All posts by rexmerritt

Fear Eats Itself

Remarkable, isn’t it, how many Anglos are fearful of a Muslim threat against America that doesn’t exist? At least not in this hemisphere. For this Americans of all hues and creeds can thank the civil rights movement.

All that marching, picketing, and boycotting we may now download and view in digitalized black & white equalized a lot of boats. The movement also brought into the mainstream a good number of immigrants whose origins sat outside what too many of our native born citizens saw as acceptable lands of heritage.

Southern and Eastern Europeans performed their obligations towards integration while assimilating, but having reassuring complexions and religious beliefs somewhere near the country’s predominant Christianity also eased their entry into society. The civil rights movement is the reason why the United States shouldn’t suffer Europe’s same level of random violence nor the polarization between Muslims and non-believers.

American society has yet to impose the same weight of frustration on the Muslim community. But Donald Trump and his gang are doing their damnedest to recoup lost time.

Only Anglo fright can snap the established compact America subtly demands and enforces upon every new group migrating here; to assimilate. Not erase their identities or deny their origins, though subsume their old values to our shared national characteristics.

Two masters cannot be served. Two allegiances cannot be honored.

In Europe, authorities and citizens mistakenly permitted Muslims to hold their own distinctions above whatever commonalities bound the respective country. Rather than bring the newcomers into the nation’s general fold, the immigrants and successive landed generations were left alone to form enclaves which the natives gradually found somewhat impenetrable. Across time these neighborhoods became “no-go zones” as far as the majorities were concerned.

Imagine being an American unable to walk through some areas here not because of legal strictures but from their alien natures.

On our side of the Atlantic, integration insisted Muslims add their tiles to our mosaic; to become “Americans.” While retaining heritages to which they could refer, in essence we saw them as part of our amalgamation. They quickly regarded themselves in the same manner.

Rightly so.

Unlike the Old World, Muslims weren’t purely seen and treated as “strangers” in America. Well, not until the 2016 presidential campaign at least.

Even the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks failed unleashing the same level of anti-Muslim vitriol as has Der Trump’s crusade. Although Sikhs were targeted because of their turbans, these headpieces being mistaken for Arab kaffiyehs by trigger-happy, gun-nut ignoramuses, sane authority and a society which mostly overcame its anxieties of terrorism managed tamping down all but the most deplorable of us.

Unfortunately almost 16 years later the ignorant and intolerant now shakily hold the country’s reins. Der Trump’s political caravan and its joke’s on us ascension into the Oval Office has perverted reason and rational voices from above.

Why, hasn’t the short-fingered vulgarian’s ratbag administration given full-throated license to the already unhinged and always violence prone infesting our society to harass and discriminate against our Muslim fellow Americans? Indeed, it has.

That’s not leadership. It’s goading the mob. Once, Americans could depend on our leadership being correct and accountable. Not with Der Trump. There will be little, if any, of either under his baying, red-in-the-face, beer hall rule administration.

Despite the lingering stain of slavery, the countenancing of systemic discrimination in bondage’s aftermath, and the near extermination of the continent’s indigenous population, the United States retains one sterling virtue.

The Republic has never been convulsed by religious strife. At his most base, who can’t see Der Trump whipping up such calamity?

Until Der Trump’s spew of fear and discrimination, hadn’t Muslims fairly made themselves inconspicuous in America? It took the vile pig and his bund of anti-American reactionaries to “radicalize” Islam on these shores.

Not enough Americans realize Muslims have been part of what became the Republic since the Dutch colonized New Amsterdam. In fact those some irrationally despise and whose bona fides as true Americans they question have roots deeper than the ethnics who flooded the country during its much gloried migratory waves.

Perhaps if Muslims had drawn squeaky wheel attention to their insecurities that would’ve made them more accepted. Similar to the earliest arriving Europeans, maybe Muslims have little need to organize recognitions of their contributions to the United States. Having been present as Colonials, what would the reason have been? They have nothing to prove to themselves or others.

Not only surely Yankees, Muslims are securely Americans.

The last election illustrated a pronounced divide among our citizens. One popular thought has a gulf between elites and non-elites. Somehow today being an elite earns disparagement, while being common is an aspired status.

Not in the real world. And not ever.

Since the matter in question is outlook rather than social standing, shouldn’t the preferences swing between cosmopolitans and the uncomplicated? No surprise the latter infest the country’s less dynamic regions. That portion of our populace evolves grudgingly, if at all. They resist the new, the now, the unusual, with a vehemence suggesting life-and-death struggles. While new isn’t always better, habitual dismissal of it not only shows a closed mind, but one also hermetically sealed.

Most Americans who arbitrarily slot our Islam-following fellow citizens as religious Fifth Columnists might’ve benefited by having interactions with them. Of course that would’ve required proximity to where they resided and curiosity about the neighbors.

(To be continued)

Heirs to Death

Congratulations to all those who’ve graduated from American service academies commissioned as second lieutenants or ensigns. Americans are thankful you’ve chosen to be professional military leaders who’ll command forces defending these shores.

While the above is the preferred job description, their profession encompasses the less savory demands of our modern capitalist republic. These United States no longer face adversaries which threaten its being. Therefore, any taking up defense of this super state is a misstatement.

Not since the Roaring Twenties have our armed forces been so intricately bound with corporate interests. Even during Vietnam there had been some pretense of halting the nefarious spread of nationalism mistaken as communism. It was just right place, right time luck that DuPont and Bell Helicopter reaped fantastic profits. What had once been a straight-forward picket of sovereignty is now far more protection and expansion of the super state’s great overseas mercantile concerns. Continue reading Heirs to Death

The Tragedy of Sonny Liston

Some librettist and composer ought to join forces and create an opera featuring the life of one-time heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston. A tragedy, not an operetta. The travails of the long-dead champion contain classic elements the ancients would’ve venerated.

Brutal skills honed in an unforgiving background marked and formed the raw ambition that raised Liston high. Capricious and uncaring fate drove him into the lowest depths imaginable.

Strong and determined as he obviously once must’ve been driven, so did Liston easily succumb, powerless and guileless to thwart what now seems inevitable. The sole question needing asking and answering, whether Sonny Liston understood his plight, and did he submit? Continue reading The Tragedy of Sonny Liston

Swyving and Surviving

Las Vegas evenings into mornings can be arbitrarily unkind as well as exceptionally rewarding. Throughout April 2017 I encountered or heard about five women who had experiences running the gamut from high to low, induced remorse, or whose initial reticence entering an endeavor produced joy.

Not all Las Vegas doormen and valets are lazy, slit-eyed, money-grubbing opportunists. Several might be decent, honest, observant and caring people. Naturally they’ll seldom pass up a chance to make an extra buck, but doing so won’t plunge them into rat-bastard unscrupulousness.

A few of these stalwarts worked the portals during the nights in question. None have yet to ever mind speculating about guests habiting their respective properties.

Fair Play

Nice to have the steel-toed shoe on the other foot. All the better with which to kick.

The Schadenfreude to be enjoyed drops directly from the 2016 election results.

Given a clear choice between vast experience and absolute unpreparedness, between a first-rate temperament for governing or petulance and impatience intolerable in well-run enterprises, between a superior intellect brimming with curiosity and a small mind formed and locked early, less than half of American voters chose disaster. Unfortunately, our no longer great nation remains beholden to the last vestige of slavery.

The Electoral College.

Undeserving though awarded our presidency nonetheless, Donald Trump personifies the least of the United States. In his bloated, billowy, and bloviating presence he is the antithesis of “American exceptionalism.”

He is quite common and surpasses crass. Continue reading Fair Play

Her Persian Voice

Heard the sharpest retort to one of the vilest insults recently. Of greater interest, though, was the woman who launched it.

Nasrin identified herself as “Persian.” Yeah. She’s Persian, all right. As Persian as I’m African. She’s a 20-something Cali girl through and through.

What gained my favor was her having enough pride in self to supplant Persian for Iranian. The former carries nobility stretching back into antiquity.

A Persian background is replete with culture and atavistic figures. Xerxes? Cyrus? Esther? Their respective histories are as current today as their living importance in the past.

Iranians, their inheritors, are poor cousins. Compared against their classic progenitors, they lack stature. Who esteems them? Continue reading Her Persian Voice

All the News That’s Fit to Reap

Could Harvest of Shame be filmed today? And if so, what would our reaction be? Horror? Guilt? Scorn?

In 1960, CBS News produced a documentary titled Harvest of Shame. Migrant farmworkers, the conditions under which they lived and worked, were the subjects. To further emphasize the misery, CBS premiered this episode on Thanksgiving night. Perhaps it hoped the subject matter would pierce viewers deeper on our national okay to gorge day.

I first saw the show about 16-17 years after its initial broadcast. Recently I re-watched Edward R. Murrow and a cast of fellow citizens then likely considered disposable, if better-off Americans bothered considering them at all, discuss who made our nation’s groaning larders possible.

Watching it again after intervening decades, the black & white program has become starker, my understanding of disparities in America clearer, as the chasm between empathy and indifference in Americans has widened. Continue reading All the News That’s Fit to Reap

Sex Type Thing

Who visits Las Vegas to practice decorum and exercise restraint? Nobody. Not even Mormons.

Despite the justifiably popular “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” slogan that lures however many suckers from the nation’s tight-assed regions, that O.J. Simpson was jailed and remains so for convoluted activities here proves the advertising somewhat specious.

Yet many believe and they indulge – heartily on the way to and beyond excessively. Continue reading Sex Type Thing

Saloons Instead of Salons

This is how perception has re-formed amid the Mojave and the Southern Nevada mountains – bands like the Eagles and the Pure Prairie League sound more appropriate here than they ever did down in Arizona’s Sonora Desert and certainly back East in New York. Those guitars and keening voices cut through the Mojave’s harshness.

Although the poignancy of the bands’ ballads further emphasize the region’s emptiness, each offers relief to the barren horizon and the few figures populating it. Hmmm. Figure that out.

People often ask whether I miss New York, and if so what do I particularly miss. My pat reply is usually, “Whatever I miss was already gone before I left.”

Until recently that response sufficed because it was the only truth. Continue reading Saloons Instead of Salons

Worse Than Death

Met one of the world’s most remarkable men recently. And he wasn’t drinking a beer after performing some incredible feat.

Arturo. Pudgy, balding, brown eyes the depth of infinite sorrow sat on a face that struggled and failed rising past sadness. A great achievement did not distinguish him. Noble, though? Yes. What separated him from our mass of humanity? Arturo had been able to forgive his wife’s killer.

So much so he intended supporting her murderer’s parole bid before the board. Continue reading Worse Than Death