LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sun, 17 Feb 2019 15:51:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 https://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png LikeTheDew.com https://likethedew.com 32 32 Eradicating Symbolic Bigotry https://likethedew.com/2019/02/17/eradicating-symbolic-bigotry/ https://likethedew.com/2019/02/17/eradicating-symbolic-bigotry/#respond Sun, 17 Feb 2019 15:51:36 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70558 Ralph Northam had the look of a dead man walking. Virginia’s Governor took over American news cycles recently and it appeared he’d resign before Valentine’s Day. Now I’m not so sure. Perhaps recent strategy by Republicans like Brett Kavanaugh, Steve King, and our current president, have altered the landscape. Maybe public outrage isn’t terminal any longer. Don’t get me wrong; Northam should resign, if only for stupidity. Anyone that used black face as recently as 1984, should not only know better, but know it is a public relations nightmare. And tearful apologies don’t count if the offending person was discovered by someone else.

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Ralph Northam had the look of a dead man walking. Virginia’s Governor took over American news cycles recently and it appeared he’d resign before Valentine’s Day. Now I’m not so sure. Perhaps recent strategy by Republicans like Brett Kavanaugh, Steve King, and our current president, have altered the landscape. Maybe public outrage isn’t terminal any longer.

Don’t get me wrong; Northam should resign, if only for stupidity. Anyone that used black face as recently as 1984, should not only know better, but know it is a public relations nightmare. And tearful apologies don’t count if the offending person was discovered by someone else.

However, this movie is getting tiresome. A public figure is busted for being stupid when young. In Northam’s case, he was fighting Republican operatives trying to scare the voting public with a false narrative about an abortion issue. So they found dirt. Now no one discusses the abortion issue even though Northam is a subject expert.

I’m convinced that anyone revealing such stories, along with everyone making public statements demanding a resignation, must allow Buzz Feed to do a search on their life back to junior high and publish the results. This type story has become about outrage instead of anything substantive.

When we first decided to do something about systematic prejudice, we evidently accepted the fact that we couldn’t eradicate true racism, or sexism for that matter, so we targeted symbols. Symbolic bigotry is so much easier to handle. Besides, making a quick decision about racism is easy if there are props.

So, like carpenter ants, we busy ourselves identifying those fiends that symbolically out themselves as racist. Using the N-word is a no-brainer. Making references to watermelon, fried chicken, chains, slavery; or flubbing Martin Luther King’s name on television, is enough to warrant the forming of a whatever metaphor we currently use instead of lynch mob since lynch is also inappropriate.

We have a major political party that has survived on racism for fifty years and no one even bothers to call them out, much less offer the outrage we exhibit when one uses a slur, or gets caught with the Stars and Bars. When they talk about being tough on crime, immigration, or voting irregularities, no opposing politician even offers a rebuttal. The same rules apply to all bigoted incidents.

Sportscasters congratulate themselves for refusing to utter Washington, DC’s racist team name but never mention the true plight of Native Americans in today’s America. There are living Natives that aren’t allowed to vote because of a distant treaty. Maybe the only part of that treaty white people didn’t violate.

While we struggle with using the proper pronoun for transgender people, AOC is being subjected to unrepentant sexism on a daily basis, and any woman that takes a controversial public stance is subjected to the vilest threats one can imagine.

Last week, Major League Baseball announced that the Disabled List no longer exists. We now have the Injured List. While congratulating yourself about our progress, remember the teenage Olympic gymnasts, and what was allowed to happen to them by those responsible for their safety.

America worked really hard to eradicate lasting symbols of racism left over from the Civil War. All it took was one election to show how far away we still are. We’ve battled against symbolic bigotry since I was a teenager. Its time we started fighting for substantive equality.

Consider that the next time you are outraged by cultural appropriation.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.

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Abortion and Fetal Personhood https://likethedew.com/2019/02/17/abortion-and-fetal-personhood/ https://likethedew.com/2019/02/17/abortion-and-fetal-personhood/#respond Sun, 17 Feb 2019 14:39:28 +0000 https://likethedew.com/?p=70560

Believing that the U. S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision is hanging by a thread, states are positioning themselves to fill the legal void that would result if the Court overruled Roe. In place of a nationally recognized right to an abortion up until fetal viability, the question whether there are to be abortion rights at all would be returned to the states. Some, like New York, are moving to enlarge abortion rights in that event. Others, like South Carolina, are poised to limit them sharply.

A favored device in some anti-abortion states is to declare, as a matter of law, that a fetus, from the moment of conception, is a person entitled to the same rights of due process and equal protection that all other persons enjoy. Because a fetus, being a person, has a right to life like all other persons, some states taking this approach believe that a fetus’s right to life bars all abortions, because, as the author of a South Carolina anti-abortion bill said, abortion is the “shedding of innocent blood.” Other states would permit abortions only to save the mother’s life. So confident is the author of another South Carolina bill that he’s got all this right that the bill makes performing or undergoing an abortion where the mother’s life isn’t at risk a felony.

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Believing that the U. S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wadeabortion decision is hanging by a thread, states are positioning themselves to fill the legal void that would result if the Court overruled Roe. In place of a nationally recognized right to an abortion up until fetal viability, the question whether there are to be abortion rights at all would be returned to the states. Some, like New York, are moving to enlarge abortion rights in that event. Others, like South Carolina, are poised to limit them sharply.

A favored device in some anti-abortion states is to declare, as a matter of law, that a fetus, from the moment of conception, is a person entitled to the same rights of due process and equal protection that all other persons enjoy. Because a fetus, being a person, has a right to life like all other persons, some states taking this approach believe that a fetus’s right to life bars all abortions, because, as the author of a South Carolina anti-abortion bill said, abortion is the “shedding of innocent blood.” Other states would permit abortions only to save the mother’s life. So confident is the author of another South Carolina bill that he’s got all this right that the bill makes performing or undergoing an abortion where the mother’s life isn’t at risk a felony.

If the issue of abortion is on the verge of being taken out of the courts and returned to the voters’ legislative representatives, it’s worth asking what guidance our considered moral intuitions can give us about the legal protections fetal persons should have.

In 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade, Judith Jarvis Thomson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a searching examination of the assumption animating the personhood movement. She accepted the premise that the fetus is a person and teased out its implications, some of which are especially relevant now.

Some, though not all, personhood advocates believe, like the South Carolina legislators, that abortions to save the life of the mother are morally permissible and should be legal. But in all other cases, including pregnancy resulting from rape, abortions should be barred, the personhood proponents believe, as a violation of the fetus’s right to life. As former Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., famously put it, the “method of conception” doesn’t compromise the fetus’s right to life.

Why is a woman whose life is at risk entitled to an abortion but a fourteen-year-old pregnant as a result of rape by her father isn’t?

Taking the at-risk mother first, our intuition that abortion to save her life is morally permissible is based on her right of self-defense. Having the same self-defense right as the rest of us, she’s not morally required to wait passively for a toxic pregnancy to kill her. And health care professionals are morally permitted to support her in the exercise of her self-defense right.

So far, so good. But if the fetus is a person with the same right to life as everybody else, then it has the same right of self-defense as the mother. And if third parties may intervene in support of the mother’s exercise of her self-defense right, they may do so for the fetus.

If that’s the whole story, then we’re at moral stalemate. If only the mother or the fetus but not both can survive, it’s not at all obvious which one the law should protect. Legislating personhood for the fetus doesn’t automatically tip the scales in favor of the unborn.

We might think that it’s the innocence of the fetus that gives it a stronger claim to survival than the mother. But that can’t be right either and taking a closer look at our self-defense right shows why. If we grant that people have a right of self-defense, then the right to life obviously can’t be the right not to be killed no matter what. It can only be the right not to be killed unjustly, that is, in violation of your rights. So if you’re trying to kill me and the only way I can save my life is to kill you first, I don’t violate any right of yours if I succeed. I’m just exercising my self-defense right.

But that’s true even of innocent threats. Had Jared Loughner been so deranged that he thought he was brandishing a cucumber when, at a political event in 2011, he shot then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., surely we wouldn’t think he’d been killed unjustly if dispatched by police at the scene, even though he wasn’t responsible for what he was doing.

Now if the right to life is the right not to be killed unjustly, that explains why the mother’s self-defense right takes precedence over the fetus’s self-defense right in the case of a toxic, life-threatening pregnancy. The right of self-defense extends to defending ourselves even against people who’re innocent threats. If the only way we can save our lives is to take theirs, doing that doesn’t violate of any of their rights.

So the states that are prepared to allow abortions to save the mother’s life seem to be on firmer ground than those looking to ban all abortions. That more rigorous position doesn’t seem to square with our moral intuitions about these things.

But what about pregnancy resulting from rape? If as ex-Congressman Ryan observed, the “method of conception” doesn’t impair the fetus’s right to life, why should a fourteen-year-old pregnant rape victim have a legal right to an abortion? If her pregnancy doesn’t threaten her life, she can’t invoke her self-defense right to justify an abortion.

It’s tempting to think that what’s controlling here is the principle that the right to life is a right to everything needed to sustain life. If that’s a sound principle, then pregnant fourteen-year-old rape victims are out of luck.

Think about this, though. Suppose you come home from a trip to the grocery store and find slumped over your kitchen table a bedraggled person in obvious distress. He feebly waves a piece of paper at you and when you read it you learn to your horror that a FEMA operative has hacked your internet-enabled front door lock, and deposited this poor wretch, a Hurricane Michael victim, in your kitchen. The document goes on to say that your “guest” is in such a fragile state that his only chance of survival is room, board and medical care provided by you for the next nine months. But that’s not all, if you so much as let this person out of your sight, except when you’re both asleep, he’s done for. So if you sign on for this rescue, you and your charge will be joined at the hip, figurately if not literally, for the next nine months.

What are we to say about this? Following Thomson’s line of thought about a similar example, it would be spectacularly kind of you to take this guy on. Maybe it would even be callous of you to refuse. But your refusal would violate no right of his even if it ensures his death. After all, he has no right to be where he is, at your kitchen table close to breathing his last. Certainly he has a claim on your charity, but charity isn’t something that anybody is due as a right. He has no right to nine months room, board and all the rest unless you’ve agreed to it.

What this thought experiment suggests is that even if a fetus has a right to life, it doesn’t have a right to everything it needs to sustain life. And in the case of rape, it doesn’t have a right to the use of the mother’s body and blood supply. That isn’t a right she’s given it. It might be callous of her to refuse to carry it to term. But she violates no right of the fetus if she refuses, even if that ensures its death.

So if abortions to save the life of the mother or to spare pregnant rape victims aren’t ruled out by the fetus’s right to life as a person, just declaring that the unborn have a right to life from the moment of conception doesn’t seem to afford the burst of moral and legal clarity that advocates of these measures think it does. If a fetus is a person, then somewhere between life-saving abortions and vacation-saving abortions, there’s a moral line we shouldn’t cross. But legislative bodies may not be the best venues for figuring out where the line is.

Leon Galis

I'm an Athens, GA, native and have been living in Athens since 1999 after retiring from the faculty of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Since 2008 I've written approximately 80 columns for the Athens Banner Herald and a handful for Flagpole Magazine in Athens.  

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The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben, Joseph Borkin https://likethedew.com/2019/01/28/the-crime-and-punishment-of-i-g-farben-joseph-borkin/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/28/the-crime-and-punishment-of-i-g-farben-joseph-borkin/#respond Mon, 28 Jan 2019 20:51:21 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70443

Joseph Borkin, as a young lawyer working for a 1934 Senate committee, was assigned to investigate munitions where he first encountered, I.G. Farben. For the rest of his government career he kept bumping into the German conglomerate. When he witnessed the results of war criminal trials following World War II. He vowed to write a book on the corporation, published in 1978.

The company history runs thus (detailed in the book): An executive of one of the dozen or so German chemical companies, early part of the 20th century, visiting the U.S., was informed of the measures Standard Oil had taken to consolidate its power, forming a trust. Inspired he returned to Germany determined to organize his competitors into what became the conglomeration known as I.G. Farben. Holding a virtual international monopoly via patents on key products, everyone grew rich.

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War - an illustration by Tom Ferguson
The Crime and Punishment of IG Farben by Joseph Borkin

Joseph Borkin, as a young lawyer working for a 1934 Senate committee, was assigned to investigate munitions where he first encountered, I.G. Farben. For the rest of his government career he kept bumping into the German conglomerate. When he witnessed the results of war criminal trials following World War II. He vowed to write a book on the corporation, published in 1978.

The company history runs thus (detailed in the book): An executive of one of the dozen or so German chemical companies, early part of the 20th century, visiting the U.S., was informed of the measures Standard Oil had taken to consolidate its power, forming a trust. Inspired he returned to Germany determined to organize his competitors into what became the conglomeration known as I.G. Farben. Holding a virtual international monopoly via patents on key products, everyone grew rich.

The company responded during World War I., patriotically, putting their skills to work creating the first poison gas of the war, which might have left Germany victorious had I.G. Farben’s vision of its use been quickly and ruthlessly utilized. The company was also complicit in Germany’s damning use of slave labor. The military moved into Belgium and seized every able-bodied man they could lay hands on for the project. Generally less than enthusiastic about Hitler’s rise to power, with a few significant exceptions, but preferring him to the left with its anti-capitalist agenda, the company threw their support that way, purging Jewish employees, even highly valued technical and executive level people, and eventually fully utilizing the “free labor” of concentration camp victims, working them to death in their quest to fill the rampaging German military’s insatiable need for synthesized fuel and rubber tires. Borkin gives a horrifying account of what it was like under the cruel boot of the psychopathic Nazi machine. Malnourished prisoners were marched daily several miles to the I.G. Farben factory and worked long hours mercilessly. Those who weakened or fell were shot. A sadist at the factory gate would select out those he estimated were weakest and they’d be immediately taken to the gas chamber.

After the war the high-ranking Nazis who survived and didn’t manage to flee were dealt with by the Nuremberg court with long prison terms and hanging. But the I.G. Farben top executives were able to stall the proceedings until things had cooled off somewhat, the cold war having kicked in and distracted the victors. Many were acquitted and those who were convicted served three to seven years, very light sentences for what they had done. Of course when the nation is taken over by sociopaths not going along is no longer much of an option, an important lesson to resist early. Jefferson (if he indeed said this, but it’s solid whoever the author) knew of what he spoke – “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” The victors were not subject to the court so the fire-bombing of Dresden and Tokyo were not on the docket.

As well as resisting early, another lesson for statecraft is, avoid war entirely for it is brutal and dehumanizing. Although some tyrants openly glorify the practice, most will claim to trigger the nightmare only after all other options are exhausted. We can be skeptical, ready examples being the Bush/Cheney Iraq attack and the Obama drone war. When South Carolina has a grievance with Georgia the matter is settled by the courts not the National Guard. At least so far. No reason this model can’t be extended internationally though of course those who are well armed feel they can “win” so why take the chance? The answer is plain, “We end war or we end ourselves.” MLK

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

  • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
  • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
  • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
  • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)

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Once Again, No Steroids In Baseball, For Now… https://likethedew.com/2019/01/27/once-again-no-steroids-in-baseball-for-now/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/27/once-again-no-steroids-in-baseball-for-now/#respond Sun, 27 Jan 2019 14:56:09 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70420

We can celebrate the induction of relief pitcher Mariano Rivera into Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame, as well as a pair of solid starters, while the veterans chose another reliever and designated hitter.  They missed their chance to bring in a pair of defense studs, but at least they denied the steroid abusers a spot in the HoF, saving baseball from unfathomable shame for at least one more year. 

Heading into the vote, I had been reading my son the Mariano Rivera story, learning about his humble origins, and his desire for perfection as well as being a good teammate and class act.  Zach committed to focusing on accuracy in pitching over speed, with good results this fall, as a result.  Rivera’s unanimous vote is well-deserved.

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We can celebrate the induction of relief pitcher Mariano Rivera into Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame, as well as a pair of solid starters, while the veterans chose another reliever and designated hitter. They missed their chance to bring in a pair of defense studs, but at least they denied the steroid abusers a spot in the HoF, saving baseball from unfathomable shame for at least one more year. 

Heading into the vote, I had been reading my son the Mariano Rivera story, learning about his humble origins, and his desire for perfection as well as being a good teammate and class act. Zach committed to focusing on accuracy in pitching over speed, with good results this fall, as a result. Rivera’s unanimous vote is well-deserved.

We also had the good fortune of meeting another new inductee, Lee Smith, two years ago. He posed for a picture with us, even though it wasn’t on the agenda, chatted with Zach, and encouraged him to become a pitcher (“Ladies love the pitchers” he advised my son). All Smith did was become the all-time saves leader for his time, pitching in the two toughest places for an RP: the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, before each broke their own World Series curses. 

Halladay and Mussina were strong, durable starters, while Martinez was a consistently good hitter. Baines doesn’t belong in ahead of Dale Murphy or Fred McGriff, but I trust the players on this one.

However, one thing I couldn’t stand was seeing were those sportswriters crowing about how Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in the Hall-of-Fame. The moment the league allows this, the league ceases to be anything worth watching. Here’s why.

  1. Steroid abuse kills. There are players who have shot up who have died. The election of steroid abusers will unleash a wave of young athletes who will risk it for fame and glory. Critics will deny this. They also have nothing to say at these kids’ funerals.
  2. Steroid abuse destroys your health. See #1. 
  3. Steroid abuse is illegal. Currently, players will be suspended a lot of games for steroid abuse. What’s one of them to say when they see a player get rewarded with a spot in Cooperstown for doing the same thing?
  4. Steroid abusers knew what they were doing was wrong. Each took elaborate steps to avoid detection, with a series of mail schemes, cut-outs, shooting up in secret. Nobody did this in public. They knew what they were doing is wrong.
  5. Steroid abusers lied. Each insisted that they had not cheated. They lied to teammates, coaches, fans, Congress…the list goes on.
  6. Steroid abuse inflated statistics. We can’t tell an honest home run or strikeout from a dishonest one. Ignore the arguments that said they only did it for a year or two..
  7. Steroid abuse votes are inconsistent. Why are some abusers getting a lot of votes, and others with similarly inflated numbers are being shut out? Writers condoning such actions can’t even be honest with themselves about who should be punished or not.
  8. Steroid abusers took away votes, and chances, from honest players, creating an artificial standard for success.
  9. Steroid abusers get to keep their millions of dollars. All they are being denied is a spot of honor in that New York museum. And they can’t stand it.
  10. For every parent, who wishes their kid to play the sport, drug-free, the admission of Bonds, Clemens, etc.  is a nightmare, proving that the sport values short-cuts over hard work and talent.

Luckily, some sportswriters, veterans, and these relievers managed to “save” the sport for one more season. I pray that America’s Pastime can stay that way, and not give in the temptation to reward cheaters for their illicit actions.

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.

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There’s no one in the South filling the void that Ralph McGill left https://likethedew.com/2019/01/25/theres-no-one-in-the-south-filling-the-void-that-ralph-mcgill-left/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/25/theres-no-one-in-the-south-filling-the-void-that-ralph-mcgill-left/#respond Fri, 25 Jan 2019 19:12:52 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70414

 It’s fulfilling and fun to go back and re-read some of what you have read before.

Heading for a doctor’s appointment, and not having a book for the waiting room, at the GwinnettForum office I pulled from the shelf a small book from more than 50 years ago. Its title was “The Fleas Come with the Dog,” by the late editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution, Ralph McGill, a giant of a man.

The way McGill addressed his readers in his every-day, front-page column was straight and to the point. He essentially was the conscience of the South as it suffered through its struggles with integration.

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 It’s fulfilling and fun to go back and re-read some of what you have read before.

Heading for a doctor’s appointment, and not having a book for the waiting room, at the GwinnettForum office I pulled from the shelf a small book from more than 50 years ago. Its title was “The Fleas Come with the Dog,” by the late editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution, Ralph McGill, a giant of a man.

Oil portrait of Ralph McGill by Robert Templeton

The way McGill addressed his readers in his every-day, front-page column was straight and to the point. He essentially was the conscience of the South as it suffered through its struggles with integration.

Yet McGill was not just writing about this one subject. Yes, he wrote about his home Southland like no other.  But he also was trained to look at the wider picture, in our country, in the world, and in individual’s lives, writing about names you knew and about people you would never hear from again.

McGill was raised on a Tennessee farm, and schooled at Vanderbilt. He began as a reporter in Nashville on the Banner in 1921, and quickly became its sports editor. He came to Atlanta in 1929 to write features for the Constitution, and soon was its sports editor. By 1938 he was its editor, and before he retired, became its publisher.

He was syndicated in many other newspapers and magazines. There’s no one in the South today in any media with the impact and respect all across the region that McGill had.

McGill was progressive, and told the Southerners sometimes what they did not want to hear. Many hated him, accusing him of being in cahoots with anything they did not like. But even though many complained, they read him, many grudgingly recognizing what was to come. His thoughts helped many Southerners adopt a new attitude.

McGill took on people who wrote him.  One lady wrote: “The South has the finest people in the world; her land will grow every crop in the world. Let those that don’t like it go somewhere else.”

Calling her views the “philosophy of decay,” he said it is like “wearing a new evening gown with a dirty slip showing.”  And he called it dishonest.  He added: “Let us muster the best we have to eliminate the worst we have. Let’s wash the dirty slip under the new dress.”

McGill also had a knack of being where news was made. He traveled quite a bit, in the 30s visiting Cuba, or watching with his wife while Hitler took over Austria. He seemed to gravitate to where news would take place. He talked to Patton and Churchill. Then he gave us his take on it.

Do not forget that McGill was a superb writer. For instance, while in Florida one January day, he saw 10 middle-aged people in two cars from North Dakota fascinated with the ocean pounding the beach:

“White-capped rollers were breaking far out from the beach. The gathering ground swells seem to rise enormously before they, too, broke out their white crests and crashed against the sands, rolling along in a smothering turbulence that hissed and muttered over the sands in progress and in retreat.”

We don’t have the likes of Ralph McGill today, (or even an editorial philosophy in the Atlanta newspapers). While we have more media than ever, we have few universal clear-voices sounding the call, pushing us to think creatively in wider limits, and doing what is right.

Ralph McGill, 1898-1969: we miss you so.

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.

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Grandma’s Singer Sewing Machine https://likethedew.com/2019/01/25/grandmas-singer-sewing-machine/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/25/grandmas-singer-sewing-machine/#respond Fri, 25 Jan 2019 15:51:46 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70349

Back around 1965 a fashion craze swept through high school. Cranberry, button-down shirts emerged as “the” shirt to have, and like other young bucks I had to have one. Nothing’s worse than being a teenager out of step with fashion. When it became apparent my folks weren’t getting me a store-bought shirt, Grandmom Poland said she would make me one, and she did. Made it on her Singer sewing machine. The collar was a bit out of line and the buttonholes a tad large but I loved that shirt and plumb wore it out.

Remember sewing? It used to part of family life, and there was a time when women bought bolts of cloth and made clothes for the family. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I watched Mom and Grandmom Poland pump the treadle and make that Singer sing. The song would start slowly but pressure on the treadle would rev it up, and that machine would hum right along. I recall sewing’s rhythmic tune, seeing parchment-like paper etched with faint blue patterns, and hearing words like rickrack, facing, and gathering. I recall, too, the complex act of threading the machine and seeing all manner of machine accessories. A wooden spool of thread sat on the spool pin and adjusting the thread tension proved critical. Sewing seemed mechanical and magical but more than anything it seemed to be a labor of love.

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Back around 1965 a fashion craze swept through high school. Cranberry, button-down shirts emerged as “the” shirt to have, and like other young bucks I had to have one. Nothing’s worse than being a teenager out of step with fashion. When it became apparent my folks weren’t getting me a store-bought shirt, Grandmom Poland said she would make me one, and she did. Made it on her Singer sewing machine. The collar was a bit out of line and the buttonholes a tad large but I loved that shirt and plumb wore it out.

Remember sewing? It used to part of family life, and there was a time when women bought bolts of cloth and made clothes for the family. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I watched Mom and Grandmom Poland pump the treadle and make that Singer sing. The song would start slowly but pressure on the treadle would rev it up, and that machine would hum right along. I recall sewing’s rhythmic tune, seeing parchment-like paper etched with faint blue patterns, and hearing words like rickrack, facing, and gathering. I recall, too, the complex act of threading the machine and seeing all manner of machine accessories. A wooden spool of thread sat on the spool pin and adjusting the thread tension proved critical. Sewing seemed mechanical and magical but more than anything it seemed to be a labor of love.

I hope I told Grandmom how much I appreciated the shirt she made me because it must have taken days to make. And that brings me to a question. Do young women sew today? Do they pin patterns to cloth and cut fabric with the utmost care? Do they lovingly put an old Singer sewing machine to work and hear it sing its song?

My guess is they don’t. It takes too much time, and so old Singers sit idle. They collect dust like the ones here that I photographed in Carlton, Georgia. And besides, just why should a young woman sew today? Plenty of stores sell clothes in a dizzying array of styles and sizes. There was a time, though, when you had to make them yourself, and there used to be a high school course called Home Economics where girls learned sewing and other practical skills, but those days are out of fashion now. Change marches on, but even I learned to appreciate sewing’s practical side. Granddad Poland wore overalls. He was short and Grandmom would shorten new overalls’ legs and hem them to fit. She’d sew one end of a discarded leg piece together, sew on a strap, and just like that I had a granite pebble bag for my slingshot. From that bag grew my love for camera bags, Pony Express-type bags, and leather luggage.

No, I doubt young women sew today, and I’ll admit that today’s husbands and beaus should be thankful that their ladies don’t sew. Few things are more painful than being dragged through cloth world. ’A trip to cloth world ’twas a fate worse than death. Still, when I was a boy, few things made me happier than that cranberry, button-down collared shirt I wore in high school. Grandmom sewed it, and it marked the beginning of my love affair with fashion, Brooks Brothers, seersucker suits, bow ties, and more.

Today, whenever I see an old Singer sewing machine, which is rare, I think of Mom and Grandmom sewing clothes for us. They weren’t store bought but they were made with love and they fit just fine. Now, except in the rarest of cases, homemade clothes are passé, and we’re that much more dependent on some seamstress we’ll never meet. Someone, no doubt, far, far away in another country. Someone else’s grandmother or more likely young daughter. Like a seam-ripper, change gutted us of yet another custom, and old Singer sewing machines sing no more.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books, 550 columns, and more than 1,200 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II, and South Carolina Country Roads. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground. He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. He’s the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine. Governor McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon him October 26, 2018 for his impact upon South Carolina through his books and writing because “his work is exceptional to the state.” Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina.<br /> Visit my website at <a href="http://www.tompoland.net">www.tompoland.net</a><br /> Email me at <a href="mailto:tompol@earthlink.net">tompol@earthlink.net</a></p> Visit his website at www.tompoland.net Email him at tompol@earthlink.net

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Defiler-in-Chief https://likethedew.com/2019/01/25/defiler-in-chief/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/25/defiler-in-chief/#respond Fri, 25 Jan 2019 15:38:41 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70405

No image better portrays the Trump presidency than that of national parks trashed and vandalized in the wake of an unnecessary government shutdown.  Is not this president’s primary accomplishment to defile what most Americans hold sacred?

The Constitution is sacred. Rather than loyalty to its abiding principles, Trump demands personal fealty of appointees. He admires autocrats and tyrants—the Philippines’ Duerte, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Russia’s Putin—for their “strong” (i.e., ruthless) leadership, including silencing opponents through assassination.

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No image better portrays the Trump presidency than that of national parks trashed and vandalized in the wake of an unnecessary government shutdown.  Is not this president’s primary accomplishment to defile what most Americans hold sacred?

The Constitution is sacred. Rather than loyalty to its abiding principles, Trump demands personal fealty of appointees. He admires autocrats and tyrants—the Philippines’ Duerte, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Russia’s Putin—for their “strong” (i.e., ruthless) leadership, including silencing opponents through assassination.

Truth too is sacred, and another casualty of the Trump era.  Mr. Trump denigrates journalists and castigates the fourth estate as “enemies of the people.”  He rails that respected news outlets issue “fake news,” while reveling in the fakest “news” of all: FOX. The daily deluge of falsehoods from the White House has kept an army of fact checkers on overtime. Since inauguration day, those lies number more than 7000, ten per day, beginning with “alternative facts” about attendance at the inauguration itself.

The health of the planet is sacred, as are the purity of our air and water. Yet Trump has withdrawn America from the Paris Climate Accord and staffed the EPA and the Department of the Interior with sycophants whose goals are to pervert the very agencies in their charge and to undermine previous bipartisan commitments to wilderness, clean air, pristine water, and a livable planet.

As a national symbol, the Statue of Liberty is sacred. Since gifted to us in 1875 by the French, Lady Liberty has beckoned humanity’s “huddled masses yearning to be free.” But Trump has tarred immigrants and asylum seekers as “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists” and would have Liberty’s shining beacon extinguished in favor of a new symbol: The Wall.

E pluribus unum, our sacred motto, signifies strength in diversity.  Yet Trump cultivates division. He emboldens white supremacists, incites violence, categorizes opponents as “mobs,” and fosters tribalism in an attempt to divide and conquer the American people

Our electoral processes are sacred. Or they were, until successfully hacked in 2016 by Russian-sourced conspiracy theories that maligned Hillary Clinton and swung the election to Donald Trump. Despite a national-intelligence consensus that Russian malfeasance was behind the disinformation, Trump publicly upholds Putin’s denials while savaging our intelligence agencies and attempting to discredit the Mueller investigation into Russian interference.

Our national parks and monuments are the envy of the world, sacred natural treasures deserving protection. Trump’s man to head the Interior Department? Ryan Zinke. Like former EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, Zinke recently resigned amid scandal. In his tenure at Interior, he presided over the dumbing down of science, forced the removal “climate change” from official reports, and relaxed environmental standards to encourage fossil-fuel extraction on public lands.

Beware the “leader” for whom nothing is sacred but ego, money, and power.

That the Republic has weathered many storms in its history is no proof that it will weather all.  Donald Trump is the greatest existential threat to American democracy that I have witnessed in my 70-year lifetime.

Dave Pruett

Dave Pruett

Dave Pruett, a former NASA researcher, is an award-winning computational scientist and emeritus professor of mathematics at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, VA. His alter ego, however, now out of the closet, is a writer. His first book, Reason and Wonder (Praeger, 2012), a "love letter to the cosmos," grew out of an acclaimed honors course at JMU that opens up "a vast world of mystery and discovery," to quote one enthralled student. For more information, visit reasonandwonder.org

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The Things We Keep https://likethedew.com/2019/01/21/the-things-we-keep/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/21/the-things-we-keep/#respond Mon, 21 Jan 2019 11:07:51 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70340

Hollywood props, of all things, took me back to family roots in Georgia. I was bored, a rare malady, for which the cure is a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western (so named because Italians directed them). A scene in Pale Rider featured a familiar sight, a washbasin and pitcher. Familiar, because I now own my late mother’s washbasin and pitcher.

Mom kept things from the past. Many of the things she kept, I now keep with good reason. They connect me to the past, my family’s past. Outside of visiting family members’ graves, owning some of their possessions remains the best connection. They turn a bit of my home into a museum of sorts. They add something to my life that’s hard to explain. It’s more a feeling than anything, an awareness, if you will.

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Hollywood props, of all things, took me back to family roots in Georgia. I was bored, a rare malady, for which the cure is a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western (so named because Italians directed them). A scene in Pale Rider featured a familiar sight, a washbasin and pitcher. Familiar, because I now own my late mother’s washbasin and pitcher.

Mom kept things from the past. Many of the things she kept, I now keep with good reason. They connect me to the past, my family’s past. Outside of visiting family members’ graves, owning some of their possessions remains the best connection. They turn a bit of my home into a museum of sorts. They add something to my life that’s hard to explain. It’s more a feeling than anything, an awareness, if you will.

In those westerns something about a washbasin and pitcher seems inviting. They bring a touch of civilization to a Dry Gulch outpost. Add candles or a kerosene lamp and a man has light to shave by. Sharpen that straight razor against leather, lather up the brush, and go from a dusty cowpoke coming off the trail to gallant gunslinger. Head to the saloon, toss back a shot, and see if a lady needs company or a bad guy needs dispatching. No doubt both if you’re Clint Eastwood.

A washbasin and pitcher sufficed until tubs came along. Some of you will recall The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, where Tuco (Eli Wallach) is taking his first bath in many a week. A pistol-packing one-armed desperado walks in to wreak revenge on the man who cost him an arm. He’s got Tuco right where he wants him—in a bubble-filled tub. As he lords over Tuco, gloating, Tuco fires through the bubbles and another bad guy bites the dust. “When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk,” says Tuco.

Well, Mom’s pitcher and washbasin never appeared in a Hollywood western but she kept them as memoirs. Growing up, she lived in a home without plumbing, something we take for granted in this gilded age of running water and electricity. Perhaps my grandfather shaved with that bowl. Perhaps it is merely a replica, but an authentic connection nonetheless remains.

Mom also kept two old wooden, bread bowls. I have one. Its scars and scratches confirm how love staved off hunger. Hands long dead kneaded dough in that bowl and many a loaf of bread and skillet of hot cornbread came out of my grandmother’s old wood stove. People still make fresh bread, of course, but they seldom use old wooden bowls, opting for stainless steel bowls and electric mixers. As for candles, they remain in vogue. Those cozy, flickering points of light create ambience in restaurants and add a festive touch to home come winter and special occasions. Paraffin has given way to glass bottles filled with oil, but unlike washbasins, pitchers, and kerosene lamps, we still find uses for candles.

I view my collection of Mom’s keepsakes with no small degree of feeling. Besides being beautiful, the things she kept remind me of a time when everything was difficult, though folks at that time couldn’t know how easier things would become. Today, we look at washbasins, water pitchers, candles, and kerosene lamps as relics of primitive days. We’re glad those antiquated times are behind us, still we need to remain aware of how vital they were to our forebears.

I know that my great-grandparents and, for a while, my grandparents didn’t have running water or electricity. Most everything they did required hard labor. The things Mom kept helped them live; they weren’t props in a movie. They were essential to a way of life, a way of life we can only guess about as we flip switches, turn faucets, and pull a loaf of bread off the shelf.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books, 550 columns, and more than 1,200 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II, and South Carolina Country Roads. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground. He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. He’s the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine. Governor McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon him October 26, 2018 for his impact upon South Carolina through his books and writing because “his work is exceptional to the state.” Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina.<br /> Visit my website at <a href="http://www.tompoland.net">www.tompoland.net</a><br /> Email me at <a href="mailto:tompol@earthlink.net">tompol@earthlink.net</a></p> Visit his website at www.tompoland.net Email him at tompol@earthlink.net

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Not Our Coast https://likethedew.com/2019/01/15/not-our-coast/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/15/not-our-coast/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 16:09:50 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70387

In 2015, the Obama administration announced that it was considering opening up the Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling. 

In both Republican and Democratic areas, residents, legislators, and organizations held town hall meetings, gathered in protest, and lobbied Washington. Meanwhile, the military formally and forcefully expressed concern that the proposed testing and drilling would gravely impact their offshore Florida, Georgia, and Virginia operations. 

On February 2nd, 2015, the City of St. Marys signed a Proclamation opposing seismic airgun testing (the process by which companies search for oil) along our coast. Kingsland and Camden County soon followed suit...

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In 2015, the Obama administration announced that it was considering opening up the Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling. 

In both Republican and Democratic areas, residents, legislators, and organizations held town hall meetings, gathered in protest, and lobbied Washington. Meanwhile, the military formally and forcefully expressed concern that the proposed testing and drilling would gravely impact their offshore Florida, Georgia, and Virginia operations. 

On February 2nd, 2015, the City of St. Marys signed a Proclamation opposing seismic airgun testing (the process by which companies search for oil) along our coast. Kingsland and Camden County soon followed suit. More than 320 municipalities and over 2,000 elected local, state and federal officials have signed similar resolutions/proclamations while fishing and tourism interests, including local chambers of commerce, tourism and restaurant associations, and an alliance representing over 42,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families from Florida to Maine, also oppose oil exploration off the East Coast. 

This overwhelming bipartisan resistance from government and business leaders caused the Obama administration to reverse its course; effectively ending any potential oil exploration for at least five years. However, shortly after taking office, President Trump instructed his administration to review that decision and then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke chose to expose the Atlantic coast to irreparable and immeasurable harm once again.

It is now widely acknowledged that opening Georgia’s coast to seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling would be a grave mistake with irreversible consequences. That’s why, during the recent campaigns, voters found it to be a great relief that both gubernatorial candidates, Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams, stood against offshore oil exploration and/or development. (As of this time, the East Coast governors stand united in their opposition.) 

As now-Governor Kemp stated, “I support increasing our nation’s energy independence, but I do not support seismic testing or offshore drilling off the Georgia coast in order to do so. My priority as governor will be to protect our vibrant coastline, and ensure tourism and economic development and improve the lives of Georgians living in Brunswick and surrounding areas.” (The Brunswick News)

And “While recently re-elected coastal Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter supports seismic testing and offshore drilling, Georgia Governor-elect Brian Kemp doesn’t want it here. Governor-elect Brian Kemp opposes drilling off the coast of Georgia.” (Savannah Morning News)

Time and again, Gov. Kemp has insisted that he will fight for our Georgia coast and take a vocal and active role in striking down anything that threatens its well-being…and we applaud him for this. 

But, as always, we are mindful that what is said during a campaign may not be what is realized once in office. We urge all who care for the integrity of our fragile coastal environment, our economic health, the safety of Cumberland Island, and the state of Georgia to take a moment to email or call Brian Kemp, thank him for his anti-oil stance, and encourage him to stay the course.

Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.

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Ice Cream Fell From The Sky https://likethedew.com/2019/01/15/ice-cream-fell-from-the-sky/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/15/ice-cream-fell-from-the-sky/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 13:23:27 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70345

Growing up before weather satellites arrived was great when I was a kid. Come winter, I’d go to bed unaware that rain was washing in from the west and cold air descending from the north. A colossal winter collision was in the making and the next morning a blanket of snow softened the world, glorifying all that it touched. Forget school.

What great times those were, and something else made them even greater. Snow ice cream. Other than a few heavy snows, we never got enough snow to make a really good snowman. You know, one like Frosty with a top hat and all that, but a thin layer of snow was enough for Mom to make magic. She’d head outside with a big bowl, and we knew we were in for a treat.

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Growing up before weather satellites arrived was great when I was a kid. Come winter, I’d go to bed unaware that rain was washing in from the west and cold air descending from the north. A colossal winter collision was in the making and the next morning a blanket of snow softened the world, glorifying all that it touched. Forget school.

What great times those were, and something else made them even greater. Snow ice cream. Other than a few heavy snows, we never got enough snow to make a really good snowman. You know, one like Frosty with a top hat and all that, but a thin layer of snow was enough for Mom to make magic. She’d head outside with a big bowl, and we knew we were in for a treat.

How well I remember the first time I tasted snow ice cream. Cold, sweet, and airy. Mom went straight to Dad’s 1956, two-tone (aqua and white) Plymouth, and from its roof she carefully scraped the uppermost veneer of crystals into a glass bowl. Mind you, now, each crystal was unique. (Can we say that about commercial ice cream?) We’d hustle inside and she’d add vanilla extract, sugar, and milk into the bowl and mix up snow ice cream. We’d watch with great anticipation. It was winter’s equivalent to watching Dad churn up some peach ice cream, only snow ice cream was quick and pure magic, whereas Dad’s peach ice cream was a labor of love that took planning, a drive to Edgefield, South Carolina, for tree-ripe peaches, and time to crank a handle until it would not move.

Summer and winter, we couldn’t get enough homemade ice cream. By summer it was peach, and by winter it was a frozen delight courtesy of an Arctic blast. If you’ve had snow ice cream, for sure you recall what a miracle it was, a wonderful blessing as ice cream literally fell from the sky.

That was then and this is now and nothing good they say lasts forever, and I hear that’s true as snow ice cream goes. You could say its idyllic time has come and gone. Thanks to acid rain, pollution, fossil fuels, and a place called Chernobyl, folks today are afraid to mix up a bowl of snow ice cream. Well, in this case I’ll take the stand a lot of smokers do. “Hey, you got to die from something.”

So, give me snow ice cream or give me death. Well, of course that is just writer’s talk, but for sure this winter, should it snow, I plan to make up a big bowl of snow ice cream. I hope you do, too. For some of you whippersnappers new to snow ice cream, here’s a recipe.

Pray that it snows.

  • 1 gallon of snow
  • sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of milk

Stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then add enough milk to get that ice cream look and feel. Now it won’t be perfect like a half gallon of Breyers vanilla, but it will be far more memorable. It fell from the sky just for you. And if some of you are too afraid to eat snow ice cream, throw caution to the wind, mix in some chocolate syrup and enjoy yourself a bowl of Chernobyl Chocolate. You’ll radiate sheer joy to the family.

’Tis the season to be jolly. Don’t let airborne grinches and scrooges and Negative Nellies prevent you from enjoying a bowl or three of snow ice cream. Don’t let another magical tradition die. ’Cause you know and I know, we have too few as it is.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books, 550 columns, and more than 1,200 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II, and South Carolina Country Roads. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground. He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. He’s the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine. Governor McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon him October 26, 2018 for his impact upon South Carolina through his books and writing because “his work is exceptional to the state.” Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina.<br /> Visit my website at <a href="http://www.tompoland.net">www.tompoland.net</a><br /> Email me at <a href="mailto:tompol@earthlink.net">tompol@earthlink.net</a></p> Visit his website at www.tompoland.net Email him at tompol@earthlink.net

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The Politics of Fear https://likethedew.com/2019/01/15/the-politics-of-fear/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/15/the-politics-of-fear/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 13:22:36 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70367

While getting my Bettany Hughes fix watching a history program about Rome, I saw a strange parallel to modern times. The slave revolt led by Spartacus was characterized not as a heroic epic where Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas fought to get freaky with Jean Simmons, but a nearly successful uprising that not only scared the bejezzus out of the city state’s wealthy citizenry, but started Rome down a path toward dictatorship and eventual ruin.

I would never argue with Ms. Hughes; Britain’s History Goddess, about anything, and I’ll always take her version over Hollywood on Roman Empire Era history. In this case it’s convincing because of one word: Fear ...

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Bettany Hughes
Bettany Hughes

While getting my Bettany Hughes fix watching a history program about Rome, I saw a strange parallel to modern times. The slave revolt led by Spartacus was characterized not as a heroic epic where Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas fought to get freaky with Jean Simmons, but a nearly successful uprising that not only scared the bejezzus out of the city state’s wealthy citizenry, but started Rome down a path toward dictatorship and eventual ruin.

I would never argue with Ms. Hughes; Britain’s History Goddess, about anything, and I’ll always take her version over Hollywood on Roman Empire Era history. In this case it’s convincing because of one word: Fear.

I’ve been thinking about fear a good bit recently. Not sure exactly why. I woke up one morning a few weeks back and it just popped into my thick head. Why are we so afraid these days and when did it begin?

American children are safer now than they’ve ever been and parents won’t let them play outside without armed guards. Crime is at a forty year low and people are terrified of strangers, especially anyone wearing a hoodie.

I realize our current president is a master at scaring the crap out of normal, rational thinking people by inventing problems involving dark skinned people. But he didn’t invent that tactic. Nothing seems to motivate voters quite like fear. A lot of those things are fabricated and seem to include nemeses considered inferior by the prevailing population.

The idea that people different from us in almost every way are multiplying while we God Fearing Real Americans are disappearing is hard to accept, and scary. Spanish restroom signs in Lowes don’t make it any easier. We are frustrated by change and fear it. And we are ashamed of our fear.

I’ve often wondered why we offhandedly dismiss the excess and mismanagement of big Pharma, financial institutions, and the Defense Department, but bristle at poor people getting a couple hundred dollars worth of welfare dishonestly. Then I watched Bettany Hughes explain how mortified the citizens of the world’s greatest power were at the idea of being overrun by a mob of subhumans that belong in servitude.

The Roman population was terrified when Spartacus escaped his chains and took hundreds of trained fighters with him. The fact that slaves were the bottom of the food chain in Roman society made the idea even more appalling. No Roman citizen could stomach the idea of losing their beloved city state at the hands of unwashed, inferior people. So they gave total authority to a ruthless, wealthy former soldier.

Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who was called on to defeat Spartacus and his slave army after two years of pursuit by regular Roman authorities proved fruitless. Ambitious and brutal, Crassus proved his worth by defeating the slave army and crucifying nearly 6000 survivors.

Crassus is also credited with taking the first steps toward transforming the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. As the dictators became more ruthless and less capable of ruling, the empire began to crack. Less than four hundred years after Crassus, in 376,the Roman Empire disappeared.

How will history record our continued reaction to fear?

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.

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Where Do We Go From Here by Bernie Sanders https://likethedew.com/2019/01/13/where-do-we-go-from-here-by-bernie-sanders/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/13/where-do-we-go-from-here-by-bernie-sanders/#respond Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:30:37 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70332 A small indication of trustworthiness for a national leader is to be widely known by an affectionate first name, Bernie in this case. Polls indicate Bernie is the most trusted politician in the country. I hasten to add that this is, in itself, not enough. Stalin was known as Joe or Uncle Joe by many, who like tRump supporters somehow managed to maintain a mighty delusion despite ready facts, believing that if only Uncle Joe had known about the purges and killing he would have stopped them. Put another way, they became quite adept at avoiding or denying ready facts. But the appellation holds for Bernie. Not that there aren't hordes of the properly indoctrinated who dismiss the guy with tags like, socialist/communist, needing for some psychological reason a “strong leader” (like Joe). Both sides of this equation use words like freedom, democracy, justice but it isn't hard to decipher which side is serious and which side is seriously misusing the language.

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A small indication of trustworthiness for a national leader is to be widely known by an affectionate first name, Bernie in this case. Polls indicate Bernie is the most trusted politician in the country. I hasten to add that this is, in itself, not enough. Stalin was known as Joe or Uncle Joe by many, who like tRump supporters somehow managed to maintain a mighty delusion despite ready facts, believing that if only Uncle Joe had known about the purges and killing he would have stopped them. Put another way, they became quite adept at avoiding or denying ready facts. But the appellation holds for Bernie. Not that there aren’t hordes of the properly indoctrinated who dismiss the guy with tags like, socialist/communist, needing for some psychological reason a “strong leader” (like Joe). Both sides of this equation use words like freedom, democracy, justice but it isn’t hard to decipher which side is serious and which side is seriously misusing the language.

Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance by Bernie Sanders

Bernie begins his book with an account of the negotiations, for the Democratic Convention in 2016, which produced what he calls the most progressive political platform in U.S. history. When he recognized that Hillary had the delegates to win the nomination, by hook or by crook, he used his leverage to get 5 of his supporters on the 12 person platform committee. Climate specialist Bill McKibben and philosopher-activist Cornel West, notably. Included in the platform were commitments to make college tuition free, reduce student loan debt, funding of community health centers, a public option to allow citizens to opt into medicare at age 55 (a compromise since Bernie favored single payer, medicare for all), a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage, a tax on greenhouse gases, massive investments in solar, wind and other renewable energy (not nukes), a path toward legalization of marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, attacking the problem of corporations and the wealthy avoiding taxes by stashing cash off-shore, union-friendly measures, automatic voter registration… and other progressive items, achieving 80% of Sander’s goals.

Recognizing that either Hillary or Trump was going to be president, Bernie set out to get that across to his troops, at the convention and across the country. Supreme Court appointments alone, as we have seen, was issue enough to back Clinton. Obstacles to preventing the disaster of a Trump victory were serious Republican cheating, gerrymandering, and deception, including probably collusion with Russian hacking and dirty tricks. Democratic victory required a huge win, to win. As we know, 200 million (or was it 3?) wasn’t a big enough win to overcome these obstacles. But try he did. His book chronicles some of the speeches he made on his tour to support Hillary, a tour which was formidable for a man some considered too old to run. One could question whether the book has a lot of filler in the form of speeches Bernie made on this and other tours but, since they’re good, important speeches, they justify themselves. Questioning U.S. foreign policy with its over-reliance on force, the massive military budget and corruption, subservience to Israeli intransigence and apartheid, collusion with dictators (right wing only if you please) highlights Bernie as one of the very few elected officials with the courage to go down those roads.

Asking the question how do we revitalize U.S. democracy and create a government that represents all the people, not just the few? How do we bring millions of new people into the political process and raise political consciousness? Bernie’s answer is Our Revolution, an organization aimed to do just that. This section talks about the many who fail to vote, the disenfranchised, the demoralized and the uninspired. That last quality is understandable when a citizen can feel, if not articulate, that political life is largely controlled by a handful of billionaires and corporations. The Sanders presidential campaign netted millions of small donations and, for Our Revolution, millions of contacts that could be used to further the goals of the organization, which includ electoral activity, resulting in many victories, ranging from local state school superintendent to U.S. senator. The democratic party split is represented by the Hillary/Bernie campaigns, an establishment figure and a revolutionary, and it runs across the party nationwide. Those comfortable with the status quo and who believe only “moderate” (read republican-lite) candidates can win versus those who believe, and have shown, that progressive candidates speaking to the general malaise can win. These candidates, naturally, coming out of the grass roots, express the diversity of the population in race, religion and gender, even sexual orientation.

The path to U.S. senator and presidential candidate was unique to Bernie and he lays that out for the reader, from his civil rights, anti-war activist days, his failed runs for senate and other offices, his successful bid for major of Burlington, Vermont, house of representatives and finally senate. Throughout this career, it is remarkable how consistent, from day one, has been his critique and understanding of the extent to which a wealthy elite runs this country for their own benefit. No one person has done more to further this understanding across the country. His determined optimism runs through this book and should help inspire many to join the fray.


Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

  • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
  • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
  • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
  • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)

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Grandma’s Weapon Of Choice https://likethedew.com/2019/01/13/grandmas-weapon-of-choice/ https://likethedew.com/2019/01/13/grandmas-weapon-of-choice/#respond Sun, 13 Jan 2019 15:10:29 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70335 In Sunday drives’ heyday, air conditioning was gaining momentum but you’d be hard pressed to find air-conditioned stores and homes in rural areas. Oh, you might see a window unit or two but central air was rare. Breezes blew back windows’ curtains and whirled through screen doors on sultry summer days. Inevitably, flies found their way insides and made themselves at home in the kitchen. It was there, at the hands of my grandmothers, that they met their maker.

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In Sunday drives’ heyday, air conditioning was gaining momentum but you’d be hard pressed to find air-conditioned stores and homes in rural areas. Oh, you might see a window unit or two but central air was rare. Breezes blew back windows’ curtains and whirled through screen doors on sultry summer days. Inevitably, flies found their way insides and made themselves at home in the kitchen. It was there, at the hands of my grandmothers, that they met their maker.

Mesh Fly Swatter
A screen wire swatter beats a plastic one.

Remember honest-to-goodness fly swatters made of screen-wire? My grandmothers wielded those instruments of doom with an Olympic fencer’s skill. How many times did I watch those ladies pull off a trifecta: dispatching three flies with one swat.

My grandmothers didn’t need bug sprays. Nor did they have new-fangled bug zappers. No, they walked around with a screen wire fly swatter in hand. While talking to me their eyes would dart about and a smooth backhanded “swat” sent Mr. Fly to the that great compost pile in the sky. Those ladies had fighter pilot reflexes. They even clobbered flies buzzing in the air.

My grandmothers relied on the real deal. They would have disputed the New Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of “fly swatter” as “an implement used for swatting insects, typically a square of plastic mesh attached to a wire handle.”

Plastic mesh? Please. Screen-wire swatters struck with deadly force and were far more effective than today’s plastic swatters, which flies evade with ease. You see, the little critters detect changes in air pressure and a clunky plastic swatter says, “Here I come” as its thick plastic air-mashing mesh tips Mr. Fly off. “I’m outta here” and off he buzzes. A thin mesh of screen-wire, however, arrives swiftly and silently with no shock wave, converting the fly to a countertop’s version of road kill possum.

Screen wire swatters swat plastic swatters, (say that seven times) but you will be hard pressed to find a genuine screen wire swatter today. All you’ll find are plastic ones. Go online, however, and you can find honest-to-goodness screen wire flyswatters. I suggest you get a few. Someday you will need them.

No visit to my grandmothers’ home was complete without watching those Southern ladies reach for an old-fashioned screen wire flyswatter. Both had radar. A flick of the wrist and a bloody stain marked the spot of the fly’s demise. But now we have plastic swatters not worth a hoot. Flies live to drop specks yet again.

Know what else was good about screen-wire flyswatters? The vanquished fly stuck to the screen where a shake over a toilet bowl buried the critter at sea. When a plastic swatter scores a kill over a slow, dimwitted fly, the departed remains where right it was, albeit wider, thinner, bloodier, and best of all, dead. But now you have to scrape up the mess.

One more thing … Flies and kids make a bad combination. Kids have an annoying habit of standing in an open door, neither going in nor out. This will sound familiar to you baby boomers. “Close the door, you’re letting flies in.” Let ’em in we did and when the flies flew inside, my grandmothers were armed and ready. The war commenced.

The days of smashing flies are behind us. Air conditioning made life more tolerable but it robbed us of character and conflict. The war against flies required screen wire swatters and cotton puffs stuffed in window screen holes. Despite such patchwork measures, pesky, nasty, greasy flies managed to invade the house. It was there that they encountered the original No Fly Zone, and if chaps, as we were called back in my day, got out of line, well, Grandma’s weapon of choice swatter was good medicine for us too.

Tom Poland

Tom Poland, A Southern Writer – Tom Poland is the author of fourteen books, 550 columns, and more than 1,200 magazine features. A Southern writer, his work has appeared in magazines throughout the South. Among his recent books are Classic Carolina Road Trips From Columbia, Georgialina, A Southland, As We Knew It, Reflections of South Carolina, Vol. II, and South Carolina Country Roads. Swamp Gravy, Georgia’s Official Folk Life Drama, staged his play, Solid Ground. He writes a weekly column for newspapers and journals in Georgia and South Carolina about the South, its people, traditions, lifestyle, and changing culture and speaks to groups across South Carolina and Georgia. He’s the editor of Shrimp, Collards & Grits, a Lowcountry lifestyle magazine. Governor McMaster conferred the Order of the Palmetto upon him October 26, 2018 for his impact upon South Carolina through his books and writing because “his work is exceptional to the state.” Tom earned a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Media at the University of Georgia. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina where he writes about Georgialina—his name for eastern Georgia and South Carolina.<br /> Visit my website at <a href="http://www.tompoland.net">www.tompoland.net</a><br /> Email me at <a href="mailto:tompol@earthlink.net">tompol@earthlink.net</a></p> Visit his website at www.tompoland.net Email him at tompol@earthlink.net

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The Beatles: From Miami Beach to Moscow https://likethedew.com/2018/12/24/the-beatles-from-miami-beach-to-moscow/ https://likethedew.com/2018/12/24/the-beatles-from-miami-beach-to-moscow/#respond Mon, 24 Dec 2018 12:37:11 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=55924 The tanks kept-a-rollin' all night long. It was August 20, 1968, around 11:00 P.M. Central European Time. U.S.S.R. paratroopers had just seized control of Prague airport. The Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia was on. Hitting 20 crossing points of Czechoslovakia's border, 4,600 tanks rolled into Prague, with 165,000 Soviet-led troops working for the clampdown. So much for the reform movement which would make the Soviets less imposing to nearly 15,000,000 Czechoslovakians. Alexander Dubcek, appointed Communist Party Chairman of Czechoslovakia some eight months earlier, had promised reforms, or as he put it, "socialism with a human face." The U.S.S.R. put an end to Dubcek's western-styled liberal policies. Soviet domination had returned to Czechoslovakia. The human face gives way to the hammer and sickle.

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Soviet tank on fire

The tanks kept-a-rollin’ all night long. It was August 20, 1968, around 11:00 P.M. Central European Time. U.S.S.R. paratroopers had just seized control of Prague airport. The Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was on. Hitting 20 crossing points of Czechoslovakia’s border, 4,600 tanks rolled into Prague, with 165,000 Soviet-led troops working for the clampdown. So much for the reform movement which would make the Soviets less imposing to nearly 15,000,000 Czechoslovakians. Alexander Dubcek, appointed Communist Party Chairman of Czechoslovakia some eight months earlier, had promised reforms, or as he put it, “socialism with a human face.” The U.S.S.R. put an end to Dubcek’s western-styled liberal policies. Soviet domination had returned to Czechoslovakia. The human face gives way to the hammer and sickle.

Cover - The Beatles White Album

The tapes kept-a-rollin’ all night long. It’s Thursday, August 22, 1968 at Abbey Road Studios in the City of Westminster, London, England. From 7:00 P.M. until 4:45 the next morning, The Beatles recorded the first five takes of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” It will be the opening track of their next album, simply entitled The Beatles, but widely known as “The White Album.” It’s also arguably the best track on The Beatles, although “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” also makes a strong case for being the best of the album’s 29 songs. On Friday afternoon, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison return to Abbey Road to complete the track. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr had quit the group the day before and would remain a former-Beatle for the better part of the next two weeks. McCartney handled most of the drumming for “Back in the U.S.S.R.” with John and George also banging away on the skins. Amazingly enough, without their great drummer, The Beatles recorded one of the finest straight-ahead rockers in their history. The song takes flight — quite literally — with the sound of a Viscount aeroplane revving up and then taking off. The guitars take flight as well. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” is a forceful song, perhaps the greatest opening cut of any rock album ever recorded. It’s The Beatles reminding the world of who they are and how they do things.

The Beatles White Album - Paul, George, Ringo, John

McCartney is in great voice as he sings of a Russian citizen flying home to Moscow from Miami Beach. Never mind the political scene, the guy is glad to be going home. He may return to a shabby, cold apartment but he knows of ways his wife can keep him warm. It’s a universal story and it’s a universal feeling. McCartney had the idea for “Back in the U.S.S.R.” earlier in the year when he and the other Beatles were in Rishikesh, India to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Also in Rishikesh was Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love, rarely the hero of any story, but at least this time a good listener as McCartney told him the idea for his song. It would be a tribute of sorts to the Chuck Berry hit, “Back in the U.S.A.” Another musical inspiration was The Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” Love suggested that McCartney extol the girls of Russia just like The Beach Boys praised American girls, particularly those in their native California. Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote that America’s “northern girls, with the way they kiss, they keep their boyfriends warm at night.” McCartney’s “Moscow girl” greets her “comrade” back from Miami Beach by disconnecting the phone and making him sing and shout. Gee, it’s good to be back home.

Soviet troops weren’t going home to Ukraine girls or snow-peaked mountains. Not anytime soon. Eventually over 500,000 of them would occupy Czechoslovakia, putting an end to “Prague Spring,” when the people celebrated a free press and other liberties too often taken for granted in the West. The more than 500,000 Soviet troops nearly equaled the number of soldiers the United States would have in the Vietnam War several months later, just as Lyndon Johnson’s presidency was ending. Johnson and other leaders of the free world called on the Soviets to leave Czechoslovakia just as the United Nations and a majority of Americans implored the United States to pull its troops from Vietnam. The United States and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, cold warriors with nuclear missiles aimed at each other, couldn’t be bothered with the consequences of putting humanity at risk. Hubris was at play. While Soviet troops killed more than 80 Czechoslovakians protesting the invasion, U.S. Army forces, some five months before the Soviet tanks rolled, turned a hamlet in South Vietnam (allied with the U.S.) into a shooting gallery with women, elderly men, children and babies the targets. The hamlets known as My Lai and My Khe were suspected of harboring enemy snipers intent on taking down American soldiers. 100 men from a rifle company of the Americal Division led by Captain Ernest Medina and Lieutenant William Calley got their marching — or shooting — orders. Medina told them to “kill everything.” One soldier asked if he meant even women and children. Medina replied, “I mean everything.” Most of the soldiers followed orders and 500 innocents went down. In a scene as cold-hearted and murderous Joe Pesci could play, one soldier with a .45 caliber pistol took two shots at a baby on the ground. Chided by his comrades for missing such an easy target, the soldier pulled the trigger once more, ending the baby’s life.

White Album poster

It wasn’t until November ’69, some 19 months later, that the world learned of the My Lai Massacre. Stars and Stripes magazine had previously reported it as a “fierce fire fight” in which 128 communists were killed, along with 22 civilians in “a bloody day-long fight.” General William Westmoreland congratulated the troops on an “outstanding” job. What’s one more lie in the fog of war? But the tables were turned when Associated Press reporter Seymour Hersh revealed what actually went down. Life magazine ran photos of those about to die and those already dead in the hamlet. Americans were at first shocked by the wanton bloodshed and perverted logic practiced by U.S. troops. Another tragedy of empire, not unlike that conducted by Caesar, Bismarck, Brezhnev, Johnson and too many others taking down those who yearned to be free.

Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” celebrates the pursuit and feeling of freedom. That’s obvious, as with so many other Berry songs, from the opening riffs. He understood better than his white rock and roll fans about limits to certain simple freedoms. Like victims of empire, he sensed what it was like to long for liberty and go as one pleased. Having just witnessed the hardships of the Aborigines in Australia in 1959, Berry obviously gave thought to differences around the globe, so he celebrated life in the United States of America. In “Back in the U.S.A.” He calls out such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge and his hometown of Saint Louis as places he yearns to see again. He’s ready to hop in his car and cruise to a cafe where “hamburgers sizzle on an open grill.” Scenes from American Graffiti come to mind with those California teenagers cruising the streets of their town, looking for kicks, love, and the sizzling hamburgers at the drive-in grill. But Berry in 1959 America would have to be careful as to where he ordered that burger. Less than a year and a half after the release of “Back in the U.S.A.” Martin Luther King, Jr. was denied service at a restaurant inside Rich’s department store in downtown Atlanta. King refused to leave until he could order his burger, chicken salad or whatever. The authorities at Rich’s called the cops and they hauled King to jail for violating an anti-trespassing law — just another ordinance to keep black people in line in the land of the free. The mindset behind such attacks on the human spirit continues to surface in ways subtle and crude. The paranoid, ignorant and plain silly surfaced when a magazine published by the John Birch Society took issue with “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Such declarations as “You don’t know how lucky you are, boy, Back in the U.S.S.R.” went way over the heads of the humorless and clueless.

Years later Paul McCartney remarked how the song was tongue-in-cheek. No worries, The Beatles were not advocating a sojourn to Moscow. After all, Soviet officials had declared The Beatles “the belch of Western culture.” In a grim time, the suppressors of freedom on both sides found fault with The Beatles. Intelligent and energetic rockers like “Back in the U.S.S.R.” made such times seem less grim. Let’s hear those balalaikas ring out.

Jeff Cochran

Jeff Cochran

Jeff Cochran worked in advertising at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 27 years before accepting a buy-out in the Summer of 2008. In the seventies/early eighties, he handled advertising for Peaches Records and Tapes' Southeastern and Midwestern stores. He also wrote record reviews for The Great Speckled Bird, a ground-breaking underground newspaper based in Atlanta.

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Withdrawing From The Fight Against ISIS Is A Huge Mistake https://likethedew.com/2018/12/20/withdrawing-from-the-fight-against-isis-is-a-huge-mistake/ https://likethedew.com/2018/12/20/withdrawing-from-the-fight-against-isis-is-a-huge-mistake/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 22:26:34 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=70212

President Donald Trump announced that he intends to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.  To do so would be to breathe new life into ISIS, hand a win to dictators in Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran, and sell out one of our best allies in the Middle East.  It would also wreck one of Trump’s best foreign policy successes of his presidency.

Back in October 2015, President Obama began a policy of having 2,000 military personnel team up with the Kurdish group the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to destroy ISIS.  The plan showed immediate benefits, as both groups tag-teamed ISIS, transforming this terrorist organization from their once huge holdings in Syria and Iraq to a mere shadow of itself.

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President Donald Trump announced that he intends to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.  To do so would be to breathe new life into ISIS, hand a win to dictators in Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran, and sell out one of our best allies in the Middle East.  It would also wreck one of Trump’s best foreign policy successes of his presidency.

Vladimir Putin caricature by DonkeyHotey

Back in October 2015, President Obama began a policy of having 2,000 military personnel team up with the Kurdish group the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to destroy ISIS.  The plan showed immediate benefits, as both groups tag-teamed ISIS, transforming this terrorist organization from their once huge holdings in Syria and Iraq to a mere shadow of itself.

Donald Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted.  White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down, claiming that ISIS had been defeated.  It reminded many of George W. Bush’s ill-fated “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S. Aircraft Carrier during the Iraq War.

But the job’s not done.  On December 10, ISIS sympathizer Damon Joseph was arrested along with a woman who was a fan of Dylann Roof.  Both were plotting to shoot up a synagogue, as Joseph (who is white) is also a fan of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, showing a new ISIS-right-wing terrorist alliance, with Jews as the target.

Also, if someone checked with the Defense Department, they would know that the U.S. soldiers were teaming up with the SDF to attack an ISIS stronghold near Hajin, a city in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.  According to the DoD, “the campaign against ISIS is not over.”

Jim Mattis, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio - Caricatures by DonkeyHotey

That’s why Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton argued vehemently against Trump’s serious blunder.  South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham likened this mistake to Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq (though Obama had a better reason to do so, because we weren’t going to let Iraqis prosecute our military, which led to our withdrawal).   Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio similarly criticized the move.

Bashar al-Assad - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

There are a lot of reasons that such a withdrawal is the worst idea we’ve had for the Middle East.  It would be a clear win for the Syrian regime, led by President Bashir al-Assad (the one Trump attacked for using chemical weapons against his people), and Assad’s allies, which include the Iranian regime, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Meanwhile our Middle East presence will be severely weakened.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Caricature

Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who demanded Trump pull out his military, will also benefit, as he’s planning to slaughter those very Kurds who gave their lives to help us badly weaken ISIS.  Now no one will ever trust being in an anti-terrorism coalition with the U.S., as it just means our government will sell out our allies.  A number of Turkish reporters who uncovered Erdogan’s secretive weapons shipments to Syria are now languishing in jails, as the Turkish leader depoliced his border, enabling ISIS fighters to spread into Europe with little problem.  Meanwhile, Erdogan bombed the very Kurds as they were battling ISIS fighters.

There’s a reason Senate Republicans are aghast at Trump’s inexplicable decision to flee from Syria.  As the near-tragedy at the Toledo synagogue, and the shooting in Strasbourg’s Christmas shopping area have shown, the fight against ISIS is not over.  But pulling out our troops and leaving our Kurdish allies against ISIS to be butchered, while allowing several authoritarians to emerge as winners, means that every terror attack by an ISIS member, or sympathizer after our troops leave, will be on Trump’s hands.  I pray he’ll reverse the worst idea of his presidency.

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is an Associate Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia.  He writes about international politics, elections, sports, and the War of 1812.

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