To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, October 5, 2022


Ugliness On Display



VernTurnerThis piece pertains to the human behavior on exhibit across the land and around the world. Maybe it’s the media circus that all the electrons whizzing around creates, but it just seems to me that the human being has foregone the decency that was threaded through all lessons in life.

Then, perhaps I’m only speaking for those of us who actually had some sort of family support system in place, a school, a church or a neighborhood activist who steered us to the path of taking care of one another. There are too many of us in this country and in so many others that are behaving as if we never saw another human we didn’t hate.

Everyday a new U.S. cop beating shows up on social media and headline news. When did our cops become so brutal? Whatever happened to protect and serve? Is it the recruitment of so many ex-military into our police forces that brings with it the Us v. Them posit for the police? “Them,” of course, is “us.” We are not seen as citizens by this current population of police, but rather as the enemy.

In war the enemy is literally and figuratively beaten into submission, armed or not. The soldiers are trained to assume that every “bad guy” is armed and dangerous. What happened since I was a kid in East Cleveland and the cops would walk us to school?

One explanation might be that with the all-volunteer military, those leaving the service before they are too old to not do anything are hard-pressed to find gainful employment by which they can support their families now that they no longer receive government benefits.

So … the police forces being encouraged to expand and employ new officers are a natural fit for those who have spent their first career smacking bad guys, really bad guys. Don’t forget all those military hardware goodies the U.S. government sold the police at bargain basement prices.

The pregnant question is: How do you turn defend and fight into protect and serve? It is obviously not that easy.

Next we have the remaining echoes of the gift from the Bush Administration and its Bremer doctrine of firing the entire Iraqi military without anyplace for them to go. Remember that? Paul Bremer was permitted or directed to “de-Baath” the Iraqi “government” after our illegal and stupid decision to invade that country based on lies and the Bush family’s idea of honor.

Well, those de-Baathed guys turned out to be our latest nightmare, ISIS. Don’t you love those disgusting beheadings on video for all the world to see? Gosh. The human being is hard at work here showing all other humans how vicious, wicked, thoughtless and cruel they can be.

This horror show is, of course, performed in the name of Allah, the Islamic God of peace. We’ve been down this road before, haven’t we? Every major religion has had its moments of horror in history.

Speaking of irrational people using religion as a crutch for even more irrational behavior, I give you the concerted efforts of the right-wing reactionaries in our country, aka the Republican Party. While wrapping themselves in the flag and clutching the cross and Bible, these professional hypocrites continue to promote policies that take food out of the mouths of the hungry, clothes off the backs of the indigent and homes away from those lacking shelter.

It’s not enough to sneer at the poor while driving their big SUVs to church on Sunday. They spend the working week telling anyone who will listen how the chronic poor shouldn’t receive a living wage or it’s their fault that they’re poor. Every “policy” statement coming from the GOP includes attempts to destroy the “general welfare of the people.”

Why would they be so set on those principles when their Lord and Savior and the Constitution say do the opposite?

Perhaps the graphs and charts coming from various bi-partisan agencies that show a decline in wage earnings for the vast majority of laborers while the top 1% of the richest are seeing their growth curves skyrocket are an indicator of the crassness in our national fabric rather than concern for our fellow man. We are, whether you like it or not, our brother’s keeper.

What is equally interesting is the spectacular growth in the stock market while those working-class wages decline. How long can the golden goose of consumerism live with its neck being squeezed before it stops laying eggs for the rich? I guess those quarterly profit reports are just more dope for the profit-addicted junkies of finance to use irrespective of the long-term outcome.

Last, but not least, are the ugliest politicians ever seen during one single election cycle. The 17-20 Republican candidates all look like the same suits [except for Carly] with different hairdos. They sound alike, too, except some use more inflammatory rhetoric than others.

The real creatures of the night in this lot include Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, the strange Rick Santorum and the very, very strange Mike Huckabee. Not only do these guys slam citizens they have never met, they make stuff up [Cruz] as they go to make themselves seem important, but are actually more desirous of grabbing face time from the slavering political press.

Methinks these guys are just in it for the money gusher coming from corporate America. This is the gift from Citizens United v. FEC that just keeps on giving. Is it any wonder that the most sage among us can see this for the clown car it really is?

Perhaps the ugliest of the ugly in our national politics is the sewer Mike Huckabee calls a mouth. His recent statements about the ANTI-nuclear plan and agreement regarding our president leading the Israelis to the doors of the ovens are those made by a demagogue who is losing his faculties.

This wicked ex-preacher is so desperate for attention among a constituency that you wouldn’t want visiting your home that he trots out every outrageous bit of filth and sewage he can conjure up. Then, he goes on the TV talk shows defending his wretchedness.

If there was ever anyone who personifies how ugly politics are in the United States, this guy is it. Even Donald Trump is less heinous than Huckabee even after accusing Mexican immigrants [you know, those people who pick his vegetables and bus his tables] rapists and murderers. Trump is about Trump and his best friend, his ego. Not to worry. His kind of ugly is burlesque compared to creepy sorts like Huckabee and Santorum.

By comparison, the Democrats have introduced us to Hillary Clinton [again] and a new [old] rogue semi-socialist, Bernie Sanders. The other announced candidates haven’t tickled any kind of recognition meter yet.

The two leading candidates are actually promoting ideas and policies that HELP American families live a better life. They are actually presenting ideas and policies wherein the richest of us pay much higher taxes because [1] they can afford it and [2] we all do better when we all do better.

Even during Eisenhower’s terms, the top tax rate was about double the current rate and we had almost no un-employment while we built the interstate highway system, one of the most important projects in our history. No ugly there. These are just ideas to put people to work earning a living wage, getting their children educated, their health care covered so they can be productive and helping the elderly live with dignity while still being consumers.

This next election for president AND the Congress will be about ugly vs. not ugly. It will be about glory for the rich vs. economic improvement for the working classes. It will be about sick people in the gutter vs. people precluding illness by being able to afford preventative care.

I’ll be voting for the latter ideas. The uglies can stay home this time.

Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.