Jared Kushner Speaks…!

Added extra fun:

The US “President” is a kleptocratic thug; son-in-law Jared Kushner is hand-in-glove with him.  Both are tools of Putin who is arming the enemies of liberal democracy.

All other talk is noise to hide these basic realities and allied facts… a soap opera to mesmerize you while the thieves are picking your pockets and dismantling your democratic republic, Constitution, laws, precedents, protocols, and preparing for a right-wing clampdown.

30 May 2017

Richard Van Ingram

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Dahlonega, Georgia, Home of the Klan Klubhouse

Roberta Green-Garrett, Klansman
Roberta Green-Garrett, Klansman

UPDATE: 15 March 2017: http://patch.com/georgia/atlanta/kkk-sign-dahlonega-incites-raw-emotions-controversy

UPDATE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/in-northern-georgia-a-kkk-banner-seemed-to-some-a-sign-of-the-times/2017/03/12/de5a3518-05bd-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.c4fe2a9b8f62

http://www.forsythnews.com/section/1/article/32218/

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Free Speech; A Personal Story

Gentle reader, assuming this is read: What follows is a matter of personal history. This is a letter to the editor and publisher of The Dahlonega Nugget, Terrie Ellerbie, from 2008.  Not many months following this, I left Dahlonega finding it intolerant and intolerable — but, for me, that was nothing new.  I’d found it as such, increasingly, since the early 1970s when I began to be aware of many things about that community; I moved away to go to university in the mid 1980s with no intention of returning — yet, as Townes Van Zandt once said, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

So, HaShem saw fit to strand me, financially broke, jobless, homeless, sick back in my “hometown” — and I chose to get busy, sort of like an absurd Count of Monte Christo, and make my “prison” a place where I would learn what no university could teach, to prepare for a future I never really expected would arrive — a day when I could get in a car and drive away permanently to a different world, one which would listen to the little I had to share, read what I wrote, look at the art I made.

So, I learned.  I dealt with many sorts of people, many situations from the soul-crushing to the enlightening, and, little by little, I improved.  And I began to write freelance editorials on contemporary issues for the small local paper to share, to examine, to offer an alternative point of view; unpopular, to be certain, but one I thought needed to be heard from.  Especially as torture, concentration camps, dehumanization, and loss of civil liberties and rights became the order of the day.

I also began teaching ethics and philosophy at the local university along with my regular day job at public mental health… and dealing with a very confusing, depressing, intense personal life.

I got myself well-hated because of the writing, to paraphrase a poet.  But I also made friends, a couple permanent, maybe, most fair-weather who disappeared just as soon as I was banned — yes, banned — from being published in that paper because, ostensibly, of about twenty anonymous, unpublished complaints.

It didn’t shut me up but it did shut me down.  And I fell into a deep depression for a long while — it left a wound.  Sometimes, still, the wound seeps.  But I learned a very important set of lessons: when you stand up openly to be counted, you will be counted; there is only one of you; don’t count on anyone else who, in private, supports you, to do anything except hide when the counter-attack comes on you from the hateful and intolerant; and never expect them to come back and even speak to you after you’ve been “disposed of” by a vocal majority or the powerful.

“So it goes,” as the man often said.  

That is the life of anyone who becomes controversial or stands against injustice in a place where people believe the unjust to be their absolute right.  You’re out there by yourself. If others show up or “have your back,” that is damned good fortune.  And you never count on “good fortune” — bad fortune is what you prepare for as, really, it is far more likely.  Fear keeps good people silent, it keeps them in hiding, it causes them to censor themselves.  They are only rarely going to come out in any way when the danger of speaking up becomes greater, not lesser.

If you choose to speak up about anything that needs to be said, expect to find yourself bearing witness alone… except for the pack of wolves who come out to tear your reputation to shreds.  And maybe your livelihood… and, once in a while, your life itself.

A cautionary tale, but not a dissuasive one.  You are only what you choose to do and the inherent quality of what you choose to value and incarnate in this world through your actions.  The end.  I have no shame for that part of my life.  It was worthwhile.

After being banned, I wrote, over two years, three letters to the editor — the short farewell, which was published; a protest against a letter writer who encouraged physical violence for those who were “liberal’ — they published a heavily edited version of that; and this letter in defence of free speech in the paper, the sole public platform in that community, even for an editorialist who was a hate-monger, who had attacked me in the pages of the paper.  This one, of course, never saw the light of day.  You’ll see why should one choose to read on.

So, without further comment.

RVI, 22 February 2017

*****

“Dear Editor,

“Uncharacteristically, I will keep my words to a minimum.  This concerns your editorial comments of 27 February 2008 in “What you need to know about Moore & Martin.”

“I can sympathize with your frustrations, especially concerning the complaints about Mr. Martin’s column – but only to a point.

“You said:

‘ “We do not “endorse” any columnist, period. We publish what people write, because this is the place for that to happen. [ . . .] This is a public forum, not a private country club. We will not apologize for giving people with differing backgrounds and views a place to express themselves in their own words.
“I will say this: If you do not like what Jason Martin had to say, I suggest you muster up the courage to speak up and speak out yourself and express your own views.” ‘

“You seemed to show more than a little exasperation with your readers who won’t sign their names to complaints about Mr. Martin and those who have gotten the idea that, if they complain enough about someone expressing opinions in your paper, you will remove that person and refuse to print their columns in the future.

“Where, oh where, pray tell, could they have gotten such an idea?

“When, I wonder, was such a precedent ever set for that sort of decision-making in your paper?

“Could it have been, perhaps, a bit over a year-and-a-half ago when you publicly refused to print any more of my columns because some locals could no longer bear to be exposed to my point of view – one wholly opposed to Mr. Martin’s?

“Where was this editorial statement when a determined fragment of your readership — in some cases anonymously, in some cases not — railed that poorly written trash such as I compose should never waste ink in your fine publication again?  And all this mainly because I don’t sound or think like most people “from ’round these here parts.”

“As one of your more censorious letter writers used to say of me, “He isn’t one of us.”  Which is true enough, but in 2006 that sentiment was enough for you to publicly refuse to accept any more columns from my hand.

“So now, the tables are turned.  Your Mr. Martin has inspired a wave of people who don’t particularly want to read a column in which the writer so glibly excuses torture as “the final solution” for our nation’s terrorism problem, and don’t want to hear that “ideas and people that ain’t from ’round these here parts should leave on the road that brung ’em.”

“So they want you to ban him – which I think is a terrible idea.  By all means, let the man speak; as you say, it’s not as if what “he said is not being repeated in conversations all over this county . . ..”

“But, then again, the same could have been said in defense of my own columns.

“In Dahlonega, the local paper is the only real public platform for speech.  Therefore, it has an obligation to allow even the rude, ignorant, utterly parochial, and the crank to express an opinion.

“If it doesn’t allow that much, the paper may not print the words of anyone representing any controversial or unpopular position, even a reasonable one, whenever it becomes simply easier to silence those words.

“That’s not the sort of paper I want for my town.  It wasn’t what I wanted in 2006; it isn’t what we need now.

“Richard Van Ingram”

  • 02/29/08 at 1:41PM 
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To My Students in a Time of Trouble

Most every month, I have parting words for my students. This month, I felt the need to say a few things early… it is never too early to encourage and guide if one can. The events of the past few days — atop the sheer insanity on all sides since 2001 — disturbs and saddens me in a way I cannot yet contain in the vessel of words. Perhaps I’ll never get it across. Nevertheless, I have hope for my students — my source of hope lies within the promise of my students’ very lives. My day is nearly done, literally and in the most final of ways. That isn’t sad — as I pass, perhaps that will signal that this age, too, is on its way off the stage to be replaced by those hopeful younger people who have the chance to do better and actually uphold beliefs worth living. Perhaps is better than “no.” In any case, for what it’s worth:

20 November 2015

As I am in a writing mood, I will say what I usually withhold until the end of the semester; perhaps you need to hear it now as this is the most difficult period in any class.

At this point, you are tired. Perhaps you are more than ready to “get on with it” and get past this experience – each month may seem like this by third week. But I encourage you to slow down a bit and take in what you are being shown – your life is time and how you choose to spend it. That makes you, you. Your life, and therefore the “you” that you are building, can be sloppy or well-established, or haphazard – a little of both.

For many of us, it is a little of both – we pay attention to what we are doing sometimes and not so much at other moments. And that, generally, is fine since we are humans and do nothing perfectly or well the first time; part of living will be, for you, going back to correct or fill in what you missed in the past. Just be certain that you constantly work to improve yourself and examine what you may be lacking.

Becoming conscious of your context – the wider world of the present and the past that makes the world you live within, that limits and provides the choices you may make – is one of the greatest gifts a college education can provide. Or, I should say, it gives you the opportunity to begin to learn this. What I am saying here may sound a bit mysterious because it is abstract. Let me be more concrete.

Most of us are fortunate if we know our family of origin back to our great-grandparents and something of their lives; a few may have some vague notion of a couple of generations previous to them. Very few of us know any detail of their circumstances, their world, and why they made the choices they did. But be aware – the choices they made, first, got us here, and secondly, played a part in how our lives up to this point turned out. Not all of it, of course, because there are no very young people in this class and where you are now is also due to your own efforts, values, and beliefs.

But some of those beliefs, perhaps most of them, arise from the story you were told about yourself by your surroundings as you grew up. As a philosopher and someone keenly aware of history and the history of ideas, I will reveal to you now that most of what you were told, the story you were given, is a mythology.

Mythologies can be good things – at their best, they are stories that symbolically contain truth. At their absolute worst, they are misinterpretations and, sometimes, lies. These lies may be intentionally invented by our ancestors to cover over some injustice… or they may be “lies” in the sense they were made up to substitute for truths no one cared to exert themselves to look for. They can also contain false theories – that the sun moves around the Earth, for example, or that “races” actually exist – as a misinterpretation of the fact our ancestors developed different skin pigmentation and eye shape by mutations and to deal with abundance or lack of sun.

Or, that one group has an absolute grasp of reality in a way no one on Earth possibly can as we are humans and are limited: some know the existence and mind of Deity so well they are willing to fly jets into skyscrapers and gun down crowds of people assembled to hear rock music; or they want to define entire groups of people as “dangerous” because of whom they love and make that illegal, even punishable by death; or make others, because of their religion carry identification cards so they can be singled out and treated unjustly even if they have never done anything wrong. Some even call for the return of the concentration camps in the name of some mythological thing called “safety” that no human being has ever seen or experienced.

Human life is perilous. Live is an adventure and a risk. It is never safe. It never has been and never will be.

What a human life can become is free from ignorance and the sort of mythology we call “superstitious fanaticism.” We can free ourselves from poor choices by discovering genuine virtues, or standards of excellence; we can become just and treat others as they deserve; we can be merciful and grant exceptions when that would be more beneficial to another and ourselves; we can show courage and stand up for decent things and push ourselves to do what others won’t in the face of adversity or resistance; we can exert self-control when tempted to have none at all and simply do what our emotions prompt us to do.

And far more.

Your college textbooks and classes will be the ground floor, not simply to a career but to the task of living as educated, cultured people who set the example in the community you chose to live within. But they are only the ground floor. The building of culture has higher floors, as many as you wish to climb and explore, in fact, from which to bring back treasures that will enrich your life and give you the materials from which to construct an interesting and high quality self.

The route to the higher floors is exploration on your own.

You must read. You must learn to commune with those people who lived in the past, set good examples in their day, and created the ideas and works of beauty, high quality, and insight that affect you now. And you will have to root out those who created the horrible ideas and misinterpretations so you can do intellectual combat with them as well.

The only way to do this is read. Begin with the classics of the ancient world and work your way forward. Read histories and biographies and autobiographies. Study art and literature. You have no time to waste now as your future – and the world you will leave behind by your contributions or lack thereof – is coming, like it or not. You may learn how to become a good example in the world and do that through your actions… or you may choose not to care.

I have hope for you. I see in this class a group of people, roughly the same generation, all capable of far more than they, themselves, dream at the moment. My generation, the one they called “X,” and especially the much larger one before mine, the “Boom,” are leaving you one hell of a challenge, one mixed up, disarranged world that has almost abandoned everything except violence, prejudice, intolerance, and greed. What you do with this situation, what you transform it into, is your generation’s challenge.

My generation largely dropped out or went silent, lost faith in itself. But some of us took on a mission to learn and transmit the tools for a better tomorrow to the generation behind us (you, that is) by teaching and setting our own small examples.

“Individually, we do not succeed,” said the philosopher, Aristotle, “but together, we do not fail.” Every instructor at this college I am familiar with is here for one major purpose: So that, together, we do not fail, so that you learn to believe in yourselves and do things beyond what you think you can presently, and so that you will have the opportunity, long after I and the others are gone, to become the people you ought and have the quality of world you deserve.

Not a perfect world, but one good enough to live decently within and build a future on. A world that is always a work in progress, yet, hopefully, at least progresses.

Welcome to college, the place where you may gain the skills for a career, and also for living honorably as educated people and citizens of this country… and the world. I truly have faith in you or else I’d not be here. Now, have faith in yourselves and accomplish your destinies. You’re in the right place to begin.

Mr. Ingram

Richard Van Ingram

20 November 2015

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