LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ

We’ll Have To See About Adding More Colored Stripes

What do minority groups (of any stripe) do to get back at people who give them a hard time? Very simple. They keep changing the officially approved name by which they are to be referred. Needless to say, that doesn’t make for open communication—especially as one is always uncertain if one is using the right term of address. For instance: Negro, Black, African-American. Or: Indian, Amerind, Native American.

For sexual preference, there are any number of mostly pejorative terms. What is Fred Astaire’s The Gay Divorcee really about? Can an American teenager see that film without wincing at its title?

That wince is now a feature of American life. It even extends to Latin America. I once wrote a blog mentioning Peruvian Indians. The next morning, I noticed a comment that the moniker I used is now considered racist and I should call them campesinos. What? Does that mean that all Peruvian farmers are descended from native peoples? That can’t be true, as I know there are Peruvians of Japanese extraction, many of whom are profitably engaged in agriculture. And where do all the Chinese vegetables at Peruvian chifas (Chinese restaurants) come from if not from Chinese farmers living in Peru?

The most ridiculous politically correct minority name by far is LGBTQ. The Q (for Queer) was added later. Why? Who likes the idea of being referred to as a Queer? That’s a term from the bad old days, no?

I predict that sexual minorities will not be successfully integrated into our culture until all these politically correct terms are trashed. Whatever dignity is gained from the term is lost by the unwillingness of the majority culture to engage on that level. And what about that flag with all the colors? It’s like the American flag in the old days when they added not only a new star but a new stripe every time a state joined the union. And besides, how many other colors can we add?

 

 

 

It’s Gone Way Beyond Taco Bowls

Sculpted Mariachi Band in Albuquerque’s Old Town

Whose America is it? Does it belong to those Scots-Irish who have lived in these United States for generations, or does it belong to the people who meet a different profile? There is no disputing the fact that our demographics are changing. And that seems to be causing a lot of pain among those who appear to be “left behind.”

Here’s a little summary from National Public Radio of what is happening to the racial composition of the U.S. as of 2017:

  • The Asian population grew by 3.0 percent to 21.4 million.
  • People who identified as being of two or more races grew by 3.0 percent to 8.5 million.
  • The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population grew by 2.1 percent to 1.5 million.
  • The Hispanic population (including all races) grew by 2.0 percent to 57.5 million.
  • The American Indian and Alaska Native population grew by 1.4 percent to 6.7 million.
  • The black or African-American population grew by 1.2 percent to 46.8 million.
  • The white population grew by 0.5 percent to 256.0 million.
  • The non-Hispanic white alone population grew by 5,000 people, remaining at 198.0 million.

Just take a quick look at that last item again. The non-Hispanic white population has grown by only 5,000 to 198,000,000. That represents a 0.25% growth rate. We casually tend to treat Hispanics as a separate race. According to the Bureau of the Census, Hispanics can classify themselves as White, Black (Cubans for example), Asian (some Filipinos for example), and American Indian (some Navajo for example). Now compare that measly 0.25% growth rate to all the other growth rates in the above table.

“I Love Hispanics” Says the President-Elect While Praising His Taco Bowl (?!) from the Trump Tower Grill

While our Presidente claims to love Hispanics, he probably only loves Devin Nunes and a handful of other of his supporters who happen to be Hispanic. All the rest of them are rapists or worse. Doesn’t he know that he represents what once was a strapping majority and is on its way to becoming a minority? That’s already happened to Los Angeles. What is Herr Trumpf going to do? Deport Asians, Blacks, and—Heaven forfend!—American Indians?

My guess is that there is going to be a reckoning at some point. What is happening to the United States is a throwback to the Know-Nothings of the 1840s who were so violently opposed to Irish immigration. Eventually, the Irish won; and even Trumpf accepts them as sort of, kind of white. The Republicans are holding on to power by the skin of their teeth, and due largely to outrageous gerrymandering.

Does racism have a future in America? I don’t think so. We all have a part to play in carrying on the American Dream.

By the way, what in blue blazes is a taco bowl?

Why I’m Stuck on the Maya

Maya Girls

My first real trip outside the borders of the United States was to Yucatán in November 1975. I was so entranced with what I saw that I kept coming back to Maya Mexico for years, until 1992. During that time, I also wanted to go to Guatemala, but a civil war between the Maya and the Ladinos (Mestizos) was raging until 1996; and Guatemala was on the State Department’s “Level 4: Do Not Travel” list until just recently. Even now, the State Department as the whole country classified under a blanket “Level 3: Reconsider travel to Guatemala due to crime” warning.

Why is it that I am so fascinated by the Maya that I would risk flouting President Trumpf’s State Department?

For one thing, the Maya are incredible survivors. The Aztecs were ground down by Cortez within two years. In Peru, it took forty years before resistance was smashed by Pizarro and his successors. And the Maya? That took a full 180 years before the last Maya kingdom (at Tayasal in Guatemala) was leveled.

Today, there are 1.5 million speakers of Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. There are some 6 million speakers of the 26-odd Mayan languages and dialects. Of course, the Incan Quechua language has even more speakers: some 8.5 to 11 million speakers in several South American countries.

In recent years, there have been several disturbances in the Maya area:

  • In Mexico, there was a Maya war against the Ladinos in Yucatán that lasted from 1847 to 1901 and a Zapatista revolt in Chiapas that flared briefly in 1994.
  • In Guatemala, there was a violent civil war against the Ladinos from 1960 to 1996. It is estimated that tens of thousands of Maya were massacred by the army.
  • In El Salvador, there was a civil war from 1979 to 1981. (Only some of the indigenous peoples involved in that one were Maya.)

The Maya are still there, occupying large parts of Mexico (Yucatán, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, and Quintana Roo); Belize; Guatemala; and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. It is no small achievement for them to have survived so much persecution for upwards of 500 years.

That is what interests me.

 

 

City on a Hill? Hah!

Their Equivalent of Greyhound: Better Than Us—By Far!

We like to talk big about the United States, but we are fifty years too late, or more! The one time we were reckoned to be the A-Number-One Country in the World, the rest of the world lay in ruins. Now instead of being the City on a Hill, we are more like the lopsided shitshack being dragged downriver by a flooded, polluted stream.

What brought this to mind was Martine’s story of her travels to Portland, Oregon, then Sacramento, then back to Los Angeles. Unless you are flying—and even then, sometimes—you are treated like scabby vermin. Both Amtrak and Greyhound will dig into your back with horribly designed seating. On the Amtrak dining car, you get a microwaved hamburger with pretensions to fanciness. In fact, everything on the menu has pretensions to fanciness. And it all tastes like nuked camel dung.

I remember the buses I took in South America. There was one fifteen-hour ride from Buenos Aires to Bariloche aboard a Via Bariloche tutto letto bus with seats that reclined a full 180º, with blanket and pillow.  In addition, there was a steward who served us three meals, whose price was included in the cheap ticket price. (Okay, the food was not perfect, but was adequate.) And there was a clean restroom on board. Try getting that on Greyhound!

Rio Uruguay Ticket Office in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

BTW, the customer service is better, too—even if you have trouble speaking the language.

We tend to run down Latin Americans as being somehow backwards. We gringos are actually the backward ones—primarily because of our greed. When I went to pick up Martine at the Greyhound station in Los Angeles (located in Skid Row), no one knew when buses arrived. I was told to wait in the ticket line, which had something like seventy-five people plus their bags and children. I wasn’t about to spend an hour asking when the bus from Sacramento was to arrive. More greed!

It makes me want to spend more time in Latin America, even if they are rapists. At least they’re not so greedy with their people.

 

Thoughts + Prayers = 0

Crosses Memorializing Victims of Vegas Shooting

Here we are with yet another mass shooting, and more thoughts and prayers—especially from people who do not intend to do anything about it. Sure, set down those Teddy Bears and lit candles and be photographed hugging other people. Let’s take a look at ourselves in the mirror. We are seen as being barbarous because of the things we allow to go on in our country. Selling automatic weapons to lunatics and children! And merely shaking our heads when those weapons are put to deadly use.

Sometimes, I think the thoughts and prayers of the families of shooting victims are not as strong as the thoughts and prayers of people who are members and fellow travelers of the NRA.

 

No Respecter of Values

… And That Is the Problem!

We as a country have always prided ourselves on our values. But to me, that is a major problem. It’s not only why we elected a narcissistic boob to be our President, but why a sickeningly large percentage of the voter base continue to support him. In an article for Think, Derek Newton writes:

But the back of the Trump base is not likely to break any time soon, because Trump’s supporters aren’t beholden to politics or logic. Instead, they are creatures of a group psychology dynamic more commonly seen in religious and fraternal organizations.

In the “communion mode” authority structure, described by Andrew Gray, people’s recognition of legitimate authority is “based on an appeal to common values and creeds.”

“In this mode,” added Gray, “the legitimacy for actions lies in consistency with the understandings, protocols, and guiding values of shared frames of reference.”

Is this why Evangelical Christians tend to be so forgiving of infamy? In the news today, a man in Spartansburg, PA who was convicted of a felony sex crime against a 4-year-old girl was elected to a second term as chief of the town’s volunteer fire department. And look at our president’s sexual transgressions. He was probably right when, during the campaign, he said he could kill someone in cold blood on the streets of Manhattan and get away with it. (There is a certain feral wiliness to the man.)

Do I have values? Yes—but all my values are subject to revision If my choice for political office starts putting Jews in concentration camps or claiming there is a doctors’ plot against him or shooting down Rohingya or their families, I would in fact revise them. Yes, I would shitcan my values in an instant if I thought they left room for any sort of infamy.

Newton continues:

Communion governance structures rely on regular in-person meetings, call and response rituals (witness the continued usefulness of “Lock her up!” chants at Trump rallies, despite Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss) and faith in shared values and experiences. Groups built around communion authority are tightly connected and very strong in part because, research shows, they display “homophily and parochialism directed to those outside the group.” (That is a scholarly way of saying that those in communion groups tend to associate and bond with people that are similar to themselves and view those who are not with suspicion and hostility.)

Perhaps our president’s supporters should be sent to other countries to do some research on why their values need to be changed. Preferably during election time.

 

 

 

 

Untouchables

Sweeper Cleaning Sewer in New Delhi

This posting is not about Eliot Ness and his war leading an FBI contingent against Al Capone and his ilk. Rather, it is about millions of lower caste Indians who are labeled by the Hindu religion as unclean by the nature of the work they are assigned—generation after generation—keeping the streets, byways, and sewers clean of the excreta of their fellow Indians.

I am currently reading a novel written by Mulk Raj Anand called Untouchable (1935), which details a day in the life of one such Dalit family. The older son, Bakha, accidentally touches a Brahmin who almost causes a riot because he accidentally touched him as he passed by in the street. Any physical contact of a Dalit with a Brahmin requires that the latter take a purifying bath. Sweepers are required to announce their presence as they walk among men so that higher caste Hindus can avoid unwanted contact.

Dalit Sweeper

Anand’s novel launched his career as an Anglo-Indian writer. English novelist E. M. Forster, author of A Passage to India, has penned this tribute to him:

Some readers [of Untouchable], especially those who consider themselves all-white, will go purple in the face with rage before they have finished a dozen pages, and will exclaim that they cannot trust themselves to speak. I cannot trust myself either, though for a different reason: the book seems to me indescribably clean and I hesitate for words in which this can be conveyed. Avoiding rhetoric and circumlocution, it has gone straight to the heart of its subject and purified it. None of us are pure—we shouldn’t be alive if we were. But to the straightforward all things can become pure, and it is to the directness of his attack that Mr Anand’s success is probably due.

The plight of the Dalits will always astonish those who believe the words of our own Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”