Thursday, June 29, 2006

U.S. Supreme Court and Guantanamo Bay

Earlier today news came out about the decision of the Supreme Court in reference to the men held at Guantanamo Bay. The essence of that decision is that President Bush has overstepped his authority, limiting the rights of the detainees. As I understand it the decision also confers rights equivalent to those of a U.S. citizen and places the Geneva Convention statues upon them. This is wrong, in my opinion. It is also a difficult line to tread.

First, as I understand it, for the Geneva rules to apply there must be a nation involved. More specifically the combatants must represent a nation. Al Quaida is best described as an organization, based upon religion, with a very loose-knit central authority. There is no government that directs or claims them as its representatives. There has been no connection to any governmental body on the planet, which is something several governments have sought and continue to search for. There is no nation that is the permanent base or origination point of this group of people. It’s members are citizens of several countries, united by a faith and a desire to kill those who’s faith is not the same.

Secondly, The Geneva Convention was created and intended for nationalities in conflicts of war. War stated by formal declaration and recognized by other sovereign bodies. As I have stated before, [in A few words on politics, war, and Dr. Martin Luther King] individuals cannot declare a war, though they can fight in them and initiate battles. A nation cannot declare a war on individuals either. And it is impossible to fight an ideal, or faith, at all.

And of course there are prohibitions within the Convention on how war is to be waged. Civilians are not recognized targets. Children are to be avoided. The recognized soldiers are to be in uniforms, and/or provide identification of their representation of a specific nation. If prisoners are taken, they are not to be harmed or tortured or killed.

Given these facts, there cannot be prisoners of war, nor a declaration of such and thus no right to the protections in the Geneva Convention. Given that prisoners taken by members of this group have been killed, tortured and harmed they have violated the Convention they ask to be included in. Given is the fact that the Convention only applies to those countries that have signed and affirmed its rules. Further given is that this organization specifically targets civilians, and civil structures.

Thus I cannot see any reason to afford these men with the rights provided in the Geneva accord. For those that are not Americans I feel no need to provide the rights of Americans. In much the way that American law is not universal, so too are the rights conveyed to our citizens. It is a grand gesture to be sure, but it is a waste. Especially since there is no reason to presume that this will affect the outcome of current or future engagements. And that this is being pursued only to seek to frustrate the U.S. people, slow down the process of determining guilt or innocence, and an attempt to receive punishment to are an equivalent of a college beer keg party as compared to those in many of the countries these men originate from.

I would not give the same rights I have as a citizen to illegal aliens in this nation. The case of illegal immigrants in this nation mostly being of some benefit, as they provide cheap labor in various industries many Americans do not wish to do, can be made and yet that is not enough to grant equal rights. Why then would we give equal rights to those that not only disagree, but actively seek to pursue the destruction of civilians and our way of life. The President may have overstepped his bounds; but that does not convey those non-Americans held a right to the very things they are intent on destroying.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

What is a Black African Hispanic American supposed to think?

Well I had quite the night. Out in the depths of the vast wastes of Binghamton I was enjoying a scotch (glenlivet 12 year old because they don’t carry the 21 yr old) when 3 21 yr old women entered the bar. Now there were a couple of people in the bar at the time, all in their 40's +. I was eating a meal at the time along with me drink. Like everyone else in the bar I was observing the ladies as they were having a drink. The ladies had just finish a jog. Then the next thing that happened is a lady, white and roughly 50, warned me to watch out.

When I asked “Watch out for what”, I got the vague answer of ‘Well things are different now, and I won’t tell you what to do, but watch out for those girls”. I asked if one of them was checking me out, which to my knowledge was not happening. She responded no. After several requests to tell me what to watch out for I finally got the answer “You don’t know what money or power some of these girls have behind them.”

So what the hell was that supposed to mean. It just seemed that this line of statements were aimed at my race. There was no reason for me to watch out. The girls, in jogging clothes, were young and not physically imposing. I was the only Black African American in the place, and the only one the warning was given to. I was not staring at the ladies, and observed them as they were loud and 21 like everyone else in the bar did. The warning was directed to me only. The ladies had no weapons, nor anywhere to conceal one. While the ladies in question were boisterous they were hardly beligerent. They posed about as much of a physical threat as watching cable tv, at least in my opinion.

Perhaps the fact that I have lived in major cities (NYC, Moscow, LA and others), or the fact that the woman providing the warning never lived outside Binghamton metro area (population about 200,000), influenced the perception of danger. But several hours later I still do not know what I was supposed to watch out for. Other than the latent fear that as a single (I am, and have no rings) Black African American male that is not ugly and looks younger than I am, I may attract these, at least one of these, young (too young) white girls.

Perhaps I am missing something. Someone tell me if I am. I don’t get it. I had said nothing to the ladies. I had said nothing to the woman. I was eating food and having a drink. That was it. The comment to me was unprovoked and never explained fully or in a manner I could understand. How would you feel if this was you. I can’t wait to hear the answers.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The health of this Puerto Rican Black African American

Time for a completely different thought. I've spoken about many things in this blog, from politics to world events and more. One thing I have rarely spoken about is myself. Well here is a bit about me.

I recently had a medical physical. Nothing serious, I tend to take one each year. But it is something that is important. As a Puerto Rican Black African American male I know that prostate cancer and testicular cancer are major killers. Beyond that heart attacks often kill many men, especially those of minority backgrounds, because there was no early warnings. In my family diabetes is also a factor, as my father had adult onset diabetes.

Many Black African American men suffer from some or all of the above and have no idea. Cancer is survivable. My father beat cancer of the tongue (found mostly in smokers) that had started to get into the lymphnodes. He was lucky that a dentist noticed something on his tongue. Like my father I too tend to avoid doctors unless there is something seriously off. That of course is a horrible way to look at prevention or treatment.

While many today are unlike me in that they have children, they are also unlike me in that they do not get regular checkups. It is important. One of my best friends, of 30+ years, lost his father to prostate cancer. And a check up is far less expensive than medical treatment or surgery. Plus the world today is not as innnocent or forgiving as in my youth. Aids and various STD's exist in large numbers. To not get checked is a risk to you and your significant other.

As for me, I check for cancer, diabetes, aids, testicular and (yes I'm that old now) prostate cancer. Not fun but at least I know that all the bases are covered. It's the responsible thing to do, even though my heart rate (sitting) is 66, and my blood pressure is 120/70 while I maintain a slender build. I'm in good shape for a man of my age and in very good shape considering I excersice far less than I should. Still clogged arteries don't care how you look or what size body you have.

Basically if you haven't been to the doctor, go. If you have get check ups on a regular basis. And if you have a need or family history that suggests you should be checked more often do it. It could be the best money you ever spend. Think of it like car insurance, you pay for something you hope to never use.

Just a thought from me to you.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

So what about Canada?

I find it interesting that I recently was speaking about the proposed fence at the Mexican border, and how attention needs to be averted or maintained to the north. Lo and behold news comes out about 17 terrorists at the Canadian border. It seems that this revelation confirms my thoughts.

It’s not that I want America to become an isolationist nation. Nor do I wish us to be fearful of our borders and those that cross them. But if we are to posture about security and claim a need to patrol and defend the southern border, no less attention needs to be directed at our neighbors to the north. And I would wager that if 17 were caught, many more have already crossed without incident.

Mr. Carlos Mencia joked that the Mexicans are more diligent in preventing terrorists from crossing from the south due to our probable reaction to such an event. With yet another confirmed capture of a group of terrorists from Canada what is the reaction going to be?

If this were a situation where we caught terrorist in Mexico, do you doubt that the national guard would be called to patrol the border? That fences of all types would be erected from donations of Americans from across the nation before even 1 federal dollar was allocated to such a measure? But what is going to happen now with Canada?

I don’t notice a cry to call out the National Guard in Montana. I don’t see statements of a need for a fence with Canada. Considering the far larger dimensions of the border to the north, and the fact that far less people populate most of that area wouldn’t a fence or some more directed patrol be a wise choice? And if no call for any changes come, what are we saying?

Are we to infer that Latinos are more dangerous than the defined, and repeated, threat we have observed from the lighter skinned northern neighbors. Is spanish the language of all evil any less than french or brithish english spoken in Canada. Are permanent tans, which cost nothing to maintain, evidence of mistrust?

And what is our reaction to be? Are we to be so afraid as to close all our borders and hide from the worlds that we have encouraged and need trade from? No nation is free of terrorism. It can reach any country in many forms. Every nation needs to be vigilant of its appearance and effect. But to ignorantly assume that only one avenue is available to those misguided enough to devalue human life, is an invitation to even greater problems from another source.

The government may wish to stick its head in the sand, and assume that if we protect one border all are safe. The public at large may wish to assume that one culture is more dangerous than another. But the fact is, and is shown to be again, that such precepts are both false and dangerous.

Fences don’t work, not by themselves. Nor does ignoring obvious and accessible alternatives. Nor is hiding from the facts at hand. There is no culture or religion more dangerous than another. And in trying to assert that such a priority may exist we will create more potential problems and enemies than we could ever possibly stop.

This is what I think, what do you think?

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Where were we and where are you going in black culture

There are a few things that I’ve recently thought about. I ran across an interesting article by Mr. Johnathon E. Briggs on teen boys. At Roosevelt University clinical psychologist Lance Williams asked teen boys to take a critical look at Hip-hop. Mr. Williams seems to feel “hip-hop today has been usurped by rabid commercialism and musical celebrations of mayhem, misogyny and materialism. He reminded the teens that from its early origins three decades ago in the South Bronx, hip-hop was meant to raise one's political and social consciousness, not dehumanize or degrade. “

Now those that have seen my site are familiar with my views on the current state of hip-hop and the commoditization [not a true word I know] of Black African American culture. I have long held the thought that the proliferation of songs that celebrate the lowest aspects of life in America, or as human beings, has been a negative factor in the lives of Black African Americans as well as all of America’s youth. It’s nice to know that I am far from the only one to see this.

In any critical glance at Black culture today it is obvious, I think, to see that women are purely objects of sexual gratification and respect is only viewed as gained through violence. Material gain is valued over mental, and the actions of an individual more important than anything else. This is a cementing of a different thought I have also long held. Some may have heard this before.

I have thought that originally a plan of selective breeding occurred in America during the 200+ years of slavery. Much like the breeding practices used in farming, stronger Black African males were bred with the stronger Black African women in the hope of stronger slave children. In addition to strength, temperament and intelligence were no doubt factors as well. I can only assume the goal was to created the equivalent of a human pitbull. But of course we are human beings, with intelligence and emotions that expand the human experience beyond that of animals. Thus it was necessary to also break the bonds of family, and to create the impression of a lesser stature of these Africans in the American culture.

The effect was the economic prosperity of this nation, agriculture being the primary source of income for the nation at the time. In addition the growth of commerce and industrialization that occurred at that time led to the America that exists today. The economic consequences are no speculation, you can see my post on reparations to see more on that.

The effects of dehumanizing, disruption on the core family unit and forced lack of education continued well past slavery with the Jim Crow laws and segregation. The virtual non-existence of Black African Americans in any media with the exception of caricature helped reinforce the early views and efforts. Job opportunities in menial manual labor help to continue the selective breeding efforts.

But as human beings, with minds and souls, resistance to these efforts existed. The human spirit rose in spite of these pressures, leading to the Civil Rights movement. And during this time the minds of Black African Americans flourished in ways not openly seen in some time. That is to say that millions were able to gain more education and better education than ever before. Growth in every aspect of life was experienced and positive exposure in media was accepted on a wide scale.

I’m not saying that there were no intelligent Black African Americans prior to this time, nor would I ever say there were none that were successful. Rosewood (and other cities or areas in cities like Harlem) and hundreds of patents (colleges as well) prove that as being false. But the prosperity was not as widely felt by the average person. This is my opinion only, I may be wrong and my older readers can definitely correct me on this.

But as media accepted and barely included Black African Americans, as Equal Opportunity laws were enacted, and the sacrifices of millions were being accepted something changed. Most notably, in the 1990's a fledgling music genre created a splinter form that started to gain traction immediately. As that splinter grew, it became commercialized and promoted. It’s affects were to promote specific business industries, and separate the youth from the mainstream. I do mean ‘gansta rap’ as it was called then, rap hip-hop music in general today.

While there have been benefits, and the expression of thoughts is an absolute right (guaranteed by the 1st Amendment) there are problems as well. Media capitalized, and continues to do so, on this by promoting the violent and disenfranchised nature of this music genre. Unlike any other music genre, the objectification of women - especially of color - was/is on display frequently. The artists creating this genre were/are selected from violent areas of the society, above and beyond those from other parts of society. The message of this genre was promoted at the exclusion of the main music form, that had insisted on inclusion, support of the community, empowerment, education and enjoyment of life. Narcotics, long held as a cause of destroying a society, were/are now considered a positive. Consumer products associated with this genre became the new Dutch tulip craze. Forms of clothing that were long held as inappropriate for anything but sporting activities (which they were designed for) became not only common place but disproportionately expensive (sneakers have gone from $10 to $150 in my lifetime as an example). And the importance of improving oneself with education has evaporated.

The overall effect is that Black culture has become a commodity, and an expensive one. While media does contain more diversity, its focus is predominantly on the most violent, addictive and separatist nature of the Black community. Education of the youth is reaching lows not seen in decades at the least and the core family unit is more unstable than ever before (at least in my lifetime) with both being portrayed as positive actions.

All of this cannot be laid at the feet of what was once a splinter of a music genre. But that cannot be dismissed either. The effects do seem to be promoting an old theme, as I mentioned above. Stronger Black African American males (or at least more violent ones), less education, no core family units, economic dependance and the promotion of specific commerce industries, and dehumanization. Added to that is the rampant addiction of the Black African American community.

No one thing is a cause of the ills found today. In some respects acts of the past can be seen again. The question of whether this is the past repeating itself because some lesson has not been learned (or that an apology has not been given) or a new aspect of the world I cannot say. But if we do not address what is happening, if we refuse to acknowledge its existence, if we continue unabated on this path then the outcome will only be our fault.

This is what I think what do you think?

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