Tag Archives: violence

Crises in America and Just Needing to Drop by

I am not having an uncomplicated time in my own life. In general I think that there is a lot going on that cannot easily be set aside. Yet I am also a citizen of my own country, time and world. In the last number of ours we have seen the most deadly shooting at an historically Black Church since the founding of the United States. Both the President of the United States and the preacher chosen by the community to speak about such matters  during this crisis have chosen to discuss gun violence and gun control as the central lesson to be learned from this tragedy.   This  targeted church has long had a voice which is religious as well as a voice that is political, social and cultural.

The political character of the church was demonstrated in the fact that one of the pastors was an elected legislator who was also killed in this attack.  Clementa C.  Pickney  was a figure on the local, regional and national political scene. I think that it may be more useful to consider this as an act of political terrorism than either as an act of gun violence or even as a hate crime.

Can we really separate this story from the violent racial politics of the moment in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago and elsewhere? What is the point of looking beyond the connections to race, media and politics as the likely principal factors behind this tragedy.

It is true that we know little about the shooter. However, that does not mean that we have to imagine him living in a vacuum.  The issues here are real and they are widespread and influential in the world in which American lives are lived.

I know that it takes time and experience to even address these crises effectively. I am aware that many people struggle to be engaged with these issues. Not only race but region can be a factor in understanding America’s junction of race politics and violence.  I recently made an acquaintance who will be facing those regional issues as he set out to cover news in Louisiana.

In the meantime we all have many other issues to deal with. Politics and life present us with many challenges. We must realize as we work out our political destinies that the right balance of realism and idealism of racial consciousness and inclusiveness is not easy to find. False solutions will not be effective only those based on reality.

Some legislators in the APCF

Some legislators in the APCF


Acadiana Press Club Forum Legislative Budget Review


other legislators at the APCF

other legislators at the APCF

It is not as though our lives stop and we can react only to these issues. But they do affect us all in different ways.

We all have issues which shape lives, society and race relations in America and around the world but race, violence and politics form a powerful nexus even when we would like to focus on other issues for a while.

Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law...

Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law…

Fred Mills Sponsor of Marijuana reform laws

I am myself preoccupied with illness, a death of a dear friend, a novel being neglected, many personal obligations and I am happy about Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills and others changing some of Louisiana’s Marijuana laws. But I have to set those things aside to discuss race, [politics and violence. Gun control and gun rights are less important right noe than race, politics and violence.

Discrimination, Details and Security

I am writing today’s post largely in response or reaction to yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood.  The shooting which killed thirteen people and wounded thirty at last count was carried out by an assisted or unassisted medical doctor who was a US Soldier, who had some expertise in post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers and military communities. He was also the proud possessor of three traditional Islamic names: “Nidal”, “Hassan” and “Malik” although the order eludes me just now. So let us go over the man’s resume briefly:
1. He was (I hope) a trained killer being a US soldier — the basic arts of homicide were within his professional demands.
2. He had the excuse to study and become highly familiar with the details of a variety of shootings and disruptive events committed by soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3.He was skilled and learned in detecting the physical and emotional vulnerabilities of human beings as a physician.
4.He was in the religious and some of the cultural aspects of his life someone likely to feel more empathy for some of America’s current adversaries than for many of his colleagues.
 5. He was in a position to hear and be informed of many of the most unflattering actions and anecdotes involving our servicemen and women in uniform.
6.He wore the full Muslim prayer garb when off duty and shopping at a store.
It would be reasonable to watch such a man very carefully, to scrutinize his associations and consider modifying his duties. The art of doing this with a regard for his good and the good of society is the pursuit of justice. I think that justice is very important. However, in this country rather than seeking justice we seek and teach others to seek nondiscrimination. As William James has written discrimination is the same thing as intelligence. Laws against discrimination are laws requiring forced idiocy. In terms of what is legal we are all idiots  or criminals. To discriminate between people and cases is to think. In areas of endeavor like military policing this set of discriminatory skills is especially vital. Of course real justice is very hard and complicated while both racial hatred and nondiscrimination are easy and simple.    
Since I am urging people to become hardened criminals and to think — which is a crime specified many times. I am going to reveal some details about myself to think about as well. These were written in a Facebook post responding to the trend of posting “25 random things about” oneself on one’s profile. I hope it amuses and informs and helps you to discriminate between me and others and not against anyone directly.
 Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 11:47pm |
I have devoted my notes to odd little thematic essays. Now, that is partly because I want to leave the options open for someone to see this as lasting body of essays. On the other hand I want to stay part of what is going on in the world, my life and the Facebook community. All these varied demands have formed part of the process that created these essays. Each of which is called “My Thoughts…” in the My Box section of this profile and by varied quirky titles in this Notes section.

One of these things that is happening in the world right now and in my environment is that I have been tagged by several people doing the Notes on Facebook titled “25 Random Things About Me.”
1. I was born in Crowley, Louisiana and not Abbeville although Abbeville has always been my hometown and ancestral place.
2. I won the 1985 Sophomore Class Award awarded to a male student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. There was another award of the same name given to a female student. She was an attractive musician whom I did not know.
3. I was baptized, made my First Communion and was married at Saint Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville, Louisiana.
4. I have never learned to surf or scuba dive. I am able to fish, sail, canoe, pilot a motorboat and snorkel. I do not excel at those things, but I can do them.

In the world there is always a struggle for the future. That is more true now than at many other times.We livein an age when many ties to the past are being sacrificed in the name of bringing about a better future. While there are also struggles more clearly directed to the present and the past the struggle over the future is a very important one and the people who excel in that struggle often (but not always) gain great influence in the struggles over the past and the present as well. Whether it be American MBA earners in the eighties or China’s batches of engineers and international accountants many young people have rejoiced to be part of a wave of young people making a new future. But I am writing in this note about the struggle for the future. But we have been known to disagree as humans about the whole nature of the future. What do people say about the future? ” The future is good and it is getting better”. Or is it bad and getting worse? Or is it completely unpredictable?

5. I have been published in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television where I reviewed a book called “FDR’ Moviemaker: Pare Lorenz Memoirs and Scripts”.
6. I earned a Master of Arts Degree in History from LSU in 1993.

Nonetheless, despite an interest in history and some training in that field I remember the early honors, sacraments and water sports. I still find that I am at least wanting to find a future. The future still summons me more than the past.
7. I belonged to Mensa legitimately for high scores on IQ and other standardized tests.
8. Michelle Denise Broussard Summers and I lived together as husband and wife for more than seven years after just less than a year of being promised and then engaged.
9. I got new US Senator (or Rep. & Senate Candidate) John Breaux to endorse me in college when I applied for a position with the CIA. I wanted to be an operative. I did not make it.

I know that for me there are not a lot of likely scenarios for a future that appeals to me a great deal. I have made choices I cannot really renounce or deny but which involved passing on some things I would have needed to have done by now to have any real chance at what I would describe as an effective pursuit of happiness. I am instead able to say that I have found a great number of compensations that have made me glad and content in various ways. I have also had a number of things happen which have served to provide other forms of satisfaction than happiness. Lastly, I have to live with many miserable and disappointing outcomes that are somewhat predictable given the choices I made and the situations I have been in during my life.

10. My Dad taught me to fish and hunt but my great-uncle Clay R. Summers II bought me my first firearm. I t was a “four-ten” shotgun. It was both single shot and crack barrel and I thought it was very beautiful. I was turning nine years old.
11. I have fired 20 gauges, 16 gauges, 12 gauges and other shotguns. I have shot 22,38 and 45 caliber pistols as well as nine millimeter pistols.
12. I was treated for clinical depression ( but not a very severe case) when Michelle and I were splitting up I was about to ditch Tulane Law School for the second time.

I do struggle every day for the future. I do care about the future and want it to be better. I still think I have some ideas about how the future could be made better than it is likely to be as I see things going.
One way that I have struggled for the future is through caring for my younger brothers and sisters, teaching younger people than myself and caring for my nieces and nephews. However, all of this conceivably optimistic work and play has taken place against the background and in the context of what has often been and often still is a living nightmare. I would describe a great deal of my life as a living nightmare. However, I know countless other people whose lives I would describe in the same way. Therefore, I have felt the need to persevere in my struggle as best I could in order to honor their suffering and hopes as well as my own.

13. I have known people personally and socially who endured one or more of the following sufferings:
they were raped or molested as children, stabbed, shot, arrested, imprisoned, beaten frequently, raped and prostituted, robbed, burnt alive to death, drowned, nearly drowned, expelled, tortured, and blackmailed.
14. I had two broken arms at different times as a child. I was bitten by a snake, stung by bees, wasps, a poisonous centipede, spiders, dogs and angry men I was holding in restraint to stop them beating women. I was at various times prior to adulthood hit with rocks, shovels and ropes and was on several small vessels that sunk.
15. I have brought prayer cards, fruit and soap to prisoners in various States in this country and in other countries. I used to drive my cousin to jail often when he was on work release and pick him up afterwards.
16. I am a mediocre horseman at best but never a non horseman since I was a very small child.

I value family but think many families are truly horrific in many important ways. I value religion but see religion often twisted into something horrible. I value work but see much work making things much worse in every way.The list of such things goes on almost ad infinitum. As a small not very religious child I several times considered killing myself not out of depression or despair but as the most accessible way to avoid assisting all the forces and people I saw making a really bad human world constantly much worse. The things I have seen as an adult that were unknown to me then have largely been very bad as well. To remarkable degree life is hell. I am not the only one to make that observation. However, I have learned to desire life and despise suicide on other and different grounds than I had then.

17. I had a scene shooting an automatic weapon in addition to my work as an extra in The Blob with Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith but the filmed sequence did not make it into the final film. A picture of me in a white decontamination suit was published in the Abbeville Meridional with the caption “Beau is Bad”.
18. I had just gotten back from my honeymoon when I worked on The Blob and was going to school full-time for the last half of that series of 15 hour shooting days. The money meant a lot to me.
19. I played “Stage Manager” in a production of “Our Town” at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

What then can a pessimist do when the effort to shape a better future is in question? What can a pessimist do when he is also broke, long out of the flow of gainful work and commerce, divorced childless, unhappy and often ill to help make the world better? This sort of question is not easily answered well. I am trying to do things. I do see the world as largely a disaster and my own life as likely to get increasingly worse and yet I do try to work towards a better future. But still life is really hell.

20. Besides working for the Abbeville Meridional and the Daily Advertiser as a staff writer I also wrote for the Vermilion which was USL’s student newspaper. We ran the Matt Groening(sp) cartoon strips “School in Hell” and “Life in Hell”.

Not everything in life is hell. I was treated cruelly by many when I was a child in ways I could never deserve but I have tried to be kind to children. I have fed many hungry children a few hot meals and helped some get off the street where they were homeless. Most of all the best and happiest part of me was the time I spent reading to and caring for my younger brothers and sisters as well as nieces and nephews. Those good energies did not come from nowhere. My Mother taught me to read when I was very young and to swim and Dad taught me to ride and shoot. There were puppies for Christmas and treats in season. I think that compared to many children I was advantaged. But there were plenty of bad times as well some were extraordinarily bad. I maybe learned to be able to love in difficult times.

21.I used to bring my little sisters to Nancy Knobloch School on the Summer Institute of Linguistics base at Nazuli once a week. We were all living in Malaybalay in the same Bukidnon Province of the Philippines on the Island of Mindanao.
22. I also published some pieces in the Straight Street magazine in Malaybalay in those days.

In my life I have been to a lot of places and engaged in a great number of activities and relationships. So often there have been obstacles and distractions which I was not entirely able to deal with effectively. Like most people (except even more so) I was made up in such a way that I longed for good things from the human past which were not readily available in my own life and environs. We all face difficulties we cannot resolve. I have had to come to the conclusions that the world I live in is largely made up of a mass of horrors which I find no less horrible because they are both widespread and enduring. But I also have seen happiness, goodness and the heavenly on this same Earth. A good bit of life is made up of enjoying a mass of pleasure and struggling for good outcomes that might actually happen.

23. I reached my forty quarters of minimum FICA payments to be fully vested in Social Security quite a few years ago. I have never earned a really large salary.
24. I taught at St. Thomas More High School, Travel Talk Academy in Baton Rouge, he Vermilion Parish School Board’s system, The Shandong Institute of Business and Technology in Yantai, Shandong , China and in numerous short-term venues and outlets.

Right now, two of the forward-looking things which I am doing involve Facebook. One of them is starting a group called “The Crater Cap Concept Colony Group” and another is starting a Facebook group called “Seedbed of a New Geopolitics”. However, it is impossible for me to know if much of anything good will come from these two efforts.

25. I am not very optimistic about my own future but I do try every day for myself as well as for things bigger than myself.

I wonder what I might add to a longer list if I live long enough to see some things differently….

End of my Facebook Post–
My thoughts and prayers are with all the ones dead,wounded and surviving the loss of loved ones at Fort Hood. May they have a bit of comfort in these difficult days. 

America’s economic crossroads in the darkness

I do not know how to say this simply. I know that America is in a very dangerous place. I am still watching the Ken Burns film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  I look at this complicated and difficult story of difficult and complex events and life struggles. Of course it is mostly a story of beautiful places and beautiful creatures being preserved. However, the story was written in the blood sweat and tears of so many and Ken Burns does a good job of setting these things out in a clear and crisp narrative.

We are in a very bad situation and the need for radical change is quite great. However, the chances of having the right changes come into effect are almost nonexistent as far as I can see. Here are some problems which I think come together to make a much larger problem than merely the sum of their parts.

1.We have the river delta of the sixth largest river in the world in this coutry and we do not have abalnced view of it at all. The Mississippi Delta is in a state of ecological freefall and collapse and the consequences for theTexas, Louisiana and Mississippi on the Nothern Gulf Coast have been disastrous. We do have the will power to manage these challenges.

2.We have a huge number of bridges, roads, tunnels and levees that we are not maintaining to solid standards.

3. We consume a huge percentage of the world’s resources and much of it on credit from China where the average citizen ought to be living a higher standard of living.

4. We are almost all agreed to make the coverage of vastly expensive healthcare options and absolute right, not covering undesirable aliens any more than we used to and barely adressing wellness and primary care. This is outrageous and a sign of where we are going to destroy ourselves.

5.In the recent Chicago shooting many saw the crime and almost nobody has spoken to the police and yet this community is seen as equaly desrving of funding and advancement as if it were not a rebel community in arms.

6. Our political theory is insanely simplistic and raw and deluded. None of the nuance and depth that built the best in this country is understood. Calculator democracy and quarterly profits battle in milieu devoid of serious statecraft.

7. We have a huge deficits, huge debt and a slow economy.

8. We have no real sense of justice and proportion in matters related to human community. More or less all forms of real human community (as opposed to state related society or corporate organization) have simply been made ilegal. We have toolittle recognition for Indian Nations and marriage and other than those we have lawsthat effectively prohibit:

A. Native Hawaiian and Samoan near-state tribalism and nationhood.

B. Polygamy is ilegal.

C. Clans, extended families, neighborhoods and monasteries cannot really gain much if any legal recognition of what they actualy are and a structure that supports them.

9. We do nothing really to redefine the narcotrafficking crisis which has contibute to the slaughter in Mexico, to FARC and its wars in Colombia, to the Taliban and it wars including 9-11.

10. We are increasingly isolated form several important sectors of the world and challenged by the European Union and other players which are almost brand new in historic terms.

11. We are unable to manage resources like occupied territories, space station access, nuclear fission technologies and other products of our greatest and most expensive efforts very effectively.

12. Our automobile industry is a major driver of innovation and progress and is in shambles.

13.Subsistence and biodiverse safety first farming is almost nonexistent in this country.

14.Our world is getting smaller in very many ways but for mostly political reasons it is not getting larger in almost any way other than those directly related to population.

In some of my other notes and pages in this site I have tried to show how all of these things went together and worked. I have showedwhat I believe might be some ways out and forward. I will leave it to anyone who reads this to decide whether  they want to explore this blogsite and try to piece together the policy questions and answers in this site. I think that I have made quite a few statements about how bad things seem to me and a lot of that is about personal issues and some is about even bigger trends than the one listed here.

However, I am ready to say that a great deal of my unhappiness is related to these aspects of American economics. We are in my view in a state of advanced entropy right before all the forces reach a zenith of destruction. That right before may not seem so soon to many people even if iot keeps coming. However, for me reversing the trend is the only solution that would bring comfort. I do believe it is possible we will revers these trends but I do not think it is likely at all.