Racism in the Time of Thanksgiving – Plymouth Rock (1621) to Today (2016)

This is way cool! Hi, it’s me, Ollie, and I just found out that in 1976 James spent Thanksgiving on Cape Cod at Plymouth Rock. Yeah! It’s true. At the time, James was living in Boston. Two dear friends, Lynne and Sam Bowden, were visiting him. They drove to the Cape in their Z car to celebrate a genuine Pilgrims Thanksgiving. Well, sort of. They had Irish coffee and turkey at the local inn, but, as James says, who’s fact checking. Well, truth be told (and I’m a truth teller as an Old English Sheepdog), James told me Plymouth rock is no more than a stepping stone.

It’s the baby steps we take that get us through.

img_0287
(Thanksgiving 2016 at Barry & Elyn Rosenthal’s in NYC.)

This past week has been uplifting after the election disaster. I got to spend the week in the kennel with my buddies, some old and some new. James spent the week in New York City with friends and seeing movies and theatrical shows. This allowed both of us to forget the fear we have felt ever since the morning after the election, at least for a few hours each day. This year James’ Thanksgiving was spent as they all should, with people from across the globe be they Muslims, Jews, Catholics, gay and straight, women and men, sitting down in harmony.

How quickly the uplifting from Thanksgiving week gives way to sorrow. James believes that while god allows on earth such people as DJT, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions we need no Hell. These men will make sure our lives are spent, daily, in Hell. Of course, this is in addition to the Military Industrial Complex we will find ourselves under with the likes of retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as National Security Secretary.

Then again, James informed me that should there be a just god, the Electoral College won’t vote for DJT to be President; but, instead, will put Secretary Clinton in as our next President. Now that would be ever so exciting and revolutionary – YES! He also told me that three of the states that went for DJT are recounting their votes, which could give Secretary Clinton not only the popular vote, but the Electoral College vote as well.

Two weeks ago I mentioned that I might not be able to forgive the people I knew who had voted for DJT. Well, I’m still struggling with this. (I know, that doesn’t deserve a treat.) The main reason has to do with something James told me when I was but a pint-sized puppy. It went something like this….

One of the best things that ever happened to James, who grew up in the segregated south, took place while he was in college. A fellow student, Gregory Kirkland Levy, became one of James’ best friends. Greg, who was nicknamed Bougie, was an African-American student. One of only a handful who attended his college in South Carolina. Having been brought up a bigot, something James struggles with to this day, it was eye opening for him to have the experience of knowing someone who he had been taught was not only inferior, but lazy and no-good. Greg proved to be anything but those things.

Because of this, James exposed me to all kinds of different breeds of dogs so I would learn to like all other dogs, not only those of my kind. This is why, to this day, I love going to the kennel to play with my friends. All other dogs are my friends, no matter the breed or mix, color, size, or any other item that might set us apart. I love them all. (Treat!!) We believe that all mankind should love one another as well. Not simply us dogs.

Which brings me back to the results of the most recent election. It is frightening to both James and me that the shadow of racism has risen its ugly head so viciously in the land of the free (and home of the brave). It had made itself known during the eight years of President Obama’s administration. His being Black brought out the worst in the Republican Party, be they Senators or Representatives, one of whom yelled out “Liar” during President Obama’s State of the Union address early in his Presidency. The good news is that President Obama handled it with grace. The bad news is that DJT has used the latent racism in Americans to his advantage.

Which, in turn, leads me to offer up this for those who create, who like to read/see, who love to lose themselves in books and museums. When you read a good book or visit a museum or gallery, you forget about the nationality of the characters, the authors and the artists. You don’t concern yourself with their skin color or religion. (Yes! I scored another treat with that, but I honestly meant it. I didn’t say it simply for a treat. Reread it and think about it for a minute before going on.)

img_0270
(James is a proud Secretary Clinton supporter.)

Since Secretary Clinton won the popular vote by something like two million votes and counting, it shows that racism may not be the most popular ism in our land. Both James and I would like to believe that is the case. We have to believe it or else we wouldn’t feel safe living in the United States. Luckily, we live in Vermont that went overwhelmingly for Secretary Clinton, and we know who within our state are the DJT supporters – and we keep our distance.

The forefather’s of this great country (Yes, I may be and Old English Sheepdog, but I’m as American as James.) came to these shores to escape religious persecution, seeking freedom of religion. Some of these same forefathers were atheists – that was the “religion” they wanted to practice. No matter how unimpressed James and his friends were with the size of the stone, James’ visit to Plymouth Rock during that Thanksgiving forty years ago was in celebration of the original giving of thanks held in 1621, three hundred and ninety-five years ago, between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who found they could sit down and break bread together.

Also, James and his friends were celebrating the decedents of these very same forefathers who exercised their right to form a more perfect government. Let us hope that the law of the land doesn’t get tarnished should DJT (God forbid – a treat!) prevail.

If you’d like to let me know how you feel, you are welcome to do so in the comment section. I always enjoy hearing from you, so please leave a comment on this blog post about this or anything at all.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
All photos © James Stack 2016 unless otherwise indicated

First They Denied Your Right to Healthcare

I’ve been struggling with how to communicate with you given how our household has been devastated by the most recent election. As an Old English Sheepdog, I’m worried that I might be deported for being English. However, James has informed me that since I was born in Ohio that makes me a Dreamer. I like the sound of that – Dreamer. Nonetheless, even though I’m not going to be deported, I don’t have voting rights, or any rights for that matter. Still, I know that I’m loved, and love trumps hate. (What? No treat? I know. You’re depressed.)

Oh, yeah, it’s me Ollie. I suppose I should have mentioned that before, but with the way things are, I hope you’ll forgive me. With that said, I’m not sure that I can forgive those who voted for DJT. I even find it hard to bark his name. The only good thing is that I’ve gotten a ton of snuggles from James this past week. I don’t mind telling you that I have licked enough salty tears off his face to fill our pond.

img_0152
(Ollie & James snuggling)

It seems like the only time James has gotten out of bed is to feed me and take me outside. While we were walking (James walks while I run), James began reciting a poem he was working on in his head. He said it came to him because he recalled what Martin Niemöller* had said about World War II. James decided to put an undated twist on the quote for which Mr. Niemöller is remembered.

First they denied your right to healthcare
and I did not speak out
because I was covered by my spouse’s healthcare
Then they came for your reproductive rights
and I did not speak out
because I was not a woman
Then they came for your right to vote
and I did not speak out
because I was not a person of color
Then they came for your citizen’s rights
and I did not speak out
because I was not a new immigrant
Then they came for your right to marriage
and I did not speak out
because I was not a LGBTQ person
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me
Then they came for me
            and there was no one
Then they came for me
            and there was not one left
            to speak out
Then they came for me
            and there was on one left
            to speak out
            for me

***

How long will it take for them
to do away with the Affordable Care Act
which they have voted to repeal more than sixty times
How long will it take for them
to do away with Roe vs Wade
which they have been chipping away at for decades
How long will it take for them
to entomb the Voting Rights Act
into which the conservative SCOTUS
has hammered nails into its coffin
How long will it take for them
to round up the Dreamers and their families and
deport those who were born on United States soil
and are United States citizens
because their parents are not
How long will it take for them
to overturn United States vs Windsor
that held it is unconstitutional
to define marriage
as between one man and one woman
How long will it take for them
to deny United States’ citizens
their Constitutional rights
            – freedom of speech
            – freedom of worship
            – freedom of _________
How long will it take
How long will it take
How long will it take

***

As an old white male
with a pre-existing condition (cancer)
I have not choice but to speak out
before they take away my insurance
As an old white male with two sisters and three nieces
I have no choice but to speak out
for women’s rights
As an old white male with two sisters and three nieces
and South Carolina-raised
I have no choice but to speak out
before they come for my friends of color
having seen first-hand their hatred and bigotry
As an old white male with two sisters and three nieces
and South Carolina-raised whose forefathers immigrated to this country
fought for its independence and for a more perfect Union
I have no choice but to speak out
for the immigrants and Dreamers
searching for a better life as my family did
As an old white male with two sisters and three nieces
and South Carolina-raised whose forefathers immigrated to this country
who has been in a loving committed relationship for
the past thirty-seven years
I have no choice but to speak out
before they deny me the right to be married
As an old ill white male with sisters and nieces
southern-raised whose family immigrated
who happens to also be gay
I have no choice but to speak out
before they come for me
I have no choice
I have no choice but to speak
I have no choice but to speak out

James and I hope you, well, liking it is not exactly what we mean. What we hope is that it it spurs you to action. The popular vote, for the second time during James’ lifetime, did not go to the President-elect. It is well for us to remember that Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s heroic son, Humayun Saqib Muazzam Kahn, a Muslim, gave his life in support of our Constitution of the United States, which says:

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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
[Emphasis added.]

James has also informed me that this isn’t the end. Not only do we go high when they go low, but we get back up when we’ve been knocked down. As Secretary Clinton said in her concession speech, “Let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.”

I have it on the best authority (James that is – a treat, finally), we have two years in which to take control of the Senate. In this manner we can alter where this newly elected, by the Electoral College and not the popular vote of the people, plan on taking our country. It is our only hope over the next four years to help prevent or reverse any of these terrible things from happening. Please, support candidates that will be running in 2018 by directly working for them and/or contributing to their campaigns. That is our best hope for the future.

If you feel like venting, you are welcome to do so in the comment section. I always enjoy hearing from you, so please leave a comment on this blog post about this or anything at all.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
All photos © James Stack 2016 unless otherwise indicated

* Hoping to honor, and in the memory of, Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who became an outspoken opponent of Adolf Hitler. Mr. Niemöller spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.