Thursday, December 23, 2004

I'll work on posting photos but for now, you have to follow the link.

This fine young corn (and big mac) fed beauty from Kentucky is the latest heroine for free speech. She is suing her high school for refusing to let her in to the school prom because of her dress, and yes, she does look a little like Jenna Bush, if a little heavy on the binge and light on the purge. What do you think?

red dress baby

I'm conflicted on this one. Sure it's a Confederate flag, but speech is free and frankly the flag doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. It is a stupid symbol of a stupid time in America, to some, and a historical symbol of the southern states to others. Too bad it got adopted by racists. Same thing for a wonderful song of my childhood. From memory, here are the words to Dixie:

Well I wish I were in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

In Dixie Land where I was born in,
early on one frosty mornin'
Look away....

Well I wish I were in Dixie, Hooray, Hooray,
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand,
To live and die in Dixie.
Away, away, away down South in Dixie...

Well scratch that ground and hoe that gravel,
To Dixie Land I'm bound to travel,
Look away...

There's buckwheat cakes and Injun batter,
Makes you fat, a little fatter,
Look away, Look away, Look away,
Dixie Land.


Now I know that these are not the original words to Dixie! There's no way a black minstrel band in a New Orleans Brothel knew about perfect and pluperfect tense, So some editing had occurred before the song got published in my grade school music book.

Even so, I ask you if there is anything in these words that offends anyone? Now let's look at the other song in the great conflict, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was also published in my gradeschool music book. Just a few excerpts for brevity's sake. I believe I can make my point:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

That, of course was the first verse. We can skip the grammaticly atrocious second verse and take solace in the grace of a loving and forgiving god in the third:

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish`d rows of steel,
"As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.

And in the last verse, the punch line:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

So there you have it, an early neo-conservative hit piece set to music. This is why we are in Iraq:

We are good, they are bad, god want's us to kill them!

Oddly, the author, Julia Ward Howe was definitely not a conservative, merely a Yankee.

Here's the deal: I have searched the words attributed to Christ and not one place can I find where he wanted us to kill people for god, no matter what they did. But Julia Ward Howe says very plainly that soldiers for the North were going to be rewarded by god for killing Southerners. She depicts a very pissed off god. A killing god. This illustrates the biggest lie told by conservatives as they hold the banner of Jesus high above their heads as they quote from the old testament. Much of Jesus's teachings contradicted the Old testament. I don't think he liked Mosaic Law, because danged ner everything was a killin' offense. You could get stoned to death for improperly cooking a baby goat, for god's sake. When confronted with an obvious case of a capital offense, Jesus resorted to complcated legal maneuvering to get the perpetrator off with a mere scolding.

Julia, on the other hand says god wants them dead! Kill and be blessed! Good song, eh? Old Testament virtue in action against slavery, but wait just a gol danged minute! Julia sings about dying for god's truth and killing people that are against god's truth, and that war was about killing people who thought it was ok to keep slaves, and guess what:

The Old Testament says it's perfectly fine to keep slaves as long as they are from other countries and not your own.

It wasn't until we got to the new testament that killing and slavery both got called into question, but I diverge from the real point of today's rant:

Somehow in America, it has become bad to sing a song about the South that says nothing bad about any body, says absolutely nothing about hurting anybody, talks only about earning a living by working the ground and enjoying the fruits of one's labor with a good breakfast.

Somehow in America it has become good to sing a song that says Jesus wants us to kill people and maybe die in the process.

Well scratch that groun' an' hoe dat grabble... I don't think so!

I will bet you a buckwheat pancake that the person most likely to sing the Battle Hymn, right now today, is a bigot conservative southern baptist who hasn't the slightest idea that Julia Ward Howe was a Unitarian, which is like being an atheist to a Southern Baptist, and a feminist, which is much worse to a Southern Baptist. How she came to write the Battle Hymn is beyond me, but she did. Her other noteworthy contributions involve earning women the right to vote and pushing for Mother's day to be a national holiday.

So while my head spins at all these contradictions, I come around to a couple of thoughts that coalesce out of the fog caused by eating too much pound cake last night.

If Jaqueline Duty wants to wear her dress at the school prom because she's a bigot, or just a proud southern dumplin, it's OK with me, as long as she's polite and behaves herself.

Speech gotta be free, even stoopid speech. The dress ain't bad, actually, and is rather tastefully done, as racist statements go.

Conservatives ought to be required to write an essay about transposing biblical laws from one testament context to another and exactly which judaic laws Jesus ruled inadmissable, before they can say anything about the Battle Hymn being barred from school because it is a christian hymn and the constitution should be changed to allow it.

If we can listen to the Battle Hymn of the Republic in public, with no outrage, then we should be able to play and sing Dixie. The Battle Hymn has a schmaltzy tune and no banjo part, anyway, and have you ever tried dancing to it? As an anthem for millions of Americans to slay and dismember each other we could have done better.

If both sides had stopped killing each other for a few minutes and joned in singing a few rounds of Dixie instead, Maybe they would have thought about being back home and stopped that whole stupid war. A fantasy of course, but it's a good thought.



Huh? Did I miss this exchange in President Bush's Press conference? I must have dozed off:

QUESTION: I’d like to go back to Secretary Rumsfeld. You talked about the big-picture elements of the secretary’s job, but did you find it offensive that he didn’t take the time to personally sign condolence letters to the families of troops killed in Iraq? And if so, why is that an offense that you’re willing to overlook?

BUSH: Listen, I know how– I know Secretary Rumsfeld’s heart. I know how much he cares for the troops. And I also know this. No one knows what it’s like to be to the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. No one knows what it’s like to be hated, to be fated to telling only lies. But Secretary Rumsfeld’s dreams– they aren’t as empty as his conscience seems to be. I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm’s way. And he’s a good, decent man. He’s a caring fellow.

QUESTION: Exactly how caring can he be, if he’s not even signing condolence letters and he’s never admitted making a single mistake with regard to this fraudulent and obviously worse-than-counterproductive war?

BUSH: Listen– let me finish! and get that wire out of my back, goddammit!– no one knows what it’s like to feel these feelings like Secretary Rumsfeld does. No one bites back as hard on their anger– none of his pain and woe can show through. But, as I said before, the Secretary’s dreams are not as empty as his conscience seems to be. He has hours, only lonely. His love is vengeance that’s never free. And no, I don’t really know what that last sentence means, and as I said before, I’m not going to negotiate with myself about it. Or with you– it wouldn’t be right, it’s not the holiday spirit. Thank you very much.


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