No Time for Heroes

The Restoring Honor Rally was a pleasant event enough. What more could you ask for from a gathering than to pay homage to God and the troops who’ve risked, and sacrificed, their lives for freedom.

Much as I like him, however, Glenn Beck became a little overawed by his surroundings. The magnificence of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam memorials are undeniable. But we mustn’t feel defeated by our own icons.

Our media hero got carried away by the prospect of future glory, of the prospect of parents whose children would have marble statues carved out in their honor. That’s all well and good, but we don’t have that much time.

We don’t have the time to wait for some future hero to graduate from Hero University, with a master’s degree in valor, Class of 2026. By that time, they’ll be erecting statues to Obama and Osama Bin Laden.

The time is now. The fight is now. We only have – what is it? – 9 short weeks until the mid-term elections. Certainly, we must pray. But this is no time to lay down the only weapons we have – our signs – on the only ground we can call our own – the Tea Party rallies.

I was listening to Glenn brag this morning about he ‘got us to lay down our signs.’ Furious, I shut the radio off, then went to my favorite lake to contemplate, read, have a little talk with God, and think about what to write here (I’m on vacation from work this week). When some kids started throwing stones at the geese and ducks, I left. I have to learn to go to the lake earlier in the morning, before the miscreants arrive.

There were no signs at the Restoring Honor Rally, though there were a few people (including myself) wearing Tea Party tee shirts. I was going to wear a regular tee shirt (one from Alaska, in honor of Sarah Palin), but then I realized – I’m a leader, or at least a bus captain. My passengers had to know where I stood.

I have three – a red one that reads “Silent Majority”, a white one listing the Tea Party events, and a gold one, with the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on the back. It’s the least favorite of my Tea Party tee shirts, but the easiest to spot, so that’s what I chose.

It’s the least favorite of The Media’s as well. What in the world have they got against that Don’t Tread on Me flag? What gets them so worked up over it? If it makes them that angry, I think I’m going to order some more of them and give them to my family to wear.

Glenn Beck said he didn’t want us to carry signs because The Media would make fun of us. Well, excuse me; if they don’t like our signs, so much the better. I discouraged signs out of courtesy to the host, to the military, and to God, to whom we were supposed to be paying tribute.   The rally wasn’t the place to be calling attention to ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean that we should lay down our signs permanently. There is no law that says we must obey Glenn Beck’s every command, either, although this rally was his party.

If he thinks we shouldn’t carry signs because some infiltrator might sneak in with an embarrassing sign, then at the next rally, we shouldn’t carry American flags, either. Because there at Glenn’s rally, near the Lincoln Memorial where he couldn’t possibly have missed it, was some nutcase bearing a HUGE, red, South Carolina state Confederate/secessionist flag.

In all the video television coverage, I noticed that the cameras studiously avoided it. The mainstream media made absolutely no note of it at all, as far as I can tell. I wondered where their outrage was. Surely, there couldn’t be anything more outrageous than someone waving a version of the Confederate flag in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Still, I’m grateful to that idiot. Whatever that individual’s intention, it certainly made the point about freedom of speech. Shall we now be afraid to wave American flags because some nutjob shows up with the stars and bars? Maybe the Media didn’t recognize it (they’re not big on history). I spotted it immediately. I knew it wasn’t the official Confederate flag, which forms an X, not a cross, but those were surely the same stars.

I snapped a picture of it, then googled the Confederate flag. Sho’ ‘nough, it was South Carolina.

On the radio this morning, Glenn sounded like he was starting to go over to the “other side.” It happens. There has never been an instance of a violent, unruly Tea Party. The signs the Tea Partiers have carried were legitimate. “Common sense” will tell you that if you criticize someone, they’re going to be offended. And isn’t that just too darned bad?

The Media could have used that South Carolina flag against Glenn Beck. Why they didn’t I don’t know, except that they probably just didn’t recognize it. You can’t be afraid of what the Media is going to say. But the GOP is worried about “The Moderates” and media stars like Glenn are worried about ratings and criticism. They want us to lay down our signs like sheep and go “Baaah! Baaah! Baaah!”

What rubbish. There’s a story in the Medal of Honors web site that tells a tale of a charge. During the counter-attack, the men on our side panicked, threw down their weapons, and ran. The charge only succeeded because the Medal of Honor winner called them back and rallied them on. They won the field.

We don’t have time to wait around for a general to show up in a fancy uniform to tell us what to do, to lead us on. If there is such a person, they haven’t stepped forward yet and aren’t likely to. Therefore, we’re going to have to make shift for ourselves.

Those signs are important because they’re the only way we can be sure our voices are heard. Every voice counts. They’re our weapons. If the Progressive Media criticizes and attacks us, we must hold our ground and not break ranks and run.

Neither can we allow mitigating voices to deter us from our duty, make us doubt ourselves, or turn us from the path we know we must follow. The cavalry isn’t going to show up to save us. This is our fight, ours and ours alone. No one can do it for us.

We can’t wait for the next generation, or leave our duty to their posterity. There won’t be a next generation of Americans. We must pick up our signs and our flags and lead the way ourselves, party machine politicians, progressive infiltrators, and media stars notwithstanding.

There’s no time left for heroes. They’re not coming. We’re on our own – and we can do it.

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Fly-Over

Thank you for the food we eat; Thank you for the world so sweet; Thank you for the birds that sing; Thank you, God, for everything.

The time read 9:59 a.m. on Saturday morning. I was situated on the south side of the Reflecting Pool, somewhere around the middle, just under the shade of the trees. The size of the crowd was impressive and still more people were streaming in. It was just a gorgeous day.

We were all looking forward, literally and figuratively, to the show about to begin on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Suddenly, from the east end of the pool, there was a shout, “Hey, look!” and then there was a rumbling roar from the crowd that swept down the pool. All heads turned.

“What?” I thought in amusement. “Is Glenn Beck making a grand entrance in a boat down the Reflecting Pool to the Memorial, past the throngs of admirers?” But the people were looking up at the sky not down at the pool.

A flock of geese came flying down the reflecting pool in a perfect V formation, straight down the center towards the Memorial. There was such a roar of cheering, clapping, shouting, and whooping. God had cued the geese just in time to start the show.

The Media missed it, though. Our family and friends waiting back home missed it because the Media missed it. Even Glenn Beck himself missed it. I wasn’t ready with my camera, but some prescient person was and the photo is on Glenn Beck’s rally photos website.

The lead goose, it looked to me, gave a worried whew! as he flew on by. I know how he felt. But what a sight! It was so inspiring. All of us there knew it was God’s handiwork. Skeptics will probably try to claim that Glenn Beck staged it or something. Other skeptics will call it a coincidence (one minute before the show was to start).

I’m not what you would call a “religious” person. I don’t read my Bible on a daily basis, though I do poke my nose into it once awhile to make sure God and I are on the same page. I don’t go to church regularly. I used to, as part of a church’s band. But we stopped going (much to my consternation – God was good to me in that church – I had a brand new xylophone, a beautiful set of orchestra bells, a student vibraphone, and electronic chimes: what more could a bell player want?).

I’m a die-hard Tea Partier. I love the rallies. I love the signs. I love the cheering crowds. But Beck wanted this to be about God, and that was okay by me. I might have preferred the tea partyish 9/12 rally instead, but my schedule simply wouldn’t allow it.

If I was going to be part of any big scene, this Restoring Honor Rally was it. He billed it as a tribute to the military and gave hints that it would also have a spiritual element. Asking for God’s help; I was cool with that.

When he spoke about getting right with God again, I looked over the massive crowd, most of hidden by the trees, though anyone on the ground could easily see the great number of people gathered together.

A moment of justice had arrived and I was glad to be part of it. This was for all the school boards who stopped school choirs and bands from playing Christmas carols. This was for all the municipal boards who forced the Nativity scene to be removed from public squares. This was for all the military chaplains forced to perform rites against their faith. This was for all the high school football coaches who could no longer lead their young teams in prayer.

This was for the milk and cookies prayer ban.

When I was five, in kindergarten, we had a daily ritual at milk and cookies time. Our teacher would lead us in a simple little prayer to give thanks for our blessing of milk and cookies. Once a week, a student was allowed to lead the prayer. The students were chosen alphabetically; it took a long time for my turn to come around.

Finally, the week came. I practiced and practiced and memorized and memorized. I was so excited; this was such an honor, that I wanted to make sure I got every word right. My father, an agnostic who’d been ex-communicated from the Catholic church for marrying a Lutheran woman who refused to raise us in the Catholic faith, helped me.

At milk and cookies time, I stood up, ready to do the honors. Instead, the teacher told me to sit down; that there would be no prayer that day.

“But today’s my turn!” I protested. “I’ve been practicing and practicing all week!”

She apologized. She explained it wasn’t anything that I’d done wrong. A court had ruled that prayers in schools were unconstitutional – illegal – against the law. I’d heard something about it on the radio that morning, but only being five, I didn’t really understand. I thought it just meant that preachers couldn’t come into schools with their Bibles. I didn’t think it meant that little children couldn’t say a little prayer of thanksgiving over their milk and cookies.

Being five, I wept bitterly. I was so disappointed. Not just became I’d done all that work for nothing, but because I regarded God as my friend. He looked after all of us, I was taught. You could trust Him, in a way you couldn’t trust anyone else. If He wasn’t there to protect us, who would? I was angry and swore an oath that I would never memorize anything again.

Glenn Beck gave God an invitation to his rally on Aug. 28th and God accepted. The geese were his messengers, acknowledging the invitation.

Thank you for the flowering valley; Thank you for the Glenn Beck Rally; Thank you for the flying geese; Thank you, God, for restoring peace!

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Restoring Honor – and Courage

“What makes the pyramids of Egypt the seventh wonder?

What makes the dawn come up like thunder?

Who put the “ape” in apricot?

What have they got that I haven’t got?”

“Courage.” The Wizard of Oz

Rome wasn’t built in a day, goes the old cliché. I suppose we’re not going to restore honor to America all in one day, or put God in His proper place, or convince Progressives that when we say we intend to “take America back” we don’t mean back in time; we mean from them.

I couldn’t help myself at Glenn Beck’s rally. He was talking about being surrounded by giants on The Mall in D.C. – the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial across the pond – he said that once upon a time they were average people just like us. Glenn then asked the question, what did they have that we haven’t got? I just couldn’t help it – I was instantly reminded of the scene from the Wizard Oz, and the response – “Courage.”

If we’d had courage, we wouldn’t be in this predicament. For the last fifty years or so, our courage has taken a nose-dive. We’re still too timid. We’re still too afraid of The Media, of the Progressives, and of our authoritarian politicians. My courage failed me in the end. But only at the very end.

I was one of five bus “czars” – captains. Our responsibilities only pertained to our own buses. For my part, I kept my bus and passengers in ship-shape order. I kept them fully informed of what they could expect, when the bus would leave, what would, or wouldn’t happen when we got there, what kind of problems we might run into (in the end, none).

One of the other czars convinced me to stop at a rest area on I-95 so we could all gather together, go into D.C. as a caravan. I didn’t it was likely to work once we got into the city, with all its traffic lights. I was surrounded by a cadre of experienced bus drivers who knew the same thing – and said so. Still, I wasn’t opposed to us keeping together.

But I had informed my passengers very early on that we wouldn’t be stopping. When we pulled I told them, we were only stopping to rally, not to go in. We couldn’t afford the time. I had to get off myself because we were next to a diesel truck. When I got the other czar on the phone, it turns out he was already in the restaurant with his passengers.

I told him we would not be joining him, that my passengers were anxious to get on the road; that they hadn’t intended to stop and neither had I. Then I hung up on him and ran back to my bus. We were in tandem with another bus that had left the same location we had. I’d failed to tell my colleague not to let her passengers off. About half her passengers were gone.

Since it was my fault, I told her I would go in and chase them again, and I did. I circled the building, calling out the group’s name, my flag in my hand. Some were on the restroom line. “Get back to your bus! You can use the lavatory there!” Others were on the coffee line. If their order wasn’t being processed, I told them to get on their way. They gave me raspberries. But by the time I got back out to the bus, they were hustling along. Within ten minutes, my colleague’s passengers were all back (one of mine had disappeared, too, but he was back shortly.) The other bus was now ready to go but the driver had vanished to get some coffee.

With an assurance from our driver that the other guy knew the way (better, in fact, than he did), we got back under way.  Even with some delays at the start, waiting for the other bus to load and the unfortunate delay at the rest area, we still arrived in D.C. by 9 a.m. and were unloading before 9:30.

So far my courage hadn’t failed me. During the trip, I was in charge of entertainment. I brought along some of the best war films in my DVD collection. At first my passengers balked. “Oh great, The Longest Day, a movie we’ve all seen,” one groused. It was to remind them that we were honoring the courage of our military, that this wasn’t a political rally. I had Saving Private Ryan, too, but I considered it somewhat negative and way too gorey.

The other buses had been given “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” A fine movie that had nothing to do with saluting the military or getting back on the same page wit God. At the stop, the other bus’s passengers were complaining about. I’d anticipated that problem and brought some extra movies for the other bus – Glory and The Patriot.

The Longest Day is also the longest movie. There wasn’t time going down to D.C. for a double feature, so I filled in the time with a reading of The Gettysburg Address and a little talk about the Medal of Honor winners.

We weren’t sure our buses would be able to pick us up in the same place, but they did. It would be the only time we were all together. My bus filled up first. My passengers evidently took the movie seriously considered themselves soldiers, bound to keep to the schedule. We were waiting on one last passenger. As I was about to tell them another story to keep them amused when my cell phone rang. It was a passenger from one of our buses and another location. Someone directed him to RFK stadium, which was not where our buses picked us up.

I told him there was still time and to get on the Metro right away, and told him where we were. But he was upset and not listening. I asked him what bus he’d been on and he told me. My passengers didn’t want me to leave, but as our last passenger still hadn’t arrived (a husband and wife who got separated), I jumped out and ran back to the bus with the passengers’ name and phone number.

I won’t tell you what he said for the sake of inside politics. But he wanted me to repeat that message to the passenger. I refused. I told him it was his passenger; he would have to call him and give him that message.

I stormed back to my bus. I looked helplessly at my own bus. My passengers were all board. It was a matter of going straight down Independence Avenue, finding this lost passenger (I had extra seats) and then getting on I-95.

That would have been the brave thing to do. But not necessarily the right thing. It was still the other bus czar’s responsibility. I didn’t know whether he would really give the passenger the callous answer he gave me, or give the guy a break and wait for him. My responsibility to my own passengers was to get the bus on the road; they were all on board.

My passengers knew what happened, and they had pretty much the same attitude as that other bus captain. That never would have happened on this bus, I told them. They weren’t happy to hear that, but didn’t really protest since we were on our way. Still I had the feeling we weren’t doing the right thing. And yet, we just had to hope for the best.

I’d forgotten to bring my lunch; my sandwich was home in my refrigerator, and I had left the snacks I brought on the bus. Out on The Mall, all I had was water and tiny Diet Cokes. By the time I got back to the bus and got us underway, I was starving.

I figured, except for any emergencies, my duty was done, and I set to eating. Then my phone rang again. I expected it was one of the other captains with some notion of stopping for dinner, which to my relief, my own passengers negatived. They just wanted to get home and so did I. My cell phone which I had kept handy until that point, fell into my snack bag and I just left it there.

The first time it rang, I was so tired and annoyed, that I ignored. Sometime later, much farther up the road, it rang again and a little voice told me that it might be a good idea to answer it this time. It had stopped ringing, but I found the received calls section and when I pressed the number, it rang (I generally haven’t much use for cell phones except in emergencies, so I’m not totally in tune with how they operate).

To my dismay, the first missed call was the stranded passenger. The second call was an unknown area code and the caller never identified herself. The reverse call-back, I found later, revealed some location in Sykesville, Maryland… They wanted to know if my passenger had arrived safely.

 “We put your passenger on a bus back to The Mall as soon as we could. Did he arrive?”

 I didn’t know, I told her because we left immediately after that. I explained that he was a passenger on another bus belonging to another location, that I had notified the captain on that bus, but didn’t know anything further. At first, she was remonstrative but realized it was out of my hands. I told her that bus was only half filled when I left and that they were still waiting and it’s possible he did make it. It was four p.m. when I returned her call and she said they’d sent him back and an hour and a half earlier, which meant 2:30 p.m.

I wondered if I hadn’t made a mistake. That I should have called the president of our organization, as I usually did. I did early on in the process for another passenger who wanted to ride on my bus. But that was days before the trip when managing the matter was much easier. I couldn’t even understand how someone who wasn’t my passenger got my number. Why didn’t he call the person in charge of his own bus?

Did he get the same answer I heard? Why didn’t he listen to me and get on the Metro right away like I told him to? He would have had enough time. In any case, why was that captain as well as my passengers (and probably his own) so retributive? Who knows why he listened to the wrong directions – probably from some transit official or organizer. It was irrelevant – he was stranded, and rather stubborn, I thought.

Whatever the case, hadn’t they been listening to what Glenn Beck said about charity? That it’s not just about giving money to some “charitable” cause, but demonstrating charity (as in forgiveness)? That it’s not about judging people or “teaching them lessons?”

But maybe God was testing us and we all failed. I failed the test in courage, the other captain in charity, and the stranded passenger in faith and hope (as in he put faith in the wrong directions). Actually, Glenn didn’t talk about courage, his words are faith, hope and charity. But I did and found I couldn’t live up to my own words. I didn’t have the courage to withstand my own mutinous passengers and direct my bus driver down to that stadium to pick up the stray passenger (goodness knows how I would have gotten him back to his own location back home).

Then again, this was my first experience leading this particular kind of group. I had 18 years of experience with the band, but there I was an officer with formal authority. Here, I was just a sort of deputy. If I’d had any authority, I would overridden the other captain’s authority and ordered that bus driver to either wait or go over to the stadium and pick the passenger up.

Meanwhile, I played two more movies for my passengers on the way back: Memphis Belle and Casablanca. Memphis Belle is a terrific movie that got panned by the Liberal critics. It was too positive for them, I guess. There was a critical point in the movie I wanted my passengers to take note of: when the Belle’s captain has to make a crucial decision, drop the bombs through the cloud cover, possibly missing their target and hitting civilian targets instead, abandon the mission altogether, or go around again, which his crew regards as suicide.

He thinks it over while precious minutes are passing. To his crew’s dismay, he orders them to go around again. If they don’t, some other crew will only have to come back again another day and risk their lives to do the job they failed to do. “It’s our job; ours, and no one else’s,” he says. It also helped that the song Amazing Grace, which we’d heard at the rally, was one of the movie’s two theme songs.

But Casablanca, the second movie, was the miracle movie. Within five minutes, the sound on the disk (not the system) failed. The passengers were unhappy with the selection anyway. They’d seen it a hundred times, they said. “It was just on the another night.” Yes, I countered, but there are two scenes (actually three) that are critical to the day’s theme, I said.

When the sound went out, I thought, well, there goes the object lesson. But just when all seemed lost, the sound burst back into operation just as the French police raid Rick’s Americain Café and try to arrest Ugarte, who had murdered the couriers carrying the transit papers. Ugarte begs Rick to help him, but Rick tells him tough luck. “I stick my neck out for no one.” Selfish? It’s the answer you get when you commit a dishonorable act (even if the couriers were Nazis).

The passengers were startled when the sound came back on, because in order to hear anything, I had to have the driver turn the volume all the way up. He lowered it immediately. Then the sound went out again for quite awhile, and the driver turned the volume up again.

Everyone was chatting and dozing off. I saw the second scene coming that I’d wanted my passengers to note, when Viktor Lazlo has the band play the French anthem. I sighed and thought “Oh well.” The sound came back on just as the trumpets blared. My passengers nearly jumped out of their seats, and again, the driver was forced to lower the volume.

After the scene ended, the sound went out yet again. I thought, “Well, now they’re going to miss the third point.” I watched as a silent Rick tells a tearful but now silent Ilsa why she has to get on the plane. Just as Viktor returns, the sound came back on as he was asking her if she was ready to go. She goes to his side and tells Rick quietly, though it boomed over the speaker system, “God Bless You.”

Then the sound cut out again as the plane was leaving, though it came back just as the finale music played. I had yet another movie I could have played for them, “Executive Decision” but I asked them if they were all movied-out and they said, “Yes, but thank you for asking us.” Instead of inflicting it on them.

Glenn Beck said that we need real life heroes. But often we don’t recognize heroes until it’s far too late to acknowledge them and their stories have to be retold in books and movies. He presented his own badges of merit to three people the audience barely knew anything about, one for faith, one for hope, and one for charity.

Even with the stuff of legends, books and movies, our eyes tend to glaze over and we become inattentive to their import. It takes an Almighty God indeed, to take away our sight and our sound, and then restore it at a crucial moment to make us more appreciative of miracles like courage, honor, charity, and self-sacrifice.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Fashionably Forgetful

At yesterday’s anti-Ground Zero Mosque in Manhattan, Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot of the lane that crashed into the Pentagon, said that we say “never forget” because it means something.

There are those of who never forget and then there are those who never cared, including Lower Manhattan residents who actually witnessed the attack. They were the anti-protestors, the blame-America contingent, shouting from the sidelines in a counter protest.

I went, staying at the back of the crowd where there was more space and more air. The weather was hot, but it was so muggy. Still we should be grateful that the rain held off. It poured before the rally and poured even harder afterwards.

I wore my 9/11 tee shirt. I thought if ever there was a time to wear it, this was it. Of course that’s what I thought about seven years ago. In 2006, I bought a very nice 9/11 tee shirt while I was down in Wildwood for the N.J. Firemen’s Convention. They still had a lot of different 9/11 tee shirts in those days, which would be four years ago. This one, I thought, was very tasteful, a variation on the Thomas Franklin flag-raising photo.

I held onto it until the next anniversary. It was a Saturday, I remember. I wore it thinking the idea was to not forget. I went into a pharmacy and was chewed out by some guy who didn’t like the idea of people selling tee shirts, thereby making a profit, or people wearing tee shirts, thereby proclaiming their patriotism. Or something.

Many New Jersey people worked in the Twin Towers and we have many survivors’ families in this area. I wasn’t sure whether maybe he was a family member. But there are two kinds of 9/11 family and I finally figured he must have been on of those described in the paragraph above.

Thinking back now about that event, had I known how much it would annoyed Liberals, I would have paid the vendor twice the value of the shirt, just for the sheer satisfaction. But it seems 9/11 apparel, even if it’s just on the anniversary, or at a rally in support of the 9/11 families, is passé. Never mind that the Liberal kids are running around in absolutely ancient peace sign tee shirts. Put those 9/11 tee shirts and caps away. You might look out of style.

I’m going to search online for more 9/11 tee shirts. I always thought one was enough. But maybe it isn’t. No one seemed to object at this rally, although they seemed surprised. People on the street smiled and stared. But I didn’t care about that. I always was an old-fashioned girl. I wore anklets when everyone else was wearing knee-socks.

I can handle being “out of style” remembering 9/11 and what happened.

As for the rally, it looked to be about 1,000 people, although some of them were counter-protestors. I left about a half hour before the rally ended. My feet were getting so tired from standing that they fell asleep. I had to lean on a railing to shake them awake again.

But just as I was leaving, the counter-protestors started getting ugly and the cops had to rush in to settle things down. One of the problem areas, judging by the news photos, was right where I’d been standing. I’m no good at fistfights. I can shout. I can sing. I can wave a sign or an American flag. But throwing punches. I was sort of glad I didn’t bring my camera, and I’m grateful to my feet for carrying me away before the real trouble started.

Still, while I was there, and as I sang along to God Bless America, a little more loudly than I intended – I’m soft-voiced, I could see down to the Ground Zero site. That’s probably why I sang louder than I meant to, because I’d lifted my head up. The singer also sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which apparently no one in the crowd besides myself knew the words to (it’s from Carousel, everybody, after Billy Bigelow dies and Julie’s aunt comforts her).

There was a young man standing nearby with a photo of a fallen firefighter. What a smile that firefighter had; it’s the kind of picture any photographer would consider themselves lucky to capture. You could see the resemblance between the firefighter and the young man holding the picture, probably his son.

In the movie Carousel, in the reprise of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Julie’s daughter puts her arms around a classmate who’d been a former foe. I wanted to go up and pat this young man on the shoulder. But I thought he would consider it an impertinence – after all he didn’t know me from Adam’s apple – and in any case, the photographers all came out of nowhere to start photographing him and I sure didn’t want to be in any photos.

But as I was singing along to the tune, I glanced back at him now and then. One of the photographers gave me a dirty look. But isn’t that too bad, if she didn’t approve. I really do feel sorry for the 9/11 victims’ families – and I’m a musician and I like to sing, although while I can carry a tune, I can’t carry it very far (or at least I thought I couldn’t).

He probably thought I was staring. No – I was studying the face in the picture and the face holding the picture. I really just liked that face. It’s too bad it’s not around anymore (the one in the photo). Thank goodness for heredity, though. In another 20 years, the young man’s face will probably bear an even stronger resemblance.

The speakers did well. The organizers provided a wide variety, from a New York City councilman who apologized for the treason of his fellow council members and the mayor to genuine Muslims who don’t approve of Shariah Law to Frank Gaffney, who discussed the impact of Shariah on a free society.

There was a priest who spoke also, from the religious point of view. He had the audience on his side until he talked about what would and should happen if the mosque is built. He said every American should go into that mosque and pray for the victims of 9/11. There was mostly silence from the crowd, save for a disquieted murmuring. He got no applause for those lines. Nor did he deserve any.

He said we should thank this imam for something, I forget what. But we should thank him for is reminding us that we shouldn’t forget, that we shouldn’t let remembering 9/11 and true freedom, and what happened that day go out of style.

Published in: on August 23, 2010 at 6:55 am  Leave a Comment  

All Dogs Go to Heaven

My mother loves dogs. She’s had dogs all her life. Lindy, Debbie, Noodles, Brownie, Stubby, Brandy, Casey. There was also the extended family of dogs: Abraham, Domino, and Charlie Brown (he was the company yard dog, but she considered him her pet).

When one of Mom’s friends, a Christian fundamentalist, told her that Brownie couldn’t go to Heaven, Mom said, “Then I don’t want to go there. I want to go where my dogs are. I want to go to Dog Heaven.”

These religious types. The friend told Mom it was because Brownie (and the other dogs) had no soul. Animals can’t understand God, she said, so they can’t be admitted into Heaven. To the Muslims, looking to overtake us by stealth Shariah, dogs are “unclean.”

It’s a dog life, I tell you. They’re friendly, faithful, fiercely devoted to their masters and this is what they get. Animals may not understand God, but God understand animals – and humans. Doesn’t the Bible say something about God noticing even when the tiniest sparrow falls?

Not everyone loves dogs, of course. We were having lunch with our supervisor, and the subject of dogs came up. Our department secretary’s husband wants to get a dog, but the secretary has put her foot down. No way, absolutely not.

One of my co-workers, who’s a pet parent to two dogs, tried to convince her of the happiness a dog can bring into a household.

“A dog changes the whole dynamic of a home,” said the co-worker. “They bring such positive energy and spirit into the home.” She stopped there and put her hands because the secretary was scowling. Don’t try to talk her into it.

Which is a good thing. It would be no favor to the poor animal to bring it into a home where it isn’t loved. Some people just think dogs are too much work. They’re another chore that the owner comes to resent: the feeding, the walking, the brushing, the cleaning, the vacuuming. Trips to the vet. What do you do with the dog on vacation (I’d take it with me if I had one and I was going on vacation). What if bites someone (well, if you treat it and train it properly, it won’t).

But that’s the way anti-dog people feel. “What if it licks me?” the secretary squealed. “I don’t want a dog slobbering all over me. Ewww!” Oh dear.  Actually, dog saliva is supposed to contain healing qualities.

Years ago, our neighbor’s son was given a puppy as a gift. Don’t ever do that people, please! Anyway, Mrs. Neighbor was never happy about having the dog, though Mr. Neighbor was. Of course, the son didn’t look after the dog and soon trotted off to college, leaving Mom and Dad to look after the now-grown pooch.

Mrs. Neighbor wouldn’t have the dog in the house. Allergies, vacuuming, cleaning! Horrors. The dog was kept tied to a tree in all kinds of weather. Mr. Neighbor finally built the poor creature a dog house. But this was a family dog, not a yard dog. He wanted to be part of the family.

I could see the dog from my bedroom window. One night, we had a blizzard. It was so cold and snowy. It looked to me like the dog’s legs were turning blue, but I wasn’t sure, so I grabbed the binoculars. I know – I’m a nosy neighbor. They were quite blue.

I was so upset. I actually asked God if there wasn’t something He could do for this dog. Was there some way He could change Mrs. Neighbor’s heart, at least for that night, and let this animal in where he could be warm?

But I guess her heart was too hard even for God to change, so He did the next best thing: He took the dog home with Him. The next morning, the dog coop was empty and we never saw him again.

You silly fundamentalist Christians (although they’re at least willing to give dogs houseroom), you heartless Muslim fanatics, and dog haters of all stripes: you’d better pray that Saint Peter doesn’t have a dog beside him at the Pearly Gates, or that a dog isn’t awaiting you on the other side of As-Sirat.

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Ground Zero Mosque, By Any Other Name

“This is why only fools are heroes – because you never know when some lunatic will come along with a sadistic choice.”     The Green Goblin, Spiderman (2002)

The first Spiderman film was released just about the time the crews were finishing up the recovery at Ground Zero in 2002.

The Associated Press has ordered its reporters not to use the phrase “Ground Zero Mosque”. This missive wraps up a week of nothing but talk of the GZM. Someone posted a comment on Glenn Beck’s Facebook page that trading government land with these pirates is nothing short of giving in to their terrorism. They were right, too.

Some choice – allowing anti-American Muslims to erect a victory mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, in a building that suffered damage in the attacks thus reducing its property value, with their promise that they will begin construction on Sept. 11th of next year, the tenth anniversary of the attack.

Or, trading with them for U.S. government land upon which they can plant their flag, at the expense of the American taxpayer, since the new property will be vastly more valuable than the $4 million he paid for the old Burlington Coat Factory building.

And now, there’s a preacher in California who wants to mark September 11th as Burn the Koran Day. Oh dear.

Look, I know, we’re all bummed out by the treachery of Community Board One, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and New York City Mayor Bloomberg. But as other pundits have pointed out, Liberals though they are, burning the Koran is a huge mistake. It makes us like them. If we’re going to act like them, then we’re wasting our time protesting the erection of this mosque on Park Place. We might as well join them, get down on our knees and stick our butts up in the air.

What’s more, burning their holy book will only give them an excuse for violence. They’ll go on a rampage, murdering innocent people anywhere they can find them. Look at how they behaved simply because a cartoonist drew a caricature of their prophet, Mohammed. We shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and peacefully defend our way of life. Instigating violence, on the other hand, bringing it upon ourselves deliberately, by such an obviously provocative act, isn’t courageous; it’s foolish and unnecessary.

If protesters really wanted to make a point, they’d go to a protest-a-mosque rally with their Bible (or Torah or Declaration of Independence) in one hand – and holding a dog’s leash with the other. If this is truly a holy war – and I believe it is – we must prove our faith stronger through faith, not violence. Faithful Christians don’t need the Muslims to build them a bridge to God – the As-Sirat, as they call it – a bridge which the Muslims have deemed themselves righteous to throw infidels from, in one way or another.

Jesus already did the hard work for them, faithful Christians tell me. There’s nothing they must, or even can, do to prove to God that they love Him and are worthy of eternal life, I’m told (I’m certainly no expert – I fear my ticket is already punched for that other place). That path is as easy or as hard as an individual wants to make it. To force allegiance to God through mortal fear and castigation is to cheat Him of His omnipotent right to judge the human heart on its own merits.

Therein lies the problem with Islam and in particular, a Ground Zero Victory Mosque. The owners’ determination to build there, in spite of protests and pleas, speaks to their true intentions and spirit. The Liberals and the propagandist Media are their willing allies. The funding, it seems now, will come not from the United States but from abroad.

Some righteous anger at the construction of this mosque in such a sensitive area is justified. But only good conduct on our part will justify that anger. We Americans are the injured parties. We don’t want to turn that charge over to their side by performing superfluous acts of violence. The hole in the ground two blocks from Park Place, the now-decrepit condition of that neighborhood, the many photographs of September 11th, the prominent display of the American flag, and the broken hearts of the 9/11 families will be more than sufficient evidence to point the finger of blame in the right direction.

Don’t expect them to feel guilty. But they shouldn’t expect us to bow down to them with our butts in the air, either, to prove how “tolerant” we are.

Published in: on August 20, 2010 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Downtown Ghost Town

The developers of the Ground Zero mosque, and their supporters, claim that this new mosque and Islamic center will revitalize Lower Manhattan. That’s an extraordinary claim, considering who is responsible for the present condition of Lower Manhattan, particularly the West Side.

Farther south and east along Wall Street, business is still bustling, but the west side of Lower Manhattan is dead. As the local New York City newspapers, particularly The N.Y. Post, have noted, the real estate values around Ground Zero are pretty much at Ground Zero.

This Cordoba Initiative picked up the old Burlington Coat Factory store at a bargain basement price precisely because of the damage it suffered on Sept. 11th. But somehow, this victory mosque is going to perform a financial miracle and bring Lower Manhattan back to life.

Lower Manhattan would be teeming with life again if the Port Authority and the City hadn’t dragged its heels rebuilding the site. Each of the Twin Towers, at their peak, had a population of some 20,000 to 25,000 occupants. That’s 50,000 potential customers gone, either dead, injured, or now employed elsewhere. Not to mention the tourists who came for the spectacular, if somewhat unnerving, view from the top.

I worked in the City back in the Eighties, in Midtown. One week, the 34th Street PATH line was closed off. We Midtowners had to take the Path Train from, I believe it was Jersey City, into the World Trade Center.

You just could not believe the volumes of people coming up from the PATH and subway lines into the Towers. Thousands and thousands of them, riding the escalators seven abreast in a seemingly unending line. A few would get off at the street level and head off into Lower Manhattan. But the bulk of the crowd headed straight up into the Towers – and they came directly back down again in the evening.

But the Victory Mosque proponents will have us believe their center can generate the same numbers. They’ll be lucky if they can equal the number of people killed on Sept. 11th, much less match the number of hard-working people who were displaced when the Twin Towers were destroyed.

That section of Lower Manhattan is, indeed, a neighborhood of bars and girly joints (mostly bars I thought). The bars didn’t seem surprising, given the number of construction workers at the Ground Zero. Once the office buildings are built, that would change. That’s what will restore life to that section of LM, not an Islamic Center filled with potential Mohammed Attahs and Khalid Sheikh Mohammeds.

The memorial, when finished, will attract visitors, and with them will come respectable hotels and restaurants, stores and other service providers. According to one columnist, there’s a law on the city books that says no bar or adult entertainment center can stand within 200 feet of any religious building. Three bars were removed from a block where a basement mosque held forth.

The mosque developers declare that their center will have a gym. Will it, or will they simply take over the gym that’s on the back side of the center, on Murray Street? What’s going to happen to the bar on the corner of Park and Church, if the City once again enforces that law?

That section of Lower Manhattan is a ghost town, and a dangerous one, at that. It’s too bad the City has dragged its feet to allow thriving businesses to return and restore the life that was once there, and has rolled out the red carpet for representatives of the same religion that turned it into a ghost town.

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

We Have Met the Enemy?

And according to Nancy Pelosi, they are us? We’re the “intolerant,” well-funded opposition speaking out against the Ground Zero mosque?

I don’t know about “well-funded.” None of us will be very well-funded by the time Health Care and Financial Reform are through stripping our wallets. I had to find the free blog services to carry my blog and hope that someone actually reads it.

But she’s right. I’m not a very “tolerant” person. I don’t have much tolerance for a religion that stones couples for falling in love, cutting off the ears and noses of teenage girls who want to dress in western style.

I don’t have much tolerance for a religion that bans all others. That threatens death to anyone who tries to leave that religion for another. That demotes non-believers and women to second-class status. That doesn’t allow women to get an education, drive, or work.

That bans drinking, dancing, music, and movies. That creates murder and mayhem in Western societies that reject its teachings. That bombs hotels, restaurants, and airplanes. That teaches zealotry, to hate and kill anyone not like them.

That has conquered other civilizations and religions through force, violence, and slavery, destroying other churches and religious symbols and building their own upon the ruins of the vanquished.  That seeks to conquer the world.

I don’t have much tolerance, either, for political hacks who find such religious tyranny useful. Nor much more tolerance for spineless pundits who want to be patted on the back for protecting the Constitution, all the while exposing it to the knife that will destroy it to shreds.

The owner of the property where the Ground Zero mosque will be located rejected New York Gov. Paterson’s offer of another location on state property. What a surprise. But it’s Community Board One that should be hung by its own petards for this failure.

I have no tolerance for a community that watched an enemy murder nearly 2,800 people and then allow that enemy to build a victory mosque on the perimeter of the devastation. Do they think they’re being magnanimous? Do they delude themselves into thinking they’re the truly patriotic Americans? Do they feel all warm and fuzzy that this imam is patting them on the back for being so politically correct?

 My father had a saying, “Watch out for the guy who pats you on the back – he’s looking for a place to stick the knife in.”

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Patron Saint of New York City

He was the patron saint of children, sailors, and merchants among other types of people. He was also made the patron Saint of New York City. Up until Sept. 11, 2001, one of the Greek Orthodox Churches named for him sat in the shadow of the World Trade Center, on Cedar Street.

Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was built in 1922. Four stories tall, the 1,200 sq. ft. church was home to 70 parishioner families. Nine years later, the church has still not been rebuilt. Originally, the Port Authority agreed that it would be rebuilt. But delays and disagreements over its size and ownership of the land beneath it, where the Port Authority planned to build the vehicle entrance to the new World Trade Center’s underground garage have delayed the rebuilding.

When the church requested more space to build a bigger building (the entire parcel belongs to the church), with a large, traditional Greek Orthodox dome, the Port Authority refused, stating the dome couldn’t be higher than the World Trade Center Memorial. Even though Ground Zero is surrounded by soaring skyscrapers.

Since the Ground Zero mosque received the green light, the City and the Port Authority have been quick to rebound on Saint Nicholas Church, that they’ll be coming to an agreement very soon! Only St. Nicholas’ immediate proximity and the problems inherent with the ongoing construction (and the possibility that St. Nicholas might ask for more money, since its building was destroyed on Port Authority property, I guess…) have caused the delay.

 Since the patron saint of the church was the patron saint of the city and merchants, it seems only fitting that Nicholas’ church should sit on the perimeter of the World Trade Center. What about all that land the former Deutsch Bank, in the processing of being demolished, is sitting on?

 If the church’s owners can’t come up with the money, maybe the “good” Muslims building on the other side of the Ground Zero site, could match some of the contributions to replace the church the “bad” Muslims destroyed on Sept. 11th.

Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

May The Force Be With Us

On Friday the 13th of August, Associated Press reporter Erica Werner wrote that Obama had weighed in “forcefully” on the building of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

“A nation built on religious freedom must allow it,” he declared.

By Saturday, that word “forcefully” was in the headline of every major newspaper in the United States. By Sunday, Obama was forcefully trying to backtrack on his words. He was only defending their right to build it, he claimed, not the wisdom of building it. However, he refrained from questioning their wisdom, too.

 New York’s Gov. Paterson even offered to make deal for another site, which the developers flatly refused, as expected. With every effort at reconciling their right to worship with the sensitivities of the families of 9/11 victimes, the remove another plank from that bridge they claim they’re trying to build.

Proponents of the Ground Zero Mosque argue that there’s a strip club three blocks away that could be considered an offense to the hallowed ground. Heck, there’s a bar right next door to the mosque. In fact, there are bars all around Lower Manhattan. Makes you wonder why any Muslim would want to worship there.

We think of Ground Zero only as the main perimeter of 12th Ave., Liberty, Church, and Vesey Streets. But as the planes plowed into the buildings and broke apart, they spread carnage for some blocks. As has already been pointed out, a piece of plane crashed into that building now occupied by the mosque. It should have qualified for Ground Zero status.

But the proponents argue, buildings are going up right on top of Ground Zero, what is being called “hallowed ground.” Three office buildings, I believe, the Freedom Tower, and the museum, along with the memorials.

Personally, I would have said don’t do it – don’t build anything there except the memorial. But New York’s can-do, never-quit spirit couldn’t reconcile itself to allowing so much valuable real estate to go to waste nor surrender the battle to anti-capitalist forces; they were determined to rebuild, particularly the Freedom Tower.

The Freedom Tower. It was renamed to something like One World Trade Center, or some such address. Why? Because it offended the sensibilities of people opposed to freedom, apparently. The name was too controversial; too inflammatory.

Under pressure, the developers of the mosque renamed their center Park 51, an anonymous, innocuous sounding street after someone revealed the etymology and history of Cordoba. Had someone not revealed the truth, it would still be called the Cordoba House, while we Americans would be robbed of the satisfaction of visiting the Freedom Tower.

Just what is it Obama expected the majority of Americans, who are opposed to the location, at least, of this mosque, to do? “Force” them to be silent? “Force” them to accept what they can’t change? Wasn’t he the candidate who campaigned on the platform of “change?”

Americans suspect the Muslims of using our Constitution as a shield, to force us to accept their presence. No one would care how they worship save for the fact that they have a notable doctrine of world dominance. Americans fear them with good reason: acceptance of Islam is compulsory in countries where they constitute the majority. Just ask the Danish cartoonist who drew a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb on his head.

But then we’re transforming into a country where you must accept government health insurance without question. You must eat the foods the government proscribes. Children can no longer bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school. They must wear helmets to ride their bicycles. Soon, we’ll be forced to drive whatever vehicles the government dictates.

You can open up a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, and a strip club three blocks away, but you can’t build a Wal-Mart. (That wouldn’t be terribly advisable in Lower Manhattan.) The mosque they’ll allow; the rebuilding of St. Nicholas’ church, the city threw roadblocks in front of, casting the blame back on the developers for demanding too much leeway, for wanting to build too big a church.

The mosque builders claim a modest proposal, but their plans include a restaurant, an auditorium, religious prayer rooms for various faiths, and a swimming pool(!?). All in that little storefront space? Such a project would take up an entire city block – and probably will.

 It’s so nice that Obama has suddenly discovered the Constitution. It’s so “American” of him. Now he’s concerned with property rights, is he? He wasn’t so concerned when he was redistributing our wealth, encouraging people to buy homes they couldn’t afford, and punishing those who could.

 But Americans are at last proving themselves a force to be reckoned with. May The Force be with Us.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment