Perception

Alex Symington

Alex Symington

I have friends that tell me they would like to read my essays, but won’t because they’re in an on-line publication and my friends are more comfortable with hard-copy-old-school newspaper. They like the feel and the rustle of real paper. I guess Kindle is out of the question, as well. I say to them, so sorry, but one great advantage that on-line publications have over hard copy is the addition of audio and video that can enhance and expand on that textual copy.

As we’ve seen (we that read on-line) video has been used in The Blue Paper, among other things, to illustrate abusive police behavior in Key West and NYC. Many communities are demanding that police wear body cameras to record interactions with the citizens they are charged with to protect. In some instances video could actually help excuse police behavior in question (see paragraph six). The Guardian reports that in the city of Rialto CA, “after [body] cameras were introduced in February 2012, public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.” Continue reading

An Open letter and Prayer for Charles Eimers and His Family

Dear Charles,

A year ago today you came to our little island city. I did not know you personally, but like many of us, you dreamed of living in a tropical paradise…To wear flip-flops and T-shirts in January, soak up the sun on a beach and maybe even make friends back home in the north a little bit jealous. Many of us happy, long time citizens of Key West got here just like you; alone, with not much money, but a dream that we could carve out a little piece of paradise for ourselves and live among Key West’s “One Human Family”.

We are here tonight trying to make sense of your tragic passing on this beach where you might have wiggled your toes in the sand instead of losing your life in it. Many of us are confused and angered by this senseless loss of life, but we didn’t gather here tonight to express anger. We are called here by the much stronger principle of love. Love is the common thread that weaves through us all. Without love; family, friends and community could not exist. Every spiritual leader and prophet throughout history has love at the center of their tenets. Martin Luther King tells us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. (and) Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” So tonight we are driving out the darkness with the light of candles and driving out the hate with our love for you and your family. Continue reading

Love

The normal randomness and chaos of everyday life sometimes catches me off guard. To even attempt to make sense of tragedy feels like a form of arrogance. Acceptance is the desired goal when facing the unimaginable, but it’s the process that is hellish. Having children opens up new worlds of bitter-sweet life experience and a portion of our little universe was cracked open and its axis made wobbly by the death of a beautiful young man from our community. His spirit of joie de vivre and sense of humor were his trade marks and death could not have been further from the mind.

His parents are two of the most loving and intelligent people I know and their love for their son and his sister is boundless. They have built a life full of solid friendships and sense of community and are now surrounded by the love they have generated. Their strength astounds me. Continue reading

Big Picture, Small Pond

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When I write, my inclination is to focus on national or global big picture issues, such as our nation’s endless war in the name of_____________ (fill in the blank). Other abominations that get my attention are the relentless neutering of our constitution and civil liberties and the contemptuous global corporate rape and pillage of our planet without a thought past the next quarterly earnings report.  Most recently I suggested our country’s social and spiritual disease of racism is still very much with us as demonstrated by the frequency of public execution-by-cop/vigilante of young black men, the rise of the corporate prison-for-profit and its lopsided racial make up and the acceptance of racist dialogue in corporate sponsored media and the public forum of social media. (Not to mention the local vitriolic reaction to my essay.)

I have the constitutional right (so far) to express my thoughts and I thank The Blue Paper for publishing some of them. I am proud of my relationship with The Blue Paper and honored to be keeping company with the likes of Naja and Arnaud Girard, investigative journalists and editors of Blue.  Going back through the archives of The Blue Paper one can see we in Key West have our own “big picture” problems, one being the KWPD’s heavy handed treatment of African Americans in our little city at the end of the road. Naja and Arnaud and The Blue Paper, have gone to great lengths to report police abuses in our community like no other local paper has. Their interviews and videos of black residents of Key West expose a pattern of racism ranging from ordinary disrespect right on up to physical violence bordering on fatality. Continue reading

Race Card Revisited: Recovery Starts With an Admission There is a Problem

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My usual “fan club” was out in force last week. I really felt the love. Thank you for reading my essay with an open mind and weighing in with your comments. A simple re-cap; Slavery of Africans on US soil happened. Said slavery has had continuing negative repercussions to this day. Some of my die-hard “fans” decided to ignore those truths and focus on certain details that they felt somehow justified, rationalized, excused and or negated these two historical facts. I’ll repeat; Slavery of Africans on US soil happened. Said slavery has had continuing negative repercussions to this day. Zeroing in on, let’s say, when I pointed out Obama being attacked by the mentally challenged bigots in politics and elsewhere, someone snarked, “Your hero”. He might as well have called me an “Obama lover”. Obama is not my hero. I used his treatment as an example of the symptoms of our country’s diseased bigotry and lack of civility. I think I might have mentioned that recovery starts with an admission there is a problem.

I was accused of suffering from “white guilt” and called a white racist and a “libtard”. I did not write the piece to inflame people. I wrote it to hopefully encourage a constructive dialogue on, not only racism, but the general co-option of our country by the Corporate Pathocracy to the detriment of We, The People. Instead, as it turns out, my thoughts were taken as an affront/attack on White America, completely ignoring the thrust of my words. Continue reading

RACE CARD

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black and white childrenIs the United States of America a society in regression? With each rationalized and exonerated killing of young black men by cop and vigilante, are other regressive malcontents emboldened? Rather than ushering in a new era of racial harmony, the election of a black man to the highest office in the land has brought out the worst sort of hatred imaginable. Vile and treasonous epithets never before uttered publicly against a sitting president are posted daily on social media. The loony fringe has oozed out of the woodwork and taken up residence in main stream US society. Law makers and TV pundits have incrementally introduced racism as legitimate political dialogue. Code words that are palatable but are still racially derisive are used liberally in that dialogue. Civility and self control are non-existent. Who could forget South Carolina’s Rep. Joe Wilson’s infamous outburst, “You lie!” directed at president Obama at his 2009 State of the Union Address? Continue reading

Reflections on Columbus or Happy Genocide Day

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Here we are, another celebration of Columbus Day has passed, and every year it gets just a little bit more embarrassing, bordering on surreal. We citizens of the United States are slowly waking up to the reality that the Americas were heavily populated by natives and doing just fine without European “civilization”. The fact that the Europeans were greeted for the most part by friendly folks willing to share what they had, was taken as a sign of weakness by our “hero”, Columbus. Instead of honoring the people that invited him into their home, he enslaved and murdered them, of course, baptizing them before they were put to the sword. Not the best way to start a new relationship.

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Incredulous! Is This The Same Pablo Rodriguez?

Editor:

I was incredulous when I saw the photo of Key West Police Chief Donnie Lee smiling and shaking hands with Sgt. Pablo Rodriguez, honoring Rodriguez for his fifteen years of service. Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez involved in the Charles Eimers case? Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez video recorded enthusiastically assisting fellow officer Mark Siracuse in the illegal public anal cavity search of Glenn Hanes in Bahama Village? Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez that cost the tax payers of Key West $ 287,500 in an out-of-court settlement for intimidating a fellow officer that refused to destroy video evidence of Officer Rodriguez intentionally driving his cruiser into a suspect on a bicycle?

There seems to be a lot of damage control “honoring” by Chief Lee lately. Credibility of and faith in the KWPD is rapidly diminishing and that is tragic for a community that calls itself one human family.

Alex Symington  

Key West

There Is Hope

There Is Hope

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When I read a report on Jefferson County Colorado high school students walking out in protest over proposed changes to the school’s history curriculum, I rejoiced. Anyone that pays attention to current events knows there is a concerted attack on common sense being administered by conservative ideologues and their corporate sponsors. The kids in Colorado have decided enough is enough. Their misguided school board members are proposing a flag waving revisionist history curriculum that emphasizes obedience to law, extolls the virtues of individual freedom and free enterprise, and at the same time dismisses social consciousness, past struggles and victories for civil rights as mere footnotes. Hardly worth mentioning…, and PLEASE disregard the fact that our nation was actually forged in the fires of revolution caused by lack of representation in our government. Yeah…that’d be great. Continue reading

GREATNESS

THE ROOSEVELTS corrected

My wife and I just finished watching all seven, two-hour installments of Ken Burns’, documentary on Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It left me feeling a bit melancholy, for watching any birth-to- death encapsulated in a few short hours will depress, but such Olympian greatness ending like ordinary mortals is an especially bitter pill to swallow. Ken Burns’ reputation for skillful use of black and white stills melded with music, sound effect and professional actors reciting the written word of the protagonists is mesmerizing and “The Roosevelts, An Intimate History” did not disappoint. Continue reading

That Would Explain A Lot…

Brain Scan

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No matter what your political affiliation is, haven’t you wondered, “What is wrong with those people? Can’t they see how misguided they are?!” God knows, I’ve said that countless times. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some explanation why political paralysis and polarization are so prevalent? Look no further than science!  Finally we have an answer why some see black and others white when looking at the exact same thing. The amygdala, sometimes called the amygdaloidal nucleus, a little almond shaped bit of gray matter amongst our other gray matter, in the anterior section of the temporal lobe, might be the culprit. Frankly, I don’t care what it is or what it’s called. I’m just pleased as punch there is ANY explanation for the insane cognitive dissonance and schizophrenic contradictive perceptions of what is our current political theater of the absurd.

MRI images of test subject’s brains revealed that conservatives have a larger amygdala than liberals. Now before you conservatives start high-fiving each other, Continue reading

Life and Death

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Recently I read with fascination an article on simple life forms that can survive the harsh environment of space. British scientists are claiming that they discovered single cell algae, Diatoms, living sixteen miles above the Earth. They were discovered when specialized balloons were sent up to collect data on the Perseid meteor shower. Some of the scientists believe these Diatoms are of Earth origins and somehow managed to reach the stratosphere by air currents sweeping over the ocean and rising, but others are positing it may be our first encounter with alien life, further hypothesizing these “aliens” might explain how life started here. Did comets laden with super resilient single cell organisms travel countless light years to slam into our planet and seed it with our far distant ancestors?

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Just Sayin’

Mother Earth Tears

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My wife and I just returned from a long holiday touring Scotland and Ireland. We have visited Scotland before, but this was our first time on the Emerald Isle. We try to get out of the states every three or four years and see how it’s done elsewhere. We’ve been lucky enough to travel to France, Spain, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are closer, and almost as exotic. Meeting others from different locales in their natural habitat is eye opening and educational. I highly recommend travel if you are able. Even the most hard core nationalist might learn something.

The United States of America is a great country, no doubt about it, however there are MANY great countries on the planet. The incessant mantra by the thought police that we are “The Greatest” is becoming harder to sell as we witness the rapid decent of America into third world corruption, terminal environmental destruction and sanctioned violence and threat by those charged with serving and protecting us. News flash. It ain’t like that everywhere. Continue reading

Clueless Ambivalence…

August 28, 2014 Editor:

What is happening in Ferguson, MO is just the most recent symptom of the cancer of America’s soul. We are long past the delusion of “the Greatest-Country-In-The-World” and rapidly descending to violent third world status. After reading Naja and Arnaud Girard’s piece, Friday, August 22, in The Blue Paper on KWPD’s brutal and dehumanizing treatment of the people it is charged to serve and protect right here in our little city, I have no choice but to protest. As an American citizen it is my civic duty to protest. As a human being I am compelled to protest.

Of any city or town in the US, Key West is in the envious position to be a living, shining example of our One Human Family credo and show the rest of the country how it’s done. Key West is a unique blend of international culture, multi-generational locals with ties to Cuba and the Bahamas, a creative and vibrant gay community and US military history and an on-going military presence. We are a microcosm of the US in a beautiful tropical setting. It is a tragedy our leadership doesn’t have the political will or the imagination to celebrate and promote our diversity, but instead plods along shrugging its shoulders in clueless ambivalence as our police behave in such brutal fashion.

I’m getting worn out repeating the standard excuse for police brutality, “The majority of cops are great people, it’s just a few bad apples misbehaving, etc, etc, etc…” I’m sorry, but that isn’t working for me anymore. In truth, the “blue wall of silence” screams culpability. The archaic tradition of looking the other way and protecting psychopaths in uniform needs to end. Now. This goes for the tacit approval of the same by the city commissioners, the mayor, the city manager and the Chief of Police, Donnie Lee.

Please, let us be the city to emulate. We are so close, but until we cull those few bad apples we will be no better than those killer cops in Ferguson and St Louis.

Alex Symington

Key West

Капитализм (Capitalism)

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Somewhere Karl Marx is shaking his shaggy head and smiling. When a bastion of the capitalist right, Time Magazine, publishes an article validating ANYTHING Karl Marx said can Armageddon be far behind? I am most definitely not an economist. Show me a budget report or some financial spread sheet and my eyes glaze over in stupor, but lately I have been reading with some fascination many unflattering reports on the sacred free market. The imaginary capitalist guiding hand of self-regulation and its sister, the imaginary self-leveling playing field are, all of a sudden, being called into question. What is going on?! Continue reading

Recovery

Recovery

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I just finished reading an enlightening article on “Reparations” in the June 2014 issue of, The Atlantic. The piece was titled “The Case For Reparations” written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic. Reparations, in this context, is referring to amends for past treatment of African slaves and their descendants. The reaction to the word reparations has a predictable knee-jerk effect on most Americans of European descent. “Who is going to pay and who is going to be paid and how much are WE expected to come up with”, are the usual defensive and dismissive questions.

This article attempts to address those questions, but is more focused on the necessity for an open rational dialogue on the subject. As the copy on the cover of the magazine states in bold print: “250 years of slavery. 90 years of Jim Crow. 60 years of separate but equal. 35 years of state-sanctioned redlining. Until we reckon with the compounding moral debts of our ancestors, America will never be whole.” Recovery begins with an admission that there is a problem. Continue reading

Disposable People

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Apropos of last week’s heartbreaking article in The Blue Paper by Naja and Arnaud Girard on the personal stories of three local homeless, two families and one single person, I came across a story making its way around the web. It’s the miraculous human-interest/feel-good story of Rashema Melson, an eighteen year old homeless young African-American woman who graduated with a 4.0 GPA and valedictorian of her class at Anacostia High School in Washington DC. Ms. Melson will be attending Georgetown University in the fall with a full scholarship. She accomplished this miracle in spite of living in a homeless shelter with her mother and siblings for the last two years after a tumultuous existence of moving from place to place previous to landing in the shelter. She is an attractive and poised young woman and will no doubt go on to greatness and I salute her.

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Global Warming Is a Hoax, Wall Street Hedge Fund Managers Have Souls and Jenny McCarthy Is a Scientist

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There is a fascinating trend in seemingly well educated liberal America that has common roots in less educated conservative America. That trend is mistrust and denial of science. The folks that feel faith based solutions are the answer to just about any problem facing our society have an unlikely ally in the upper middle class suburban crowd. Many of the latter have, in spite of overwhelming scientific data to the contrary, decided that vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella and polio is the cause of afflictions such as Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder. Thanks to the likes of the pulchritudinous (love that word) Jenny McCarthy and Michele “Jesus Wrote the Constitution” Bachmann, the anti-science, anti-vaccination crowd have a national voice. Add the interweb and it’s an ignorance fest extraordinaire. Continue reading

First Amendment Blues

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You may or may not have heard of the trial of Cecily McMillan in the New York City courts. She was arrested for assaulting a police officer and after a skewed trial that suppressed video of her treatment by the police and suppressed evidence of the “assaulted” officer’s history of violence, was found guilty on May fifth. She and several hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters were at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan enjoying St. Patrick’s Day 2012, voicing their first amendment right to peacefully express discontent with Corporate and Wall Street’s ownership of the country.  The NYPD descended on the park and arrested seventy people, including McMillan. When a plain clothes police officer grabbed McMillan from behind grasping her right breast she instinctively elbowed him in the face, not knowing who was grabbing her. She was then taken down and beaten by several police officers. She lost consciousness and went into seizure. Her next sensation was the feel of rubber tread on her face from the floor of the city bus commandeered by the NYPD to transport the arrested, then an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth, finally regaining full consciousness in a hospital where she was handcuffed to a bed. Continue reading