Saturday, June 30, 2007

Isaiah Washington

Three photographs of Isaiah Washington, African-American thespian.

Mr. Washington, a television star on the hit series Grey's Anatomy, has been fired for twice using a homophobic slur. He has responded with the McCarthyesque accusation of our time: it was racism that got him fired.

Here are Mr. Washington's words:

"Someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me."

No sir, the beginning of your end was slurring other people and then slurring them again in explanation.

Mr. Washington has slurred his employers--only white people to him--as a defense to his slur against gay people. Intolerance+McCarthyism=Isaiah Washington.

"My mistake was believing that I would get the support from my network and all of my cast mates across the board. My mistake was believing I could correct a wrong with honesty and sincerity." My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong on all fronts."

Sir, your mistake was to believe that people will come to your defense when you say the indefensible. Your "mistake" was to give vent to your prejudices when confronted with your own words evincing that same prejudice. Your mistake was to assume that "black people" get a third chance when no one of any race deserves a second chance.

"Well, it didn't help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn't a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn't speak like I'd just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime."

That's a nearly incoherent couple of statements, sir. One would assume that a "mush-mouth Negro" would speak like he'd just left the plantation. I guess the first sentence means that you weren't subservient as you presume white people prefer "black people" to be. That is racism and it is false, or you wouldn't have gotten the part in the series in first place.

Mr. Washington, I don't own a TV so I don't know how you speak but I infer that you think that you speak in a way that is more elevated than other African-Americans, who you believe speak like they'd "just left the plantation." Your words would be hateful no matter how well you spoke them.

"I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that 'some people' were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I'm a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn't go around saying 'Yessah, massa sir' and 'No sir, massa' to everyone?"

Name her, sir. What is her name? So now it's because of the tone of your skin not just the color. Mr. Washington, you're embarrassing yourself.

"It's nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family."

Mr. Washington, you are a clown and clowns don't scare other people, they make people laugh.

Mr. Washington, I think that you are a bully and a coward, a racist, and a homophobe (and a clown) and I think that I am better than you sir, not because I am white but because I am none of the things that you are. I am Benjamin Harris

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Sounds of Silence

Hail to the Chief.

"I have never been hurt by what I have not said."
-President Calvin Coolidge.

When informed of the death of "Silent Cal," Gertrude Stein famously remarked "How could they tell?" The photograph of him in full Indian headdress is still one of the most hilarious ever taken of a president.

This quote is wise however; it calls to mind the advice that Reagan Press Secretary Larry Speakes gave to his succesor: "You don't have to explain what you don't say." This is Public Occurrences.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Economic Democracy

Writing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs on the effects of our globalized economy, Kenneth F. Scheve of Yale and Matthew J. Slaughter of Dartmouth urge greater economic democracy. This is Public Occurrences.

*See also June 3 and May 27 below.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Public Occurrences Sales: Thackeray. "Philip" Vol. 1 Ltd Ed. (pub: late 1800's-early 1900's)

One of the most important writers of his time, William Makepeace Thackeray.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sometimes It's Hard to Stay Positive

Immediately above is a man who says he can cure AIDS and is in the process of administering the cure. In his right hand is the Koran. The treatment regimen includes abstinence from tea, tobacco, alcohol, sex and the most advanced anti-viral medications. The man says he only has the power to cure AIDS on Thursdays. This post is based partly on an article in Der Spiegel from which the photograph is taken. The article can be found at,1518,485715,00.html.
The photograph at top is of the same man addressing the United Nations as a head of state. The man is Yahya Jammeh, President of Gambia. He has been in power since effecting a coup in 1994. According to the website he received 69% of the vote in the September 2006 presidential election. I don't know how free the election was.

"Leadership" like this is not unique in Sub-Saharan Africa a region comprising forty-two countries where AIDS is the number one health problem in each. Even in dynamic South Africa floridly ignorant beliefs on AIDS have been expressed byformer vice president Jacob Zuma, South Africa's Minister of Health and president Thabo Mbeki.
Poor governance contributes mightily to Africa's many problems. This is Public Occurrences.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Jared Diamond wrote a book that gives his explanation for the developmental disparity of the world’s civilizations. The book is Guns, Germs, and Steel. The fates of Human Societies. In the preface to the paperback edition Professor Diamond writes:

“Why did history unfold differently on different continents? In case this question immediately makes you shudder at the thought that you are about to read a racist treatise, you aren’t.”

Yes you are.

Prof. Diamond writes that one claimed explanation for the developmental disparity was the supposed innate intellectual superiority of Europeans. Professor Diamond calls that explanation “loathsome“ and “racist.” On the same page though Professor Diamond writes that,
..."modern ‘Stone Age’ peoples are on the average probably more intelligent…than industrialized peoples.”

A few pages later Prof. Diamond writes ,
"That is, in mental ability New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners…”

(Only a man of inferior intelligence would think that he could get away with convincing others that he was not suffering from male pattern baldness by combing his hair horizontally over his male pattern bald spot. In deep analytical mode the true essence of Professor Diamond is revealed through discovery of his family coat of arms, top image, thus proving his point of the intellectual inferiority of those who comb their hair over their male pattern bald spot.)

Obviously, that is a racist explanation. Also, to make contradictory statements like these is poor writing. The book won the Pulitzer in 1996.

Prof. Diamond continues in like vein:

“…New Guineans, they impressed me as being on the average more intelligent…than the average European or American.”

“…my impression that New Guineans are smarter than Westerners may be correct.”

Prof. Diamond believes that one explanation for New Guinean intellectual superiority is because,
“Modern European and American children spend much of their time being passively entertained by television, radio, and movies,” obstacles to intellectual development that are not as widespread in Papua New Guinea.

That is not the argument of a highly intelligent person. Prof. Diamond won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.

This is scholarship a la mode. Only an American academic could get away with writing a book making the racist claim that Papua New Guineans are genetically superior to Westerners.

Only in America could the author of such a book win the country’s most prestigious prize in literature.

Writing about race is safe in America when it casts white people in negative terms. The cover of Prof. Diamond’s book shows a conquistador grabbing a recoiling native while other natives cower in the background protecting their children. Racism is acceptable in America when it is directed against white people. Imagine a book cover showing a photograph of an African-American man violently grabbing a blonde Caucasian woman.

The proposition of Guns, Germs and Steel is embarrassingly argued; it is almost a parody of those who would write it and those who read it and issue forth praise. The effort is at the level of a college freshman hurrying to complete a paper before the Christmas break. It is truly surprising that well-educated people can overlook all of this even considering their receptivity to the message.

I wish that less emphasis was given to intelligence in our discourse and thinking. For some people that is the most important of a person’s--or a civilization’s--attributes. I don’t think it is. I think goodness is. In my own admittedly personal experience I can find no correlation between intelligence and goodness. Some very intelligent people are mean. Some are also unwise. Intelligence and wisdom are not the same.

I am glad that I was born in the western hemisphere. I am glad that I was born in the northern hemisphere too. I’m glad that I’m Caucasian. And male. And I’m proud of the accomplishments of my race, gender, and culture. But I can’t make the case that “our” accomplishments have produced a people who have more goodness than other peoples. Not with Hitler. I am also fortunate to have been born an American and I think one can make the case that American society has more goodness than any other, now or in the past. I am Benjamin Harris.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ted Kennedy

"If your name were Edward Moore you're candidacy would be a joke!"

So said Ted Kennedy's opponent in his first run for office. And so it would have been. But his name was Edward Moore KENNEDY and he has gone on to be the most effective legislator of his time, maybe the most effective leglisator in the history of the Republic.

Senator Kennedy will turn 76 in February. His long career and life are almost over. Like most Americans I disagree with his politics. That does not obscure the fact that he is one of the most distinguished political figures in American history. We would have been a better country had he been elected in 1980, as we would have if his brother Robert had been elected in 1968, as we would have if his brother John had been re-elected in 1964. Like them he is one of my heroes. I am Benjamin Harris.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Things that you'll like and that are good for you too

Time of Transitions by Jurgen Habermas. Mr. Habermas is Germany's preeminent philosopher and has been one of the world's preeminent philosophers for decades. In 2004 Mr. Habermas, an atheist, wrote an essay that is also this book's title. A key sentence has been reprinted in various media and has slowly circled the globe. It was recently reprinted again in an article in Foreign Policy and Arts & Letters Daily has cited to that article in quoting Mr. Habermas. The sentence is:

"Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter." This is Public Occurrences.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I am glad to have been born in the northern hemisphere rather than the southern and in the western rather than the eastern. I am glad to have been born in America rather than in any other country. I am glad to have been born caucasian; and with blue eyes. I am glad that I was born male and I am--generally--proud of what Caucasians in the northern and western hemispheres and particularly in America have accomplished through history. I am Benjamin Harris.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pablo "Le Poeta," Calle Maceo #159, Baracoa, Guantanamo, Cuba

My friend Pablo "the poet" in his dining room in Baracoa, Cuba . On the wall is a framed Marx/Lenin certificate of achievement given to him by the Cuban government. He and his family were warm, generous folks and they made my visit to Cuba a transcendent experience. I am Benjamin Harris.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I live in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. A friend of mine went to look at a house to buy in the area. As he was being shown around by the agent the elderly owner started screaming from upstairs "Filthy goyem! Dirty, filthy goyem!" There's a lot of hatred in this country. I am Benjamin Harris.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Reagan Diaries*

Alexander Haig

"Al then told me he felt he was being undercut by other agencies etc. I worry that he has something of a complex about this. Anyway I've arranged that he & I meet privately 3x a week." March 19, 1981.

"Later in day a call from Al Haig, all upset about an announcement that George. B. is to be chairman of the Crisis Council. Historically the chairman is Nat. Security Advisor (Dick Allen). Al thinks his turf is being invaded. We chose George because Al is wary of Dick. He talked of resigning. Frankly I think he's seeing things that aren't there. He's Sec. of St. and no one is intruding on his turf--foreign policy is his but he has half the Cabinet teed off." March 24.

"Awakened at 7:30 by Mike D.--Al Haig again. He called me I told him to meet me in the Oval O. at 8:45. Mike told me Al was talking resignation etc." March 25.

"Al Haig has brought me a case of our Ambassador who is undercutting him..."July 24.

"Al Haig called. Jack Anderson had a column set to go that I was about to fire Haig...I called Jack told him it was false..."November 1.

"Called in Dick Allen & Al Haig and ordered a halt to the sniping..." November 5.

"...gave Al H. his way on Stoessel as replacement for Bill Clark." January 6, 1982.

"Back to office to meet with Jeane Kirkpatrick. She and Al H. have been at each others throats. Later in day met with Al. Bill Clark at both meetings--thank Heaven." May 31.

"The Al H. situation is coming to a head. I have to put an end to the turf battles we're having and his almost paranoid attitude." June 14.

"Today was the day. I told Al H. I had decided to accept his resignation. He didn't seem surprised but he said his differences were on policy and then said we didn't agree on China or Russia, etc...Actually the only disagreement was over whether I made policy or the Sec. of State did." June 25.

This is Public Occurrences.

*See also June 5 and May 29 below.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Village WordSmithy*

This is very evocative, marvellous writing by Paul Salopek in the September 2005 National Geographic:

"Rain forests are light-struck places...The world beneath a jungle canopy is neither dim, nor gloomy, nor monochrome. It glows with the light of some alien order--a light so improbable it has a dreamed quality, the way colors in dreams can possess actual weight, or create sound, or stop time."

"I have looked up, startled, from my notebook to see the forest suddenly electric white: suffused with the calm, almost glacial cleanliness of a fluorescent-lit office. A few minutes later, or merely a few steps away, the jungle turns metallic. Falling rain, leaf shadows, the bloodied pelt of an arrowed monkey--all appear dipped in shivery tones of silver. Once, on the steamy banks of the Ituri River, I saw the twilit undergrowth erupt in unearthly constellations of fire: Sunset burned through the pin-holed canopy, and its deep, red laminar shafts spattered the sodden leaves like flecks of lava...[F]ew credit [the rain forests for] the kaleidoscopic richness of their light--ethereal and hallucinatory, filtered as though through antique glass,unlike any other in the world."

"Right now, at this precise instant,the jungle is blue--rinsed the color of indigo ink diluted in water, its shadows deep as the bluing on a gun."

"Musa Yambuka's glistening eyes are stained pale blue. The sweat on his face sparkles star blue.

"But what distracts me more than ever, what's got me disoriented, even a little spooked--my eyes, these days seem like borrowed things--isn't what these people do as much as the light they do it in: this miraculous and enigmatic empire of color that only the Mbuti know."

"It shifts again.

"Musa's ferociouis grin shines aquamarine. The drivers approach through a white-hot slab of brilliance that could burn diamonds. Dazzled, I look down at what, apparently, are my hands. In the bottom-of-the-sea sheen of the forest, the skin looks insubstantial. Almost translucent. The hands of a ghost."

*see also July 22, 2006.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Richard Rorty, In Memoriam

Rorty, a modern-day proponent of Pragmatism, the philosophy of William James, John Dewey and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was the greatest philosopher of this time. A wonderful writer too Rorty was prolific and did much to keep this quintessential American philosophy front and center. He was also a considerate, loving man. He died on Friday, June 8. This is Public Occurrences.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Arright fine, my girlfriend was the one who made the logo smaller but I took the picture.

Friday, June 08, 2007

China's Cultural Revolution, Original Documents

For information on source see May 27 post below.
"The meaning of the first article [second article is in post below] is to persuade the students in Sun yat sen University to point out those who were considered to be work for Kuomintang. And persecute them."

China's Cultural Revolution. Original Documents

For information on source see May 27 post.
"This is the second page of the newspaper. So it is the continuative of the two articles I mentioned before."
"The second article is to say those innocent people who were accused to be work for Kuomintang were trying to persuade their students to stop the process of Cultural Revolution. The report said the classes had become places like concentration camps."
"Because of my limited ability of translating. I can’t fully translate all the articles to you. Just can tell the main point of them. If you are not satisfy about my translation or if it make you hard to understand the article. Then I would have to say sorry because at the moment my level of English can’t support you a more professional service. And I sincerely hope you can find a professional translator."
It is such tedious work to translate from Chinese into English as as shown by my Chinese colleague here. If anyone else would like to add to his translation I will publish it. -Benjamin Harris.

China's Cultural Revolution, Original Documents

See also May 24, 2007 post from same source.
"The title of this picture writes: Identify the Kuomintang leftover evil and show them to the Public!"
"Then below the title is all about those people who were believed work for the Kuomintang. Including what their name were, their job and what they'd done."
"Explanation: the one in the first picture on the right was a vice-president of Sun Yat
sen University. All the rest were professors of the University. They were libeled to be working for Kuomintang as spies. Then they were persecuted. It was August 1968. Actually they were not working for Kuomintang, of course. So the title of this article could be explained: the persecution of Cultural Revolution to the 'clerisy.' ---explained by XXX.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On The Death Penalty

In my job the death penalty is a real-life issue. This is my position, explained better than I can. I am Benjamin Harris.

Robert F. Kennedy, In Memoriam. June 6


This is Public Occurrences.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Reagan Diaries

Happiest human being I've ever heard of. Every group meeting, no matter how hostile the group, "went well," and, "I think they understand us better now." Every speech, "well received." He seldom has a negative--forget nasty--word to say about anyone.

There's a clear innocence--it's not too strong a word--about President Reagan's personality. He refers to Mrs. Reagan as "Mommy." He is absolutely devoted to her. He hopes maybe he can make Castro be our friend. Mommy, jeez. With every meeting with a foreign head of state he thinks a "real friendship" has been started.

The only mention of the assassination attempt was of a gift from a group that been delayed "by the interruption." He doesn't dwell on the negative. Things don't haunt him. His personality is so solidly positive and sunny that not even a bullet in the chest can affect it.

"I believe a real friendship exists between the P.M. [Thatcher] her family and us...," February 27, 1981

"Our wedding anniversary. 29 years of more happiness than any man could rightly deserve." March 4.

On trip to Canada, "Nancy and I were in separate rooms--1st time in our marriage," March 10. That is truly remarkable.

"Went to Parliament hill to meet P.M. Trudeau. Discovered I liked him." March 10.

"Somehow the Star Spangled Banner when you hear it in another country [the foreign country was Canada, now] brings a tear to the eye. As we turned to leave the band played Auld Lang Syne--then we were really undone." March 11.

On the crowd reception after he made a speech: "I keep thinking this can't continue and yet their warmth & affection seems so genuine. I get a lump in my throat. I pray constantly that I won't let them down." March 13. Sincere, earnest, innocent.

At Cancun summit: "...1st session devoted to speeches by each of 22 delegates. I know everyone was waiting for mine--possibly with chip on shoulder. We fooled them--it was well received." October 22.

At Cancun after one on one meetings with presidents of Algeria and Tanzania: "I believe any hostility toward U.S. is gone." October 23.

"An N.S.C. meeting re Cuba. My own thought is that we should create a plan to urge Cuba & yes Castro to come back into the orbit of the Western Hemisphere...We could start a campaign to persuade him & the disenchanted Cubans to send the Russians home..." January 15, 1982.

"On Cuba we're sending Gen. Walters in to open talks with Castro. It's just possible we could talk him into moving back in to this hemisphere." January 16.

Gen. Walters returns and briefs the president: "He says Castro really sounds like he'd like to make up." March 9. "Make up," like kids who have had a scrap. Like there are no fundamental differences. We just had a bad day together. Or two bad decades. It's hard to square this innocence, indeed insouciance, with his uncompromising stance toward Castro, and the Soviet Union. This is Public Occurrences.

Monday, June 04, 2007

China: Ma Lik, Hong Kong M.P.

"We should not say the Communist Party massacred people on June 4. I never said that nobody was killed, but it was not a massacre."

"A massacre would mean the Communist Party intentionally killed people with machine guns indiscriminately."


A mother kisses her child goodbye.


Distraught family members arrive at the Beijing Post and
Telecommunications Hospital where some of the bodies of
students were taken.


A makeshift morgue for murder victims of the Tiananmen Massacre, 4 June 1989. This hospital, the Beijing Post and Telecommunications hospital, is also the one that the murderers of Bian Zhongyun took her body on 5 August 1966.