Friday, June 30, 2006


Voting Rights Act Stalled in the House

It seems that the House of Representatives allows a kind of "filibuster" to block legislation. That is, a minority of the members of the House can stop the introduction of a bill to be voted on by the whole membership. The device is a practice of the Republican Speaker, who will not let a measure come before the House unless it has the support of a majority of the Republicans.

I don't remember the numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the House, but I have read that the Democrats need to replace 15 Republicans with Democrats to take control. My calculation shows that at present there are 232 Republicans and 203 Democrats. The Speaker's rule allows a majority of the 232 Republicans to block any piece of legislation. Thus, 117 Republican members can stop any bill from reaching the floor for a vote. In an extreme case, these 117 hold-outs could thwart the combined will of all the rest of the members, all 318 of them.

There are those who complain about the filibuster rule in the Senate. Forty-one Senators (out of 100 total) can prevent a measure from coming to a vote by talking it to death. At least the Senate rule is well-known and the results are visible to all. The House rule is something that the Speaker and the Republican caucus impose. It is not well-known.

The voting rights act, set to expire this year, was set for reenactment. Everyone seemed to be in favor: the President, the Speaker, the Vice President, the Majority and Minority Leaders in the House and the Senate. Then a group of Republicans decided to block passage by employing the rule of the majority of the majority. Evidently at least 117 Republican members of the House decided that they didn't like the voting rights act. One of them has proposed amending the act to delete such requirements as publishing voting information and printing ballots in other languages besides English, in requiring States who at one time had a record of preventing Blacks from voting to submit any changes in their election laws to the US Department of Justice, and the like.

I don't know what makes me more angry: the ability of a minority in the House to block popular legislation or the xenophobic objections of a person who wants to deny voting privileges to any citizen who's not fluent in English. It has occurred to me that many Republicans must believe that foreign-born citizens who are weak in English are very likely to vote Democratic.

Hamdan Must Receive a Fair Trial

Responses to the Supreme Court decision regarding the alleged terrorist Salim Ahmed Hamdan range from relief to consternation. Civil rights advocates are relieved that the Supreme Court, even though packed with appointees generally sympathetic to the Bush Administration, has seen fit to rein in the President’s claim of unlimited power in conducting a “war.” The Bush administration and its sympathizers are concerned that the scheme of military tribunals that have been proposed to deal with the detainees at Guantanimo has been declared illegal by the Court. Perhaps, they say, the situation can be salvaged if Congress will simply enact as law the Presidential executive order that created these special courts.

Civil rights advocates suggest that Mr. Hamdan be tried in a regular military or civil court, following existing law and practice in either case. For some reason, the administration rejects that idea. I don’t know why. One excuse offered is that the rules of evidence in such courts would require that the government give away some of its secret techniques of obtaining information. In a civil trial or in a court martial the defendant has the right to see and challenge the evidence offered against him.

It seems that every generation of Americans has found some group to feel hysterical about. At one time it was Catholics. At another time it was Free Masons. Later it was Socialists, then Communists. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have been looking for other groups. Home-grown religious fundamentalist fanatics have found gays who want to marry. Our administration has found Al Qaeda.

What is Al Qaeda anyway and why should we be so terrified of it? Al Qaeda is a group of people, mostly Muslims, mostly men, who conspire to commit major crimes to advance a political agenda. Compare it with the Mafia, which is a group of people, mostly men, mostly Catholics of Italian ancestry or extraction, who conspire to commit major crimes to achieve power and wealth. Both groups kill innocent civilian bystanders. I fear both. I hope they both stay far from me.

Since both Al Qaeda and the Mafia are criminal conspiracies, why should we not deal with members of both organizations the same way? Mr. Bush has declared that he will not let any pent members of Al Qaeda loose to kill again. That absolute position differs from the position of some law enforcement agencies about the Mafia. There have been cases in which individual Mafiosi have been set free in exchange for testimony against a more important (and perhaps more deadly) member of the organization. A few years ago there was a case of an innocent man who had spent years in prison although the FBI knew he was innocent, in exchange for testimony from another man against an important Mafia functionary. Congressman Dan Burton of Ohio expressed his shock that his hero, J. Edgar Hoover, would let such a thing happen.

Members of Al Qaeda, like members of the Mafia, are criminals. When captured, they should be given a fair trial and, if convicted, sentenced to prison or other suitable punishment. If American courts are not able to conduct such trials fairly in accordance with American law, the suspected Al Qaeda members should be tried by an international court.

I distrust the administration’s argument that Salim Ahmed Hamdan and others can’t be tried in regular American courts because the means of getting information about him and others must be kept secret. How can we be sure that those secret means always provide correct information? Why is the administration apparently willing to risk locking up and punishing some innocent persons in an effort to make sure that no guilty one is freed? What has happened to the ideal that it is better to let the guilty go free than to convict the innocent? Why are some Americans more terrified of Al Qaeda than of the Mafia?

Maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Perhaps I should recommend a “war against the Mafia.” This war will last indefinitely and give a President all the power he wants. He can charge his political opponents of being secret Mafia supporters and have them put in jail until after the election. That, of course, is the main reason that I, a Democrat, distrust Republican Bush with the “war” powers that he claims for himself. I ask of his supporters, if the President were a Democrat (e.g., Clinton, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry), would they be so willing to grant him the power that they grant to Mr. Bush?

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Ann Coulter a Satirist?

Meghan Daum, writing in the Los Angeles Times for June 24, asserts that ultra-conservative author Ann Coulter is a great satirist. She compares Coulter’s work with that of Jonathan Swift. In particular, Ms Daum cites Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” in which he suggests eating the children of poor Irish people. That was a shocking proposal at the time and if you didn’t have a sense of humor you would want to see Dean Swift drowned in the River Liffy. [check geography for name of river through Dublin]

The comparison with eating the children is Coulter’s comment about the widows of the victims who died in the twin towers on September 11, 2001. Ms Daum quotes Coulter as follows:

Then there's her assessment of the four 9/11 widows who gained national attention for demanding an investigation into how the Bush administration might have prevented the attacks. Assuming you aren't a fetus, you've probably heard that Coulter referred to the widows as "witches" who are "enjoying their husbands' deaths." This — along with her much-quoted statement: "How do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy" — has rankled Republicans and Democrats alike.

There’s a flaw in Ms Daum’s analogy. Swift was satirizing the upper-class English and Irish wannabes at the time who held the native Irish, particularly the poor, in low esteem. That is, his sympathies were with the poor who were unable to find enough food for their children, not with the insensitive rich who were letting them starve by doing nothing. If the analogy were to hold, Coulter’s sympathies would be with the 9/11 widows and liberal critics of the Bush Administration. From the tone of the comment quoted, along with other quotes of Coulter’s work cited by Daum, I gather that Coulter’s sympathies are with Mr. Bush, not with his critics.

I must be an old fogy with no sense of humor, because I can not see Coulter as a satirist. I certainly can’t see her as funny, even though Daum quotes one person as declaring that Coulter is funnier than Bill Maher and Al Franken combined. Instead, I see her as a mean-spirited conservative ideologue, in the style of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly, but meaner and more vicious.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Ideology vs. Experiment

Today the two major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, differ with respect to their core beliefs. Republicans seem to have an ideology; a set of ideas that seem sensible and logical on one level but which don't seem to be supported by experience. Democrats seem to have a melange of ideas that one has difficulty associating with a single ideology. Democrats are blamed by Republicans and the news media for not having any consistent ideas on how to lead the country out of the mess that the Republicans have gotten us into.

Republican ideology seems to involve the following ideas or theories of human behavior:
Well, that's at least a partial list.

Democrats, on the other hand, don't seem to agree on a set of ideas based on things that ought to be true or seem to be logical. At this time in our history, Democrats are agreed on one thing: The Republicans, being the party in power, have exhibited arrogance and incredibly bad judgment (or bad luck, certainly) in getting this country into the mess it's in:
And that's just a partial list.

Historically, each Party has at times adopted an ideology that was eventually shown to contradict experience. Ideologies are adopted and discarded according to the coalition the Party seeks to build to enhance its electoral chances. Sometimes history validates an ideology. The Republican Party began with the ideology that slavery was immoral and that all human beings deserved to be free. That ideology is widely accepted today in this country, but it was not a universally popular idea in 1856. Democrats in the 1890's adopted the notion that our national currency should be based on both gold and silver, with a certain ratio defining the price of each metal. At the time farmers had difficulty getting money to pay the loans extended to them by banks. The proposed solution was to increase the amount of money in circulation by issuing silver certificates in addition to the gold-backed money then in use. History has shown that solution to be a loser.

For the sake of the country, I hope that the Republicans will abandon their ideas that do not have the support of experience. In the mean time, I hope for many Democratic victories in November of this year.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


About George Bush's Dream

My friend H and I communicate regularly by e-mail. We haven't met each other face to face since 1989 when I retired. Lately H has been pestering me about George Bush's Dream. Would I like to see the dream come to pass? I wrote back that I couldn't honestly answer his question until he told me what George Bush's dream is.

H wrote that George Bush's dream is to plant the seed of democracy in Iraq and see it grow and spread throughout the Middle East.

I wrote back that I heartily approve the thought and hope it might some day come to pass. I also wrote that Mr. Bush is following a poor way to achieve such a lofty goal. Democracy isn't imposed by force. The people of Iraq have to choose it for themselves and do the necessary fighting, negotiating, and compromising to create their own democratic government and make it work.

Meanwhile, H has written to me and to others that I won't give him straight answers to simple questions. Instead, I indulge in "mind reading" and present my own idea as to what is in the mind of Mr. Bush and other political leaders. I have reminded H that we're both old enough to have learned not to place too much faith in what politicians say.

Mr. Bush can say what he will. His dream and that of his advisors is a plentiful supply of petroleum at a price of twenty dollars a barrel. Iraq has tremendous reserves of petroleum. Our economy has become addicted to oil. We use lots of it and we need a sure supply. In addition, Mr. Bush's wealthy patrons want to have control of the sources of petroleum. Iraq had nationalized its oil industry. American oil firms wanted to take control of the exploration, drilling, and extraction of petroleum from Iraq as well as control the sale of the black gold.

It is important to note that one of the first acts of our proconsul Paul Bremer was to privatize the oil industry of Iraq and open it to exploitation by American oil firms. Oh, yes, British oil firms were allowed to share in the action. They are our allies. French, German, Russian, and other firms were ruled out. Those countries are not our allies.

Neither the present Bush administration nor the first Bush administration were at all open about their real reasons for their interest in Iraq. Remember that Saddam Hussein was "our man" until he made the mistake of invading and occupying Kuwait. Kuwait has tremendous oil reserves and the first Bush administration didn't like Saddam Hussein to have control over such a large fraction of all the known oil reserves on the planet.

The present Bush administration has hidden its real interest in Iraq. Instead, it has presented the following justifications for the war against Iraq:

There are several versions of George Bush's dream for the Middle East. H will accuse me of "mind reading" for listing them. However, these are not ideas I have conjured up by presuming to read George Bush's mind. These are based on actual statements made at various times by members of the present administration.

Too often in discussing the War in Iraq we lose sight of the really important fact: our economy needs the oil and Iraq has lots of oil. There are plenty of other cruel, dictatorial regimes in the world. Now and in the past we have tolerated them. Among the worst at present are Burma (excuse me, Myanmar) and Sudan. In the past we tolerated cruel dictators in Guatemala, Argentina, Indonesia, Haiti, Salvador, Dominican Republic, Iran, Nicaragua, and other countries. The regimes in Guatemala, Salvador, and Argentina killed or "disappeared" their own people. In some of these countries we took the side of the regime that was torturing and killing its own people and opposed the efforts of those who tried to overthrow the regime.

I find it impossible to take seriously the assertion of an ultra-conservative President that his primary motive in waging a war is to "plant the seed of democracy" so that it can grow and spread. That's the reason that I had such difficulty dealing with H's question.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Universal Health Care, Massachusetts Style

A commentary in this morning’s newspaper (Los Angeles Times; June 14, 2006) concerned efforts by States to provide universal health care to their residents. Massachusetts has enacted a plan that requires every person to buy health insurance. A subsidy is provided for those who can’t afford the premiums. Vermont is in the process of enacting a similar system. Maine has had a system in place for a few years that is somewhat different from the one in Massachusetts. Maine’s plan hasn’t worked out as expected. Some California legislators have proposed a plan similar to the plan in Massachusetts.

The goals of the Massachusetts plan are that it:

  1. will assure that everyone has health insurance;
  2. will reduce the load on emergency rooms in hospitals who are overloaded with uninsured patients;
  3. will encourage health care providers to reduce costs;
  4. will provide adequate and affordable health care for all residents.

The feature of requiring every individual to procure a health insurance policy is favored by conservative Republicans. The Republicans insist that any plan must involve an element of personal responsibility. They also liken the requirement of buying insurance to the requirement that every driver must have automobile liability insurance. I think this is a poor analogy. I will get to my reasons soon.

The feature of relieving hospitals of having to treat uninsured patients who avoid any medical care until their conditions become very serious appeals to hospital administrators. At present hospitals who continue to operate emergency rooms have to make up the cost of providing emergency service by charging other patients more than the cost of their care. Providing every person with health insurance will guarantee that persons will seek medical care early when treatment is not expensive instead of waiting until emergency treatment is needed. The net effect should reduce the total cost of providing health care, especially the cost of hospital treatment.

I applaud the goals of the Massachusetts plan and I hope the plan is a great success. I am doubtful about one feature. According to the plan, the insurance will be provided by several competing private insurance companies. In effect, every person in Massachusetts will be enrolled in a health maintenance organization run by a private insurer. There will be competition among these different HMO’s for profit, primarily. Providing good health care coverage will be a secondary consideration. The State of Massachusetts will have to supervise these HMO’s and permit lawsuits, if necessary, to force them to provide good care for their subscribers.

The analogy with automobile liability insurance that one is legally required to buy is a poor one. Liability insurance protects other drivers and other persons that we might injure as a result of accidents. My own experience with auto insurance is that the companies are slow to make payments. Naturally, they want to make sure that any payment is legally required.

The analogy with auto collision insurance is better. However, I am not legally obliged to carry collision insurance, which protects me in case my car is damaged for any reason.

Health insurance payments should be made promptly and with certainty. If I have a condition requiring immediate and expensive medical treatment to save my life, it does me no good for my insurance company to take its time to determine whether the treatment is really necessary and is covered by my policy. I may die in the meantime – in which case the company doesn’t have to pay.

I would feel better about a Massachusetts style plan if the insurance were provided by a single, non-profit organization. This organization should be motivated to provide the best health care so as to keep in check the tendency of health care costs to rise rapidly rather than to provide dividends to its stockholders. Conservatives may object to this idea because it wouldn’t provide a choice of plans. As in the case of auto collision insurance, different plans would involve different premiums and different deductibles. I am sure that this kind of choice could be provided by a single insuring entity.

Monday, June 12, 2006



Intermittent Explosive Disorder is the latest buzzword in popular psychology. If you haven't heard of it yet, it refers to a condition in which you have outbursts of rage that you can't or won't control, triggered by a trivial slight or inconvenience. Road Rage is a good example. Someone cuts in front of you on the freeway, causing you to apply the brakes or swerve to avoid a collision. You become violently angry at the offending driver and chase after him. If you have a gun with you, you may shoot at him or his car. You may cut in front of him and try to run him off the road. You may deliberately drive your car into his.

I don't know whether I ever suffered from IED. I know that during my lifetime (I am now 83 years old) I did a lot of driving commuting to and from work. I used to be annoyed at drivers who did impolite things that caused me to apply the brakes or swerve to avoid a collision. My own experience is that the tendency to experience rage at such events decreases with age. I am no longer bothered by rude or bad drivers. I simply slow up, give them plenty of room, and am happy to see them go about their business of annoying other drivers. I am happy to stay far from them.

Is there some hormone, maybe testosterone, that prompts feelings of uncontrolled rage or fury? Perhaps we old geezers don't make as much of that hormone as we did when we were younger. I suppose you can advance a convincing argument, based on the evolution of the human species, for a hormone that encourages rage and fury in a young person and not in an old person. A young person is physically fit and strong and a tendency to be aggressive and pubnacious has a better chance to procreate than one who is reserved and unwilling to risk a fight. An old person, not as fit as a young one, has a better chance of surviving by staying out of fights than by starting them. I presume that at one time in our development even old men took part in procreation.

Sunday, June 11, 2006



Diarist da in Dailykos has written a comparison of the logical bases of "conservative" and "progressive" (or "liberal") thinking. Reading his essay got me to wondering why an individual grows up to have one or another set of political or social or religious opinions. I have known Republicans who were the children of immigrant parents who always voted for Democrats. These children of immigrants were perhaps rebelling against the social values of their parents. I have known liberal or progressive Democrats or Socialists who had grown up in conservative Republican families. They may also be rebels.

In my case, I never rebelled against the rather extreme political views of my father. Actually, they were extreme only when compared with the prevailing political views of the small town in rural Michigan where we lived. My father was the town radical. He was the only vocal supporter of Franklin Roosevelt during the 1930's in that little town. Not incidentally, he was awarded the position of Village Postmaster after Roosevelt's victory in the 1932 election. As we both aged, I came to see that my father's opinions were becoming more "conservative" than mine. Or was it that I was becoming more radical?

I did rebel, for a time, against the religious views of my parents. My parents were nominal Methodists. They did not attend church services regularly. I was sent to Sunday school every Sunday. The Methodist church was located right across the street from our house. Many of the boys in my class in school also attended Sunday school in that church. This went on until my mother learned that the man who taught the class may have been a pedophile. He had taken some of the boys in the class with him on some kind of excursion and had allegedly played some hanky-panky with one or more boys. My Sunday school attendance came to an end. Not long afterward the suspected pedophile left town.

This incident had nothing to do with my parents' religious opinions. As far as I can tell, they didn't have any. My mother once told me about her own belief with the statement, "when you're dead you're dead." Neither she nor my father spent much time musing about the after life.

My father's father was the rebel in the family, with respect to both religion and politics. His parents came from Sweden in 1853. His parents and his brothers (I don't know about his sister) were Swedish Lutheran in their religion and Republican in their politics. My grandfather was a Democrat and a religious skeptic. My father told about taking care of the old man as he lay dying, and wondering if he was going to make a deathbed conversion to the religion of his parents. No such conversion occurred. Grandfather died a non-Lutheran.

My rebellion came while I was a college student. I attended church services occasionally, as did most of the boys I knew in the dormitory where I stayed. I became interested eventually in the Episcopal Church and was pleased to find that the ritual of Morning Prayer in that church was very much like the ritual followed in the Methodist church. Eventually I joined the church and submitted to baptism. Later, while living in Washington, DC, I was confirmed by the Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Angus Dun.

My conversion to sacramental Christianity was not permanent. Although I was a faithful and enthusiastic supporter of the church during my days in Washington (I was an acolyte), my childhood skepticism of belief in supernatural things returned when I was attending graduate school at the University of Illinois.

All of this wordiness leads up to the question of WHY? Human beings develop their beliefs in a manner similar to the growth of plants. Some individuals are like plants of the grass kind: corn, wheat, bamboo, palm, lilies, irises, gladioluses. In these plants, growth occurs at the base of the branch or leaf. If the tip of the leaf is eaten by a hungry herbivore, the plant continues to grow more leaves from the bases. Other individuals are like plants such as beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peach trees, pine trees, and ferns. In these plants growth occurs at the tips of the leaves. If hungry herbivores devour the leaves and branches, the plant has to grow new growth buds.

There are sayings. One of them applies to peach trees and a certain type of individual: "As the twig is bent, so grows the plant." The Japanese have perfected the art of bonsai. By pruning and bending the foliage of a plant, often a small pine tree, the artist can shape the plant to whatever he chooses. Some human individuals are pliant, like bonsai plants. Another saying is "The fruit never falls far from the tree." This saying applies to an individual who is strongly influenced by his parents to adopt their ideas and beliefs about religion and politics. The individual thus influenced than develops in the manner of grass or bamboo. Persons with contrary opinions may nibble away at his leaves, but he grows more leaf from the same stem. A bamboo plant is not a candidate for the bonsai artist.

In my own case, I think I am like a bamboo plant. I've tried to be a peach tree, casting off the religion of my parents, but the attempt failed. I am like my father, or rather, I am like the person I thought my father was.

After writing this post I realized that I had used some bad metaphors. I should not have likened myself to a bamboo plant, but rather to a tree like a bonsai pine that had been pruned and pinched in its youth and now grows in the shape that its gardened gave it. In my case I was pinched, pruned, and shaped as a young child to share the opinions and ideals of my parents. I still share those opinions and ideals. I am like the bonsai pine tree.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The Accidental Governor

Forgive me if I seem to beat a dead horse, but the current election campaign for governor of California has an uncanny resemblance to the recall election of three years ago. In the Recall Election, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the beneficiary of a personal quarrel between two prominent Democratic office holders. In the coming election, he may again reap the benefit of a quarrel between two of his opponents.

In 2003, I was appalled when Kevin Shelley, the Secretary of State at the time, decreed that the California Recall Law required that, in addition to the question of whether to recall Governor Davis, the voters should choose his successor. I argued then and I still believe that the California Recall Law, which stipulates that an election shall be held for the successor of the official if it is appropriate, should not apply to the governor because the State Constitution specifies that the Lieutenant Governor shall succeed to the governorship if the governor leaves office for any reason.

My "dead horse" is that there shouldn't have been an election for Gray Davis's successor at all. If he was recalled, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante should simply be sworn into office. I asked several of my friends why Kevin Shelley had made the decision that Bustamante would not automatically succeed to the office. One of them told me that the decision was not made by Shelley but by the State Attorney General, Bill Lockyer. Lockyer's reason was that he had a grudge against Bustamante for something that had happened years earlier, and therefore decided that an election would be appropriate to choose Davis's successor if the recall vote went against him.

Bustamante and Schwarzenegger both were on the ballot in the election to succeed Davis. Lockyer at one time stated that he had voted for Schwarzenegger. I consider the governorship a gift from Lockyer to Schwarzenegger.

In the recent Primary Election, candidates Angelides and Westly attacked each other viciously and in a misleading manner. A few days ago I read an article in the Los Angeles Times that cited a feud between the campaign managers of the two candidates. I believe that the resulting negative campaign has hurt the chances of either Mr. Westly or Mr. Angelides to defeat Mr. Schwarzenegger next November. Lucky Arnold may again be the beneficiary of a quarrel between two influential Democrats.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


About National Languages

My friend H and I have been having a heated exchange of e-letters regarding language; specifically, whether the United States should impose the English language as the official language of the country and require everyone to use English in dealing with government agencies and business firms. At least, that’s what I think the argument is about.

I’m not sure about H. I quote from a recent exchange of e-mail:


AJS: As near as I can understand, your case is (1) a single language tends to unify a society and discourage discrimination; (2) Canada has problems because it has two official languages. These two arguments are not persuasive to me.


AJS: As near as I can understand, your case is (1) a single language tends to unify a society and discourage discrimination; (2) Canada has problems because it has two official languages. These two arguments are not persuasive to me. I agree with the idea that there should be at least one language in a country that everyone uses, even if imperfectly. All Chinese are encouraged to learn Mandarin. All educated persons in India have to learn English, which is the "official language" of the country, much to the annoyance of the speakers of Hindi, Gujerati, Tamil, and a hundred or so other languages. In fact, classical India split into modern India and Pakistan because of religious differences, not language.

H considers himself a Conservative and me a Liberal. In other e-letters he comments that Liberals and Conservatives often talk past each other, not to each other. I think our extended conversation about language is an example of talking past. We are concerned about different things.

If I understand him correctly, H likes the idea of “English Only” because it would create a more nearly homogeneous society if everyone used English as his or her primary language. There would be less prejudice. People would like each other more.

While H concentrates on the result of a successful campaign to eradicate languages other than English, I think about the injustice inflicted on a group of people who are forced to give up their traditional language. Historically, such a deprivation has usually been associated with a destruction of their traditional culture. I feel embarrassed at what Americans in previous generations did to the natives of this continent. They took their lands. They took their children and put them in special “Indian schools” where they were forced to give up the languages of their parents and speak “English only.” They destroyed their culture, took away their dignity, and made them poor relations in a culture imported from Europe. Of course, those are things that conquering peoples have done since there have been peoples.

I think about the example of Turkey. I don’t know what H thinks about Turkey, as I haven’t asked him yet. The Turks have a mind-set like those Americans who eagerly support the “English Only” movement. There were minorities in Turkey who spoke Armenian and Kurdish. The Armenians were Christians. The Kurds were and still are Sunni Muslims, as are the Turks themselves. We know what happened to the Armenian minority in Turkey during World War I. They were expelled from the country. Many of them died. After the war, people in the world forgot about the Armenians. Hitler noted at one time that if the Turks could get away with exterminating the Armenians, the Germans surely could get away with exterminating the Jews.

These are things I think of when I think of “English Only.” I am not an Armenian nor am I a Jew. I don’t have any personal reason for sadness at what happened to Armenians in Turkey or Jews in Germany. I think they were bad things that should not have happened. I think they happened because of prejudice against a minority.

I believe that a campaign to install English as the primary language in all residents would entail educating children in English. The children would be taught not to use any other language, particularly the language of their parents. They would be separated from their parents, perhaps not physically but certainly culturally. The eradication of a language usually goes along with eradication of a culture.

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