Should the U.S. Fear, Antagonize, Denigrate, Irritate or Embrace China?

This anonymous post about anti-China perceptions in the West is viral on the internet. I found it fascinating and thought-provoking. I think you will too…. 

What Do You Really Want From Us?

When we were the sick man of Asia,

We were called the yellow peril.

When we are billed as the next superpower, we are called “the threat.”

When we closed our doors, you launched the Opium War to open our markets.

When we embraced free trade, you blamed us for stealing your jobs.

When we were falling apart, you marched in your troops and demanded your fair share.

When we tried to put the broken pieces back together again, Free Tibet, you screamed. It was an invasion!

When we tried communism, you hated us for being communist.

When we embraced capitalism, you hated us for being capitalist.

When we had a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet.

When we tried limiting our numbers, you said we abused human rights.

When we were poor, you thought we were dogs.

When we lend you cash, you blame us for your national debts.

When we build our industries, you call us polluters.

When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming.

When we buy oil, you call it exploitation and genocide.

When you go to war for oil, you call it liberation.

When we were lost in chaos, you demanded the rule of law.

When we uphold law and order against violence, you call it a violation of human rights.

When we were silent, you said you wanted us to have free speech.

When we are silent no more, you say we are brainwashed xenophobes.

Why do you hate us so much? we asked.

No, you answered, we don't hate you.

We don't hate you either,

But do you understand us?

Of course we do, you said,

We have AFP, CNN and BBC….

What do you really want from us?

Think hard first, then answer…

Because you only get so many chances.

Enough is enough, enough hypocrisy for this one world.

We want one world, one dream, and peace on earth.

This big blue earth is big enough for all of us.


Please send your comments to Thank you! 🙂


Biological Arms Races, Biocontainment Labs, Hazards and Assessments

No one wants peace more than a soldier who’s been to war. Military men were my first heroes, my first saints. My darling Dad earned a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, and a chest-full of campaign ribbons and medals. My childhood “hometowns” were Army posts scattered around the U.S., and Japan and Germany.  I went to twelve different schools before college. A civilian now, I’ve listened nostalgically for twenty years to the bugled sounds of Taps floating in my bedroom window near Ft. Detrick.


My husband and good friends working at Ft. Detrick convinced me long ago that the technicians and scientists there have the best intentions, the highest skills, admirable goals, and very conscientious safety precautions.


Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to convince me that the planned Level 3 and 4 labs will be safe in Frederick. The record shows that research lab workers, even those with the highest security clearances and the best available training, are still fallible human beings who can and do become victims of blackmail, fall in love unwisely, get into desperate financial situations, hide growing prescription and other drug problems, and develop volatile feelings about co-workers. Lab workers sometimes become blind to their own religious and political biases and bigotry, and are thus susceptible to involvement in illicit covert operations, conspiracies and cover-ups.


Sometimes they get in a hurry and make professionally embarrassing mistakes and bad decisions. Sometimes they hide evidence, fudge records and fake procedures in order to save their jobs and livelihoods, and then rationalize the risks they’re taking—escalating and exponentially complicating situations already perilous.


Also sadly, no one yet has been able to explain to me why it wouldn’t be easy, temptingly easy, to kamikaze an airplane flown from the Frederick Airport into a targeted Ft. Detrick building, or lob a well-placed rocket over the Ft. Detrick fence. Either of these unpreventable actions would very legitimately throw chaos and panic into the post, city and metropolitan area, creating unforeseen, complicated, dangerous situations.


Scientists in these labs will be genetically-engineering (from diseases with no cures), completely new, highly lethal and contagious life forms, life, life so new that no one yet understands how it works. What if a newly-mutated strain somehow finds a way to attach itself to a lab worker in some unpredictable way, some way that defeats the protections put on it, so that the lab workers carry it outside unknowingly? I plead for humility in the face of nature’s chaotic, awesome genetic power.


Furthermore, if we build the facility, we’ll scare other countries into creating their own labs, creating something like an arms race with ourselves, and increasing the threat. I can’t think why Detrick’s scientists, or the Post Commander, would welcome such dangerous projects, which only complicate, compromise and jeopardize all the other crucially important and valuable research currently being done at USAMRIID and elsewhere on post.


I know we can’t avoid all risks in today’s angry and violent world, but we can avoid adding recklessly to their sum. We can choose not to consolidate, in a metropolitan area, an unpredictable mix of risky components with an infinite potential for dangerous permutations.


I was almost raped as a young mother. A very caring policeman later sternly warned me, “Don’t be so stupid as to leave your window-shade up! You’re attracting every pervert in the county. Eventually, they’ll all make a beeline to your window!”


These labs leave the window-shades in Frederick up. Their very existence in Frederick asks, perhaps begs, for trouble, and that trouble will make its dangerous beeline straight to our area.


Before we expose huge populations to catastrophic risks with BSL 3 & 4 labs, we need to ask why. If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it is needed? Wouldn’t we have to vaccinate people before the threat reaches them? Perhaps an antidote, not a vaccine, will be needed. And how much vaccine, and when, would be considered a good solution? And who would be vaccinated? Only the government? The military? The medical community?  Who might our solution actually save?


And finally, has anyone examined the probability that these risky efforts can even be successful? We’re considering exposing huge populations to catastrophic risks. For what? If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it’s needed?


None of my concerns are even mentioned in the current USAMRIID hazard assessment, much less addressed.


What is needed is a mature, high-quality thought process developing an informed equation comparing the risks and costs of the potential biowarfare threat itself with the risks and costs of attempting to address the threat. At what point are they equal?


Merely by building such facilities, aren’t we unreasonably augmenting the threat? Aren’t we creating/driving a biological arms race with ourselves, since other threatened countries will feel it necessary to build their own labs, requiring us to expand ours again in an expensive, pointless, dangerous, ineffective, wasteful and infinite cycle?


Here is what a credible, predictive and useful BSL 3 & 4 hazard assessment might look like:


1. Estimate the cost of the planned response to perceived Biological Warfare (BW) threats

   –  List the possible negative events which inspired the proposed solution.

   –  Estimate the probability of each negative event occurring.

   –  Estimate the impact of each negative event, if it occurred.

   –  Estimate the risk (the probability of occurrence times impact) of each negative event.

   –  Estimate the expected cost associated with these possible negative events (some sort of group probability—a statistician would be required.)

   –  Estimate the actual costs of responding to perceived BW threats (labs, people, security, maintenance, upgrades, social, political, other costs…)

   –  Add actual and expected costs.


2. Estimate the benefits of the suggested solution (which is essentially a list of the costs of the negative events that would happen to the U.S. as a result of the perceived BW activities of other countries, assuming that the U.S. does nothing to ward off such possibilities.)


3. List the additional possible negative events that could happen to the U.S. as a result of other countries’ feeling threatened by our new labs and then building similar BW efforts, including the costs of expanding the U.S. response to these rising threats.


4. Using the list produced in step #3, proceed with the steps described in #1 above to determine the benefits of the planned solution.


5. After completing steps #3 and #4 above, we would have an informed decision-makers’ estimate of the costs and benefits of the planned response to the perceived BW threats.


6.  Evaluate the assumption that the planned solution to the perceived BW threats would actually be effective, (i.e., what is the likelihood of the US having an appropriate and effective vaccine or antidote ready when it was actually needed during a BW event? Etc.)


7. As a final step, do a sensitivity analysis.  Determine how much the result of the cost/benefit analysis above would change as a result of changes in the assumptions used to create it.


8. At what point does the risk of the threat itself equal the risk of trying to address the threat?


Essentially, we need to develop an equation, a model, which will allow decision-makers to make a practical and informed comparison weighing and comparing the risks and costs of the BW threat itself to the risks and costs of addressing the threat. A mature, high-quality thought process comparing the risks with the solution would allow for decision-makers’ discussions, and even some disagreement about the assumptions and decisions, but at least all involved would be assured that all issues were addressed in a systematic way.


Sometimes the “costs” in the above equation would be expressed in terms of dollars, sometimes in terms of human life, sometimes in terms of political costs, i.e., international opinion, good faith, trust, health, environmental costs, social costs, risks of increased anger, terrorism, war, etc. A complete list of costs and risks would of course also include the cost of the additional threats which will inevitably emerge as a result of the U.S. building such a facility to address the perceived threats. The list of expected monetary costs should thus include the costs of building the facilities, securing them, running them, maintaining them, and upgrading them again and again as response-threats spiral. Do we really want to start this death-spiral?





A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace




















































































With Friends Like These…Let's Love Our Enemies (Ourselves)

President Obama is such a loyal friend. But with friends like his, who needs enemies?


I would like to particularly encourage all powerful old black (and white, etc.) men (and women) Friends Of Barack’s to please park your egos and pride, and try to stay humble and yes, forgiving. And meanwhile, I trust that the Cambridge Gatesgate fracas will remind the rest of us to do the same.


First Jesse Jackson stabbed poor Barack in the back (and then rightfully cried at his inauguration); then Jeremiah Wright stabbed him (and no doubt regrets it); and now here comes Henry Louis Gates, behaving in ways Barack couldn’t have imagined. Yes, power does indeed corrupt, and all who achieve greatly, greatly fall at times; we’re all human, even Barack.


Barack’s failures were partly a matter of his own very legitimate, very personal indignation at the terrifying and tragic history of his own race’s interactions with corrupt, brutal and powerful law enforcement individuals and organizations.


Barack’s other failure was a lapse in judgment. He spoke out too quickly, assuming that his experienced, wise and thoughtful friend Skip Gates was incapable of acting like such a fool. Well, now you know, Barack. Everybody plays the fool sometimes…. There’s no exceptions to the rule…. J


I do hope the current media frenzy results in a national dialogue which teaches America how scary, emotional and risky it is to be a minority member in America, unpredictably facing powerful, fallible, human, and sometimes consciously or unconsciously prejudiced law enforcement individuals and organizations which always circle the wagons to protect themselves; and also, how scary, emotional and risky it is to be a conscientious police officer trying daily to do a thankless job, by selflessly and repeatedly putting him or herself into deadly, confusing, volatile—and often, degrading, no-win—situations.


I hope the promised new documentary stars President Obama, Officer Crowley, the good professor and his other new friends at the Cambridge police department, all ignominy, anger and hubris reconciled. Their joint efforts to clarify and address this complex American problem would add much to their heroic legacies of service.


Why don’t police officers all wear video recording devices at all times? This requirement would protect both the police and all citizens by encouraging all participants to always be on their best behavior. This approach would serve justice, and would save a lot of money in court costs and legal fees.


I recently humbly “donated” money to my community after having been caught red-handed on a camera which showed me running a red light I would have sworn before a judge I never ran. That camera saved both me and the court system a lot of money. Memories are faulty, but cameras and recorders are less so….


President Obama, thank you for always doing your best, and for taking on so much so generously, and for putting yourself out there daily, so vulnerably and riskily. Please go easy on yourself. And you too, all you courageous and well-intentioned police folk, we’re so grateful for your courageous service. And you too, Jesse and Jeremiah and Skip—please don’t forget about all your many brave and invaluable contributions. And as for the rest of us little folk, may we too seek humility and forgiveness as we go about our very human daily business of fallibly flinging ourselves about our own small universes trying to do some good, and making our own big mistakes in much smaller, less-public, less-dangerous venues.


Please send comments and email to . Thank you! 🙂  Nancy Pace


Anti-China Bias in Washington Post: A Letter to Their Ombudsman

One of the joys of blogging is that I can respond more quickly with letters-to-the-editor on breaking news, because I have already been writing/thinking about them on my blog. Here is a letter regarding anti-China bias which I sent today to the Washington Post's Ombudsman, Deborah Howell. (I will post any response I receive in my blog.)

Dear Ms. Howell:

I must once again protest The Washington Post’s relentless editorial bias against China and China's favorite current project, the upcoming Beijing Olympics (see “Saved by China,” May 14.) For several years, whenever China has made the news, The Washington Post has jumped on all such occasions to write strongly negative editorials portraying China in the most unfriendly, unfavorable light. This negative bias is not apparent in your great newspaper toward any other nation or ethnicity. My letters-to-the-editor and my calls to you questioning this pointed hostility have been ignored. I hope that no single individual in your organization is so powerful as to feel free to disseminate his or her personal racist, belligerent perspectives toward this powerful, influential and important nation, because such attacks are unworthy and unrepresentative of your otherwise admirably balanced, objective news organization.

A loyal and concerned customer,

Nancy Pace

(Please see below, a letter I sent in October 2007)

To the Editor:

Who gains from your relentlessly adversarial, competitive slant toward China, except a few fear-mongering demagogues and their greedy, war-profiteering kin (see your mean-spirited editorial about the problems of the Three Gorges Dam, Oct. 15th.) Please consider adopting a friendlier, more open-minded editorial tone which treats all others everywhere the way we in the U.S. would like to be treated by foreign journalists. Salute and learn from others’ achievements, empathize with their failures, celebrate commonalities, accept differences, bear with weaknesses, enlighten and support one another.

Sincerely yours,

Nancy Pace

Also below is a pre-Olympics comparison of Chinese and American human rights' records I recently posted on my blog, (which offers commentary on breaking news at the intersection of politics, peace, culture and spirituality.) This post also objects to widespread American media bias against China, currently led, I believe, by the Washington Post.

Thank you very much for your interest. I would welcome a telephone discussion with you.

Warning: THIS (Richardson's Crucifixion) is What Happens to Clinton Deserters!!!”

The long cruel media-bashing of Bill Richardson by Hillary Clinton’s attack-dogs, led by James Carville at his most offensive (which is saying a lot), was impeccably timed to stop cold the imminent bleeding of super delegates and other influential public figures to the Obama camp. Making an unfairly public example of Richardson–vengefully humiliating and marginalizing him–worked like a charm, though, and it’s still working. Leaders everywhere, the small and the mighty alike, are terrified now to defect to Obama, no matter how much they might want to. They’ve heard loud-and-clear the ringing message:   “This is what will happen to you if you desert the Clintons!”


Bill Richardson has shown amazing integrity, grace and courage in standing up for what he believes to be best for all concerned. The Clintons deserve condemnation for pigheadedly insisting on loyalty to persons over loyalty to country.


Like many others, I have admired the Clintons greatly, chalking up their political relentlessness largely to their Christian compassion and desire to serve others. They’ve changed. They’re in it now more for the power than for the opportunity for service, and will apparently do whatever it takes to get back in the limelight. Power corrupts….


Regrettably, had the Clintons not fallen in love with themselves in power for eight more years, they would have been the first to jump at the chance to become Barack Obama’s most famous and influential supporters, because he’s exactly their kind of candidate. That opportunity for selflessness still lies ahead of them–an opportunity to reclaim the idealism which once so drew me and others to them when they truly were, as Obama is now, the future of the Democratic Party.


They'd better make up their minds soon, though, or instead of making twenty-first century history, the Clintons will be relegated to its periphery, becoming living anachronisms who leave only dinosaur footprints.


Please send your comments to , and I'll post them below this article. Thanks, Nancy 🙂






Another War for Oil?

The Darfur/Sudan dispute is primarily over who will control the newly-discovered oil-rich lands of Darfur, in western Sudan. As often happens, the indigenous poor there have been ruthlessly pushed aside by voracious corporate and national interests in a typical no-holds-barred international competition for scarce valuable resources.


China’s respectful diplomacy toward the legitimate Muslim government of Sudan has given the Chinese an “in” which they are very profitably exploiting. The bumbling U.S. strategy of arming Sudan’s neighbors has won us only suspicion and resentment.


A mysteriously (well) funded “Save Darfur” media campaign has legitimately excited the sympathies of people everywhere to help the innocents, perhaps also to “justify” future aggressions. Historically, many illegal invasions, occupations, and wars of greed have been “sold” as rescue missions.


China has much to teach the U.S. about win-win diplomacy and trade, just as the U.S. has many important and wonderful things to teach China. May we generously support peaceful international humanitarian efforts to assist the victims in Sudan, and may we use the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to further mutual peaceful understanding, dialogue, and good will with our trading partner, China.


(I wrote the above letter-to-the-editor in response to the following letter-to-the-editor in our local newspaper:)


Local Physician Who Volunteered at Torino Won't Be in Beijing


I was a physician volunteer at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Several people have asked me if I was going to go to Beijing in 2008 for the summer games. As I'm more of a fan of the Winter Games, and as Beijing in the summer is probably very hot, I told them, “No.” Recently, I discovered a much more compelling reason not to go and to encourage everyone to boycott those games.


In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Ronan Farrow and Mia Farrow (he a Yale law student, she an actress) made assertions which, if accurate, should cause a renaming of the Summer Olympics in China to the “genocide games”–and compel all moral people to boycott them. They state that China is “pouring billions of dollars into Sudan,” and that “they,” the Chinese, “purchase an overwhelming majority of Sudan's oil exports.”


With this money, the Sudanese buy bombers, assault helicopters, armored vehicles and small arms, most of Chinese manufacture. These arms are used by the brutal Janjaweed militia. The airports that are used by the Chinese, who have repeatedly used their veto power in the U.N. to block efforts to bring in peace keepers to stop the slaughter.


To date, more than 400,000 people have been killed and 2.3 million have been displaced from villages by the Chinese-backed Sudanese government. Efforts by our government have been unable to convince the powers that be to stop the killing. To his credit, President George Bush vows to go it alone to take action against Sudan if the other countries of the world will not.


A reasonable, moral person would likely conclude that, if the assertions above are accurate, he or she would have nothing to do with these games. What are some prominent people doing? Well, let's see:


Steven Spielberg, who founded the Shoah Foundation to allow the testimony of survivors of another holocaust to be heard, is preparing to help stage the Olympic ceremonies in Beijing. Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald's are some of the high-profile sponsors of these games. If accurate, these assertions should cause these people to rethink their positions. Maybe with some forthright action, the Chinese can be embarrassed into changing their ways to allow the killing to be stopped.


Specifically, of Steven Spielberg, I would ask: “Is one holocaust worse than another?” And: “Would you have helped stage the ceremonies for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin?” Rabbi Akiva, of biblical times, said, “Where there are no men, Be thou a man.”


Hopefully, there are still some men who will do something to stop this tragedy. Anyone who would like a copy of the article can call me.


(The author left his name and phone number.)





Please send comments to Thank you! 🙂








Welcome to America's Future, Senator Allen, and More Power to It

Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen's recent racist remarks reminded me of my own childhood racism against immigrants. Unlike him, I have seen the future of immigration in America, and it is good.


My military family moved to San Antonio during the late 1950’s, my middle school years. We had moved eight times before, years I spent in overseas post schools with middle-class multiracial/multiethnic classmates. Transferring now to a San Antonio “off-post” public school, I was surprised to be thrown in among many desperately poor Hispanics, and shocked to see their harsh treatment by my Anglo classmates.


Although some teachers treated all students respectfully, the consensus about “Meskins” among the Anglos in my school was that they were dirty, poor, immoral, violent, sneaky, and “too stupid” to speak English. The filter of racism soon blurred my own eyes, too, to the differences among these children, and eventually I clumped them all, even the occasional middle-class and native-English speaking exceptions, into a single rejected race.


Through whispered conversations, I “found out” what my schoolmates “knew”—that all these kids were children of “illegals” who had snuck across “the river” and were no doubt now sneaking around in bushes and backrooms doing filthy jobs our parents wouldn't dream of doing, living in hovels, probably stealing and breaking other laws too. We exchanged warnings about their poor side of town: “Don’t go near the San Antonio River unless you want to get knifed by a 'Mex'!” My wealthiest friends even bragged about “'owning' a ‘wet’ (‘wetback’) or two” hidden away on distant ranches in shacks stocked with sacks of beans, left to chop cedar at pennies a day.


Gradually I conformed, and viewed immigrants with suspicion and disgust. Sometimes we sneered at them, occasionally fought them, but mostly we ignored them. How quickly I went from feeling righteously indignant about their mistreatment, to apathy, to feeling more “in the know” and “appropriate” about how to feel and act—that is, prejudicially.


Needless to say, I knew nothing about racism, or about how hard it is to get ahead when you’re poor, or about the immense barriers of linguistic disadvantage, or the challenges of a new life in a different culture, especially an illegal life. I saw without seeing only the glaring commonalities of poverty, for indeed, many of my Hispanic classmates were dirty, their clothes were smelly, and their poor English made them seem ignorant.


I’m especially saddened to recall how kind many of the Hispanic children were to me at first, how attractive and fun they seemed to this lonely new girl. Too quickly, I came to “know better,” pulling away from them, frightened by the stronger social prohibitions against socializing with “Mexes.” I'm sure my cruel transformation and confused withdrawal hurt many feelings.


Fast-forward now to forty years later, to the recent year I returned to San Antonio to care for my dying father. To my astonishment, I found a completely changed San Antonio, a bright working city ornamented by a proud Hispanic cultural heritage. During that difficult year of family losses, every one of my childhood prejudices were firmly replaced with admiration and deep gratitude for the long line of outstanding care-giving and service professionals who helped me—nearly all native-English speaking, educated, middle and upper-class Hispanics.


From that ragtag bunch of schoolmates of yesteryear, no doubt largely parented by penniless, uneducated laborers who braved their way across the border, came this impressive line of smiling, capable, courteous, faith-driven professionals. Where “Meskins” were previously relegated only to San Antonio’s lowest social classes, now they were the home-care aides who tenderly washed and fed my father, the capable nurses who treated him, the orderlies who gently attended him in hospital, the dedicated doctors who set his broken hip, the hospice workers who comforted us, the owners of the funeral home, and the directors who helped us plan his funeral.


Hispanics now ably run much of the city, blending in with the Anglo minority attractively and patriotically. As I hurried through busy days, helpful Hispanic faces sold me groceries and hardware, delivered our packages, repaired our dishwasher, patrolled our streets, and repaired our phone. My father’s accountant was Hispanic, as was his attorney.


I recalled then my youthful astonishment when I overheard talk about nationally respected local “Meskins” such as Henry B. Gonzalez and Henry Cisneros, who later transformed the city for Hemisfair, refurbishing the San Antonio River Walk to become one of the world’s safest and most colorful international tourist attractions. I couldn't imagine then how these apparently benevolent leaders could possibly be drawn from the same racial pool I had learned to exclude from my personal repertoire of “nice people.” Or perhaps, even, “human beings?”


The San Antonio of today is a multicultural treat, largely run by courteous, ambitious Hispanics. Every Hispanic I met during that painful year was a genial, earnest, hard-working, well-intentioned person demonstrating solid values.


Welcome to the America of the future, Sen. Allen, and more power to it.


Immigrants break no laws they ever had a chance to democratically vote on. Immigrants are doing exactly what every one of us would do for ourselves and for our families, were we faced with an impossible present and future…and were we as daring and persistent as they.


Only the United States spends billions to guard its borders from terrorists (although quite a few nations are presently scrambling to arm themselves against American invasions.) No expensive walls are being built to keep terrorists out of Canada, China, Norway, or Sweden, although each of these countries has a similarly long, porous border. Unlike the U.S.A., however, they have friendly, cooperative foreign policies—i.e., fewer enemies.


When we elect leaders committed to creating fewer deadly enemies with hurtful trade and foreign policies, when we generously embrace the world’s problems as our own, then we will spend far less money on war and security, and have more to spend on a better life for ourselves and the immigrants we need to help make this country great again. Hopefully, some day soon, many more of these adventurers will claim for themselves that same bright prize our audacious American forebearers claimed throughout our history, that grandest lottery ticket gamble of all, the chance to win U.S. citizenship.



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Putting On and Taking Off the Pretty Face of War

The heartrending recent news coverage about the ghastly deaths of defenseless civilians, mostly children, in Qana, Lebanon, tells the real story of the mideast wars: random slaughter, and the relentless ruin of the loves, livelihoods, work, and hopes of thousands of innocent civilians on all sides. Nevertheless, true believers in the necessity, efficacy, and morality of war still churn out article after article arguing war's fairness and positive aspects (“Israeli Military Service Unites Generations;” “'Disproportionate' in What Moral Universe;'” “For Troops, A Sense of Moral Clarity.”) For, in order to sustain the important illusion that war is moral, and to divert public attention away from war's inevitably bloody means and ends, pro-war propagandists shamefully exploit every one of the heart-swelling, toe-tapping, chest-beating moments which arise in the midst of horrific wars—all the gentlemanly charitable acts, the selfless patriotism and bravery, the beauty and idealism of youth….


Although “might” cannot make right, fear and influence can be combined fairly successfully to shape public perception to thinking that “our” wars are primarily about camaraderie, adventure, skill, professionalism, physical prowess, pride, and masculinity…and to thinking that wars can be fought cleanly, judiciously, even kindly, in order to rescue the downtrodden, promote democracy, and protect our homes, families, and way of life.


Even well-intentioned efforts to ameliorate war’s devastating effects, such as banning nuclear weapons and landmines, and instituting war crimes trials, can be exploited, and held up as proof that war is just and humane.


But the fact that war has moments of fineness and decency should not lull us into deluding ourselves that repeated indiscriminate acts of violence against one’s fellow man are anything except wrong. As in Qana, ninety percent of the victims of modern wars are civilians. Soldiers, politicians, and private citizens alike must choose to abandon their consciences for the duration of wars, because war itself is a crime against humanity.


Although “wars of self-defense,” a highly ambiguous and arguable term, are still considered to be legal, all that is legal is not necessarily moral. Wars are fundamentally about the use of force to achieve political goals, not about morality. But moral or not, all fighting must relentlessly be made palatable to its funding and fighting public. Any politician or general worth his pay-grade knows well how to drape war in the colors and images of respectability and tradition. Yet no gallantly waving flag, no proud anthem, pledge, nor crisp salute can ever promise that war’s processes or outcomes will be representative, humane, or moral.


Every soldier who ever shot, tortured, or pushed a captive out of a plane in order to obtain information necessary to protect his own knows that the cruel reality of war makes a mockery of the prettified versions held up for public viewing, the ones giving lip service to human rights, morality, and a rule of law which rests on due process, presumption of innocence, the right to legal counsel, and a fair and speedy trial..


Any soldier who ever fought in a real shooting war knows that legal and moral niceties are suspended during the life-and-death situation that is war, hauled out only as convenient for public viewing. Snipers, for example, act instantaneously as judge, jury, and executioner to their random, anonymous suspects. Bombardiers, and missile and rocket launchers unleash hell, raining fire down equally upon all their anonymous, hapless victims.


To hear tell, war crimes are rare aberrations perpetrated by atypical rogues, stray criminal elements within otherwise pristine organizations. The truth is, crimes against humanity happen all the time, on both sides, during all wars, a direct result of the bloody training, means, conditions, and ends of war.


When top military leaders find themselves irrevocably trapped in the unwelcome spotlight of undeniable war crimes, they immediately stage a big show of fairness and due process. Military defenders make feeble attempts to drum up sympathy for the scapegoats, calling attention to inadequate training and terrible conditions of battlefield stress, while prosecutors demonize the poor sad crazy grunts who were so foolish as to get caught tarnishing the honor of their noble units, and promise harsh punishments for any freakish renegades who may have mysteriously insinuated themselves into their otherwise holier-than-everyone-else squeaky-clean corps.


Officers always protect themselves and one another, limiting, placing, and holding blame as far down the chain of command as possible, leaving a poor few marginalized dupes to twist publicly in the wind. In every war crime trial, the viewing public—soldiers especially—must be newly convinced once again that “our” wars are conducted honorably, that our soldiers are unusually fine and pure, and that the rights of all civilians and combatants alike are protected by doily-white-gloved military justice.


Anonymous military judges always announce shockingly lenient sentences, horrifying victims’ families and their countrymen, but comforting fellow-soldiers who require reassurance that they, too, when forced into similar or worse acts, will not be abandoned. Other leniencies are later quietly extended under the table to prisoners who gallantly lie, or who fall upon their own swords to protect the honor (and butts) of comrades and superiors.


Although soldiers' advocates repeatedly plead for clarity in Rules of Engagement, Geneva Conventions, and so on, top government and military officials prefer to keep all military rules as fuzzy and vague as possible, not wishing to be handcuffed during wartime. But no amount of “clarity” will ever change the fact that real war is always immorally indiscriminate in its victims. Generals don’t aspire to leading a band of ethicists; they want naïve, malleable young recruits, trainable into lock-step killers able to withstand the moral confusion necessary to blood-letting, troops who will follow any order, march into any hell, and do what they’re told, which is to win wars by remorselessly killing vast swaths of human beings. To prevail in war, soldiers must believe that all is fair, that anything goes, if necessary to accomplish their mission and protect their buddies.


Signatories of the Geneva Conventions hope to receive equivalent courtesies when their guys fall into enemy hands. But reciprocity has no value when rules are always discarded as inapplicable during every new war, just because this new latest incarnation of a monster-of-the-moment—whether Kraut, Jap, terrorist, whatever—is touted to be the coldest, least reasonable, most dangerous enemy ever to threaten anyone, deserving of torture, murder, in fact complete annihilation from the earth, along with their families and other similar scum, as quickly as possible by all available means including chemical, biological, and nuclear.


After war’s end, forgotten conventions prove once again useful in punishing the losing side and propping up the flagging resolve of a public weary from manning and funding the last war. War crimes trials help portray war’s most recent victors as the most legitimately aggrieved, gentlemanly, and honorable—and not just the most effectively brutal—while urging new spending on military rebuilding against the next, greater foe as once again sweet, necessary, and good.


Respect and support for the quality of human life everywhere is the highest value we can hold. This value reinforces every other precious value we may embrace—all conceptions of God, duty, honor, country, organization, mission, brotherhood, freedom, democracy, justice. The business of indiscriminately maiming and killing human beings for profit and power (under however many pretty guises) can never stand up to close moral scrutiny.


I would defend myself, my family, and neighbors from armed enemies breaking down our doors and coming in our windows, and would willingly fund armed local militias well-trained in peaceful conflict resolution for that purpose. Other than that, and rather than risk adding to the sum of injustice in the world by going to war, I would instead risk suffering a certain amount of injustice ourselves (a risk always taken in going to war) by devoting the rest of our current defense budget to building understanding and good will among all the earth’s peoples through proven peaceful and generous methods. My first step would be to pass the very specific and impressive proposed legislation (Bills H.R. 3760 and S. 1756) authorizing and funding a cabinet-level Department of Peace.


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Another Holocaust?

When Hitler painted all Jews everywhere with his hate-filled brush, many people were caught up in his scary “logic,” and the result was a Holocaust. Today’s Jews should be the group least susceptible to the rampant prejudice that is currently damning all of Islam with sweeping fear-based generalizations. The lesson of the Holocaust for all of us is never again should anyone buy into paranoia and bigotry concerning a whole people, culture, religion, ethnicity, or lifestyle.


Yet, here we go again.


If you don’t like some Muslims (or Jews or Chinese or Hutus …) well, that’s human. But if you hate and fear most (Muslims) because you think they’re all pretty much the same, that’s ignorance and prejudice.


It’s simply not true that most Muslims are quarrelsome, narrow-minded, blood-thirsty fanatics out to dominate the world. Yet I have recently heard that repugnant argument for war from Jews and Christians alike.


Of course we’re all frightened, Muslims too. But violent extremists are found in every culture. America had its own bloody civil war, not to mention lynchings, attacks on civil rights marchers and labor unions, gang wars, office and schoolyard shootings, rapes, widespread child and domestic abuse, crime, and murder. We have our own home-grown steady supply of trigger-happy nutcases, D.C. snipers, Unabombers, and Oklahoma terrorists, all continually egged on into fear and violence by faithless media demagogues and opportunistic politicians, in just the same way that Hitler once terrified the German citizenry into insanity.


FDR gently reminded us that the only thing we have to fear is: fear, itself. During this difficult time, may we have cool heads, loving hearts, open minds, and an abiding faith in the golden rule, so that we may respect and support all of God’s beloved children, everywhere.