A Random Conversation in A New York Park….

Exposes a Major Crisis in American Civilization

Of the myriad joys New York City affords its residents, the beautiful public parks scattered about the five boroughs is at the top of my list.  In densely populated Manhattan these well-planned public spaces reflect the philosophy of the city planners that designed them.  The most important of whom was Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Manhattan’s beautiful Central Park and its Brooklyn offshoot, the Majestic Prospect Park.  Olmstead’s paramount objective was to create beautiful public spaces in the heart of the evolving concrete menagerie of New York City, where Mother Nature could thrive, and the  haves and have nots could congregate and cogitate on equal ground.

I love New York in all its many splendored manifestations, the parks prominently among them.  Within these leafy arboretums I have communed with nature and conversed with a wide variety of New Yorkers, what the late David N. Dinkins, the first Afro-American Mayor of the Big Apple, called the “gorgeous human mosaic.” For here, within these forested and flowered sanctuaries,  wisemen and fools, highbrow ladies and streetwise shrews, princes and paupers, those born to the purple and the public projects, can meet without regard to one’s station in life.  Like the ever-insightful Black Bard Paul Laurence Dunbar who declared, “I never believed in aristocrats,” I value character infinitely more than class, and candor more than pretension.  Hence, I carry on lively conversations with all kinds of folk in the park.

Thus, I found myself in a strange argument with a couple of people that I was working out with in the park the other day.  One a black male, a splendid physical specimen who we shall call “Sepia Samson,” the other a Hispanic housewife putting in work to maintain her hottie status, both of them mid to late thirties intelligent New Yorkers.  We were having a pleasant time until the Samson announced: “Dr. Fauci is a criminal!”  I cannot remember what prompted his comment, but it shocked the shit out of me.  My surprise was prompted by the fact that I knew him much better than the lady, whom I had just met, because we had become workout buddies over the course of the past few weeks.

A level-headed personable entrepreneur and creative artist, who also works with children, I had come to view Samson as a thoughtful, progressive, young man.  Hence his pronouncement hit me like a kick in the head, because it is a point of view that originated among the far right-wing lunatic fringe of the Trumpanzee and Qanon cults.  Two of the most backwards, dangerous, racists, fascists, destructive movements in contemporary America. Since I do not suffer fools nor damned foolishness gladly, before I knew it I loudly declared: ”That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard!”  Since it was not only dumb but very dangerous; I saw no need to pull punches, absolute candor was needed here.  Sepia Samson was taken aback by my response.

It was obvious that nobody had ever spoken to him like that, because, among other things, he is a physically intimidating character.  But the relationship between us had developed to the point where he views me as a wise elder and mentor, so there was never any thought of any sort of violent response from him.  He knew that I had held professorships in history and Journalism, and had even read some of my writings, aside from the fact that I had been droppin science on Samson in weighty conversations about politics and science.

Hence, I expected him to reply with something like: “Well school me on it OG,” which is his informal name for me.  But to my surprise, he doubled down on his ignorant outrageous slander against Dr. Fauci, the humble and brilliant scientist who has led the nation – and much of the world – through successive outbreaks of deadly viral epidemics from Aids, to Ebola, to Saars, to Covid 19.  Bearing in mind that he did not know me well enough to be aware of the fact that I am a compulsive pedagogue, genetically programmed to fight ignorance everywhere I encounter it if I believe the fight is worth the effort, I decided to take it easy on him.

When he said with great indignation,” You ain’t never gonna convince me of nothing talkin to me like that!” I decided to take a different tack.  After all, I was the master teacher in the situation, and I have a cardinal rule: “If there is no learning going on…there is no effective teaching going on.”  Hence, instead of saying what I would have said if he didn’t matter to me: “I got the knowledge you trying to get it…so go on and a stay a dummy Mofo!,” I attempted to win him over by changing my pedagogical strategy.

First I hit him with some real old school rhymes from back in the chicken shack down home in Florida. Samson is an artist/producer in the Hip Hop game, who spits some witty rhymes over funky beats, so I thought he would dig it.  “Yo Dog!  Take a chill pill.  You gon still be my horse if you don’t never a race/ my Dog if you don’t never catch a rabbit/ and my Nigger if you don’t git no bigger!  I’m down with ya and can’t quit ya!  And befo I shit you I won’t even much fuck wit ya!”  That brought a ready smile to Samson’s face as he said “Alright OG.”

Then I explained to him that just because we were not in a classroom didn’t mean that he wasn’t in school, pointing out that Plato routinely taught his acolytes in an open garden, not unlike our surroundings.  I explained that when I shout at him during heated intellectual arguments, it was not to be taken personal, because my outrage was against the dangerous assault on reason and logical discourse that an argument innocent or contemptuous of facts represented.  I hated the game not the playa!

I demanded that he present the evidence for his outrageous attack on the reputation and work of Dr. Faucci, and when he pleaded that he didn’t have it with him, I told him he could e-mail it to me.  He then protested that the issue was not that important to him.  I told him the Covid 19 Pandemic and Dr. Faucci’s role in fighting it was one of the most important issues of our times, literally a life and death matter for millions of people.  And if he didn’t think that was important enough to produce evidence for his slander against the good Doctor he should just STFU!

Then Samson, strongly supported by the Hispanic hottie, vociferously declared that they had the right to their opinions!   Sooner or later, when people are unable to defend their arguments with facts, it always comes down to their right to free speech, which is accompanied by a grievous misunderstanding of the powers and prerogatives of the First Amendment.  I explained to them that the First Amendment does not apply to interpersonal relations, then I explained the difference between evidence and hearsay.

These are common misunderstandings, we can see this in Dirty Don tha Con’s absurd suit against Twitter, You Tube and Facebook claiming they are violating his First Amendment rights because they have kicked him off their platforms.  However, there is every reason to believe this is just another con by Dirty Don. For as First Amendment and Media Law Expert Frank La Monte, a Professor at the University of Florida, in Trump’s adopted home state, tells us:

The protections of the First Amendment are triggered when a public agency exercises governmental power to restrict people’s speech – what is known as “state action.” On rare occasions, private organizations can be considered “governmental” – for instance, when a private hospital or university is given police power to make arrests on its premises. But operating a video-sharing platform is not a “governmental” function – and judges have said so, unanimously.

Alas, we can also see this pervasive misunderstanding about the right to free speech in the burgeoning belief that one person’s opinion is just as good as another, regardless of the differences in qualifications.  Hence, while Sepia Samson and the Hispanic Hottie viewed the matter as a question of their right to express an opinion for which they had no qualifications, or could cite no evidence by qualified experts, I had ceased to care about their individual concerns.

For me, the important issue was that they were compelling examples of the extent to which certain malignant ideas have gained traction among large segments of the US  population.  These ideas are rigorously examined by Professor Tom Nichols in his insightful, learned, pathbreaking book: ”The Death of Expertise.”  Nichols a  Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College and an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension Schoolsums up the present crisis in the sociology of American knowledge thusly:

For laypeople to use expert advice and to place professionals in their proper roles as servants, rather than masters, they must accept their own limitations as well. Democracy cannot function when every citizen is an expert. Yes, it is unbridled ego for experts to believe they can run a democracy while ignoring its voters; it is also, however, ignorant narcissism for laypeople to believe that they can maintain a large and advanced nation without listening to the voices of those more educated than themselves.”

As a professor at two of the world’s most advanced institutions of higher learning, Tom Nichols certainly knows something of expertise, and thus recognizes it when he is exposed to it.  Thus, he also recognizes the danger posed to modern civilization when it is ignored on a mass scale.  One clear and present danger is that a great nation can elect an odious buffoon like Dimwit Donnie Trump to the highest office in the land, and the most powerful position in the world!  To put a clueless dunce and moral cripple like Donald Dimwit, a New York real estate flim flam man, in command of America’s nuclear arsenal, a doomsday force capable of destroying the world, is irrefutable evidence of the existential danger posed by the epidemic of ignorance that presently infects our body politic.  It has the potential to become far more deadly than the Corona virus!

Alas, the elements of this crisis that may yet prove a terminal affliction for American civilization were all present in my workout partners in the park.  Disregard for expertise; inability to recognize or believe reliable news sources, relying instead on subjective social media sources that are unmediated by professional fact checkers; inability to distinguish personal opinion from objective truth; refusal to concede that truth objective is even possible.

The result of this toxic combination is the insistence that one’s uninformed prattled be accorded the same weight as learned opinion because it is “their  constitutional right.” The fact that no such right can be found in the US Constitution dose not faze them because they have never actually read the Constitution.  That these impassioned ignoramuses are undeterred by the absence of evidence for their beliefs is at the root of the “Stop the Steal” movement that resulted in the greatest assault on the US capitol since the British sacked it during the War of 1812.

The belief that the presidential election was stolen from Don tha Con by the Democrats continues to fuel a dangerous nationwide movement. This bogus claim persist in spite of the fact that has been rejected in 60 federal courts, dismissed by a Supreme Court whose Justices are largely appointed by Republican presidents, certified by Republican election officials in disputed states, sparked multi-million dollar law suits against lawyers arguing in favor of Trumps “big lie ” –  a tactic invented by Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Dr. Joseph Goebbels  – and resulted in the disbarment of Rudy Guliani aka “Rudy Rotten,” a former titan of the legal community.

The embrace of a post truth anti-fact/science perspective, when combined with white supremacist ideology and anti-government paranoia – a malignant trend that has its roots in the axioms of Ronnie Reagan – “Government is the problem” –  gives rise to anti-rational fascist cults like Qanon, which is spreading like wildfire across this nation.  Given the fact that Americans are the most armed civilian population in any advanced nation in the world, many with weapons that should be confined to theaters of war, Americans shooting each other down in the streets over political difference is a real possibility.

In such a civil crisis, the chances of our multi-racial popular Democracy being replaced by a fascist plutocracy ruled by white supremacists become a real possibility.  Thus, Jefferson’s warning about the importance of an enlightened electorate to the success of democracy has proven to be not only insightful but prophetic. “A democracy cannot work with an ignorant electorate, because they will elect and return the worse people to power.”  Which explains the election and lingering devotion to Don tha Con.  But Jefferson issued an even more ominous warning, of which Americans should take serious note: “There never was a people who were ignorant and free, there never was and there never shall be.”

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Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 26, 2021

 

 

 

 

Explain how I decided to come at him with some street rhymes, challenging him to present the evidence upon which he based his slander of Dr. Fauci.

 

 

When he began to bullshit about the source of his claim, I turned the fire up on his ass.  Then the Hispanic housewife came to his aid spouting spurious prattle.  Since she did not know me from Adam’s house cat I saw that it would be futile to argue with her.  So I just told her he was a grown man and was perfectly capable of defending himself and dismissed her.

 

  • However, as I listened to their arguments, I became quite alarmed. For here on bold display were all the major factors that contribute to the dangerous and increasingly deadly epidemic of ignorance emanating from the Republican right that gave birth to Qanon and the White supremacists movement that led to the attack on the capitol on Jan 6.  And what was most frightening is that it was obvious that they had no clue about the origins of their arguments and inept critical thinking.  This is an epidemic of ignorance in tandem with self-righteous arrogance that is more deadly that than the Covid Pandemic!

Trump Calls General Milley a Traitor?

Traitor Don and the General

Dirty Don is Unfit to Wash the General’s Jock Strap!

According to revelations about Donald J. Trump’s mental instability during his last days in the presidency published in “Peril,” the new book by Bob Woodard and Robert Costa, Washington insiders and Pulitzer Prize winning reporters on events in the nation’s Capital, General Milley was right to convene a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and discuss the procedures for launching a nuclear weapon and to point out that they should follow no instruction to initiate a nuclear assault on another nation without his okay.  The highly decorated General was also correct when he called his Chinese counterpart, General Lee of the PLA, and insured him that they were in no danger of a surprise attack from the US.

These actions might well have saved the world. And unlike the Republican Trumpanzees calling for President Biden to fire the General, I can speak with some authority on this critical question. This is because I possess special insights into the unspeakable horrors of nuclear war, and the recognition that it can happen, by virtue of a unique experience in my youth, one that few people in the world can claim.

At the early age of 18, when most young people are in high school preoccupied with trivialities like how to attract desired members of the opposite sex or winning a spot on their school’s cheerleading or varsity sports teams, I was stationed on a nuclear strike base whose mission was the atomic destruction of Russia.  Since I was a heavily armed member of the Combat Defense force, who were assigned to protect the nuclear strike force from Russian saboteurs, I enjoyed a “Top Secret” security clearance that allowed me access to US nuclear war fighting strategies.

Predictably, the gaggle of soulless charlatans, clueless clowns and feckless fools led by that cadaverous old reactionary buffoon Murder Mouth Mitch, and the shameless serpentine hypocritical closet queen Lady Lindsay, in the Senate, joined by ass kissin Kev in the House, have turned the Grand Old Party into the Grand Obstructionist Party, and betrayed the best of it’s traditions by slavishly doing the bidding of Dirty Donny Dimwit,  a mobbed up egomaniacal New York real estate flim-flam man with no discernible qualifications to fulfil the duties of the American presidency.

That Donald Trump is an unqualified amoral conman was apparent to all of his opponents who were pretenders to the presidency during the Republican primary elections. And they said so in no uncertain terms.  Even Marco Rubio, himself no pillar of virtue, denounced Don as a Con.  And Jeb Bush, who knows a thing or two about governing, predicted: “Donald Trump is a chaos candidate, and he would be a chaos President.”  But all this frank talk and opposition to what they universally believed would be a disastrous Trump presidency evaporated like a snowball in a micro-wave oven when he emerged as winner of the general election.  Alas, party politics triumphed over patriotism, personal ambition over commitment to the public good, virtue was replaced by avarice and opportunism, altruism was snuffed out by cynicism, and magnanimity by malice.

It is fair to say that the accidental Trump Presidency – the triumph of the Moscow candidate spawned from a treasonous conspiracy that elicited the aid of Russian military intelligence  – has been an unmitigated disaster for American society.  As it has left our democratic system in shambles with angry Americans at each other’s throats fueled by a passionate hatred and intense paranoia.  It was a historic victory for Russian military intelligence operatives.

For although Dirty Donnie did not invent racism, sexism, xenophobia and avarice his tenure as President greatly exacerbated these toxic tendencies.  In fact, one could argue, that the Trump presidency unleashed the worse pent-up passions, dangerous psychological impulses embedded in the collective Id, that lay just beneath the placid surface of civility in American society.  Just as that great father of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, beseeched  Americans to heed the voices of “the better angels of our nature,” Dirty Donny Dimwit, the last Republican President, calls forth the demons in the worst of us.

Hence it is an obscene irony that Don tha Con, a soulless Bullshit artist, who like a deadly plague infects everything he touches, could garner the greatest number of votes in US history, exceeded only by his adversary Joe Biden, in his bid for re-election after being twice impeached by Congress!  It provides irrefutable evidence that there is a serious flaw in our political process that is comparable to a malignant cancer spreading throughout the body politic.  Three of the causes of this political malady, which may yet prove terminal to our increasingly fragile democracy, was recognized by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison – the first, third and fourth Presidents of the US – at the founding of America’s democratic republic.

Jefferson warned against the dangers of an ignorant electorate, and Washington warned about the pitfalls of “factionalism,” i.e., party politics.  And James Madison, who is often referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” by virtue of his contribution to the “Federalist Papers” – the blueprint that guided the architects of the Federal Constitution – offered the observation that is perhaps most relevant to this moment in our history.  Reflecting on the brilliant system of checks and balances in the political system they had constructed, Madison observed “without virtue” in public servants “no system of government can save you.”

Alas, as a black American I am compelled to point out that while singing the praises of virtue, all three men were holding my ancestors in chattel slavery, a system whose rulers represented the antithesis of virtue.  Indeed, it exposed the fundamental contradiction between the high universal humanist ideals espoused by these leaders of the American Enlightenment, and the realities of the barbaric racist, sexist policies they practiced.  Indeed, Frederick Douglass, the Great Afro-American abolitionist and premiere American public intellectual of the 19th century, called their celebration of liberty, justice and equality: “Brass fronted impudence!  A thin veil”  to cover up crimes that would “disgrace a nation of savages” in his famous 1851 Fourth of July Speech.

Yet, as badly flawed as they were, these prescient prognosticators fully realized the danger posed to a popular democracy when an ignorant electorate, driven by extreme partisan politics, is presided over by a president who is innocent of virtue, a moral cripple who suffers from “Malignant Narcissism and Paranoia” – the same psychopathology that afflicted Adolph Hitler.   In the Trump presidency we have the triumph of this toxic trifecta, and the Republic may yet prove vulnerable to the destructive forces it has unleashed.

The Trump presidency has exposed the flaws in our vaunted system of checks and balances, which is being tested in a way that it has not been tested since 1860.  Back then the country fell apart, descending into a civil war that was the most destructive in world history at that time.  The US Civil War was the first “modern war,” and no one at the time realized how deadly it would prove to be, even now very few Americans fully understand how deadly it was.

For instance, the present estimates of  Civil War dead stand at 620, 000, according to figures from the Civil War National Cemeteries site hosted by the Department of Interior.  However,  some historians of the War consider this total too conservative and put the death toll at 750,000 others put the total at over 800, 000.  Yet even if we take the most conservative figure the site tells us that this death toll is:

“Approximately equal to the total of American fatalities in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, combined.  The Civil War’s rate of death, its incidence in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II. A similar rate, about two percent, in the United States today would mean six million fatalities.

As horrible as this is, a nuclear war would render these statistics irrelevant!  And with Deranged Donald in possession of the nuclear codes, ranting like a mad man about the presidential election being stolen from him in a massive conspiracy involving Democrats and Republican election officials, despite having no proof and mountains of evidence to the contrary, even inciting a massive attack on the capitol by his fanatical Trumpanzee MAGA mob with bloody murder on their minds, it was obvious that this raging lunatic could not be trusted with the nuclear command.

This fact was also understood by America’s nuclear armed adversaries, and it was making the Chinese – who could never comprehend how such an incompetent buffoon could become America’s president – very nervous. Perhaps to the point of putting their nukes on high alert, missiles tipped with hydrogen bombs capable of reducing Washington and New York to rubble without a moment’s notice.

Doomsday!

All the experts on nuclear warfare such as “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist,” believe that an accidental launch based on a misreading of the intentions of nuclear armed adversaries is the most likely scenario for the commencement of nuclear war…which they rightly call “Doomsday!”   In fact, they even have a “Doomsday Clock,” in which mid-night represents the end of the world through nuclear holocaust.  They place the hands of the clock showing the probability of nuclear catastrophe by how close we are to the witching hour.  At present the clock shows 90 seconds to midnight!

It is within this context that General Milley’s actions must be viewed and understood.  The question at hand was whether the US military should follow the orders of a dangerously deluded Narcissist should he attempt to start a war against some unoffending nation, squandering the blood and treasure of our nation in a dishonorable attempt to hold onto presidential power, or worse, launching nuclear weapons and ending the existence of life on this planet.

These were the dire decisions Deranged Donald might have made that General Milley was trying to mitigate.  After all, the conversation between Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed by Woodward and Costa,  when the speaker argued that Trump was “crazy,”  the General said, “I agree.”  And he acted accordingly.  Hence, he deserves nothing less than our heartfelt thanks and deepest gratitude for a job well done, for General Milley may well have saved the world!

The fact that the corrupt lickspittles who run the Trumpist cult that once was the Republican Party are echoing the putrid propaganda  of Don tha Con, provides indisputable proof that the Republican Party is incapable of governing the USA, the most powerful nation on the planet.  That they are willing to join a draft dodging coward, amoral grifter, and life-long Big Apple bunko artist,  in maligning a heroic defender of the nation, a career soldier, tells us all we need to know about the deep criminal corruption that motivates the contemporary Republican Party alas.

It is due to the epidemic of ignorance among millions of Americans, an affliction more deadly than the Covid virus, about the protocols for the use of nuclear weapons – these doomsday machines that can destroy human existence in a flash – that General Milley’s actions are not universally applauded by everyone!  Consider these facts.  All that is needed to start a nuclear war is for the President of the United States to call the head of the US Strategic Command and order him to launch the missiles.  That’s it folks.

The prospect of an incompetent clown like Trump, who openly wondered why nuclear weapons were confined to the role of deterrence, stupidly asking: ”Why do we have them if we can’t use them?” should scare the shit out of everybody.  But to the millions of white supremacist and bible thumping blasphemers, the barbaric hordes of white trash rabble who see Dirty Donnie Dimwit as their savior, the impotent promises of making losers like them “great again” trumps the probability of annihilation by nuclear war.  And for the “End Time” Christian fanatics, nuclear war is equated with the “Rapture,”   when the world will be destroyed by fires rained from the heavens and Jesus Christ will return to save the righteous, Don tha Con is their main man.

However, some members of Congress recognize the grave danger of having the power to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons in the hands of an ignorant deranged narcissist like Trump.  Two of them, Congressman John Lieu and Senator Ed Markey, both Democrats, sponsored a bill to take away this God like power from American presidents due to their fear of how Deranged Donald might misuse it.                                                                                               Senator Ed Markey and Congressman John Lieu

 

Titled “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act,” (H.R.669/S.200) it was introduced in 2019 and reintroduced in 2020.  Although clueless or corrupt Congress persons have failed to act on this bill, elevating political expedience over national allegiance, the crucial importance of this bill to the survival of humanity is abundantly clear to the experts on nuclear war.

Stephen Young, who is the Washington Representative for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist, offered this assessment of the Lieu-Markey bill: “Giving the president the sole authority to start a nuclear war – using one or even hundreds of nuclear weapons first — is quite literally the most dangerous policy possible. The explicit goal of that policy is to make global annihilation feasible in less than an hour. I wish I were exaggerating. I am not. While the policy is intended to serve as a deterrent, the reality is it leads to the current situation, where a fit of temper by the president could end the world. It is time to change that policy. The bill we are discussing here today would do just that.”

Young’s concerns were echoed by C. Thompson Williams, Director of the anti-nuclear advocates Beyond the Bomb:

Donald Trump is a walking, talking case for dismantling a system that relies so completely on the judgment, temperament and emotional state of one person. It is profoundly undemocratic and dangerous. This president has taken us closer to the brink of nuclear war than we have been in generations, and it’s time for Congress to urgently intervene. The Markey-Lieu bill, which would force Trump to seek a Congressional declaration of war before launching a nuclear first strike – is an important step toward reigning in the President’s ability to start a war that could end life on this planet as we know it – and buy our country some time to pursue other critical reforms that overturn the unjust, undemocratic U.S. nuclear system. It’s time to start walking back from the brink, and the Markey-Lieu bill does just that.”

Hans M. Kristensen, Director of Nuclear Information Project, for the Federation of American Scientist sums the problem up succinctly:

No single person should have the ability to launch a nuclear first strike. The Federation of American Scientists supports the effort to limit the ability of President Donald Trump or any U.S. president to launch a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.”

Chances are that a casual survey of friends, family and associates will reveal an appalling ignorance of the questions raised in the essay. That has certainly been my experience and I hang with a very smart crowd.  When I attempt to fathom the causes of this abysmal and dangerous ignorance, I most often find that it is willful…what you don’t know can’t trouble you.  Alas that has been the case ever since I returned to civilian life from my stint in the Strategic Air Command with the awful knowledge that mankind not only had the power to extinguish all life on planet earth but had the plans and the personnel in place to execute it. 

Indeed, I have found most people unwilling to even discuss the issue of nuclear annihilation.  Yet their reluctance is understandable alas, because the horrid reality of nuclear war is far to ghastly to contemplate.  One of the first things our instructors told us in the Strategic Air Command, which at the time was America’s premiere nuclear strike force, was in the aftermath of a nuclear exchange: “The living will envy the dead.”  Imagine a world with no medical facilities, no electric power or water, all the grand edifices of our civilization reduced to radio-active rubble, the blood and guts of dead mangled bodies strewn everywhere, the poisonous radio-active black rains that will pelt the planet for days on end…the onset of nuclear winter because the massive debris churned up from the powerful nuclear explosions have blotted out the sun. 

Imagine all this…and more, even then you will not have fully imagined the extent of the horrors visited upon humanity in the aftermath of nuclear war.  Hence, I will suffice it to say, this is the fate General Milley was trying to save us from in the wise and heroic actions he took.  Yet, the Republican Party is accusing him of “Treason” and calling for This brave Chairman-Of-The-Joint-Chiefs of Staff to be Court Marshalled and “Dishonorably Discharged” from the Armed Services. 

This assault upon reason, truth and national honor  has no chance of prevailing so long as Lloyd Austin, a former General and Comrade in Arms, is Secretary of Defense, and Joe Biden, the father of a gallant combat officer, is President.  Hence kind of reckless unprincipled hyper-partisan prattle masquerading as “patriotism” is anti-intellectual junk food to be consumed by the hysterical untutored mob of air head Trumpanzees, in the hope that this will drive them to the polls and vote Republican. 

They expect this from the Trumpist cult despite the fact everybody whose head is not stuck up their ass can see that this Republican Party, the former Grand Old Party that devolved into the Grand Obstructionist Party , has clearly revealed itself to be not only a menace to American society – aka “Public Enemy Numero Uno,” – but a menace to the world!  A clear and present danger to the survival of the planet. 

General Milley, realizing that his oath of allegiance is to the Constitution not the President, and therefore he is not bound to carry out unconstitutional, i.e., unlawful  orders, took steps to save the nation and the world from criminally insane acts perpetrated by Dirty Don tha Con, a draft dodging traitor and twice impeached President. I am certain that when historians tell the full story of General Milley’s prescient heroism, future generations will rightly build monuments to honor this man.  And we, who may well be alive because of the actions of this genuine American hero, should rally around him and sing his praises while he lives.

 

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Playthell George Benjamin

September 19, 2021

 

In Loving Remembrance of Sister Sandra

Sandra Horn

On the Passing of My First Born

A wise Counselor to the Youths…

 And tireless Worker for the Glory of God

Unlike the Bible waving “Evangelicals” who flaunt their religious piety like the flag pins worn by Republican super-patriots, Sandra lived the Christianity they boisterously preach but never practice.  All who knew her understood that Sandra’s commitment to the work of her church was the centerpiece of her life, she didn’t just talk the talk…she walked the walk.  Sandra understood that it is our deeds, not mere words, by which we will ultimately be judged.  Sandra well understood that, in the words of the old time spiritual, “Everybody talkin bout heaven ain’t goin there.”

Just as she understood that bricks and marble, golden alters, stained glass windows and cedar pews did not make a righteous church.  Her faith was of the spirit and was unmoved by the opulent trappings that adorned the temples of the high and mighty.  Indeed, she often wondered if emphasizing such material extravagance amidst pervasive spiritual poverty testified to their genuflection before the vices and vanities of Mammon, rather than devotion to  the commandment of Jesus Christ to serve “the least” among us.

That Sandra had chosen to follow this Commandment was self-evident in her choice of a church and the humble people she chose to serve.  This became immediately apparent to me when I accompanied her to church, a couple of days after visiting Louisiana as a Special Correspondent for the London Guardian, to report on the destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina.

I was so impressed by Sandra’s passionate religiosity and deep devotion to the work her church, that I ended up writing my impressions of what I witnessed and published it under the title “Come Sunday in Brunswick Georgia.”   I am not a devout man, and Sandra had more than once called me “an unchurched heathen” to my face, and though she did it with a smile she was only half joking, the depth of her commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ was an amazing grace that touched the soul of even a wretch like me.  And before the day was done, it set my spirit a dancing.

I Testified: “Come Sunday things started bustling around the house early as the Christian soldiers arose with the sun, carefully laying out their uniforms so as to pass inspection with the lord.  This was the day that the pious saved souls lived for.  This was the day that they visited their father’s house and sanctified their souls in the body of Christ.  None was more dedicated to this ritual than Sandra… And on Sunday morning I groomed and decorated myself to the height of good fashion and escorted my daughter to the New Covenant Church.

          It didn’t take long to discover the high regard with which my senior daughter is held by the members of her congregation.  She was admired as much for her artistic abilities as her tireless work on behalf of the church. I would later be shown several billboards for theatrical productions she had presented under the auspices of the church.  She had served as writer, director, choreographer, and designer of the sets and costumes. 

I knew that by some mysterious alchemy she had managed to touch the sacred fire and become a poet, but I didn’t know that she had also become a multi-talented thespian.  And she is lauded for her talents in spite of the fact that she has no formal training in any of these arts.  Sandra is a true autodidact. Upon reflection I began to recognize that, like the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach, or the peerless painter Leonardo DaVinci she has found her muse, audience and patron in the church.  And that’s about as convincing evidence of God’s grace as I have yet seen.”

Sandra’s masterpiece, her Magnum Opus as an artist, was her musical pageant “From Africa to America,” a wonderful telling of the story of the trials, tribulations, and ultimate triumph of the epic African-American saga.  This work – which she conceived, wrote, cast, directed, costumed, composed, and choreographed, each of which represents a separate arena of artistic expertise in the theater – was  her artistic apotheosis.  It was for Sandra what Johanne Sebastian Bach’s magnificent B Minor Mass was for him, or Handel’s Messiah, or the arresting transcendental imagery of Leonardo’s Sistine Chapel: The were all inspired by the powerful spirit of God!

As I witnessed the service at New Covenant Church that Sunday morning, I discovered the source from whence Sandra’s inspiration sprang.  Although even the language of Shakespeare could not convey the full magnificence of my witness, I did the best I could:

There are many impressive churches in Georgia, grand edifices with steeples that reach for the skies, but Sandra’s church was modest, though well decorated; a church where humble working people could feel at home. Yet in spite of its unpretentious architecture, I’m convinced that if the spirit of God was anywhere in Georgia on that Sunday morning, she was in that little church in Brunswick. You could hear in the music, which was divine.  In this holy sanctuary the worshippers were bathed in the word of the lord as it poured from the mouths of passionate preachers, and the word would rejuvenate them and make them feel brand new, cleansed of the sins of this world… 

On this Sunday morning the sermon, which they referred to as “Praising the Word,” was delivered by Rev. Catherine Armstrong, the wife in the joint pastorate of New Covenant.  She wore her hair in a short “au natural” style, and was both bright and articulate as she delivered a straight forward message on the need for people to stand up and make a stab at achieving their dreams while seeking the lord’s help through prayer.  She was both erudite and funny, as she lifted the spirits of the congregants with her sermon.  Like the old-time preachers in James Weldon Johnson’s epic poems God’s Trombones, this preacher was a poet, “with all the devices of eloquence at her command.”  And she was preaching in just the sort of church the great novelist and folklorist Zora Neal Hurston had in mind when she said: “a preacher must be a poet in order to survive in a Negro pulpit.”  

Hence I could see clearly that this, New Covenant Church, was the rock upon which she stood in sickness and in health, the sanctuary in which she sought refuge when she needed a balm to heal her spirit, a sacred space to rejuvenate her soul.  It was here that she found her muse, patrons and audience that made her art possible.  It was here in the humble house of the Lord in Brunswick that the mystery of her gifts were revealed to me.

Aside from being a creator of plays Sandra was also an actress and songstress, as she ably displayed in her performance of the late great tragic artist “Lady Day.”  It was a measure of her self-confidence that she undertook the role of a woman so radically different from herself.  It is as if she heeded the advice given to the great American Actor Dustin Hoffman, by the greater British thespian Sir Lawrence Olivier.

Watching Hoffman drag himself on the set every day, barely able to function because he was trying to become the character by putting himself through the ordeals the character suffers in the movie, Sir Lawrence advised him: Why put yourself through such agony, why don’t you just try acting?”   Hence the ultimate test for an actors skills is to convincingly portray a character radically different from oneself.  That courage, that daring do, that willingness to tackle the difficult task and master it, when coupled with an effervescent personality as sweet and delightful as bubbling brown sugar, is the essence of sister Sandra.

When I think of my senior daughter the words of two great poets come to mind.  Speaking of his magnificent and noble Moor Othello, Shakespeare said: “For the elements so blended in him/ All the world could say ‘here was a man.”  With but a slight edit for gender and a quicksilver turn of phrase, this is a perfect description of Sister Sandra…”For the elements so blended in her/ all the world could see here was a woman!”  A loving mother, true friend, wise teacher, gifted artist, dedicated church member, and indefatigable laborer in the vine yards of the Lord.

The sublime words of William Cullen Bryant, in his poem “Thanatopsis,” an epic contemplation of death, he advises: “So live that when thy summons come/ to journey to that mysterious realm/ Where each shall take his place in the silent halls of death/ Thou go not like the quarry slave at night/scourged to his dungeon/ But sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust/ Approach thy grave like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him/ And lies down to pleasant dreams.”  Rest in piece my beloved senior daughter, none who knew your amazing grace will ever forget thee.  For you are the type of righteous transcendent spirit that may come to a people once in a century…if we are lucky.  Alas, we shall not soon see your like again…if ever.

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Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 5, 2021