sunday shorts monday momentsIf I don’t get this collection of quickie blurbs posted by midnight, I’m going to have to come up with an alliterative phrase using “w’s” for my diminuitive punditry and pointers. Here are a handful of news items and notions I just had to share before they got stale.
With a nice touch of topical serendipity, UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Eric Muller followed our Saturday posting on Violet de Cristoforo and her Japanese-American internment camp haiku with the announcement at his Is That Legal? weblog that “October 15 is the official publication date of my new book American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II. [also posted at PrawfsBlawg] It’s an account of the secret inner mechanisms of racism within the episode we call the Japanese American internment of World War II.” Historian Roger Daniels says the book presents a new story of “bad news from the good war.” Muller will be “blogging about the book’s claims” for several days at Is That Legal?. His Oct. 14th posting offers “a very brief account of how the federal government ended up in the business of passing judgment on the loyalty of more than 40,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry between 1943 and 1945.” Today’s post explains How The Government Got What It Thought Was “The Goods” On Japanese Americans (October 16, 2007). Muller’s look at racial prejudice is important topic and reminder, in all seasons. [hat tip to Ed at Blawg Review for the pointer.]
If our Prof. Yabut ever writes his autobiography, he’ll probably note that he chose the Japanese-American Internment during WWII as the topic for a 9th grade term paper. It was his very first substantial research project (using cutting edge 1960’s technology — various encyclopedia volumes, microfiche, and 3″ X 5″ index cards). It was also his first realization that our American government and society easily falls back upon racial prejudices and fears. To this day, Prof. Yabut can recall his surprise over the hate-filled, publicly-uttered demagoguery of General John DeWitt of the Western Defense Command [“The Japanese race is an enemy race.’] and the editorial writers of the Sacramento Bee.
To my surprise and delight, the central branch of the Schenectady County Public Library had a copy of Violet de Cristoforo’s May Sky: There Is Always Tomorrow; An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku (Sun & Moon Classics, 1997), when I searched its catalog and poetry shelves yesterday. That allows me share a few haiku from de Cristoforo’s life-work, May Sky [see our prior post], with you today, and over the next few weeks.:
about to leave this house
where my child was born
………………………………….. by Yotenchi Agari
Migrating birds chirp
this morning blooming flowers
…………………….. by Konan Ouchida
Living in barracks
front and back
……………………………. by Shonan Suzuki
handed a hatchet
today I become a woodcutter
……………………………. by Senbinshi Takaoka
between the pages
I flip back to —
a hair from my head
between the rocks
water the ocean
Cosby’s Come On: Tim Russert had a special edition of Meet the Press on Sunday that truly was special (Oct. 14, 2007, transcript; full netcast at mtp.msnbc.com.). The hour was devoted to a discussion with entertainer Bill Cosby and Harvard psychology professor Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D. about their new book “Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors” (Thomas Nelson Pub., Sept. 2007; Amazon.com online reader). Their publisher says that Cosby and Pouissaint
“have a powerful message for families and communities as they lay out their visions for strengthening America, or for that matter the world. They address the crises of people who are stuck because of feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended and unprotected.”
“Come On People challenges readers to:
* engage in political activism
* take their neighborhoods back;
* become purposeful and effective parents;
* get actively engaged in shaping the lives of their children;
* take care of their physical and emotional health;
* encourage their families toward higher education; and
* think entrepreneurially about employment and economic advancement.”
I don’t know whether the book, described as “Suffused with humor and moral clarity,” is worth reading in its entirety (especially if you already believe in its message), but the tv show was an hour well spent and I am pleased to see the book getting so much attention. Cosby’s first words to Russert were “I want you to go back to parenting.” In a similar vein, Bob Herbert talks about the book, in a column today at the New York Times, and says “The most important step toward ending the tragic cycles of violence and poverty among African-Americans also happens to be the heaviest lift — reconnecting black fathers to their children.” “Tough, Sad and Smart” (NYT, Oct. 16, 2007)
Cosby has taken a lot of flak over the past few years for “blaming the victim” and “airing dirty laundry.” In commentary posted yesterday at New American Media, entitled “Come On Cosby!” (Oct 15, 2007), Earl Ofair Hutchinson insists that Bill Cosby has “fanned dangerous and destructive stereotypes.” Hutchinson continues:
This is hardly the call to action that can inspire and motivate underachieving blacks to improve their lives. Instead, it further demoralizes those poor blacks who are doing the best to keep their children and themselves out of harm’s way, often against towering odds. Worse, Cosby’s blame-the-victim slam does nothing to encourage government officials and business leaders to provide greater resources and opportunities to aid those blacks who need help.
I have to say that I don’t see justification for Hutchinson’s negative reaction to the Cosby message. His factual rebuttal to Cosby is quite weak. From my experience (as a Law Guardian representing children) with black single mothers, black father’s fighting for a larger parenting role, and grandmothers raising another generation of children, I bet they welcome the message and will be further encouraged rather than demoralized by it. Cosby clearly wants more political action (and urges blacks to use their political clout), but — as Herbert points out in discussing Come on People — “hand in hand with its practical advice and the undercurrent of deep love for one’s community is a stress on the absolute importance of maintaining one’s personal dignity and self-respect.” The message I took away from the Meet the Press show jibes with Herbert’s impression of the book:
“It’s a tough book. Victimhood is cast as the enemy. Defeat, failure and hopelessness are not to be tolerated.
“Hard times and rough circumstances are not excuses for degrading others or allowing oneself to be degraded. In fact, they’re not excuses for anything, except to try harder.”
the wave we avoid
pulls the dead fish
snow shoveled on top of snow —
she breathes slowly
on her fingers
. . .
To be honest, despite having been a Beatles fan for almost half a century, I wasn’t at all sure I was going to enjoy Across the Universe — a film structured as a mix of conventional poor-boy-meets-rich-girl love story, phantasmagoric cinematography, MTV videos, and musical theater set-pieces and choreography. Well, I enjoyed every minute of it and (although I rarely purchase music these days) have ordered the Deluxe Edition dvd, which is being released next week and has 29 tracks — mostly sung by the main featured performers, but with cameos by the likes of Joe Cocker, Bono and Eddie Izzard.
Directed by Julie Taymor; and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the movie features Evan Rachel Wood (Lucy), Jim Sturgess (Jude), Joe Anderson (Max), Dana Fuchs (Sadie), Martin Luther McCoy (Jo-Jo) and T. V. Carpio (Prudence). Go to see this movie with someone you love — or someone you’d like to fall in love with you; take a Beatles fan — or someone you hope to make a Beatles fan.
If I were going to go home with a crush, it would definitely have been on T.V. Carpio (who sang “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “Because”).
In his NYT review, Stephen Holden says: “The movie is completely devoid of the protective cynicism that is now a reflexive response to the term ‘the ’60s’.” He confesses: “I realized that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you’ve tumbled.” Sure, we known the endearment might not endure, but “during the time it lasts, the intoxicating passion of Jude and Lucy, both innocents by today’s standards, convinces, for a moment, that love is all you need.”
creaky old rocker –
two gray pony tails
keep the beat
……………………………… by dagosan
The Too-Quiet Generation? In “Generation Q” (October 10, 2007), New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman tells us he’s been both impressed and baffled by the current generation of college students.
“I am impressed because they are so much more optimistic and idealistic than they should be. I am baffled because they are so much less radical and politically engaged than they need to be.”
Friedman’s been calling them “Generation Q” — “the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad.” But, he also worries that “Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good.” He explains:
“When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention. And we’ll just keep piling it on them.”
[haiga] With Across the Universe fresh in my memory (reminding me of the relative financial, intellectual, emotional and political freedom we Baby Boomers had in our college years), I have to agree totally with Friedman’s call to action of Generation Q (even though I won’t agree with all of their reasoning or conclusions): Friedman insists:
“Generation Q would be doing itself a favor, and America a favor, if it demanded from every candidate who comes on campus answers to three questions: What is your plan for mitigating climate change? What is your plan for reforming Social Security? What is your plan for dealing with the deficit — so we all won’t be working for China in 20 years?
“America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twenty-somethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.” [emphasis added]
Here at f/k/a, we’ve been know to sneer at the “slacktivism” of America’s 20-somethings (most recently here). So, we nod in agreement when Thomas Friedman points to the word “Courage,” on an archway above a statue of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi, and reminds Generation Q: “That is what real activism looks like. There is no substitute.”
in both hands —
the water she carries
from the ocean
today she’s ten —
the wind too big for the hand
she holds open
……………………….. by Gary Hotham – from “Footprints & Fingerprints” (Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks, 1999)
Yes, I promised earlier today to get a few more items posted, but it’s just not gonna happen.
Instead, I’ll do some quick pointing (and prodding), and you’ll have to do your own quickie punditry:
- Re: Greedy Dentists. See if you can read the New York Times article, from October 11, 2007, without comparing the tactics of the American Dental Association with state bar associations, who often seem far more interested in maintaining and increasing the wealth of their members than with helping to make access to civil justice available — that is, affordable (since, there may be too few dentists dentists and dental schools, but there are plenty of lawyers) — for the un-wealthy members of our society. Meanwhile, over at Concurring Opinions, Seton Hall health care law professor takes a look at the Dental Cartel, and questions the wisdom of using a “free trade” approach (importing from other countries) to solving our shortage of dentists.
- [Bumper Sticker] As you have surely noticed, Al Gore’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize this week [see “Gore Shares Peace Prize for Climate Change Work” (NYT, Oct. 13, 2007)] has brought renewed calls of ‘Run, Al, run’ (Christian Science Monitor, Oct 14, 2007), as the Prize propels Gore into kingmaker role FT.com, Oct. 12, 2007). Please break into small groups and discuss how Sen. Barack Obama might be best able to obtain and utilize an endorsement by Al Gore, so as to derail Hillary Clinton’s march to the Democratic nomination and propel Mr. Obama into the presidency.
- Finally, and related to the last blurb, check out Tom Friedman’s article from earlier this week, “Who Will Succeed Al Gore?” (NYT, October 14, 2007). He notes: “So we still need a president who can unify the country around meaningful action on energy and climate. Most of the Democratic candidates mouth the right words, but I don’t sense much real passion. Most of the Republican candidates seem to be brain-dead on the energy/climate challenge,” making this crucial point: “They can’t see what is staring us in the face — that in pushing American companies to become greener, we are pushing them to become more productive, more innovative, more efficient and more competitive.”
snow shoveled on top of snow —
she breathes slowly
on her fingers
early in the night — –
the stars we can see
the space for more
first red leaves
i swing late
on a change-up
………………………………. ed markowski