Saturday, November 7, 2009

The massacre at Ft. Hood is tragic and possibly a demonstration of how difficult it is to live up the ideals of our founding fathers as outlined in the Constitution and to which we aspire. There is no possible justification for the actions of Nidal Hasan and one could strongly make a case for people with personality disorders being draw to the psychiatric and psychologically professions, but there is something in American society that disenfranchises citizens who are not of Northern European dissent.

With the exception of the Native American population we are a nation of immigrants. Some families have been here for more than 400 years, some, like Hasan’s, since the 1950s, some since the Vietnam War and many we are “welcoming,” with more or less success, as a result of the wars the United States is currently embroiled in. Unfortunately there is an element in this country that because they descend from that Northern European stock thinks that other immigrants, legal and illegal, is changing the fabric of the United States. That’s true, but it doesn’t follow that the change is bad. If we aspire to be the land of equality and opportunity we surely ought not to be the land of stagnation. Each person who comes here with aspirations of bettering themselves not only are following in the footsteps of those who arrived on the Godspeed or the Mayflower, but bring with them new colors and traditions to enrich what is already here.

There are cries from some quarters to “take back the country” meaning roll back the clock to the 1950s or farther where only certain people enjoyed the freedoms of the Constitution. Instead, it is the liberal minded people who need to rally for taking back the ideals upon which this country was founded and be having tea parties of their own demanding that every citizen be given a fair shake at pursuing happiness in health.

During WWII the United States Government rounded up Americans of Japanese decent and put them in concentration camps for the duration of the war. One of the few tickets out was for men to join the Army as part of the 442nd, the mostly highly decorated unit in American military history, all the while their parents, wives, sisters, nieces and nephews were living through one of the country’s most shameful episodes. Following 9-11 I feared that the hysteria over people of Middle Eastern decent would cause the Bush Administration to do something similar. My own fear was personal since my youngest son is of Persian decent. Fortunately Bush kept his concentration camp small and located on the Island of Cuba.

The American media are not guiltless in perpetuating stereotypes of people who don’t fit the European model. For years Hollywood used Italian Americans to play grunting American Indians or even more ridiculously blue eyed Jeff Chandler who played no only Cochise, but Jesus as well. Even if you suspend your disbelief to swallow the notion that there was a time in this country when whites believed that all the Indians were gone, I have no clue where Hollywood thought the Jews had got to since many of them were heads of studios. Since they were still being excluded from country clubs maybe those movie moguls thought it better not to rock that boat. Now we have a new movie, Prince of Persia, based on the video game of the same name. Who has Hollywood cast as the prince? A Swede. Go figure. Persians have a hard enough time getting Americans to understand that they aren't Arabs. Now they have this whole Swede thing to deal with.

Unfortunately, much of the bleating masses in this country get their history and cultural lessons from movies and television including the faux news on FOX. Those entities have the power to shape American opinion even if they claim only to entertain and can do more to damage the American aspiration to live up to the ideals of freedom, democracy, equality, opportunity and rights.

As the two American holidays of Veteran's Day and Thanksgving draw near, it is up to ever right minded American to do whatever they can to ameliorate injustice where they find it and pray that there is no backlash from this most recent tragedy in Texas.

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