The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

One Thing After Another...

We seem to live in an odd world in which the strange has become normalized.  

Shakespeare, just another dead white male. Consider the University of Pennsylvania (or simply "Penn," as it prefers to be called). Penn is an Ivy League school that commands big bucks for offering its students, in the words of the Penn administration, "an unparalleled education informed by inclusivity, intellectual rigor, research, and the impetus to create new knowledge to the benefit of individuals and communities around the world." I suppose that means they promise some sort of education to their students. To confirm both the inclusivity and intellectual rigor of a Penn education, activist students -- apparently a horde of frenzied English majors -- tore down a portrait of William Shakespeare, whom they dislike, and replaced it with a photo of Audre Lorde, whom they esteem. Lorde, it seems, is a black, lesbian poet who quite probably, like her student devotees, believes she is far more relevant than the Bard. 

The head of Penn's English Department, an academic named Jed Esty, decided that the portrait should not be returned to its former place of honor because Shakespeare, a white male, was the antithesis of diversity. And for those of you who might be paying for a child to attend Penn, listen to what else Professor Esty had to say:
"Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department...We invite everyone to join us in the task of critical thinking about the changing nature of authorship, the history of language, and the political life of symbols."
The problem for the few thoughtful students at universities like Penn is that to succeed they must parrot this gibberish in their papers and on their exams. Failure to do so would be seen as symptomatic of reactionary uniformity, the opposite of the progressive diversity (paradoxically, a diversity that demands conformity) the school hopes to instill in its charges. You can read more about this incident at Penn here.

Wounded but not healed. After the terrorist attacks of 9-11, the U.S. Congress provided $7 billion in compensation to the families of the victims of the attacks. Each family received an average of $1.8 million. I mention this here not because I disagree with the compensation but simply to make a comparison with the following.

Ten years ago, Dusty Kirby, a Navy corpsman serving with the Marines in Iraq, was severely wounded by an Iraqi sniper. The bullet shattered his jaw and caused serious damage to his mouth. Even after a life-saving surgery and 30 subsequent operations Dusty remained in excruciating pain and suffered from brain injury and PTSD. He could not chew food, speak normally (he'd lost 1/3 of his tongue), or smile since he had almost no teeth left. 

Then, after almost ten years, Dusty turned to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation an organization that, through its affiliate Marine Assist, arranged for specialized reconstructive surgery at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital. The result was miraculous. The surgeons repaired his jaw and later provided a completes set of dental implants. He can smile, eat and speak. Here's a news story on this young hero.

To me the sad thing about this story is that Dusty Kirby, a Navy corpsman whose service was dedicated to healing wounded Marines, had to turn to an outside organization to receive the healing he needed. These surgeries were not paid for by the United States government who apparently did not consider it important to return this young man to normalcy.

We can pay $1.8 million to the families of 9-11 victims who sadly were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but then treat our warriors horribly. These underpaid men and women return again and again to the war zone, placing their lives on the line to ensure our security. The very fact that the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, Marine Assist, and many other similar organizations have to exist is a scandal. 

And what about our senior officers and Defense Department officials, you know, the folks whose job it is to care for the people under their command? Do we ever hear them screaming about the poor treatment wounded veterans receive? How many have resigned in protest? How many have taken the case to the public? 

Obama and Israel. Look at a map of Asia and Africa. Draw a line from Turkey south to Somalia and then expand that line into a large rectangle that stretches eastward to Pakistan. Within that box there's one democracy, Israel. All the rest are either military or theocratic dictatorships. They are all Muslim majority nations. And they all hate Israel. By the way, if you're using a map printed by the Palestinian Authority, you won't find Israel on it.

The United Nations, an organization made up largely of nations ruled by thugs, passed its latest anti-Israel (actually anti-Jewish) resolution and for the first time the United States failed to exercise its veto. Our ambassador instead abstained, which it the same as voting 'Yes' since it yields an identical result.

We therefore sided with the terrorists and the nations that support them. This, of course, is nothing new for our president who just thinks the world of his friends who run Iran, the same nation that his own State Department claims is the world's leading supporter of terrorism.
Rouhani and Obama Celebrating

I'll write more about this at a later date. Let me just say that January 20th can't come soon enough.

Carrie Fisher, R.I.P. I really don't pay too much attention to show biz types, their work, their lives, and their deaths. But I was especially saddened to hear that Carrie Fisher died today at the age of 60 after suffering a major heart attack last week aboard a United Airlines flight from London to LA. 

Because Fisher became ultra-famous as a teenager in her role as Princess Leia in the first of the Star Wars movies, most of us probably never accepted the fact that she had aged along with the rest of us. I know I'll always see her as the young, spunky, intergalactic heroine she played so well. 

Princess Leia, Armed and Dangerous
The daughter of two genuine Hollywood celebrities -- actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher -- Carrie Fisher suffered much during those 60 years. Drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, strained and shattered relationships all contributed to a deep sadness that seemed to plague so much of her life. 

But it's important to realize that she was more than an actress who reached her peak of fame 30-40 years ago. She was also an extremely talented writer. I'm not a big fan of Hollywood fiction (or non-fiction), but I truly enjoyed her autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, which I suspect was an honest and painfully humorous depiction of the humanly dysfunctional film industry. She wrote a number of other best-selling novels and was in demand as a screen writer and fixer of scripts. 

I'm sure she will be missed by those who knew and loved her. I pray that the Lord receives her with mercy. Rest In Peace.

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