Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Are You A Real American Or Are You Jewish?

Years ago, I read a magazine article by an American journalist who had travelled to South Africa, then under apartheid. He described being asked by an Afrikaner "are you a real American or are you Jewish?"

I don't recall knowing how the writer answered the question. I don't remember the writer's name, either, but that would do me little good. I mostly can't tell a Jewish name from any other.

Growing up in Oklahoma, I knew about the Trail of Tears. When I went to the movies, I often rooted for the Indians defending their homeland and way of life against thise who would take it from them. They were "real Americans," I knew, not the white guys.

But in a real sense, everyone whose ancestors made it here, whether decades or millenia in the past, is a "real American."

Soon after Columbus stole a hemisphere from its rightful owners, the interlopers decided that only white Europeans could be "real Americans" and ruled by divine right. That was the "white man's burden," as Kipling put it.

So what if you were a Ukrainian Jew relocating with your family to the US in the 1980's? Would you feel suddenly free to assert your Jewishness?

Apparently not so much.

In a new book, “A Backpack, a Bear and Eight Crates of Vodka,” Lev Golivkin, a Ukrainian jew, relates the hilarious and heartbreaking story of a Jewish family’s escape from oppression. As it turns out, as a nine-year old refugee, he knew little about Jewishness and had little interest in finding out more.

One paragraph in the New York Times review took my breath away. Lev asked his mother why she had been so insistent about leaving the Soviet Unionfor the US, where she had only been able to work as a security guard instead of the intellectual occupation she had been trained for.

“I didn’t want to be afraid of the government anymore, to live in fear of them going to my home,” she told him. “I didn’t want to watch my daughter suffer and be denied from school because she was Jewish. I didn’t want to stand on the schoolhouse steps and worry to death about explaining to my 9-year-old son why being a Jew was bad, and why he should prepare for a long and painful life.”

What do you suppose Michael Brown's mother would say about fear, suffering and denial - or Trayvon Martin's mother?

We must think on these things.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cox v Town Of Oriental November 24 Appearance

I've been very busy the past several days preparing for my court appearance tomorrow in my case against the Town of Oriental.

The town Really, Really, Really doesn't want to actually appear at a trial and litigate the issues. They have spent gobs of money to avoid that by persuading the judge to dismiss the case. And to defend their claimed right to sell streets. It would have been less expensive just to go to trial.

I have to prepare not only to address questions of fact and questions of law, but also to defend against what one observer at last week's County Commission meeting called the "razzle-dazzle" of the attorney's presentation.

I've never been known for razzle-dazzle, so it could be an uneven contest.

Also, I don't make stuff up.

Even so, I'll be on tap at Pamlico County Courthouse at 10:00 a.m. Monday, November 24, 2014.

Come on by.

David Cox, Plaintiff

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day, 2014

The calendar says today is Veterans' Day. History says today is Armistice Day - the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the guns that had roared in August, 1914 fell silent. The war that decimated Europe had come to an end not with victory, but with an Armistice. A truce.

There was still hope that this had been a "war to end wars."

But the Armistice had been a fiction. Germany was defeated, and the country was falling apart.

The failure of the Allies to insist on a German surrender was to create problems in the years ahead.

The peace was still being negotiated at Versaille. It was to be a draconian peace imposing harsh terms on Germany that, if fully implemented, would destroy the economy of Europe.

None of the belligerents was satisfied with the outcome. England and France wanted greater reparations payments, notwithstanding the damage this would do to their own economies. (John Maynard Keynes described what would happen in his book The Economic Consequences of The Peace.)

The only belligerent that achieved its war aims was Serbia (in the form of Yugoslavia) who started the whole thing in the first place.

Europe was in discord. Hungary didn't like the settlement and attacked Czechoslovakia. Poland didn't like the settlement and attacked the Soviet Union.

Russia (the Soviet Union) lost Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, and for a time lost Ukraine. Central Asia did its best to avoid incorporation into the Soviet Union.

The United States intervened in the Russian Civil War in the Murmansk area and in Eastern Siberia. Japan tried to carve out a part of Siberia.

The Czechoslovak Legion fought its way west to Vladivistok and on by sea to the newly independent state of Czechoslovakia.

Great Britain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Italy, Germany and the remains of Austria licked their wounds and sulked.

It was a long way from a peaceful world (I won't mention the Far East), but still the Armistice brought hope.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I wish we still called it Armistice Day.

In memory of the hope the day brought.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back To Work

As most of you know, we had an election last week. I've been pretty preoccupied with that (as Chair of the Pamlico County Democratic Party) and haven't written much. I have a backlog of things I want to write about, and will get on with it as soon as I can.

But there are other things, as well.

On November 24 at 10:00, I will appear before a judge in Pamlico County Superior Court to present my case against the Town of Oriental in Cox v Town of Oriental, concerning the Town's closing of the end of South Avenue. Last Monday (the day before the election) I received more than 300 pages of the Town's memorandum of law supporting their motion to dismiss my complaint. That seems like a lot for a case that some commissioners have characterized as "frivolous" and that the Town's attorneys characterize as "without merit."

We'll see.

In the next few weeks, I will have comments on the recent election and observations on American Democracy, concepts of representation, economic realities and other election- related matters.

I was busy during the 70th anniversary of the near-sinking of USS Houston (CL-81) and the heroic saga of the ship's survival. I intend to tell that remarkable story.

Twenty-five years ago, the Berlin Wall was breached after standing in place for thirty years. I will have a few things to say about that. My wife and I visited (then East) Berlin in 1981. I will reflect on that experience.

As for Tuesday's election in North Carolina - it was a bad year for Democrats except in a few places. I have some ideas about that.

Then there is this thought: