T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What is a Conservative? - by TPO (Hénock Gugsa)

What is a Conservative? *
by Hénock Gugsa

Perhaps the question should be: What is true conservatism?

At present, what goes for conservatism is only a splintered, loud, and maniacal devotion to "moral authoritarianism." There is also the hypocrisy of adopting JFK' s "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" mantra as a conservative ideal. In reality, we have seen how a great many of the privileged have avoided military duty while others less fortunate served and died for their country.

According to the late William F Buckley, Jr., true conservatism is not sponsorship of the utter destruction of establishments, but of their reform. Buckley, a true conservative, believed in "hierarchy, tradition, and authority, but not personal revelation. " The latter is a direct reference to moral authoritarianism which evangelical groups espouse. And another point ... Buckley also did not believe in a "Wilsonian crusade ... of fighting wars to create peace." Our recent preemptive wars are, therefore, just manifestations of "bellicosity". They are, furthermore, delusional.

Other aspects of conservatism can be gathered from George F Will. According to Mr. Will, conservatism is about "freedom", which readily accepts inequalities of outcome. Conservatives would prefer the market place to have the upper hand in "allocating wealth and opportunity." There is a sense of Darwinistic determinism to the conservative political establishment. It is opposed to any form of "authoritarian" intervention to force equality of opportunity.

Most importantly, true conservatives believe that, "...excessively benevolent government is not a benefactor, ...capitalism does not merely make people better off, it makes them better."

* “What is a Conservative” ~ © Hénock Gugsa  ( ሄኖክ  ጉግሣ ) - 12/26/2011


Zack's Ordeal - by TPO

Zack's Ordeal 
( Land of the Profiled! ) 
by TPO

[Note: The following is based on a true story. All names and locations have been altered to protect the innocent.]
Last Tuesday, I ran into Zack at one of my café hangouts downtown. He had just returned home to the United States after a two-week stay abroad visiting family and friends. Zack is originally from a North African country. But he has lived here in the States, his adopted country, for the last twenty-eight years. Without any reservation, the proudest day of his life was when he finally became a naturalized citizen fifteen years ago. But in one fell swoop, an organization named ICE has totally alienated this good man, and made him feel that he is nothing but just another tiresome second-class citizen.

Before his epiphany, Zack often bragged about his clean record as a citizen. Happily married and a devoted father to his two sons, Zack has always been a hard-working, law-abiding, and above all decent human being and citizen. Sadly, he has now become a cynical and bitter person who feels that his life and beliefs about this country were all pointless and meaningless. He told me that he feels he will never ever really be accepted or treated as an equal. His accomplishments and self-worth apparently mean little or nothing to ICE. Zack further expounded that while he respects ICE’s work and what they stand for, he was not altogether confident that their methods and practices are entirely sensitive to respecting the civil rights of citizens like him.

His experience with ICE had two parts.

Part one was the day of departure from XYZ International airport. He was asked to step aside and proceed into an interrogation and inspection room, ostensibly to check how much U.S. currency he was taking with him. It was barely $3,000, and under the limit one can take without declaring. While the agents were counting his money, they were also asking him if he was aware that any amount over $12,000 has to be declared. 

When they were finished counting the money, they asked him to pull all his pockets inside-out. That done, one of the agents began to ask where Zack worked and what type of work he did, etc.  He was puzzled by the questions, but he answered truthfully. The agent kept asking if it was a steady employment, and Zack still answered him patiently and without thinking anything of it.

Part two of Zack’s adventure was the day of his arrival at the same airport. He was confidently standing in the line for U.S. citizens and residents. In front of him stood a man of Indian or Pakistani descent.  And behind Zack stood a young couple, both Caucasians. 

Understandably, Zack can be mistaken for a Middle Eastern person. As he and his fellow passengers were standing there, an ICE agent made a beeline to the man in front of Zack, and asked two or three questions rapidly. Then, the agent turned to Zack, asked to see his passport and wanted to know from where he was coming. Zack replied that he had been visiting family and friends in Africa. The agent then asked him what type of work he did. Thinking that this was not a job interview and that it was none of the agent’s business how he made his living, Zack responded enigmatically, “IT professional.” At this, the agent raised an eyebrow and skeptically said, “Really?!” Zack stood his ground and replied, “Really.”

The agent then moved on to interrogate other (non-Caucasian) passengers. That there was profiling was evident, and Zack had expected it. What he had not expected was the blatant and complete disrespect for certain citizens’ rights and the idiocy of ICE’s procedures. After showing his document and answering this first agent, Zack had to do the same thing again three times with three other ICE agents.

Inevitable Conclusions: 

• With so many agents assisting (?!) few profiled citizens, one wonders if the tax payers’ money is indeed well-spent. Timothy McVeigh could have been standing behind Zack and no one would have bothered to interrogate the crazed sociopath only because he was Caucasian.

• Are certain citizens’ rights abused routinely? Can profiling be conducted without humiliating law-abiding citizens? 

• Incidentally, Zack got excellent treatment at London Heathrow airport by government officials there perhaps because they were more ethnically diverse unlike the ICE officials Zack encountered here. They were all Caucasians, and perhaps that was the problem!

• Is anybody at ICE giving any consideration to the possible, consequent creation of an alienated and resentful second-class citizenry?  Doesn't callousness breed more callousness?

• What recourse do these citizens have to get better treatment from government officials? Or should second-class citizenship be accepted as fait-accompli?

December, 2008