Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Potpourri on an Autumn Tuesday

Assorted thoughts, links, musings...

I recommend the excerpt from the late David Halberstam's book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, in this month's Vanity Fair magazine (and online). Did anyone notice the resemblance between the delusional leader, General Douglas MacArthur, and another delusional leader who occupies the White House? Or between MacArthur's principle intelligence chief, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, who falsified intelligence reports to justify a war campaign, and others, more contemporary, who shall remain nameless.

The Korean War is a lost war to American consciousness, if you are under 50 years of age, or even 60. But the lessons of that "police action" run deep, if anyone wishes to mine them.

I can also recommend Stephen Soldz's series on racism in the public schools, starting with this article, "School Discipline, the New "Racist" Frontier":

The world has become aware through the story of the Jena 6, that racism is alive and well in our nations schools. Yesterday I posted the horrific story of the racist attack in the school lunchroom on a schoolgirl who dropped a piece of cake in Palmdale, CA [see this post and this one]. Perhaps most horrifying was that, when the girl’s mother, a school system employee herself, went to talk to the school administration and demanded that the racist guard be arrested, the mother was arrested instead.

Then there is Deborah Mayer, a 20-year teacher who was let go by her Bloomington, Indiana school district because she admitted to her class before the Iraq War that

...she blew her horn whenever she saw a "Honk for Peace" sign, and that peaceful solutions should be sought before going to war.

She sued the district, and lost in the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The latter ruled:

A teacher's speech is "the commodity she sells to an employer in exchange for her salary," the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in January. "The Constitution does not enable teachers to present personal views to captive audiences against the instructions of elected officials."

Yesterday, the Supreme Court let stand the case, without comment.

Okay, here's my comment: that's bullshit. Mayer's admission -- she "honks for peace" -- came while her elementary school students were being forced to read a rancid piece of propaganda, the "children's edition" of Time Magazine. In this totalitarian-leaning society, the bosses's tell you what to think, and if anyone, even a teacher steps out of line, they are demoted or banished (in Mayer's case to Florida, where she now teaches -- I'll leave it to others to decide if that's banishment, salvation, or abiding in a region between the two). Of course, speech in Bush's America is now a commodity, to be bought and sold, "alienated" in Karl Marx's terminology. Or was it Jefferson terminology, who spoke of "inalienable rights?

But that was all in an America that existed long long ago, and is not considered meat at the table of our esteemed judiciary.

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