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Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


Real Wars and the "War on Terror"

Last week I pointed out that President Bush conflates the Iraq war, and the Afghanistan war, with the "war on terror" — whatever that is - and that the media are stupidly parroting him. Well, he did it again in his Memorial Day talk at Arlington National Cemetery. The Associated Press, just to name one, went along with the confusing of the two, in its story of the event. Bush claimed that the best way to honor the dead is to continue the real war. In other words, allow more of America's youth to be slain in the name of those who have already met that fate!


Bush Versus the Crazies

Having been critical of President Bush on occasion, it is only fair to point out an occasional constructive action on his part. He signed legislation passed by Congress, "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act." It is aimed at a Baptist church in Kansas that stages protests at military funerals, with repugnant signs and chants that the death of our soldiers is due to America's tolerance of homosexuals.

No one has thought to challenge these idiots with the question, "If God created man, as you apparently believe, then he created homosexuals, so your argument should be with Him."

That is the question to be asked, also, of the preacher who runs a website that claims that "God Hates Fags."


Saddam Hussein and Marshall Tito Kept the Dogs at Bay

Perhaps you remember Marshall Josip Broz Tito, who, from the end of WWII to his death in 1980 kept the quarreling ethnic factions in Yugoslavia from each others' throats. He passed to his reward, and the place fell apart. I thought of him the other day, in relation to the job Saddam Hussein had in keeping Sunnis, Shi'ites, Kurds, and others, from strangling each other. Now that he has been removed and is in court on trial, we see the need for a strong leader in such a place. Why? To take one example from many, the AP reported that, in Baghdad, "An Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were killed because they were wearing shorts . . . . Gunmen stopped the car in which the athletes were riding and asked them to step out before shooting them . . . ." The coach was a Sunni and the two players were Shi'ites.

I tend to think that Saddam would not have tolerated such criminal activity.


Be Careful of Your Tongue

My Better Half and I stopped into a lab at the Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge the other day, since I needed some blood drawn, to please one of my physicians. It was so crowded that I said to my wife, "They are doing a land office business!"

And, that reminded me of the difficulty that our Berlin friends had in understanding some of my slang on our recent visit. At a supper hosted by one of our two professor friends and his wife, there was some question as to whether we all wanted to begin with soup. The prof. across from me looked in wonder, as I said that I did not want to "upset the apple cart" by choosing something else. My wife, sitting next to him, translated. A bit later, in response to the question of whether we all wanted a white wine, I said, although I always prefer red, "I'll go along with the gang!" Again, the prof. opposite me looked in wonder. And, again, my wife translated.

Later in the evening, at the home of one of the professors, whom I knew had studied in the U.S., I asked, "How did you happen to end up in Ohio?" This was a mistake, for my friend thought that I should be aware that he would have studied in America as a result of an academic competition. I quickly, explained that we Americans have a bad habit of using slang, when we shouldn't. And, I told him the story of the time when I was teaching a summer course in Finland. Knowing of my interest in the Finns who had migrated to the part of Maine where we own property, a professor friend arranged for me to visit a Finnish historian, who was an expert in immigration studies. In the course of the conversation, I was unwise enough to say that, "So you think that the Finns… " He interrupted me to say, "I do not think, I know!"

So, take my advice. Watch your tongue when abroad!



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