06 June 2010


RACISM IN ARIZONA. An environmental mural at an elementary school in Prescott, Arizona, has drawn heavy fire from passersby shouting racist epithets, and from a talk show host who compared the mural (which featured the faces of students at the school) to graffiti in L.A. The controversy initially prompted school officials to order the offending faces (black and Latino) to be re-painted to lighten their skin tones. This in turn roused a national outcry. The upshot: the DJ has lost his job, an the school district reversed the decision to whitewash the mural. The School District Superintendent noted, "It is okay that this issue has become a major issue. It's good for the town to stand up once in a while and take a look at itself, and this mural has done that."

Public art has often been a contrversial mirror onto ourselves, arousing animosity, confusion and heated debate. In Prescott, art pulled back a veil to reveal an ugly undercurrent of racism in the community. Imagine yourself as a small child, helping to paint a Go Green mural at your school, as cars drive by and people scream "Nigger!" or "Greaser!" at you. What effect will such bigotry have on your young mind?
Thankfully, calmer minds prevailed, and the mural will remain intact. This does not excuse the redneck horse's asses in Prescott (not all residents, but enough) from being held accountable. What a shame that (like so many cowards) the drive-by bigots remain anonymous.

OBAMA'S TEMPER. President Obama has come under increasing pressure from frustrated constituents to express anger and outrage over BP's handling of the Gulf oil fiasco. But as Frank Rich notes, lashing out is not part of Obama's temperament. In his article "Don't Get Mad, Mr. President, Get Even," Rich goes on to point out that "Obama's excessive trust in his (White House advisory team) is all to often matched by his inherent deference to the smartest guys in the board room in the private sector. His default assumption seems to be that his peers are always as well-intentioned as he is." If that's true, one can only hope that the ongoing misery and justifiable public outrage toward BP, and toward Obama for dragging his feet, will serve as a wake-up call. I can't imagine anyone completing the path to the Presidency without developing a cynical view toward big business (unless you're a Republican). Such innocence may speak well for Obama's character -- but it does not serve the best interests of the country over which he presides. The same could be said for his blind faith acceptance of the necessity for continuance of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that's another story.

D-DAY. On June 6, 1944, US, British and Canadian forces successfully orchestrated a massive invasion onto five beaches on the coast of Nazi-occupied France, in the province of Normandy. The operation required many months of planning and preparation under strict secrecy, a monumental achievement given the high visibility of Allied troops in Britain, both to the British public and to Nazi spies. The military armada which ferried the invaders across the English Channel was the largest in human history, preceded by aerial bombardment and by airborne troops landing behind enemy lines. Thousands of books and many movies have treated World War II in general, and the D-Day invasion in particular. A glimpse of what it was like may be had by seeing the film "Saving Private Ryan." It was a pivotal moment in human history. Failure would have led to a very different world today.

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