Friday, November 19, 2010

19 NOV 10: Where's Your Puppet?

Of all the times NOT to have my blog camera! I drove to 13th and Veterans Parkway Thursday, and found a woman sitting on the ground playing a guitar - in the center traffic island. It's one thing to promote the arts in downtown Columbus, but this may be going too far....

I quickly realized what that woman with the guitar meant. For one thing, the SOA Watch protesters had started arriving in Columbus. For another thing, this woman didn't have a city map - so she didn't realize the median on Broadway is a lot wider, and even has an open-air stage.

If I hadn't been running errands, I might have pulled over and walked onto the island to ask that woman some questions. The obvious first question - why play guitar in the middle of Veterans Parkway? Did this SOA Watch protester want to get arrested early, to see if the Muscogee County Jail conditions have improved?

(While a man stood next to the woman on the island, I didn't notice a bucket with them -- so I don't think they were taking donations for their bail.)

I found a better explanation for the concert location Thursday night. The woman must have been waiting for a "Conference Against Militarization" to open at the downtown Quality Inn. If she's really serious about this, she'd better not play any Guns-N-Roses songs....

SOA Watch weekend had an earlier start than ever -- not only with that conference, but a Thursday afternoon march down 23rd Street. This "puppetista" parade seemed a bit out of place to me. After all, they missed the new rails-to-trails path by five blocks.

But the SOA Watch events have moved well outside the Columbus city limits. Some protesters will join the American Civil Liberties Union today, for a vigil at the Stewart Detention Center near Lumpkin. Accused illegal immigrants are held there, but the vigil's theme is: "No one is illegal." The protesters had better not try that line on the family of Lauren Burk....

If you think all SOA Watch produces is a lot of noise, you might want to visit the Columbus Trade Center today. Believe it or not, the protesters promise to hold a "silent auction."

As usual, the main event of SOA Watch weekend will be a two-day rally outside the main entrance to Fort Benning. The protest website indicates the biggest name on the program is Bob King, the new President of the United Auto Workers. If someone parks a Ford outside the Kia plant in West Point and spits on the ground, it probably will be him.

(WRBL's report from Fort Benning Thursday night indicated fencing was up at the main gate. Someday I'll find out whether the fence from the Greater Columbus Fair is simply moved down the road a few miles.)

We seem to hear every November about how SOA Watch weekend is a boom for the Columbus economy, as hotels are filled and restaurants are busy. So I hope the protesters aren't surprised this year to find Columbus runoff candidates joining them - handing out business cards, and suggesting they do this twice a year until Congress gets the message.

If you're new to the area, the goal of SOA Watch is to shut down what it considers the "former School of the Americas." Fort Benning insists the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation is NOT a replacement for the school. But then, the organizers of "God Bless Fort Benning" denied they were responding to SOA Watch - so denial seems to have no boundary lines here.

Columbus residents looking for alternatives to SOA Watch weekend have plenty to choose from. In fact, they began Thursday night....

+ Country singers Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean performed at the Columbus Civic Center. If those performers think about playing songs at the SOA Watch rally, their agents only need to say two words - Dixie Chicks.

+ A Bill Gaither "Homecoming" concert of gospel music is planned in South Commons tonight. These singers and SOA Watch really have things in common. They all want peace - but the Gaither Vocal Band is looking a little higher than the Pentagon to find it.

+ The Columbus Youth Football League "Peanut Bowl" has expanded to two days, Saturday and Sunday. Have these games been slowed down by "television time outs," too?

+ The first-ever "College Hockey Clash" brings four teams to the Civic Center. If that's not a contrast to those peace-loving protesters, I don't know what is.

-> A long dry spell at the poker table ended for us Thursday night. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: People are still talking about our trip to Green Island Hills. Or in this case, about what a candidate said there....


I read this on your blog [17 Nov] regarding comments mayoral candidate Zeph Baker made at a political forum held by a Republican group in Green Island Hills:

I couldn't ask Zeph Baker about Columbus Fire/EMS, of course -- and a late-afternoon message left at his campaign office was not returned. But Baker told the luncheon Columbus has been "held hostage" by unnamed groups which appeal to "white guilt."

Zeph Baker is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but I was thrown totally off by the "white guilt" comment.

White guilt refers to feelings of guilt said to be experienced by "white people" when they consider present or past wrongs committed by their ancestors against "non-white people".

White guilt is said to result in a feeling of lost moral authority on the part of whites so that they feel uncomfortable discussing issues of race and are very anxious to avoid being seen as racist.

So goes the definition. I had to look it up to be sure.

I myself do not notice any signs whatsoever of "white guilt "in Columbus. Georgia. As a community activist I have encountered a lot of things in Columbus that relate to attitudes concerning race and racial prejudice, white guilt is not one of them. If Columbus is being "held hostage" by anything connected to race or racism it certainly is not "white guilt." You just do not find a whole lot of white people, if any, in Columbus carrying around white guilt for the wrong done to non-whites. I would think the only feelings of guilt a white person or any other person would have are feelings of guilt for wrong they have personally promoted, supported, or took part in. That white guilt thing is pretty much myth in these parts. But it would be very interesting to know the names of those groups Reverend Z. Baker feels are holding this city hostage and appealing to the white guilt. Then, again, perhaps I just do not understand what Z.B was saying or trying to say.

BTW, did not intend anything of a threat of violence in my remarks regarding the time the mayor has left being the same time we have to do whatever needs to be done. As IMA President Dr. Harry McCall told mayor and council on November 9th, I am non-violent. Non-violent direct action is our approach to overcome and defeat social injustice and discrimination. That was what Dr. MLK, Jr. taught in his words, deeds, and actions. What we are worried about are the people that are on the receiving end of injustice that do not agree non-violence is the best approach to put a quick end to what goes on.

If Columbus is not already a tinderbox, some leaders and concerned citizens in the African American community are doing what their very best to prevent it from becoming one and to keep sparks from setting the tinderbox it off. Unfortunately, all the effort being put forth is ignored or misunderstood. Too late is going to be just that---Too late.

Have a nice day.

Brother Love, Director

Grassroots Unity Movement for Change

Hmmmm -- maybe I have a bit of "white guilt" deep inside me. After all, I felt compelled to post Brother Love's prior lengthy messages verbatim.

Both candidates in the Columbus mayoral runoff answered questions from the public Thursday on WFXE-FM "Foxie 105." I didn't know about this forum and missed it - but WLTZ reported someone asked about department stores not stocking enough Pampers. I don't even think San Francisco has an ordinance regulating that yet.

With a red flag warning hereby posted over our "tinderbox," let's see what else lit my fire on Thursday....

+ WXTX reported National Infantry Foundation Director Jerry White will step down at the end of the year. He spent so much time and effort building the National Infantry Museum that part of South Lumpkin Road might as well be nicknamed the "Great White Way."

+ Wells Fargo brought its trademark stagecoach to St. Mary's Road Elementary School, and presented several checks to local charities. Hopefully the children were taught something I misunderstood when I was a boy - that Wells Fargo is NOT the name of a Western movie hero.

+ The Kia plant in West Point announced plans to hire 1,000 more workers. If this means a third production line, West Point clubs might begin offering karaoke 24 hours a day.

+ A Phenix City couple received a makeover on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ty Manns was panned by "style expert" Carson Kressley for wearing flip-flops with socks. Aw, c'mon - we're talking Alabama here. Do you really want his feet to get sunburned in July?

(Wife Mia Manns was fond of T-shirts and sweat pants - what Ty calls "Alabama sexy." It's nice to know he's not distracted by the cheerleaders' outfits at college football games.)

+ An attorney for Cam Newton and his family declared he's "one million percent confident" the Auburn quarterback took no money from anyone. Well, OK - but I've heard women tell Maury Povich they're "one million percent sure" who the father of their baby is, and they're only about half-right.

+ Alabama tuned up for the Iron Bowl by jumbling Georgia State 63-7. Georgia State ends its first season of college football at 6-5 - which for the moment is a better record than Georgia and Georgia Tech. So it's no wonder only Alabama is brave enough to put the Panthers on the schedule.

(Georgia State fans in Columbus had to be disappointed by something beyond the score. WIOL AM-FM didn't drop the Alabama broadcast early for a change.)

+ Instant Message to former Carver High School receiver Jarmon Fortson: Not again! First Florida State dropped you. Now you've been suspended from playoff action at North Alabama, because you cut classes!?! What are you trying to be -- the next Randy Moss?

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