Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ginning Up The Base


There was no evidence of racism in the Michael Brown shooting last summer until the mainstream media and government officials injected it. The day after the shooting Attorney General Eric Holder sent legions of his “Community Relations Service” personnel to Ferguson. Were they there to prevent racial violence? Doesn’t look like it. They held private gatherings for residents - some of whom reported afterward that the Holder’s people wanted to discuss racism and “White Privilege.” Why would they do that? Because they wanted it to be about racism.
Two weeks ago, six hundred people demonstrated in downtown Portland, Maine with the now-familiar signs declaring “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands up! Don’t Shoot.” Did “Gentle Giant” Michael Brown put his hands up and beg the “racist,” white Ferguson police officer not to shoot him? No. That was a lie told by Brown’s partner-in-crime, Dorian Johnson, and contradicted by other witnesses as well as the forensic evidence. However, leftists all over the country still want to believe it because the media played it up so much the first days after the shooting. Now it will forever be true in the their mindset.
Demonstration in Portland, Maine

Then came the alleged University of Virginia “gang rape” reported in Rolling Stone. The story fell apart and the embarrassed magazine said it no longer had confidence in the report, but that didn't matter to progressives who wanted to believe it anyway. Hence, one of the Portland, Maine demonstrators carried a sign proclaiming “Racism is tinder. Rape is fuel.”
It calls to mind the alleged gang rape by the Duke Lacrosse Team. That fictitious incident combined race and rape. Race-baiters, feminists, and their mainstream media mouthpieces seemed downright disappointed when that juicy story turned out to be fabricated, and they had to stop professing their outrage.
The left doesn’t really want racism or sexism to go away. If Americans were to believe both are diminishing, that’s a problem. The base of the Democrat Party is made up of blacks and single women who need to be kept in state of perpetual outrage against “racist”; “sexist”; white men. If there aren’t enough examples, it becomes necessary to manufacture them.
Despite Democrats being the party of the Ku Klux Klan and Republicans being the party of Lincoln, the left-wing base of the party has been able to control most of the black vote since the 1960s. However, since the election of the first black president, opinion polls indicate that 53% of Americans believe race relations have worsened and that’s not what people expected when they voted for Barack Obama.
When I asked my students (I was still teaching in the public schools when he was elected), why they favored Obama, by far the most common reason was: “It’s time we had a black president,” and their opinions closely reflected what their parents thought. Indeed, that’s the answer most people gave me whenever the subject came up in casual conversation. When they asked me why I didn’t support him, I said it was because he was an inexperienced lefty with strong, socialist tendencies. President Obama’s popularity has plummeted since and Attorney General, who is also black, claims that criticism of both himself and his boss is racially motivated.
Many think Obama won the majority of white voters because they could feel good about themselves voting for a black candidate. Sporting an Obama bumper sticker would declare to the world: “See? I’m not racist.” It's a white guilt thing and that’s a strong, political dynamic for those calling themselves progressives. The Urban Dictionary defines white guilt as “a belief, often subconscious, among white liberals that being white is, in and of itself, a great transgression against the rest of the world for which one must spend their life making atonement. It is often exemplified by embracing the cultures and philosophies of various other ethnic groups while neglecting one's own roots.” Now thousands of white liberals afflicted with it attend the annual “White Privilege” conferences paid for with our tax money.
White guilt also currency for race hustlers like the (allegedly) Reverend Jesse Jackson and his sidekick, the (allegedly) Reverend Al Sharpton. Black writer Shelby Steele, who wrote a book about white guilt, said: “Jackson is what I call a challenger who says to whites, ‘I will never let you off the hook. I’m going to presume you are a racist until you give me something. Then I’ll offer absolution of some kind, but you have to buy your innocence.’” Now Sharpton is one the most frequent guests at the White House, offering advice to the president on racial matters.
Liberals suffering from white guilt were seeking a plenary indulgence when voting an inexperienced, unvetted, radical-leftist Barack Obama into office. Many now realize their mistake. We see those who refuse to acknowledge it out there marching with their hands up.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Cold Morning Muse



Moonset over Chatham, NH

So cold it was the other morning the leaves of my wife’s rhododendrons were curled up. The previous night’s full moon lit surrounding woods with silver and it’s nearly always frigid under a full moon in a Maine winter. The sun had been up an hour and I should have gone out to run, but I decided to wait ’til noon. My iPhone app said it would be 22 degrees by then and my ears wouldn’t freeze too badly. Could wear a hat I suppose, but I don’t like to.
The Moats and Mt. Kearsarge

Cold winter mornings put me in writing mood and that’s what I planned. By noon I’d feel like getting up to stretch my muscles and clear my head. Running in cold air helps that. It was time to renew work on a big writing project I had put down last spring because I had to get away from it. I was so far into it all winter that I couldn’t see it whole. So immersed was I in its parts that it wasn’t clear how they’d fit together and flow and I hoped my six-month respite would remedy that.
The Baldfaces in winter

My workspace in our Lovell house is an upstairs office, and it was a mess. I don’t let my wife clean in there so everything had a layer of light-gray dust. Cobwebs formed in the windows and mustiness assaulted the nostrils of anyone entering. Anything touched would leave fingers chalky. Clutter covered my desk and every other horizontal surface. Boxes spilled out of the closet prevented closing its bi-fold doors. It’s a former bedroom and was always neat and clean when it belonged to my daughter - and she went off to college twenty years ago. I had cleaned it up before, but I couldn’t remember the last time. Organizing my writing project would take several weeks at least and attempts to do it in an unorganized environment would probably retard the effort.
Winter sunset over Jackson, NH

In case the reader get an impression that I haven't labored in my office for a long time, let me say that I have a high tolerance for messy work environments. However, it had deteriorated to the point where even I couldn’t stand it anymore. Cleaning up my sorry space should only have taken an afternoon, but so many old papers and pictures were unearthed to re-read and re-examine that it took me two days. Such textual and visual remnants of times gone by evoked memories and emotions - most good, some not, but all of them vestiges of ordinary life. I had to feel them and let them go. Some of these sentimental remnants I saved, but the bulk of them went to the dump along with old computer equipment, old files I would never need (I hope), and even some old photographs. These last were images that looked great on a computer screen, but lost something when I sent them out to be printed as eight-by-tens. There was enough old stuff to fill two trash barrels, which I immediately took to the dump lest I change my mind and retrieve any of it.
The back field in winter

My office windows overlook a back field I spent seven years clearing with my my old chainsaw and a 1949 Ford 8N tractor. Never do I tire of looking at the view all that clearing exposed. I cut about eight cords a year to heat the house each winter until I opened up the woods as much as I wanted. All four children have been gone for several years and we don’t really need all this space which we now heat with oil. My wife would like to downsize - and I see the logic in that, but I like it here. Some of my life’s labors haven’t produced much but that long labor did. Where else would I be able to look out on such a beautiful result? Someday I’ll leave, but knowing me, I might put it off so long that I’ll do so horizontally.
August sunset over Mt. Washington, NH
All photos are views I see from my office. Be hard to leave this.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Against Football? I'm Not

One thing I like about the Portland area is that there’s usually something interesting happening on any given day or night. Last weekend I attended a book promotion at Longfellow Books by author Steve Almond who published “Against Football.” I’m not against it. I love football and plan my weekends around Patriots’ games, but I wanted to hear the writer make his case.

When I go to these things, I’m closeted. Nobody knows me down there and I don’t ask questions which may hint that my thinking is diametrically opposed to almost everything being said. Sometimes I feel like an anthropologist observing another species of hominid in its natural habitat, the very progressive City of Portland, Maine.

Almond
A woman introduced Almond saying he wrote for Salon and Slate as well as several other leftist web sites and publications and they met at a writers’ workshop on the coast. He was dressed in jeans, collarless pullover, and organic-looking shoes. He had a slight build and didn’t look like he had ever played football. He looked like Obama’s “Pajama Boy” without the glasses. Nonetheless, I tried hard to keep my mind open in case he had a case to make. The woman wore tight pants, high leather boots, and a vest-like thing with a Patriots logo over a collarless pullover with extra-long sleeves that covered half her hands leaving only fingers visible. She moved them extensively when talking and claimed to be an avid fan. I thought she asked him too many questions, leaving little time for the audience to ask some.
He claimed he was a fan (which I doubted) and had a hard time weaning himself, but watching football had become a moral quandary. He said it was the concussion thing mostly — that football players had shorter lifespans and were more likely to suffer dementia. He claimed players, mostly black, were exploited by billionaire owners. Watching games would only funnel more money into their pockets. Players were highly paid, but their careers were short.
He said he couldn’t watch men from poor backgrounds sacrifice their bodies for his enjoyment. He said football was “militaristic,” after which I expected he’d say they were dressed in uniforms and took strategic orders from their superiors to knock down men in opposing uniforms - or something like that - but he didn’t. He said football was militaristic because it was like watching soldiers suffering in battle while he was safe and warm in his house, which made him feel guilty. That confused me. Did he feel guilty because he could be safe and warm in his house only because soldiers were willing to suffer in battle? He didn’t elaborate but I was left with the feeling that he just disapproved of the military in general.

He disliked football’s “medieval gender roles” too, and worried his daughters would see muscular men and cheerleaders as sex-role models. He said football was “heteronormative” as if that were something to disdain. It’s a made-up word to slander those of us who think heterosexuality is normal. It’s repeated often on college campuses where people major in “Queer Studies”; “Gender Studies”; “Women’s Studies”; “Whiteness Studies” and such things.

He insisted Richie Incognito bullied fellow Miami Dolphin offensive lineman Jonathan Martin because he was repressing his latent homoerotic attraction to Martin. That analysis seemed so off the mark to me that I looked it up when I got home. Looks like he got it from Keith Olbermann, a hard-left sportscaster who suggested it on ESPN.
He believes the NFL is “completely morally corrupt,” is “racially perverse” and “incredibly classist,” whatever that means. He said, “Football has militarized us” but I didn’t hear a coherent explanation for what he meant by that either. He sees football as an “engine of nihilistic greed” and he’d like “public ownership of teams.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Government running the NFL? Look what it’s doing to health care. Government-run schools banned dodge ball in gym class and tag at recess. Just think what it would do to football.
NFL team owners tend to be politically conservative, with most donating to Republicans, but not all. Robert Kraft, for example, donates to Obama. Many players and coaches are conservative Christians as well. None of this was mentioned by Almond in his presentation, but I have to think they were factors in his contempt for the game. Perhaps he goes into these aspects of football in his book, but I won’t be reading it. He said enough in Portland to convince me that would be a waste of my time.

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