Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lowering the Confederate Flag: Politically Correct or Just Correct?

Lowering the Confederate Flag: Politically Correct or Just Correct?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 27, 2015

I have never lived in the “Deep South.” Three years in El Paso, TX and 15 in the DC/Northern Virginia area far from constitutes the South, let alone the Deep South. That said, as a historian, writer, and Jewish American, I understand the complexities surrounding the issue of the Confederate flag.

Yes, complexities. For while the flag represents Southern pride to many people who are neither bigots nor racists, the flag itself is emblematic of a bygone era of just that – bigotry and racism. It is the rebel flag. Rebelling against what? Against the way of life lived by the Union, represented by the Stars and Stripes. A life of freedom for all – black and white – living up to the words of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”

The bygone era is that of slavery and the stings and pangs of enormous pain brought to bear by the representation of that flag adorning the plantation homes of thousands of slave owners. And while no one in these United States has been a slave or slave owner, legally, since 1865 and the finality of the War Between the States, the message of the Confederate flag lives on.

Because more than a message of Southern pride, the Confederate flag is still a message of hate, separation, and superiority to far too many for whom it is a source of arrogance. The flip side is that the flag serves as a source of degradation, shame, and inferiority.

As a Jewish American I understand the feelings of those hurt by the sight of the Confederate flag. It is akin to seeing the Nazi flag, emblazoned with its swastika. Both flags represent pride to some, pain to others. Both also represent the losing sides in grave conflagrations.

The burning question remains – is the lowering of the Confederate flag politically correct or just correct?

In war, just as in elections, to the victors go the spoils. The Union emerged victorious in the War Between the States, and thus the Stars and Stripes soar high above state capital buildings across the fruited plains. Flags of the vanquished should be lowered and relegated to museums for people to see, learn about, and study why it is there. Both South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) have already called for the removal of the Confederate flag from their respective capital domes – a flag raised by Democrat governors in the first place.

One cannot erase history, nor should attempts to do so succeed. One cannot sanitize or whitewash the past, nor should attempts to do so succeed. After all, “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

The Confederate flag must remain a visible part of American history – in its appropriate context, which now, in 21st Century America, is in museums, textbooks, and battlefield sites. And with regard to battlefield sites, the Pittsburgh Action News reported Gettysburg National Military Park will no longer sell items featuring the Confederate flag by itself. Items paired with the American flag will continue to be available, and educational materials depicting the Confederate flag will also remain on the shelves. Additionally, USA Today reported that the National Park Service will also remove Confederate flag items from its bookstores and gift shops.

The same paper also reported that Apple is removing all games and apps containing the Confederate flag – much to the chagrin of a developer. The developer, Game-Labs, was told if they altered the game, sans Confederate flag, it could return to the shelves. Game-Labs declined noting it would weaken the integrity of the game “Ultimate General: Gettysburg.” It would seem odd for a game or app pertaining to the War Between the States to not depict the flags of both sides of a war. Perhaps Game-Labs will find another tech company to market the product.  Business is business and should consumers want the item they will buy it while those finding it objectionable will not.

The Battle of Gettysburg, a very pivotal battle during the War Between the States, was fought in Adams County, PA, July 1-3, 1863. The teaching and study of history is vital, cannot be expunged and to attempt to do so is supremely arrogant.

Should businesses opt to remove items from the shelves containing the Confederate flag, they are within their purview to do so. The public will speak with its wallets. My wife Vicky raised a good point when suggesting one can still purchase Nazi paraphernalia and perhaps that should no longer be permitted. Granted, one would be hard pressed to find swastika-laden items in Target, Wal-Mart, or any other mainstream store, but if one wants to find them, they can find them. It’s an economic concept that has succeeded for years called supply and demand.

After all, Nation of Islam leader and anti-American race hustler Louis Eugene Wolcott, a.k.a. Louis Farrakhan, called for the removal of the American flag. “We need to put the American flag down.” There is little support for that idea, and any American opposed to the American flag can get the hell out of our country. Yet, Farrakhan is free to utter such bilge, and just as free to not shop at any store selling American flags. The difference between the two flags is that one represents a bygone era of a lost war and the other still waving proudly over capital buildings, stadiums, schools (for now), businesses, and even embassies overseas.

The perniciousness of an idea, concept, written or spoken word, however distasteful or offensive, still falls under the protection of First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is incumbent upon the people to ensure that the government of the United States does not overstep its bounds where the people’s right to decide is concerned.

The symbols portrayed by the Confederate flag and the Nazi flag are known to the people. Should someone decide to wear a Confederate flag belt buckle that is his right. He in turn outs himself as someone supporting the tenor and ideology behind those symbols – for better or worse. The Confederate flag no longer represents the current ideology of the states of the former Confederate States of America. There is no longer a Confederate States of America, but it is still an important subject in history books and museums. That is where its flag should reside – for all to learn about the greatness of the South as well as the sins of the South.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator of history living in Westfield, IN.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Courage Award Not Courageous

Courage Award Not Courageous
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 7, 2015

Falling prey to the politically correct crowd does not in any way demonstrate courage, nor is it living up to the credo of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award as presented by ESPN in their annual ESPYS award program.

The award, named for the late, great tennis player, and first black man to win a Grand Slam event, who demonstrated courage for fighting AIDS, a disease he contracted from a tainted blood transfusion. As the stigma pertaining to AIDS and the HIV virus was still overwhelmingly negative across virtually all corners of society in 1988 when Ashe learned he had the disease, he remained silent about his condition until 1992 when a newspaper planned to print a story about his health.

Interestingly, Ashe’s early career mirrored that of Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Both graduated UCLA followed by stints in the military. Ashe served for two years in the United States Army. Sadly, both Ashe and Robinson died far too soon.

Ashe died at age 49 on February 6, 1993 (also Ronald Reagan’s birthday), but not before spending his remaining days being an outspoken advocate promoting AIDS awareness. The award named for Ashe in display of his courage is presented to that person leaving an imprint beyond the field of play.

What ESPN did was make a mockery of the award and worse yet, the memory of Ashe by announcing that the 2015 award would be presented to former Olympic gold medalist and winner of the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal games, Bruce Jenner.

Jenner, while going through some ungodly, immoral, body transformation is still alive, while the bona fide recipient of the award should be presented posthumously to Lauren Hill of Greendale, Indiana. Jenner, unhappy with his identity as a man, decided to tinker with the gifts G-d gave him in order to call himself a woman. This is not courageous, but to the PC crowd, this makes Jenner some sort of icon in a world where he represents barely a percentage of the people.

Lauren Hill, who, among other things, was a collegiate basketball player at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. At age 18 Hill was diagnosed with a rare inoperable brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. In spite of the odds weighing heavily against her, Hill continued her basketball regimen of practices with the team in an effort to suit up for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference schedule.

Because of the rapid progression of the cancer, the NCAA permitted not only a date change, but a venue change that would bring Hiram College to Cincinnati two weeks earlier than scheduled instead of Mount St. Joseph’s making the more than 300 mile trip to Hiram. Hiram is located in northeast Ohio and was the one time home of President James A. Garfield.

So eagerly anticipated was Hill’s appearance in the game versus Hiram, that fan support warranted moving the game from Mount St. Joseph’s gym seating 2,000 people to the Cintas Center at Xavier University, also in Cincinnati, with a capacity of 10,250 – all of which would prove necessary. In that November 2 game, Hill scored the first and last baskets of the game in Mount St. Joseph’s 66-55 win over Hiram.

The Cintas Center would once again host Hill on April 13 in a public visitation and memorial service three days following her April 10 passing at age 19 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

In the interim, Hill would play in three more games for the Division III Lions, making three baskets before her health declined to the point she could no longer suit up. In January, Hill served as an assistant coach for a game and in February, Hill was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the university. In March, Hill was named to the all-conference first team “in recognition of her courage and outstanding leadership,” said conference Commissioner Chris Ragsdale. Five days before Hill died, she was presented with the Pat Summit Courage Award, named for the longtime Hall of Fame coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team.

Additionally, Hill helped raise over $1.5 million for pediatric cancer research through a Cincinnati telethon for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and beyond the telethon itself. For more information about the charity, visit www.thecurestartsnow.org. This charity is a member of GuideStar Exchange which rates and evaluates the legitimacy of charities.

It would seem rather obvious that if Lauren Hill was courageous enough to be named to the all-conference team and be given the Pat Summit Courage Award, she sure as hell deserves the Arthur Ashe Courage Award over Bruce Jenner who is roaming around like a hermaphroditic cross dresser. Jenner’s behavior neither needs nor deserves public endorsement.

Jenner can dress as he wishes, call himself any name he chooses, dance with a panda bear if he so desires, but that does not warrant an ESPY for courage over a young woman who not only displayed indomitable spirit and gave hope to thousands of sick and dying children, but literally played through pain and adversity while dying. Lauren Hill brought attention to a disease in a dignified manner while managing to not only put a human face to it, but raise much needed funds to hopefully find a cure. She died at the painfully young age of 19, and was more than courageous and graceful in touching the face of G-d.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Obama Jewish? My Tuchus He Is

Obama Jewish? My Tuchus He Is
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 4, 2015

Recently Barack Obama opined to his former senior advisor David Axelrod, “You know, I think I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office. For people to say that I am anti-Israel, or even worse, anti-Semitic, it hurts.” (www.jpupdates.com)

Well, Mr. Obama, stop reading because there’s going to be a whole lot of hurt to follow, as if Obama is actually reading this.

On its prima facie, there can easily be a knee-jerk reaction to Obama’s visceral behavior toward Israel, its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and by extension the Jewish people not just in the United States, but universally.

Yet even I understand that just because Obama may not have the warmest relationship with Netanyahu doesn’t make Obama anti-Israel. Is Obama anti-Israel because he disparaged Netanyahu in November 2011 over an open microphone in a conversation with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy? Is Obama anti-Israel because he refused to meet with Netanyahu during his September 2012 UN visit? Is Obama anti-Israel because he made no effort to determine which member of his administration called Netanyahu a “chickenshit” in October 2014? Is Obama anti-Israel because from January through March of this year he repeatedly criticized Netanyahu for coming to the United States and delivering a speech to the body Congress, by invitation from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)? (http://sanfordspeaksout.blogspot.com/2015/03/bibi-brings-down-house-and-senate.html) Is Obama anti-Israel for not meeting with Netanyahu following his Capitol Hill speech? Is Obama anti-Israel for trying to influence and interfere with Israel’s elections in March? Taken individually, probably not – just personal animus toward Netanyahu.

However, Obama’s demands for Israel to return to its pre-1967 War borders certainly was not in the best interest of the tiny Jewish state, roughly the size of New Jersey. Obama’s continual turning of a blind eye to Iran’s proliferation of materials for the construction and ultimate use of nuclear weaponry against Israel is demonstrative of someone who is anti-Israel. In the last year and a half, Iran has increased its nuclear stockpile by 20 percent, according to the New York Times. The Obama State Department says it is “perplexed” by this activity, conducted right under Obama’s nose. Russia is brashly building a nuclear power plant in Iran.

This is the same Iran who will not allow nuclear inspectors within its borders. The same Iran committed just as ever to the destruction of Israel. The same Iran whose government denies the Holocaust. Obama sits idly by fiddling a la Nero as Iran prepares to burn down the world, or at least the Middle East.

Yet, Obama appeared on 60 Minutes where he dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran’s future as a nuclear power as merely “noise.” With a June 30 deadline looming overhead like the Sword of Damocles a bad deal with Iran is worse than no deal regarding its potential nuclear prowess to the detriment of Israel, what Iran calls the Little Satan, and eventually, the United States, what Iran calls the Big Satan. Even France has condemned the deal.

Obama’s actions are demonstrative of one who is anti-Israel, while his words merely pay lip service as he glad-hands and fist bumps his way through campaign stops and fundraisers collecting millions from liberal Jewish supporters who continue to fawn over Obama like obsequious weasels. Fortunately, Obama’s hold over the Jewish constituency was begun to wane, as more Jewish voters are coming to their senses and finding a home with the Republican Party. (Not enough yet, but it’s a work in progress.)

Is Obama an anti-Semite? Obama continues to literally bow down to the Muslim world. He made his first overseas visit upon taking office to Egypt. Obama said he would create daylight between himself and Israel. Obama refused to cease aid to the Palestinian Authority, even following a peace deal between the PA and Hamas. Obama has put Israel and terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad on an equal plane. Obama has made demands that Israel needs to consider a two-state solution, yet made no demands of concessions that should come from the terror groups. These terrorist organizations won’t even recognize Israel let alone accept its right to exist among the community of nations. Yet, there is Obama, sidling up to them as though they were legitimate states. What do those entities have to offer that Israel doesn’t in terms of economic or strategic partnerships? Nothing. Thus something must be drawing Obama and his minions toward terrorists while shunning the only democratic country and long term ally in the Middle East.

Obama has surrounded himself with anti-Semites, and to suggest that there is no guilt by association, one can define a person by the company with which he keeps – starting with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, himself a virulent anti-Semite. In his administration, Obama has UN Ambassador Samantha Powers, an outspoken supporter of a Palestinian state. Obama’s former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is a rabid anti-Semite having said, among other things, “the State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”

Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice sharply rebuked Israel for continuing to build settlements in the territory occupied in 1967, demonstrative of her lack of knowledge of history and of warfare – when one wins a war, one does not return territory. And Obama’s current Secretary of State, John Kerry, also demanded Israel make concessions to Palestinians or suffer global condemnation and possible financial repercussions.

To call himself, or simply suggest, that he is “the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office” is a disgrace and an affront to every self-respecting Jewish man, woman, and child the world over. The Jewish people, for one, are not “things.” Obama was completely insensitive by moving the White House observance of Chanukah in 2011 to suit his scheduling. Was Christmas observed on any day other than December 25th? Was Obama’s precious Ramadan celebrated in a month other than that which the calendar states? (http://sanfordspeaksout.blogspot.com/2011/12/obamas-inconvenient-chanukah.html)

With “friends” like Obama, do Israel and the Jewish people need enemies?


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Friday, May 29, 2015

RIP Iraq

RIP Iraq
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
May 29, 2015

To listen to Barack Obama say “I don’t think we’re losing” pertaining to Iraq is demonstrative of his fecklessness as a leader and grandly obtuse. Seeing him utter such bull Durham to the American people puts Obama on stage at the theatre of the absurd. Perhaps he should have just said “I don’t think.”

Having witnessed the fall of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, a mere 70 miles west of Iraq’s national capital of Baghdad to the bloodthirsty savages calling themselves an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), Obama cavalierly said, “it is a source of concern.” Never one to overstate a situation, there is no sense of urgency from the Obama administration as the quagmire in the Middle East becomes ever more perilous for Christians, Jews, and anyone not willing to kow-tow to ISIS.

Iraq is lost partly because of Obama’s ego. To think he knows more than the State Department or the generals who actually oversee the war/conflict – declared or undeclared, is part of his greater shortcomings – it’s all about him. Iraq is lost partly because of Obama’s legacy, which is akin to his ego. Wanting to end all wars/conflicts would be a giant gold star on his record, to be sure, but at what cost? The piper is now being paid as a too soon withdrawal of troops from Iraq is costing the lives of thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children.

President George W. Bush, on July 12, 2007 delivered some prophetic words during a White House news conference:
                        “I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To             begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.”

Sadly, to a word, all of the above has come to fruition. Like Bush, dislike Bush, it matters not. What matters, is that Obama listened to no one and the death of Iraq and the good men, women, and children are on his head and narrow shoulders. Iraq, and for that matter, the internally strife-ridden Syria, could end up absorbed by Iran which would be catastrophic on a grand scale.

For it is not just Ramadi that has fallen. ISIS already controls 36,000 square miles of Syria – roughly the size of Great Britain – rich with gas and oil fields and a strategic bastion for the ISIS savages. Most recently, ISIS captured Palmyra replete with its 2000 year old Roman antiquities that are now in jeopardy. ISIS has a penchant for destroying historical items that serve them no purpose, just as they wantonly destroy as much humanity as possible. And back in Iraq, Mosul, the second largest city in the country, which fell in June 2014, as well as Fallujah, which fell in January 2014, are two major cities under ISIS control as are the locales of Al-Baghdadi, Baiji, and Tikrit. Mount Sinjar is also under ISIS control.

The United States cannot continue to play the game it is playing. First it is in, and then it is out, but without any rhyme or reason. It’s a deadly game of musical chairs as once the music stops and a chair is pulled away, no one knows who will fall next. Without a full commitment, it is too risky for American, or any foreign troops to attempt to ward off ISIS. ISIS is committed to fight to the death and they don’t care whose deaths are wrought.

On the other hand, retreating, or pulling out before the job is done, prior to achieving total victory, is called surrender. If that is not losing, I wonder what Barack Obama’s dictionary looks like.

The barbarians are not marching toward the gate, they are sprinting toward it and they must be stopped. There supposedly is a coalition containing 60 countries – 60 – that should be able to destroy ISIS and put them out of our misery. Problem is, Obama has done nothing to lead, seems to not want to lead, and lacks political will, thus the other 59 countries have little faith in the United States to be the world leader it has been predestined to be. 

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Free Speech or Fatwa

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – attributed to Voltaire (1694-1778)

Free Speech or Fatwa
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
May 14, 2015

As a Constitutional Conservative and fervent supporter of free speech and expression, supporting Pamela Geller’s May 3rd Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest was a no-brainer. While those on the left, who claim the mantle of free speech and tolerance but are the biggest hypocrites in that realm only support that with which they agree, condemned Geller, it is they who did not activate their brains.

For all those donning t-shirts and claiming “je suis Charlie,” following the terrorist attacks on the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo as well as a Parisian kosher market on January 7 of this year, where are your je suis Pamela shirts in support of her freedom of expression?

Responding to Geller’s event, in a most cowardly and heinous manner were two terrorist thugs, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who failed in their attempt to slaughter the 150 attendees, but were put down like rabid dogs by Garland police – the real heroes of the day.

Commentators from all the major news outlets on television castigated Geller and her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative. This includes several members of the right of center Fox News Channel, such as Bill O’ Reilly, who disingenuously claims to support the First Amendment, but took Geller to task for what he called the inappropriateness of her event. O’ Reilly did not excoriate Geller for exercising her rights of free speech and expression, but that it was unwise.

There is no law against being unwise, Mr. O’ Reilly.

The ultra-liberal MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews suggested that Geller’s event, held at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, TX, was the root cause of the terror attack that disrupted the exhibit and contest. Then Matthews attempted to backtrack his ridiculous remarks by saying that Geller was perhaps not the cause of the terrorist’s actions, but instead she was provoking, taunting, or daring. Is there a difference? Is he also suggesting that crime victims are to blame because they own a business or have wealth?

Matthews and other commentators, while entitled to their opinions, do not seem to have grasped the concept of supporting the speaker, even if you don’t endorse the message. It’s easy to support the speech with which we agree; the real challenge is supporting the speech with which we disagree – and vehemently at that. Matthews is feckless as he apparently does not support Geller’s First Amendment rights – the same amendment that has protected his words his entire 40-plus year career.

Regardless of the event, it seems whenever Muslim extremists disapprove of something, they take to violence as the answer, shooting, beheading, firebombing, immolating their way to what they believe will be Islamic glory, when in reality they are guaranteeing their fast track to hell.

After all, do other religion’s believers take the same tack as Muslims? Did the global Jewish community go on killing sprees following the International Holocaust Cartoon Contest in 2006? This was a state-sponsored event by the Iranian despotic regime as part of their continued Holocaust denial scourge. Or how about this year, when the Iranian government sponsored the second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest? Apparently it’s alright for Iran to deny the Holocaust and expect no physical retribution, but draw a couple of cartoons of a pedophile masquerading as a deity and all hell breaks loose.

How is a Muhammad cartoon contest any more inciting than when the Nazis marched in Skokie, IL on June 25, 1978? (“Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis!” – Jake Blues) Yet, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the National Socialist Party of America on the grounds of the First Amendment. They gathered before an even larger group of protesters who simply drowned out the Nazis using voices and signs, not violence.

Where were the fire bombings and massacres by Jews when the Protocols of the Elders of Zion began to appear in print in various machinations in the 1890s? This anti-Semitic tome played on the traditional fears and stereotypes about Jews, and yet there was peace in the land, save for the pogroms against the Jewish population.

And what about that hideously egregious disgrace called “Piss Christ,” depicting a Crucifix in urine veiled as art? If anything would incite Catholics and other Christians to violence, certainly something that virulently offensive would do it, yet physical actions were not the order of the day in 1987, as calm as well as verbal and written objection reigned supreme.

Free speech and expression are the law of the land in these United States whether we the people agree with the notions or not. Pamela Geller exercised her First Amendment right and the Muslim response was to attempt to slaughter her and her supporters, then issue a fatwa on national television. When seasoned news commentators begin to parse what should be protected speech versus what should not be protected speech, the system fails and no one’s speech and expression are protected. Remember, as Abraham Lincoln stated rather adroitly on June 16, 1858, “a house divided against itself cannot stand” – and the United States is far too divided these days.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Orioles Win, Baltimore Loses

Orioles Win, Baltimore Loses
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 29, 2015

It was definitely not business as usual this afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, 73 degrees at game time when the Orioles took the field. Three outs later, the home team came to the plate, batted around en route to a six run inning and an ultimate 8-2 vanquishing of the Chicago White Sox.

Yet there was no one there to “root, root, root, for the home team,” as the song goes. For while Mighty Casey had not struck out, the City of Baltimore certainly has.

The City of Baltimore caved in to the cravenness of the animalistic behavior that has crippled parts of the city. Yet after a one day reprieve from classes, the Baltimore City Public Schools reopened. If it is safe enough to dispatch children around the city to their schools, the ballpark should have been open for business. While Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Orioles organization, and no doubt Major League Baseball put their heads together out of concern for the fans, and so as not to deplete resources from whence they are needed, the 45,971 seats at Camden Yards masqueraded as fans.

Check the box score on Thursday, it will show zero in the attendance category. This is disgraceful. To allow a group of thugs and miscreants to dictate to the city, the team, and the fans – in effect holding them hostage is demonstrative of the paucity of leadership that has plagued this city for years, even decades.

And to make matters worse, the Orioles have literally been driven from town. This weekend’s three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays has been moved down to Tampa where the Orioles will be designated the home team. This is idiotic as the Orioles will lose three games worth of revenue, need to issue ticket exchanges with the fans already holding tickets for those games, and the vendors, both inside and outside Camden Yards will suffer financially – and they can least afford the loss of a week’s pay – two games against the White Sox earlier in the week were postponed and then today’s debacle. 

The right solution would have been to have the Orioles host the Rays at Nationals Park in Washington, DC while the Nationals are in New York playing the Mets. If the Orioles had to play in Tampa, the league should have authorized a swap of series as the Orioles will see the Rays several more times throughout the season. Thus the next meeting would be in Baltimore. The only good thing is that the Orioles won the game, which is really secondary behind the reasoning for this conflagration in the first place.

The death of Freddie Gray on April 19 was merely a symptom of a greater disease that inflicts Baltimore. That disease is willful ignorance coupled with a lack of discipline. This is not about race, although the professional race hustlers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will spout otherwise, nor is this about the police, in spite of there being members of law enforcement reliant too often on force rather than law. But for the most part members of the law enforcement community would prefer to do their jobs in total anonymity without ever firing their sidearm and retiring with a nice pension. Yes, the bad apples need be weeded out and punished appropriately – as should be done in every profession.

What happened to Gray, still under an investigation that should not be hasty, is unfortunate, but there should not be a rush to judgment. Rumors are swirling around like a Phoenix windstorm. Until facts are known and the investigation complete all else is purely speculative. What is known, is that Freddie Gray, 25, had an arrest record as long as Yao Ming’s arms, ran from police, was apprehended, and died in their custody.

This became a call from the wild to loot, pillage, and commit arson, violence against police and property – in other words, an opportunity to be an opportunist. These recalcitrant criminals have a sense of entitlement that if “one of their own” is maligned in any way, it gives them license to upend the city. This was not a peaceful demonstration as per the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These law-breaking delinquents cannot rob, loot, burn, assault and then demand justice in the same breath. The rioters cost the honest protesters any sympathy and capital they may have garnered with their felonious behavior.

While there are some honest brokers involved here, and they could be seen in the light of day with brooms, trash bags and other tools required to help clean up their neighborhood and restore some semblance of peace and dignity as well as work with police, they are few and far between. My vote for mother of the year goes to Toya Graham who took her 16-year-old son to task for getting involved with the illegal acts occurring in her city. (http://www.teapartycrusaders.com/u-s-news/video-watch-angry-baltimore-mom-publicly-disciplines-her-son-for-rioting/) She simply wishes to protect her son – her only son – she has five daughters – from ending up in prison, or worse – like Gray – in a pine box. If more parents behaved like this, there would be fewer delinquents on the streets.

But leadership starts from above, and it clearly was not on display in the form of Rawlings-Blake. Numerous sources noted she gave a stand down order to police and to give the thugs room to conduct their miscreant behavior. Rawlings-Blake was actually quoted as saying, “We give those who wished to destroy, space to do that,” regarding the activities of protesters and the expected spillover. She later denied ever saying those words and chastised the media for reporting that she had. (http://fusion.net/story/126587/the-odd-tactic-of-giving-baltimore-protesters-space-to-destroy-property/)

Rawlings-Blake and many other people referred to the looters and other criminals as “thugs,” then recanted and apologized for using that word that some suggest is akin to using the “N” word. This is absurd, as a thug is a miscreant, a criminal, a ne’er do well, and has absolutely nothing to do with the race of the thug. This is another example of race baiting in an unwarranted circumstance. This is simply linguistic tap dancing – semantics to draw focus away from the real problems – lack of leadership at the top and lack of education and discipline from the rank and file. But if thugs is too offensive, how about marauders? Or will that invoke a picture of Barbary pirates and also be condemned? Such a waste of time.

Rawlings-Blake continued to do herself a disservice when suggesting that the “activists” should be allowed to loot, as “it’s only property.”  More than 150 businesses were destroyed or damaged. Who does the mayor expect will pay for the cleanup and rebuilding.  And what will become of the employees now out of work? More government largesse? Perhaps businesses will not rebuild or reopen. Perhaps owners will decide it simply isn’t worth the investment of time, money, and sweat equity. The mayor is terribly cavalier and capricious in both words and deeds. After all, she imposed a curfew on Monday night, but it was not to begin until Tuesday night. Why not that very night? She took far too long to ask for help from Governor Larry Hogan (R) and bring the National Guard on board. This is a mayor slow to make decisions and then, not terribly good ones. If she does not resign, she should either be recalled or impeached.

For those who suggest I should put my money where my mouth is, I have – by running for Baltimore City Council in 1999 when there were six council districts and each district was represented by three councilmen. I ran against three Democrat incumbents – one of whom was Stephanie Rawlings. In a city that, at the time, had eight percent registered Republicans, I never woke up with any delusions that I actually had a snowball’s chance in Guam of unseating an incumbent. But I was asked to run by the party and knew the opportunity would be exciting and educational as well as giving me an opportunity to share my views with the people and hear from them as well. Sparing all the suspense, I did not emerge victorious on Election Day 1999.

But back to the National Guard and the good work they do. Apparently the Mt. Washington Whole Foods market also knows the National Guard are upstanding folks and that store supplied the Guard with turkey and cheese sandwiches. Mt. Washington is an upper middle class neighborhood not too far from the Park Heights neighborhood where I once resided. There were messages of condemnation that Whole Foods was wrong for serving “the oppressors,” or “the enemy,” and worse language.

More critics thought Whole Foods should have provided the poor neighborhoods’ children with food for they did not get their “free,” read – taxpayer expensed – breakfast and lunch on Tuesday because the public schools were closed due to the civil unrest. A friend living not too far from the epicenter of the rioting, looting, and burning of stores and homes said her children attend a Jewish day school, open on Tuesday, but was keeping them home because she thought it too dangerous to send them out. The reason most of these children did not get their city-provided breakfast and lunch is because an overwhelming number of the marauders were, in fact, young people. Biological age should not matter – arson is arson, looting is looting, assaulting police officers is assault, cutting fire hoses being used to douse arson fires is destruction of property.

These young people belong is school, paying attention to their teachers, doing their homework, garnering themselves the education that will lift them from the poverty in which they are mired, and have better lives than the previous generation. Sadly this disease of poverty is generational. But it is not the fault of the police as Barack Obama would have people believe. In his press conference Tuesday, Obama all but blamed police for the scourge of poverty, drug use, lack of education and single parent families.

Police do not force people to use drugs and become addicts. Police do not force children to misbehave in school and not get the education to which they are so richly entitled. Police do not force girls/women to have unprotected sex, or sex at all, and become teen mothers. And where the word entitlement is concerned, an education should be the entitlement parents seek for their children; not substandard government housing, not welfare or food stamps, but good, dependable, safe schools where their children can learn and rise above the muck of an impoverished lifestyle and become productive members of society.

This is most certainly not about race, for if it is, as liberals subscribe, then it is the liberal who is the real racist. Just as liberals endorse affirmative action as beneficial to minority communities, which in the long run it is not, to suggest the riots are about race is to suggest that blacks cannot control themselves and that blacks have no sense of discipline, as opposed to people who are impoverished, uneducated, and perhaps have substance issues. These are issues of education, personal responsibility, and discipline – and people, regardless of race or ethnicity have the capacity to learn and be educated, have the capacity to be personally responsible, and have the capacity to be disciplined and avoid harmful substances and irresponsible physical relations.

Poverty rates among blacks under Obama, the nation’s first black president, have risen from 24.7 percent in 2008 to 27.2 percent in 2014. Unemployment in Gray’s neighborhood is 51 percent with 60 percent failing to earn a high school diploma. (www.foxnews.com)

Urban plight is due to liberalism, progressive political planning and it is spreading to the suburbs and exurbs. A lack of discipline at home, where one parent is typically not enough for raising children, where parents are too busy trying to be their children’s friends is where the deleteriousness of a child’s life commences. Fewer and fewer parents read to their children. They park their children in front of a television or send them to substandard day care centers to save money in order to work outside the home and earn money. Children who do not have reading in the home start school already behind those who do.

Liberalism in the public schools consists of assuming minority children can’t do and shouldn’t be challenged. That only hurts them more. As someone who taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools I know from firsthand experience what so-called leaders of schools would expect from their staffs. If these schools can be run by black principals who have Masters degrees and PhDs, why should the level of challenge and expectation be diminished for the children for whom they are responsible? Masters degrees and PhDs are not handed out like tissues at a chick flick. They are earned.

This is why affirmative action is deleterious to minorities. It suggests that certain groups can’t achieve, and therefore must be given something they haven’t earned in order to maintain some sort of statistical equilibrium. The numbers prove otherwise. While affirmative action helps more minorities get into college, it does not help them graduate. In fact once in college, it is sink or swim as it is for all students, and minority graduation rates are considerably lower than non-minority graduation rates.

The problem is, that this is a worsening crisis that can’t be turned around as quickly as making a U-turn on the road. Entitlements must be curtailed to able bodied people and welfare should be limited and be valued at lower than a minimum wage job. Stop incentivizing people to not work, to not get an education, and encourage them to strive for betterment that they can achieve with discipline, education, and hard work. Nothing good comes easily.

Get government out of education. Elected government officials rely upon the votes of those to whom the most is given. They rely upon the votes of the uneducated to which politicians promise the world as part of continued dependency. There is no incentive for politicians to improve the lot of the uneducated, and therefore no incentive to improve the failing public schools.

Education is power and when those need it most garner it, then they will have real power, and more than that, they will have given themselves real freedom out from under the yoke of government and dependency.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. In a previous lifetime he taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools as well as ran for the Baltimore City Council – unsuccessfully.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chaos and Anarchy in Charm City

Chaos and Anarchy in Charm City
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 27, 2015

Charm City isn’t so charming these days. As of 6:30 this evening the Baltimore Orioles game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards had been postponed – and not because of inclement weather – but because of civil unrest not seen in the city since 1968.

Baltimore is rife with rioting, looting, destruction of public and private property that has overflowed from an impoverished portion of the western part of the city to the downtown tourist-heavy Inner Harbor/Oriole Park area. This includes throwing rocks, bottles, and bricks at police officers as well as setting patrol cars ablaze. At least 15 Baltimore police officers have been injured some with broken bones as a result of the attacks by rioting thugs.

It should be noted that the three biggest gangs in Baltimore put the police on notice that they have united for the purposes of “taking out” law enforcement, and the men and women in blue are taking that threat seriously.

While the advent of the rioting and violence can be ascribed to the April 19 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, possibly at the hands of police – and still under investigation, there is no excuse for this recalcitrant behavior. Under the guise of supposed peaceful protesting, the thug-laden crowd had nothing but criminal behavior in mind and deed. 

Police-attributed deaths of black suspects have been in the news with added attention since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The Justice Department ruled police were not criminally responsible for Brown’s death. Yet, Ferguson, as part of Baltimore is today, is reminiscent of Watts, Oakland, and Newark of the 1960s.

Gray, who ran from police, unprovoked, was eventually captured, loaded in a police van, and placed in custody on April 12. Due to a still under investigation severed spinal cord, Gray died on April 19. Gray supposedly fled police because of a history involved with drugs and was in a drug-infested neighborhood at the time of his encounter with police. The six officers who had Gray in custody have been suspended with pay.

Due to the intractable behavior of the thugs burning down their own neighborhoods and looting a local mall – Mondawmin, numerous businesses closed their doors and the University of Maryland, Baltimore suspended all campus activities early in the afternoon. Not only does this criminal activity not solve any of the problems, it both creates more problems and costs the protesters any sympathy they may have accrued due to the questionable death of Gray.

Adding fuel to the fire, the mayor of the city must certainly claim a great portion of the responsibility for spurring on the miscreants. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who I knew when she was just Rawlings and a member of the City Council (for which I once ran when I lived there), should either be recalled or impeached for inciting the spreading riot.

“We also give those who wished to destroy, space to do that,” said Rawlings-Blake, in commenting on the activities of protesters and the expected spillover. She later denied ever saying those words and chastised the media for reporting that she had. (http://fusion.net/story/126587/the-odd-tactic-of-giving-baltimore-protesters-space-to-destroy-property/)

That has to be one of the most irresponsible statements a person could make. By not condemning the rioting and rioters, Rawlings-Blake did more than give tacit approval; she practically endorsed it with her reckless comments. For this, she needs to be relieved of her duties. She also needs to be taken to task for not instituting a curfew immediately instead of one to commence tomorrow  night, Tuesday, April 28.

The postponement of the Orioles-White Sox game is not just a disappointment to fans, but costly, to the tune of several million dollars lost in revenue for street vendors outside the stadium, the vendors inside Camden Yards, the surrounding restaurants and bars, as well as local hoteliers who count on post-game check-ins, and the numerous people who rely upon tips for a large portion of their incomes.

I lived in Baltimore at one time, and there are some marvelous parts of the city – the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Charles Street, and Lexington Market are perhaps most notable, and there are also some parts of the city that make hell resemble the Garden of Eden. The empty, dilapidated so-called housing units and storefronts should be razed and the gang members jailed.

Taxpayer money should not be used to rebuild these neighborhoods and rental units should not be erected. The residents should rebuild and police their own neighborhoods with enterprise zones as envisioned by the late Jack Kemp, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Ronald Reagan.

Kemp, also a former Congressman and Buffalo Bills quarterback, believed that ownership was the key to success. People take pride in owning their home, car, business, etc. People historically do not take appropriate care of rental property and enterprise zones are designed to give people opportunities with the responsibility of turning those opportunities into success with as little government involvement as possible.

As for the burned out businesses, local or national chains such as the CVS, they should not be rebuilt in these neighborhoods. Locals have destroyed their own neighborhoods and must suffer the consequences. Why would any business want to invest in such a neighborhood? Police have backed away from the immediate action perhaps for their own safety, perhaps under orders.

A member of the Baltimore City Council claims a lack of opportunities and racism is why the tumult has occurred. Where’s the racism in a city run by a black mayor, a black city council president, a majority black city council, and a black police chief with a minority majority police force? The reality is, opportunities are not created when people burn down their own neighborhoods and rob their own stores. Opportunities are not created when students choose to shun the education given to them in schools by dedicated teachers. I know; I taught in the Baltimore Public Schools at one time. Ironically, the Baltimore public schools will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28 – yet one more day when the education of the city’s children is surrendered to violence and thugery.

Poor leadership by those in charge of Baltimore and a paucity of education of the young people in Baltimore lead to an unhealthy future for Charm City. The firestorm in this city was easily predicted, but begs the question of why do such riots and destruction of property and criminal activity keep occurring in majority black locales? Where are the role models outside of gangs and the rap music industry? More Clarence Thomases and Ben Carsons are needed. More Alveda Kings and Deneen Borellis are needed. More Allen Wests and Tim Scotts are needed. Don't know who they are? Look them up.

These malevolent thugs are simply committing acts of mayhem for mayhem’s purpose. Until law and order is restored; until discipline is instituted in the homes and the schools; until animalistic behavior is reined in, Baltimore will cease to be Charm City and sadly be dubbed Harm City. It’s time for serious change and it starts in the homes, churches, schools, and grass roots neighborhoods where youths, adults, and law enforcement can dialogue peacefully.


Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. In the late 1990s he lived in Baltimore, taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools, and ran for the City Council – unsuccessfully.