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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.

17 comments:

  1. I've just had an interesting few minutes following up the Cliven Bundy story before commenting, Broad, and I can see why your're experiencing such a sense of disconnection as you travel between your two home countries. Obviously Bundy's views are extreme in a way it's difficult to imagine happening here in Britain, but as you so rightly point out, we too have our extremists and I fear views on subjects such as immigration are polarising in a very disturbing way. A thought-provoking post.

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    1. The Cliven Bundy situation definitely makes me feel that the US is a 'foreign country'!

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  2. The racism thing comes up every decade or so, usually during some sort of financial crisis. No need to worry. All this active demonstration against anyone who faintly smells of racism is the way we exorcise it. Nip it in the bud, and if that means right-minded people getting tarred with the same brush, then so be it - that's what we have learnt over the last 70 years.

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    1. Hmmmm. Yes, as the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same"...

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  3. In the meantime, Cliven's cattle graze and drink water for free. He sells them on the free market for his income. His margins must be ginormous. Like what he owes for fattening up his beefs.

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    1. So far he's had everything his own way, but I can't help but think he's on borrowed time.

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  4. I was fun watching the conservatives back pedal when Bundy started shooting off his mouth about black people being better off under slavery. Conservatives probably believe ths, but they don't want to lose any more of the black vote, if that's even possible.

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    1. I must admit I did enjoy that spectacle, Stephen!

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  5. Interesting. I had never heard of Cliven Bundy before now but then I don't have a TV, and the only newspaper I read is the Sunday NYT. I just looked him up and evidently the guy is pretty stupid. There are a lot of people like him in Oklahoma who don't like the government having anything to do with their lives. It makes me wonder what it would be like if no one had a TV and didn't know about people like this. Good or bad? Don't know.

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    1. I don't know, Rubye. I admire your steadfastness in doing without television -- but I must confess to being rather addicted myself. One thing is for sure, whatever the news medium you choose, it is very necessary to have a keen sense of discernment in order to have any idea where the 'truth' lies...

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  6. I hate clarkson
    I hate rudeness for effect

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    1. I do enjoy him on 'Top Gear', but often find his writing more offensive.

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  7. Our politics alone keeps us entertained!

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  8. I saw the Bundy story on one of the newsletters Leo gets on the web....didn't he win his case against the Federal government?

    When I was small there were still notices in the windows of letting houses which announced no Irish, no dogs, no blacks as the policy of the house....so things have improved.

    But that society does nothing to improve the lives of immigrant women because of the fear of the word 'racism' is shaming.

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  9. I am afraid that far from being a no-go area, racism has become quite respectable in the UK. Anyone seen the election results?

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  10. My suspicion is that if the housing issue is addressed, a lot of the hostility to immigrants would go. I am desperate that something sensible should be done about this, and some way must be found not only managing the numbers but also the fluctuations and insecurities of having a floating population of people coming into and out of communities. If I didn't own my home, and the local social housing was full of obviously non British born people,(which it does seem to be in my area) I am sure I would be mad because it would mean I or my own kids were forced to pay huge rents for grossly inferior accommodation. I personally feel immigration has been good for Britain, on the whole, but I have not been on the sharp end of what it can also mean and I am afraid many of those making policy are in the same situation.

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  11. Dear Broad, thank you for this posting on the intransigence of Bundy and the racism that exists both here and in Britain. I have such a hard time understanding states' rights advocates who see no reason for a federal government. They are caught in the mid-19th century among those thinkers like Calhoun who got us into the Civil War or, as the South likes to say, "The War between the States." Peace.

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!