first time in more than a decade, the cultural connection that these young male students have with Barack has reduced the perception that “respect” is a value that must be aggressively defended at all costs, and that power is the ultimate expression and prized possession of the strongest, most intransient, unbendable will. Achievement and appropriate conduct, including reducing fights and confrontations, are the new peer generated goals. This shift in values among school aged youth is an extraordinary gain—directly connected to Barack's style.

"I believe we'll likely see a positive evolution in the relations between the United States and Latin America. It is possible to create a new dynamic of partnership and contribution," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said afterward.

While we are making the world safe for democracy, we must be careful about being attached blindly to the old ways; moving forward, Americans must not continue habits and beliefs that place us among our own worst enemies. Let's re-examine our moral intuition.

In essence, what we have to gain is far more than what we appear to be giving up.

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The Official White House Portraits of the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama (public domain)

Thanks for reading! I hope you found food for thought.

Walter Rhett posts Southern Perlo from Kudu Coffee in Charleston, SC. A Perlo is rice with local bounty, enjoyed by all.
By its witness, Southern Perlo, in print and photos, connects the American experience and builds a global heritage. Please, stir the perlo, add your spice; leave a comment below.

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Tea Leaves and Smiling Handshakes: How Newt Gingrich Missed the Message

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I am often called “old school,” and I agree. I keep alive a tradition in my writing that writers must be committed to the truth as they know it. That writers, use reason and experience, take words, and craft ideas to evaluate the acts and ideas of others. That writers compare, analyze, and argue about dramatic changes that, underneath, are often simple common sense. In this tradition, writers provide evidence when they take a point of view. As a member of the old school, I thrive to offer concrete examples. History is my supply chain, writing is my weapon; you, the reader, assess my aim.

In my old school calling, the purpose of writing is to lead to new and wider human choices, a more noble sense of freedom, and the banishment of nonsense as a frivolous waste of time.

Today, in writing about the “smiling handshake” between Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas, I want to achieve all three.

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Let's begin first with the nonsense. I agree with Newt Gingrich that leaders must speak out with forceful courage, but when he opened his mouth, I see clear evidence, in history and by analogy, that Newt's point of view is more misleading and harmful than the handshake between Obama and Chavez that Newt stridently slammed. Newt called the handclasp “the wrong signal.” He said he was “not for deluding [himself] by handshakes and smiles.” Oh? Not deluded? Nonsense. Newt was completely tricked.

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Newt, a former Speaker of the House and member of Congress from Georgia, asked rhetorically how a Head of State can greet warmly a dictator who repeatedly calls for the destruction of the other's country and makes quips that blast and disrespect its leadership? That smiling handshake, according to Newt, will become propaganda to suggest that Chavez's views and insults are magnanimous and legitimate in the court of world opinion and in the central yards, courtyards, and porches of the global masses.

Newt contends the shake acknowledged the Latin despot, Hugo Chavez, and will lead to his distorted views about America being accepted and commonplace in world opinion. The handshake symbolizes our acquiescence and acceptance of Hugo Chavez's invectives, negatives, and political mission.

First, the evidence of history, especially in looking at diplomacy, tells a different story. And history has the weight of truth.

Ah, Hitler. European indulged his aggression instead of acting decisively. True. But Hitler went to war; he moved troops, conquered nations, directed air strikes and tanks. History since then, in Bosnia, Rwanda, Georgia, and Israel, has pointed out that military expeditions must be met with firm, rapid and unwavering responses.

Will the smiling handshake lead to a grab for power, an armed invasion, a massing of troops to cross national borders, a dramatic shift in American strategic interests? No. Military actions are not “signaled” by handshakes; any leader who views a smile as a “strategic” or symbolic weakness is deluding himself.

But Chavez's words have rightly angered many Americans. Does the handshake meaning we accept, even symbolically, his disrespect? No. No more than a teacher accepts a student into a classroom the next day who was fighting and cursing, and yelling epithets at authority figures. No. No more than political opponents, including Gingrich, who label their domestic adversaries as “socialist,” or suggest that opponents were “sowing the seeds of hatred,” or pals “with terrorists,” or possess a desperate hope for current policies “to fail.” No. Although Chavez has called America “the biggest menace of the planet,” that “capitalism leads straight to hell,” and claims his “assassination is cheaper than an invasion.” Chavez has also said, “the axis of evil is Washington,” and on 9/11,“US imperial power planned and carried out this terrible attack against its own people.” He called Obama an ignoramus.

No one accuses Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, of being a wise man or careful with words. He craves attention. He pursues it relentlessly, by good and bad ends.

As the Peck's bad boy of statecraft, Chavez is a braggart, a blowhard, an idiot and class clown who seeks legitimacy through mischievous behavior. And Chavez will find none through his non-conforming political insults and taunts unless we in America give it to him by our reaction to his antics.

Don't engage the erstwhile bully. Don't show an obsession and thin skin. Don't make it obvious that Chavez has touched a nerve or gotten under the veneer. Don't govern in anger. Instead, ignore Chavez. Smother him with kindness, thereby outrageously exposing and rendering him ineffective by contrast. Be loose, but stay firm. Reveal by the example of courtesy and regard, Chavez's belittling and silliness for what it is.

I say, shake the hand, make the contrast. It can not be, by any stretch of mind, to endorse Chavez's insane views.

In fact, a number of historical examples are evidence for this approach. In Charleston, during the Revolutionary War, Mrs. Rebecca Motte hosted a thank you dinner for British and American officers who helped put out a fire at her plantation house. Despite her unwavering support of the American fight for liberty, her even-handedness toward the enemy and offer of hospitality to friend and foe won her the honor of being the namesake for Charleston's chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

But Gingrich angrily resents Obama's breach of the unwritten American rules of statecraft: silence and the back of your hand to your enemies. For Gingrich, Obama overstepped.

In Gingrich's criticism and in his logic is a hidden idea.

History lets us pull out this hidden idea. Statecraft's source of prescribed conduct is borrowed from European states led by Monarchs. The rules have been passed down from the times when Kings and Queens ruled the Western world. In the old days, the breach of the arcane labyrith of rules could enrage a Sovereign and result in a beheading, the lost of status, a forfeit of priviledge, or banishment. Kings and Queens often used imidation and fear as weapons. In monarch states, fear was a healthy sign of respect.

Newt brings this royal mindset and sense of the imperial presence into modern times. He seeks to continue its ancient role in modern-day diplomacy.

Yet the current groups that keep this tradition alive are gansters, too many legions of inner city youth, and a few dictators. For many gangsters, dictators, and lost youths, the failure to show deference or fear, justifies an aggressive indifference, and sometimes agression.

This is the heart of Newt's position. He embraces the same views as who demand “props” by increasing tension, isolation, and threats until others break in fear. His criticism implies to win election to the highest national office is to “jump in” a code of behavior that the Head of State is honor bound to maintain, lest the national “rep” be tarnished and the other “gangs/nations” get the wrong signal. He seeks to have the US pursue and aggressive indifference.

Casually thumbing through history provides abundant credible evidence that the Ginrich “rule” of statecraft, emplyed by monarchs, gangs, and dictators has been violated many times for good means and with good results.

Northern Ireland experienced a historic handshake of unity between Ian Paisley and Bertie Ahern in 2007.

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Ronald Reagan shook hands with Mikhail Gorbachev, and the cold war ended. But at the time, a Soviet leader had pounded a shoe on a New York UN conference table, promising America “we will bury you,” and the Soviet Union had tried to install missles in Cuba, and had 1000s of megaton nuclear warheads pointed at America, ready to launch.

Begin and Sadat shook hands and earned a Nobel Prize when they crafted a peace accord.

Lincoln extended extraordinary courtesies to family members from territories in rebellion. A member of Charleston's Middleton family received a handwritten pass to ensure her safety travel through troop lines.

Henry Kissinger and China's Chou En Lai shook hands and opened the door to this once coummunist arch-enemy becoming America's largest trading partner.

Nelson Mandela and F. W. De Klerk's 1992 handshake on Mr. Mandela's release from 26 years of solatary imprisonment on Robben Island marked a new chapter in South African history, when soon after, Mr. Mandela becoming the country's first universally elected African leader.

Lee and Grant's handshake at Appomattox ended a war that had left America a house divided, and begin the healing of America into one nation.

Other handshakes rocked the status quo: Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi ('04), Kim Jong-Il and Kim Dae-Jung ('00), Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak ('93), and Ireland's Gerry Adams and Bill Clinton ('95).

Only Donald Rumsfeld's handshake with Saadam Hussein is seen to have backfired.

And with the exception of Lee-Grant, Mandela-De Kerk, or Sadat-Begin, none of these handshakes, including Obama-Chavez, led to a transfer of power, or a re-assignment of policy or authority, or confused the world community about the policies, stands, and strategic interests the disparate leaders pursued.

Thirdly, seen from the Venezulan side, history again weighs in, and creates a shudder about Newt's position. From the Venezulan view, motives and issues go far beyond indignation about appearances, inappropiate signals, and the proper trappings of power. Seen plainly from the Venezulan side is a huge trap that Newt, and former Vice President Chaney, Senator Judd Gregg of NH, and Senator John Ensign, NV, in their dark bombast of temper and haste to score political points flat out missed. In their rush to dissent and to enflame public passions, they missed the trap. Not only did they miss it, by their call, they are actually urging the country to go against its strategdic interests!

Like chess, the trap begins with a simple objective and operates on a simple misdirection. Chavez's main ambition is to tighten his grip on domestic power. Ask yourself for a minute, why does Chavez consistently lash out against America? Does this somehow fit into his goal? Do his strident, off-base attacks serve his embedded agenda? Yes. Chavez asserts the nonsense claim that Venezula suffers because the US inflicts Venezula's distress.

Chavez blames the domestic pain on the unseen hand of the corrupt, greed, immoral US, the one described and colored in his rhetoric. He argues the US works against Venezula through his opposition, entering the country through the backdoors of shady subtefuge. Thus justified, this compells Venezula to turn to Chavez with fear and faith in his leadership.

By his own logic, Chavez is the only one with the strength to stand up to and turn back the consuming, insatible, morally blind dragon of the US. Disease epidemic breaks out? The US is conducting biological warfare. Building burns? US agents set the fire. Even Simon Bolivar's death is redefined as American meddling in Latin affairs.

To justify and expand his power, Chavez claims the hand of the CIA, US government, and its proxies in every problem Venezula has, in every attempt by Venezulans to break his stranglehold on power.

Under previous policy, Chavez had the perfect foil. Ignoring him played right into his hand. Untouchable, removed, and unknown, America was feared--and became an easy target for “gringo-baiting.” And Chavez perfected his anti-US rants as his prime means of widening his control of Venezula.

The handshake changed that. What appeared to be outrageous breach actually tamped down the credibility and viability of a dictator inside his own country. The smiling handshake dismantled and defeated his previous strategy. Because Obama wouldn't take the bait, Chavez is now forced to search new scapegoats. Unfortunately, many of those who disagree with him inside Venezula are now the object of his scorn and oppressive actions. But change in Venezula has advanced; that handshake deprived Chavez of one of his major weapons. That handshake was not the wrong signal, it substantially reduced the substance of a tyrant's threat.

Republican Senator Connie Mack, who attended the Summit, issued this statement about the handshake upon his return: “President Obama was right not engage in the theatrics of others and to instead deliver a message that the United States seeks to be a friend, an ally and a partner with all of the people of Latin America.”

But you wouldn't know it, listening to Newt Ginrich.

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Thanks for reading! Southern Perlo is posted by Walter Rhett from Kudu Coffee (African coffees and good conversation!), in Charleston, SC. In a Southern voice, it gathers stories to share with local communities, and was recently featured on the Lou Dobbs radio show. Please, stir the Perlo--add your comments below!

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“Water The Whole Surface:” The Mission for Water, Part 2

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On Saturday, March 21, I joined 800 others in the Walk for Water organized by Water Missions International, a Christian non-profit organization that engineers, builds and installs waters systems that have provided safe water for over one million people around the world. It's easy to believe that water is unlimited and safe despite living in a country that in 2000 used 71,000 billion gallons of water annually to cool electric generating plants! (200 billion gallons in South Carolina alone.)Theloss through evaporation amounted to “only” 3 percent—or 1.7 trillion gallons! This is ground water not filling aquifiers and rivers when 46 states in the next 10 years are projected to experience droughts and shortages of water. The country's list of top ten polluted rivers include the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Tennesse, the Delaware, the Thames, the Savannah—all near major urban centers and flowing through or bordering 18 states. My river maybe dirty and filled with germs, but my tap is clean. It flows when I turn the handle.

Those who enjoy its benefits can easily deny the problems of health and hygience connected to water, its shortages or its lack of sanitation. But outside of America, or in disaster areas, the evidence is visible full force. The alarms sound with a jarring reality. A tool for life, water is a part of too many unecessary deaths, yet there are no pictures of the funerals and caskets of those children and adults who die from contact or drinking unclean water, 25, 000 a day.

The Walk for Water is also a way for the local community to say thank you to WMI. The walking throng believe in what WMI is doing. Their walk affirms unspoken common values.

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Founded by an engineer and his wife who turned a Charleston business start-up into one of the top 10 environmental testing labs in the US, Water Missions International was born when the firm designed and built six water treatment units for Honduras in 1998, after Hurricane Mitch. The first prototype was completed in two days!

The initial design continually evolved. Movable parts were replaced, manufacturing costs lowered, reliability improved. Spare parts are usually not handy is places where water is scarce.

That first experience, conceived after talking to an Episcopal bishop in Honduras, led George and Molly Greene give up their careers and commit their lives to designing and installing portable water systems, engineered for durability in a variety of conditions and terrain, easily operated and maintained by community members, now installed in 40 countries.

The WMI system is called the Living Water Treatment System (LWTS), and each system also comes with a ministry plan for sharing the “Living Water” message. WMI is a Christian non-profit. With each installation, the organization shares with each community its faith in Christ. They tell the good news of how God guides their vision and acts. To those interested, they share the fundamentals of Christian belief. But no one is denied water or acess as a condition of belief—water is available to all.

The WMI 2008 operating plan called for WMI to “excel in the gracious act of giving.” To that end, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, North Korea, Uganda, Mexico, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Dominican Republic were among three countries in which systems were installed in 2008. WMI currently has 568 systems in 40 countries and two US States. Less than ten percent of their seven million dollar 2008 budget was allocated for administrative and operating costs.

In December, 18 high school students sailed to the Dominican Republic on South Carolina's hand-built 140 foot-long tall ship, “The Spirit of South Carolina,” to install a system in a Dominican village.

The LWTS can filter and purify water by taking out particles and bacteria, at a cost of 15 cents per 1000 gallons!

The current LWTS design runs by solar panels. The panels increase manufacturing costs but substantially lower costs and improve reliability for the end users—communities who have never before have a source of clean water, or communities that need water as a part of disaster relief.

Solar panels run the pump for backwashing and cycling water through the LWST

Before the walk, George Greene explained the system and answered questions as he waited on the city fire trunks to bring in rust colored water for the on-site demonstration.

I learn the heart of the system is its filter and pumps. “The most critical parts of the system is the filtration. We have three filtering tanks and the pump powers the back wash. The tanks use anthracite particles and three sizes of garnet particles (harder than sand and preferred in multiple layer filtration systems). The smallest garnet particles actually filter bacteria out of the water. Quality control of the particle is essential.

Garnet has the advantage of working to cleanse certain types of micro-organisms, but the system could also use sand.”

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A current LWTS engineered WMI and assembled by WMI volunteers

On the walk, as we turn along the river, Alice Wannamaker, a tall, bright-eyed high school student walking with her father; volunteers to be interviewed. As we walk along, she describes her travels to Honduras for “14 days with a group of students on a mission to install a LWTS in a village that had no municipal water service. The village only had latrines.” The mission was sponsored by a Christian non-profit organization that works regularly in Honduras. Alice helped with Sunday school and worked in the village. She learned to take Navy showers (conserving water by turning it off). She doesn't speak Spanish, and although many of the students were in college and spoke Spanish and she initially felt a little out of her element, she wants to go back.

I met the youth minister at St. Philip's Church, the oldest congregation in the city, founded in 1671. The Greenes, the founders of WMI, are members of St. Philips.

WMI is a Christian non-profit. A part of their plan is to witness and support the good news of Christ and the plan of salvation offered by his death and resurrection. Many individuals and teams in the Walk for Water are believers, but the walk doesn't have an edgy push for faith or witness. The overt Christians are having fun.

The Acts, for example, are a group of high school students and with a younger ringer who is skilled in public relations. The PR guide chimes in and explains who's who, minimizes her role, but is cheerful and graceful, offering the spotlight to others. Laughing, enjoying the occasion to the point of a silliness that fits in perfectly, the Acts explain they attend Hanahan High School one county over from Charleston. Organized 15 years ago, the Acts meet at school and participate in community activities. WMI send a speaker to their weekly meeting at school, and after a group decision, here they are, early Saturday morning.

Their solemn procession enlivens the whole crowd. These young folk all have crazy hats and opaque lime-yellow half gallon water bottles partially filled with beans, and one carries a tall green banner. They sing and chant. The water bottles are shakers. They are raucous, their water bottles cast rhythms in the air. They make a joyful noise: their enthusiasm is infectious. They are having fun for a good cause. I recall a verse from Psalms 4, “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound,” and quote from Hannah's Prayer in 1 Samuel (4), “I delight in your deliverance.”

Later, during the awards, The Acts win the Spirit award. One of the members spies me in the crowd and tells me with pride.

Pyramids of water buckets

I find members from St. Mark's Methodist Church in the crowd on the return trip. St Mark's is located in the nearby suburb, James Island. St. Mark's has been rising money for WMI by placing cups at the end of the church's pews. Many of St. Mark's members are older, but contributed weekly to the cause. The families I meet are representing the congregation, but they are personally committed to the “community spirit” of the walk. They support the WMI goals and mission. This is their first walk, and they are enjoying being “in that number,” the great gathering of walkers stretching for blocks and filling the streets. Among the St. Mark members is a church musician walking with her children and her friend, a wife and mother whose husband plays with a local band, Station 15. (stations mark sections of the beach.)

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Beyond the horizon and the harbor, water is stirring new controversies. Private companies are “buying” water rights around the world, and South Carolina is embroiled in legal action against North Carolina for the water use from the Catawba River which borders each state. The Mingo aquifer under the city is being tested as a storage area. Redbreast, a species of drum fish, are disappearing from the nearby Edisto River, attacked by a non-native catfish that has expanded its habitant.

But today on the walk, water is a source of hope. Our steps today help Water Missions move forward on its journey of faith. The Walk for Water is focused on the basics of help, action, and insight. Its broad principle is that we are not to neglect the means for living, including water, one of the most vital of means. We also must not fear the absence of means, but step out boldly by faith and trust God to provide the means “to water the whole surface,” to aid in the work to preserve life.

The walk ends with family fun. A jump castle, bananas and apples, and information tables ring the park. When we return, having fulfilled our purpose, mindful of the whole surface, we pour out our buckets next to a tree.

Thanks for reading! Southern Perlo is posted by Walter Rhett from Kudu Coffee (African coffees and good conversation!), in Charleston, SC. In a Southern voice, it gathers stories to share with local communities, and was recently featured on the Lou Dobbs radio show. (A Perlo is rice enriched by local bounty, carefully crafted to enhance its pleasure and value; enjoyed by all.) You may create a permalink to Southern Perlo by clicking the permalink button. And please, stir the Perlo--below, add your comments! Water Missions International can be supported by a donation or memorial on the secure and safe Southern Perlo fund-raising page at http://www.firstgiving/southernperlo . A link on the page leads to the Water Missions International site for further information. Water Missions is the only non-profit mission Southern Perlo supports. Thanks for giving!

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Requiem for The History Teller: On the Passing of John Hope Franklin

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Mar/27/jhf.jpg John Hope Franklin, standing in front of the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke

I never met John Hope Franklin. But I came to know his warm, affable, slow-moving baritone voice that rippled with life as I read his books and essays, saw him in C-SPAN appearances and interviews, or listened to others describe his ideas and his unassuming personality that welcomed and touched millions. As a student, I marveled in his devotion and level-headed approach to history. Yesterday, by e-mails forwarded along the web, I found out that John Hope Franklin was dead.

John Hope Franklin grew orchids. He wrote books. He lectured. He taught at many colleges. He was the first African-American to be President of the American Historical Association, one of the first African-American department heads, appointed Chair of the History Department at Brooklyn College. By his own account, as a student at Fisk, he entered the library after hours to have additional time to study and write.

Foremost, John Hope Franklin was a scholar, a man whose quiet research and swift pen found a way to create a history that opened a door for a generation of activists and helped change the way the world viewed the African-American lived experience. His work, without fire and rhetoric, challenged the myths that blocked equality and opportunity. He opened doors undisputably by the quiet gathered force of his scholarship.

His book, From Slavery to Freedom, was an encyclopedia of facts about the African presence in America. His book gave slaves names; it assigned merits, described achievements; his book turned what was once a dark era into a source of proud hope. There in the pages that chronicled America's darkest moments was light and purpose, sweat and systemic thought, laughter and relief, love and faith, children to be rocked and taught, a world to be built.

By his quiet hand, I discovered slaves didn't settle or quit; they resisted even when they appeared to give in, they gathered their wits and step by step marked a path that lead to freedom, and that path had a hundred different directions and dimensions and acts.

John Hope Franklin seemed to know them all. At a time when other historians were arguing that cultural memory and higher order thinking was absent from slave life, that these human features had been broken by the Middle Passage and the “breaking” of the enslaved, John Hope Franklin offered quiet incontrovertable evidence to the contrary. He replaced historical myths with historical realities, one by one. One stone at a time.

John Hope Franklin, his father an Oklahoma lawyer and his mother an elementary school teacher, knew and was friends with the great names of many eras, from W.E.B. DuBois to Martin Luther King, Jr.; from Ralph Bunche to Nelson Mandela. He was named for John Hope, a legendary Atlanta educator and President of the institution known today as Morehouse College.

His achievement is made more remarkable by his pioneering role. When he began chronicling history, the benchmarks and standards were missing and the terriotory was uncharted. There was no consensus and little debate about the how the history he studied should be researched, written, interpreted, or weighed. As he wrote and taught, he set the bar in place. In his time, John Hope Franklin was guided only by his inner heart, assessing and weighing truth all alone, spinning history from the character of his own soul. Yet for him this never seemed like a burden and he never seemed alone as he inspired his students in his classroom and beyond, to be guided by the light of inquiry that rose above ideology or blame or shame. He taught by example that history was a force for change and healing, and at its best, brought people together on common ground.

Never a tv pundit or a sound bite fanatic, this quiet man had a lot to say.

And every day, John Hope Franklin informs my work, influences my choices, directs my thinking, and shares my joy of success when I find a new historical discovery whose interpretation is shaped by his quiet passion for using history to restore common sense and to tell the story of those who took mother wit to as a source of courage and faith, and applied its strength to block despair and suffering by the force of a timeless will.

Today, John Hope Franklin is a part of that timeless will, telling the stories of a dimension of time and human experience we call history. His speciality was the American story. His concentration was the South and the African-American experience. Because of his quiet dignity, his peerless eye, his steady voice that arranged human hardships and triumphs in their proper places, his history telling is a part of a million voices and hearts, found in scholars works and children books, in the oral tradition of the porch and the e-mail, bound to the fabric of the country he celebrated and honored by a craft that was earnest and honest and pared down to make plain the complex, inner workings of a system and a region covered in tales that hid the more humane truth his work revealed. From scattered seeds, he grew a compelling harvest guided always by his own heart to set a standard that changed the course of American life. We all owe him much. But God has granted him, no doubt, his greatest wish.

At 94, John Hope Franklin has entered history.

John Hope Franklin, 1915 - 2009

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Heirloom Seeds Produce Garden Treats

Saturday is the day Southern Perlo shares the old ways, preserving the best of the past while looking to the future. Here, winter is past, spring in South Carolina is near. Its feel is in the air, announced in the changing quality of light.

The music this morning is the shouting joy of the Hammond organ, a urban instrument that dominated the Lounge scene, from the 50s through the 70s. But memory takes us to the countryside, to country auctions in search of heirlooms.

When heirlooms enter the conversation, thoughts turn quickly to family treasures--antique dressers and beds, handmade quilts, old photographs, small porcelain statures on side tables—the magic of things that brighten the memory of time's gentle drift.

Heirlooms can also be grown in the ground and served at the table. Their lasting charm of heirloom plants are in the invisible hands of history that preserved the seeds and the extraordinary flavors and textures their harvest brings to the daily table. Food is a fast growing category of heirloom, both in recipes and seeds.

Heirloom seeds celebrate the long era of family farming in every corner of the country. Heirloom seeds recall the unseen mystery of creation and offer the best of nature's essentials. The finger nail sized seeds enter the ground, and with water and sunlight, in as little as 80 to 100 days, provide edible foodstuffs rich in diverse genetics and culture. The flavors, taste, and “juice” content of the harvest of heirloom seeds is often stunning.

And each seed has a social history and family story that is a part of the American landscape. ATexas A & M professor pointed out, “heirloom seeds are living antiques.”

Openly pollinated, heirloom seeds will reproduce the parent plant exactly each season. Hybird seeds will not, lowering the quality of the yield and harvest.

The collectors of heirloom seeds save knowledge, history, and culture, improve health, increase biodiversity.

An organization offering heirloom seeds and dedicated expanding heirloom gardening and farming is the Georgia-based Southern Seed Legacy (SSL). SSL grew out of a collaboration between two University of Georgia professors who wanted to expand and protect biodiversity. SSL operates a seeds bank, Pass along Southern Seed (PASS), that offers more than 400 heirloom seeds for farmers to plant and grow.

Iowa has a stateside program for community supported agriculture. Residents can check to see if ant farms are offering heirloom fruits and produce.

Dr. David Bradshaw who worked at Clemson University for many years began South Carolina's collection of heirloom vegetables. The South Carolina Foundation Seed Association, a non-profit co-op, has taken over his work. SCFSA offers one of the most extensive lists of heirloom seeds in the South for purchase by mail. Their website has great stories.

Here's a brief glimpse of the Foundation's offerings.

Review this list of $2 seed pack (25) favorites (my edits):

Loudermilk Butterbeans–It is half snow white with the remainder spotted in sharp contrast with black. They produce until fall frost.

Lynch Collection Butterbeans--Source: Dr. Chris Inhulsen, Montezuma , GA. The most distinctive, vast array of colored patterns on the seed. The surprise comes when shelling each pod reveals their myriad of colors. Best eaten fresh cooked from the garden,

Old Timey Beans--Source: Jessie Lee Hicks, Central, SC. Offers the most diversely colorful array of seeds of any we grow.

Rattlesnake Beans--Source: Jessie Lee Hicks, Central, SC. This bean probably derived its name from the dark brown and light brown to cream mottling on the seed reminiscent of a rattlesnake's color. It also has striking purple striped markings on the growing pods.

African Field Peas--Source: Unknown. This variety of southern cowpea has been grown along the coastal barrier islands since long before the Civil War. They are thought to have come from Africa with some of the early slaves. Tiny seed make excellent wild game food.

Toni's Red Field Pea–Source: Dan Bailey, Oakway , SC. Mr. Bailey's great, great grandfather grew this red and white field pea variety before the Civil War.

Turtle Peas--Source: J.E. Hernandez family, Lexington , KY. This black-seeded variety came from the Pinar del Rio Province in western Cuba to Kentucky with Mr. Hernandez over 75 years ago. It has been in his family for well over 100 years.

Georgia White Hot Pepper--Source: Fincannon family, Central, SC. As this pepper ages, it becomes more pungent and takes on a lighter white color. Later, it changes from white, to orange, to dark red in sharp contrast to the deep green foliage. May also be planted as an ornamental.

African Surprise Pepper--This is an exciting new one from Gabon , Africa where it is grown as a staple, in addition to being quite hot and prolific.

African Winter Squash--Source: Bub Burns, Koininia , GA. This squash was transported from Zaire in 1980 as an heirloom. It is a very hardy and disease resistant variety. will root into the ground all along the runner stems.

Pumpkins--Connecticut Field--This Native American heirloom, predating 1700, produces 15-25 pound twelve inch globe shaped fruit with flattened ends. Perfect for Halloween decorating.

Pink Brandywine Heirloom--85 days, Amish heirloom rated by many as the best-tasting tomato. Flavor best described as "very rich, loud, and distinctively spicy". Very large, often over 1 pound, the fruits are bright pink.

(fair use)

Use these heirloom beans and peppers for a hardy chili, in salads, steamed with other vegetables, and for snacks and sandwiches.

If you grow heirloom seeds, remember to germinate them carefully for maximum success. Please contribute seeds to the exchanges and banks springing up around the country.

When it comes to heirloom seeds, the country has only been gone to scratch the surface! This year, put history in your garden, and enjoy the incredible taste of the gentle drift of time!

Thanks for reading! Southern Perlo is posted from Kudu Coffee (African coffees and good conversation!), in Charleston, SC. In a Southern voice, it gathers stories and views for local communities, and was recently featured on the Lou Dobbs radio show. (Perlo is rice enriched by local bounty and carefully crafted to enhance its pleasure and value; enjoyed by all.)

“From the Front Porches of Charleston: The Election of Barack Obama,” is the first e-book about Obama in Charleston, and it's free! Walter Rhett writes about the election through parallels of Charleston's history. Rhett edited over 100 photo pages from around the country. Download free: www.lulu.com/content/5282127 . (Pass the link to others, please.)

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Well now. Ok. It’s the Bible Thumper’s Turn

My guest writer today is a woman deserving of wider recognition. Sandra E. Graham is a grandmother living in northern Arizona, and today is looking at 8 inches of snow. She is witty, earthly, and survives the daily details of living with a wonderful laugh and a profound eye. An American grandmother who writes about washing machines and frozen turkeys, her observations nurture unconditional love and common sense. I am deeply honored that she give me permission to reprint from her funny and joyful essays. Today, she offers a Sunday answer to cynics, agnostics, atheists, and others who argue the fact or presence of an unseen God in their lives. I hope you enjoy Sandra Graham's work. I know I do.(wr)

Actually, I don't think of myself as a Bible Thumper'-I'm not sure what a Bible thumper is. I get a picture of when I was eight or so and the Baptist preacher, where I accompanied my parents to church, pounded on the podium (or it could have been the Bible), spraying spittle, and shouting to High Heaven! Really, though, I'm sure it is purely symbolic-someone who places boundless, energetic, and enthusiastic emphasis on their faith in the Bible. A person who is so profoundly enveloped in their beliefs that they will go to extreme measures to get their point across.

Truth be known, I would like to be just such a person. I would love to be the type of person who feels no qualms about shattering the tabletop to get a group's attention. To be so in tune with my convictions, that I would allow nothing to stop me from wailing from the rooftops. Being a quiet person-old school raised; children are to be seen and not heard-I never learned to speak out. What rolls from my brain, down my arms, and through my fingertips has very little chance of ever coming out of my mouth. Should it ever try, there is usually a foot in the way.

I am not insecure in my faith; my insecurity lies merely in public speaking. I have journeyed with Adam and Eve and Moses through the Old Testament and truly believe that there is one God who created all living things along with the earth and its universe.

And not simply because that that is what I have been told, but because the telling touched my soul with a reality that I can't deny. Sure the Bible is full of terrible events, wars, alcoholism, incest, murder, and adultery-but these are all human frailties. God gave us a brain and I think He basically wanted us to learn to use our brains to the betterment of the human race. I'm sure He had hoped that someday we would (being created in His image) learn from our senseless mistakes and become a people worthy of His grace and love.

Another thing I don't necessarily want to do is force my convictions and religion on another. I don't feel that a person has to attend church faithfully to be a Christian. A church is just a building-the true church is the people. A true Christian who has God and Jesus in his heart carries his church with him. Attending church does, however, keep a person focused on remaining true to that person's beliefs. As humans, we are very susceptible to human weaknesses and therein is where the danger lies. If we aren't faithful in our Bible Study and church attendance, we may too easily be swayed by the material possessions in a world where too many feel possessions are the greatest form of wealth.

I don't believe God has a special Heaven for terrorists who take their own lives while killing indiscriminately. I find it impossible to believe that any true God would condone killing as a way to salvation. My God teaches me to love my enemies. So for anyone who says "I don't believe in God or Jesus", I don't condemn that person, rather pray for his/her salvation.

And for those who tell us, we don't know what's out there, we don't know how we were created or why; all I can say is FAITH. We have to have faith, for without faith, we truly do have nothing. If the whole world based their actions on faith that there is a loving God who gave His only Son to bear the sinful burdens of a world gone wrong and would act according to the teachings of a Bible that says Love thy neighbor, thou shalt not kill, honor thy father and thy mother, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not have Gods before me, remember the sabbath, do not use the Lord's name in vain, and thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's belongings, wouldn't it be a given that the world could live as one?

Who could find fault with reasoning such as this? If this makes me a Bible Thumper, then I am proud to be a Bible Thumper and will continue to pray that more and more people become such. We will all be, in the end, judged by our works; may our works reflect well on us when that time comes.

I will bethere for you.

Sandra E. Graham authored AMOS JAKEY and NICOLINA published by American Book Publishing. Sandra loves to write about people and if you enjoy reading about people, you will love these books. Her first two novels are historical/adventure/fiction of early 1900's America.

Thanks for reading.

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Zeer Pots Use Green Techology to Reduce African Hunger

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It's Saturday, the day for American classics from the early days of jazz and rhythm and blues. WGBO.FM out of Newark, NJ has a great web link with superb sound and radio hosts who really know the music. Little Milton is the featured blues artist this morning, but the joy is in the bass lines, rhythm guitar licks, and kicking fills that are a lost art today, not to mention the sweet, soulful saxophone solos by masters of its language. The jumping jive and kinetic swing returns the body to a time when feet were fast and light. If you have a favorite “old school” web link for music, please let me know.

It's time for high school science fairs, and here's a green experiment that is easy, fun, and safe, and should score winning points at school or home. It's call the Zeer pot. The Zeer pot is a simple clay refrigerator. The Zeer pot was invented in 1995, by a Nigerian science teacher, Mohammed Bah Abba. The pot provides a method of cooling for food and drinks that doesn't depend on electricity. The Zeer pot is portable, and only requires on clean sand, a small amount of water, and two terracotta pots (without drain holes), one larger than the other so the smaller one can sit inside the larger one.

The Zeer pot is now in wide use throughout Africa. In countries from Nigeria to the Sudan, it has helped prevent hunger and starvation, especially among children and the elderly. The life of tomatoes kept in a Zeer pot go from 2 days to 20 days! Okra goes from 4 days to 17!

To make your Zeer pot, place a layer of sand in the bottom of the larger pot. The layer should bring the rim of the smaller pot up the same level as the larger pot. Make sure the smaller rim is not higher; it may be lower. Now carefully add sand (use a funnel, row up a newspaper, fold cardboard, etc.) to fill in the space between the pots (1 – 2 inches ideally).

Next, place the Zeer pot in the shade, in a well ventilated area. Now carefully add water to the fill sand, until the water “pools” on the top (indicating the sand is filled with water).

Place food and drink--apples, oranges, bottled drinks, bread, baloney, condiments, etc.--inside the smaller terracotta pot.

For the science experiment, place thermometers inside the pot and outside in the ambient air. Register the temperature readings each hour, and chart the differences to determine the effectiveness of the the Zeer pot as a green cooling device. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Zeer pot.

The pot works on the principles of evaporation. The porous walls of the inner pot absorbs water from the sand. This transfer allows the water to evaporate from the inner walls, providing a cooling effect. Try the experiment at different humidity levels (easily found on the web at weather sites). Lower levels of humility should work better. Also cover the pot with a wet tea towel or a piece of cotton fabric. Does that improve the cooling effect? Try to measure the effects on windy days. The faster evaporation, caused by the wind, will heighten the cooling effect.

And after science, you have a neat green cooler for backyard snacks and drinks!

Thanks for reading! Southern Perlo is posted from Kudu Coffee (African coffees and good conversation!), in Charleston, SC. In a Southern voice, it gathers stories and views for local communities, and was recently featured on the Lou Dobbs radio show. (Perlo is rice enriched by local bounty to enhance its pleasure and value, carefully crafted; stirred by experience, enjoyed by all.)

“From the Front Porches of Charleston: The Election of Barack Obama,” is the first e-book about Obama in Charleston, and it's free! Charleston writer Walter Rhett writes about the election through parallels of Charleston's history. Rhett edited over 100 photo pages. Download free at: www.lulu.com/content/5282127 .

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PETA dons KKK robes for the show

These are strange new times when PETA dresses up like the Ku Klux Klan (complete with pointed hoods) to protest the purebreed AKC-certified lines of dogs entered in the famous Westminister Dog Show in New York City. The impact of the protest seem limited. People were stopping to snap pictures of fake Klansmen on their cell phones.  

Comments that followed the news stories of the protest generally bewailed the sufferings, physical deficits, and health difficulties that have crept into the dog industry breeding and show programs. Due in part to “puppy mills” and judging quirks, the genetic health of dogs is at risk. Vocerifous in-breeding is weakening the skeletal frames of some popular breeds, leading to declining health and shorter life. For example, some  breeds are being selected for slanted spines or have rear quarters that barely support their weight.   No letters or comments about the Klan robes, through; which seemed upon further review to be a metaphor gone too far. I wouldn't have put a protest in a Klan robe in New York—or anywhere; it seemed too confusing and made the real message of the dangers of inbreeding obscure. Klan robes, even for a good cause, are certainly offensive. Klan robes trigger different signals which don't arouse sympathy for th dogs plight. PETA's actual use of white robes and pointed hooded masks sends all the emotional drama of a longstanding historic message that points to lynchings and assaults on humans, especially by race. This horrendous history of violence and lynching blocks the robes' attempt to be a rather subtle cross-species link to the self-absorbed, naraccistic folly of creating pure bred dogs through inbreeding. The Klan comparison is off-target and uses a symbol of suffering that creates recoil rather than persausion and clarity. PETA expalined it was after the symbolic link of purity the Klan and show breeder's pursue, but "purity" is a misreading of the Klan's actions and intent. The Klan never “weakened” whites in the course of attempts to “strengthen” whites by pure breeding. The Klan's activities were more about power, priviledge, illegal violence, and an ideology of racial superiority. I hate to say it, but the analogy that PETA professes by using the Klan shockingly ignores the legacy of the robes symbolism. The use of hate symbols, especially Ku Klux Klan robes, has no place in any message that strives for the moral high ground. The robes are bitter visual reminders of blood sacrifices and can not be rehabilitated. If PETA wants the Westminister show off the air, it should first take off its robes.

The dogs deserve better.

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Make Your Next Meeting Green

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Feb/21/greenectyGa1942.jpgIs your group meeting or convention using green techniques? It's estimated that a 5 day meeting for 2,500 people will use 87,500 napkins and 75,000 cups. Marriott estimates a 3 day meeting for a 1,000 will use 200,000 kilowatts of electricity, 100,000 gallons of water and generate 12 tons of trash. Cost cutting and energy savings go hand-in-hand. Green meetings are a fast growing trend. Here's quick, easy ways to promote the benefits of green whenever you meet:Develop and distribute a paperless agenda, program book, or reports via the web.This saves paper and eliminates the costs of disposing any waste.Plan meetings for outside. Turn the lights off and get outside. Use available sunlight, take advantage of the natural temperature range to get participants invigorated by the natural environment. Outdoor meetings, in parks, courtyards, shelter areas, or an area into which portable tables can be moved add energy and beauty to a meeting, and increase the quality of the meeting's results.Enhance the meeting meal with locally grown food. Supporting local farmers who can provide greens for salad, nuts and fruits for snacks, vegetables for side dishes is a great way to connect to the community. Obviously, it has benefits of supporting local producers and featuring the tastes of local bounty.Decorate with live plants. The beauty and charm of living plants surpass cut flower arrangements and can be table gifts or highlight local flora.Organize car pools. Better 2 cars than 20 on the road. This reduces the meeting's carbon footprint.Bring your own mug. Give a door prize for the person with the most artistic or creative mug.Incorporating even one of these tips lets your meeting achieve a laudable goal!Thanks for reading! Southern Perlo is posted from Kudu Coffee (African coffees and good conversation!), in Charleston, SC. In a Southern voice, it gathers stories and views for local communities, and was recently featured on the Lou Dobbs radio show. (Perlo is rice enriched by local bounty to enhance its pleasure and value. Perlo is carefully crafted: its recipe handed down, stirred by experience, and enjoyed by all.) Stir your imagination--information is hospitality! “From the Front Porches of Charleston: The Election of Barack Obama,” is free! Charleston writer & tour guide, Walter Rhett, writes about the election through parallels of Charleston's history. Rhett edited over 100 photo pages. Download free at: www.lulu.com/content/5282127 .

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An Open Conversation with Eric Holder

I am Black and I don't agree with Eric Holder. I think Americans, North and South and everywhere have open and honest conversations about values and ideas of groups with different skin colors, and other traits of diversity. They talk about black-on-black crime, the lost generation of young African-American men, the outrageous pregnancy rates of African-American teenagers, the foul insensitive language of gangsta hip-hop. Sometimes the honesty is not so nice. Sometimes it stereotypes and slurs. But other times people ask geniune questions about the attitudes and views about the African-American part of the American mosaic.During the American early years, the voices of abolitionists and slaveholders hotly and openly debated "race" as a legal, pyschological, and human condition. The debate was carried on in churches, legislative chanbers, and meeting halls--as well as coffee houses, stage coaches, and family dinner tables. Race is an old topic in America, and many think its time to give it a rest.As an African-American, I enjoy the challenge of climbing out of my own skin and seeing the world wholly. I refuse to play victim, or to fit into a box. And I certainly never speak threateningly or shrilly to call out others for their voices or their silence. The experience of being an African-American in America has been a journey of wonder. The discovery of insights has matured my understanding beyond blind allegiance to the closed doors and discrimination of my early years. Yet surprisingly, many folk believe that African-Americans lose their critical eye when assessing the positions or ideas held by others with whom they are linked by common history and blood. These folk think the African-American response is often knee-jerk, unthinking and uncritical. Eric Holder is currently—and rightly—their poster child. His loud, brash, big brush wolf statement probably won't draw anyone out to sensitively and sensibly dialogue about how race or other diverse traits affects individuals and communities. For example, SwampGator wonders in Beaufort, SC why people who differ with Obama politically are often labeled racist? Well, I don't think legitimate differences are examples of racism. In fact, I wrote a book (www.lulu.com/content/528212) (e-book, 147 p, 100 photo pages; free!) about the bitter conflicts and comments directed at Obama during the campaign and specifically said it wasn't racism that lay behind the attacks and pancake boxes and cartoons and school bus chants and threats. I invite Swamp to join those like me who can discuss differences without labels, and examine positions and ideas on merits. I'll happy to talk and blog with Swamp and others who want to engage in lively exchange about political differences or race. In fact, I'll start the conversation. The common history of African-American heritage is a good place to launch into the discussion. One thing African-Americans have in common is that many outside of the group see the group as having the same attitudes and views! Many outside the group think the majority of African-Americans think alike. I see it constantly on my blogs.Like jazz, or cooking, African-Americans are diverse!That's why I am brave enough to say I disagree with Eric Holder! I think he is wrong. Certainly, the more than 60 million whites who voted for Barack on November 8, as he was attacked as elite, naive, inexperienced, Muslim, hate monger, and scary socialist with the wrong friends, showed plenty of courage. They spoke up loudly and boldly.And if you think they were all stupid, and that's your point of view, it doesn't make you racist.But it doesn't mean I agree with you!

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