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Saturday, September 10, 2005

LIKE SEEKS LIKE: MSNBC ran a ticker headline Friday identifying dead bodies, debris, human waste and chemicals as prominent contents of the toxic flood waters. It’s no surprise, and curiously fitting, that the national media all week has been awash with the cultural equivalent: noxious, vile proclamations by the America’s foremost moral pretenders, atrocity addicts, all-purpose grifters and incendiary race hustlers: Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cynthia McKinney, and Maxine Waters — with auditions from aspiring race-mongering demagogues Kanye West and Michael Eric Dyson.

Each of these self-congratulatory "progressive" activists has labored to exploit the New Orleans catastrophe as an onslaught against black America. Let’s be clear about the lineage these bottom feeders are part of. The opportunistic race-based ghouls who have made New Orleans their haunt are not different from David Duke, in either kind or degree. The activists now working overtime to incite race hatred — doing so in the name of “justice” and “civil rights” — deserve the same accolades and mantles as the klansmen who terrorized blacks, Jews, Catholics, and white civil rights workers in another decade.

These morally bankrupt representatives of today’s civil rights elite, like the vulgar, hate-driven white racists who read aloud from Bibles in church the morning after lynching, burning and raping, represent the last gasp of a morally unregenerate worldview. And like the Klan of yore Sharpton, Jackson, McKinney — and their enablers Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Richard Cohen, and Hillary Clinton — grow more desperate and deranged as the moderate American mainstream rejects their quest to rip open the nation’s past racial wounds for temporary partisan advantage.

Efforts to turn New Orleans into the cultural equivalent of Rwanda are repugnant to everything about America than makes moral sense. Lincoln spoke of the better angels of human nature, implying the existence of something very much worse. Every schoolboy knows the proper counterpart is demon. The moral scammers now inciting race hatred in the wake of the Louisiana nightmare will fail. And the movement they represent will ultimately fail, because it is more than wrong or simply false, it is cancerously self-canceling. The body politic will cast off this disease and will do so to preserve its well being, vitality, and wholeness.

But the end of this fight is not near. The mainstream media is highlighting the preposterous claims of America’s hate apostles because the MSM sees an opportunity not simply to negate the past two presidential elections, but to reverse the general trend away from the cultural corrections (anti-welfare state, pro-national defense) that Reagan’s 1980 victory represented. The American left has been licking its chops for years, hoping for the political equivalent of a perfect storm: the ideal convergence of forces that would yield a return to normalcy for expanding the gutter of identity politics and apologizing to the world at large for everything American. The left longs for a return of Carter’s malaise because that will reinforce the left’s longstanding antagonism toward the resurgence of personal responsibility and national pride since 9-11.

The unconscionable quest to exploit the human misery of New Orleans sickens me more than I can say. I was with my family at a Florida hospice, attending to my mother as she lay dying from cancer, when Katrina came ashore, wreaking human and physical loss only miles away. We were all aware that our personal loss would be shared by many hurricane victims, and that the American people would do what we always do: rally to help the wounded, the sick, and the bereaved. It never occurred to us — not even remotely — on August 25, the day mom passed away, that leaders of this nation’s so-called progressive community would even consider using a natural tragedy as an occasion to further their now familiar By Any Means Necessary campaign against this country and its traditions.

Then again, neither did I expect that there would be 250 demonstrations on American campuses against the United States responding militarily to the September 11 attacks, as David Horowitz has so aptly described. Naïvete dies hard, but there’s a positive side. It’s extremely hard to resuscitate.

Monday, September 05, 2005

MY MOM'S FINAL DAYS: My mother, born Marjory Schoonover on June 30, 1927 — known as Marmie from the time she was 2-years-old — died in Naples, Florida, last week after a short, heroic struggle with lung and bronchial cancer. My three brothers and I believed the cancer was slow growing. In just a few days we learned that the cancer had become extremely aggressive and that Mom's condition was "grave." A week earlier Mom called my oldest brother Jeff to tell him the doctor had prescribed oxygen; could he come to Florida for a few days to help her learn how to use one of those mobile breathing units? He had some vacation time saved up and was glad to be of help. Mom was diagnosed with emphysema two years ago, and breathing was becoming harder by the week. The more recent cancer diagnosis seemed not to perturb her. "They say it's slow growing, but no matter what I have no intention of doing chemotherapy or radiation because I've seen too many of my friends get sicker from the treatment." Arriving in Florida to help Mom figure out how to use oxygen, Jeff watched her condition grow worse daily. In a two day period Jeff went from telling his three brothers that her doctor thought she might have three months to live, to urging all of us to get to Florida as soon as possible because her condition was "extremely serious." Mom died 48 hours after I walked off my plane in Florida. Jeff, Tom, George and I were incredibly grateful that she was strong enough and clear enough to see her sons gather together in the same room for the first time in many years. She rallied, she felt loved, the color returned to her face; but still she was dying. We moved her from hospital to hospice Tuesday evening, and the vigil began. Mom's older brother George arrived with his wife, and again Mom's face again brightened and her vitality rose — but only for a few hours. By Thursday morning she had begun to sleep nearly full time. I was with her the entire day: cooling her brow with compresses, holding her hand, speaking words of quiet encouragement, letting Mom know her sons were all "OK" and we understood that she needed to leave us and we would all be alright. George stepped out of the room to answer his phone, and so, alone, I watched Mom draw her last breath at 9:37 pm. I closed her eye lids and said goodbye. No experience in my entire life compares in terms of depth, terrible beauty, starkness, and spirit. George returned a few minutes after Mom's death and we sat with her before we finally told the hospice staff she was gone. They prepared her body in a beautiful way. Yet something was missing. Marmie was an elegant, stylish, beautiful woman. I went to her purse and got her makeup kit. I applied lipstick and face powder. What an incredible experience. If her spirit was still near, I know she was delighted by the gesture. The other thing that pleased her this year was my essay Leaving the Left. She was happy, if somewhat incredulous, that Keith had become a "Republican." (Actually I'm a registered independent, but to mom's eye people with common sense are Republicans, at least not liberal Democrats.) Mom's death came at a time when most of her Naples friends were away for the hot, humid summer. So we decided to postpone our celebration of her life until November, when we'll all return to Florida. It's a cliché but none the less true: It was good that Mom's death wasn't agonizing and protracted. She appeared to be comfortable to the very end. Hospice is an incredible phenomenon. We're all so deeply grateful for their marvelous care and commitment. I plan to take some additional time away from blogging, to reflect on Mom's passing and to consider anew the inexplicable mystery that human beings come into this world at all, remaining a short time and passing on to whatever may wait. The great physicist Erwin Schrodinger expressed it thus:
"What is it that has called you so suddenly out of nothingness to enjoy for a brief while a spectacle which remains quite indifferent to you? The conditions for your existence are as old as the rocks. For thousands of years men have striven and suffered and begotten and women have brought forth in pain. A hundred years ago, perhaps, another man — or woman — sat on this spot; like you he gazed with awe and yearning in his heart at the dying of the glaciers. Like you he was begotten of man and born of woman. He felt pain and brief joy as you do. Was he someone else? Was it not you yourself? What is this Self of yours?"