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On Reaching about for my Chief Joseph Moment

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Message Ed Tubbs
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"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohulhulsote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are--perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.
"Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." -- surrender speech of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce: October 5, 1977

I'm tired. So damned tired. The blatant verbal attacks composed of the most outrageous lies and insults and acidic hatred. At least in my lifetime, at least what preceded the previous decade and a half of a 64 year span, it wasn't like this, like it is today, like it has been for the past fifteen years.

Not even during Vietnam. Not even during the civil rights struggles of the mid-60s. Then there was rancor. Then there were riots that were burning many of our great cities to the ground. But back then those in pursuit of the madness and the mayhem were not backed by a political party; no -- correct that to: encouraged, egged on, suborned to the madness and mayhem by a political party, its leadership, and its most basic, most uncivil tenets.

From 1861 to 1865, American brother faced his American brother, and, on the field of battle, each sought to kill the other . . . over a most basic human principle. In that test, hundreds of thousands died far more gruesome and painful deaths than what Jesus of Nazareth endured. Jesus lingered on a tree for three hours. Those with musket balls in their bellies, with seeping, putrefying gangrenous wounds, with limbs sawed off on the surgeon's blood and bacteria-laden slabs frequently suffered agonizing days and madness-filled nights before their final peace came. All on behalf of a principle!

Compare that with what we have today: the manifestation of the greatest cowardice: a refusal to even broach with a relative, a so-called friend or an associate his or her alignment with a terrible tawdry, overwhelmingly debased political philosophy; entirely on the thinnest rationalization that's it's nothing more consequent than a difference of opinions. That I find a motion picture moving while you feel it is insipid is a difference of an opinion. No one suffers, no one dies as a product of our differences.

On September 18, 1993, my niece, Courtney Erin Klee, just nine months into her 24th year, died a victim of cancer. I will not suggest she was the fairest young woman to have breathed earth's air. I will, however, say that none more fair ever did. She was exactly the kind of young person the world needed and longed for. Her doctors prescribed a therapy. Her insurance company said "No," it was too expensive. A very short time ago, the not yet age of majority grandson of my life-partner feared he might have symptoms of e-coli. But having only a part-time job and no medical insurance, he was terrified to visit a doctor. My own 24-year-old son suffers sleep apnea. He needs a cumbersome appliance, a mask, to help assure that he makes it alive through the night. More comfortable masks are available on the market today. But he has no medical insurance. And, with what is an obvious pre-existing condition, in the absence of genuine medical care reform, he would never be able to secure medical insurance.

These stories are not unique. They are not anomalous. Tens of tens of millions of Americans are in the same terrible place, facing the same terrible fate as my niece. But what has been the Republican response, the response that, by their votes Republican voters endorse, say they're all for?

"You're not an embryo -- Die. If you were an embryo there would be no limit to the support you'd get. But you're not. You're a living, breathing human being, and ya know, you've come to the wrong place for a handout."

In 1995 the Republicans reclaimed majority status in the congress. And with them came the Moral Majority; the holier-than-thous who lectured one and all, over and over and over and over and over that unless one wasn't merely a Christian, unless one was the "right kind of Christian," as they prescribed the model to be, one who hated gays and lesbians, as God also did, neither was one an American. And Republican voters, by their cast ballots, echoed the ugly, shameful, odiously odoriferous opinion: "No good! Communist! Get out! You don't belong here!"

In 2002 and onward, Republicans who had never donned the military uniform of their country, even those who had actively engaged every machination to avoid military service, threw the most egregious epithets at everyone who even dared to recommend a pause to reflect on the necessity of sending American men and women to war against an "enemy" who had never threatened the security of the United States, or had a capacity or a potential capacity to threaten this country. In 2003, while sending Americans to be physically and psychologically grotesquely mutilated and killed, Republicans cut the medical benefits that would be available to the veterans they had sent into the killing fields. And Republican voters, by their cast ballots, were all on the side of the ugliest, the most shameful, the most despicable of odious policies: "Torture them! No trials for them! (It didn't matter that a majority of those who had been captured had landed where they did as a direct result of the bounties the government paid for anyone who was turned over to us.) They're accused as the "worst of the worst', and that's all that matters. Tap my phone. Read my email."


Over the weekend of March 20- 21, a mob that was organized by Republican, ex-Texas US Representative Phil Gramm's "Freedom Works" to intimidate Democratic lawmakers called John Lewis, US Representative of Georgia's 5th district, "n-word."

Who is John Lewis? John Lewis is a true life American hero. He was head of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) during the civil right's era of the 60s. He suffered a fractured skull at the hands of Alabama State Police. He was beaten bloody by whites in Alabama when he had the temerity to just walk in a Greyhound bus terminal. In April of last year he was arrested outside the Sudan embassy for protesting that country's genocidal policies. "n-word"?

But Lewis was not alone, as a target of the Republican inspired mob tactics. Indiana's 7th district representative Andrà Carson, also an African-American, was, like Lewis, a target of the racial slur. Emanuel Cleaver II, US Representative from Missouri's 5th, was spat upon. Texas' 23d US Congressional District Representative Ciro Rodriguez was called a "wetback." And Massachusetts US Representative Barney Frank, congress's only openly gay member, was called a "f*ggot."

Also within the mob's ready display in front of the United States capitol's steps were violence threatening signs and placards. One stated that "If Brown (Massachusetts recent election of Scott Brown) wasn't enough, a Browning (BAR: Browning automatic rifle) was." Other's had photos of President Obama bedecked in Mussolini fascist attire. Yet others portrayed the president as a black-faced Joker. On the capitol's balcony: Republican house leaders waving and shouting encouragement. And within the walls was the Republican house leadership, continuing the lies and excoriations of the health reform efforts that typified the "town hall" meetings of last August. Joe Wilson's Inaugural Speech "You lie!" Sarah Palin's "death panels." Senator Grassley's "Pull the plug on grandma." And on Sunday it was Texas Republican Randy Neugebauer calling Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak "Baby killer."

Every bit of it in sync with and at the direction of minority leader John Boehner, of Ohio.

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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."
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