Saturday, June 30, 2007

New to me-"Religious" Massacre-20,000 dead

Yes. On the morning of July 22, 1209, FRENCH Catholic Crusaders murdered twenty thousand men, women and children. Through the stupidy of young Cathars who went out that morning to kill a few of the "Host" they spotted on the bridge to the city, the gate was left open and the Crusaders stormed the city of Beziers, a stronghold of the Cathar movement in Languedoc region of southeastern FRANCE. Pope Innocent lll called for this Crusade of French against French, because the Cathars were heretics. The mis-named Pope was quite sure that these heretics deserved to die. The nobility of northen France were happy to go to war, because winning meant gaining power in a region where they had none. I won't go into the whys and wherefores-anyone interested can look up this incident, and the twenty years of war that followed, or they might be interested in the Spanish Inquisition, rooted in this European Crusade and which rose from people being disagreeable in the extreme about matters of faith. I mention it here because a) religion drove the killing, b) the winners stood to gain power and wealth, c ) everyone involved was, by their reckoning, on the right side, and d) there's nothing new under the sun when it comes to atrocities committed in the name of god.
Bezier was decimated almost 800 years ago. Two car bombs were found in London yesterday. I imagine Pope's soldiers would think of me as a heretic. I know Islamic fundamentalists think my beliefs are those of an infidel. It's okay, because I know the truth. God's on my side.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

PC backlash

Hey, I know a lot of things went into la la land with PC stuff. The jokes about being politically correct were funny for awhile. I taught Kindergarten when we were going through the transition from Halloween parties to "Fall Festivals." Didn't make any difference, really. The kids still bought Halloween costumes, and I read my collection of whimsical, and even spooky, picture books. No worries.

Then it became Winter Break, and for most of December we were busy in the classroom doing crafts and studying, well, in a five-year old style all kinds of celebrations and customs that roughly coincided with Christmas. Didn't much matter. The children had a good time doing all of it, and the adults knew that the kids knew that whatever went on in their homes would be the real deal. Or whatever didn't go on in their homes.

But, you know, being politically correct had its beginnings in ugly stuff. Racial slurs. Religious bias. Bigotry and hate. No one expected mountains to move; mountains didn't move. But more books featured multiracial children in less stereotypic situations. Families in books were more diverse, more confused, more realistic, and multi-ethnic. Moms in the books went to work, and not just as teachers or nurses. Children needed these changes, and educators, most of us, welcomed them.

What's going on today? What is this thing about free speech meaning it's cool again to say any damn thing one pleases about whatever group of people that's caught the attention of the speaker? I'm confused. You know? If it's square to be PC, is it cool to verbally abuse anybody and everybody again? Isn't a racial slur still a racial slur, but it's okay because, "well, no one's going to call ME politically correct?" Humor doesn't have to be ugly. There are more problems with hate groups than ever, and you know what? That's still a bad thing in my book. But hey, I know I'm not the only one who feels that way? I don't want to gag anyone that wants to talk. But I'm not going to listen to them, white, black, male or female, if what they're doing is spouting something that is belligerant, abusive, and, well, stupid.

We're not there yet, you know. We are not on the other side of the struggle and in a place where so-called "jokes" don't offend, and further the hate. I live in the South-and my neighbors aren't the Huxtables.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Of course, the grocery bill is higher. Why is it not as clear to people who eat as people who buy that food costs more? I'm talking about intelligent, news-watching, Time magazine, aware of the war on the middle class family members looking at me-the shopper-with accusation. How can I spend that much on groceries? Am I spending it on groceries? Why, yes. Not lipstick. Not Mont Blanc pens. Oranges. Fresh vegetables. Meat!

It's time, you know, to put two and two together. Household budgets are stretched. We spend more on gas. Truckers spend a fortune on gas. Prices go up at Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, Publix, you name it. There was a time when buying fresh, rather than frozen or canned, was something home-makers did because they cared about health and were willing to spend extra time preparing nutricious dinners. And keeping the fruit bowl full was a matter of course. We are, we middle class, are, returning to a day when Christmas stockings were full of oranges, because they were a luxury for all but the rich. We are getting there. No, we have gotten there. The news on CNN-you know, about the war in Iraq? About oil companies making profits and the price of a gallon of gas changing, often rising? About the agrinomics? They translate to higher prices for everything we stand on lines to pay for. Those spanking, clean, new supermarkets with enormous parking lots sell food. Survival. I may have to cut costs. Maybe I'll try a week of beans and rice, and see if I can save on the weekly food bill. Maybe that will bring some hard facts home to the folks eating the meals someone does the shopping for. Accusatory looks, indeed. it ain't me, baby. It's the 2007 American way.