“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.”
“Bigotry of all kinds is intolerable, unjustifiable, and immoral. We, as human beings, must always be willing to stand up against any kind of bigotry.”
Charles F. French
(Francisco Goya ~1799)
This image is one of Francisco Goya’s most well known and important. It has been debated if its meaning lies in the personal for Goya or on commentary on society. We can never be sure of what the artist intended.
It is possible, however, to see how when people abandon reason and analysis, that horror follows. Fascism arose in the 20th Century as people in Germany, Austria, and Italy primarily abandoned reason to follow the emotional cults of personality that would lead to the worst evil the world has ever known.
In the United States, which has a terrible history of bigotry, nationalism, and violence, driven by right wing forces that abandon reason and, using tactics of Hitler, such as blaming others through scapegoating and pull people to their worst impulses and the use of the big lie, in which an untruth is repeated loudly and often, we must recognize that such evil is here.
The United States, on January 6th, experienced an attack that was directly against the sovereignty of the country, against freedom, and against democracy. This was the worst attack against the foundation of our nation since the Civil War. This was not a riot gone terribly wrong; this was a planned insurrection, an attempt to overthrow the government of our nation, and those responsible should be held to account for their actions. The insurrectionists responded to a President who used Hitlerian tactics of the big lie about the “stolen election”, which was fair and secure and not stolen, and scapegoating members of Congress as the enemy rather than members of a different political party. These actions were real, and they were horrific and abominable.
Americans, of any party, who believe in democracy must repudiate such beliefs. If as some suggest, we simply move past this insurrection, then we are agreeing once more, to abandon responsibility, analysis, and reason. The consequences of such ignoring of the enormity of what happened can be devastating to our nation and our democracy.
White power groups are an extension of the evil that Hitler manifested. Let there be no mistake about it. They represent bigotry and evil and dictatorship. And they are a direct threat to our freedom and democracy.
We must not fall into a national sleep of reason. We must stay awake, otherwise, the fate of this nation, of the United States of America, for which so many fought and died in many wars, will be at risk.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and I would like to offer a few of this extraordinary American’s quotations as a tribute to him. He was one of the finest, most decent, and empathetic people in the history of the United States of America. We should all remember him and honor his teaching, his legacy, and his call for justice for everyone.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
I have several Christmas movies that carry great meaning to me and that I have loved over many years. I have written about them before in this blog, and I will continue to do so. Now, however, I want to make a new entry into my list of favorite Christmas movies.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is an extraordinary film that was released two years ago. It is a wonderful movie that explores the creative process of Charles Dickens as he wrote the classic novel, A Christmas Carol. The director is Bharat Nalluri, and this work is marvelous! We get a direct entrance into Dickens’ mind as he struggles with his writing. His characters appear and talk to him, which is an excellent touch.
The film is based on the book by Les Standiford, and the stars are Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce. The entire cast, without exception, give extraordinary performances. Christopher Plummer as Scrooge is especially brilliant. Dan Stevens should be recognized as one of the finest actors today.
This film delivers the message of Dickens’ masterpiece, that humanity should be the business of everyone, that money should not be the focus of our lives, and that we should all try to help each other. It will capture your heart and soul, and it is a film I recommend completely! On a system of 5 stars, I give it five!
Please, do yourself a favor, and watch this movie!
There are so many aspects of this holiday season that are wonderful to me: getting together with loved ones, friends and family alike (although this year on a very limited basis); the spirit of giving that I hope continues to grow; celebrations; the holiday music; and the memories of happy times. Among the favorite memories I have are a few specific Christmas movies.
The movie I will talk about today is Scrooge with Albert Finney as the star; he does a magnificent job in his performance as the miserly and misanthropic loan-shark. This musical version of A Christmas Carol is one of the finest filmic adaptations of the classic Christmas Eve ghost story and morality tale. This film follows the story closely with Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, of Christmas Present, and of Christmas Future. Among the movies best songs are Scrooge singing “I Hate People” which clearly shows his despicable and greedy nature, “Thank You Very Much” in which a tap dance is done on Scrooge’s coffin in the future, and “I Like Life” in which the ghost of Christmas Present teaches Scrooge about experiencing life as well as having empathy for others.
This movie does an excellent job of showing Dickens’ critique of a greed based society and one that did little or nothing to help alleviate the enormous difficulties of the poor. When first confronted by the ghost of his dead partner Marley, Scrooge tells him that he was always a good man of business. Marley’s ghost responds, “Mankind should be our business.” This is a sentiment that stands today. We should be putting the good of humanity above the pursuit of greed.
I was a teenager when this movie was first released in 1970, and I loved seeing it with two of my closest friends. We were captivated by the music and the story, and it remains as powerful to me as when I first saw it. If you have never had the opportunity to see this particular film, I give it my highest recommendation.
I also remind all of us, in paraphrasing the Master Charles Dickens, that we must always remember to make the good of others our business.
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.”
“I’m tired of ignorance held up as inspiration, where vicious anti-intellectualism is considered a positive trait, and where uninformed opinion is displayed as fact.”
“For democracy to survive, Americans must learn to embrace intellectualism, reject cult-like behavior, employ analysis, understand and use science, and think for themselves.”
Charles F. French
“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
“Bigotry must never be accepted, must always be confronted, and must never become the way of our country. We must always recognize its past and the consequences of its present existence, and we should always strive to eliminate bigotry, in all forms, from the future.”
Charles F. French
What happened the other night in Portland, Oregon should have all Americans who believe in the Constitution, Freedom, and Democracy outraged and frightened. Please do not divert the subject by speaking about “riots”. That is an issue that is addressed by local and state authorities, not the Federal Government. The President does not seem to care about the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
The Fourth Amendment says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Having Federal agents, wearing police insignia without identification of person or office arresting people without warrants and taking them away in unmarked vehicles is a clear violation of both the Fourth Amendment and their oath to uphold the Constitution; it is, by its very nature, an assault on American freedom and democracy. Without a warrant and an authorized jurisdiction of policing, these actions are kidnapping.
Let me be very clear. What happened is what occurs in totalitarian dictatorships, such as Putin’s tactics in the Crimea. Putin is very likely extremely proud of his friend, Donald Trump.
Further, for those who are true conservatives and care about the separation of states and city rights from the Federal government, they should be horrified. This was a clear violation of state and city sovereignty and jurisdiction.
It is also ironic that with the turmoil in our country about the abuse of police power, that these actions, themselves, are abuse of police power.
Let me be clear. I am not speaking as a member of a political party. I am speaking as a proud American who holds our Constitution to be a sacred document. Regardless of political affiliation, no matter if you are Republican, Democratic, or Independent, you should decry these actions. Our land must never become one that is ruled by autocrats and dictators who use force as they wish and ignore the rule of law.
Let us also remember that many fought and died to preserve out democracy. Let us honor their memory by insisting on the government abiding by the Constitution of the United States of America.
The United States of America lost an heroic figure with the passing of Representative John Lewis on Friday from pancreatic cancer. (1940-2020)
Mr. Lewis was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement and worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He participated, in the March on Washington, and he led the march, as a young man, across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. This would come to be known as Bloody Sunday because of the violence the marchers encountered, including Mr. Lewis.
He would later be elected to the United States House of Representatives in which he served for 30 years; he was frequently considered to be the Conscience of America. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2011.
Among Mr. Lewis’ quotations are “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something, you have to do something.” and “I’m very hopeful. I am very optimistic about the future.” and “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
Mr. John Lewis was a tireless fighter for justice and against injustice. He will be missed.
Rest In Peace