Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Ukraine attacks Moscow; Americans obsess on transgender participation in women's sports

The movie Shane, released in 1953, is a classic Western movie that depicts the struggle between good and evil. The good guys are homesteaders who want to establish farms and peacefully raise their families. The bad guys are cattlemen who hire an assassin to drive off the homesteaders.

Stonewall Torrey (played by Elijah Cook, Jr.) is a hapless homesteader who boasts to his friends that he’s not afraid of the assassin, and he straps on his revolver and rides to town. In the town's saloon, Torrey meets the assassin (played by Jack Palance). The killer taunts and insults Torrey until he foolishly goes for his gun. The assassin kills Torrey with one bullet.

America is replaying the movie Shane. The United States is the foolish and bombastic Torrey, and Russia is the assassin waiting for an opportunity to strike.

A couple of days ago, Ukrainian drones attacked the suburbs of Moscow. Who believes the Ukrainians took that provocative action without the approval and cooperation of the United States? 

What in the hell are we doing? Does our government believe it can arm the Ukrainians with sophisticated weapons that have killed perhaps 100,000 Russian soldiers without suffering repercussions?

America’s media elites, intellectual elites, and government technocrats may think it’s fun to poke the Russian bear. If war breaks out between Russia and the United States, it will be the kids living in flyover country who will do the fighting. 

But perhaps the boobs who are running our government have miscalculated. Have they forgotten that we’re messing with a nuclear power?

Meanwhile, Americans obsess about transgender participation in women’s sports and drag queens in school libraries. How long will the Russians put up with our foolish dabbling in Eastern European affairs?

I oppose American involvement in the Ukraine war.  I can see no positive outcome for anybody.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appears at a railroad crossing on Houston's Kirby Street

I subscribe to the Houston Catholic Worker, the official newspaper of Casa Juan Diego, the Catholic Worker Hospitality House in Houston, Texas. My copy arrived in the mail yesterday, and I was disturbed to read that someone had stolen Casa Juan Diego’s ancient food delivery truck. Fortunately, the police recovered the vehicle, but thieves had removed the cargo box leaving the truck naked down to its frame.

I first saw that delivery truck in 2003 or 2004 while teaching at the University of Houston. I was driving down Kirby Street when I stopped at a railroad crossing so a train could pass. While waiting in my car, I saw the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe rising out of the traffic ahead of me. I was startled and instantly thought that I had been privileged to see an apparition of Mary, who has appeared from time to time in places like Fatima, Lourdes, and the little Irish village of Knock.

Staring intently, I realized that the image of La Virgen Morena had been painted on the rolling steel door on the back of the truck. After the train passed by, I caught up with the mysterious vehicle. I looked over and saw two ordinary men sitting in the truck cab. I spied nothing that would explain why the Virgin of Guadalupe was painted on the truck’s cargo door.

I could not get this seemingly trivial incident out of my mind, and I mentioned it to John Burke, a Catholic friend of mine. John said the truck belonged to Casa Juan Diego, the Catholic Worker homeless shelter and food pantry just off Kirby Street in West Houston.

I had an unpleasant job at a local university at the time and looked for ways to escape from vicious campus politics. I volunteered to help haul food from the Houston Food Pantry to Casa Maria, Casa Juan Diego’s food distribution site located in one of the barrios of southwest Houston. Every Thursday morning, I joined a group of volunteers who traveled in Casa Juan Diego’s food delivery truck to help load and unload four tons of donated food to Casa Maria. Occasionally we would stop at a Mexican food wholesaler, picking up several hundred pounds of rice and pinto beans.

This volunteer work was a blessing to me. I was doing something useful for at least a few hours every week. As a result of my vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Kirby Street, I was introduced to the Catholic Worker movement and the writings of its founder, Dorothy Day. I also learned about the seven corporal works of mercy, which form the mission statement of the Catholic Worker movement.

Perhaps most importantly, I came to know Mark and Louise Zwick, who founded Casa Juan Diego and devoted their lives to assisting the poor, particularly the undocumented Latin American immigrants who reside within the sheltering folds of a welcoming and generous metropolitan Houston. Someday, Dorothy Day will be canonized by the Catholic Church, and I believe Mark and Louise will be canonized as well.

In the meantime, the Catholic Workers of Houston have replaced the stolen cargo box. Soon, they will paint a new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the rolling backdoor of Casa Juan Diego’s venerable food delivery truck, thereby invoking the protection of the Little Brown Virgin, the Patroness of the Americas.

 Listen and understand, my littlest son, let nothing frighten and afflict you or trouble your heart … Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow? 





Friday, May 19, 2023

Blue Plate mayonnaise rolls out a new label and gets at least one new customer. Meanwhile, Budweiser loses its fan base

Liz Faul, who writes for my local newspaper, reported a charming story about Blue Plate mayonnaise, made by a New Orleans company that's been in business since 1927. As Faul’s story explains, Blue Plate recently rolled out a new label that will likely attract new customers.

Why is the New Orleans mayonnaise company named Blue Plate anyway? The name refers to Blue Willow plates, which were popular in the South in the 1920s. Blue Plate's version of the plate features depictions of a pelican, a river steamboat, and Magnolia blossoms. These words appear across the top of the label: “A New Orleans family tradition since 1927.”

I love the new label, and as soon as I finished reading Liz Faul’s story about it, I told myself Kraft mayonnaise, you are dead to me.

What makes the Blue Plate mayonnaise label so appealing? It's because it seeks to bond with its customers. The label reminds grocery shoppers that the mayonnaise is made in New Orleans, America’s foremost food city. The Blue Willow plate design, with its images of a pelican, a steamboat, and magnolia blossoms, signals that the company is proud of its regional heritage.

Compare Blue Plate’s new label with Budweiser’s disastrous advertising campaign designed to make the company appear woke by putting a transgender influencer’s mug on its beer cans. That harebrained scheme cost Bud Light about a quarter of its customers in just a few months.

Insulting corporate customers is like cheating on one's wife. The relationship may survive, but it will never be the same. Several of my Louisiana relatives were loyal Bud Light customers until they saw Dylan Mulvaney’s endorsement of their favorite brew. I don’t think any of them will ever drink a Bud Light again.

Bud’s boycotting customers are not transphobes or homophobes. They’re just people who like to drink beer and associate beer with bowling, fishing, golfing, and watching football games on television on Saturday afternoons. And when they're relaxing with a brewski, they don't want to talk politics.

And Budweiser knows that. If you look at vintage Budweiser advertisements in old magazines, you will see nostalgic scenes picturing people having a good time in casual settings. And when they’re having that good time, they certainly don’t want to be virtue signaled by their beer company.

What will my relatives drink now that they’re boycotting Bud Light? Maybe they’ll switch to Modelo, a Mexican beer company that promotes itself as a beer for fighters.

This Bud's not for you, you transphobic son of a bitch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

God bless people who work at useful jobs

Millions of Americans don’t work. Some are unemployed and looking for work; others simply refuse to look for a job. In fact,12 percent of men in their prime working years aren't in the workforce and aren't looking for work. Millions of healthy men are living off relatives, surviving on government benefits, or working side hustles in the underground economy and not paying taxes.

Millions more have jobs but are not doing anything useful. I spent 25 years in higher education, and I can tell you that many professors have retired on the job. These professors don’t do research, teach their classes poorly, and don’t show up at their offices except for mandatory office hours (maybe six hours a week). Hardly any university schedules classes on Friday, which means that a large percentage of university faculty members are working four-day weeks.

All across the national economy, we see Americans doing nothing more than pushing paper around. People in the advertising game are blitzing us with inane commercials for products we don't want or don't need. The gaming industry is promoting gambling, which is a pernicious and addictive pastime,

Thankfully, millions of Americans are working hard at jobs that need to be done. I suffered a stroke last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I dialed 911, and six EMS professionals showed up at my location within five minutes, despite the fact I had given them an incorrect address. I was able to unlock the front door even though I was partially paralyzed, but the 911 dispatcher assured me that my rescuers were willing and able to break down the door to get to me,

Those people work hard and are well-trained. My EMS team got me to a hospital in time for me to receive a time-sensitive drug that limited the long-term damage from my stroke.

Now I am in rehab, working with a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. All my therapists are highly skilled young women who are enthusiastic about their jobs and full of energy. They assure me I will make a full recovery and walk again.

Our economy is changing drastically, and many college students are taking out loans to get an education that will not lead to a good job. A bachelor's degree in the humanities, liberal arts, or social sciences is a dead-end degree. A young person taking out student loans to get a degree in these soft disciplines may be committing financial suicide.

Most young people want a satisfying career in a field that pays well. Most of them seek work that is useful and meaningful. Today, smart young people don’t go to college to get a liberal arts degree. Instead, they choose majors that offer a clear path to a well-paying job and a satisfying career. 

I am grateful that some of these intelligent young people are choosing to work as first responders and healthcare workers. Our society needs them. I'm not sure it needs humanities professors.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Biden says white supremacy is the nation' s biggest threat. Where are those white supremacist rascals?

President Biden spoke at Howard University‘s commencement ceremony a few days ago, where he told his audience that "white supremacy" is the nation’s biggest threat. I’m not buying it.

I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is a majority-Black city. Our mayor is African American. Our police chief is African American. Our school superintendent is African American, and African Americans are well-represented on the municipal council and the school board.

 Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge has an African American president. The LSU law school recently appointed an African American woman with impeccable academic credentials as its new Dean.

Are there white supremacists in Baton Rouge? Probably, but they keep well hidden. If President Biden knows where they are, I wish he would point them out to me.

Everyone agrees that the United States has a shameful racist past. As late as 1955, an African American boy was lynched in Mississippi by a racist mob. Even today, I’m sure there are pockets of virulent racism throughout the United States.

Nevertheless, the nation has come a long way since the Supreme Court desegregated public schools in 1954. The nation elected its first African American president in 2008, and our current vice president is a Black woman.

I was deeply offended by President Biden’s remarks, which can fairly be described as race-baiting. It certainly was not a helpful thing to say to a mostly Black audience.

President Biden’s shameful speech reminds me of a passage from Solzhenitsyn’s novel, Cancer Ward. The trouble with Stalinist Socialism, one character observed, is that you can never hate enough. You can never say I’ve hated enough. From now on, I’m going to love.

Just as the soulless bureaucrats of Stalinist Russia constantly searched for more people to vilify, more people to denounce, and more people to ostracize, Biden constantly searches for more ways to divide Americans rather than unite us. He is like the wealthy planters in the Reconstruction South, who pitted poor Whites against poor Blacks and, thus, kept both groups from prospering.

But perhaps I am giving President Biden too much credit. We all know the President simply reads what is put in front of him when he makes a speech. Perhaps it is President Biden’s speech writers who are the hate mongers, and not the President himself.

Mildred and Richard Loving

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Get smart before you go to college because you might not get smarter while you're there

 I had a stroke last month, and I spent three weeks at a rehab center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During my time there, I was treated by several gifted occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists.

All my therapists were young women in their twenties. Every day I was inspired by these therapists’ competence, energy, and optimistic spirit.

Why did these women choose therapy as their occupation instead of gender studies or sociology? Why were they spending their days teaching elderly people how to walk and feed themselves instead of working as a government bureaucrat?

This is what I learned. The women who choose to become physical therapists and occupational therapists selected their vocation early, and they planned their college studies to reach a specific goal.

One young woman, I’ll call her Laura, told me she was awarded a state scholarship for her undergraduate studies, which she received based on her high school GPA and her score on the ACT exam. This scholarship award was good for four years, but she managed to graduate in three years, which allowed her to use her scholarship money for the first year of her graduate studies. she finished college with no debt.

Laura had to take out loans to finance her master's degree program in physical therapy, but she lived frugally and only borrowed $22,000. When the COVID crisis hit, the Department of Education put a hold on student debt collection. Unlike most student debtors, Laura kept on making monthly payments during the whole time of the COVID moratorium. She told me she reduced the amount of her debt from $22,000 to $17,000 during this time.

Unfortunately, I might say tragically, millions of college students do not pursue their vocational goals with the same discipline and clear-mindedness that Laura displayed. They see college as a time to party, to drink, and to engage in casual sex. They see student loans as a way to live a lifestyle they could not afford with their parents’ limited financial resources. They choose their academic majors carelessly. Perhaps they major in sociology because they heard it is an easy major. Maybe they choose a major like gender studies or ethnic studies in order to nurture a sense of victimhood.

When these hapless fools graduate from college, they learn that there are no jobs for people who graduated in the humanities or the social sciences. They realize they have no job skills at all. They can’t solve problems, they can’t write coherently, and they lack the people skills to be successful in the workplace.

Thank God there are still young people like Laura, who understand they have a responsibility to become productive citizens, and they have a desire to do something useful with their lives, even even if the job involves the unglamorous work of teaching an old man to walk, talk, and feed himself.

Not everyone can major in gender studies.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Why are universities opening campuses in Washington, DC? Bedause that’s where the money is

 Someone asked Willie Sutton, the notorious bank robber, why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is," he replied.

If you were to ask the elite universities why they are opening campuses in Washington, DC, you would get a similar answer: Because that’s where the money is.

As reported in a recent issue of Inside Higher Ed, more than 40 American universities have opened campuses in the nation’s capital. For example, UCLA established a branch campus in DC at the cost of $50 million. It celebrated the event by flying the UCLA marching band to Washington, which must’ve cost the University a few additional bucks.

Carol Folt, UCLA‘s president, described the new outpost as the “Trojan Embassy,“ as if the university is a nation unto itself. So many universities have placed campuses near Dupont Circle in Washington, that the area has been described as “a kind of Embassy Row for non-local higher Ed institutions "

Why are so many universities setting up shop hundreds of miles from their flagship campuses? College leaders articulate all kinds of high-minded motivations. Some told Inside Higher Ed that their institutions “are increasingly looking to establish or fortify bases for developing relationships with policymakers and grant writing government offices. UCLA’s president said she hopes the new campus will help UCLA “play a larger role in shaping federal policy “on a wide range of issues.

Another higher education spokesperson explained the universities’ presence in DC this way: “Between what’s going on in the political realm and what’s going on in the grant making world, it is becoming more competitive to get this federal funding, and these are huge parts of these campuses’ revenue streams…. They believe if they’re only planted in one spot, they’ll have less of a voice "

Or, as Willie Sutton might’ve put it, the universities are in Washington, DC, because that’s where the money is. Like crack addicts, American colleges are hooked on federal money, and they want to be closer to their supplier. Or, to use another analogy, the universities have become a bunch of hookers lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue—whores who will turn any trick for cash.

The colleges will say that their District of Columbia presence benefits students. In Washington, higher education leaders argue' students can learn the art of politics, policymaking, and grant writing.

I disagree. Washington, Like most American metropolises, is an increasingly dangerous place to live. Why would any student want to take out student loans to live in an expensive, crime-ridden city teaming with venal lobbyists, sociopathic politicians, and unelected bureaucrats who believe they have the divine right to tell Americans living in flyover country how to live their lives.

Moreover, a college education becomes more expensive with each passing year. Why should students pay for branch campuses in Washington, DC, which mainly exist to feed college leaders’ pathological hubris and grandiosity?

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

I’m bored: Let's go to war with Russia

Peter, Paul and Mary, the iconic folk singers from the 1960s, sang several songs protesting the war in Vietnam. “Where have all the young men gone?” they sang. “Gone for soldiers, every one.” And then the refrain: “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?”

Apparently, the answer to that question is not yet because our government is resolutely pushing the United States toward war with Russia.

So far, Ukraine is doing the fighting and dying in its year-long conflict with Russia, sustained by American weapons, technology and military expertise. Ukraine appears to be holding its own, but it would be a mistake to believe that Russia will simply give up and abandon its imperialistic ambitions to annex a portion of its western neighbor. Certainly, in my opinion, Russia will never surrender Crimea.

The American mainline media is fond of describing Russia as a regional power with an incompetent military and unstable leadership. I’m not sure that’s true.

Napoleon thought he had defeated Russia when he captured Moscow in 1812. In Napoleon’s mind, all that was left to do was wait for Russia’s military leaders to admit they had been beaten and formally surrender.

But the Russians never showed up to surrender. Instead, winter set in, and a cataclysmic fire burned down most of Moscow.

Rather than spend the winter in a burned out city, Napoleon decided to march his troops back to France. That’s when the Cossacks showed up. Russian cavalry harassed the French army on its long retreat and Napoleon lost ninety percent of his troops before he reached safety.

During World War II, Hitler invaded Russia in the summer of 1941 and drove the Russians back across a broad front. The Nazis made it to the outskirts of Moscow but they never captured the city. The Germans besieged Leningrad for 900 days but the Russians refused to surrender, although one million Leningrad civilians died from starvation during the siege.

Are there any lessons to be learned from history? I think there are. Russia may appear to be on the verge of defeat in its war with Ukraine, but that’s what Napoleon and Hitler believed when they picked a fight with Russia.

But what do I know about military strategy and geopolitical affairs? After all, I’m just a retired professor who lives smack dab in the middle of flyover country.

That’s a fair point. On the other hand, what do the bozos in Washington know about military strategy or the tangled history that connects Ukraine and Russia? Apparently, not much.

The witless diplomats and policy wonks who are recklessly pushing our country into war with a nuclear power probably think it’s fun to muck around in eastern European affairs. Who knows? They might get a lucrative book contract out of this fracas or a teaching gig at Harvard.

But what is their goal? Is it to weaken Russia or is it to weaken the United States?

I, for one, do not favor baiting the Russian bear. I do not want my children or grandchildren to suffer or die because some fools in Washington have no idea what the Russians are capable of.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Things fall apart: American civilization is collapsing and it's time to start paying attention

“Things fall apart," William Butler Yeats wrote in "The Second Coming," perhaps his most famous poem."The center cannot hold.”

Like many prophecies, Yeats's prediction took a long time to be realized. Now, a little more than a century after Yeats penned those words, his prophecy is finally coming true.

America, the greatest civilization in the history of mankind, is falling apart. The nation that sent 9 million men to Europe and the South Pacific during World War II and sacrificed
 300,000 is crumbling. The country that accepted to its bosom the refugees from the Irish potato famine and found homes for the Vietnamese who fled the war in Southeast Asia is about to collapse.

Who would’ve thought that the United States, which conquered the Nazis in World War II, would sneak out of Afghanistan in the dead of night without bothering to tell its allies? Who would’ve thought that a nation dedicated to law and justice would allow criminals, terrorists, human traffickers, and fentanyl to flow across our southern border unmolested?

Our cities have become playgrounds for crime. Citizens who defend themselves against robbers and murderers get arrested while thugs with long criminal records roam the streets. The flagship retail stores of San Francisco are closing because shoplifting has become so rampant that a business cannot survive in one of America's greatest and most beautiful cities.

College presidents once boasted that American higher education is the envy of the world. Young people from across the globe came to the United States to study at our elite universities. Now our colleges have become insane asylums where students and professors spew racist nonsense, and greet reasoned dialogue with catcalls and profanity.

Our secondary schools have forgotten how to teach students to read, write, master grammar, and behave in a civil manner. Suppose young people who graduate from our derelict high schools wish to attend college. In that case, they must borrow extravagant amounts of money to study at institutions where the professors know nothing and have nothing to say.

In our elementary schools, so-called education experts believe it is beneficial to introduce small children to sexual perversion. Parents, who only want the best for their children, are denounced by the teacher's unions as terrorists.

A dysfunctional civilization can last a long time but cannot last forever. A nation that renounces its duty to maintain a safe and orderly society will eventually fall apart.

Like jackals stalking a wounded wildebeest, China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran wait to feast on the carrion of a rotting America.

The economy is on the verge of collapse in flyover country, where ordinary Americans strive to live decently and raise their families. If you drive through the rural heartland, the small towns look like the villages of East Africa.

Virtually every American politician is a corporate lackey. Our president is noncompos mentis--the whole world knows that. No one thinks our vice president is capable of assuming presidential duties.

Meanwhile, the financial titans on Wall Street, the media elites, and the grifters who run our universities are getting rich and gloating over their pension plans and their hedge fund profits.

The ultra-wealthy don’t care about what happens to their less fortunate fellow Americans. They abandoned their civic commitments when they banked their first million dollars. They’ve placed their riches in gold and other safe assets. Many have at least one elegant bug-out shelter, perhaps in Costa Rica or Montana.

Armed guards protect the super-rich in their private fortresses. The scamps who accumulated obscene wealth will sip fine California wine and sigh sympathetically about the people on Social Security who starve to death after the economy craters, which it soon will.

But perhaps no one will escape the apocalypse. Marie Antoinette believed she was secure at Versailles and then lost her head. The czar thought his family was well protected by an elite corps of soldiers who had sworn to protect his wife and children. And then the Bolsheviks showed up, and we know what happened.

Watch for the deluge, for the center cannot hold.

Be grateful if you live in a temperate climate where you can grow a vegetable garden both summer and winter. Be grateful if you have basic survival skills. Be thankful if you live near water.

Cling to your family if you have a family. When the apocalypse comes, all you will have are your personal resources and your loved ones.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Surgeon General to fight “epidemic of loneliness”: I’m from the government and I’m here to help

Vivek Murthy, President Biden’s Surgeon General, issued an advisory a few days ago,alerting the nation to an epidemic of loneliness. According to Dr. Murphy’s report, about half of adult Americans experience loneliness, and the Surgeon General warned that loneliness can contribute to depression, high blood pressure, dementia, and other serious medical conditions.

Dr. Murphy announced a “National Strategy to Advance Social Connections Across Society." He called for more research on loneliness, and he pledged to enact pro-connection public policies and to cultivate a culture of connection in American life.

A few years ago, Americans would have greeted the Surgeon General’s advisory with derisive hoots and catcalls. Who believes the federal government can do anything to make Americans feel less lonely? What is Dr. Murthy proposing, Americans might once have asked: A government-run dating service?

Today, however, Dr. Murthy ‘s advisory is taken seriously. Maybe a few billion dollars in federally funded research at the nation’s elite universities will reveal how the nation can conquer loneliness After all, who knows more about loneliness than a university professor?

Perhaps federal money can banish loneliness from our daily lives, but I am skeptical. Americans once looked to their churches, their families, and social clubs for social connecutiveness. Unfortunately, many Americans have turned their backs on these institutions. Do we really think the federal government can provide the social connections that our religious faith, our families and our bowling leagues offer?

Besides, a little loneliness may not be such a bad thing. Throughout history, loneliness has inspired great art, great literature, and great music. Edward Hopper’s famous painting, “Nighththawks,” for example,masterfully captures the anomie and isolation of early 20th century urban life. J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye has spoken to generations of American adolescents because it is an almost perfect expression of youthful isolation.

Country music, perhaps America’s most original art form, speaks to millions of Americans because it expresses the loneliness that most of us feel from time to time. Roy Orbison's “Only the Lonely,” Johnny Cash’s “ I still Miss Someone,” and Merle Haggard’s “Looking for a Place to Fall Apart” are so powerful because they express one of the most basic of human emotions, which is loneliness.

In my view, the Surgeon General’s assault on the epidemic of loneliness will not make us less lonely. It will just make our loneliness more banal.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Racially segregated college graduation ceremonies: Are we nuts?

In one of its early school desegregation decisions, the United States Supreme Court expressed the hope that the day would come when there would not be black schools and white schools, but just schools. Now, nearly 70 years after the Court’s historic decision in Brown v. Board of Education, America is drifting back toward racial segregation.

In recent years, colleges have begun sponsoring segregated graduation ceremonies for favored racial groups. At least one school even has a special graduation ceremony for LGBTQ students.

Of course, the colleges don’t describe these ceremonies as segregated. Rather, in the spirit of the Nazi propagandists, these racially exclusive ceremonies are called affinity events.

Of course, minority students can attend the general graduation ceremonies that are open to everyone, but only the favored groups get their own special graduation celebration.

When I was a child, the movie theater in my hometown was racially segregated. African-Americans could only attend the movies on Sunday evenings. I still remember groups of Black kids walking across the railroad tracks from the north side of town to watch movies that I could see on any day of the week. Could these racially segregated movie nights be properly labeled as affinity events?

Of course, woke academics would say there is a big difference 
between racial segregation in the 1950s and today’s racially segregated graduation ceremonies. But I am not so sure.

Once a university begins offering benefits and privileges to students based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, where does it stop? ? How different is a racially exclusive graduation ceremony from a whites-only fraternity or sorority?

A college education has become very expensive. It can cost a quarter of a million dollars to get a degree from an elite university. How do you suppose students in non-favored groups feel about their tuition money being used to subsidize race-based graduation ceremonies for students in favored racial groups?

It is the mission of the universities to prepare their students to thrive in a racially and culturally diverse society. Holding special graduation ceremonies based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation is contrary to that mission.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Intimations of Mortality: The Tulsa Edition

 Last month I was in Tulsa dealing with a stressful family crisis. On April 16, I experienced the first of a series of minor strokes that culminated in a major stroke that paralyzed the left side of my body.  I experienced my third mini-stroke at night while in a Tulsa hospital. I believed I would die and was surprised to realize that I was not afraid.

I was terrified of death when I was a child. My father spent most of the Second World War in a Japanese concentration camp. I was born three years after he was liberated. I know now that my father suffered from severe PTSD. As a four-year-old, I found the only way I could engage him was to ask him about his war experiences.

Unfortunately, my father told me more than I could absorb as a child. He told me about American prisoners who committed suicide because they were weak. He told me about prisoners who were executed. He told me about the day he was being transported in a prison ship that was bombed by American Navy pilots, who did not know that the ship contained American prisoners.

I remember my father telling me about the men who could not swim who were standing on the deck of the sinking ship, begging other prisoners to save them. But the prisoners who could swim were too enfeebled by captivity to help their comrades, and the men who couldn’t swim were drowned. 

My father's stories terrified me. He had survived the Japanese concentration camps because he was strong. I was just a child. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to live through the kind of horror he experienced. I would be one of the weak prisoners who would die.

I grew up in a small Oklahoma town. Many of my childhood friends belonged to religious groups that believed anyone who was not a member of their particular denomination was going to burn in hell for eternity.  

I was a gullible kid, and my childhood buddies were sincere in their efforts to proselytize me. Nevertheless, I never figured out which denomination was God's chosen Church. Was it the Baptists, the Pentecostals, the Nazarenes, or the Church of Christ? I never figured that out but I was terrified of dying and going to hell. I did not shake off that fear until I was an adult.

Elie Wiesel was put in a Nazi concentration camp as a child during World War II. In his memoir of that experience, he said he was introduced to death at an age when children should know nothing about death except what they read in story books. Weisel was right. Children should be protected from the terrors of life, real or imagined. They will learn soon enough when they are older.

Now I’m 74 years old and recovering from a stroke. Death is near. Maybe I will live five or six more years, or maybe I will die tomorrow. 

I believe in God. He is not powerful enough to protect us from famine, plague, or disease. He could not stop Hitler or Stalin.  Nevertheless, God has filled the earth with beauty and sprinkled it with people who love their families and their fellow humans and are capable of great sacrifice in the service of others. 

When I die, I wish to be cremated and my ashes scattered on the banks of the upper Colorado river in West  Texas. I have sinned and suffered a great deal, but God has blessed me with a lovely wife and family. I live ln one of America's most beautiful states. I have known the goodness of God in the land of the living. I am grateful.