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The Shadow of Selma

King at Selma, courtesy of Bob Adelson

King at Selma, courtesy of Bob Adelson

On the 50th anniversary of the historic violence during a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, President Barack Obama once again disgraced the nation based on individual rights. He did so by minimizing the history of what happened at Selma 50 years ago, when peaceful Americans were physically assaulted and murdered by the government, reducing its importance, distorting its meaning and telling lies about America.

I say this because, while the first intellectual to publicly name Obama as fundamentally both dishonest and anti-American was Leonard Peikoff, I think that if America is to survive Obama’s calamitous presidency, Peikoff must be the first of many more.

Amid distorted visions, lies and coded signals for what he really aims to do, as against what he says he wants to do, Obama talked about the need to “roll back poverty” despite six years of failed economic policies and incessant dismantling of capitalism through massive government controls and takeovers of work, banking, business, finance and industry.

The president’s dishonesty worsened, as he railed against voting laws targeting certain types of people while he enacts voting laws targeting certain types of people. By reducing the historic injustice against blacks to the so-called right to vote, he insidiously persuades the passive listener into forgetting that Selma should be remembered for its unjust actions by the state against the individual, clearing a path for Selma to be revised in history as some vague, faceless collective crusade for some vague, generic, automatic government voting mechanism. Never mind the bloodshed at Selma that ought to be remembered as part of a struggle by the individual against the state. Blank out that the so-called “right to vote” is meaningless without the right to live, think, create, make money and pursue happiness or that the politician for “voting rights” is destroying individual rights by dictate or “executive order”.

Obama’s dishonesty climaxed as the speech went on. Referring to claims of race-baiting, he invoked his own administration’s report exonerating a cop in a local police shooting, which the black attorney general admitted found no evidence of wrongdoing by the white policeman who had been accused of racism, manslaughter and murder. Obama distorted the truth of the Justice department’s report—which, crucially, dispels the notion that the person who’d been shot had his hands up—baiting with some discovered racist e-mail messages to discard and evade the fact that police acted properly. “We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that [charges of race-baiting are] not true,” Obama said, baiting for race and evading the facts. “We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us.”

Most Americans should know by now that it is the nation’s current president that casts the shadow of racism. Time and again, whether denouncing a white New England policeman or evading his administration’s exoneration of a white Midwestern policeman, it is Obama, who views his own life as a story based on race, who rushes to judge based on race. It is Obama who prejudges, judges and misjudges based on race. It is Obama who judges, and calls upon Americans to judge, based not on the sum total of a person’s virtues in action—what the Reverend Dr. King, Jr. rightly called the content of one’s character—but based on the color of one’s skin. The shadow of racism, which Ayn Rand rightly called a primitive form of collectivism, is cast by the president of the United States.

In this sense, Obama at Selma, having earlier this year exploited Oprah Winfrey’s mediocre movie Selma, dishonors King at Selma. Barack Obama belongs on the side of Selma’s oppressor, not on the side of Selma’s oppressed.

King in his magnanimously peaceful crusade sought to enlighten, unite and liberate Americans, to obtain for the wrongly deprived their inalienable individual rights. Obama in his unilaterally powerful government action seeks to confuse, divide and control Americans, forcing those he regards as unfairly privileged to serve those he regards as wronged. It should therefore by now be clear that Barack Obama lied when he invoked the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln those nine years ago in Springfield, Illinois. Obama lied yesterday, too, when he told those gathered at Selma:

America is not the project of any one person. Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can.”

Yes we can…what? On answering this question, contradictory Obama, who is himself the one person who regards America as his project to fix, blanks out.

The noble vow that “We shall overcome” refers to rising above the actions of an unjust government. America’s founders made reference to “We the people” …in order to form a more perfect union based on man’s rights. Obama’s Yes We Can serves only to negate and destroy: Yes We Can nationalize the medical profession. Yes We Can indiscriminately spy on Americans. Yes We Can destroy capitalism. Yes We Can refuse to wage war on states that sponsor Islamic terrorism. Yes We Can dictate what you eat, whether you travel, whether you use and what you say on the Internet. Yes We Can means No You Can’t do anything without the permission of the U.S. government.

“Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect,” Barack Obama said yesterday at Selma. This in practice means that Obama’s damage is not yet done; Obama the destroyer is bent on total destruction of the United States of America, its founding ideals and its highest laws. At its core, his Yes We Can means that Obama’s unthinking worshippers (“We”) can destroy America. With ObamaCare, the NSA, TSA and a gauntlet of government controls, and an unnamed Islamic enemy unchallenged across the world and appeased and encouraged to make catastrophic weapons, America’s end is closer than ever.

Obama closed his speech at Selma with another lie—a false profession of faith—that all Americans “believe in the power of an awesome God.” As usual, the president of the United States is 100 percent wrong. All Americans do not believe in God, let alone in “the power of an awesome God”, though Obama acts as if he wants Americans to believe that he possesses the power of an awesome God.

America is not a collective. America consists of Americans who are individuals. Some are believers. Some are atheists. All are considered to be infidels by America’s enemies, which is why all Americans should hold individual rights—including the right to not believe in a supernatural being—above all. While America’s Islamic enemies unite around what Benjamin Netanyahu rightly calls death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad, Americans must reject Obama’s conflation of the injustice of the past with a future of total government control and instead unite around the truth that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are protected by individual rights.

To do so, Americans must step out of the shadow of America’s dark past and away from the shadow of this dishonest, dishonorable American president and into a new, reunified enlightenment marching as a nation of united individuals toward achieving the promise of the future the man on the mountaintop once so bravely described.


Reference Link

Read Obama’s speech

Netanyahu’s Warning

Courtesy Joshua Roberts for REUTERS (March 3, 2015)

Courtesy Joshua Roberts for REUTERS (March 3, 2015)

Despite an unprecedented smear campaign by the Obama administration against an American ally, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, addressed a joint meeting of Congress tonight. He entered the U.S. Capitol to a round of thundering applause.

Netanyahu, as everyone knows by now, came to Congress to warn America about its arch-enemy, states that sponsor Islamic terrorism and, in particular, Iran, with whom the Obama administration is horrifyingly negotiating on the question of nuclear capability.

Addressing himself plainly to members of both houses of Congress, which he correctly called “the most important legislative body in the world,” he brilliantly challenged the United States of America in the deepest sense, both its people and its government. Contrasting the U.S. founding political philosophy, Netanyahu referred to Iran as the agent of “death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad,” which it is. And, in case a member of Congress forgot, he made an impeccable case based upon facts throughout history, from mass murdered American Marines in Beirut to an act of war against Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, that Iran and Islamic State fighters compete “for the crown of militant Islam”, which he described as a “game of thrones.”

This line is an appeal to intellectual Americans, the types that watch premium paid television programming, to stop obsessing over TV shows and start thinking more seriously about life and the facts of reality. He cashed in on that line when he concluded that “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy—is your enemy.” By now, it should be obvious that America is at war with savages and that any deal with an Islamic barbarian state such as Iran is not just a bad deal but “a very bad deal”, as he put it. But Americans have gone soft and, on this topic, it is true, starting with the most intellectual Americans. He came with these simple words and short sentences to evoke their precious pop culture and apply it to real, everyday issues of life and death.

He mentioned the Bible’s Moses, too, urging Americans to be strong and resolute and to neither fear nor dread the enemy. If popular mythology doesn’t convince anyone, he compared today’s jihad to the West’s ignorance and evasion of the single worst act of mass extermination in history and pointed to Elie Wiesel as a strong and noble presence in the House of Representatives. He pointed to Iran’s systematic subjugation and persecution of gays, women and journalists. He pointed to North Korea, which got the nuclear bomb after endless negotiation by the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, as evidence that the same result can be expected of Iran. He pointed to Secretary of State John Kerry’s admission that Iran may end up with a massive nuclear capacity when Obama’s deal expires in 10 years.

“Now I want you to think about that,” Netanyahu said. “The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy…That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Netanyahu urged Americans tempted to think that a deal merely buys more time to think twice.

I first warned that Iran is America’s foremost enemy in an op-ed I wrote, which was published in newspapers nationwide in 2002, the year I first attended a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu. It was an event in Century City organized by a group called Jews in crisis and it was attended by Jews and others, including myself, an atheist, and an Arab friend, as I wrote about here. Thirteen years after warning against Iran, the Islamic dictatorship is rapidly becoming a nuclearized Islamic dictatorship, alarmingly at the concession and appeasement of the United States. This is why Netanyahu’s final point, that Israel reserves the right to act in its own defense—he said that “[e]ven if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand”—may miss the point.

Netanyahu said that he knows that “America stands with Israel”.

Is this true—and how does he know it? Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in Hebrew and talked of God, Moses and the Promised Land. This may be a grave mistake. Most every argument in Netanyahu’s speech used logic and reason until the end, when he made vague, flimsy references to the strength of a relationship which is weakening. America barely supported Israel when it was created in 1948 and, from Eisenhower at the Suez Canal to Reagan’s insistence that Israel release hundreds of terrorists, America is charting a course for mass death and total self-destruction which is deeply rooted in its abandonment of Israel. This is most especially true with regard to America’s denunciation of Israel’s July 4, 1976, raid on the Arab terrorist-hijacked airport at Entebbe, in which Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother Jonathan was killed while liberating his fellow countrymen in what may be the single greatest act of retaliation against terrorism in the 20th, which is currently the bloodiest, century. Yes, the glorious raid on Entebbe was denounced by America almost 40 years ago.

Mr. Netanyahu, whose otherwise excellent speech makes an unassailable case as it is, ought to know better. America cannot be saved by the leader of our allied state of Israel, though Netanyahu is right and Congress should stop Obama from dealing with Iran. America must be saved by Americans. The problem is that Americans don’t think, or know how to think and articulate, that America is worth saving, let alone understand why. I want Netanyahu’s warning to have an impact this time. Unfortunately, I doubt that it will.


Reference links

Watch/read Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech

 

Elie Wiesel Sanctions Speech to Congress

“As one who has seen the enemies of the Jewish people make good on threats to exterminate us, how can I remain silent?” Elie Wiesel, the great writer and survivor of Nazi atrocities, recently asked in an open letter (read the full text of Wiesel’s letter here).

The 86-year-old Wiesel, a staunch supporter of Israel, wrote the letter in support of the Israeli prime minister’s March 3 address to the United States Congress, in defiance of the Barack Obama administration, which is negotiating with Israel and America’s avowed enemy: Iran.

OnTheShelvesNight-elie-wiesel

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Wiesel, an Andrew W. Mellon humanities professor at Boston University, author of the Holocaust memoir, Night, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, Medal of Liberty and 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, chose this conflict between the U.S. executive branch and America’s ally, Israel, to proclaim his position against the administration; a committment to hear the case against the U.S. foreign policy of appeasement of Iran’s Islamic dictatorship.

In fact, he dared to publicly declare his intention to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech and he asked the president, vice-president and Congress:

Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”

Wiesel’s radical refusal to remain silent—unlike most on the left, including Jews—and submit to Obama’s charge toward destruction is an act of moral courage from one with moral integrity. Elie Wiesel’s is a strong, powerful voice among Jews and those who care to know about the West’s worst act of self-destruction (so far) and, paraphrasing Leonard Peikoff (The Cause of Hitler’s Germany), America’s undeniably ominous parallel to the monstrosity of total government control of the individual.

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Wiesel’s singularly commanding voice of reason on this crucial issue has derailed the pro-Obama/anti-Israel campaign to stop this free exercise of speech—for now. There are days until Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3 and, as Americans and those living in the West have seen, civilization is increasingly and dangerously uncertain. This is war between the West and Islamic states that sponsor terrorism and this administration is driven to destroy the United States with its foreign and domestic policies. One who survived a Nazi death camp who lived and learned to Never Forget what causes mass death, like the old man depicted in the movie about the Jews’ revolt at the Nazis’ Sobibor camp, will not submit.

Neither should today’s American, who should follow this thoughtful intellectual’s example and watch Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on March 3, come what may—then continue with a lifelong commitment like Elie Wiesel’s to speak out and defend against barbarism in its variously insidious forms.

Movie Review: Selma

SelmaPosterParamount’s Selma (opening on Christmas Day like Into the Woods and American Sniper) trivializes a pivotal moment in U.S. history. It’s a poorly made movie that grazes, and misses, key themes, contains good moments and more cringe-inducing scenes. Centered upon the prelude to sonorous black preacher and civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s march at Selma, Alabama, which galvanized whites’ support for Negroes’ individual rights in the face of police brutality and widespread injustice in the South, Selma, co-produced by Oprah Winfrey with Brad Pitt’s Plan B company (12 Years a Slave, World War Z) and directed by Ava DuVernay, reduces violent, gripping history to a speechified snoozefest.

The leading role is miscast. As the Reverend Dr. King, Jr., who moved people to principled action with his powerful words, David Oyelowo has no charisma. None of the passionate tones or soulful, sweat-breaking tensions are on display in his lackluster performance, though he does better in dialogue-driven scenes with his onscreen wife, Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo), who is portrayed as more contemporary than the reserved Mrs. King. Other misfires include Tim Roth as Alabama Governor George Wallace in disastrous miscasting. Oprah Winfrey appears, too, yet again as a steely black woman, so the role’s less potent than it might have been. There are other cast problems, but the whole picture never comes together.

Given the source material, it certainly should, whether one remembers the era when blacks couldn’t vote in the South or not. “Whites only since 1855”, one despicable sign reads, subtly reminding the audience that this took place merely 100 years after the end of the American Civil War. American Negroes are beaten, murdered and executed by police and racist thugs and all of this begins to happen, thanks to Martin Luther King and his non-violent movement for civil rights, in plain sight of white Americans. In one powerful scene (not surprisingly, there are several), an idealistic young black man named Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield, acting with his eyes) is beaten and shot to death. There are other, more infamous, acts of injustice depicted, too. Amid a behind-the-scenes structure that tries but never goes too deep, the most compelling aspect of King’s legacy depicted here is his adroit sense of activism, letting facts be put on display to speak for themselves. Lorraine Toussaint is excellent in scattered short scenes as Amelia Boynton Robinson, another Selma marcher who was beaten, but not without first speaking her mind that Negroes are the world’s first humans and innovators and should be aware of their ancestry. More than any other character, one sees in her face the determination to act in her self-interest and be treated as an individual with inalienable rights and, in this sense, the power in Selma‘s depiction applies to any activist who seeks justice, whether in a public protest against police brutality or a rally for the Tea Party.

With King alternating between his Georgia home and the oncoming Alabama confrontation, when he isn’t meeting President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson, doing his best to add levity as LBJ in an unfairly written role) at the White House, and with more speeches than an awards ceremony, momentum slows to a crawl and never regains motion, let alone wider historical perspective. Other problems and drags include an appearance by Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) which noticeably omits that he represents the Nation of Islam and a reference to his assassination which omits that he was assassinated by black Moslems. An overromanticized New York Times reporter and end titles that cap the lives of activists-turned-career politicians such as John Lewis (Stephan James) and Andrew Young (Andre Holland) but omit lesser known activists such as Boynton do not help. Selma oversimplifies and underdramatizes history. The 2-hour plus movie feels artificial.

Tack on wasted performances by Martin Sheen and Cuba Gooding, Jr. and a closing rap track that makes a reference to “hands up” at “Ferguson”, which minimizes the meaning of what was achieved at Selma, and this is one half-baked movie. While there are signs of real talent here and there, including Ruth E. Carter’s costumes and a buried subtext applying King’s affirmation that “we can do this” to Johnson’s “we shall do this” which dovetails to King’s marriage, Selma is a lost opportunity. A great movie about achieving 20th century progress for blacks in America has yet to be made. Selma is an example of how not to do it.

 

Lessons of the Berlin Wall

This week’s class in my social media course was an assignment for an oral-visual presentation intended to concretize that social media’s success is ultimately achieved in reality, not online.

Judging from the outcome and feedback, the lesson is learned. Stories told and items shown were presented with thought, concision and conviction. Each student told an amazing story with an accompanying physical item that captures some part of what they hold highest and dearest. From tales of a grandmother whose entrepreneurial spirit inspired an online enterprise, with faded black and white prints, to poetry readings and an inspiring story of an encounter on a flight to Omaha with a bill of money ending in Texas decades later with a deal for profit and a tale of taking risks in a haunted fashion show with Elvira, each student cashed in on an ability to communicate in a social context in a way that advanced their goals, growth and development. The students’ presentations were excellent. I told them so.

BurbankAdultSchoolBeing social, which necessitates communication, is part of man’s nature. The 9-week course at Burbank Adult School is predicated on this idea. It aims to enrich the student to learn skills to advance his self-interest. One of the student presentations demonstrated the course’s theme in an especially memorable way. It was created by a student who chose to tell the class about his time in Berlin.

Though he didn’t disclose the year, it was clearly many years ago. He said he had been teaching a skill he’d mastered to a group of students. Some of them, he said, had lived in East Germany, a Communist dictatorship controlled by the Soviet Union. He said he noticed something different about these students. In particular, he told the class that he’d observed something haunted, even vacant, in their eyes. In time, he explained, he realized that the students from Communist Germany were living in terror of making a mistake. He said he sought to help them. He told the class that he made an effort to alleviate their fear so they might begin to live free in the world again.

Then, he said, something extraordinary happened during the teaching of his course.

As he said this, pausing to pull his Show & Tell item from a black athletic bag, he took a moment to compose himself. The year, he explained, was 1989 and, as the Communist regime collapsed in Soviet Russia, the Berlin Wall came down. Reaching into his bag in silence and pulling out a chunk of concrete which was once part of the slave state imprisoning millions of Germans, he told the class in social media that his students had given him this gift for having taught them. He added quietly that he has treasured it ever since.

That day was 25 years ago this Sunday and, in a single display of concrete preceded by a tale of teaching victims of Soviet oppression, he communicated the power of reducing ideas to reality in a course on social media as a means of reducing ideas to reality. In his particular presentation, and in the other students’ presentations, too, he made my course, All About Social Media, searingly, brilliantly, all about his own life, work, liberty, happiness and self. That is the whole ideal.