Friday, May 20, 2016

American Nocturne' more powerful without victims

It took ten years, but David Powers' 'American Nocturne' is finally serving its artistic purpose. His mural, depicting just the crowd at a double lynching of two blacks in 1930 Marion, IN, spent a decade in an outdoor Elgin plaza before a curious resident compared it to the famous photo of that lynching, and determined the photo inspired the mural which was commissioned to comment on the subject of race in a 2004 Elgin Cultural Arts Commission mural project. Once the historical connection was made, several black residents began calling for its removal, claiming it shows disrespect by not including the victims. Elgin mayor David Kaptain has wisely called for public meetings to discuss the issue instead of a knee jerk removal of the mural. Had artist Powers simply regurgitated the iconic photo, it likely would have been too shocking and controversial to see the light of public display. His omission garnered its display allowing us to finally ponder its import a decade later. Absence of the victims generates powerful personal thoughts. To me it represents that blacks in 1930 were largely not regarded as fellow members of the human race to the white community, making their grotesque killing possible. I hope the public forum will conclude 'American Nocturne' transcends the offence to a few and disregard calls for its removal.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Let's hope Maine goes for legalized pot this November

For the century from 1832 to 1932, Maine became famous for the tagline "As Maine goes, so goes the nation". This was due to its early September voting on statewide offices before the November presidential election. Maine's early voting presaged to winning presidential party in 19 of 26 elections, creating the catchy line. In 1957, Maine changed its state elections back to November, costing Maine its prognosticator reputation. This November, Maine voters can legalize recreational use of marijuana. Sure would be nice if a 'YES' vote for pot could create the new tagline, "As Maine tokes the nation".

Monday, May 16, 2016

Unhappy birthday, Sikes-Picot

A hundred years ago today diplomats Sir Mark Sykes of England and Francois Georges-Picot of France finished carving up the map of the crumbling Ottoman Empire in the Middle East to guarantee the West's colonial interests in the black gold flowing underneath. They never envisioned their infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 16, 1916, would keep the red stuff - blood - flowing a century on as well as the oil. But here we are, futilely blasting away at imagined enemies known as the Islamic State to prevent the inevitable redrawing of the artificial boundaries that put disparate and waring peoples in the same artificial country, such as Iraq and Syria.  From the rise of Nasserism in Egypt and Baathism in Iraq after WWII, the degradation of Sikes-Picot has been relentless. Little did the Bush administration fools promoting criminal war in Iraq realize they were lighting a fire under the religious and cultural sects to seek their own space to dominate their own people. Little did the fools in the Obama administration realize their criminal support of regime change in Syria would fuel hundreds of thousands of dead in the ghastly civil war that has sent millions fleeing to the West for safety. ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi put it bluntly: "This blessed advance (ISIS gains in 2014) will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sikes-Picot conspiracy."  

We didn't learn about Sikes-Picot in school because the false and self-serving narrative our historians dreamed up to propagandize us kids about the righteousness of every senseless American war, erased it from The American Story. But turn on the equally false and self-serving narrative about our current senseless war on cable news and you'll see the its daily bombings and fleeing refugees.    

None of us today may see an end to the Sikes-Picot fantasy map. The battle to obliterate it could still be raging a hundred years from today. Sikes-Picot at a hundred: An unhappy birthday, indeed.