I’m a White Dude

Camp Scorpion, Every 4 months

I’m a White dude — pure bred Cracker of Scots-Irish, Swiss origin. I think…that’s what legend tells me.

I’ve been subjected to racism. For instance, I was jumped by 8 Black guys when I was in the Army in Baumholder, Germany. I was one of four separate victims that night.

I never once used “Race” or “Color” to stereotype Black People. I don’t see life in binary colors.

I’ve had Black, Hispanic, Asian and, yes, White friends for as long as I can remember. I lived on Pope Street in Louisville, Kentucky. One street down the hill was Williams Street — home to the Page brothers who were pretty good boxers. We lived in the shadow of Muhammad Ali and we grew up believing him to be a larger than life hero.

I once walked into a room full of Black guys about half of whom were my friends. Jack, the guy who looked a helluva a lot like Ice Cube, yelled; “Hey fuckin’ Cracker! What the hell do you want?”

I answered; “Nothin’ Nigga!”

And the whole room cracked up laughing.

I’ve always had excellent relationships with anyone who wasn’t an ass.

I never really cared about the whole color thing on an individual level while simultaneously being fascinated by cultural differences.

Where I work now, my Boss calls me “White boy!” and I laugh and rejoin with “Nothing’, ya fuckin’ racist bastard.” And we all laugh.

I fully realize that my being White has contributed greatly to the ease with which I interact with and benefit from/with people and those who have hired me and for whom I have worked — Black, White, Hispanic, Araba, Asian and any other race you can name.

I know for a fact that being White has granted me access to places, events, people and things all over the world.

In China and most of Southeast Asia, people are fascinated by my “Whtie skin.” Asia has a “White is beauty, Black is ugly” dynamic that is, quite frankly, appalling. My girlfriend of several years used to tell me that she was Black. She’s approximately the color that most White girls aspire to when they are tanning. And when she tans, White women are jealous of it.

Strange, I know.

I constantly tell my girlfriend that she is beautiful. “Black” skin and all.

In Afghanistan, the Afghan Officers with whom I work told me that my girlfriend looks African and is too dark and that I should find a nice White woman and then show me photos of Iranian women who are only slightly lighter skinned than my girlfriend.

Skin color is confusing. The slightest shades make huge differences to people.

In Egypt, I was granted access to touristy places that were shut off to most because the strange tourist officials wanted to take pictures with the big white guy whom they kept calling Hercules. They virtually ignored my friend Humberto who was also American of Mexican origin because, well, he looked like them.

I have benefited from my skin color. I’ve also made great sacrifices to get to where I am. I’ve risked my life and taken chances that most Americans could never dream of.

I have helped many, many people along my journey. Some White, Some Black, Some Arab, Some Asian…Muslims, Christians, Atheists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu.

If I thought helping them would not come back to bite me in the ass or, more importantly, hinder me in helping others, I help others. I turned down my own White cousin when she asked for help with a recommendation and I told her the reason. She had a poor track record and I didn’t want her quitting on me and ruining it for some other who deserved the assist. She understood and we are still quite close.

I say all of this not to say that I’m a good person and not racist. I fully recognize that every human has built in and learned prejudices. I am not a good person. I’m not a bad person. I’m simply a human being who tries, sometimes fails and sometimes succeeds in treating others as I would like to be treated.

When “People of Color” (such a silly term…as if we aren’t all colored uniquely) make blanket statements about White people or White Americans, I get a bit touchy.

I’m a White person. I fully realize that racism exists and I have spent my life actively fighting it. I’ve called White and Black people out on their Bigotry. When a White friend used the word “nigger” in the privacy of our barracks room, I ripped him a new one. When a Black friend said all Afghans are “worthless raghead pieces of shit,” I ripped him a new one. Likewise when folks act foolishly and stereotype all Thai people when they’ve been insulted or in some way wronged by one Thai person, I refute their lunatic assertions that all Thai people are this, that or the other.

There is no such animal as a “person of color.” There are no two people on this planet that are the same color. “White” people are not bereft of color. I know White people who grew up in predominantly Black neighborhoods who “act Black” and cannot code switch to “Whitey-eze.”

I know Black people who cannot speak urban slang or “Ebonics.” I know 2ndGen Colombian-Americans who do not speak a word of Spanish and I know Mexicans who can barely speak English.

To portray all of any people any thing is an injustice. Constantly reading articles by “People of Color” and “Allies of People of Color” (I’m not ever sure what the hell that means…) telling me that “White people are…..” or “Why White people freak out when told they are racists” and other inane articles without an ounce of nuance irritate the shit out of me.

I cringe. Why? I know the reaction to these articles is nothing more than tens of thousands of minds slamming shut!

I know that if I made a stereotyping statement about any group except for “White” people, I would be branded a racist by those of you who wish to pretend that the world is divided between “people of color” and White people.

I know that I have seen Black people treated worse in Africa than I’ve ever seen them treated in America. I was born in 1968. I know that one of my good friends holds a hell of a lot of anger because of his upbringing in South Carolina and his Grandfathers treatment at the hands of White Southerners.

There is much injustice in America. There always has been. More than likely, there always will be.

There is racism, bigotry and discrimination in America. I know this for a fact.

None of these things will be solved…ever…if we do not learn how to have real, honest and open dialogue.

White people can experience bigotry including racism.

If any American ever stopped to think about it, Europeans (i.e., White People, Crackers, Whitey) are the minority on this planet. Europe began its ascendancy geo-politically a mere 400 years ago. Prior to that, the largest “White” Empire was Rome. There is much evidence that Rome was much more ethnic than the European Colonizers would have us believe.

At some point, we must begin to be honest with each other. We must be open. We must stop accusing all or none. We must accept differences. Not tolerate but ACCEPT and we must do so in an open manner.

I have seen this work.

I have always been accepted for who I am and have always accepted folks for who they are. I fell into it. I was lucky. I learned to look past differences early on in my life. I have been rewarded countless times for this fortunate accident.

It is…unfortunate that we can’t all simply accept differences and move on together.

WAR, HUAH! What is it good for? Christian vs Islamic Wars and Murder

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Does it matter that “the other” or, more specifically Christians have killed more humans in the last 100 years. Does this make it right and proper that ISIS should run through Iraq, Syria and elsewhere murdering wily nily simply because they haven’t met the quota for Leftist Euro outrage? What is the point of stating the obvious? Do so called “Christian Wars” justify the rampage of murder by the Islamists today?

And is it so obvious? Can you back up your statements with facts? Muslims fought, killed and died in massive numbers during the two “Great Wars” of the Twentieth Century. Do those deaths not count somehow? Do they not count because Muslims were fighting alongside Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Animists and Buddhists? Only the Christians are culpable for those deaths? Why? Because you said so? Because you have decided that the West is to blame regardless of the event.

What about the Wars against Israel? Do they not count? Are only the Jews to blame for those wars or are Christians assigned that blame as well.

The Afghan Wars have been Islam vs Atheist Communism and Islam vs a secular West?  Who gets credit for these wars?  Is this automatically credited to Christianity since some of the soldiers who have fought in these wars are Christian?  Even if they are not necessarily fighting for Jesus?world-pakistan-reu

How many thousands or tens of thousands or, perhaps, millions have Saddam, the various Kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia

murdered over the past 100 years? How many were killed by the Yemeni dictators? Omani despots? How many millions have died across Africa at the hands of Muslim rulers? Indonesia? How many Millions have died in India and
Pakistan at the hands of Muslims? How many thousands did Nassar kill? Arafat? Sukharno? Zia ul Haq?

Yet another question is this:  How many have died at the hands of Islamic backwardness brought about by the despotism inherent in the nations wherein Islam holds sway?

Who has these numbers? What you have are not facts. They are assumptions. No one actually knows the facts as no one in the West really cares when Muslims kill Muslims.

Also, one has to wonder?  Who gets credit for the current American wars and sub-Wars being waged by Obama.  Is Obama really a Christian.  No one can truly say with confidence.  If I were President and I led this country to war, would Christians get the blame for my wars?  I’m not Christian, yet, America is overwhelmingly Christian.

If one is going to speak of facts, one should actually put forth some effort at providing facts rather than spouting unsupported opinion not so cleverly poorly disguised as fact.

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Religion Hates Me! How Can I Respect That?

 

 

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I    do not understand “respect” for an archaic vision of hatred. That, to me, is the essence of religion. Religion separates humanity. It categorizes and labels. It creates “the other.” Oftentimes, or more realistically, most often it prejudices it’s adherents AGAINST the other.

Religion unifies one part against the other. It divides.

Certainly, it unifies. However, it does so in a negative manner.

Religion says; “We are this and you are that. AND THAT is an abomination. THAT is wrong.”

What is good about that? What can I find to respect about that?

What if religion were to say; “We are all one. We are different but we are all part of the same whole. It is ok that you are different. We can find common ground and live peaceably and honorably.”

Religion does not do this. Religion names the other sinner, infidel, heathen, savage, heretic, unbeliever, abomination. Religion dehumanizes and allows it’s adherents to think of the lives of all others as unworthy. Unless “the other” converts, submits, reverts or otherwise becomes a part of that religion.

Religion is false. It is simply a means of falsely dividing the people of the earth and controlling that subset in accordance with the whims of “the GoD” of their leader.

Religion keeps us divided.

Religion is false.

Why would I respect that? What earthly reason do I have to respect the religion of the crusades, of jihad, of honor killings, of genocide. This notion that we should respect the beliefs of others is insanity.

No person who truly believes in Islam or Christianity can be tolerant or accepting of other religions or of persons who do not “believe.” Inherent in the beliefs of those two specific religions is the law, judgment, understanding that those who do not believe are going to a hell or will be punished for living their lives outside as a non-believer. There is no real tolerance and can be no real acceptance of others for those who truly believe in the writings of the Bible or the Qu’ran.

To a true believer, you are as good as judged by their GoD. You are unworthy. You are infidel. You are perpetual outsider with no hope of redemption or salvation UNLESS you become one of them…unless you join their FAITH.

And, like the song by Queen, there can be only one.

The two cannot coexist in any true sense. To believe one is to believe the other false. To be one is to believe that the other is not fully human…not worthy of “everlasting life.”

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

Inherent in the beliefs of those two religions is a disrespect for all other living creatures who dwell upon this planet. You are unclean. You are infidel. You are heathen. You are savage. You are abominable. That IS the belief.

Am I supposed to respect that fundamental hatred of who I am?

 

 

 

Walking around Camp Stone on a Friday morning

Art for Unny's Bangkok Cafe

I walked over the bazaar to say a final farewell to a friend.  Hossein sells bootleg DVDs at Coalition Camps all over Herat.  I’ve run into him all over the place.  Primarily at the RTC, Camp Stone and Camp Arena.  I’ve seen him tooling around downtown Herat once or twice as well.  We struck up a friendship of sorts over the past couple of years.  So I stopped by to say farewell.

While I was doing that, I ran into the Tea Pot.  Unny wants to have a small cafe in Bangkok.  So I figured it would make a nice piece to display at such a place.  I picked it up for her.  It’s inlaid with turquoise, lapis and some kind of red stone.  I like it.  It’s a nice little piece that I think she’ll like as well.  It’s decorated with figures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology which ties in nicely with Thailand.  Garuda is front and center in the picture.

The other pics are just random shots taken as I waswalking about the bazaar area and the camp.

Paintings from Vietnam

 

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This is the ubiquitous Vietnamese Schoolgirl. Every city in Vietnam from Chau Doc to Saigon to Da Nang to Hanoi, they wear these Ao Dai and can be seen coming and going to University. There is something exotic about these girls in these long dresses. They cover them from neck to ankle and they are so waif like. It’s pure feminine. Hard to forget. And the little girls going to and from school are adorable as well.

Cham Buddha

 

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Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa

The above is Pali. The language of Siddhartha Shakyamuni the Buddha. It means:

Homage to the Exhalted One; Perfectly enlightened by Himself

Buddhists will chant this three times while bowing three times when they enter a Buddhist Temple. It’s not so much worshipping of the Buddha as it is paying homage to him for passing on the way. The Middle Path. The path to Nirvana. The escape from the cycle of suffering.

I had been looking for a painting of Buddha for a year.  Something that struck me as true.  I think that I’ve been too heavily influenced by my time in Cambodia.  This Buddha has a strong Khmer influence.  The ears.  The hair.  It even has a strong resemblence to Jayavarman VII who is known as the Buddhist King.  This painting is the origin of the tattoo on my left shoulder.

Cosmic Apsara

 

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This painting is the Cham interpretation of the Apsara. It has a cosmic feel about it. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was as if she were floating above in Mount Meru watching us as we mortals toiled away our days on this earth.

Buddha and the adoring Nun

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This painting is totally taboo in Buddhist culture. A female is not supposed to touch the Buddha nor should a female touch a Monk. Yet, the portrayal of the act in this painting speaks to me of a devotion and a love so deep as to make defiance of tradition and custom not only possible but eminently obligatory.

The first three paintings I purchased in Hoi An, Vietnam. Hoi An is one of the oldest port cities in all of Asia. Marco Polo and Genghis Khan both visited this city. European, Chinese, Japanese merchants all traded their wares at this port. Travelers from all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East stopped over on their way to the markets of the world.

I picked up the fourth painting in Saigon in the backpacker district around Pham Ngu Lao area. This area has many of these art shops. The artists here will paint anything for you. All you need do is give them a picture. They’re quite talented young people.