Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Here and Abroad

Whenever I travel to and from the USA there is a kind of 'disconnect' that happens to me as I acclimatize myself to the foreign/familiar surroundings!. I have now lived almost as long in Europe as I lived in the States. I no longer can differentiate what 'back home' means. I am just as likely to say it meaning 'there' as well as 'here'! No matter which country claims you as an 'expat' you rarely ever return to your native land as a 'tourist'. On the other hand life is not going on as normal either. Usually I try to coincide my visit with an event such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or in this case, my mother's birthday. So there were friends and relatives to greet and often they make a point of visiting because I'm in town -- therefore, becoming a special event. My visits are always centered around 'people'.

In the case my mother, there is a lot of television. She likes to watch news programs and in particular every night like clockwork, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune! Then it's on to MSNBC's political programs which are rather to the left of Center! Being a political junkie this is agreeable for me!

The big story while I was back was all about Cliven Bundy and the showdown with the Bureau of Land Management. He owes the Federal Government around a million dollars for grazing his cattle on Federal land. But he refuses to pay because he doesn't recognize the Federal government! It became a cause celebre for the right wing media star Sean Hannity who promoted Bundy's ideas and helped to encourage men with guns to come and rally around the ranch threatening to shoot the government agents who came to take away his cattle. Wisdom prevailed and the law enforcement agents sent by the Bureau of Land Management withdrew from armed confrontation, much to the joy of a certain segment of the population. Republican politicians rallied around in their support and when Senate Leader Harry Reid called Bundy and his supporters 'domestic terrorists' it became evident there would soon be hell to pay!

Unfortunately, for Cliven Bundy, he couldn't keep  his mouth shut and drunk with the publicity he was receiving went on to talk about some of his other ideas. When he said talking black people on welfare:

"Because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?" he added in comments first reported by The New York Times and later seen on video. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. "And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
Suddenly, much to the joy of the left wing media, the right wing media and the Republican Party in great part fell over themselves trying to backtrack and wipe the muck of their faces!  It didn't shut up Cliven Bundy -- he kept trying to explain himself and kept making it worse. But the situation at the Bundy Ranch and the State of Nevada continues ...

Not that Britain has not had it's fair share of idiocy -- though mild in comparison. After all, no one here is hoping to take up arms against the government! In the meantime, here in Britain, Jeremy Clarkson of 'Top Gear' fame, was thrown on the coals over an old video clip -- never aired -- using the rhyme 'eeny meeny, miney moe, catch a 'n-word' by the toe... Profuse apologies by Clarkson followed. A 32 year veteran DJ on a 10.30 pm program got fired by the BBC because he played the original recording of a 1930's song, The Sun Has Got His Hat On -- the second verse of which contained the 'n' word. The fact that he did not know this mattered not -- one  person complained! Quite a rumpus ensued and the BBC relented and tried to give the man his job back -- but  to no avail...

In Britain there is a lot of discontent over the issue of immigration and I get the sense there may be trouble brewing for the future. The issue of racism and how we feel has become a 'no-go' area in the media, but it's all over the place in our lives and communities. Mr. Bundy's views are appalling but there are many many people who agree with him and to pretend otherwise is a big lie. After all we must not use the 'race card' even when it's obvious that racism is alive and very well, indeed.